December 28, 2010

End of an Era

Posted in Personally..., Uncategorized at 2:23 pm by R

When I launched this blog in 2008, things were beginning to change…quickly.

From where I sat then at a PR agency I thought, “Wow, the paradigms are about to shift. Someone should document this!” And so, I did.

In the roughly two-and-a-half years since the first post to Cut Me Some Flack, pretty much everything has changed…and that’s not much of an exaggeration either. I blogged about what was emerging, how it was changing  jobs and responsibilities, entire industries and the complexities of delivering a message to a new medium.

And in that time my life changed. In many ways I grew up. Graduated from the first chapter of my career in Communications and seized an awesome opportunity in a new role. I no longer work on what I lovingly refer to as “the dark side” in a PR agency. Nope, now my whole work world is social media. What was once a tag in a blog is now a job title for me!

So since all this has come to pass it seems like the right time to write the final post for  Cut Me Some Flack.

Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing. I’m sure I’ll need a new outlet to document my observations on social media soon. Stay tuned.

Until then…God Bless & Happy Posting!

July 10, 2010

Are Smart Phones the New Cigarette?

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:27 pm by R

Both are socially pervasive and signs of the times. One we know will cause cancer, the other — well, some people are looking into it. Have smart phones become the new cigarette?

I’m a little late to the party, but I just started watching Mad Men (I know, I know).  And I can’t help but notice how often and how deliberately — even strategically — the cast seems to whip out a cigarette.

During awkward turns of phrase…

As an excuse to glance down when someone you don’t wish to speak with walks by…

Out of sheer nervousness…

As I watched, I realized that worst of the bad habits cigarettes instilled in the American culture was not its stinking, carcinogenic stench, but rather the convenient and dismissive excuse to avoid interaction with other people.

Somehow, watching this show there still remains a certain debonair quality to smoking a cigarette. Maybe it’s the elegance all those things of times-gone-by manage to maintain — well, most things anyway.

Smart Phones…not so much. There’s nothing really classy about unabashedly staring down into a glowing LCD screen as someone you love tries to tell you about their day. Nor is there anything glamorous about being hunched over a handset to update your status in public.

But the reality is we depend on smart phones. They are the life lines to our bank balances, Twitter feeds, myriad apps and other conveniences that actually allow us to connect. But by the same token, they are an addiction. We feel jittery without them in much the same way one trying to lay off cigarettes does when they’re really jonesing for a smoke.

It’s as much a physical addiction as it is a psychological one. The weight of the handset in our palms has an odd comfort about it. We are deeply connected. I don’t know about you, but I can sense my blackberry buzzing before it does so, in the same way that I’m often able to anticipate what my darling husband might say before the words leave his lips. (Creepy that I just used that comparison actually…)

But there’s no elegance to the whole smart phone obsession. Are they necessary for everyday life?…in my world, heck yes. Is there any grace in these marvels of technology? If you’re into the whole “beautiful code” movement, probably. But there’s more hazard than harmony when it comes to our relationships with smart phones.

Our text happy thumbs have lead to tragic accidents. People have lost their lives paying more attention to the next BBM coming in than the road they’re driving on. We are down right callous to one another, giving more doting attention to these tiny computers than to the ones we love. There are even surgeries for those who have contracted injuries from physical overuse!

And if someone adds to the pile conclusive evidence that there’s neural damage or carcinogenic impact from our addictive use of smart phones whatever will we do? What substitute will suffice? How will we connect with one another? What will happen when something awkward happens and there’s no smart phone to turn to? Will we be forced to face down the ex-boyfriend, work foe or other nemesis headed our way down the street?

God help us if we have to interact with one another with no distractions in our hands, cigarettes, smart phones, stuffed animals, whatever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I sense that my Blackberry is about to ring…

~R

May 15, 2010

Why Personal & Professional Profiles Must Be Like Church & State

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:07 pm by R

Our forefathers in their great wisdom saw fit to separate church and state so as to divide two volatile and sometimes conflicting arenas. Such is the case with personal and professional information in social media.

This is why God invented professional networks like LinkedIn and (ridiculously difficult) privacy settings on Facebook so that you could segregate the professional from the personal and put up firewalls where the professional might peer over into the personal. But there are some places where the only protection and privacy you have is your own good judgement.

