Sarah Wurrey

Social Media Top Five

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Do things seem a little stagnant this week, or is it just me? Normally when putting together a Social Media Top Ten, I just rattle things off the top of my head, hardly even needing to check with my page to fill in the blanks.

But this week, I’m having a harder time…Maybe it’s not social media, it’s me. Or maybe the countdown to PodCamp has caused a freeze on all other things social media.

Regardless, a Top Five is better than a Top Zero!

5) John Wall’s Guide to Drinking: One of the dynamic duo behind Marketing Over Coffee presents what I like to call “Networking Over Alcohol,” a guide to drinking in networking situations without losing your head (or your lunch).

4) Boston Blogger Dinner: EMC generously sponsored dinner and drinks for Boston-area bloggers last week, and I continue to be amazed by the turnout to these social media meet-ups. With over 1,000 more people coming to PodCamp Boston 2 than last year’s event, I probably should not have been surprised. Great turnout, great people (Jeremiah Owyang, Doc Searls, to name a couple), perfect pre-PodCamp event.

Speaking of PodCamp…

3) PodCamp Boston 2: More than 1,200 people are currently registered for PodCamp Boston, starting this Friday. Be on the lookout for plenty of live-tweeting from me, starting Thursday night from Blogtoberfest at the Pour House. But will PodCampers from the area be able to focus, with the World Series going on?

2) Twitter and the Playoffs: Twitter has played a huge part in my enjoyment of the 2007 baseball playoffs. A lifelong Sox fan, I’ve always lived and died by the team and spent every October freaking out over the playoffs. This October, I was doing it on Twitter, and I wasn’t alone. Watching each game with my laptop running, Tweeting my frustration and elation, was truly great. I can’t wait to watch the World Series games with the same folks in person, at PodCamp.

Speaking of live Tweeting…

1) Has live-Tweeting replaced live-blogging? Lately, I’ve been turning to Twitter to follow events. This issue particularly came up over the weekend, where Kevin Dugan, Paull Young and Constantin Basturea were all Tweeting from the UGA Connect conference, and checking in on their Tweets was far more effective than reading blog posts later on. Paull argues that the blog posts are necessary, for “posterity,” I can get behind this, but think the Tweets are best for real-time coverage. Thoughts?


Oh, Behave…

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Question: How do you protect your personal brand in an era when every last thing you do or say, even on your worst days, can be passed around online to a global audience?

The reason I am so fascinated by the “lifecaster is jerky to movie theater employee” story I came across on Neville Hobson’s blog (and also reported on Valleywag and Techcrunch) is that while the young man was most definitely in the wrong, did that automatically make those attacking him in the “right”?. I made sure to point out in my comments on Neville’s post that certainly, one minute of video cannot possibly come close to giving us enough information to judge someone’s whole life. In remarking on the incident, I judged merely what was presented—one minute of him acting like a jerk, and then his ensuing defensive attitude and refusal to admit any wrongdoing. Neither of those things is enough information to judge a person’s character.

And yet? We do it all the time. (Update: the lifecaster did ultimately apologize, and it’s interesting that his post admitting his mistake attracted a very small number of comments compared to his original post and the subsequent coverage.)

We’re all guilty of snap judgments, the Internet is terrific at it, and loves nothing more than to call attention to the shortcomings of others (the reasons why are probably an entire other post, perhaps for a psychologist to write).

Check out the (admittedly hilarious, if a bit NSFW) comments on Gawker regarding the online dater who wrote a pretty appalling email to a prospective paramour. The guy clearly has some issues, if the emails posted are any indication. But the “worst person in the world,” as he was billed? Please.

Then there’s the guy who harped on his date to split their dinner check with him after she rejected him, also picked up on Gawker (Gawker loves Internet dates gone bad, and I love them for it!).

This example is far more egregious, and again it’s clear that this guy has some serious issues. But anyone—future dates, family members, future children, future employers—will now be able to find out about his tacky and creepy dating faux pas for…how long does Google keep things around again? Oh right, forever.

I’m not defending jerks or bad behavior, I’m just wondering if the downside to all this wondrous technology may be that no one is ever allowed to have a bad day, or behave poorly at any time in the duration of their lives, lest what they say or write ends up online to be viciously ridiculed for all of time.

