Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We’re Not Good At Kissing Butt

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

This past Saturday marked two years since I joined The Flip Side and left behind a reporting career I once imagined would lead to international travel and perhaps even recognition. This picture is of me presenting a social media seminar on June 1, 2011.

One of the most common questions people ask is if I miss reporting on TV. I sometimes crave what I consider the art of reporting. But that desire quickly dissipates as I recall the world I left.

I’m not good at kissing ass or keeping my mouth shut when people aren’t keeping it real or aren’t doing stuff that makes sense. And I’m sure no good at knowing my place if I’m not allowed to raise questions. Passion drives my heart and I no longer could keep that energy down.

Unfortunately, a recent event reminded me why I felt it so important to take the road I did. So the answer is, “No, I don’t miss it.”

One of the achievements I am most proud of is what we promised ourselves we would never do:  turn into cheesy business people who employ the stereotypical tactics to sell ourselves and pinch every penny we can from people. The lure of big money once put that promise to the test and we walked away from the table of financial temptation.

We fight every day to properly grow our business. And that’s all I ever wanted: the opportunity to determine my own success.

Media Training: Prepare For A Quickie

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013


The TV anchor’s last question during our client’s live interview was a complicated one. And the anchor’s body language indicated to me time was running out almost immediately after he asked the question.

Our client texted me, “I told him off air that it was kind of boring and technical. Evidently he still wanted to ask, even though there wasn’t much time. I couldn’t stop midway through my answer or it wouldn’t have made sense.”

Toward the top of his answer on air, he said, “Very briefly …” Those words indicated he understood time was tight.

The anchor even raised his pen, reinforcing what I might as well translate as, “I know I just asked you the most complicated question of this interview, but it is time to wrap things up buddy.”

Our client: “I saw him raise his pen so I knew we were out of time.”

The entire answer to a complex question was about 20 seconds. Sometimes you unexpectedly need a quickie.


Media Relations: Dentist Treats Special Needs Patients

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Click Here To Watch Story

Dr. Lee Weinstein is a client.

Media and Public Relations

Let Me Tell You Why There’s No Real Media Conspiracy

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Let Me Tell You Why There's No Real Media ConspiracyI have often heard some people argue there’s a media conspiracy to get certain politicians elected or to push certain agendas. Yes, some news organizations have gained reputations for being either liberal or conservative. But I scoff at the idea that multiple news organizations and an invisible underground association of journalists conspire secretly together to get what they want. Why? Because most media are just not that organized. Here are some examples:

Evening producers sometimes assigned me stories they didn’t know the morning show already aired. If the media can’t communicate within the same room, how can they conspire nationally?

When management devises a new plan for delivering the news, they often quietly scrap that strategy weeks later. They couldn’t commit to a lengthy conspiracy.

Many journalists aren’t devoted to a particular political party. They are loyal to anyone offering them free food.

How bad was the communication in some newsrooms? I often emailed people two desks over to ensure I had a record of my words.

For every liberal writer behind the scenes in journalism, there is a well-paid anchor or manager not interested in paying one extra dime in taxes.

Many in media consider themselves an expert in all topics, so a conspiracy would almost certainly implode from within.

Managing a conspiracy would take too much time away from fantasy football and discussing shoes.

Many members would drop out of the conspiracy after learning the schedule didn’t allow a full hour for lunch.

The paperwork alone for filling out time sheets, delivering silly memos and taking care of reimbursements would make a conspiracy financially impossible and too slow to be effective.

Conspiracies don’t work by putting a bunch of people up front and in the public eye just because they have pretty faces.

Is Social Media Really This Simple?

Monday, October 1st, 2012


Canters Deli has been serving Los Angeles since the 1930s. I recently visited for the first time, immediately knowing the place had the ingredients of genuinely good pickles and tuna fish sandwiches. Even the clanging of plates and silverware add to the atmosphere’s flavor. Waitresses deliver orders along with words of “love,” “honey,” and “sweetheart” to customers.

This is not where I expected thoughts of social media to spring up after climbing a flight of stairs. Up there, a wall of framed articles documented the restaurant’s history in the media. Photographs created a timeline of the people and stories which shape the business we see today.

The concept seems so familiar. I was reading and seeing an older generation’s version of social media. Similar to how people update their Facebook pages, the restaurant had posted on their wall (an actual wall in this case) its history dating back decades. No matter at what table people sit, they likely can see an image or story.

Seeing this while enjoying my tuna sandwich reinforced my theory that social media is not an entirely new concept. Many of us now present our own stories differently, taking advantage of today’s tools. One advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the slew of social media cousins seeking seats at the adult table is these platforms allow us to tell our stories without people needing to actually visit our homes and restaurants. Reaching across the table takes on wider meaning.

