Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

We Applaud Internet Companies’ Statements, But …

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Some Americans and tech experts, despite what Internet and communications companies insist, believe those businesses cooperate with government reconnaissance such as the program PRISM more than they acknowledge. We also understand some companies issue statements that are cautiously formulated.

Too frequently, businesses delay commenting or send out vague comments that raise more questions and doubts. But we applaud the Internet companies that issued statements quickly and firmly.

On Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg explained:

  • Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to company servers.
  • The company has never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk.
  • If it did, the company would fight it aggressively.
  • The company hadn’t heard of PRISM before.
  • Facebook reviews each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law.
  • The company will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.

On Google’s official blog, in a post titled, “What the …?”, the company’s CEO and chief legal officer explained:

  • Google has not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to its servers.
  • The U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in its data centers.
  • Google provides user data to governments only in accordance with the law.
  • Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to its users’ data are false.
  • Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about its users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

While we praise the approach, this is only the first step in media and public relations. Journalists can’t interview statements. Reporters want interviews to check for traces of loopholes in statements’ language. Quick and firm statements can later crumble if they twisted the truth. Companies can lose trust if they refuse to face tough questioning and ignore the skeptics on social media.

Media and public relations is often a long-term strategy. Starting off well does not promise a happy ending.

Public Relations: Must Love Dogs

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

A recent Tuesday:

Taking Molly the dog to a park for her morning walk

Watching Molly interact with another dog whose owner does not believe the leash rule applies to her

Hoping Molly doesn’t lash out at the unleashed dog

Trying to conduct business on a smart phone while untangling Molly from her leash in her latest Houdini impression

Trying unsuccessfully to persuade Molly to drink from a water fountain specifically for dogs

Wondering if the other dogs distracted Molly from using the bathroom at the park and if this means the house will later serve as a toilet

Trying to drive safely while leaving a long voice mail for someone who wants to know how to grab the public’s attention about an issue

Stopping by the dermatologist’s office

Wondering if standing barefoot in the dermatologist’s office is healthy

Enjoying a microwave lunch

Leaving a voice mail for a national magazine editor, curious why I haven’t heard from her in a couple of days

Helping my mom on the phone navigate Facebook so she can tell me if my mobile post actually appeared

Learning a potential client has postponed a possible project for later in the year

Rescheduling a dinner appointment

Back at the park in the afternoon, watching the phone’s battery go bye bye with no outlet in sight

Faxing? Didn’t that disappear along with the CD player?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Janice Hurley-Trailor asked me to stop by her office. We built videos for her. I call the main video “Every Woman Wants To Feel Attractive.” Janice had questions related to Dropbox, Google Drive and YouTube. She had accumulated several YouTube accounts and wanted to merge them. She wanted to learn more about how to help viewers find her videos on YouTube.

Some people use services such as Dropbox and YouTube every day. They subscribe to daily emails detailing other forms of social media like an economist might break down the ins and outs of the fiscal cliff. But I’ve learned the hyped discussions about these sites do not mean business owners around the country know, for example, how to easily navigate from their personal Facebook page to the one about their company. I imagine some of these business owners make better use of their time focusing on their own craft and subscribing to emails about their own industry. These are smart people with successful businesses, but that doesn’t mean they must know about YouTube’s default settings.

Some of us who consider ourselves tech savvy tend to forget much of the world is too busy to experiment with Google Plus or choose the perfect tags for a post. I playfully mock one of our clients who offers to fax us information. Fax? Didn’t that disappear along with the CD player? But faxing works for him and between his patients and their parents and everything else I don’t understand about his industry, he doesn’t have a lot of time to toy around with building a YouTube Channel. And while Dropbox may seem like a simple online service to some users, others didn’t grow up in a world of links, uploading and sharing.

So I sat with Janice and her assistant and step by step helped them with their questions about YouTube. I have spent a lot of time navigating YouTube’s Help section, trying to figure out this or that and how to present videos in the most attractive and effective way possible. I learn things I didn’t imagine others would care to hear from me. I guess Janice could hit the Google highway and search for blogs that answer her specific questions, blogs that explain everything without dancing the lingo. But Janice probably has better things to do like speak at conferences and conduct business makeovers that change people’s lives. I give her information quickly without wasting her time. Plus I’m interesting and make jokes. I get it.

And if for some reason you can’t read this blog on your computer, I am glad to fax it to you.

The Continued Role Of Social Media In War And Politics

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The Continued Role Of Social Media In War And Politics

My mom repeated her social media blasphemy.

“Twitter is a waste of time,” said told me several times.

