Tag Archive: blogging


… and no one is there to read his posts, do they make any sound …

… and does anyone give a particle of bovine excrement?

Ten years ago today, Almost DailyBrett was digitally born by means of hundreds of keystrokes on an IBM compatible, WordPress and an Internet connection.

Drum roll: A grand total of seven souls (page views and/or unique visitors) ventured to read your author’s blog in the summer month of economic discontent,  July, 2009. The predictable and rhetorical ‘Why Bother?’ question was not far behind.

Your author’s life was changing. He was guided by the immortal words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  

Was my blog the commencement of my own, “Stairway to Heaven?’

Even though your author’s odometer was already showing mid-life mileage a decade ago, there was still plenty of fuel in the Miata. There was an acute need to move the personal brand to New Frontiers and yes, to decide on a new path and to change the road.

Since that pivotal day 10 years ago — July 21, 2009 — Almost DailyBrett’s 573 posts …

Garnered 520 reader comments …

Generated 162,373 page views …

Enticed 110,421 unique visitors …

Hailed from approximately 170 countries around the world.

It is humbling to contemplate the equivalent of a Michigan “Big House” with each seat occupied, spending some of their precious irretrievable discretionary time reading Almost DailyBrett.

Did some arrogant academic (redundant?) types suggest that Web 2.0 blogging is dead? Yes there are oodles of deceased blogs along the path — they all started with great enthusiasm and better intentions — but thousands of decomposing writers laying by the roadside should not be interpreted as the end of blogging, maybe just the end of the beginning.

Those Troubling Widowers

Looking back on Almost DailyBrett’s nearly 600 posts, there are wide variety of topics and themes, which constitute the Top 10 blogs:

  1. The Trouble With Widowers (This post keeps on giving each day even though it was composed in 2012), 18,990 page views
  2. NASDAQ: WEED (Predicted publicly traded marijuana companies), 14,653
  3. Farewell LSI Logic (What is and what should have never been?), 4,379
  4. The Decision to Pose for Playboy (Bared my opinions), 4,106
  5. Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility (Not mutually exclusive), 4,023
  6. Magnanimous in Victory, Gracious in Defeat (Easier said than done), 2,423
  7. Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes (Joe Biden on horrific family loss), 2,247
  8. One Page Memo: Now More Than Ever (Makes more sense than ever in our digital world), 1,902
  9. Competing Against the Dead (She’s gone, and she is not coming back), 1,628
  10. California’s Rarefied Air Tax (April Fool’s blog; Don’t give Gavin any ideas), 1,050.

Your author would be remiss if he did not point out that his “About” page has drawn 1,071 page views.

Yes, a successful blog can pay dividends in terms of personal branding and the ongoing perception of accomplishment. Writing Almost DailyBrett certainly did not hurt yours truly in securing a tenure-track assistant professorship of public relations at Central Washington University at 59 years young. 

Total Douche-o-Rama

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News.”

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

These are just some of the nicer comments your author approved for posting on Almost DailyBrett.

After 10 years in the blogging trenches sending out rhetorical salvos and more than a few occasions receiving less-the-pleasant feedback and name calling, here are 10 hard-earned rules for blogging:

  1. No one was put on this planet to read your posts. A blog is the ultimate discretionary read. Someone is spending precious nanoseconds of their finite life to read your blog. Boring and lame does not cut it.
  2. Digital is eternal. The most important public relations is your own personal PR. Never blog when you are upset, sleepy and certainly not when you are intoxicated (Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network)
  3. Double Check and Double Check Again. The difference between “pubic relations” and “public relations” is one letter. The level of embarrassment is huge. Don’t rely on the Microsoft Spell Check. If the wrong word is spelled correctly, you are still personally wrong
  4. Employ Pull and Push (in that order) to Generate SEO/SEM. Juicy tags and alluring categories are irresistible to the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing algorithms. Your blog should always be on page one following a Google search. Social media uploads are essential
  5. Write to Your Strength/Experience. Not everyone shares your interests. Some blogs will do better than others. Follow your passion. Accept that some blogs will barely register a blip on the rhetorical Richter Scale
  6. Be Provocative, Not Notorious. The last thing anyone wants or needs is another partisan rant on social media. Almost DailyBrett has a point of view (e.g., Buy Low Sell High),  but refrains from being another screaming talking head
  7. Avoid Overt Partisanship. In our increasingly tribalized society, your blogs are not going to radically shift public opinion.  Offer new ways to approach an issue. Who knows? You may move the dial just a smidge, and in our polarized world that is and of itself … an accomplishment.
  8. Buy Low Sell High. Offer a proven philosophy. Demonstrate through thoughts and example that economic freedom (albeit not perfect) is still the best way to provide for prosperity and in the end, the pursuit of happiness
  9. Have Thick Skin … to a Point. Don’t blog if you can’t take the heat. Inevitably, someone will not be pleased with your prose. Celebrate responses to a point. You do not need to accept slurs, profanities and name calling
  10. “Opinions Are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One.”  There are times when your personal experience (e.g., press secretary), if you are sure you want to share, maybe can help others. If so, a blog author can be closer to an angel as opposed to an ass ….

