Category Archives: writing

Multimedia Blog, My Leap into the Norm

Okay, I’m sure others have done this but it was a big deal for me, a goal I’ve had for months.

Monday, August 31, I posted the latest installment of The MU Blog that utilized various social networking outlets.
It’s composed of 10 short graphs that can be read in two minutes.  There’s news, folksy gossip and teasers.

It contains  links to:
-an online  news release

-YouTube video created with a Flip camera

-YouTube video adapted  from a TV talk show

-two podcasts

-still photos on Picasa
I announced the posting on Facebook and Twitter and our internal daily online announcement network.


Background: With  my Zoom H2 and H4  audio recorders, I recorded the president’s breakfast remarks and the convocation speaker’s address. I yanked out my Flip to capture the marching band’s music and faculty procession for convocation.

After a video shoot with our president in her home, we sat on her deck and talked. She mentioned that her 79-year-old husband was taking a motorcycle test.  He’s also the boxing coach.  I used this tidbit to link to a podcast interview with him about coaching boxing.

* * *

I played with the concept for the MU Blog for nearly a year.  I was not at a point where I could put down on paper the concept of the blog but I knew the style.  I knew who I wanted to reach.  I knew I wanted a blend of news with a touch of the  personal.

And, finally, I knew that I just had to jump in, do it and let it evolve.

All this takes teamwork.  Our IT folks have created the technical pathways  to do these things– from podcasts in 2005 to content management systems, YouTube channels and my WordPress blog site.


Monday was deadline day.  I was writing the content for the blog (and a look at my revisions record shows that I revised about 20 times).  One staff member  (wearing headphones and munching Doritos between keystrokes) edited and mixed two podcasts and two videos while a student worker recorded intros to the podcasts from scripts I wrote in between working on the blog text, answering phone calls and running to meetings.


Most people, aside from this blog’s readers and a few others, understand the leap.

It’s now the norm.


My Short Forced Exile from WordPress

It was 7 p.m. November 4. I had just finished a post about the election, a passionate sort of reflection on how I had seen the country change over the decades. The post would have freshness for about one day. As always I read through it several times to see how I could tighten it or make sentences work more effectively.

Finally, I hit “publish.” I visited my site to make sure it was there.

Usually, that’s where it ends. I go onto something else, but an hour later I checked the site again. I was greeted with the message that my site had been removed. I had violated something or I was a spammer. “You are not welcome here,” it said.

I was stunned. I went over and over the blog in my mind. It was a thought piece. I was writing about my America. In addition to being just plain confused, to be truthful, I was hurt. “You are not welcome here.”

Then I realized that two years worth of work was gone. Yes, the message said WordPress would move my posts to another site when I found one, but I wanted to stay here. WordPress is home.

I emailed a message saying there was a huge mistake. I have been WordPress two years. I explained I was in higher education and my blog is about higher ed marketing and PR.

I waited. No response. Meanwhile my time-sensitive blog about the election lolled in WordPress Limbo.

I wondered if I should write another plea for my return to the WordPress family, or would that look like I was a desperate spammer? I finally broke down and sent a second reasoned but passionate plea.

I want to emphasize here that I was not angry with WordPress. I knew there was a glitch somewhere, but when we’re all working in the machine (red pill please) you are helpless until you connect with an appropriate human.

Obviously, I did and I’m back.

Why was I exiled? I doubt if you could ever guess unless its happened to you. And it very well could happen to you.

Next post: Why I was removed and why I still love WordPress.

Visionary Marketing, Ethics, Student Blogs. . .

Being on my back in a brace for possibly three months has been an interesting experience.  It can be solitary confinement or temporary liberation.  Like anything, the quality of your reality is a state of mind.  I’ve had a lot of time to research, read and realize that no matter how much time one has for the Web, it’s like going through stars in a galaxy only to find there are a million more galaxies.

You can get lost in space on the Web.

But in all my explorations I did stumble upon one of the best articles I’ve read on the Web, marketing and the direction things are taking.  It’s long but Bob Garfield is one of the visionaries in his field.  It’s worth your while to read. We’ll see if facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg takes his advice.  I wonder if any of us will take his advice?

And then there’s the post on the PR Junkie blog about Sara Palin’s writing style and what it reveals.  it begins “Call it amoral or disgusting, perhaps even illegal, but thanks to a group of hackers. . . .”  Both the post and the responses are thought-provoking and  should be of interest to PR folks and anyone dealing with the Web, communications and privacy issues.

Thanks to my news director who forwarded this to me, I see there are other pros in the field who occasionally use the term douche bag.  This editor found himself in the middle of a controversy.

