Archive for February, 2009

Thanks to timesonline I’ve officially lost the blog battle

February 17, 2009

I’ve been having a good humored blog competition with my daughter, Ashley Rodriguez. It’s not been much of a contest for the last while–she’s been cleaning my clock. Now with timesonline getting her more traffic, I’m doomed.

The contest, of course, is about visits to our respective blogs. Her blog,, routinely gets about 4-5 times more traffic than crisisblogger–so I actually lost the game a long time ago. Ashley is a true foodie–and an outstanding writer. She worked under Sherry Yard for Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Beverly Hills  and turned down the job of pastry chef at Puck’s Cut restaurant in Beverly Hills before returning to Bellingham to raise two wonderful boys. So she turned her passion for food, particularly all things sweet and delightful into writing.

Of course, I have to also admit she has a bit of extra help in this blog contest from her husband. He is a professional photographer ( and as you can see if you check out her blog the photography stunningly matches the incredible food and writing.

Today her blog was recognized as one of the top 50 food blogs by none other than timesonline. She is listed as number 16, among some very impressive company.

Ashley–you win! And I couldn’t be prouder.


Should we expect “twitter-speed” from mainstream media?

February 16, 2009

This is the intriguing question of this post from Bill Salvin of Signal Bridge Communications. It is clear that the twitterers are shocked that it takes as long as 2 hours for the likes of CNN to get the story like the Continental crash on the air. But as Salvin points out, they need to be concerned about accuracy and that means they have to do a little more than just blast out there what the latest tweet is.

Yet, there are some nagging questions in my mind about this. It has become clear to me that speed has become more important than accuracy for most mainstream media–the 2000 elections still come to mind. And as the speed of information distribution through social media heats up, this need for speed is even more critical. As I have stated in numerous presentations the past few years, the competition within media is intense and the competition is based primarily on immediacy. Accuracy, balance, comprehensiveness, depth, context–all these are important and of varying importance depending on the outlet, but in this hyperspeed information world, you lose if you are not fast enough. That’s why I kind of doubt that the point about accuracy will continue to hold up. CNN needs to be concerned about that 2 hour delay because the audience they crave–those twitterers (hey better than saying twits) simply cannot and will not understand that bit about waiting to make sure the facts are right.

It’s one of the reasons why CNN like all other MSM have resorted to i-reporter or some other form of instant citizen journalism to support their traditional coverage. It is fast, it accommodates the mass of those involved in sharing instant information, and it also it seems somewhat absolves them of the heavy responsibility of accuracy and objectivity. Note the debacle of an i-reporter on CNN falsely reporting Steve Job’s death with the resulting short term stock crash. I don’t recall seeing any apologies from CNN on this false report. These incidences it seem to me don’t result in a call for more accuracy as much as they continue to press even more demands for speed.

Things on twitter can get testy–Shel Israel and Ford’s Scott Monty debate

February 14, 2009

Use of Twitter gets more interesting all the time. Yesterday, I saw Sally Falkow, one of the real experts in Social Media, talk about Twitter providing the first real threat to Google. Then comes this exchange between Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations–the book that got me blogging), and Scott Monty, from Ford.

A couple of quick comments: one is “toxic talk,” the topic I am kind of focusing on and was commented on in Media Bullseye (which led me to the Israel/Monty exchange. Let me clarify the quick summary from this article–while I think the economy with its fear, despair and uncertainty is contributing to toxic talk, what I am referring to as toxic talk on the internet far precedes the current economic situation. So it is not a cause of it at all–merely a cause of exacerbation.

To some degree the tweet-versation between Israel and Monty is a very mild example of toxic talk. How quickly the otherwise useful discussion devolves to a very mild form of ad hominem attack. I think part of the tendency within social media to far too soon move in this direction has to do with the fact that we are not face to face and that the technology intermediary has a disinhibiting effect. I know my language and too easy anger comes out much quicker when I am alone or with my phone or computer than when I am in the company of fellow humans. Self-control is easier when confronted with flesh and blood. Something we have to be cognizant of in our increasingly mediated interchanges.

Second, this conversation shows better than most could the fact that worthwhile conversations cannot be limited to 140 character interchanges. Something is already happening and is going to happen to our conversation. Short, snappy, snarky and increasingly nasty as brevity becomes almost everything.

Writing this I am reminded of those writers who saw the coming of typewriters and hung on for dear life to their fountain pens, and before that their quills. Hey, I am endlessly intrigued with all this technology and what it does to human life and communication–but if I had my choice, I’d be writing this with a quill. And wouldn’t be limited to 140 characters. Better yet, I’d be sitting with people I enjoy discussing this over a great syrah and a big fat stogie.

“Twitter is journalism’s Obama.” What are journalists talking about these days?

February 13, 2009

Get a bunch of journalists together to talk about changes in their business and you get all kinds of interesting comments. In this fascinating report by Alana Taylor on the focus is on social media and Twitter in particular. (Thanks to crisisblogger reader Simon Owens for sending this on.)