This concern becomes particularly pressing when you consider the implications it has for employers. If I were employing any of these examples, their behavior would absolutely lead me to view them differently, even if they are not necessarily indicative of the person’s overall character or integrity—not to mention their work performance.

Dan Schwabel wrote a great post this week on the merging of personal and professional lives online, and in social networking in particular. In the era of Facebook, it’s increasingly difficult to keep these worlds apart, and how do we manage? In pre-Web 2.0 days, employees were able to lead “double lives,” if they so desired. Model employee by day, obnoxious Internet dating creep by night, and their employers didn’t have to hear about (thank goodness).

These examples are just important—if a bit dramatic—reminders for everyone to keep on their best behavior when dealing with the unknown. Yes, we’re human, we’re allowed to have bad days. We’re not allowed, not anymore, to react in the extreme. That may be an overly cautious outlook, but I would definitely think twice before letting my temper get the better of me around someone I did not know, particularly if that person was web savvy.

Anyone with an interest in their personal brand might consider doing the same, and if the byproduct is a world that’s maybe a little more harmonious, what could be the harm?

The Rundown on The Rundown

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I’ll cover it in depth in the PodJots on Friday, but seeing as how yours truly served as the inaugural guest, I wanted to introduce everyone to a new addition to the PR Podosphere (well, kinda new).

Luke Armour, whom you all know from the Foward Podcast, his blog, and as the new PR guy for BlogTalkRadio, has started a new podcast over at BTR, “The Rundown.”

Each week, Luke will spend 30 minutes with a PR or social media pro to get the rundown (get it?) on their jobs, companies, blogs, anything.

To his utter detriment I’m sure, his first Rundown “victim” this afternoon was…me! I had a great time talking social media with Luke, and of course filling him in on CustomScoop and all of our terrific services. I offended his hockey fan sensibilities with my preference of the Pats and Red Sox over the Bruins, but other than that I think it went pretty well. In particular, I avoided being forced to choose a favorite between the esteemed John Wall and Chris Penn of Marketing Over Coffee. How could I? That’d be like Sophie’s Choice!

So definitely head on over and check out the archives if you’re interested in hearing the first show, and tune in on Tuesdays at 1:30pm ET to hear future editions live. His upcoming guests will no-doubt prove far more interesting than me, next week he features Nettie Hartsock, and the week after, Todd Defren. Tune in!

Social Media Top Ten – Vacation Edition

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It’s hard to remember, when one exits their normal life entirely to spend an entire seven days trapped inside a cruise ship with no phone signal or Internet capability (unless I wished to pay a whopping buck a minute in the Internet cafe) (a temptation I succumbed to for 15 whole dollars minutes of frantic email checking on day 5, I admit it), that the world of their normal life keeps chugging along. This is a cliche that everyone uses when they get back from an “unplugged” vacation, but hey, cliches are thus because they’re true, eh?

As it turns out, while I was sipping on umbrella drinks and snorkeling with sting rays, a whole heck of a lot of stuff happened in Social Mediaville (not to be confused with Margaritaville, where I was also hanging out).

So what better excuse for another Social Media Top Ten? Without further ado:

10) Google acquires Jaiku – How will this affect Twitter? My fearless prediction, as stated in this morning’s Jots: it won’t. Twitter is where the party is, and where, I think, the party will stay. What do you think?

9) Ford pulls off a snazzy social media release that left the PR blogosphere buzzing.

8) SMT10 founder Bryan Person calls for “death of resume,” wants a social media resume instead.

7) Tom Foremski claims that traditional PR is running on fumes and just about dead. Flacks worldwide get to work on their social media resumes.

6) Strumpette retires, blogosphere cries havoc and lets slip the blogs of war, confessing things I’d never heard before about Amanda Chapel’s offline activities. Check out Robert French, Geoff Livingston and Eric Eggerston’s posts for interesting discussions on the legacy of the popular, controversial “Ms. Chapel.”

5) Blogstring gets new look! Okay, so it’s shameless self promotion, but I needed one extra addition here, and I happen to dig our new design. Thoughts?

4) Oh, how meta of me. In his SMT10 (well, five really), Doug Haslam lightheartedly mocks the social mediaizing of everything by suggesting a “social media note from your mother.” Actually, the entire post is quite funny, good on Doug for bringing a little humor to these topics.