However, the essence of social media is what we share. And dare I say being a person (and not a salesperson) has not changed much with the times. Yes, several social media experts act as if they are wearing white coats in science labs watching beakers bubble with formulas. If you struggle with conducting normal conversations with people, maybe you need a coach. But that would mean you need a coach in your corner whether it is 2012 or 1950. Business is relationships and building those still depend on finding common interests and sharing tidbits about ourselves. Sometimes strategies include offering coupons or gimmicks to persuade people to peek into the window or walk through the door. Sound familiar?

Some businesses don’t realize social media is a new platform, not necessarily a new way, and confuse themselves. They don’t understand how sharing pictures from the weekend makes sense. How different are such personal posts than flipping open a wallet years ago and showing someone you just met pictures of friends and family?

On The Flip Side, your Facebook page should not replace the face-to-face timeline you see at a deli like Canters. Take advantage of today’s more advanced tools, but don’t forget the effectiveness of also sharing stories firsthand over pickles and sandwiches.

Social Media: Do Promoted Tweets Work?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012


When Apple released its latest software update for iPhones, one new feature intrigued me more than others: spoken, turn-by-turn directions from Apple Maps.

I wondered if this app would allow me to replace the GPS I place on my vehicle’s dashboard. And would I no longer need to pay to regularly update a GPS?

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment. The spoken part of the turn-by-turn navigation is not available for my older iPhone.

A few days later, I saw the promoted Tweet at the top of this blog:

“@MapQuest: Free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation for *EVERY* iPhone – ”

I almost always skip over promoted Tweets. I don’t even read them most of the time. It’s as if I see out of the corner of my eye the small symbol representing the promoted Tweet and quickly avoid looking at it. I’m seeing (and not reading) more promoted Tweets. I’m receiving more messages encouraging me to promote a Tweet myself. I wasn’t buying any of it.

But the Tweet promoted by MapQuest stopped my scrolling finger in its tracks. It was as if I were the Tweet’s ideally drawn up target audience. I favorited the Tweet and later tried out MapQuest’s spoken, turn-by-turn navigational app, making myself the almost too perfect example of using social media to convert readers into customers.

Do promoted Tweets work? For me personally, not most of the time. Only one has spoken to me. However, in a game such as baseball, success is reached by getting a hit only 30% of the time. Someone might argue my one example shows how well promoted Tweets can succeed.

I’m also curious if this example was simply a successful shot in the dark or part of a well-crafted strategy. Did MapQuest somehow know I needed spoken navigation? Did people with no need see the same Tweet?

One of social media’s most difficult aspects is ROI. Some of those considered experts sound like professors when writing about ROI, but I often feel like they’re full of it and put emphasis on statistics that mean little in reality. Sharing anecdotes might be just as important in determining what in social media actually works.

Is secret agent DNA built into dogs?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012


When I round the hallway corner in the morning, I sometimes hear my dog Molly subtly step off the couch after trespassing there overnight. When I walk away from a half-eaten paper plate of food, Molly glances back at me, strategizing when she might make a move based on my positioning in the house. When she is in the backyard and her nose is sniffing perilously close to something it shouldn’t, she searches for my face peering at her through a window.

These examples indicate secret agent DNA might be built into dogs. But if such training is part of canine culture, then one particular class is horribly absent from the curriculum:  the art of rummaging through trash.

I returned home to find the contents of a garbage bag lined up along the kitchen floor as if a parade passed through. No one did this other than the dog and yet she made no effort at a cover-up. She made a mess and left it all behind as if convinced I would believe a strong wind seeped through or the invisible man stopped by for scraps.

Go through the trash but for goodness sake, if for no other reason than pride, put the Hefty bag back together again. Whatever pooch acts as president over the canine world needs to take bold action and finally address this flaw in dog sneakiness.

Until then, the same set of circumstances plays out. The homeowner returns and scolds dog, who slinks away for a dumpster diver that took place hours ago. Please, for the dignity of dog kind, bring in a consultant if necessary.

If a dog can sneak a nap on the couch and carefully time out when to swipe a plate, he or she can certainly cover her tracks to and from the trash.

Modern Love: A Man In Lovers’ Lane

Friday, March 2nd, 2012


I’ve been witnessing a series of events bringing into question the assumption many men are not emotionally available. The man I’ve been observing is 70 years old, reinforcing my unscientific theory that men soften with age. He is decades from when his visits to college football games included fistfights. He is a generation away from the F-bomb assault he once dropped on a man who towed his car. He is a different man.

He carefully chose his partner. He enjoys telling his son about her greatest features. He loves talking to her and is patient when she doesn’t understand him. If he wakes up early, he ensures he is by her side. And I often see him with his hands all over her, caressing her, protecting her. He even stayed up until 2am researching how to treat her better.

