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A Brave New, Overshared World

SocialMediaI write a series on Fireside about social media resources we use here at Wireside that we endorse.  There seem to be so many great (mostly) free tools and resources for businesses to track and analyze social media output.  I’ve written on this blog about resources like Klout which allows individuals and businesses to gauge their influence on social media; RebelMouse which compiles a user’s social media output into a dynamic, colorful, easy-to-read format; and Bottlenose which allows users to analyze their social media influence and trends in real-time. And I don’t know what I’d do without Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance, see a number of designated streams at once, and provides basic analytic tools – all for free.  It seems that every day a new start-up pops up to make my life as a manager of our social properties easier.  And I love that businesses use social media; it allows for a two-way dialogue with clients and customers rather than the one-way dialogue of the past.  As a marketer I love engaging with, not just talking to, customers.

But lately, I’ve read news account after news account about adolescents who are being bullied on social media, who are having their lives destroyed by one unflattering picture being posted online and remaining there forever.  In a recent article, in a series focusing on what they term “Generation Overshare,” an HLN.com reporter points out the difference between adolescents growing up today and those of past generations.  He notes that all of us encountered embarrassing experiences in our teen years (oh yes, I can attest to that!), but what’s changed is that now those embarrassing moments are turning up on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram to exist in perpetuity and be shared and shared until kids in the neighboring town and around the world have seen it.   Sometimes those images come back to haunt them into adulthood when they go to get their first job and the hiring manager does a quick Internet search.

It’s definitely a brave new world and it has gotten me to thinking about what resources are out there to help adolescents analyze and protect their social media output.  Sure, they could sign up for Bottlenose and track the trends around their handle and their personal brand, but such services are marketed towards people like me – the digital marketing managers – not adolescents.  Where are the start-ups in Silicon Valley dedicated to sniffing out digital bullies and erasing derogatory, bullying posts and tweets?  Are there engineers working to build programs that can erase those awful, embarrassing images once teens graduate to adulthood and realize that hiring managers know how to use Google as well?  It seems there is quite a market for such services judging by the news coverage.  If you know of great tools out there to manage social media output for teens and anyone interested in protecting their personal brand, please leave a comment below.  After all, teen years will always be filled with embarrassing moments and kids will be kids, but should teens be judged forever on one embarrassing, overshared moment?

Worker, Writer, Watcher: Where the Professional and the Creative Collide – The Art of Award Submissions

The planets have aligned perfectly for the 3 Ws this week—an advertising agency with whom we work, Central Coast, is going to be featured on AMC’s “The Pitch” (tune in this Thursday), AND, our own agency was thrilled to find out that we were named Bulldog Reporter’s 2013 Small Agency of the Year.

 

Bulldog-Award

Awards and contests, whether on television or otherwise, have much in common:  promote yourself while letting your work/skills do the talking. That said, writing about and promoting your own agency’s PR expertise is a bizarre experience—like the scene in the surreal “Being John Malkovich” when the actor John Malkovich slips into his own consciousness and finds himself in a restaurant filled with infinite John Malkovich’s all repeating one word, “Malkovich,”over and over again.  I’m sure our friends at Central Coast will find it equally strange watching themselves pitch potential clients on national television.

Sure, PR is work, the work we do every day. But when it’s under the microscope, it starts to look very different. Writing is the same, when no one is watching there is an immense freedom, creating the story, finding your voice, etc. –but how do you find it and how does it change when you know others are watching?

We work in PR! We make our living tooting horns, spreading the word and leveraging our relationships and our knowledge of the industry to do so.  However, this is all behind the scenes, we prefer our clients capture the limelight—we are the worker bees, not the Queen.  When the tables turn and you do that very same thing for your own agency, you see the process from a new perspective.   It touches on the duality of our culture: Do not be a braggart, but be successful! (Exhibit A: The Unsinkable Donald Trump).

The experience of writing the submission, working together to find our agency’s “voice” to tout our accolades, was an interesting exercise. When pulling together our awards submission and writing the narrative, zeroing in on “our story,”  all that we have done as an agency, it was easy to miss the forest for the trees.  Certainly the honor of winning and the exposure is amazing—excellence is what we aim for after all. But that doesn’t account for the experience of working with the team on the submission—passing edits back and forth, pitching in with our various expertise, working late into the night—which was a rediscovery of the core of what makes our agency tick.

Worker, Writer, Watcher: Where the Professional and the Creative Collide

Newsroom

 

 

First, a disclaimer: I understand that television is entertainment and by no means should be utilized for choosing an occupation.

I work in PR, I am a writer, and I love watching television.  It is inevitable that I inhabit one of these identities while engaging with the other.  This Sunday evening, along with about 2.2 million others, I tuned in to the HBO premiere of the second season of Aaron Sorkin’s latest stress occupation gabfest “The Newsroom.”  Of course, you can’t separate PR from the news or television these days, nor can we apparently separate either from having some connection to reality.

Having worked in a corporate newsroom as well as in crisis communications and PR, I feel I have a fairly good handle on what life is like in a newsroom. While watching the premiere, a battle ensued between my internal Writer, Worker and Watcher. While the Writer and Watcher were both thrilled to the core with the buzzy, fun and witty dialogue and the careful narrative balance between the personal and the professional  (oh my!), the Worker was very stressed out wondering how any of these crises could possibly be effectively dealt with while everyone was busy buzzing?

In my experience as a Worker, when things go down in the communications field, you are lucky to be able to string a cohesive sentence together, let alone have the time to engage for more than 30 seconds with your colleagues. Yes, we may come together to frantically order pizza or step outside for a breather, but the highest level of communication is left to email or phone conversations. Witty remarks may be met with an appreciative smile, but most likely will be forgotten until the next day when reliving the crisis. While the dramatized version of life is much more exciting, events are collapsed for optimum drama, and we are always prepared with a great comeback line—the truth is often a lot less glamorous.

What strikes a chord with all three of my internal W’s is that the more I know about the real life occupation or situation on shows like “The Newsroom” and the closer such a show strives to bring in “reality,” the more I critique its creative license.  Television is a powerful tool, combine it with the trend toward reality-driven drama and ease of finding information, and it is not difficult to see how viewers might make the assumption that what appears on the screen is real life. As a Worker, Watcher and Writer, I do think the distance between reality and fiction needs to shrink just a bit, especially for the next generation of professionals trying to choose a career.