3) Jeremy Pepper posted a series of great posts from the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago, one of the few rundowns I saw out there; check it out.

2) Blog Action Day – Bloggers worldwide today took part in Blog Action Day, a movement to unite the blogosphere under a single issue. Today’s issue was the environment, did you partake?

1) Global PR Blog WeekConstantin Basturea calls for ideas for Global PR Blog Week 3.0. I have no doubt that this event will bring together some of the smartest PR pros on the web, and I can’t wait to participate.

Social Media Breakfast 2: Bigger and Better

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The first Social Media Breakfast, created by Bryan Person and sponsored by CustomScoop in Boston last month, attracted a great crowd of about 20 Boston-area bloggers and new media enthusiasts, and was not only a great discussion, but a lot of fun.

So I was thrilled to attend SMB2 this morning, held at Digital Influence Group, and discover the event has already evolved into something even greater, on only the second try.

Much to my delight, both the crowd and the scope of the discussion have grown, with this morning’s event featuring a presentation from social media marketing guru (and DIG chairman) Larry Weber, whose insights and ideas were thought-provoking enough that the Q&A probably could have lasted long enough to turn the event into a "Social Media Lunch" as well. Also featured, a breakout session run by David Cutler, discussing monetizing the social web (find  a great summary of that discussion here).

One of Larry’s ideas that struck me was his notion that CEOs shouldn’t necessarily be blogging. He followed up that remark by explaining that blogging should come more from the guts of the company, that the everyday employees could provide insights sorely lacking in posts from the C-Suite. I asked Larry for a clarification when he signed his book for me–isn’t it just as important for executives to communicate as it is for the grunts?

He admitted that the idea wasn’t black and white, but that for a bigger company a CEO blog may present more problems than it’s worth: ghostwriting, transparency issues, and (something I hadn’t thought a lick about) legal concerns. When you’re running a major corporation, sitting down to your laptop and blabbing about whatever and whoever isn’t always kosher. And if you have to run a blog post past three lawyers before you can post it…is it still a blog?

What do you think, should CEOs be set free on the blogosphere without restraint, or are Larry’s thoughts that they’re better off keeping their (or their ghostwriter’s) mouths shut the way to go?

Perhaps we can talk about it at Social Media Breakfast 3. (grin)

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Crossposted from the CustomScoop blog.


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It’s been long enough, time for another round of JotPourri!

For anyone missing previous editions, whenever I have a bunch of blog ideas running around my head bumping into each other, I just pack them all together into a JotPourri mish-mash.

First up, a cure for bad pitch bombardment!? According to Boing Boing, creating a filter in your email that will either delete or divert any emails containing the press release keywords “for immediate release” will help to ease the pain of bloggers who suffer from press release fatigue.  This is a pretty basic solution, and I’m not sure it would work for everything. Can email filters pick keywords out of PDF documents? What about social media releases? All in all though, might be a decent solution, particularly for A-list bloggers receiving myriad pitches and releases each week. What might be better, however, is if PR practitioners learned that mass-blasting press releases is remarkably ineffective when dealing with bloggers in the first place.

Next bumper car zooming around in my brain is this little tidbit from both Consumerist and Techdirt: Radiohead, a popular 90s rock band, is coming out with its first album in some time, and offering digital downloads to customers–at the price that they choose. They’re also selling a separate “album box” with the entire set on both CD and vinyl (remember vinyl!?) in a nice collector’s box. Sounds to me like this is a band with a very savvy marketing team behind it–and will probably reap some good rewards for this move.

Okay, so raise your hand if you’ve had a moment of hesitation about the crazy mixture of work colleagues, personal friends, online friends and total strangers making up the population of your Facebook “friends” list (raises hand). Well, don’t fret. The popular social networking site has announced that you will soon be able to group your contacts into sortable categories, making the division between professional and personal a bit easier to keep straight. This new feature will also make it easier to create group privacy settings, perhaps easing the minds of anyone worried that an online professional networking contact will have access to those photos from the bar your best college buddy tagged you in on her page.

Finally, we all know that a lot of people online (present company included) have to have at least a little bit of starry-eyed, “I want to see my name in lights!” attitude. If you didn’t want people to read and enjoy what you were putting out there, you’d probably just keep a dead-tree diary like everyone else. But do you need a blog to gain online “fame?” Not according to this New York Times piece highlighting “famous commenters.”

