Tweeting Together/Alone on the Red Carpet

20 02 2009

mb-headshot3If you participated in the tweeting about the Super Bowl advertising and joined Mullen at www.sb43ads.com, then you will certainly enjoy our latest adventure in sourcing the wisdom of the crowd. By going to www.redcarpet09.com you will be able to watch everyone commenting on the Oscars before, during and after. And you can participate in polling and tweet directly from the page. If you’ve harbored a desire to be like Joan Rivers or Ryan Seacrest, providing play-by-play commentary on the action, now is your chance to do just that in the Twitterverse.  

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James Michael Surowiecki’s book “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations” was never more relevant than today, when micro-blogging services such as Twitter have enabled masses of people to share their thoughts about everything from Doritos TV spots to Kate Winslet’s gown.

I read a recent review of a film festival being held in New York for horror movies by director David Cronenberg (“The Fly”, “Videodrome”) in which they wrote that “One of the advantages of seeing one of these high-Cronenberg extravaganzas with a midnight-movie audience is that everybody gets to go “Ewww” at the same time, which kind of relieves the tension.”

The same can be said of these two experiments in Twitter mass participation. By viewing the Oscars and tweeting your impressions and sharing those impressions with others via the hashtag #redcarpet09 you are experiencing something with a group, even though you may be alone in front of your TV set with your laptop or iPhone and a bowl of popcorn.

Adweek and The Boston Globe have taken notice of Mullen’s adventures in tapping into the collective wisdom of crowds, and that can only help boost participation (#sb43ads was the fourth-most tweeted topic for a time during the Super Bowl, inching out Bruce Springsteen for a moment – can’t feel bad about beating the Boss).

Edward Boches, our chief creative officer, feels that these Twitter experiments are really only scratching the surface of what’s possible with Twitter (read his post here). The sky is the limit for where this service can go, and I’m excited to be a part of taking it there. As David Pogue wrote, “Don’t worry about the rules. Including mine. Use Twitter the way you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong.”

We hope you take part to see what can be accomplished when we tap into our collective conscious. If you have any thoughts about how Twitter can be used for other purposes, feel free to comment here.       

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Look Before You Tweet!

5 02 2009

slocricchio1“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Didn’t we learn this social etiquette way back in pre-school, or through our grandparents or somewhere along the line? Like everyone in our trade, I’m immersing myself further in the social media world. Just as I thought I mastered all that Facebook has to offer, along came Twitter to make me feel like a newbie. The one thing I’ve noticed about social media is that a lot of those who indulge in the various forms of online interaction seem to forget that it’s SOCIAL.

Like a childhood game of telephone magnified 100 fold, what you post can spread through the office or around the country in mere minutes.

For example, there’s been quite a bit of chatter about a recent misstep by a Ketchum PR guy. Upon deplaning in Memphis, for a FedEx client meeting, he tweeted a negative comment about the city to his Twitter account. A few hours and now weeks later, PR people all over the country are nervously laughing at that guy’s folly and secretly thinking, “Thank Heavens that wasn’t me.” (PS: We’re also all thinking, “I wonder if FedEx is shopping for a new agency?”)

 

We should be our authentic selves when posting a Tweet or making comments on Facebook, and we’re all certainly entitled to our opinions, but would you verbally say to someone what you would write about them? Would that PR guy have said to his client, I would die if I had to live here? From email to Twitter, non-verbal communication seems to makes it permissible to forego social norms and fire off messages that may be perceived as rude, inappropriate or just plain foolish.

 

I’m certainly not saying we should hide our personalities online or reject our right to free speech. I often exchange very silly and bizarre comments with friends and post obscure videos and links. I just believe everyone needs to be conscious of the fact that what you post can and will travel far, and if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all (or at least don’t say anything stupid that could come back to haunt you).

 

I just read a great book on blogging called “Naked Conversations” that gives some great insight into this topic. For a humorous take on what the Facebook experience would feel like in the real world, check out this video and reply to this post about your thoughts about where virtual reality and true reality split online and what our social networking P’s and Q’s should be.

 





Tweeting About the Super Bowl

30 01 2009

mb-headshot31While we’re all bummed that the Pats didn’t make it, the Cardinals won’t be the only birds in the game on Super Bowl Sunday. The Twitter universe will be tweeting about the advertisements in real time and all of the play-by-play commentary will be compiled at “Trash Talk from Section Twitter.”

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To participate, get a Twitter account and type #sb43ads in your tweet plus your canny commentary.

As the Boston Globe just reported, Mullen, as well as “a group of ad agencies and Boston University students are looking to get a real-time Twitter debate going on the merits of Sunday’s Super Bowl ads.”

According to the Globe, “the ad agency group is looking to harness the social networking technology of Twitter.com as a way to get folks to post instant and pithy critiques of ads they loved or loathed – even as they are watching the game.”

Edward Boches, Mullen’s chief creative officer, said of the upcoming Twitter experiment on Super Bowl ads, “We’re looking to use a new medium to comment on an old medium. The idea is to get the whole community more familiar and comfortable with the concept of social networking as another option in the marketer’s tool bag. And if we’re lucky the comments will be funnier than the ads themselves.”

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Twitter Jitters

16 01 2009

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Love it or hate it, twitter is getting more attention and the days of the service being “for early adopters only” are (like the Bush administration) coming to a close. David Pogue’s recent post in New York Times Circuits, “Twittering Tips for Beginners” outlines what is both beneficial and frustrating for those who use twitter in its current form.