And as recommended by University of Oregon Journalism Professor Carol Stabile, write 15 minutes every day. Some days will be better than others. Blogging is a gift of the digital age. The ability to project your thoughts to all continents in mere nanoseconds was inconceivable before 1995. There is a great responsibility that comes with blogging, but an incredible opportunity as well.

Almost DailyBrett note: Even though he went to UCLA and received his B.A. in English (and eventually rose above this baby blue malady), the initial inspiration came from my forever friend and colleague Brian Fuller, editor in chief at ARM. The former editor of EE Times recommended blogging in general and WordPress in particular at a time when his advice made the greatest impact. The success of Almost DailyBrett is in part is attributable to Brian. Buy Low Sell High, my eternal friend!

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/the-one-page-memo-now-more-than-ever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfuller24/

 

 

 

 

Is the Baby Boom generation dead and we just haven’t bothered to bury them yet?

The Economist reports this week in “As boomers wrinkle” that the first Baby Boomers, born in 1946, are retiring this year with the rest of this motley generation will follow in kind for each of the next 18 years. Oh, what a strange trip it’s been. http://www.economist.com/

There are plenty of accounts of how the agonizing retirement of my generation is going to kick the you-know-what-out-of-social networks throughout the Western world. I am not going to add my voice to this rising chorus. You all know the drill about too many of feeble us and not enough of productive them.

woodstock

Instead, I am going to lament about the “Dinosaurization” of the Baby Boomers. This is not an exercise in stereotyping, albeit all stereotypes are based upon elements of prevailing truth. And let me acknowledge right now so I can avoid the inevitable snarky comments that come when you write about a sensitive subject…yes, yes there are exceptions to every rule and every generalization.

Besides starting to retire, one thing is becoming more common for Baby Boomers besides losing hair and having their parts, yes even those parts, starting to sag, and that is that their bosses, superiors and influential colleagues are getting younger by the day. To which I say, “Get used to it. This trend is going to continue.”

What prompts me to invent the word “Dinosaurization” is that many of the members of the if feels good, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll generation are actually handing the shovels to up-and-comers to bury them figuratively, and eventually literally. We used to talk about how our parents were stubborn, only to find out that many of us are just as…ah, resolute…as the World War II generation…what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation

One of the chief ways that Baby Boomers are hastening their own collective demise as well as keeping many of them unemployable is their steadfast refusal to embrace new technology. The world is changing and yet many of our generation are burying their heads in the sand…and it is not silicon sand.

Ask one about reading books, magazines and newspapers via electronic readers and they almost to a person will wax nostalgically about spreading out the printed page on the table while nursing their morning coffee. How long has Norman Rockwell been dead? http://www.nrm.org/

So what are some of the most prevalent excuses that I have heard (please feel free to mentally add to this list) for avoiding at all costs social media, such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr?

● The most prevalent excuse, statement, declaration etc. is time, or the lack of it. They have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. They are already overloaded with information. They don’t need to engage in online conversations either as a reader or a participant. “Let’s just work on a contributed article for the trade pub instead.” How about re-prioritizing our time? What a novel idea!

● “It’s all a fad. Social media is hot now but it will eventually burn out. Why should I pay attention to what people are blogging, Tweeting or Friending? Do I really care about little old ladies who write about their cats?”

● “You just can’t communicate in only (Twitter’s) 140 characters. I need more time and space to truly express myself.”

● “Facebook is a waste of time. I just don’t understand what 500 million people are doing on this website.”

● “Do I really need to develop a list of connections on LinkedIn. I have a cool business card folder right on my desk.”

rollodecks

All of these analog answers and several others I have heard in one form or another and at one time or another come from the crowd that arrived on this planet between 1946 and 1964. We are proud to have been part of the Civil Rights, Sexual Revolution and Women’s Rights Movements. We stopped a war and were celebrated as the Pepsi Generation. We burned flags, draft cards, administration buildings and everything we could think of.

