Monday, July 30, 2012

Sporting Social Media: Make Sure You Play It Right

As we’re all aware, this is an enormous week for sports. As frequent readers of this blog are aware, I’ll pluck an amalgam of excuses to infuse my weekly postings with anything of the sporting nature (usually consisting of a caffeine-laden rant about the Atlanta Braves – I’ll get to them later.) The 2012 Olympic Games got underway over the weekend, and tomorrow marks my favorite Christmas-in-July celebration: baseball’s trade deadline. With these two events, the social media convergence has begun across every online spectrum, with rumor and conjecture dominating the Major League Baseball landscape and time-delay spoilers raking in the headlines on what’s being coined the first ‘Real-Time Olympics.’
Last week we covered the area of responsible reporting in the Social Media Age – where the news comes to you, whether you’re ready or not. This week we’ll touch on Internet responsibility in the sporting atmosphere, where the Olympics and baseball’s trade deadline have already encountered social media snares with palpable consequences.

Twitter Shocks Ryan Dempster, Ryan Dempster Handcuffs the Cubs

I told you I’d get to my Atlanta Braves sooner than later. Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, currently compiling the best statistics of his career and preparing for another mammoth payday when he hits free agency this winter, was all but traded to the Atlanta Braves. In an ironic stroke of bad luck familiar only to lifelong Atlanta fans, Dempster nixed the trade after learning about it – not from his agent, not from Chicago – but from Twitter.

“THERE IS NO TRADE. Don’t know where this info came from,” Dempster tweeted, reportedly infuriated with the Chicago front-office for not first cluing him in on the news that he’d been shipped out of town before leaking it to the media. Dempster then invoked his 10-5 rights (ten years of service time/five years with one team gives a player the ability to veto any trade) to stick it to the team that was looking to revamp with younger (and cheaper) talent, saddling them with the rest of his contract and a disgruntled pitcher. Phrasing it in a way that only an old-school baseball man could, Chicago Cubs Manager Dale Sveum blamed ‘the Twitter, the Facebook’ for the trade’s collapse, and then desperately took to "the Googler" in an attempt to track down answers as to how the "Internet machine" foiled his trade plans.

Social Media and NBC Attempt to Spoil the Olympics

With the 2012 Olympic Games being dubbed as ‘the first real-time Olympics,’ enthusiasts have already encountered issues with NBC and social media that were not present in 2008. It’s safe to say the world didn’t revolve around the online world four years ago as it does now, and with the availability of split-second updates comes a new challenge: preserving the outcome of events for those of us who are unable to watch them live.

The much anticipated Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte 400-meter race was aired on a tape delay, and NBC mistakenly broadcast the results on its Nightly News programming and social media outlets. #NBCSucks soon began trending on Twitter, and joke-accounts began cropping up left and right (most notably @NBCDelayed, which acquired over 1,300 followers that evening.)

NBC went into damage control mode, with executive producer Jim Bell responding to users’ grievances over his own Twitter account. NBC has announced they will now be more cognizant over differentiating between ‘live’ Olympic-happenings and tape-delayed footage, also warning viewers of potential ‘spoiler alerts’ before airing.

We've got an exciting week ahead of us, and for those like me who revel spend countless hours with our noses pressed in the sports section, it’s about as good as it gets. We’ve also got a week of learning curves; where producers, editors and baseball front-offices try their hands at adapting to a world where they’re still unfamiliar: the world where social media is the go-to source for round the clock coverage.  

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, July 23, 2012

HBO's 'The Newsroom' and Media Credibility

If you haven’t tuned into the Aaron Sorkin-penned drama The Newsroom on Sundays, you’re really closing out your weekends wrong. The critically acclaimed HBO series starring (the superb) Jeff Daniels details the inner-workings of a major news network struggling to find its identity, with Daniels’ portrayal of cynical lead anchor Will McAvoy firmly entrenched in a mental tug-of-war between ‘newsman’ and ‘political attack dog.’ One episode gave us insight into the announcement of the near-fatal shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. When many of the other leading cable news outlets announced that Giffords had perished (based on one false report), McAvoy resisted making such a claim, much to the dismay of his producers who often put ‘being first’ over ‘being accurate.’

“Every second that you’re not current, a thousand people are changing the channel!” exclaims a furious Reese Lansing, President of the news network.

The response: “It’s a person. A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news.”

And so began our interesting conversation in this morning’s staff meeting, where we discussed an ongoing trend since social media was accepted as a viable form of receiving news: timeliness trumping accurate reporting. An unfortunate side-effect of the second-to-second news cycle now available via Twitter and the like is the chaotic flurry of information immediately following a breaking story. In the struggle for news superiority, often, the facts take a backseat.

This is one of the negative aspects of social media. With smartphones and a culture that’s plugged in 24/7, everyone is a reporter; and while John Q. Public isn’t required to answer to an editor or confirm the facts, word still spreads like wildfire on the Internet and influences public knowledge and opinion.

The attention gained from being the initial whistleblower is negated when the facts you presented were unfounded or off-base. The reputation you’ve crafted as a reliable source of news is diluted by your desire to be the face presenting the news. Confirm the facts before blasting to your followers online.