Finally, Kyle has a good post on first year student blogs at Wofford. I’m wondering, Kyle, and others who have student blogs, if you could give an update on how you choose students, how much you monitor content (I’m all for letting them write what they want, within reason) and what the results are.  How do you measure the success or effectiveness of each blog? I’d like anyone who deals with student blogs to weigh in on this one.

Life Minus Internet

I’m sitting on a patio under a clear blue sky in Coronado CA. Behind me is a 10-foot high morning glory bush so old it has an eight-inch trunk. We’re out here on family business.
When we arrived Sunday the first thing I did was haul out the Mac and try to get on the Internet.
I thought we could tap into a neighbor’s signal but all networks were secured. After a couple hours I gave up, knowing I was out of luck. I called Time Warner the next morning to get the cable hooked back up and get internet service. The first opening they had was Thursday.
I was sick. Four long days, broken into chunks of 24 hours, which in turn melted into slots of 60 minutes each.
I didn’t want to do the math. This would be the longest time I’d been without the net in years.
How was life going to work? I needed to get to my email accounts, Facebook, eBay. How was I going to get my BlogHighEd fix?
Four long days. . . .
I read a lot. I had brought a couple John D. MacDonald books, along with Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now which I’ve been meaning to read for two years. I spent time with my mother-in-law, a sweet 85-year-old woman who has been living with us the past two years and was now back in her own home in Coronado.
Fix breakfast, a couple suppers, run to Escondido to meet with her lawyer.
I found, by Tuesday, that the withdrawal symptoms had subsided. I took long walks along the quiet streets lined with palm trees swaying in the light breeze as I passed meticulously manicured lawns of million dollar homes.
There is life without the internet.
The cable guy showed up late Thursday, hooked us up and left. I jumped on my G-mail and was confronted with a classic case of anti climax. I had two new emails since Sunday. I opened my office email and found junk mail and some messages that didn’t need immediate answers. I did answer one to our media consultant and my news director, both of whom replied, asking why I was even thinking about work.
I moved over to BHE. Life was going on very smoothly without me.
Having learned a valuable lesson, I closed Firefox, picked up The Power of Now and returned with a drink to the sunny patio on a quiet island off the coast of San Diego.


For something a bit more substantive, check out Al Reis’ thoughts on The Pitfalls of Megabranding

Newspapers as Agenda Setters. Who Follows in Their Wake?

For this guest blog I asked Dick Jones of Dick Jones Communications for his thoughts on newspapers as the agenda setters and who sets the agenda as they continue to lose circulation. Here’s Dick’s response:

While most people no longer get their news directly from newspapers, the papers retain an important role as the agenda setters of the news.  That’s why it’s still essential for college and university publicists to get their stories into the newspapers.

At the local level, your TV assignment editors are taking many of their cues for the day’s news coverage from the stories in the morning newspaper—at least the stories that they think have some “visual” potential.  The stories that do not have video appeal turn up in text on the station’s website.  Zoning ordinance changes make bad television.

Too few local radio stations retain independent news operations anymore.   Where local radio news still exists they are reading wire stories (many of which were re-written from newspapers) and cribbing shamelessly from the local newspaper for others.  Sometimes this is done with attribution.  Not always.

Bloggers commenting on the foibles of the school board may have attended last night’s board meeting.  More likely, however, they read about it in the morning newspaper.  Or if they are commenting on a national issue, such as the relief efforts in the China earthquake, they got their info from a Google search which turned up a host of stories from newspapers and wire services.

It’s not much different at the national level.  The producers of the network television and cable news programs are scanning their agenda-setting newspapers for story ideas.  These include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY.

More often than I can count in my career, a big broadcast score has resulted after the story was covered by a national agenda-setting newspaper or a major wire service.   One of the more recent examples is a professor who wrote an op/ed for The Chicago Tribune about Presidents Day in February.  After it appeared he was interviewed on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

So newspapers still matter even though fewer and fewer people read them.  That’s one reason why the collapsing economics of the newspaper business is  a concern.  If the newspapers go belly up who will be the agenda setters?

Something will fill the vacuum, of course.  Something will serve as the agenda setter for the news.  Something always has; always will.

As media relations professionals we will have to find whatever it is and successfully pitch them.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts 18

This year at commencement I practiced what I’ve been preaching. I went armed with Zoom H2 audio recorder, my Flip camcorder and my still camera. My photographer attended and my news director had his camera so I felt free just to roam and play.