We were rebels, man. We were activists. We were idealists. So why are these younger generations more instinctively attuned to a digital world? That’s just the point.

Does this mean that you really can’t teach an old(er) dogs new tricks? If so, then we just transformed ourselves into 21st Century dinosaurs to our own peril.

It’s not every day that you hike the Stanford “Dish” with an ex-con http://dish.stanford.edu/.

Based upon her appearance, her demeanor, her intelligence and command of the English language, she is about the last person that you would expect to be locked up for a year in a federal pen in Washington State.

Let’s see. She worked for a Republican governor. She was a bank senior vice president. She is the mother of two college-age daughters, one going to a Catholic school in Southern California and the other to a football factory in the Deep South.

In pouring out her heart to me, she also shared about how she has learned about the consequences of choices she made that eventually led to waking up on the floor of a Seattle area prison. She recounted that she was operating from a place of stress and not knowing her true-self. She has a deep appreciation for friends, family and children who stood by her throughout this ordeal.

As a result of this experience, which she recounted with tears about two miles into our four-mile hike, she has definite feelings about law and order, crime and punishment, and most of all whether the United States is doing enough to prepare its nearly 2.4 million convicts (those eligible for parole) to reenter society.

Listening to her story and contemplating that she was never allowed outside for a year, I realized what it must mean to her to be able to once again walk four miles and admire the rolling hills around the Stanford campus. I will never take this experience for granted ever again.

More importantly, I came to the conclusion that she represents a classic man-bites-dog story. How could someone with so much going for her end up in such a bad place?

This experience gave her something that every blogger needs, standing. Isn’t “standing” a legal term? Sure is. http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s064.htm

The legal right to initiate a lawsuit. To do so, a person must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand, and there must be a case or controversy that can be resolved by legal action. There are three requirements for Article III standing: (1) injury in fact, which means an invasion of a legally protected interest that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, which means that the injury fairly can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant, and has not resulted from the independent action of some third party not before the court; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.

Consider that my hiking friend wrote resumes for inmates at the federal prison. She was helping people in trying to not only reenter society, but maybe, just maybe, reclaiming their lives. Do you think she has the “standing” to comment with authority of recidivism issues? What about the right of ex-convicts, who have paid their debt to society, to participate in the electoral process? Or how about plight of children when mommy or most likely, daddy, are behind bars?

Just as the average citizen cannot file a suit against BP because they don’t like reading about the oil spill, bloggers really can’t gain traction commenting on subjects in which they have little or no personal experience. Yes, yes…everyone has First Amendment Rights to free and unfettered speech, but will anyone listen if you do not command your subject?

Conversely, if a blogger has a unique experience, a hard-earned perspective, an emotional tie to a topic, then it is almost imperative that she or he use the digital ones and zeroes to bestow this knowledge to help others. I am actively urging her to use her precious “standing” to tell her story and to provide her input into making the world a little better place.

Blogging should be more than “conversational marketing,” “thought leadership” and “branding” that PR agency types love to talk about and will charge $240 per hour (not including OOPS or out-of-pocket expenses). Blog posts should also be a source of knowledge, wisdom, advice and comfort for those who are facing the worst that life can offer and hoping for a better future.

Almost DailyBrett note: Today marks blog post #52. One year ago, I began this blog wondering whether anyone would ever read my meanderings, let alone comment on them. To my readers and respondents, thank you so much for your time and patience. I will continue to do my best to never let you down.

“With iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.  So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.” – Barack Obama, Hampton University Commencement, May 9, 2010. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-hampton-university-commencement

The good news for the Leader of the Free World is that he has a 12-year-old daughter (Malia) and a nine-year-old daughter (Sasha) to provide in-(White) house tech support when it comes to using iPods, Xboxes and PlayStations.

Senior public relations practitioners may not be so lucky. Which brings up an interesting question, why are so many in our profession so reluctant about and so resistant to social media, including blogging and podcasting? Deep down is there an inner Luddite that makes many of us resistant to technological change? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

The Economist www.economist.com in its latest iteration has a fascinating commentary, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” that says that distrust of new technology goes back to the days of Socrates (469 BC to 399 BC) and his fear of writing, which would “create forgetfulness in the learner’s souls.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates

During my decade working with engineers at LSI Logic www.lsi.com, I asked them one-by-one why they chose to become technologists (as opposed to journalists and PR hacks). The answer usually went back to the family radio or television. Future senior communicators listened to and/or watched these devices. The future geeks in turn took them apart and checked out the vacuum tubes, the dials, the knobs, the wires and then tried to put them back together again…sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Certainly there are communicators who have been quick to embrace social media and digital tools with gusto. They have more than talked-the-talk, they have become evangelists about blogging, podcasting, webcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Ding, Dang and whatever is next.

