Monday, September 29, 2008

What can Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern teach us about blogging?


I mean really, regardless if either of them has a blog (which I think Limbaugh might, but it appears hidden behind some bogus members-only shield and Stern's site didn't appear useful to me either) what you should concentrate on is their chosen professions as talk radio personalities and how that relates to blogging.

What does a talk radio host have to do with blogging?
I have recently been needing a clear way to explain to various groups of people some of the basics of social media. One obvious theme is blogging: What is it? Who should do it? Should companies do it? How can I get one of those spiffy blogs? Etc.

I'll be honest, the majority of those that need the extra push do trend a little older in years. This is not to say that older people don't get social media, in fact the opposite might be true and marketers should pay attention.

Um, ok...
For a while, I've been kind of stuck on the What is a blog? question. I understand the Wikipedia definition, but still lacked that solid example to explain to others. Then it hit me.

A blog is sort of like a talk radio show.
Talk Radio Show (Blog equivalent)
  1. Host/Co-host (Author/Authors)
  2. Show Topics (Posts)
  3. Screened Callers (Moderated/Non-moderated Commenting)
  4. New Stuff Daily (Reverse-chronological order)
  5. Show Guests (Guest Authors)

Whether it's sports, politics, news, religion, entertainment, technology or local interests, the radio show and blog comparison provides enough similarities that have helped me explain to the uninitiated. (When that doesn't work, you could always send them to the CommonCraft Show for help.)

(Photo credit: AMagill)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

God gives blueprint for effective communication

Have you ever thought to look to the Bible for communication training?

As a professional communicator it is easy to take for granted some of the rules of engagement. We all know how to reach an audience. We'd like to think we can be agile enough to act and react to get our messages across. There are countless resources available via education, journals, books, newsletters, on-the-job training, trial and error etc. 

Before last Sunday it had never occurred to me to look in the Bible for communication wisdom.

The inevitability of communication
You are always communicating something. Consider the following: Words are powerful. Reckless words pierce like the sword. Nonverbal cues are always pervasive.
A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart — he always stirs up dissension. (Proverbs 12-14, NIV)
On Listening
He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame. (Proverbs 18:13, NIV)
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
On Affirmation
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)

A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23, NIV)

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21, NIV)

Be Honest. Listen. You cannot not communicate. Relationships will thrive in encouraging environments. Are these themes that can help in your professional life?

(photo credit: keith_lang, sermon guidance: Pastor Ken Horton, reference:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

4 Ways Social Media Makes Me a Better Communicator

I consider myself to be a competent communications professional working in school public relations. I understand the fundamentals of how to be an effective communicator and try to put into practice all of the lessons I've learned both from my education and on the job trials by fire.

I was doing quite well before all of this social media information smog hit me. What I didn't foresee were some very simple ideas becoming instant game-changers for me.

I have developed a growing online profile for myself both professionally and personally. Big deal, right? Right.

The idea of a personal brand never even crossed my mind until recently. I'm finding out that social media is making me better, both professionally and personally.

Chris Brogan, a great conversation creator, posed an interesting set of questions:
“Why are we threading the social web? Why are we spending hours a day reaching out, building connections, cultivating relationships, producing and consuming media that only a sliver of the world is even noticing?”
My answer for these questions comes down to four ways in which social media makes me a better communicator.

People matter. The social web has allowed for me to engage in conversations, ask questions and have random discussions with folks. Many of these conversations have led to new and deepened some established relationships with colleagues, journalists, friends, and family thus enriching a variety of communities for me. I think Todd Defren says it nicely in his post, What is PR's Elevator pitch?
“PR pros are now much more focused on the ‘Relations’ side of ‘Public Relations.’”
related social web tools: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twellow, SmugMug, Flickr, Ning

Professional Development
There are so many great conferences, workshops, meetings that I would like to attend, but for a variety of reasons, don't. That's ok, because I can access most of the information and speakers through the wonderful network of people who attend these events and are willing to share their experiences via blogging (and microblogging) plus live or recorded video-streaming. Seeking knowledge is a tremendous benefit to make up for limitations in access. Paying attention to what people are reading, tagging, reviewing, and recommending helps make me smarter.
related social web tools: Twitter Search, Twitter, Google Blog Search, Google Reader, Delicious, Digg

When opportunity knocks are you going to be ready to take action? Using social media has allowed me to pay attention and listen for opportunities to connect with people, pitch a story, or offer my consulting services to name a few. Could I have done these types of things without SM? Yes, but I would have only heard the faint sounds of opportunity as opposed to the reverberating beat of many chances to engage.
related social web tools: Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google Reader

Abraham Lincoln told us, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” I choose to be a good communications professional. I have found some great inspiration from other intelligent and wise PR people and talented designers. I agree with Daniel Pink, author of A whole New Mind, who argues that we’re “moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age.” He writes:
“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers.

But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.” [emphasis added]
In other words “[e]conomic advantage and professional success no longer come from the logical, analytical skills of knowledge workers but from creative, conceptual, and relationship skills.” (Innovate or Die: Why Creativity is Economic Priority Number One)

Why do I thread the social web? I want to be a part of the connections and help facilitate conversations that might never had occurred before such a time as this.

Recommended Related Reading:
(photo credits: top thomieh, bottom Bright Meadow)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Helping a few more take the plunge into Social Media

I had the distinct pleasure today of helping five elementary school principals through the step-by-step process of creating their first campus blogs.

When the idea seed for school leadership blogging in our school district was first planted, it was met with lukewarm responses. However, when I spoke to individual principals who explained their concerns, almost all left either believing it was worth looking into or that they could indeed use a blog to help.

I was impressed that they collaborated and came up with a simple, but effective way to introduce their blogs. Each of them posted the following:
We are moving forward with social technology to enhance our ability to communicate. This will expand our level of effective communication with parents, student, staff and community members. We will post frequently discussed topics and other items of interest. As always, we welcome your input.
These simple statements represent the first steps by some admittedly nervous digital-immigrants who are looking for ways to be more efficient with their time, communication, and leadership. Time will tell if this blogging initiative will pay off in these areas for them. But it is encouraging to see more willing participants take the plunge. Maybe it helped that they were taking it together.

(Photo credit: ClickFlashPhotos)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Will you stand up to cancer?

My aunt Rachel's cancer has returned. She is the youngest of seven siblings on my dad's side of the family. A family who has felt its share of heartache and suffering. She is still fighting and will continue to battle this disease.

Rather than go into the details of her cancer or of the other members of my family who have been affected by cancer, I want to take this opportunity to ask a simple question that is being asked this week:

What do you stand for?

On Friday, September 5, 2008, The Stand Up to Cancer telethon will air at 8pm et/pt, 7pm ct on ABC, CBS and NBC.

What is it?
From the site:
...over 50 of the most renowned personalities in TV, film, sports and music will come together to make history. In an unprecedented television event, NBC, ABC, and CBS will simultaneously devote 1 hour of commercial-free prime time to raise funds for the fight against cancer.
Cancer takes one person every minute. One life in a moment. They are our brothers, our sisters, our fathers and mothers, our husbands and wives, our best friends, our children, ourselves. Every day in America 1500 people die and yet the means to save them are literally within our reach. To wait any longer for someone else to save our lives and the lives of those we love is unforgivable.
I first read about the Stand Up to Cancer project on Tara Settembre's blog where she explained her involvement with the movement's viral video:

Aside from the personal attachment I have to the project, there is an inherent professional curiosity that allows me to have a positive and hopeful view of using social media for good works.

What can you do?
Check out the SU2C YouTube Channel. Follow SU2C on Twitter. Consider a donation.

My aunt is a fighter.
She can't fight alone.
She shouldn't have to.
Have you or a loved one been affected by cancer?
Will you stand up to cancer?