The Internet keeps changing, and the PR world can’t keep up

Been meaning to post this, but now is as good a time as any.  Dan Riehl at Riehl World View is less than impressed with the response of mainstream organizations generally, and the PR community in particular, to new media:

Not long ago, PR in politics, and a host of other areas, dealt mostly with responding to queries filtered through a somewhat conglomerated mainstream media. Today, news and political junkies, as well as experts and keenly interested parties in a range of fields, have direct access to media they never had before. Given these three examples, it seems reasonable to ask if the public relations industry across the board is truly keeping up with the growth in size and significance of new media.

Given my own experiences in j-school and in online media over the last four or so years, I don’t blame him for the skepticism.

While in journalism school at Arizona State University around 2003, I had the opportunity to talk with the then-VP of one of the bigger PR shops in Phoenix (which, by extension, means the state of Arizona).  His take on my school was something like this:

“I have never hired graduates straight out of the Cronkite School.  I’ve interviewed several, but I’ve never hired them.  Why not?  Because they know everything, you can’t tell them anything, and they have this idea that it’s all about circulating press releases and pitching stories, when in point of fact that’s such a minuscule part of the business anymore.”

“We’ve talked to the professors at the school,” he continued, “tried to explain, ‘Look, you’re not giving us the graduates we need.’  And they just won’t listen.  They are hopelessly behind, but they refuse to change.  They have this notion of PR that’s at least 15 years behind the times.”

When I heard that indictment of my school of choice, it became clear that I was receiving an obsolete education.  So I went out of my way to augment that education to the extent possible.  At the advice of that VP, I got in as many internships as possible (I ended up doing six in total), but by far the very best decision I made was to start a blog.  As I say on my bio page, I really did it just for fun and experience – I didn’t anticipate it would actually translate to anything worthwhile as far as career options.

I was very mistaken.  That experiment in blogging as a student led to my blogging stint with the Alliance for School Choice, then going corporate, and now in my present role in web marketing.  But back then, I’m fairly confident the blogosphere didn’t register a blip among my professors.

However, I rather suspect I’m an outlier as far as my time in school.

Understand, I graduated in ’04, back when blogging was really coming into vogue.  In Internet terms, that was a generation or two ago – before the rise of the iPhone, at a time when Facebook was but a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye, back when Twitter only had vaguely to do with small birds or old ladies.  This radical change in how we use the Internet, how it has altered the power structure, how it has changed the way we relate to and communicate with one another, has just happened way too fast for many big organizations to keep up.

The more obvious victims have, of course, been the legacy media.  While most people (well, the navel-gazers within the MSM particularly) have focused largely on how new media has upended their traditional business model, not enough have focused on how the nature of communications has also changed.  As Trent Reznor pointed out in connection with the destruction of the recording business:

“Anyone who’s an executive at a record label does not understand what the internet is, how it works, how people use it, how fans and consumers interact — no idea,” he declares. “I’m surprised they know how to use e-mail. They have built a business around selling plastic discs, and nobody wants plastic discs any more.”

Meanwhile, the entire system that for a lucky few turned those discs into hits — rock radio, MTV, music mags, CD megastores — has crumbled, and label execs have no idea where to turn. “They’re in such a state of denial it’s impossible for them to understand what’s happening,” Reznor says. “As an artist, you are now the marketer.”

Simply put, these are pretty radical changes that have taken place in just a few years.  Bigger organizations with more insular thinking are getting caught flatfooted.  As Glenn Reynolds likes to point out, smaller, more nimble organizations have a real edge.

In my professional work in search engine optimization, the thing that has really come to the forefront is how effective SEO – namely, backlink building – and effective PR are heavily connected.  The line between the two has gotten so blurred that I really believe it’s increasingly hard to see where one ends and the other begins.  But all this has happened outside the ivory towers that are churning out new batches of PR professionals.  And with the rise of social networking, you can expect the dinosaurs at j-schools to become that much more befuddled at what is happening in the world beyond.

I’ve actually seriously considered doing some sort of graduate work related to PR and online marketing.  But what journalism school out there really understands the intersection between the two?

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LDS and infertile: our story

Before reading any further, you should back out now if:

  • you are offended by frank discussions of explicit LDS Christian doctrine and/or society.
  • you haven’t yet seen Up, Pixar’s critically-acclaimed 2009 motion picture, and don’t want to be exposed to plot spoilers.
  • you just aren’t in the mood for a lengthy, personal blog post that borders on the self-confessional.

Read More »

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Quote of the day

“Taxing the millionaires sounds great. The only concern I have is the millionaires have the ability to take their money and leave.”

Anton Tsamas of Hackensack, New Jersey on that state’s proposed and vetoed millionaire tax.  Governor Chris Christie says his budget freeze did the trick on closing their deficit, meaning a tax hike isn’t necessary.

