Tag Archives: media

Fomer NSA Director Interview via Amtrak. Thanks, Twitter.

Train conversation further cements Twitter as a social media/mass media, real-time, citizen-journalism news outlet.

Tom Matzzie and Michael HaydenAmtrak passenger Tom Matzzie live-tweeted an on-background interview between news media and former NSA director Michael Hayden (also ex-CIA director) from a commuter train known as the ACELA. It was fascinating to watch this play out, minute by minute on Matzzie’s Twitter feed, and later by traditional media. As this was happening, Hayden was alerted by his team, approached Matzzie offering to chat, and even posed for a photo.

The entire episode is now secured for the ages in the form of tweets and the ensuing news coverage.

The Rest of The Story: Cocktails?

Here’s more from Matzzie, himself, by phone, via Soundcloud, speculating as to why the former official may have been so candid:


It’s particularly mind-blowing that the former head of an organization whose focus is security would be so loud on a train, but hey, Hayden is, in fact, now a public speaker — even if, in this case, inadvertently.

What do you think? Have you ever followed a live tweeting of news in real-time? Have you ever been a citizen journalist, or cited by the media for your social media activities? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Is There Really No Such Thing As Bad Press?

You know the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad press?” Only to a certain extent do I believe this. The phrase would be more accurate if tempered with two qualifiers:

Potentially, eventually.

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde.
Both adept at capturing press attention.

This is because in the event of bad press, it can be manageable to varying degrees – but it always takes deliberate, meaningful effort, and it definitely takes time.

I absolutely don’t believe, “hey, there’s no such thing as bad press, so let’s just go for it all…” is wise PR strategy, unless the goal is simple notoriety along the lines of Paris Hilton or Lady Gaga. In these cases, I’m reminded of what could be the inspiration for this concept: Oscar Wilde’s quote, “There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

The problem with the idea of no bad press is that with today’s A.D.D. news cycle and the everlasting searchability of the Internet, missteps can take an extraordinary effort to overcome, although it can be done. National Strategies Public Relations CEO Jennifer Vickery sums up the concept: “While there is such a thing as bad press, the main take away should be that good press can come out of it, provided the situation is handled properly.”

Proper handling would mean execution with transparency, honesty and consistency over an interval long enough to shift focus to the present and future more so than the past. In this way, and if done right, bad press can become a real opportunity and cataylst, not just in terms of spin, but also toward doing the right thing.

What do you think? Is there truly no such thing as bad press? What are some examples of bad press being handled properly? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Homeless Hotspots? What Could Go Wrong?

Update 3/14/12: Interview with the Homeless Hotspot creator, Saneel Radia of BBH Labs and program participant, Dusty White via Marketplace.org (see below).

The PR for one thing. Hoo boy, where to begin…

As reported at Buzzfeed then ridiculously blown up by Gizmodo and expanded upon at Wired, homeless people of Austin are earning some cash by providing wi-fi access at the South By Southwest event. On the surface, it seems legit: money and jobs for the homeless who provide a service in demand. But wow, has it backfired:

Homeless Hotspots

Hyperbole much, Gizmodo?

What’s this doing in the Horror section? It’s not like these people are actually being turned into routers – they’re just carrying routers around. We aren’t living in The Matrix (yet… or are we?). Point is: this headline and its categorization give the story just enough spin to evoke plenty of Internet ire.

The Matrix - We are not there... yet

The Matrix - We are not there... yet. Image credit: sector930.com

What Went Wrong

For the record, I think this is an okay venture, but really bungled from a public relations perspective. It sure doesn’t help that it has a lighthearted name like “Homeless Hotspots.” Or that it was created by the well-intentioned-yet-vaguely dystopian-sounding BBH Labs, who refer to it as “an experiment.” Or that BBH Labs is actually a division of marketing firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty. It’s common enough for marketers to be cast as insidious without fodder like this, whether justified or not.

In fact, if you read the comments at the above article, they overwhelmingly call out Gizmodo on the casting of this as some twisted bionic procedure, pointing out the actual benefits, something BBH Labs is now having to play fireman on by defending the effort. Says Saneel Radia, creator of the idea:

“Basically the seed was to try to help the homeless during SXSW. Our goal is to reinvent the newspaper model. It’s intentionally attention grabbing.” He stresses that they’re not advertising anything – except perhaps BBH itself – and that the money goes directly to them.
-via BuzzFeed

If it’s attention they wanted, well, congratulations are in order. But what didn’t work at all here was the execution. Setting expectations ahead of time to diffuse the ensuing sensationalism would have gone a long way, something BBH Labs is no doubt realizing now that they’re in “full damage control mode.” It’s a damn shame their energy is now being put into damage control rather than furthering the core idea, but hey, at least they’re getting attention, right?

