June 25, 2009

The most significant media day in the past two decades

Posted in In the news at 9:32 pm by R

I’m paraphrasing my husband in the headline from a report he heard on the radio today.

We know now that the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson, has passed on at the age of 50 from an apparent cardiac arrest at his house in Holmbly Hill, Calif.

The means by which this information came to light and the speed at which the media reported was unlike anything I, and I’m sure many others, have never seen.

Today, the first news I saw of MJ was on a Facebook update. I immediately went to a trusted news resource to see what was going on — People.com had nothing up yet. (I don’t trust any entertainment news until People confirms it.)

As I searched for more information, tweets were lighting like wild fire with reports of an ambulance speeding to UCLA medical, an unconscious Jackson and words like, “grave situation.”

I pulled up TMZ.com and there before my stunned eyes was a huge masthead reading

RIP: Michael Jackson Dies

I quickly visited the usual news suspects (MSNBC, CNN, BBC, New York Times, LA Times), but few reported more than an incident where Jackson was rushed to the hospital.

Within the next five minutes breaking news headlines scrolled across every screen “REPORTS: Michael Jackson Dead,” and “unconfirmed sources” filled quotes. All of those sources which I deem as credible referred back to the shocking news TMZ boldly published.

The sheer onslaught of information was as shocking as the news being delivered today. Such a strange day. We’ve lost two cultural icons – Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. One, a rather expected death — perhaps even hoped for that she might have some peace and be set free from pain. The other so monumentally unexpected.

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009

The only other event in my lifetime that I can recall garnering so much attention and coverage is the tragic passing of Princess Diana. I was in 7th grade, spending the night at my friend Lindsey’s house and we watched CNN until the sun came up the next day. But event that momentous and awful event seems to pale in comparison to what I saw today.

Perhaps the reason why is the advent of Facebook and Twitter. People posted sentiments, memories, songs, videos, news reports, lyrics, photos, you name it, with lightening speed. I am awed by the out poring of touching reports and celebrity call ins and speed with which so many TV packages have been pulled together. ABC broadcast not one but two hour-long specials honoring the lives of Fawcett and Jackson.

But let’s face it: people like Farrah and MJ are the ones whose obituaries the Associated Press (and many other news outlets) had drafted years and years ago.

Like him or not, you can’t deny his impact on GLOBAL society. He’s not unlike the phenomena of social media, which in so many ways heralded the news of his death.

I don’t doubt whatever personality who dubbed today the most significant media day in the past two decades. In my twenty-something life I can’t recall anything like it.


Measuring Commentary

Posted in Social Media at 9:22 am by R

One of the things I like most about reading the paper on-line are the comments at the bottom of the articles. It never ceases to amaze me the myriad opinions and wild positions people will take on the most innocuous news story!

Around here, in Arizona, you’re almost guaranteed that no matter what the news was about, someone will make a comment about illegal immigration. Doesn’t matter if it’s germane to the story … it just always manages to come up.

Many times I find myself laughing at the comments, people get pretty extreme when they know they are protected by the mask of Internet anonymity. When you read some of these people’s thoughts it’s obvious they say things just to rile others and garner more comments. It’s practically a sport!

So how do you accurately extract value out of the sometimes outlandish?

I’m likely to assess comments individually into categories:

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Positive response to other commentary
  • Negative response to other commentary
  • Not relevant to topic

Allow me to explain my rationale:

  1. Positive — It’s clear cut and simple to assess and categorize these comments. Look for key words or phrases repeating here. Those phrases are ones your public identifies with and associates with your brand. Ask if you’re exemplifying them or if new, commonly used words have a place in your brand characteristics.
  2. Negative — Also clear cut and simple to categorize. Again, look for key words or phrases here to track a pattern of perception. Use these words as things you are NOT in your brand and strategize about how to counteract those perceptions through brand promises.
  3. Positive response to other commentary — Take note of when people respond to other people’s comments. Don’t simply list as “positive” because the thoughts expressed here may hinge upon ideas from the primary comment, not the news itself. Tracking positive conversation is equally as important as noting positive comments, but be sure to acknowledge what the impetus was — it might not be your news.
  4. Negative response to other commentary — This is where it can get heated. Many times this is where the conversation also gets off track and can become hard to measure. Clump all of these conversations together to look for common themes, descriptions of events or perceptions. Note whether or not the response to the comment was meant as a refute to a previous comment or whether it’s stated in agreement with previous comments.
  5. Not relevant to topic — Your story was on tips for making iced tea, their comment was about illegal immigration. If you can correlate the two, you’re more inventive than me. Keep these separate.

It’s still not a perfect process, but this means of categorization can show you trends both positive and negative that can help you refine future communications and evaluate how you’re executing on your brand promise.


June 15, 2009

CMSF: The one year mark

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:20 am by R

A year ago, when I launched Cut Me Some Flack, I wanted to capture the experience of Gen Y professionals in a field we all knew was changing.

And change it has.

So here’s a couple things I’ve learned/observed:

  1. The coversation has been dominated by Social Media.
  2. The second most frequent topic matter: newspaper down-sizing, layoffs, closures
  3. The old tools and practices are getting a face lift or are going by the wayside

Each of these trends — as far as CMSF is concerned — lead into one another. The rise of social media contributed to the fall of so many practices (I mean a 140 character press release just isn’t realistic). And a leaner, meaner media further bolsters the quick access and short response format of social media.

Having entered this field only four years ago, I can say that just about EVERYTHING has changed. And this past year really seems to be the tipping point. We’re in a new era of PR. And we’ll keep tabs on the changes in the media, communications practices and anything else that catches our eye.