Three Important Things I Told University of Virginia Communications Students Today

By | Marketing, Media, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

My friend, media personality, and historian Coy Barefoot asked me to speak to his media class today at UVa. I love to teach and miss engaging with college students so I jumped at the chance. I used to teach public relations to college juniors and seniors who were communications majors at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and I really loved that experience.

Today, the students had questions about how businesses and brands should be presenting themselves online, how media relations works today, now that social media is so prevalent, and what steps are important in crisis communications.

Three things I told them that I think bear repeating are these:

  1. If you want to be in communications, go buy the domain that is your name today, host it, install WordPress and, at a minimum, publish your resume. Maintain the domain.
  2. In a crisis, if you’re representing a brand, the first, most important step to take is an apology (even if you’re sorry that your community is experiencing this bad thing) and an expression of empathy.
  3. Pay attention to your personal brand; it can make you employable, valuable, and attractive. (Or the opposite of these, obviously. Manage it.)

For the student who showed up late to class and nodded off during — I bet she has a hard time finding a job when she graduates. Bet she never sees this post, either. D minus!

The Spirit of Non-Collaboration Among Marketers is Totally Out of Style

By | Marketing, Media | No Comments

I’m not often at the cutting edge of what’s in style. But last weekend, I saw a pretty trendy young gal wearing some acid-washed, high-waisted shorts and I recoiled. I was told by my friends that this is definitely “in” but once again, I’ll be letting a trend pass me by. I did that one, back in 1985. I don’t need to do it again.

Other than fashion, some trends go out of style and just never really come back in. One is the spirit of collaboration. Around the same time acid wash was popular, and for a good ten years afterward, it was common in PR, marketing, and advertising practices to guard your Rolodex. Nobody collaborated. Everything was competitive. Now, though, the field is so broad, that there are real specialists everywhere. It’s MUCH more common to build a team of specialists, even if that means firms coming together to serve a single client.

My firm doesn’t specialize in advertising, design, web development, or media buying. But we collaborate often and successfully with partners who are really GOOD at those disciplines. For the client’s money, they get better service and expertise.

It’s interesting to me how some old guard firms are still hanging on to the acid-wash philosophy of competition instead of growing one another’s business through referrals, coming together to serve larger, more interesting accounts, and providing the best skilled expertise to meet the clients’ needs.

So 1985, and really never coming back in style.

What to Do When You Goof on Facebook

By | Communications, Media, Social Media | One Comment

Here’s the deal: we all “like” stuff we don’t necessarily want people to know about. Like, is naturally in quotes here because it refers to the practice of blithely clicking a button that says “like” on an image, a video, a blog post, an article, an essay, etc. What we forget, sometimes, is that we’ve previously given a website permission to interact with Facebook and to let the Facebook universe know about our “likes.”

It DOES come to our collective attention when a “friend” (and yes, now I’m just being silly with the superfluous quotation marks) “likes” something that uh, I have to cover with black boxes to both hide that “friend’s” identity and the nearly naked body of a “public figure”/sexy model.


It may have happened to you. It may be happening right now, without your knowledge. I’ve done it (well, not quite THIS badly), and close friends (minus quotes) have done it, too. So Privacygiven the inevitability of the situation, what do you do, when you “like” something private out loud?

  1. Manage the situation. If it’s brought to your attention, or you suddenly notice, get into Facebook and UNLIKE that page. 
  2. Review your “likes” to make sure they’re appropriate for public sharing. If you don’t like what you see, fix it.
  3. Take note of the privacy shortcuts and settings — the little “lock” icon in the top right hand corner of your Facebook profile. Pay attention to who can see what you post.
  4. Go into App Settings (under settings) and make sure you’re comfortable with what apps have access to your Facebook account, and who can see what’s cross posted from those apps. You may be surprised at permissions you’ve unknowingly given in the past.

When Horror Hits the Headlines: Tornadoes in Oklahoma

By | Media | No Comments

I grew up in the Midwest, land of Lincoln, corn, and tornadoes. We had tornado drills in school as often as we had fire drills, and I certainly experienced more tornadoes in my lifetime — and in fact, never a fire.

I’ve noticed, this week, as reports file in and are updated and revised on the death toll, the estimated damage, that no matter how I receive news, an event of this nature overwhelms and

Image from the Daily Beast

Image from the Daily Beast

overshadows all other content. It’s hard to even see or hear news beyond the tornadoes — even important news — when the consumers of news demand more pictures of devastation, stores of the survivors and the lost.

I can appreciate the focus on this and other tragedies, but I can’t help but wonder, at what price? When we narrow our vision to reflect on tragedies in our backyards and spend, perhaps, too much time looking at images or listening to interviews from the “ground zero” witnesses, what are we missing?

There are no artificial filters to help with this — it comes down to choices we make as consumers of news, but I think we should be cautious, and wary, that in the wake of tragedies such as this, our underbelly is exposed, and we need to still be vigilant in all other arenas, even while the first responders are still on site.

WTF? Friday: Internet Privacy, Netflix Sharing and More!

By | Communications, Media | One Comment

On Charlottesville Right Now with Coy Barefoot, we talked about our changing relationship with privacy. A couple of recent developments inspired our discussion. One, the possible settlement agreement that Google may reach, in allegations that it,

gleaned “sensitive personal information,” including e-mail and text messages, passwords and Web-use history, from non-secured Wi-Fi networks,the Federal Communications Commission said last year.

We all love Street View, which the information was instrumental in building, but at what cost?

And this news from Netflix and Facebook: do you want your social network to know that your favorite movie is Hot Tub Time Machine? A new app allows users to share their movie viewing habits. Are you on board with that?

Listen to the podcast here.