What They Should Have Done

  1. Watch The Matrix
  2. Brainstorm every sensationalist headline that could result
  3. Then don’t do anything to further that along

Simple, right? Do you think that happened here? Doesn’t seem that way. It’s PR 101: anticipate the negatives. By doing this, the creators could have generated some pre-buzz or gotten their story out there first with must-airs that take on what is now coming at them left and right. The focus could have been more on the project than putting out fires. Developing pre-game strategy in this case might involve things like:

  • Not calling it an “experiment”
  • Not advertising for BBH Labs
  • Telling the stories of how the project came together
  • Tapping the SXSW blogosphere for coverage
  • Distributing QR codes taking customers to a mobile-friendly site at purchase explaining the cause and enabling them to donate to Front Steps, the organization that helped BBH Labs put it together.

These are just the first things that come to mind in the time it takes me to type them. For all I know all this happened and more. If that’s the case, then it’s a sad commentary on the snarky nature of online discussion blowing things out of proportion.

If this did not happen at all, it’s a strong case for having your PR together before initiating a venture that could bring backlash, especially with a project involving connectivity… at a conference on technology… given the snarky nature of online discussion to blow things out of proportion.

Update – Homeless Hotspot Creator, Saneel Radia, and Participant, Dusty White, Speak:

Hear directly from the program’s creator, Saneel Radia in an interview at Marketplace.org. Radia does state they anticipated some blowback, and are learning from the endeavor:

It would be naive not to think that this is going to be debated. By putting this model out there, and letting people debate — this is what worked in their program and this is what didn’t work — we’re actually uniquely qualified to say, we can take our licks for whatever we got wrong. What we’re motivated by what the people who adopt it get right as a result.
-Saneel Radia, BBH Labs, via Marketplace.org

Marketplace also interviewed a Homeless Hotspot participant, Dusty White. That interview is here. Kudos to Marketplace for giving broader voice to the idea behind and to an actual participant in this program. As they aptly state, there’s “way more to the story than met the ear.” And Mr. White goes on to say, “it’s not what you achieve in life, sir, it’s what you overcome.”

What a great takeaway from this entire endeavor.

Homeless Hotspot Participant Interview

"It's not what you achieve in life, sir, it's what you overcome." Interview with Homeless Hotspot participant, Dusty White at Marketplace.org.

What do you think? Could any amount of PR have made a difference here? Is this in fact a decent idea that was poorly handled? Or is the idea just not a good one whatsoever? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Occupying Art

"It's wrong," the sign said, "to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn't aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon."

The point of this post is not to debate the merits of the Occupy Wall St. (and other places) protests, but rather to note some connections spurred by communication around the topic. Politics aside, I noticed something last week that I found kind of amazing.

As I commented at the original story by Marketplace, I heard this example of shared communication on the radio (streaming, via my phone), read it online, linked to it on Facebook and Twitter, and am now blogging about it.

I think it’s extraordinary — that this one guy has a thought, it gets adopted by someone in this protest, it’s a highly relevant thought, and now it’s broadcast and rebroadcast via many different channels. Will anything come of it? Who knows; my point is that we are part of communication magic, and it’s worth reflecting upon.

True, there are maddening issues spurring on the protests, and many of them are complex… adding to the maddening. And along those lines, I think this sign captures the thought that originally inspired its content, while also making a statement on the complexity and associated frustration around the issues — while also illustrating the evolution of mass media communication, given the new breadth an individual’s thoughts can achieve through technology… right to this very moment on this blog you’re reading now.

There’s something artful in the expression.

It makes me wonder if we’re indeed in a revolution, at least in terms of communication, what with having the ability to reach and influence in so many ubiquitous, yet simple ways. We walk around with computers in our pockets and can connect with someone on the other side of the globe with ease. Or, maybe I’m just noticing the traceable pathways of the communication. Still, it’s interesting to observe and document. I’m no protester, but I’m intrigued. As Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal noted, it’s all very… “woah.” And so, I was inspired to do some documenting via Instagram

I photographed this sign made by a protestor in my city over the weekend:

Occupy Winston-Salem, 10.22.11

Turns out I was subliminally giving props to Rage Against the Machine.
Which, oddly, is kinda appropriate:

Rage Against The Machine, 11.02.99

And in fact, I support long-haired freaky people,
and I actually thought I was paying tribute to Tesla

 

So hey, there’s some art — or at least the convergence of national and local events, mass media, music, and visual design. I think that’s remarkable, and I hope something can come of it, even if only reflection or informed entertainment.

Update, 10/26: not so sure I meant this kind of entertainment, from the people who brought you Puck and Snooki. Oh, well. For the story on how all this started in the first place, see the original author’s follow-up.

Have you had any transcendental communication moments lately? Do you think we’re in a revolution? Do you remember Tesla? Tell us in the comments…