Because of this, I’d like to post some Emily Post-esque advice for those of you who exist in that delicate gray area where personal and professional collide.

  1. Where’s my personal space? — Figure this out, then lock that area down! Set privacy that makes sense, and don’t compromise on who gets in this area…not even once!
  2. What goes in my professional space? — Do you blog professionally? Cool. That can go in your professional space. Does your Twitter stay professional? Awesome, that can go in your professional space. Do you support a religious or political group and make statements in support of them — hold it. In the same way that it’s dangerous to bring up religion or politics at dinner parties, it’s also dangerous to bring them up in social media where professional connections can see…and judge.
  3. If my boss saw this would I blush (or get fired)? — This is the first question you should ask yourself before posting anything, anywhere. There are ways…just know there are ways…Google has a long memory. Plus, who knows what changes Facebook will make to privacy and if you don’t catch that change and personal information that could potentially effect you professionally becomes available, well, it might not be pretty.
  4. Do the people I let in my network know me well enough to know what I mean? This is a complex question, but one you just have to ask. Whether in a personal or professional setting, you need to know your audience. And you need to know if they know you well enough to understand a sarcastic joke or personal position on a topic. This applies to both areas. There’s no icon — or better yet , font — for sarcasm, so the crowd you communicate with needs to be one who  gets you. If not, it’s better to monitor yourself and your content for things that may be taken the wrong way and could leave you in a bad position.

There are a lot of potholes on the social media highway and, give recent trends, they’ll only get bigger. As with so many things in the social space, you have  to be your own best advocate and protector when it comes to maintaining privacy and also your personal and professional brands.

~R

March 31, 2010

What the Kell?

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:49 pm by R

Before I begin, I need to apologize for breaking my own social media rule…not being consistent. The good news is that I’ve been busy with great things at a job I’m just nuts about. Who has to pinch themselves on the way to work Monday morning because they love their  job so much?…I’m bonkers — in a good way. I digress. Sorry I haven’t posted in like a month.

Now, to the point. In the headline I posed the question “What the Kell?” Which of course is a reference to Bravo’s Kell on Earth about Kelly Cutrone’s Fashion PR House People’s Revolution.

Having worked in the agency world for the first four years of my career, I get the kind of nuts-o, non-stop insanity that is the agency lifestyle. It’s high stress, high pay-off, demanding, thankless –yet somehow strangely rewarding– work. And I think that Kell on Earth is in some ways an accurate representation of the scope of competencies, projects, changes and dynamics of PR today.

That being said…

There are a lot of trade secrets and other — let’s call them “agency habits” — that I always assumed all PR people were sworn to secrecy on. I can’t imagine that some of People’s Revolution’s clients were happy to see the turmoil of people quitting, doing things wrong, getting fired, buckling under pressure just when the moment counts…

That being said…

Getting your clients mentioned in this platform is incredible. People’s Revolution truly guaranteed coverage to their clients for full-on fashion shows, behind-the-scenes video shoots, exclusive events and more! Can you put an ROI figure on that? Is that figure worth the potential damage to your company’s reputation in terms of what others might think of your process and professionalism  once revealed through the fascinating medium of reality TV?

People’s Revolution represents a highly niche clientele, who are — let’s just be honest — a lot more willing to take risks than 99.99 percent of businesses out there. This is probably exactly why Kelly Cutrone can get away with this. She’s a smart enough business person to have gone through the hoops of legality and approvals from all the clients featured during the first season of the show. (Additionally, she’s a “No Apologies” kind of gal, so that probably works in her favor too.) What’s more, fashion folk know that being talked about is the life-blood of the industry. It’s not enough to have your garment on a hanger, your name needs to be hanging on everyone’s lips too.

So, even as I struggle with some of the things I’ve seen on Kell on Earth in terms of the chaos of the office (bill collecting, firing clients, being fired by clients, clients behaving badly in front of the press) and the panic of pulling it all together (the last-minute craziness of planning any event, not having enough tequila to keep editors entertained), I have to concede that no other company could get away with this (Lizzy Grubman sure didn’t!).

Every other PR agency on the planet will have to maintain their “corporate creativity,” toeing the line between being the foot-lose visionaries who are coming up with the next wild and brilliant idea and staying buttoned-up enough to be able to relate to the “Suits.”

