Behind Facebook’s Rose-Colored Glasses
Griffin Cottle is a former Examining Social Media Networks student now enrolled in Leveraging Social Media for Public Relations.
Social is supposed to be all about keeping it real. As he explains in an intro to his classmates, Griffin doesn’t think that’s always the case.
I think my least favorite social platform is Facebook, which I just deleted.
I think it’s because it’s both (1) all about ‘me’; and (2) it’s unrelentingly, unbelievably optimistic.
The stories that people share are all positive and incredible, and from knowing the people in real life I can say for sure, and not to be a total downer, that they bear no resemblance to reality.
Since the only use I could find for it was self promotion, I disconnected.
On Valentine’s Night, I experimented with a thematic Snapchat Story featuring short video clips from some of my favorite cheezy love songs.
The story will start disappearing soon, but I took screenshots of some of the highlights.
Whatever You Are, You’re Not a Publicist
Two-time former student Monique Mallory is a longtime PR vet who once self-identified as a publicist. As a native Southern Californian, three things pop in mind whenever I hear that word: red carpets, bleach-blondes & clipboards.
Thankfully, Monique is now in the position to ditch the old-school title after beefing up her digital/social skillset in the NYU-SCPS Digital Media Marketing Certificate program. That’s when Monique hired me to help revamp her digital fingerprint, beginning with the LinkedIn profile.
Behind Facebook, LinkedIn is the most widely used social networking site out there. LinkedIn represents all-things ‘social media & your career’ and some analysts predict it will become a mammoth business publisher that could erode the futures of Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Monique is a role model for mid-career professionals who mask their fear of social media in sentiments like “social media is stupid” or “Facebook is going down soon.” That’s because Monique embraces digital/social as add-on skills that transform her traditional PR talent into something fresh, shiny & new again.
Eat your hearts out, Millennials, because Monique knows search engine optimization, search engine marketing, web analytics and she was a Google+ early adopter, a qualification that makes her highly desirable. “Google+ Expert” is one of 2014’s new hot job titles.
Don’t forget her traditional PR talent that never goes out of style, things like relationship building, media relations and a long list of placements at virtually every print & broadcast outlet that’s been around for the past two decades.
Add to this Monique’s community management know-how, a talent that she developed all on her own over the past few years by [voluntarily] participating in Google+ Fan Communities. Today, she co-manages more than a dozen Google+ pages & digital communities for her favorite TV shows & music genres, such as True Blood, Game of Thrones & I Love 80’s Music.
Over the next few days, we’ll be wrapping Monique’s revamped LinkedIn profile. Thanks to social media, we’re showing that she’s far more than a publicist. Monique’s an independent business owner & proven PR pro who manages digital communities with the same TLC that she uses with the news media.
Goldiblox CEO Debbie Sterling and the little girls who play with them (and parents who buy them) are so much more than innovators.
If you haven’t heard of Goldiblox, it’s the grand-prize winner of the Intuit Small Business Big Game that was featured in an all-expenses paid ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.
Think of Goldiblox as a blend of Legos, Lincoln Logs & Tinkertoys for little girls. The Goldilox website explains it like this:
In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation … By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.
As a communications person who is sensitive to [overused] business words & phrases, there’s only one thing about Goldiblox that gives me a slight pause: the tagline.
Toys for Future Innovators
Goldiblox is a young business, so I suspect that Team Goldie is still experimenting with its brand. When I first heard about the company a few months ago, the tagline was Toys for Future Engineers. This made perfect sense after watching a promo video in which three young girls turn a home into a magical Rube Goldberg machine. (Must Watch).
At the very end of the Super Bowl commercial, I noticed the change to Toys for Future Innovators.
If Team Goldie has anything to do with it, today’s little girls will have higher aspirations to be engineers when they grow up — and lots of other things — so I see why they replaced Engineers with Innovators. Future Innovators will capture a bigger chunk of the market share than Engineers alone.
But let’s set aside the toys, the future & little girls for a second. What, exactly, is an innovator?
According to an item in The Atlantic, "Innovation: The History of a Buzzword," “shouts of “Innovator!” used to be akin to charges of heresy.” Today, ask ten people what they define as innovative, and you’ll get ten very different responses.These are the same types of responses you’ll get if you ask, “What is unique?” or "What is a Thought Leader?"
Innovator, Innovate and Innovative are buzzwords that have all but lost their meaning in today’s business environment. They join the ranks of other overused buzzwords — like strategic, unique, out-of-the-box, effective and plenty more — that raise skepticism. When the media sees these words, the first thing that pops in mind is the product, service or company is anything but <fill in the buzzword>, even if it’s something that will change the world.
When it comes to business-speak, all-things innovative took a beating in 2013:
- The Wall Street Journal names it as one of the year’s most hated buzzwords
- It is one of the new entrants to the list of Top 10 Overused LinkedIn Profile Buzzwords
- A PRNewser item names it as the #1 buzzword that PR pros should avoid
I’m not poo-poo’ing Goldiblox by any stretch. Just the opposite, in fact. Ms. Sterling & Team Goldie deserve every bit of praise that comes their way, without the threat of buzzword buzzkill.
Last night, I watched Ms. Sterling’s TedTalk. She shared her personal story of being a little girl & then later a female college engineering student who doesn’t fit in. What she realized then & what she’s doing now with Goldiblox isn’t innovative, really.
Instead, Goldiblox reinforces a simple, powerful and necessary message. It’s a message that we need to hear, to understand, to embrace and to instill in our young people.
Toys for Smart Little Girls Who We Encourage To Build Anything They Dream Up In Their Heads.
Does the Written Word Matter in Digital Media?
If you read my blog or Twitter feed, you’ve probably run across this name: Carmella Lanni. Carmella was in my Fall 2013 (Session 1) Strategic Communications course. Carmella & I have have since transitioned from instructor-student to colleague-friend status.