I won’t name him. But her name is BMW X5. After trying out several others, he finally made it official with BMW X5. I knew this was more than a casual fling when he bought extra mats to protect her floor mats.

The man’s wife woke up early one morning and noticed her husband not in bed. He was in BMW X5. His research on how to properly wax her kept him up into the wee hours of the night. I’m afraid of touching BMW X5. And when I tried talking to her navigational system, she gave me the silent treatment. I’m sure I just wasn’t the right guy. I wasn’t the guy in the driver’s seat.

But I’m happy he is happy. She is big and beautiful and dressed in leather. They will share his family, friends and America’s roads traveling the country together.

When his wife drives BMW X5 alone and returns home, I’m sure he conducts his own 12-point inspection. His wife understands. She laughs about it. Call it ménage à car.

Meeting a pet with your same name

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012


I’m watching a movie. One of the characters is named Molly. Molly also is the name of the terrier-German shepherd mix sleeping on my carpet.

A human Molly once stopped by. I told her my dog also is Molly. That felt awkward. Did she mind that I found her name suitable for my dog?

I did not name Molly. I rescued her and she came with that name. I didn’t change it. I didn’t want to confuse her.

I once read Molly is one of the most common names for dogs. I hope this doesn’t bother human Mollys. But I don’t know. I never met a dog named Keith. I honestly don’t think I would mind. But I might feel weird if I met a dog named Keith Yaskin.

When I was growing up, pets had pet names. My Dalmatian was Bandit. My orange cat was Frisky. His mother was Bootsy. After college, I adopted a tabby and named her Chicago after the city.

But if more pets are taking human names, should humans take pet names? I can imagine an old man named Frisky or a cowboy named Bootsy.

I must acknowledge in the past, when I worked with someone I really didn’t like, I sometimes day dreamed of adopting a pet and naming it after that person. I smiled, thinking of walking into work and explaining to that co-worker I just adopted a really ugly dog. You see where I’m going.

Molly is a very good dog. She brings a few bad habits to the dinner table. I think if human Mollys met her, they might appreciate the connection to such a good-hearted and loving creature. Molly is protective. She stands her ground against anyone or anything when necessary. But she doesn’t hold a grudge. She’s patient and by your side. She is comfortable with who she is and doesn’t mind having a beard.

Maybe it’s Molly who should wonder if some humans are worthy of her name.

Have you met a pet with your name?

At some point in our lives, we are taught telling the full truth is too dicey

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Someone called me a “romantic.” It had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

Earlier that morning, I got into a heated exchange with someone providing me customer service. Her answers are not what bothered me most. Her lack of direct answers bothered me. I asked yes or no questions and she provided answers that did not involve yes or no. Her answers sounded more like theory or philosophy where words drift in the air and fade away without true meaning.

A while back, I sometimes posted Tweets with the hashtag #waronbs or #nomorebs. I’m talking more than politicians, who make statements, get criticism and then claim they need to “clarify” their remarks. Think about it. How many people are truly left who keep it real or tell it like it is?

We live in a world where not returning repeated e-mails or phone calls seems standard. And when people return our phone calls, they often prefer to control the conversation by responding with texts and emails.

When people say something went wrong due to a “miscommunication,” how often do they really mean, “someone screwed up”?

When a friend says she hasn’t returned your message because she’s been swamped, how often does she mean she actually had more important things to do? Let’s keep it real. Even though that friend was busy, I bet she included time to update Facebook or eat lunch, moments she could have called.

At some point in our lives, we are taught telling the full truth is too dicey. Telling your boss the truth might make your job less secure. Telling your customer the facts might sound cold and callous. Telling your friend the reality of the situation might hurt her feelings.

We all know people who pride themselves on being direct and straightforward. Too often, they are the very ones who send texts when the toughest times of truth come calling.

Much of the media, our longtime truth seekers, can’t shoot straight. After another reporter aired a story, I often heard in the newsroom the “real” story. That part never made air.

Email, texts and social media allow spin to thrive. Less often, we are forced to communicate face-to-face, where we might reveal real feelings. Instead, we write well-crafted emails better suited for an English class. We read them over and over. We ask someone else’s opinion. We try to tell someone “off” in the softest, kindest way with a cherry on top. The email ends with “Thank you.” Sometimes I end an email with “thank you” and don’t know why.

So someone called me a “romantic” because I still expect a straight answer. He also told me civility has slipped away in our society. I don’t know. I didn’t live through the 1950s. I can’t compare a range of decades.

I’m not arguing for more conversations with four-letter words. I’m proposing more professional, respectful conversations where we say what we mean and not use words that serve no other purpose than to make people feel better. Do you really believe the public figure needed to “clarify” his words or was “misunderstood”? When your friend claimed he was busy the last six months, did you really believe it?

If you don’t like this blog, I will clarify my remarks later. Thank you.