I don’t spend as much time anymore on Twitter. People started annoying me especially as the presidential election approached. But I continue to believe Twitter is a useful tool for businesses to share their knowledge and establish a place in their industry. This argument hasn’t persuaded mom to stop saying, “Twitter is a waste of time.” She focuses on the silly statements people post to Twitter.

But current events, both domestically and internationally, remind me of Twitter’s reach.

In Gaza Conflict, Fighting With Weapons and Postings on Twitter,” read The New York Times headline Nov. 22.

I read about Twitter again in The New York Times in an article about conflict in Egypt: “Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader and former United Nations diplomat, sent a Twitter message that the draft constitution “undermines basic freedoms and violates universal values.”

Facebook followed:

The New York Times: “On Mr. Netanyahu’s Facebook page, Gila Glickerman, the mother of a combat soldier, thanked the prime minister for bringing her son home, while Shai Solomon wrote, ‘You’ve just lost a vote at the ballot box.’”

Next, a Times article about Syria: “The protest took place despite more than two days of Internet failures that slowed the spread of the call for action. Called the “Strike of Pride,” it was announced on Facebook and other social media sites beginning a week ago, as well as by activists who dropped leaflets and spray-painted the news on walls.”

I’m not sure Skype is social media in the true sense, but Syria coverage included Skype. Again, The New York Times: “For months, rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad have used Skype, a peer-to-peer Internet communication system, to organize and talk to outside news organizations and activists.”

Domestically, President Obama and The White House Tweeted so often about issues related to the fiscal cliff, the hashtag “#My2K” trended nationally. Five days later, The White House Tweeted, “Hey guys, this is barack. ready to answer your questions on fiscal cliff & #my2k. Let’s get started. – bo.” Moments after someone suggested to me the President was not Tweeting himself, we saw a picture of the President apparently Tweeting. I tried to take part in the conversation, too.

These examples are simply reminders that social media continues to play a significant role in communication at the highest levels of war and politics across the world. For every silly example of people posting on social media about what they ate for lunch, there is an example of Twitter’s true influence.

And if leaders of countries and those involved in combat continue to acknowledge the reach of social media, so can a small business down the street.

What do you think mom?

Will This Prevent Me From Getting Health Insurance?

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Will This Prevent Me From Obtaining Health Insurance?

I’m a former TV investigative reporter. People often called me to help resolve their problems. Some complaints were baseless. Some I resolved behind the scenes. Others led to on-air special reports. Now I sometimes share our consumer experiences, knowing others likely have faced similar situations. We also believe sharing these stories is part of the essence of social media.

A health insurance company says it declined me coverage due to information in my medical records I had never heard of before. How is this scenario possible?

Our healthcare broker indicated this is an important matter to resolve. The medical records information previously unknown to us could prevent me from obtaining in the future both health and life insurance.

“Obamacare!!!” wrote a Facebook fan.

I don’t understand why he connects my situation and healthcare reform.

“Someone stole your ID?” asked another Facebook fan.

I don’t think anyone stole my ID. Someone at the doctor’s office confirmed the information in question is in my records. She said she did not understand the meaning of the information. I asked to talk to the doctor. She said she would leave a message for the doctor’s medical assistant.

A Facebook friend wrote, “Our new insurance did the same thing to [my wife] and she is the single healthiest person I know…by a long shot.”

Another Facebook friend posted, “Unbelievable. Fight it!”

“Be very PRO ACTIVE!!!” wrote another on Facebook.

As of writing this, neither the doctor nor his medical assistant called me back. I’ll keep you posted.

Update: I talked on the phone with the doctor. He is surprised the insurance company denied me coverage due to the information in my medical records. He says the information in question falls within the normal range. He will write a letter I can submit to the insurance company as part of my appeal.

Update:  Doctor writes letter stating I’m in excellent health and clarifies misinformation.

We’re Not Fans Of Social Media Cheap Tricks

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

We're Not Fans Of Social Media Cheap TricksA while back, we conducted a couple of contests to increase our Facebook fans. The first time, we gave away one of Loren’s pieces of jewelry she made. The second time, we gave away a subscription to an online business publication.

The contests failed. We didn’t see a spike in Facebook fans. We haven’t conducted a contest since.

Did we give away items people didn’t care about? Did we give up too soon? The answers really don’t matter to us. Yes, we realize we might add hundreds if not thousands of fans in a week if a contest gave away free Super Bowl tickets. After the contest, we would display an impressive number of fans but a large percentage of them wouldn’t be so-called brand ambassadors. They wouldn’t pay close attention to what we have to say. Maybe a few of our hypothetical Super Bowl fans would wander to our website and convert into customers. In reality, our Facebook page would be full of unauthentic fat … unless you believe a fat Facebook number alone impresses people so much, they can’t help but hand over money.

