Zeitgeist

When this ad came on last month I said I would write about it. Then I was sidetracked by life. Since then this ad continues to air. Finger on the pulse GE, finger on the pulse.

Kmart Goes Sophomoric (Viral) with New Ad

Photo of the Week

"We got him."

“We got him.”

“Suspect in custody. Suspect in custody.”

Just heard this on the police scanner on Ustream. Best news I heard all day. Can’t say enough about how impressed I am with today’s events and the many law enforcement agencies involved.

Laid Off Journo Scoops Boston’s Dailies via Twitter

There’s a terrifically amazing story coming out of Boston and of course it has to do with politics. If you guessed that it’s the news that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will not be running for reelection after nearly 20 years in office you would be wrong, but not far off.

Yesterday the news broke that Mayor Menino would not be seeking reelection – the Globe had it, the Herald had it, RTs were spreading across Twitter with the fury of a California wildfire.

But the real story started earlier this month when the city’s alt-weekly Boston Phoenix closed its doors. Among those laid off was longtime political reporter David S. Bernstein. If you’ve lived in Boston then you know Bernstein as an institution when it comes to political news. He fills up your Twitter stream with the latest from Beacon Hill and City Hall, sometimes to the point where you unfollow for a few days just to take a break.

Unfortunately, if you were not following Bernstein yesterday, you missed out on the scoop of all scoops. At 2:27pm @dbernstein posted the following two tweets:

Sure it was unconfirmed but holy hell, what if it was true. If anyone would know it would be Bernstein right? He continued:

 

Then he located the sources:

Then came the buy in from the Dorchester Reporter’s editor:

Throughout this entire stream from @dbernstein there came nothing at first from the dailies. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald were silent. Were they really sitting on an embargo as some are speculating? Were they restricted by the need to confirm sources as one editor suggests?

In an email excerpt from Globe editor Brian McGrory to Boston Business Journal‘s Galen Moore:

David simply wasn’t a factor in what we pursued and published. The Globe has its institutional standards, standards that spread across the organization, with institutional credibility that has been built up in this community for generations. While our reporting led to strong indications early in the day that the mayor wouldn’t be seeking reelection, those indications – sources with indirect knowledge, if you will – didn’t reach our standard for publication until the evening. While history tells me that David is a good political reporter, I would certainly not stake the Globe’s reputation on his Twitter dispatches, or even concede that he was working with more information than we already had. He said on Fox 25 last night, “I don’t have it from directly Menino or his staff,” even repeating, “I have not confirmed that directly from his offices directly.” A freelance journalist, self-publishing, obviously has a far different standard than the Boston Globe.

I think they got scooped by a veteran reporter who lives and breathes his beat regardless of the promise of a paycheck. To lump Bernstein in with unethical bloggers is a poor attempt to steer the conversation away from the simple fact that the dailies got beat plain and simple. So here’s to you Mr. Bernstein, keep doing what you do.

Making Your Video: Picking the Right Audio

Audio selections are frequently overlooked in videos to disastrous effects. A fitting song can create just the right mood, adding to your theme, while the wrong selection can force a viewer to click away never to return to your page or even worse, bring about a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Here are a few examples of how audio selections drastically impact videos:

Cease and Desist

When the SPCA of Wake County used Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me” without their permission they received an order from the band’s lawyer. That meant a scramble to create a video that requires viewers to synch up the song, a step you hope to save your audience from doing.

Opposites Attract

No matter what you film, you can match seemingly unconnected sound effects to create memorable effects. Take this YouTube favorite for example:

Unintended Consequences

An instrumental selection can create just the right mood or take your video in an unintended direction. Just look at these two versions of the same video posted recently by BuzzFeed. The first is the original celebratory video regarding Twitter’s seven year anniversary.

Here is the same video with music from the film Inception.

Before you begin recording your next video, remember the many components, including audio, that will set your project up for success. Share some of your examples of audio done right in the comments section below.

Breaking News: Are You a Chicken Little or a Sensible Simon?

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.18.36 PMNow that we have access to information from around the world 24/7, it’s up to us what we believe. The faster it arrives in our feeds the quicker we can pass it along as truth to our followers. But what if our sources have it wrong? Are we adding to the confusion? When it comes to breaking news, are social media outlets such as Twitter just one big game of “Telephone”?

Case in point: Lil Wayne.

As of Friday evening everyone seems to agree that rapper Lil Wayne is in a hospital, but that’s where the stories diverge. If you believe @LilTunechi’s Twitter account then he is doing well:

If you follow Lil Wayne’s friends then he may just be watching the Syracuse game:

With more information to come:

However, if you read tweets and reports from @TMZ you may have learned that Lil Wayne was in a coma, receiving his last rites (TMZ has since removed this “deathbed” detail from its story). The media outlet has posted several brief reports on Twitter including:

Which leads to news reports like this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 6.52.00 PMFollowed by this:

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.39.24 PMAs reports break on stories around the world, the speed at which we receive information is unbelievable which is why we should always take a beat and wait before adding to the noise. Or at the very least, admitting to our Chicken Little mentalities and posting our corrections in full view of our followers.

How do you share breaking news?

Fired Groupon CEO Pens Colorful Farewell Note

GrouponFollowing Groupon’s most recent earnings report, the company’s CEO announced that he was fired. Andrew Mason, the founder of the once booming startup, has overseen a declining stock price and disappointing earnings that ultimately required his departure.

On his way out Mason penned this unique note to Groupon’s employees and shared it via his Twitter account. The only question is, will a publicly shared semi-comical note help or further hurt the struggling company?

(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)

People of Groupon,

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.

Love,
Andrew

Brand Alignment

Red Bull is arguably a leader when it comes to aligning its brand with the interests of its core audience. The latest in its stable of content creation masterpieces comes via YouTube: “Red Bull Perspective – A Skateboard Film” (below).

If you have the 16:27 available to watch this video today, take a moment afterward to ask yourself: When was the last time you created such compelling content that was so well aligned with your supporters’ loves/hobbies/beliefs? What makes them collectively individuals?

And when you are answering these questions do not let the funding behind these projects get in the way of your thinking. Sure money can add some polish or blow out an idea but remember that it’s free to connect with your supporters.

Read Larry Dobrow’s Video Critique.

The Lynchpin: A Newsroom of One

Imagine a newsroom with only one reporter, typing away on a laptop, surrounded by empty desks and unplugged monitors. Now picture this reporter going out in the field with a camera slung over a shoulder. An hour later the reporter/photographer returns, sits back at the desk, edits the photos, runs reports, sifts through data, designs a graphic, marks up the article, lays it out, and finally hits the publish button.

This is the world we live in: a newsroom of one. It’s not a new concept. Many of us have been doing just this for years and calling it content creation or in-house journalism. It’s been a necessity, a survival trait among the more successful communications professionals. It started as being a “Renaissance Man”, then a jack-of-all-trades, then multitasking, and finally employable.

So why are people asking if brands should retain a newsroom?

Here’s a pro and here’s a con.

It’s a question of content creation and scale. How does a brand create thoughtful content quickly to contribute or lead 24/7 dialogues? How does this ability span markets, countries, time zones?

There are many models, as there should be. Side note: Beware anyone who says there is a single solution. Some departments may scale up to build an internal team similar to a modern, digital newsroom. Others, usually due to budget restrictions, will ask staff to take on new responsibilities. Yet others will retain agencies when applicable, possibly with several on retainer for rapid response social media and creative.

The most important thing to retain is a staff member that fully understands these many moving parts. This colleague will either run the ship him or herself or oversee the team members spread across the globe. You need a colleague who participates in the creative process, practicing “social” media not just posting online, and produces not only collateral but content strategy. You need a colleague who appreciates the capabilities, limitations, and roles of the technology that is available. This colleague must be an analyst, running reports, sifting through the data, and detecting trends to drive relevancy. And above all, this colleague must have an editorial producer mind to package the end result and create thoughtful dialogues to increase support and sharability.

The “newsroom” is the latest buzzword. Translated it means “multifaceted team members who contribute across your organization’s departments/structure.”

The new economy has created a workforce of individuals with multiple professions and skill sets and we’re looking for positions that require using as many of these skills, and acquiring more. Luckily for you, we enjoy this demanding work life and only require one benefits package.

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