Analysis of the show aside, I hope viewers, especially those aspiring to a career in PR, take a good hard look at what’s required to make it and how hard people work to pull it off.

Agency life asks you to abandon the principle of work-life balance and requires you to take on menial tasks coupled with those well beyond your preparedness — both at the same time! It is not a glamorous martinis-at-lunch, event-planning, elbow-rubbing social free-for-all — not even for the most seasoned partners and owners.

While I’m reconciled to the idea that this may have been a brilliant PR strategy for the People’s Revolution team, when the credits roll at the end of the show, I always catch myself thinking, “What the Kell?!?”

~R

January 11, 2010

Crisis Scenario

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:05 pm by R

For businesses, social media presents a conundrum: Participate and risk people speaking negatively or don’t participate and eliminate the threat of saying something people will react to…and people will probably still say negative things.

Some very public companies have learned the hard way — United Airlines comes to mind — that not participating is tantamount to saying the worst thing possible. So, as with any other form of communication, you must plan for the worst with a crisis communications plan.

The first thing to acknowledge in crisis planning is that you have almost no control. Try though we might, we do not have control over the things people say, only our reaction to them. What’s the adage? Life’s 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. It’s also true in social media crisis planning. Once you’ve let go of how to control people in social media, you can effectively devise ways to respond in the event of an emergency.

From my point of view, social media crisis planning unfolds in two parts:

  1. Social media is the nucleus of the crisis
  2. Social media as a response tool for another kind of crisis.

For #1 scenarios, you must plan your response.

Let’s say your company makes children’s toys. Let’s say an angry mother whose child had some traumatic experience with said toy launches an all out assault on your brand and product via every single social media tool she has access to. Let’s say she’s savvy and influential, so she’s blogging, tweeting, Facebooking and commenting on influential mothering forums. Big problem, right? Hopefully you’ve got good listening tools in place, so that you can catch these scenarios VERY early on. Either way…

What do you do? Go to the source – fast. You are a big bad brand who harmed her little angel with your shoddy product as far as this mother is concerned, so you have to make it personal and one-on-one as quickly as possible.

Once people deal with a person who has established even a modicum of trust, they will often back it down a notch or two. It takes the sting out in many cases. So reaching out in a personal, responsive — and if possible — high level way immediately way shows you care, not just about your reputation, but about the mother’s concerns and the child’s well-being (Not to mention the well-being of children everywhere in this hypothetical situation!)

Second step (I hope this is obvious): LISTEN!  Hear this person out. We learn a lot about our selves by listening to what people have to say in social media. As such, take the opportunity to learn how to avoid this in the future while you’re taking the time to help this vocal individual.

Step three, mitigate damage and hopefully with an ally. Depending upon how large the awareness about your issue is, target the largest media net and cast out news that your company is working closely with said family to resolve the defect/issue/what-have-you.

Just like any relationship, if you survive tough times together, you often come out stronger. So it is with brands and customers. If you can work to accommodate the customer and create a satisfactory result, you’re likely to have an even more loyal ambassador in the long haul.

Now, scenario #2, which is equally if not more important than having some plans for #1 — using social media to communicate during a crisis.

People need information in a crisis. Be it the media, shareholders or other persons effected by your crisis, communicating to them in an efficient, thorough and continual way is positive.

As part of your planning, analyze the networks you company participates in and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Where is my largest audience?
  2. Where will I have the most ability to distribute information?
  3. Where am I directing people for more information?

Once you’ve answered these three questions, plan accordingly to develop a distribution plan including authorized spokespeople, designated social media updates and intervals for information release (crisis dependent).

Remember that social media is just one tool that can be utilized in a crisis, so everything that you plan as part of your social media crisis response should integrate seamlessly with your overall crisis communications planning.

Ultimately, you have to plan for the worst and simply hope for the best. What’s the saying: An ounce of prevention…In the calm of day-to-day fortify your company and its reputation by building a brand in social media that can withstand a crisis.

~R

December 6, 2009

Small Time

Posted in Media, Uncategorized at 6:27 pm by R

I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving in rural Southeastern New Mexico and I noticed something…their local news sucks!