The article mentions a popular Gawker commenter, LOLCait, who turns out to be a 24-year old man working for Gawker Media. He outed himself due to fears his frequent contributions to Gawker blogs would end up endangering his job–quite the opposite, he’s only been given more to do since the revelation. I find this completely delightful, and evidence that participation in the conversation is what is most important–you can make a valid and meaningful contribution without necessarily having to host your own blog. If more people were aware of that, think of how much deeper the conversation could extend.

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What Happens to a Blog Post Deferred?

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Answer: Other bloggers beat you to it, usually.

Are you like me? I always come up with all sorts of things when I’m in the shower. Maybe an awesome blog post idea, a link I’d want to Tweet, a fascinating Media Monitoring Minute for FIR, or a brilliant new strategy to pitch to the boss.

Unfortunately, unless I were to make creative use of a pumice stone, there is nowhere to write down all these flashes of brilliance while actually in the shower, and they mostly end up heading right down the drain with the soap suds, to be forgotten by the time I get around to picking out shoes (maybe it’s my over-abundance of shoes that’s causing this problem?).

I also always end up mulling ideas while in the car, yet never when it’s convenient to write them down, like while rotting in traffic (one thing about New Hampshire–here, "rush hour" means "three other cars on the road besides you, instead of the usual open road and occasional horseback rider"). This is especially true of blog posts. I’ll be struck with a great idea at the most inconvenient of times, and by the time I manage to fire up the old Live Writer…poof! Idea is gone.

And where does it go? Apparently, directly into the minds of other bloggers. Take my boss and excellent co-blogger, Jen White. (What, you didn’t think I’d come up with my own example, did you? For that I’d have to remember my ideas!)

Earlier this afternoon she started talking about these spiders that have created this enormous, acre-large web out in Texas. She heard about the story on NPR last month. On the surface, she wasn’t sure if this was a blog post, but thought it had a "Web (snerk) 2.0" angle in there somewhere. Yet, she’d abandoned the idea. I encouraged her to re-examine, and write it anyway.

No sooner do I sit back down at my desk and open up Twitter than Todd Defren Tweets a link to a Social TNT post about the very topic. (Great post too, check it out!) Quite a coincidence, considering the randomness of the subject matter!

This isn’t to say Jen can’t still write her own post about the spiders, but some of the magic fizzles when you see someone has beaten you to it, doesn’t it? The lesson here, I think, is to try (even if it means maybe getting out of the shower for a second to jot something down) to let your ideas grow into something, or be faced with the disappointment when someone gets there first!

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Social Media Top Ten

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Time for another edition of the Social Media Top Ten.

As always, the concept (started last month by Bryan Person) is to list the Top Ten things about Social Media running through your mind in a given week, and I encourage everyone to post their own!

Social Media Top Ten

1) FEC legitimizes blogging – Okay, so this story is not exactly timely, but it didn’t make the last edition of the SMT10, so I’m including it now. This is a major move towards further legitimizing bloggers as members of the media.

2) Ad Age editor vs Joe Jaffe – Jonah Bloom writes a scathing post about the head crayonista, prompting some great responses from the blogosphere.

3) Age vs. Experience debate – A terrific blog and Twitter conversation developed last week regarding the place of young PR bloggers. See Paull Young’s blog for a round-up of thoughts from across the blogosphere.

4) Mash – Yahoo! asks the question: Do we really need another social network? And I am really bummed that I haven’t gotten an invite? Actually, while I normally suffer from raging cases of IE (invite-envy), I am not interested in Mash. There are just too many networks to keep track of at this point.

5) MySpace targeting ads with user data – This sort of thing generally creeps me out, like when Gmail “reads” my emails and puts ads relating to whatever my email is about on the sidebar.

6) Fake proposal on – According to the blog of the prank’s main victim, he and his girlfriend are still together. Even after he shouted “I don’t want to (expletive) marry you” at her after his friend put a fake proposal on the Jumbotron in Yankee Stadium—and she said yes. He should marry her anyway on general principle.