Here are a few other excerpts from the report:

Journalists are obsessed with Twitter. Obsessed. They use it, talk about it, analyze it, deconstruct it, reconstruct it, love it, hate it, capitalize on it, become experts on it, monetize it, argue about it, and become micro-famous on it.

“Journalists need to start seeing the public not just as audience members, but as sources,” said Andy Carvin as he held his cell phone tightly in his hand. While he explained the concept of Twitter to the audience, he was also sending out tweets in real time.

These days you can’t hide behind your byline,” says Shirley Brady, agreeing that Twitter serves a role as a mediator between reporter and reader. “No matter what your specialty is, these days you are forced into the public arena. You have to really engage with your readers and you can’t just publish your story and move on to the next one. You have to keep the conversation going…which can be a pain when you’re done and on to a new assignment.”

Sklar, who (like Carvin) sent out tweets during the panel, finds herself more and more concerned by the fact that the pendulum of interest has swung toward more “fun, sassy content” and away from “long, boring, investigative stuff.”

Undoubtedly, our press is at a very important moment — moving to a new platform, a new form of news. For Rosen, it was the open source revolution, the birth of Wikipedia, that made him realize how people could collaborate to produce journalism online.

Why is trust in business at an all time low?

February 10, 2009

The annual Edelman Trust Barometer is out and, like the economic news overall, this year the bad news just keeps getting worse. 77% of respondents in the US trust business less than year, internationally trust was down with 62% of the respondents.

Well, sure, it has to do with the economy. And that in itself is an important lesson. Are US corporations to blame for the mess we are in? No, but certainly there are individuals and selected companies and even some industries who have played an important role in our current situation. But when things go bad, blame gets spread broadly. When people are feeling negative, fearful, uncertain–it is more likely that they will think negative thoughts about just about anyone and everything. So some of this can be attributed to the general negative attitude in our world today and some to people painting all business with a very broad brush.

But I think there is something else, more serious and more insidious. I am preparing some comments for my presentation at the Ragan Communications and PRSA conference next month in Las Vegas. It’s about social media and crisis communication but I am finding myself focusing on what I am calling “toxic talk.” It’s the hair trigger outrage that is so obvious in so many blogs and comments. It’s the bitchiness and anger feeding on each other on sites like Digg and Newsvine. It’s the trashing and name calling of anyone and everyone with whom the commenter disagrees. It’s the eagerness to turn the bitterness into a viral attack. I used to say that social media was like the Cheers bar–a gathering of friends to discuss things of mutual interest. But it’s not, not overall. It’s seems more like a saloon from the cowboy movies where surly men in black hats peek out from under the broad brims and the camera focuses on the proximity of their itchy fingers to the six-shooter in their worn holster. There a sense of tension and danger and instant tragedy hidden only slightly by the tinkling of the honky tonk piano.

Now I’m getting negative about social media. Certainly there is more to it that this. But the toxic talk is pervasive and provides an overall mood and atmosphere that I find disturbing. It’s not just the uncensored language and raw emotion–as unacceptable as I personally find that. It’s the bitterness to almost anyone or anything that is seen to have too much power. While the demographics of social media are quickly changing, it is the young who have dominated it so far and the young who have set this tone. Why are so many young people so ticked off at so many–particularly at business?

Is there a connection between the rapid growth and widespread use of social media–the incredible expansion of the online conversation–and the sharp decline in trust in business?

What do you think?

Online reputations finally seem to have gotten executives’ attention

February 4, 2009

This article in PR Week highlights a survey by Weber Shandwick about executive’s concerns about their online reputation. For those who have been pounding this drum for some time, this is a welcome development. The phenomenol growth of social media sites such as Facebook and Linkedin means that millions of people (as many as 800 million by 2012 according to IBM) are engaging almost continuously in online conversations. The speed with which rumors, accusations, revelations and misinformation can fly in these hyper-networks is unprecedented.

The article points out that primary worries are what employees say online about their employer, and emails getting out that shouldn’t. Makes it critically important in this time of corporate cutbacks, unemployment and widespread fear, despair and anger to do the best job possible of open, honest communication.

Are public agencies adopting Twitter faster than private organizations?

February 2, 2009

Frequent Crisisblogger contributor Neil Chapman raises this interesting point:
‘When it comes to using social media in a crisis – the public sector has blazed a trail that appears to have left the richer, private sector in their wake.

Los Angeles Fire Department (@lafd) and Public Services of New Hampshire (@psnh) both used Twitter to enhance their response capability.

Now some boys in blue are following suit – Calgary Police (@calgarypolice) in Canada, the FBI press office (@fbipressoffice) in the US and now the UK’s West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) all have Twitter accounts.

Full marks to them for using every means, including social media, for going after criminals.’

Neil Chapman