And yet there are timid souls in our ranks (you know who you are) that our desperately clinging to and only relying on (gasp) 20th Century approaches to all PR issues. Consider that they…

● Insist on staging pre-briefings followed by actual on-site briefings with the dwindling number of business and trade reporters and editors, despite the downward trajectory of their readership and the ascension of digital media.

● Devote full-time employees to writing abstracts and contributed articles, drafting “white papers” and op-eds for submittal to publications in decline, thus producing a lower ROI with each cycle.

● Sift through the ed-cals or editorial calendars and then try to devise a pitch that somehow, someway comes reasonably close (at least passing the “giggle test”) to the journalist’s topic. In this case, who is setting the agenda: the journalist or the company?

● Write “press releases,” hold “press conferences” and even invite conventional and digital media to surf their “press” page on their websites. Gee, why don’t they exhume Johannes Gutenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg to make a presentation of his new invention, the printing press, at the next “press” conference?

● Devise a myriad of excuses for not embracing the blogosphere, and not just the self-publishing of conversational marketing pieces that bolster brand and spread the message, but even monitoring what bloggers are actually writing about a given company or its industry.

● Demonstrate a total disinterest in preparing Wikipedia.org copy about their company, association, organization etc., either leaving a blank canvass in its place or allowing others to take a shot at depositioning their employers.

I can fully appreciate that some may take issue with my prose when it comes to exposing the inner Luddite. Having said that, there is one point that can be made with impunity: More and more publicly traded and privately held companies, trade associations, universities and colleges, non-profits and others will sooner or later spend countless hours figuring out how to make money and/or spread their influence via digital tools. They will also be increasingly interested in harnessing these same technologies to build brand and to get out the good news. This will not be the time or the place for Inner Luddites.

Are contributed articles overrated?

Are blogs overhyped?

Why even compare a traditional/conventional PR approach with digital social media? The answer lies in the increasing number of times that under-the-gun PR directors shun blogging in favor of contributed articles. Many assert that blogs are bandwidth hogs in contrast to contributed articles. Really?

Before I delve too deeply into this conversation, keep in mind I am not talking about guest commentaries or op-eds for major publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today or the New York Times. They have their own distinct and celebrated value based upon the power of their mast heads.

What I am assessing is the value of preparing contributed articles, particularly for technology, health care and financial trade publications by company executives, technologists, engineers, marketers and sales representatives. And then I am contrasting this marketing and brand management practice that almost goes back to the Book of Genesis to redirecting a least a portion of this time and effort to self publishing through blogging.

Almost DailyBrett has scars resulting from my efforts to convince many well-respected public relations practitioners to adopt a blogging program for their internal/external clients. Sometimes I have been successful, more times I have not. In these latter cases, the PR pros express SEC Reg FD (Fair Disclosure) concerns, worries about releasing proprietary information or cite time restraints in favor of contributed articles.

What is so curious is that contributed articles can take up to 8x the amount of time as a blogging program. Ever hear of the term, “re-spins?” A contributed article program is the Mother of All Re-spins.

Let’s see. First you contact the trade editor (who is awake at night wondering about the fate of her or his position/publication) and pitch the idea. The editor may like it or not. If so, s/he will ask for an abstract. You will then prepare and submit the abstract. Sounds good. Oops, the editor wants you to amend the abstract. Back to the drawing board (first re-spin).

Now it is time to re-submit your abstract. Whew, it was approved. Now comes the actual article, 1,000-words? 1,500 words? 2,000 words? You now submit the article internally for review. “Re-spin please.” Ugh. Another rev is completed, which is approved by the Powers That Be. Time to submit to the editor. Oh no, s/he wants some changes, time for the next re-spin.

Finally, your freshly amended contributed article is complete and it has been accepted by the editor. The only problem is three articles are ahead of your piece in the queue. Your submission will be published . . . next month. So how many months does a contributed article consume from initial pitch to actual publication? Three months? Four months? Five months? . . .

Yes, your contributed article has the advantage of authenticity that comes from being published under the imprimatur of a respected trade publication, but at what cost in terms of time and effort?