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Patience (or: what I learned from President Uchtdorf and Google’s Pac-Man)

On Sunday, I prepared my home teaching lesson, drawing from President Uchtdorf’s talk at the priesthood session from the April conference.  Quote:

There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!

Impatience, on the other hand, is a symptom of selfishness. It is a trait of the self-absorbed. It arises from the all-too-prevalent condition called “center of the universe” syndrome, which leads people to believe that the world revolves around them and that all others are just supporting cast in the grand theater of mortality in which only they have the starring role.

How different this is, my dear brethren, from the standard the Lord has set for us as priesthood holders.

I am surprised, and a bit embarrassed, that I found this principle clearly illustrated through, of all things, Google’s recent homage to Pac-Man.

When I was playing the game at work, I found that I could only rarely get past the third or fourth level.  However, this evening I found where Google has stashed it, and resumed play.  As with last week, and as I am sure many players have done, I continued to apply different tactics, alternate repetitive routes, and tried to determine where I might find a degree of advantage. This evening, I learned a few things:

  • As you have probably already discovered, in higher levels of play, the ghosts get increasingly faster, and are able to overtake you in a chase.  However – and this is counterintuitive, or at least it was for me – if you’re being chased, take turns wherever possible.  Apparently Pac-Man can corner faster than the ghosts, so in this way you can put a bit of distance between you and your pursuers, and that bit of distance can in some cases make the difference.
  • The opening moves of the ghosts – which ones get out of the pen at certain times, which routes they take – are pretty much preset, so the opening moves are a bit predictable.  As a result, there’s no meaningful advantage to taking a completely different route at the beginning of each level.
  • Generally, when you eat a ghost, his first item of business once he’s gotten a new suit is to come looking for you.  Almost an aggression/revenge thing – “Okay, sucka, time for a rematch.”

It’s that last discovery that led to a rather surprising realization: While it seems like going after the ghosts to eat them when you eat one of the power pellets is the obvious thing to do – go on offense, get the bad guys out of the way, earn bonus points – it doesn’t offer nearly the advantage you might think, due to various factors:

  • It’s four on one, and the bad guys only go away temporarily, so whatever advantage is fairly brief.
  • As noted above, the very first thing the ghosts usually do when they regenerate is come back for seconds.  If you don’t have another power pellet nearby, or if you don’t have any left, you have a problem.
  • Depending on where you happen to be, eating one of the ghosts can in fact be detrimental to winning a level.  If you’re in the upper portion of the maze, you’re very close to the opening to the box.  That ghost will be near you again very quickly, and very aggressively.
  • If you give chase to attack the ghosts, you may end up going some distance before you finally catch them.  Go far enough, and you end up so far from uneaten pellets that it takes some degree of time before you can pick up where you left off, meaning you lose valuable time.

And that’s really the big thing that I picked up on while playing: Don’t lose focus of the main objective: to clear the maze of all pellets as quickly as possible. Anything that gets in the way of that is a potentially lethal distraction.

In addition, there were a few important things I realized about the power pellets:

  • When the time was running on the power pellets, the ghosts became a bit more helpful: they moved slower, and more importantly, they tended to move away from me.  Very helpful, especially if I’m just trying to clear the maze ASAP.
  • Eat power pellets back to back, and the time seemed to extend a bit.

So I shifted tactics to focus as exclusively as possible on the main objective: clear the maze, ASAP.  Not only did I not stop to eat monsters, I avoided it where possible.  In some cases it couldn’t be helped, but usually I found I was able to avoid them after eating a power pellet.  I would only try to eat one, maybe two, if the maze were nearly cleared and only a few pellets remained.  But if I felt it would be a distraction, or would put me at a disadvantage in finishing off the maze, I’d continue to try to avoid it.

Any concern I had about the potential loss in points was quickly overcome when I found I got the bonus fruit much more regularly.  And with the bonus fruit rapidly increasing in value – 200, 400, 700, 1000 points – one of those suckers would more than make up for any loss in bonus points from eating monsters.

And the result of this new approach?

Oh yes.  :D

Yes, I’m aware the full arcade version is radically different.  And life isn’t a video game (sorry, World of Warcraft fanboys).  But if patience, focus, exclusion of distractions can make such a difference in a silly little video game, what about life?

UPDATE: New high score!

Now, to apply these principles to areas of my life that, you know, actually matter…

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Education – what’s the point again?

I don’t know how anyone can still argue that education is the answer to anything when, in its current form, it produces junior high school students who can’t read, high school graduates who can’t do math, and college graduates who can’t program.

- Vox Day

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The midterms just got that much more interesting (or: what Obama & the dems are really communicating)

Now this is doubling down.  After a few weeks of waffling, Obama is pressing ahead with health care.  Thing is, according to the story (from Reuters, no less – !!), even Wall Street isn’t all that fazed by the notion (says health care stocks are up, and tossed in a couple of quotes from health care execs who say they just aren’t worried).