No, I’m not talking about lame news stories — those are everywhere (enter reference to Tiger Woods here). I’m talking about bad production, paltry reporting and skimpy information.

Roswell — where my mom and dad are at — doesn’t even have a local news affiliate anymore! That’s what the real issue is, I think. They have no town crier! Even the smallest of towns ought to have a reporter to cover the local interests. That’s what makes journalism a civil service, right? They aren’t even afforded a single reporter who zips footage back to the mother ship…

In a time when news stations have both citizen journalists and affordable resources and technologies which creates the ability to produce coverage in even the most remote of places, why don’t they?

There’s no reason for any small town to be ostracized when it comes to news coverage — not in this day and age where technologies abound.

Because broadcast technologies are changing so much and the media landscape is shifting at a more rapid pace than anyone could possibly have predicted, it’s important keep everyone in the loop. Older generations still rely on the local news and the daily paper. As those mediums are stripped away or shifted online, what will the impact be in the midst of a crisis? How will people who aren’t computer literate get their vital local information if the news affiliates don’t provide it?

I’m a big champion of utilizing new technology and social media to engage people and offer information. But there’s a big ethical question looming out there about how to responsibly provide coverage to people that aren’t well versed in the Web.

What is a TV station’s responsibility to provide a reasonable standard of local news coverage?

I don’t know the answer. But it better not begin and end with the bottom line (yes, I know $ has to figure in there somewhere, just don’t be a total Scrooge about it). There are a lot innovative ways to secure coverage to create broadcasts. Get creative. Don’t continue to be small time.

~R

November 4, 2009

A one horse (read:paper) town

Posted in In the news, Media, Uncategorized at 8:12 pm by R

Phoenix, Arizona is the fifth largest city in the U.S. of A. It is now also a very large metropolitan area served by only one newspaper. As of December 31, 2009 the East Valley Tribune will cease to exist.

I’ve written here about papers closing, but not until today did I understand the impact these closures have on the cities they served.

You see, the East Valley Tribune served a significant niche of the Valley. Phoenix is Phoenix. Then there’s the East Valley. It’s a huge portion of the metro area population. It’s a huge portion of the population which is at risk for being journalistically under served.

And while this concerns me, there’s a bright side. Metro Phoenix is also home to some innovative journalists who have launched various news blogs to fill in the blanks and fill in the gaps like City Circles and the Zonie Report and of course Arizona Notebook.

Perhaps this is simply the way of things to come/it already is: hyper-local news accessible via well-written blogs courtesy of (many times) journalists and reporters given the slough off from failing publications.

And while those sites continue to grow and newspapers figure out what their future is, I guess Phoenix is just a one-horse town, so to speak anyway…

Giddy-up.

~R

October 25, 2009

The value of status updates

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:11 pm by SD

Everyone, including me, loves the status update. In fact, a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that one in five Internet users use Twitter or some other service to share status updates about themselves. Unfortunately, status updates have turned into the ultimate tool to share mundane details about your life from what you are eating for breakfast to what you just watched on TV. This is a perfectly acceptable use of a status update if you are a college student. However, if you are a professional doing this, you are throwing away a valuable opportunity. For you, the status update is the ultimate expert positioning tool.

How do you use the status update as an expert positioning tool? First, you must change the way you think of it. Status updates should answer the question “what has your attention?” rather than “what are you doing?” This opens up the door for you to:

  • Comment and link to a recent news article
  • Comment on a recent trend
  • Link to an article or blog post you just wrote
  • Mention an event you are speaking at or attending

The key to successful status updates is balancing self-promotion (e.g. links to articles you have written) with sharing relevant and valuable information (e.g. commentary on a recent news trend). It’s a tough balance to find but your network will tune you out if you only use status updates to promote yourself. However, if you continually provide them valuable information, they will view you as a thought leader and be more inclined to read your articles/blog posts and attend your events. So, next time you are thinking of Tweeting about the hot dog you ate for lunch, resist the urge and use the opportunity to comment on the recent hot dog trend.