The results? It was so windy that my audio was not usable. I shot some video of the band which turned out surprisingly well. I found a spot behind the stage where I could get still shots of our president congratulating and hugging the graduates with the sea of seated graduates and proud relatives in the background.

That’s it, from here on in, I’m traveling with my multimedia recording arsenal.


Kyle James Stumbled my douchbags report. Kyle, it worked. I actually had a couple referrals from it.

I was expecting a barrage of visits from douchbag aficionados but really didn’t have any. D.W. did you attract perverts?


Harvard and Yale’s struggle to attract low income students tells me two things:

-Their brand as elite Ivy League schools is so imbued that they’ll always have a struggle.

-Competition in the admissions area is getting tougher which means we in marketing have to work smarter.


A new program which some of you may know about and are using. This from the press release:

Magnify has introduced a new service that promises to make it easy for Movable Type and WordPress publishers to incorporate media from a variety of sites.

Magnify Publisher is a native blog application that lets you search for video, text, and images, using key words and tags, and embed the content directly into a post, without ever leaving the WordPress or Movable Type dashboard. Magnify Publisher also offers Seesmic-like tools that let you shoot and publish videoblog posts using a WebCam.

If anyone has tried it, let me know how it works.


A University of Leicester space scientist says text messaging is more expensive than downloading data from the Hubble Space telescope—about 4.4 times more expensive.


While I continue vacillating by “The Great Twivide,” I do want to share a couple interesting posts, one by Max Kalehoff, VP for marketing of Clickable on Why Twitter Matters and his five strategies for choosing who to follow.

In the comments, Ellen Leanse of Ellen Leanse consulting has a link to her blog in which she offers 10 really good Twitter tips.


I found them, by the way, on TargetX’s Email Minute.


While Stumbling last night I found a cool blog post on Cogent Metal on Firefox Smart Keywords.


And this post by fortysomething on CSS organization for better efficiency.


New Dick Jones guest blog coming this week. Dick is more knowledgeable about the print media than anyone I know. His thoughts and insights are invaluable and they continue to be read long after they’re posted. So, thanks Dick.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts 17

Deborah Saline, chief operating officer at PR Works in Harrisburg, PA, taught a PR class at Bloomsburg University this semester and shares her observations of college students in Nexters Enter the Work Force Oh


Ad Age blogger George Parker is catching up with the new wave of un-conferences, concluding that marketing conferences are becoming irrelevant.


An interesting article in Advertising Age about adults spending more than half their media hours with TV. According to the survey, Internet advertising still is not faring very well. At the same time Wall Street marketers are ditching radio,TV and print for the Internet. What the survey doesn’t cover is the market that we’re interested in – the teens. And it does not address social networks. While it’s good information for what it’s trying to do, it does show that Advertising Age and traditional media are still catching up with what’s happening in communication today.


Well, almost out of touch. They skim the market with this article, Is Your Consumer Using Social Media? They’re talking about a different marketing than what we’re looking at, but it’s worth the read.


Interesting to see how Simmons Research breaks consumer categories into the “socially isolated,” “approval seekers,” etc. Don’t laugh. You’re probably in one of those categories yourself.


The survey also showed that TV advertising overwhelmingly remains the most influential with 81.4% of the 25-54 adult segment, compared with advertising on internet (6.5%), newspapers (5.8%), radio (3.9%) and magazines (2.3%).

Those surveyed also overwhelmingly reported TV has the most persuasive advertising (69.9%). Only 9.5% of respondents said newspaper has the most persuasive advertising, followed by 8.1% magazines and 7.5% radio. Wow. Don’t tell the Wizard of Ads that.

To be honest, I don’t think the survey is even relevant. I’ve read too many articles that say the TV audience is bailing. The remaining are fragmented. What does it matter who’s the most persuasive in markets that are shrinking.

It overlooks a large and growing culture of people seeking information on products they’re interested in, comparing products and making their own decisions. How does nearly everyone find what they’re looking for? They Google. Google search. Google ads. Google world.

Traditional media and the corporate world are having a hard time making the transition from incessant message shouting to seeking consumer input and sharing information. (Am I too harsh here?)


Two blog series I did – Drug Bust and Raging DJ – continue to be viewed, making me think that crisis PR is an in-demand subject. Over the years (oh, God, decades), I’ve dealt with a variety of crisis PR situations. I’ll do more posts on the subject in the future. In the meantime, if you don’t have your own blog and want to share your crisis PR stories, send them to me and I’ll publish you as a guest blogger.

Really! Give it some thought. Do it.

Email me at with “crisis PR story” in the subject box.