Personally, Carmella’s a good person, so that holds weight. Professionally, I respect how she & I share ideas, read each others’ work and experiment with new StratComm concepts. If we worked in the same office, Carmella would be a Work Wife.
For example, one of our recent exchanges is inspiring me to think about the simultaneous intersection of traditional, digital, analog and social media — and how the mix can be relevant for StratCommers.
On Monday, Carmella sends me a text message. The text message contains an attached image. The attached image is a photo of a handwritten note. The handwritten note explains a project that Carmella is working on.
Some will immediately say, “What a waste of time.” Not so fast. There was something about reading this handwritten note that made an impact. This is personal. This is a 1:1 connection that feels familiar.
Socially, the [image of a ] handwritten note translated to a higher level of engagement. I took a deeper interest in Carmella’s project. I cared about these romantic product descriptions. Reading this content in a traditional text wouldn’t generate the same level of attention or inspire a tweet.
On Tuesday, Carmella sends me another text message. This text message contains an attached image. The attached image is a photo of a handwritten note that is essentially a short piece of visual storytelling.
“Buongiorno Dormivo [a nickname]. I saw you tweeted my handwritten note yesterday.”
Visual storytelling translates to “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and this is the element that sits at the core of today’s most popular social platforms, like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.
This is important to remember as it relates to everyday communication that we often take for granted. For example, my 55-year-old brother thinks of leaving notes on the kitchen table & traditional text messaging in the same way a 25-year-old might think about Snapchatting.
So going back to the earlier question, “Is this a waste of time?” If you didn’t grow up with first-grade grammarians & penmanship lessons, perhaps.
For Gen X’ers (like myself), Baby Boomers, Mature/Silents or the GI Generation, keeping the steep learning curves top-of-mind is important when developing program strategies.
StratComm programs that experiment with intersecting media are credible because they offer compelling creative ideas & executions, while also easing customers down a more familiar, well-traveled path. This can translate to heightened customer goodwill from those who might feel left behind on the wrong side of the generational divide.
On Being Noteworthy
"Do you know who Jackson Galaxy is?" former-student-turned-friend & fellow feline fanatic Carmella Lanni texted on Saturday morning. She’s referring to cat behaviorist & host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell.
The text exchange continued:
Eric: "Nope. But now this gives me something to do today when I should be doing something productive," I say, thinking about the time I’d now spend researching Galaxy.
Carmella: “So what plans did you have before I introduced you to Jackson?”
Eric: "Nothing noteworthy"
Ack. Did I really say that?
I’m not suggesting that getting to know Jackson Galaxy is a waste of time. Though the more I thought about the exchange, the more I was annoyed by my non-chalance in saying that “nothing noteworthy” was going on.
The truth is, I knew exactly what I was saying — and feeling — and before I could stop myself from hitting SEND, it was too late to take back the two words that formally announced my one-man pity party.
Yes, pity party. Without a full-time Spring teaching schedule, I need to rejigger my personal brand & digital fingerprint for a different audience: those seeking to hire me & my 20+ years of StratComm experience. Whether it’s consulting or a full-time gig, it all boils down to realizing that adjunct teaching life isn’t a dependable, full-time profession.
There’s a part of me that finds this upsetting. Fortunately, I have a lot of potential directions, and when it comes to social strategy, I’ve done my homework. Then again, there’s that thing called inertia. And it can be a b*#%h!
Back to noteworthy. It’s an old-school word. You probably won’t find it coming from the texts or Twitter feeds of your local Millennial. There’s a tinge of exaggerated pretension in the word, depending upon your tone of voice, though I’ll admit my utterance of “nothing noteworthy” was all sarcasm and self-deprecation.
The thing that sits at the core of all communication is intent. And if you intend to focus your time & energy on meaningful projects — as I do & always have — noteworthy is an adjective that I support: worthy of or attracting attention, especially because of some special excellence.
Macklemore & Lewis and Mary Lambert, for example, are responsible for noteworthy work that was brought to a global audience during last night’s Grammy Awards.
Regardless of your opinion on the "Did M&L deserve to sweep the rap categories?" debate, there’s no question that seeing 34 couples tie the knot during their live performance of “Same Love” sends a powerful message. This trio’s combined work is an intentional, noteworthy example of celebrating equality, gay and lesbian rights and same-sex marriage.
Every minute we spend on this planet needs to be noteworthy. It seems simple, yet it requires planning, focus & perseverance. It requires knowing yourself & your passions so that you don’t wake up one day & think to yourself, “What am I doing?” Frittering away the weekend doing “nothing noteworthy” doesn’t exactly lead to bigger & better things.
I quit making New Years resolutions a long time ago. There is a personal philosophy that I adopted as a 24/7/365 mantra a years ago.
Teaching helps me become a better version of myself. My classes are noteworthy because of their hands-on, real-life vigor. They’re noteworthy because you take an honest look at your talents & skillsets, real or perceived. They’re noteworthy because you receive customized feedback on all projects.
How I’ll become a better version of myself in 2014 remains to be seen. What I do know is that doing “nothing noteworthy” on Saturdays, or any other day, certainly won’t get me there.
Speaking of, this is what Carmella did on Saturday: “My day = juicing, going through birthday cards, shoe shopping and playing referee in a cat boxing match. I already watched a documentary on shoes … Dita Von Teese was in it.” All somehow noteworthy, no doubt.
The anxiety of doing “nothing noteworthy” immediately set in. No more than 30 minutes later I sent Carmella a Snap(chat) with a photo of my foot on the sidewalk and this text: "Noteworthy: Taking a walk on a Saturday morning."
Writing this post today & calling the inertia to my own attention was a noteworthy project.