Tag Archives: Facebook

Huge Shift in PR Speed, Responsibility & Accountability

In the previous post, I outlined our strategy for the president’s announcement about possible changes on campus.

Shortly after our announcement, a faculty member friend expressed concern about announcing the news on social media, feeling that the news was detrimental to the university.  She appreciated the administration’s transparency but felt we should be more cautious in what we “share with the outside world.”

Her concern is  legitimate.  In the mad rush of last minute rewrites to hit a 10 a.m. deadline we inadvertently posted the president’s letter to the campus community on our News site  instead of  the news release.  But the release exactly reflected the letter.  The information was the same.  But there was, to some,  the perception of sharing inside information.

I told my colleague  that in today’s  social media driven world, as soon as someone says something, whether it’s true or false,  it becomes public. People share and comment on it, spreading it whether it’s true or false.

As a PR department, we do have a need to be truthful, accountable and swift.

So it’s crucial to get the the institutional announcement out as quickly as possible.  In doing this, we own the news on this matter; we are the originators.

This was reinforced  when a reporter with a local daily tweeted our news with a link to our announcement.   The reporter had to do no work at all.  This is an ongoing, major  shift in journalism.

Gone is the the buffer of “according to PR spokesperson. . . .”  The reporter simply links our story — the source.

We are no longer PR Departments .  We are multimedia production agencies, creating news stories and distributing them to the understaffed journalism profession quickly and truthfully.

This is a huge responsibility.

More on this in the next post.

If you missed my previous post, check it out to see how we successfully minimized the sting of our announcement about possible campus changes.


Using Social Media to Ease Bad News

Last week our university released some not-so-positive news.

We didn’t have to.  We took a pro-active stance and put it out there.  Thankfully, we have a president who believes in being out front with everything possible.

My news director, campus technologies/social media person and I work very closely together, as these offices should on every campus.  Before we posted the news, I called the social media person.  “Do we have an upbeat story we can post right after our initial news?”


He pulled a five-minute video of our new suite-style residence halls that we had produced for a TV show. He posted the first story on Facebook, which, like it or not, is one of our primary news channels.  A few minutes later he posted the res hall story which sat above the “bad news” story.

The initial news story was seen by 3,838 people, had five likes, one share and no comments.

The res hall story was seen by 8,620 people, earned 142 likes, 30 shares and 22 comments, all wildly positive.  They ranged from a proud mother who was sending her son here and couldn’t wait for him to live in the new dorm, to many nostalgic posts from alumni remembering their days in the old dorms.


1.  When you have news that’s not sugar sweet, be quick, proactive and assure the public know you’re an honest news organization.

2.  Have something else ready to soften the blow and post it in concert with the other news.

PS:  I did get a question from a faculty member on why we posted the initial story, essentially sharing it with everyone on Facebook and Twitter.  I’ll share her concern and my answer in the next post.

“Disrupted” Should Shake You, Wake You

For years, as a PR professional, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get to high school and college students. I imagined them surrounded by a bubble I couldn’t pierce.
Stefan Pollack explains this generation’s communications world in Disrupted. It’s clear, direct and commendably presents his findings without offering “easy”  answers.
The iGen generation, as he labels it, has created the biggest shakeup in communications in generations. The iGens are those born after 1994 who have never known a world without computers,  parents without mobile devices, and who want their information now and know how to get it instantly.
If it takes more than an instant, it’s too long.
They don’t need to memorize old facts because they curate.
Pollack credits Apple for changing the way we communicate through the introduction of the iPod, which revolutionized the way we buy music and ushered the downfall of record stores, iPhone, and the iPad which signaled the downfall of desktops and laptops. He doesn’t give enough credit to the almost simultaneous appearance of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix, which share in the apocalyptic shift in the way we buy, read, listen, communicate and overthrow countries.
This is a minor complaint. Pollack is right. The revolution has happened.
iGen was born into the technology and with unwitting naturalness changed all the rules overnight.
Radio ruled for decades, dictating music we should listen to, infested by commercials. TV fed us nightly shows interrupted by commercials. Newspapers and magazines created cover and inside stories dotted by ads. The book industry told us what we should read. Period.
All are now in death gasps.
The traditional media, gatekeepers of news and scripting what’s important, are gone. iGens, now their own gatekeepers, allow in what’s relevant to them. If they accept it, they share it with their friends, the “infinite touch points.”
If they find you relevant and approve, you may succeed.