~S

September 4, 2009

Don’t try to compare Couric and Sawyer

Posted in Media, Uncategorized at 10:18 am by R

At the close of 2009, Charles Gibson will relinquish his post at the anchor desk on ABC Nightly News. He took over the position after Peter Jennings passed away in 2007. (May he rest in God’s peace)

Filling the famed chair will be Diane Sawyer, which means two of the three network newscasts will be lead by women — CBS with Katie Couric and now ABC with Sawyer.

It’s tempting to draw comparisons between Couric and Sawyer, but other than being successful professional women anchoring the news in the same time slot, there really aren’t many.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric

Couric really cut her teeth in morning television. And let’s face it, she was PERFECT for it. Always bubbly, but with the appropriate news edge, Couric was friendly and even-handed as a journalist. Who didn’t love to watch Katie Couric on the Today Show!? Even her more serious interviews showcased her unrelenting affable personality. It’s the kind of style and ability not all reporters are blessed with.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer

Sawyer’s background began as a White House aide to the Nixon administration. It was hypothesized at one point that she might be the infamous “Deep Throat.” Her reporting jobs have included  prestigious posts with shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20 and Primetime Live. I think it’s safe to say Sawyer’s reporting style is a little bit harder than Couric’s.

Couric had to learn that tougher reporting style on-air. At the outset of her tenure with CBS Evening News she maintained perhaps too much of her cheerful style…and the ratings tanked. Bless her heart, she was only being who she was. But sometimes the call of duty asks us to go a little outside of ourselves to be really successful. To Couric’s credit, it should also be stated that she was overwhelmingly scrutinized because she was the first woman to fill the anchor desk solo. Sawyer won’t face that same pressure. Couric paved the way on that one.

But Sawyer moving to the evening anchor desk feels a bit like a homecoming. Though she’s proved she has great range in her reporting style after having held down the fort at GMA with Robin Roberts, Sawyer is — at heart — a news hound. She’s delivered hard-hitting and often political stories and mammoth interviews, like Sadaam Hussien, for the bulk of her broadcast career.

Her political past gives her an innate ability to tell tough stories, hold difficult — but not confrontational — interviews and deliver news in a way that has just enough grit.

My respect for both broadcasters runs deep. One more glass ceiling shattered.

While I don’t know what the critics will say after her first broadcast, I think it’s fair to say she’ll escape some of the harsh opinions that were lobbed at Couric during her first weeks. I bet there’ll even be some comparisons to Couric in those first reviews.

All of these changes beg some questions:

  • As the times have changed, do we as news consumers prefer to have the stories of the day delivered to us by women?
  • What is the characteristic that keeps us loyal to a certain anchor?
  • Who do you prefer to watch (past or present)? Any why?

Me? I’m a Brian Williams kind of gal. He reminds me of watching Peter Jennings, that’s who I grew up watching.

~R

August 25, 2009

Gen Y’s Secret Career Management Weapon

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:14 am by R

Shortly after launching Cut Me Some Flack, we caught the eye of a very forward-thinking and proactive network of bloggers on Brazen Careerist.

Through this powerful network, the CMSF girls have been able to share our ideas among a peer audience and have met some pretty awesome Gen Y professionals who will no doubt make an enormous impact on this world in their respective industries.

If you haven’t visited this site and experienced the community on Brazen Careerist…GO NOW!

Brazen Careerist launched today a fresh new site enhanced with career management tools for Gen Y. So whether you’re just getting into the job market, working to become a better professional or just developing your personal professional brand this bigger, better community is a powerful resource.

This collaborative, professional site is an unprecedented approach to professional development. Brazen Careerist realizes that while the job market is competitive, the path to career success and satisfaction shouldn’t be. So here is this unique community which shares its collective experiences and offers solutions and ideas to help each network member.

It’s an “it-takes-a-village” attitude toward personal and career development.

This idea and anecdote sharing space has been an incredible resource for me personally, giving me insight for how the PR industry is shifting for other Gen Y practitioners all over the country. And it’s an opportunity to connect with people whose thoughts I really respect. If it weren’t for Brazen Careerist I might never have had a chance to interact with innovators like @ryanpaugh, @MsCareerGirl @danschwabel or @caitlinmc to name just a few.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing A LOT about Brazen Careerist. The impact this online community is set to create is like nothing else in social media. The combination of career management tools and close-knit community are powerful…one might even call Brazen Careerist Gen Y’s secret weapon.

~R

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