Tag Archives: associated press

Mansfield U Zombie Byte Goes International

Recap: I interviewed World War Z author Max Brooks when he visited Mansfield University  in November 2012.  Down-to-earth, direct and  honest, Brooks is an interviewer’s dream.

I had read the book in preparation and knew from hints in the pop culture press,  that the movie would generate international buzz.

I’ve described in the first two posts how we did two half hour TV shows, then pulled a five minute clip in which Brooks talked about how much the movie has in common with his book (none).

We posted the two full interviews.  In May, the Vanity Fair cover story on Brad Pitt and the movie World War Z hit the stands.   That was the opening shot of the international publicity and promotion for the movie.

That’s when we released the five minute clip.  Numerous bloggers and sites, including Fandango, linked our video and posted blogs based on their interpretation of the interview.

I talked in the last post about the mistake I made which probably cost me several thousand views.

Now for the bit of luck I had which gained us several thousand views.  That  came in June, when Brooks declined to talk with mainstream media.

That left them no choice but to reference the Mansfield University video interview for information.

Two of the biggest media outlets –the Associated Press and Yahoo News —  did articles on the movie and the book, using the Mansfield University interview as a source of information.
Both of these articles appeared on the same day, boosting the views of our video  by over 1,000 in 12 hours.

Higher Ed communications guru Dick Jones explained the implications of this.

“The fact that the Max Brooks interview at Mansfield University was referenced by Yahoo and The Associated Press resulted in worldwide media attention for the school,” Dick said.  “That’s because Yahoo and AP are important third-party indicators of quality to media outlets and individual news consumers everywhere.  If AP and Yahoo run with a story, then editors and news directors at all media outlets will view it in a much more favorable light and are much more likely to run it.  And so it proved with this story.  Once given that seal of approval by AP and Yahoo, there was no stopping this one.”

He added that there are a handful of traditionally credible news sources.  “The AP is right at the top.  Yahoo, while much newer, has great clout also due to its platform as the default news provider for millions of individuals.”

Dick concluded by saying, “One take-away from this project has been the affirmation that for AP and Yahoo—and by inference for many other media outlets—YouTube interviews are a credible on-the-record source for journalists today—given equal value with original reporting.”

The other take away is that while the media has changed, the core values of good reporting, honest interviews and solid facts, remain of utmost importance.


Three Decades, Nothing Changes

During my time at Mansfield University, I’ve served under five presidents and my department has been relocated four times.  With the most recent  move  to North Hall, our campus’  “Old Main” I decided to go through all my files and collected stuff.

Nearly three decades of stuff.

The first thing I discovered is that there was a lot of things I didn’t need.  I threw out about two-thirds of my holdings.

The second, and most important discovery:  nothing changes.

I didn’t read everything, but I did go through selected memos, minutes and discussions that began for me in 1980.

The first president I served under was controversial.  She was brought in to reduce the number of faculty.  She did it in a blunt way, not consistent with the smooth, sometimes hypocritical way of higher ed or any top management.

When she got the job done, with pressure from the faculty union, she took another job.  (Read fired.)

I won’t go through all the administrations.  What struck me was memos back and forth between me and my superiors about budgets, staffing, needing more help and money to do the job they were asking me to do.

There are memos of me defending the public relations department.  There are missives from me explaining that the results of PR cannot be bean counter quantified. (No one used the term ROI in 1985).

There are battles with a supervisor looking for ways to pressure me to leave.

There are also letters thanking me for the great job our department did publicizing their event.

I did not find one note congratulating us on getting our university into the Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, USA Today, the dozens of Associated Press articles.

I did find notes that said we weren’t getting enough publicity for MU.

I found letters that said we were not touting our department’s accomplishments enough.  I found about the same number that said I was a publicity hog for our department and myself.

From every decade I found memos that said we were in a budget crisis and would have to find ways to do more with less, to work more efficiently and effectively . . . . .