If they find you irrelevant, or worse, dishonest, they can injure or even destroy you by simply and instantly spreading the word.
Blasting ads at this generation is a waste of time and money. Relevance and interactivity is the only way to communicate.
And they want humor.
Over the past couple months I’ve found myself recommending Disrupted to members of various boards that I’m on, to my university president, to colleagues. All of us in the marketing world know traditional media is dead to those under 50. Disrupted presents its findings and explains how iGen is  communicating and if you don’t get on board – not just with the social media but understanding the way they’re  thinking, seeing the world and acting in it – you are a historical footnote.
At lunch recently, I ran these ideas past a 17-year-old female songwriter who’s going to college to major in philosophy. She nodded in agreement and added: “I Google things I’m interested in so I’ll get Google and Facebook ads about them.”
Read that sentence until it sinks in. They don’t complain about advertising. They invite brands that interest them.
And Brand, once you’re in, you’d better be real, relevant, transparent, have a sense of humor and a social conscience.
Disrupted passed the iGen test.  It’s the Bible for today’s marketing.

Why My Book Was Banned

I’m posting this because it was a PR/Library project that was wildly successful.  Some people told me that promotions like this sometimes backfire.  No one said life is safe.

Librarians keep track of books, answer questions and help people in their quest for knowledge.
I never thought of them as courageous.
But something happened this week that gave me a profound respect for several librarians in particular and the profession in general. In a discussion about Banned Book Week recently, one librarian said that in her high school Lord of the Flies was banned because it depicted a group of boys taking power too far.
“Then you should ban mine, “ I said, referring to One Woman’s Vengeance. “It’s about a female protagonist who takes the law into her own hands and kills people. It’s violent. It has graphic sex and a lot of adult language.”
A few days later Amanda Sanko texted  and asked if they could talk with me. So we met. “People in general are complacent,” Nichole Book said. “They don’t understand how dangerous censorship is. We want to find a way to wake people up.” Jamie Harris agreed. Scott DiMarco, library director, agreed.
They asked if they could ban my book.
These are four librarians passionate about their beliefs that everyone should have open access to all knowledge.
“You’ll take criticism,” I said. They nodded. They understood.
Scott stopped in my office later. “We’re doing this for a good reason – to remind people of the importance of having access to information,” he told me, knowing what they were getting into. “I hope we’re redeemed in the end. We have never banned a book in this library, and we never will again.”
They made a simple announcement on Facebook that One Woman’s Vengeance was removed from the shelves due to a parent complaint.” I shared it on my wall. The reaction was immediate. Within 15 minutes a reporter called. Alumni wrote in. My Facebook friends posted their outrage.
The criticism was intense and widespread.
Someone created a Facebook page protesting the band. Messages came in from around the country.

Librarians are the guardians of open access to knowledge and everyday a librarian somewhere is tested. All it takes is one person with a passionate belief to pressure a principal or a school board or a board of a community library to remove a book from the shelf, taking it away from the community.
It’s a symbolic form of book burning. For centuries, kings, churches and despots have understood the power of the printed word. They have known, and still do, if they control what knowledge you receive, they control your thoughts and actions.
This control is widespread in many parts of the world. It is shameful that in this “land of the free” that even one book can be banned.
Why? Because once one book is banned, all books are targets.
This extends to TV, radio and the Internet.
I thank everyone involved in the banning of One Woman’s Vengeance, from the librarians who courageously created the project and saw it through, to students, alumni and fans who expressed their thoughts and feelings.
I hope that people were inspired to think about– and be aware of– censorship not just one week a year but every day. One of our most important rights is the freedom to read, watch and listen to anything we want without fear of reprisal or censorship.
Understand that I don’t see any financial gains from this. All proceeds from my two books go to a scholarship fund for future MU English majors. My goal is $10,000 to endow it and benefit students for generations.
The aim of the Vengeance Project was to emphasize the importance of freedom of information to everyone, everywhere, forever.
Thank you for making this a lively, thoughtful and passionate conversation.

Here’s the video finale.

My Blog High Ed sabbatical: life, death and a new novel

In the time that I was gone from BHE, a lot has happened.

I finally finished my second novel, One Woman’s Vengeance, which I have been working  on for about eight years.    I found, again, that writers — especially fiction writers — and technology are an unholy mix. But the publisher is very good and I’ll do another post later to detail my experiences.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, I created a One Woman’s Vengeance blog (of course!) for it.  If you’re interested in the process of writing and publishing, check it out and subscribe or “like” the Facebook page.