When I wrote this blog, The Flip Side’s Facebook page included 129 fans. I also have a separate fan page I started while reporting on TV with 217 fans. That’s a small fraction compared to some companies. On The Flip Side, we have more fans than some bigger organizations that debuted years before we did.

Here’s our bottom line:  We read a lot of good content, some over and over from the same source, and for whatever reason haven’t “liked” their Facebook pages. So when someone actually takes a moment to click that thumb icon without the promise of a prize, we assume we earned that “like” a little bit more than if we had offered to give away expensive shoes or a trip to the beach.

So if you worry the size of your numbers doesn’t measure up, appreciate your current club, which just might be your true brand ambassadors (unless of course your relatives have joined forces to expand your numbers).

You can win fans many flawed ways. But the most legitimate strategy, and the one that probably converts people into customers, is providing good content and not contests. It may not be quick and easy, but it’s real.

If you provide good content, they will come … eventually.

On This Social Media Journey, We Won’t Stop Believin’, But …

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

On This Social Media Journey, We Won’t Stop Believin’, But …Several services offer to schedule your social media updates at times people are most likely to see them. This intrigues many businesses who worry their followers are missing important content.

I’ve tried several of these services. Some social media experts praise them often. Scheduling content for the following day has its benefits when you won’t have time to post in real time. But can a website actually provide me precise insight on the best times to Tweet?

People study this like a science and you can sign up for webinars to learn the secrets. However, many of the experts explaining the benefits of scheduling social media are in the social media industry. Don’t they benefit by convincing businesses that social media is not an exercise in randomness?

One service recommended I Tweet at times that most people, if they had to guess, would select anyway. The times were when most people get to work, eat lunch and start preparing to head home. Loren tried the same service, which provided her times similar to mine. Do our followers behave so similarly?

Another service indicated I should Tweet during normal business hours on weekdays. Is that truly insightful? The same service indicated what time of day I receive the most replies to my Tweets. But don’t I significantly determine when followers reply by when I Tweet to them?

Another site scheduled all my Tweets within a few hours of each other. For example, if I scheduled the Tweets late in the evening, the site scheduled all my Tweets within a few hours the next morning. Is this optimized Tweeting?

Maybe I don’t appreciate and fully understand algorithms. Maybe I don’t fully understand how these sites work, although I typically try them out after someone writes how easy they are for people to use.

Then there’s common sense. I don’t check Facebook and Twitter the same time every day. I doubt anyone could find a social media trend on me. I think the times I’m logged on are random.

It makes sense many people may check Facebook and Twitter at lunch. But if everyone posts at lunch, what are the chances followers will cut through the crap and click on your links? Is lunch really an optimized time?

I don’t doubt smart people have devised algorithms. But I’m not convinced the algorithms are telling us much more than we can figure out on our own with a pencil and paper. To me, strategically scheduling social media presents too many shades of grey.

But I’m not a curmudgeon. I’m opened minded and willing to continue to try websites with super insight. It’s unfair for people to miss our amazing blogs. I would love to know when most of my followers are checking their smart phones while ignoring their friends and family. We won’t stop believin’.

The Media: A Photojournalist And Good Guy Who Needs Your Prayers

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

When I started reporting in Phoenix, one of the first investigative stories to get my journalistic juices flowing was about internal government documents which somehow got into our hands. The documents detailed reports on border crossers who raised suspicions about terrorists potentially entering the country from Mexico. The story sent me on my first trip to the border. Photographer Joe Peters traveled with me and when he finished editing the story, he found a way to turn a stack of papers into a visually compelling sweeps special report.

Joe and I also worked on an unusual story about a homeowner who argued construction workers spent so much time peeing in the house while building it, the stench was pretty much as permanent as the foundation. In an effort to begin a story with a few drops of humor, I sent Joe into the station bathroom to shoot video of him flushing urinals.

Joe never let me forget my editorial decision on that one.

Joe and I also worked one of the stories most memorable to me:  a police officer who was shot seven times, survived and recorded the whole incident on a personal tape recorder.

Joe moved away many years ago. I won’t pretend we’re best friends or that we’re close. But we stayed in regular contact how many men keep in touch: through sports. I bashed his Bears. He mocked my Dolphins.

Anyone genuinely familiar with the media knows too many in TV news, both behind and in front of the camera, are jaded and not so fun to work with. They bitch and moan, sometimes rightfully, about decisions, equipment and anything else they see in their path. Joe was no push over, but he most often brushed off that B.S. with a smile. TV reporters often have a select few photographers they hope to work with when they walk through the door. How could Joe Peters not be on my list? He is talented and more importantly, he is a good guy in an industry that could use a whole lot more.