It’s easy to be amazed at the complete defiance on the part of the Dems to public opinion on health care.  If there’s anything on which politicians of any stripe will lie, it’s whether they read polls.  And anybody who reads polls as much as the Dems must has got to know that public opinion on this has been declining for months.  It isn’t a question of whether the people have heard Obama’s message.  He’s been banging on about this since 2007.  They’ve heard – they don’t want it.

So what gives?  Why continue to suicidally push for something that is so publicly toxic, that will likely turn the House and possibly Senate back over to GOP control in November?  In a sense, I think the answer lies in the question.  It’s pretty roundly agreed that the GOP is going to pick up some seats in November, if nothing else due to the American electoral pendulum swinging back in the other direction.  But I’m thinking that somewhere deep in the bowels of the DNC, the hardcore poll number crunchers have taken a good, long look at the internals and concluded that there’s no averting disaster in the fall.  They’ve issued an internal memo that has made the rounds to Rahm et al with the dire news that there’s no turning this ship around before November, that barring some unforeseen miracle there’s really nothing that can be done to prevent at least one chamber of Congress from falling into Republican control.

Hence, the renewed push for socialized medicine, only now kamikaze-style.  Obama and his fellow Democrats are saying in deed if not in word that they’re ceding electoral success in November, up to and including writing off control of Congress to the Republicans.  The GOP is of course cheered beyond measure at this development, but this presents a tremendous short-term problem: Obama and his fellow Democrats have similarly morphed into people with nothing to lose that they likely won’t lose anyway, and have therefore become that much more dangerous.  The clock is ticking, and the Dems know it.  The question is whether the GOP has picked up on the Dems’ new scorched earth policy, and whether they have the means to stave off the assault.

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Things I’m learning thanks to the stomach flu

- For those long, lonely nights in the bathroom, you can do a lot worse than the Bejeweled 2 game on the iPhone.
- Not all toilet paper is made alike. (I knew this before, but the point has been driven home even more powerfully now.)
- Trying to pace yourself by sleeping as possible between bathroom visits helps.
- The WordPress app for the iPhone isn’t half bad. At one point I closed the app mid-post without saving (like I said, I’m sick, okay?), and it had already saved the draft for me.
- The Winky brand of gelatin cups is okay…with the exception of the blueberry flavor, which tastes roughly like Scope.
- It’s at times like these that you realize you can never place sufficient value on a wonderful spouse. Or on good health, for that matter.

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So Palin forced her to vote for Obama?

I’ve been hanging on to this meaning to post it.  This silly op-ed from RealClearPolitics got linked on InstaPundit.  And it is silly.  Because amidst all the buyer’s remorse over having thrown the lever for Obama, the writer makes it clear she was just incensed at McCain for having picked Palin as his running mate.

You see, I felt my choice was to risk McCain dropping dead and letting the world’s most well-known hockey mom run this country, or to believe that Obama would surround himself with educated people and that he was smart enough to take their advice.

So rather than vote for a vice-presidential candidate with limited experience, your response was to vote for a presidential candidate with limited experience? But that’s hardly her only swipe against the governor of Alaska the mayor of Wasilla.

Seven years later, I am ashamed to say that I was blinded by charisma. Obama was so convincing that I stopped caring about what he knew and started getting caught up in the euphoria. Imagine having a president who came from a broken home, who had money troubles, who did grass-roots community service? A young father. The first black president. It pains me to admit I got caught up in the hoopla.

But McCain made it easy. He’s a smart man, I don’t doubt that. But between picking Palin, suggesting that the first debates be delayed and, well, picking Palin, he made it easy for Obama to win. As Election Day drew near, all Obama had to do was keep his mouth shut to win.

Well, some of us find Palin’s background more than a bit inspiring.  Baseball Crank has covered it in some detail.  But to each his own, I guess.  What escapes me is why she would find somebody who came from humble beginnings to achieve success inspiring (Obama) while finding somebody who rose from similarly humble beginnings in some way detestable (Palin).

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Quit calling him a “teen”

Drudge and the Daily Mail should really rethink the headline “Teenager jailed for 15 years after using Facebook to blackmail seven students into sex.”  He’s 19 years old, meaning he’s not a minor.  (Doesn’t it seem a bit idiotic to point this out?)  And while I’m not seeing any comments in the thread at present, when I read it yesterday the British commenters roundly applauded the heavy sentence, which I thought was most interesting; many said he would have gotten a slap on the wrist in the UK.

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Post-election schadenfreude

Go here to watch some lefty heads splitting open. (By way of Steven den Beste, whose predictions are gradually, magically coming true!)

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