I thought I knew a lot about today’s marketing,  but I’m still learning.


We lost our beloved German Shepherd.   Only seven years old, he developed a tumor on his heart and had two weeks to live.   I had forgotten how absolutely devastating it is to lose a dog. We grieved, then began the search for a new puppy. Anyone who has gone through this loss knows you cannot replace your dog who had its own personality and was a part of the family.
You also know you can’t live without the presence of these special beings.


We found a new puppy and the process of learning, joy and hope begins again.


We spent two weeks in Alaska. Our daughter lives in Anchorage and was the perfect hostess.   We’ve traveled a lot across the U.S., but this was one of the most memorable trips ever.


At work there were new marketing challenges with the chopping of budgets.  Mansfield University has the added challenge of being right in the heart  of the Marcellus Shale.  High school students are graduating and going to work for the gas companies instead of going to college.  There are no motel rooms for visitors, no houses or apartments for students, faculty or staff.  (We’ve  had VPs and staff living in residence halls).


While I was gone from here, life, in all its variety, and with all its surprises, joys and occasional heartbreaks, went on.

And continues to.


Next post:   The world’s most famous former FBI terrorist interrogator writes his memoir, challenges the CIA, and credits his alma mater for giving him his start. 

Facebook Whining Gets Prof Grounded

A post with three  observations.

Gloria Gadsden, a sociology professor at East Stroudsburg University decided to vent her frustrations with some students on her Facebook.  At one point she asked:  “Does anyone know where to find a very discreet hitman? Yes, it’s been that kind of day …” Another post:  “had a good day today, DIDN’T want to kill even one student. Now Friday was a different story.” (Full article)

Most of us know there is no privacy on the Web.  Whispers  amplify into roars.  Secrets evaporate upon “send” contact.   A closed circle leaks like a broken dam.

Of course the statements got back to the kids targeted.   ESU investigated and put Gadsden on paid administrative leave.   The story  made the rounds on the Web and wound up in the national media, including USA Today.

Observation one:  No secrets on Web.

Observation two: Don’t believe everything you read, even in the respected traditional national media.


Because the Chronicle of Higher Education also ran a story on the incident, but it exposed a few more complications.  First, the professor is black and had written a piece for the Chronicle last year that she said proved to be controversial.  She felt this influenced the university’s action.

The USA Today piece didn’t include this information even though the Chronicle article came out before the USA Today story.  Did they intentionally leave it out?  Did they not do even the most cursory research?

Observation three:  Blog High Ed’s own Brad Ward of BlueFuego was quoted in the USA Today article.  Congratulations, Brad!

Finally,  I have a suggestion.  Every post-graduate program should create a  course that’s been needed in higher education for centuries.    It must to be a requirement so that when people earn their PhD they’ve at least been exposed to three credits worth of Common Sense.

More thoughts later.

I Did These Things. Now What?

Ron Bronson’s post about spreading yourself too thin in his Edustir blog on Bloghighed August 17, was a wakeup blast of synchronicity for me.
I was just about to do a post about what more I can do in social media land.

And I’m still going to do it.
We’ve been producing podcasts since 2005. They’ve slowed a bit and evolved but we’re still doing them and still getting visits.

We also have every podcast transcribed, both to enhance search engine accessibility and to meet ADA requirements.
This year I created a biweekly TV talk show, “Conversations,” that airs on local cable. We edit the shows into 2-3 segments and upload them on YouTube.
We’ve begun doing student testimonials for YouTube.
We’ve been getting our feet wet with Twitter.
We’re nearing the 1,000 fans mark on our Facebook, which I think is good for a small, rural university.

A couple weeks ago, after months of thought, I, with the help of our IT department, launched the MU Blog, a mix of news and observation.

My news director is about to debut a twice weekly news video –stripped down, straightforward, using a web cam and keeping it under two minutes.
We’re making plans to gradually move our alumni quarterly online.

So, even after the great points made in Ron’s blog, I still wonder what more can we do?
My internal question with everything that we produce: is the content good? I don’t want fluff. None of us has time for that.
Are we speaking meaningfully to our intended audiences?

Is there more we can do in a meaningful, productive way?

Or should we be doing less?

I’m really asking.

* * *

I was  vacation this week.  I decided, in my personal blog, to make a list of all I want to get done, and then document each day to see how many of the projects I actually accomplished, since (thanks John Lennon), life gets in the way of our plans.

Check out my progress or lack thereof.