But Pogue has really only scratched the surface of what twitter can do for monitoring brands, customer service,  and media relations (the work of PR professionals like yours truly). Well, here are some things that his eminence of technology missed:

Companies like Comcast, Zappos, JetBlue, Starbucks, GM, Best Buy, Kodak, H&R Block, and other Fortune 500 bands are on twitter, and they’re using it as a customer service tool to help resolve issues (Hey, my DVR records every episode of the Daily Show, what gives?) and to answer questions (Ground or whole bean?).

Instead of simply engaging with consumers directly on their twitter pages, these companies can also monitor what’s being said about them by setting up RSS links to searches of every mention of their brand (visit search.twitter.com, type in the terms you care about, click on the RSS feed to receive real-time feeds to anyone posting anything about the brand).

Those twitterers out there trashing or praising your products and services can then be followed by your PR agency or others, and the adequate response can be taken (provide a coupon online for half off the Ethiopian roast, or a discount on shoes ordered online).

When all employees at a company are twittering, as is the case at Zappos, they have  direct channel into the thoughts and activities of their leaders, like Tony Hsieh. I’d bet that during the financial crisis, the employees at Lehman Brothers would have appreciated knowing what was going on with their leaders via twitter — if they would even share information. Is Bernie Madoff on twitter? Probably not. But, when an entire company is on twitter, the cross-pollination of ideas and esprit de corps is pretty amazing. It’s not for every corporate culture, though. Glasnost didn’t work out so well in the Soviet Union either.

This ability to track all brand mentions can lead to a “Big Brother is watching you” feeling. I tweeted about Zappos once and Wham! someone from their company was following my every tweet. I suppose I could have blocked him, but I was impressed by the company’s level of responsiveness to those who are thinking about Zappos.

I don’t really agree with Pogue when he writes about twitter that “No other communications channel can match its capacity for real-time, person-to-person broadcasting.” Actually, quick notes about what you’re doing is handled quite well by facebook, and facebook is great for posting video, links to other sites, detailed information about you, photos, etc.  None of those things are easily accomplished with twitter (Do you like having to shrink a URL to post it to twitter? I don’t. Do you want to create a hashtag for an event? I don’t.)

Other sites that help you find those who are most followed on twitter, are useful: twitterholic.com.

Pogue also neglected the ways in which PR professionals can engage with media contacts who tweet. By following journalists like Pogue (twitter.com/davidpogue) you can tap into what they’re thinking. Sometimes they’ll even give you insight on their upcoming articles and you can pitch them (But hey, have some class, send them an email and don’t tweet a pitch to them in twitter. It looks kind of desperate). If you follow MicroPR on twitter, you can see a ton of journalists looking for leads (think of ProfNet but for those who use twitter). Follow this link for a partial list of some journalists that use twitter.

But one thing that Pogue wrote is certainly true. Twitter is a big “time suck” along with facebook and MySpace. But when your job is communications, it’s not a time suck so much as it is your daily work. And companies that aren’t hearing from their agencies about twitter, and learning how to use the service to their own advantage, are missing a powerful tool. A new day is dawning on Capitol Hill, and we’re about to swear in a Twitterer-in-Chief. Time to get on the bandwagon!

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What Old Mainstream Media Taught Me about New Media

10 12 2008

mb-headshot32Reading the Sunday New York Times each week is something that I hold sacred. Even though I am completely hooked into all digital media formats, nothing quite replaces the physical newsprint with its smudging ink and messy sections that lay around the house for days. I’m not likely to listen to a podcast while wearing slippers and munching on a bagel with cream cheese, but that is precisely what I want to do while reading my weekend morning paper.

So it’s something of a wakeup call, and a bit stronger than my cup of morning Joe, to read the Times these days. They are writing a lot about the changing landscape of media, as blogs, videos and other digital forms continue to body slam analog forms of communication. Chief among these writers is Virginia Heffernan, whose The Medium column (and blog) is really tapping into the general zeitgeist right now. Consider this from her most recent article:

People who work in traditional media and entertainment ought either to concentrate on the antiquarian quality of their work, cultivating the exclusive audience of TV viewers or magazine readers that might pay for craftsmanship. Or they should imagine that they are 19 again: spending a day on Twitter or following a recipe from a Mark Bittman video played on a refrigerator that automatically senses what ingredients are missing and texts an order to the grocery store (it will soon exist!). Then they should think about what content suits these new modes of distribution and could evolve in tandem with them. For old-media types, mental flexibility could be the No. 1 happiness secret we have been missing.

As someone who has worked with old media for years, I couldn’t put it any better myself. We do need to stretch our minds to wrap our heads around all the changes taking place. The week before she wrote this, the Times had an entire magazine devoted to the proliferation of screens everywhere and how this is upending our traditional textual modes of communication. Kevin Kelly wrote in the Idea Lab about Becoming Screen Literate.

As I’ve written before in this blog, the advent of digital video is forever altering how we communicate. Kelly’s article really lays out a vision for the visual future that’s actually becoming reality right now.

A couple months ago I opened the magazine and read “Facebook in a Crowd by Hal Niedzviecki. That article really floored me because it articulated what turns off some marketers to social networking – the illusion that what happens online automatically translates into something real offline. His article demonstrates that those you’re calling “friends” in Facebook don’t really hold the same weight as your friends in the real world, and that this brave new world has a whole new set of rules. (It’s a hilarious article and well worth reading.)


If you’re already incredibly immersed in all things social, then this is old news to you. But with constantly evolving means of communication, the idea that any one person can know everything about our changing online world is simply laughable. But, I just hope that while I cling to my Sunday morning old media tradition, my mind remains flexible and open to the ever-expanding online media universe. That, and a good bagel and coffee, are my number 1 happiness secret.

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