Now contrast that amount of time compared to digitally posting a conversational marketing piece by selected engineers, technologists, executives etc. via a company hosted blogging site is as little as one day? Can you build thought leadership and enhance the company brand via a blog? Certainly. This is particularly true when a blog post results in an on-line conversation with a prospective or established customer, an analyst, a supplier, a partner or a journalist.

Is there a realistic worry about a Reg. FD violation? That shouldn’t be a problem, if you have asserted and imposed control over who blogs and on what subject. And isn’t it common sense that you do NOT use a blog to publicly discuss next quarter financial results or anything else that may constitute a “material” event? What about proprietary information? Ditto when it comes to company controls, and besides how much can you really reveal in four or five paragraphs?

If a company has the horsepower, resources and talent, I would recommend both contributed articles and blogs and have the two be complementary pieces of your marketing and brand management tool kit.

For a start-up with very few of these attributes, self-publishing in the form of blogging is the easiest and most cost-effective answer to establishing thought leadership, building brand and painting a corporate portrait.

In the end analysis, contributed articles and blogging should not be mutually exclusive.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Does a bear do nasty things in the woods?

Why even address the question of whether a blog is social media?

And yet a well-respected colleague, Eric Villines of the MWW Group in Seattle http://www.mww.com/, posed this innocent sounding question to the “Public Relations Professionals” group page on LinkedIn.com. http://www.linkedin.com. The answer seems obvious, but upon reflection maybe it is not.

Why? The great promoters of blogs (and you know who you are) extol the virtues of social marketing. This is a utopian, Wild-West free-flow of ideas that germinates with the introduction of a provocative subject by a blogger. Of course, the blogger is not doing this out of the goodness of her or his heart. The goal is to demonstrate thought leadership (oh how agency PR types love that phrase) in a given subject or a given market.

Does this blogger necessarily want a conversation? Now that is a different question. In some respects, a blogger may want to lecture, instruct, pontificate and maybe even, bloviate. There may be a product to sell, a cause to promote or even a trial balloon to float.

And do companies, particularly always nervous publicly traded companies, want a dialogue? Yes, they want to build brand. And they also want to expand the number of their customers and investors, but do they want input, particularly public input? Some do. Some don’t.

Personally, I led a successful campaign to convince a major Asian technology company to start blogging. What little hair that was left on top of my head is now gone as a result of this process. Since the company trades on the NYSE, they naturally have SEC regulatory concerns (e.g. Reg FD). And they are paranoid about protecting market share and that means preventing inadvertent releases of proprietary information to competitors. These are normal and justifiable considerations.

But it went beyond that. What about comments from readers? Do we allow these comments to be read by others? Yes that is the noble purpose of a blog, but still do we want to air what could be dirty laundry?

The answer in this case revolved around posting a blog link on the company’s home page that transferred to a separate WordPress site. The company was able to review the comments in response to the blog before approving or rejecting them. The company could also comment in response, keeping the dialogue going.

So the answer is a qualified yes, a blog “should” be social media. I use the subjunctive tense to reflect that blogging should encourage a conversation, and that is a great way to build brand and to demonstrate thought leadership.

And consistent with this notion that blogs are social media, let me ask: “Do you agree or disagree that blogs are social media?” An inquiring mind would like to know…and thank you Eric for the great idea.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

. . . That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged blog readers, Or to take aim through social media against a perceived sea of troubles, And by commenting, end them? To die: or to employ conversational marketing, No more; and by a blog to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks . . . or merely to build personal brand . . .

Okay I will stop now and offer my apologies for butchering William Shakespeare in his posthumous state and his literary masterpiece, “Hamlet.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/385300.html

Seriously, should you start your own blog to build your personal brand, become a thought leader and develop a cadre of readers and colleagues? When I ask the question that way, the answer is an obvious, “yes.”

Here’s another way of posing the same question: Should you burn up valuable personal time on at least a weekly basis to become just another voice in the crowded blogosphere? How do you know that anyone will even care, let alone read your blog? And can you run afoul with your employer, leading to your quick demise in the face of the worst economic downturn in the modern era? If that is the standard then Mother Teresa (if she was still around) wouldn’t even attempt to post a blog on comforting the sick and the poor.

One of the key reasons to post a blog is that traditional means of getting out your messages are rapidly declining, particularly the pencil press. The invention of digital media, yes those ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are providing us all with the ability to self publish. We can now climb on top of our virtual soap box and speak to the masses.