7) Southwest Airlines vs. the Hooters Girl – After taking a lot of heat for asking a scantily clad passenger to cover up on a flight, Southwest bit back, offering a special Miniskirt Fare sale, and only increasing the ire of their “victim.” This is the sort of thing the blogosphere (me included) loves.

8) Unlocked iPhones – I definitely don’t speak enough Geek to understand what’s going on here, but I think all this talk of unlocking iPhones means that there’s a trick you can play on your iPhone to make it work with any carrier, not just at&t. Considering it should have been this way from the start, I can’t applaud the move more. It makes the decision to pony up the dough that much easier.

9) If you like Pina Coladas… – Ah, nothing like online love. Except when you’re married, and you’re having an online affair, and you discover that you’re online paramour is…your husband. Unlike the catchy ditty portraying a similar situation, this one doesn’t have a happy ending; the couple is divorcing.

10) Boston Social Media Club – Their event this Thursday, September 20, will feature Fake Steve Jobs! I’ll be there…will you?

Technorati –

Yet Another Reason to Monitor

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Naturally, any company concerned with responsible brand and reputation management ought to be monitoring news and social media already.

But in case you needed one more reason, I offer you this.

It seems that former ABC consultant Alexis Debat had decided to pull a Stephen Glass for his articles in French political journal Politique Internacionale, publishing entirely fabricated “interviews” with such high profile subjects as former President Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presidential candidate Sen. Barak Obama and even United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The magazine claims it had no knowledge of the fabrications, despite Debat’s sketchy history–the journalist was let go from ABC News after questions were raised about his academic credentials.

The disappearance of the news cycle and the advent of citizen journalism has made constant news monitoring a complex undertaking of vital importance; but sometimes it’s as simple as making sure there isn’t anyone out there writing up complete fabrications and passing them off as fact.

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“Everyone has a right to their opinion.”

This phrase gets thrown around a lot, but how often do we consider its meaning?

How often do we consider the implications of our opinions, particularly when we broadcast them online? With countless free and simple blogging platforms available, anyone can publish anything they want—but the Internet all but guarantees they cannot do so anonymously. This can become especially dangerous for young people who’ve grown up online, and young communicators in particular.

After all, young professionals in any industry want to make a name for themselves, and in the PR 2.0 era, young communications professionals can do just that by blogging. According to some, however, the intersection of youth, inexperience and access to technology that transmits opinions worldwide instantly can create a perfect storm of recklessness that may haunt a communicator down the road.

Furthermore, young PR pros can blog until they’re blue in the face, but what if their employer doesn’t look so kindly on their online activities, or their ideas for bringing a 2.0 attitude to client work?

Yesterday there was a fascinating discussion (see Paull Young’s excellent post for the full round-up) about age, experience, responsible personal brand management and the very, very long tail of Google. I could write three different posts about these topics, but I’ll stick with the question Paull raised in his post: “what is the balance between self confidence and humility?”

In other words, how do we promote our ideas and ourselves without overstepping our boundaries?

I don’t think this is about self confidence. I’ve known many people with an abundance of confidence who lacked the qualities that transform confidence into achievement: knowledge, ambition, instinct and experience. It’s that last one that seems to catch in some throats. Should experience be the most important factor in that list?

This balancing act between acknowledging our youthful lack of experience while seeking to promote our ideas is difficult in any field, yet it presents a special challenge for those in PR. After all, there are still many PR firms that hardly acknowledge social media, and countless entry level professionals who have been blogging for years and are well versed in its value.

Rather than confidence, the issue is one of respect. We must respect the years of hard work and experience our superiors have put in to reach the level they are at, but we must also respect ourselves enough to have faith in our ideas. Even if they are shot down the first twenty times you suggest them, continuing to think critically and present interesting options without coming off as a “hotshot,” a “showboat,” or a “know-it-all” is the best course to take.

And when your ideas are approved by the higher ups? Run with them with everything you’ve got, and turn them into achievements. People won’t call you a “know-it-all,” but they might call you a rock star.

As for those pesky blog opinions, it’s easy. 1) Don’t blog in anger. 2) Re-read everything you write before you hit “post” (you should be doing this anyway, blogging takes enough grief for being typo-ridden babblings), 3) Don’t engage in personal attacks, and 4) Use common sense! (Not enough of it in this world.)

(My parents would probably want me to add a 5) Don’t curse, but that probably falls under the common sense rule, eh?)

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