I found, and continue to get, memos declaring that we have to be more accountable.

I found five year presidential reports on how we’re going to move bravely into the future.  Nowhere did I find a document showing that we accomplished all that we said we were going to do, except the Middle States Report.

Here’s the bottom line:  The only thing that changed in three decades was the method of communication . Fifteen years worth of communications were done on typewriters and mimeograph machines.  The last 15 were done on computers.

The human element–the hopes, dreams, successes, failures, the occasional lies, the infighting, rare  congratulations, the bullying, stalling, the forging ahead or the  fight for status quo — indeed, the human nature that hasn’t changed since Socrates, lay before me in tired piles of dusty files.

Technology changes.

Human nature does not.

My conclusion?  Do the best you can each day.  Push for what you believe in.  You’ll win some and lose some. At the end of the day the mark you leave will be forgotten but it will have helped the institution and contributed to your own intellectual and spiritual growth.

My new perspective was, in the end, liberating.

The Power of the Old Media

My friend Dick Jones of Dick Jones Communications was instrumental in getting Mansfield University international publicity on our first year of sprint football. I asked him if he would adapt a query he developed to be used as a guest blog here. A lot of pros in the business have noted the decline in the print industry. Dick gives a behind-the-scenes explanation of why print is still important.

Any college or university that isn’t using Web 2.0 to its fullest is falling behind. We all know that. Colleges need to be rssing, digging, tweeting, blogging, social networking, virtual worlding, podcasting, flickering, Youtubing, and wikiing. (My apologies for creating new and possibly horrific verbs).

But they also need to continue to pay attention to the stodgy old traditional news media. There follows a tale:

Mansfield University, a public institution of 3,400 students in Mansfield, PA, this fall became the first school in the nation to have sprint football as its only football program. Others playing the sport also field heavyweight teams. MU also is the sole public university in sprint football. Sprint, which has one full-time employee (the head coach), no scholarships, little recruiting budget to speak of and no “extras” such as spring and pre-season practice, is much cheaper to run than is regular football. On the field it is identical to the regular game except the players are smaller. The other schools playing it are Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Army and Navy.

To attract students to play sprint football, Mansfield put a page on its website for high schoolers to submit an inquiry/information form. The page went active shortly after MU announced  that it was starting sprint football in autumn of 2008. Over the winter, spring and summer it yielded 175 electronically submitted inquiries, according to MU’s Director of Athletic Operations Steve McCloskey.

When Mansfield’s sprint football team took the field for the first time in September 2008, the unusual program was the subject of news stories on The Associated Press wire and on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Web metrics at Mansfield track a significant spike in page hits just after the stories ran. But that’s not the real payoff. In the month after the publicity, an additional 150 inquiry/information forms were submitted electronically.

So following the news media attention nearly as many inquiries were generated in a single month as had been produced in many previous months that the site was active.

What happened here? We all know that kids are not reading The Wall Street Journal. Nor are they scanning the news outlets where many of the AP stories ran. Conventional wisdom is that young males do not pay much attention to news in whatever form it is delivered. Yet there was a clear spike in interest after the publicity occurred.

My hypothesis: Parents and grandparents saw the stories. Uncles and aunts saw the stories. Neighbors saw them. And they showed the stories to the kids. Others, McCloskey says, alerted high school football coaches who told their squads about this opportunity. And the kids did what kids do; they went to the web to check it out.

The old media still have a lot of clout. They provide an approval that is important in an era awash with information sources. Young people may not pay day-to-day attention to the news, but they do value the third-party endorsement of a positive news story when it is called to their attention. It is not perceived as the institution saying good things about itself. Thus it has more credibility.

The moral: tweet while you toil. Wiki while you work. Have a nice first life while you’re in Second Life. But don’t forget the power of the traditional media. Do that and you’ll be as snug as a pea in a podcast.

In the next post I’ll look at the”halo effect” of sprint football and some very personal marketing.