Keep in mind that the trend is toward Facebook (400 million reported users), Twitter (75 million users), LinkedIn (60 million users) and MySpace (57 million users). Technorati www.technorati.com may track 70 million registered blogs, but the dirty little secret is that only 15 million or 21 percent of this total number can be considered to be active. Blogging may have peaked. http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2007/04/blogging_growth.html

There is no doubt that it is much easier to write quick little quips on Facebook, Twitter (only 140 characters), LinkedIn or MySpace then to come up with four or five paragraphs of copy for a blog. I found that most would-be thought leaders pass on starting a blog because of bandwidth concerns. They just don’t have the time (or don’t believe they have the time). Instead, they have suggested working on a contributed article, which probably eats up 8x as much time when you prepare and submit abstracts to editors and go through the same exercise on the actual article. Besides why do want to be the subject of the whims of external editors, when you can just self publish in a fraction of the time?

Another concern is what will you write about? That is a legitimate consideration. The answer lies with the famous quote by former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he was asked to define hard-core pornography, “. . . You will know it when you see it.”

The key is not panicking. There are so many things in your life and your work that are fascinating to you that may also be something that interests somebody else. So why not take the plunge? In a later blog, I will discuss the key steps in starting and maintaining a blog. The real question that you should answer in the interim is: To blog or not to blog?

“Giving Back” Thru Mentoring?

Undoubtedly, one of the most hyped phrases in our language is the concept of “giving back.” This notion has been used so many times in so many places that it has become almost cliché.

Even after acknowledging this point we still need to ask: Does the present generation of senior communicators owe it to our profession and society to pass along our knowledge and insights to the next generation of communicators?

Writing checks is nice, but is it even more valuable to impart as mentors hands-on knowledge based upon our years of experience in strategic communications?

As I contemplate this question of “giving back,” I reflect back to one of the responsibilities that did not fit into the position description of a gubernatorial press secretary: Meeting and answering questions from visiting university, community college, high school, middle school and even elementary school students.

During my three years as the Press Secretary to California Governor George Deukmejian in Sacramento http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian, I was repeatedly asked to serve as the face of the administration to delegations of visiting students. I would encourage these students to pursue public service or at least to harbor a profound interest in government and politics. Sometimes the questions were tough, many were unfair or completely off-base, but the students nonetheless demonstrated their desire to learn and even to challenge authority.

As I moved from the public sector into roles with two major industry trade associations, a publicly traded high technology company and to a senior position in an international public relations firm, I was periodically asked to lecture classes on effective communications. Some of these schools included: UC Berkeley, Oregon State, San Francisco State and just recently Santa Clara University.

At Santa Clara, I lectured both MBA and undergraduate students about how to communicate to Wall Street and investors. I realized in making these presentations and seeing the enthusiasm that they generated that these students were clearly appreciating that the world of financial communications was changing at a breakneck pace.

This rate of change is not just limited to the financial sphere as digital technology, the ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are making instantaneous communication and lightning-fast responses a never-changing fact of life. We now have the ability to self publish and to share with the world our deepest thoughts.

Social media or conversational marketing via digital key strokes is something that Johannes Guttenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg could not even fathom when he invented the printing press in Mainz, Germany. But one thing has been constant since then; technology has made communication faster, more efficient and global.

Many cannot stop talking about and tweeting on Twitter, amassing their connections on LinkedIn.com, watching videos on YouTube or counting friends on Facebook. They are commenting on breaking global events via their blogs or reading, listening and viewing what others are saying via cyberspace, bypassing the “traditional media,” particularly the dying pencil “press.”

The hot social media tools of today most likely will not be the hot social media tools of tomorrow. New techniques are being written today (e.g. Google’s “Buzz” http://www.google.com/buzz) not on parchment paper, but rather in the form of software code.

Will students and society as a whole be prepared for these new techniques and their implications? What are the responsibilities of self publishing in the wake of fewer and fewer conventional media outlets? Will bloggers become the reporters of the 21st century, thus setting new standards for journalism?

Most importantly, what can we do to help these students in facing these brand new challenges? We all have our unique stories and experiences. Is it our duty to serve as mentors and to pass this knowledge on to those who can use it for their respective careers?

Looking back, I have been extremely fortunate to have many different experiences in my career. But I still keeping going back in mind replaying the scene in the Governor’s bill signing room filled with students and their teachers with a particular gleam in their eyes and engaging questions flowing off their tongues.

They wanted to learn.

They wanted to explore.

They wanted to challenge convention.

I was more than happy to help them in their quests.

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