Some managers follow the argument that they can replace everyone and their TV train will keep rolling full steam ahead without slowing down and barreling off the tracks. That’s not true. I’ve watched several co-workers leave over the years and management never replaced their positive personalities. Joe falls in that category.

I was stunned to hear Joe recently suffered a severe stroke. He’s relatively young. He’s married with children. He’s the one not too long ago who was making fun of my Heat and Marlins. You hear what happened and can’t believe all the stupid things the rest of us worry about, lose sleep over and consider a big deal. You hear what happened and you’re reminded life is fragile.

I sent Joe a text knowing he may never read it. His wife wrote back, saying “Joe moved to a rehab facility today and he moved his toe!!!”

If you’re in public relations, you may have once met Joe Peters. And if you’re a reporter or producer, trust me. He is one of the co-workers you would have appreciated working with, especially if you’re surrounded by jerks who make the simple assignments difficult. Joe usually shot the story with a smile and made it look damn good.

Joe is a good guy who needs your prayers.

Wish Joe well here on Facebook.

Oh Canada! For Public Relations Pros, This Is A Great Move!

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Oh Canada! For Public Relations Pros, This Is A Great Move!

Here we are in Canada. We are smiling. But some people consider traveling to Canada without turning their frown upside down.

If some liberals and conservatives share something in common, they both threaten to move to Canada when elections or rulings don’t go their way. I doubt these angry Americans actually make the move. I doubt most of them even check if the policies they’re upset about are any better with our neighbors to the North. And if liberals and conservatives actually moved to Canada every time they got angry, most of them would simply end up living together across the border.

How does Canada feel about being the back-up plan when Americans get upset? Maybe some Canadians see The Flip Side and are flattered their country is the first choice.

If I were a real estate public relations pro in Canada, I would blast email great deals to liberals and conservatives every time they got angry. Better yet, before big elections or rulings, I would post online videos, plant news stories and strike up some social media strategy about Canada’s virtues. This would start up a subliminal conversation just before the volcano of political anger erupts.

“Like” Canada’s Facebook page the next time your political opponents push your buttons and possibly win a free weekend in your favorite province. Re-tweet “I’m moving to Canada” or connect with Canada on LinkedIn and potentially win an acre in the wilderness. Plus enjoy professional baseball, football and hockey just like you do now!

If nothing else, the public relations pro could probably persuade at least a few people to buy a summer home up North. My question is this:

If you trek up to Canada and then its politics piss you off, where do you threaten to move next?

“I’m moving back to America!”

Who The Heck Is Watching Local News Anyway?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Who The Heck Is Watching Local News Anyway?

I’m not sure but someone is.

I can tell you this. Some TV news managers claim they know who watches the local news. But when I asked how they knew, their answers didn’t satisfy me. In my opinion, their evidence was flimsy at best. But some TV news managers feel obligated to appear they know who is watching. Someone needs to take a leadership role during editorial meetings and provide logic when deciding which stories to cover. What stories do people care about? I heard that question countless times during meetings. Imagine if TV news managers said “I really don’t know who’s watching. So your guess is as good as mine.”

Ratings help break down the age groups watching. But are single moms truly watching a specific newscast? If American Idol airs before your newscast, are music lovers actually watching the news that night? On that night, should the newsroom assign more stories about iTunes or concerts?

Maybe TV managers, similar to Colonel Sanders, have a secret formula tucked away in a safe with all the answers. But when I asked, people in the newsroom never convinced me they really knew who was sitting in the living room enjoying the latest edition of breaking news and brush fires along the highway. I inferred I should simply stop asking the question.

So I don’t know the answer. And I’m still asked the question. When people asked me what I did for a living, they often apologized for not recognizing me, saying they don’t watch the local news. Most of my friends insist they don’t watch the local news. But someone still is. Enough people recognized me or my name over the years that I assumed they watched my station with consistency. Some people were even familiar with my style of reporting. If you need further proof, check out a local TV anchor’s Facebook page. Anchors briefly mention they smoked a cigar or they post a picture of the weather and a gazillion people reply. I mean it! A gazillion!

Businesses hand out company flyers pointing out they appeared on a station. I know one business which mentions its appearance on its outgoing voice mail. Media relations clients tell me about the leads they receive after appearing on the news. Some companies simply believe appearing on the news gives them some extra credibility. And with webpages, phone apps and Twitter updates, you don’t need to turn on the TV for your local news.

I don’t know for sure who watches the local news. I don’t know their wealth or education level. I can guess but not with much certainty. I’ve asked. I’ve debated the topic numerous times, even to the point where a TV manager whispered he honestly didn’t know either. But someone is watching. And at any given time, the news still offers you an opportunity to share your business with a whole bunch of people.