The gripping seven-minute scene (warning: language) surrounding Gabrielle Giffords in The Newsroom is as much Sorkin’s social-commentary as a plot-point. In the race to be first, in the monetization of the media, the truth is sometimes the casualty. This indictment of the news business can serve as a cautionary tale going forward, where confirming the facts returns to the industry standard and emphasis on ‘being first’ is put on the backburner.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, July 16, 2012

Picture This! Instagram at Conventions

This Monday finds me playing the role of public relations Lone Ranger, as the rest of the team is currently attending the 2012 NSA Convention in Indianapolis. While the gang is off meeting with clients and potential clients in the land of racing lore, I’m holding down the fort; firing off a litany of emails and keeping up with the day-to-day workings of PR/PR, all set to the inviting backdrop of 100% Florida humidity. Thanks to our social media cache, I’ve been able to monitor the happenings at the convention (which included a ‘friendliest staff’ award this morning); specifically, our brand-new Instagram account (shameless plug): @prprpublicity. Instagramis an invaluable asset during conventions and trade shows, and provides a fun and entertaining way of marketing your brand.

By now, the world is fully aware of the enormity of Instagram, after it was purchased by Facebook in April for a cool billion dollars. This photo-sharing social media site is unique in that it is available only to smartphone users, and until the Facebook buyout, only IPhone users. It works much in the way that Twitter does, complete with ‘@replies’ and tagging, but add in a wealth of different filters for your photos and the ability of your followers to ‘like’ them.

 Lindsay has done a bang-up job chronicling PR/PR’s presence at this year’s NSA Convention, with constant Instagram updates of the goings on in Indianapolis. By uploading and sharing your photos on Instagram while at a convention, you can provide follow-worthy content to those interested in you or what you’re trying to promote (and make the coworkers you left behind jealous of the fun you’re having.)

What makes Instagram so useful at conventions is that it allows your potential clients to view you in action, all from the comfort of their smartphone. Is there a better endorsement than visual evidence of you onstage giving a rousing keynote or a picture of your crowded booth in the exhibit hall? Couple with the ability to geo-tag your location so your displays are easily found or your followers to mention you in their own photos and you have the makings of a social media snowball that builds your visibility.

I have two more days of manning the ship here in Orlando, and I am looking forward to the continuous stream of visuals from the PR/PR Instagram account. Establish yourself on this meteoric social media site, and allow your clientele to see you in action.

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blogging and 'A Case of the Mondays.'

A sure-fire way to incur a ‘case of the Mondays’ is by being asked if you have a ‘case of the Mondays.’ Let’s face it: no one really loves a Monday, and that single cliché office-term is the quickest path to the beginning of the workweek spiraling out of control. We’re used to hectic Monday mornings around our office, complete with staff meetings, shoring up any pressing matters from over the weekend, and of course, brainstorming topics and eventually writing this blog. Some days, topics fly around the room like a locust swarm, and on others I’m left staring at the wall for six hours wondering what to write about. Crafting an insightful blog worth following is a rewarding, but arduous task, and can sometimes bring about ‘a case of the Mondays.’

In an effort to spare some of you would-be bloggers from a few of the roadblocks I’ve encountered, I’m going to outline some inherent challenges that I’ve experienced with my tenure as PR/PR’s resident blogger, and the strategies I utilize to overcome them.

Find a Parallel, Even if it’s Not Obvious

With weekly blogging, the first critical element is finding unique links to what’s circulating in the news. At first glance, you may not recognize a news story’s relevance to your topic, but often your best work occurs by shifting your focus and approaching a topic from a different angle.

Know Your Audience and Provide Actionable Advice

Our blog has gained steady steam since its inception, and it’s due in part to maintaining our established topic, and familiarity with our readership. Knowing your audience and why they’re seeking out your point of view is a key cog in sustaining consistent page views.

Another integral factor is providing actionable tips and advice. Many readers are typing in your blog URL to solve problems; provide your distinct perspective with concrete, ‘put in to practice’ advice, and watch your followers multiply.

Talk it Out

Formal brainstorming sessions can feel slightly daunting, especially on a Monday morning when setting up the office after the weekend. Here at PR/PR, many of our blog topics are borne of casual conversation. When the ideas don’t immediately jump out at you, take a step back and allow others to contribute to the conversation. Often, you just needed a new set of ideas and fresh thought process to determine your topic.

Grab a Coffee and Take a Breather!

Forced writing is painfully obvious to your readers. I find the best panacea for my writer’s block maladies is re-upping on caffeine and stepping away from the screen. Staring at a blinking cursor can sometimes feel like waiting for the mailman. A change of scenery can work wonders for your creativity, as it allows you to decompress and relax while casually brainstorming your ideas.

Running the PR/PR blog has provided me with a crash-course in blogging, and with every new venture, there’s liable to be a few speed bumps along the way. By employing the above techniques I’ve been able to surpass them and avoid rough Mondays, and hopefully you will find them useful to besting your struggles as you begin blogging.

-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, July 2, 2012

Saluting Our Forefathers

By nature, proper, effective publicity requires a tangible level of risk. Ideas that can potentially turn the status quo on its head will always be met with a degree of skepticism, whether in regards to their effectiveness or mere resistance to change, and individuals devoted to their cause will accept the acute risks and backlash they receive for the long-term payoff.

No group of individuals took a more colossal risk than the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who committed which was considered an act of treason for the greater good of their perceived nation. In the eyes of the British, the moment quills were dipped in inkwells and graced that piece of parchment, every one of those men became enemies of the crown; traitors determined to lacerate the union and instill a society of brigands and ne’er-do-wells, dismantling their colonies in ‘The New World.’
Each of those men knew that inscribing their names on that document meant they were marked for dead. They knew they may potentially alienate the constituents who worked to put them in power, and they recognized that their actions in that momentous place in time may have been for naught, and history may paint them as villainous usurpers of the highest order. In spite of blatant risk of death, 56 brave men proudly pledged their allegiance to an infant nation, and made the first steps in establishing the United States of America we know today.
So here at PR/PR, we salute our forefathers this week, who truly took the biggest PR risk of all: putting their lives on the line for the promise of a brighter future for our country. Have a fun and safe July 4th.
-Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations