May 29, 2012
by Roger Pynn
As a passionate First Amendment rights advocate, it is difficult to question almost any act of censorship … but a story of a recent court ruling in Central Florida sparked a letter to the editor in the Orlando Sentinel that really gives me pause.
Letter writer Reg Lyle wrote to question whether flashing your car headlights is free speech if your objective is to tell other drivers to slow down because there are police nearby. Circuit Judge Alan Dickey had ruled that warning speeders of their potential to be stopped qualifies for the constitutional protection.
But Lyle suggests otherwise. When targeted communication is intended to obstruct justice, whether in the form of a flash of the headlights or perhaps warning a terrorist that an undercover law enforcement officer has infiltrated their branch of al-Qaeda, should the communication be protected? Is there any difference? Is the First Amendment intended to get in the way of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … which law enforcement officers are paid to protect?
May 21, 2012
You had to have been living under a rock to not have witnessed the media frenzy over Facebook the past few weeks. Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, rang NASDAQ’s opening bell this past Friday, as the company became public. Every move has been scrutinized leading up to the opening. Really, I have never seen such coverage of one company (that is not involved in a scandal) from so many angles.
In the continuous stream of news and visuals, what strikes me most is Zuckerberg’s consistent relaxed dress. He can be found in jeans, a T-shirt and hoodie every day. I am all about relaxed office dress codes – casual Fridays! – but there is power, authority and respect in a suit.
There is a time and place for everything and while some may think his casual dress is part of an effort to change business, I think such relaxed attire is inappropriate in the business atmosphere. Non-verbal cues including dress often speak louder than words. Even as business changes while millennials take over the jobs of baby boomers, I don’t see the suit going away.
May 18, 2012
by Roger Pynn
I’ve been through a series of losses recently, and when dear friends and family members pass away I guess it is unavoidable that we become reflective and introspective. Perhaps it is also something that comes with age, but at a number of these funerals and memorial services I’ve been struck by the lessons those we mourned and honored left behind.
One loss that hit very hard was that of a dear friend and client, Gary Sain … a giant in the tourism and hospitality industry. As I listened to those who had come to praise him, including corporate and community giants, I thought of all the times he had said to me, “why not?” Gary just refused to take “no” for an answer if he believed in something … and he always believed BIG.
I’m grateful to him for the reminder that just because others don’t understand isn’t reason to give up … it is a call to action to package your ideas and clarify and communicate them, but most importantly to do so in a positive way, never allowing yourself to get on the defensive.
And although I don’t know Jack Zenger, his blog post for Forbes about the value of communicating honestly came from something he experienced in one of the most unimaginable of all life situations … the loss of a child. You should read this, not just because it is exceptionally well-written, but because in the midst of the horrifying loss of an adult son, he recognized lessons all of us can benefit from in the compassionate yet assertive words of a physician.
What I’ve been left with through these losses and the lessons is a realization that these people all seemed to know that sharing life lessons is an important responsibility … and that they didn’t wait to share them. They shared them when they were alive and we celebrated them when they were gone.
What are you sharing?
May 15, 2012
by Kim Taylor
When I’m asked what skills are most important for a potential new hire, my answer will almost always include the ability to write well (not good, by the way) and resourcefulness. Written communication isn’t only important for our business, it’s important in every business.
Written communication is the clear expression of ideas in writing, including the use of proper grammar, organization of thoughts and sentence structure.
Simple, right? Not if you look at the results from 2012’s FCAT writing scores.
“The 2012 scores from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test writing exam were significantly lower than last year’s marks. The percentage of fourth graders scoring acceptably — earning a 4 or better on the 6-point scale — dropped from 81 percent to 27 percent, for example.” (Source: OrlandoSentinel.com)
The solution: lowering the grading scale until adjustments can be made. But, don’t worry; this year’s tougher grading was only due to a greater “focus on spelling, grammar and good details,” which had been graded with “leniency” in previous years.
Perhaps it’s a leap to judge the quality of a fourth grader’s writing and fear that it won’t be corrected by the time they’re ready to enter the workforce, but if they don’t learn to write in school, where will they learn to write?
May 14, 2012
by Dan Ward
News magazines used to cover war. Now they’re engaged in a Cover War.
In the event you haven’t opened a newspaper, turned on the TV or logged into Facebook over the past week, you may be unaware of the war that is being waged between Time and Newsweek, a war to see who can produce the most provocative cover and force consumers to give them a second look.
It started with Time’s decision to publish a cover with a photo of a young mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. Newsweek quickly followed with a headline naming Barack Obama our first “gay president,” under a cover photo of the commander in chief under a rainbow-hued halo.
The covers are meant to provoke, to generate strong positive or negative reactions that will drive consumers to plunk down a few dollars to see what’s inside.
We often talk about provocative communication for our clients, developing messaging strategies that can break through the clutter and the “information overload” so that audiences will stop to listen. But we also advise clients that once you have your audience’s attention, you better have something to say. What will engage them? What will educate them? What will persuade them? And most importantly, what will convince them to keep coming back for more?
It’s not enough just to provoke. There are plenty of shiny pennies out there and today’s hot topic can easily become yesterday’s news.
Time and Newsweek have grabbed our attention. The question now is whether they can keep it.
May 14, 2012
by Vianka McConville
You learn something new every day. Traditional media is a great source of information, but social media continues to combine knowledge with experience capturing niche markets. For example, recently 14.5 million people were reached through live-tweeting brain surgery.
The patient, a 21-year-old woman, allowed for the brain tumor resection surgery to be captured via video, photos and consistent tweets. Hospital staff performed the updates. The updates are impressive including graphic photos and clear videos.
“We wanted to spread the educational experience as far as possible,” said Natalie Camarata, Memorial Hermann’s digital marketing manager, as told to Mashable.
The experience is absolutely educational – surely for the medical community and curious Internet followers, but also for digital communicators. There may not be too many limits for social media (if any), which provides an opportunity to push boundaries for clients and create novel campaigns. It is time to seriously think outside the box.
*The hospital also debuted the first-ever open heart surgery live-tweet in February 2012.
May 8, 2012
by Roger Pynn
I wish the folks at the Poynter Institute would conduct a study of the leading institutional participants in social media. The journalism community Poynter so devotedly serves has to be right up there near the top, yet articles like Adam Hochberg’s headlined “George Zimmerman’s lawyers hope to win trial by social media in Trayvon Martin case” really don’t seem to take that into account.
Hochberg’s article is well-done and interesting in its exploration of the use of social media by Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara, but it seems to draw some magical line between social media and the traditional media when in fact nearly every newspaper in America has linked itself inextricably to the social networks O’Mara is using to disseminate information, build support and possibly influence the jury pool, either intentionally or as collateral damage.
Attorneys learned long ago to use every possible tool at their disposal to convince the public that their case was right and their opponents were wrong. Smart ones didn’t wait for media coverage, they instigated it. They know (as one source tells Hochberg) that part of the attorney’s responsibility is to “protect their client’s reputation in the public eye.”
That would be a fun debate, but is there any difference here? Social media is about targeted communication … taking advantage of tools that allow you to connect directly with people interested in your story.
The far more troubling issue for me is lack of media restraint when it comes to covering trials. Clearly, both journalists and media marketers have discovered the depth of public fascination with trials (thank you, Perry Mason), but there seems very little concern for the role coverage may be playing in outcomes.