by Jim Maiella
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s recent column on social media in general, and Twitter in particular, prompted me to sit back and reflect on the service, how I use it and what it has meant in my personal and professional life. Had conceiving and pushing “send” on 4,000 of my own Twitter updates, and reading maybe a million more, made me – as Keller suggested – stupid? The response to the piece, especially on Twitter, has been active and polarized. He’s either dead-on right or a dinosaur pausing to complain about the cold, a guy who just doesn’t get it, this week’s version of Malcolm Gladwell.
Worth noting up top that Twitter is an easy thing for elites - especially those established enough to have mortgages or second homes - to dismiss and poke fun at, starting with its name, breezy disposition and even the language that has evolved around the platform’s basic functions. Twitter, Tweets, Tweeted, hashtags, trending topics, micro-blogging, fail whales, followers, following, it all sounds terribly sophisticated and studious. 140 characters? What could anyone possibly do with 140 characters, other than document a burp or a trip to the bathroom? The marginalizing clichés and anecdotes are, by now, endemic.
Here is my experience, and what Twitter has done for me: I have never been as well informed or strategically connected in my life. I have never been as current with those I care about and are interested in. I have never been able to identify what people are talking about, across the world and a universe of possible topics, as quickly or easily as I can today, through Twitter. I have never been as consistently entertained or amused, by the regular observations of some very smart people who are now, effortlessly, in my orbit. It is as fundamental a communications tool for me as e-mail and one that, in many ways, is much more powerful.
I work in media relations, and when I was finally getting serious about exploring social media about three years ago, couldn’t help but notice a number of the reporters I knew and worked with were already on this thing called Twitter. Many more have joined in the time since, creating a truly media-centric corner of the Web. It’s about a lot more than that corner, but if you are a communications person today who is not active on Twitter, in my opinion, you are speaking with half of your mouth or engaging with half of your brain. From the information, to the interaction, the links, the search functionality, to knowing – in an instant – exactly what people are talking about and caring about, there has never been anything like Twitter. Google took the information that exists in the world and made it readily available. Twitter does the same thing for conversations and sentiments that are happening in real-time, which is an extraordinary – and extraordinarily useful – accomplishment. @garyvee is right about the value and power of Twitter search which, alone, more than counteracts Keller’s dismissive supposition.
Twitter is clean, expressive and human. 140 characters, right there. Things to know, reasons to laugh, thoughts or notions to share, updates to consider, information that is helpful or silly, exchanged on your own terms, with people you have chosen to hear from. A link to the most moving or intelligent blog post you’ve ever read, right down to word that some guy on a plane just ignominiously broke out a tuna and onion sandwich, pre-takeoff, which makes you smile. For me, it has almost entirely killed RSS, and turned Google Reader from an essential “several times a day” destination to the land of 1000+ unread items. You want the most immediate, comprehensive, customizable and directionally-accurate wire service ever devised? Stop looking, it’s here. Plus, you get free and recurring access to @om’s brain.
That’s another great and fundamental thing about Twitter; you build your own experience, to suit your interests and needs. As I’ve said before, in a Tweet, it’s like the most interesting room in the world, because the whole world is in the room – and you can hear the conversations you want to, talk to the people you choose. Even the engineering behind being able to broadly broadcast messages, speak in more narrow circles through @replies, or in private through DMs (and do take care to make sure the M really is D) is genius. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently noted, in response to Keller’s piece, Twitter is the frame, not the picture, what’s inside is largely up to you.
Tweets, themselves, are bite-sized morsels. And if you are active on the service it does impact how you think in terms of the information you know you are going to be able to put out in this abbreviated way. It has made me a better and more careful writer. Hemingway would have loved it, and not just because it’s pretty to think so. But Twitter is not confined by its minimalism, a high percentage of Tweets are merely gateways to longer engagements – headlines or captions on a kaleidoscope of source material like news stories, columns, blog posts, @instagram photos, basically anything.
I get where Keller began his piece – as a parent slightly terrified by the prospect of putting the keys to this scary new car (social media) into the hands of his 13-year-old daughter – but not where he landed. Some of his best and brightest people (they know who they are, and so does everyone else) are embracing and using the platform as effectively as anyone, and his paper has done an admirable job of building social elements into its online presence, all the way down to giving readers pre-shortened Twitter URLs next to stories.
@jack, @biz, @ev and the gang dropped something truly incredible on the world five years ago, something as easy and elegant as it is valuable and transformational. Where it goes and what it becomes over time, who knows? But I’m glad it’s here. And I don’t feel stupid.
Company leaders increasingly ask cable communicators to work with other departments to achieve business goals. Often, the departments are able to achieve results that would be much more difficult or even impossible to accomplish without the use of integrated communications. During ACC’s June 30 Online Chat “Integrated Communications: How PR, Marketing and Other Departments Can All Work Together Effectively” from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EDT, participating cable communicators will explore how to craft powerful integrated communications campaigns. What challenges and advantages are inherent in these partnerships? How can the savvy cable communicator ensure that his integrated communications campaigns will succeed?
ACC has lined up experts to share their ideas, experiences and advice in this area. All cable communicators are encouraged to join this ACC Online Chat and offer tips on how they have used integrated communications to help them succeed in their cable communications efforts.
Cynthia Godby – communications manager, Time Warner Cable
Leigh Ann Woisard – vice president, public affairs, Cox Communications Virginia
How ACC Members Can Participate:
ACC's next, online chat will be accessible to all through its Web site:
If you have a question that you would like to ask the experts but will not be able to participate in the live chat, please email Michelle Butler at email@example.com your question. Following the event, ACC will post a transcript of the chat in the members-only section of its Web site.
Actress and anti-sex trafficking activist Demi Moore has partnered with the CNN Freedom Project to shine a light on the shocking trade of human life in “Nepal’s Stolen Children: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary”, which premieres Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. (ET). The documentary is the culminating event of CNN's week-long series “In Depth,” focusing on CNN’s reporting on modern-day slavery across all CNN networks and platforms the week of June 20th.
As a special contributor to the CNN Freedom Project, Moore heads to Nepal to join up with 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and her organization, Maiti Nepal, which has rescued more than 12,000 stolen Nepalese children from sex trafficking since its founding in 1993. Moore is a passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking and through DNA, the organization she co-founded with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, is outspoken about the need to address the demand side of sex trafficking through law enforcement against solicitors, and education and rehabilitation for young victims ensnared by the abusive practices.
The Freedom Project blog will be the online hub for special coverage of “Nepal’s Stolen Children”. Leading up to the premiere of the documentary, CNN.com will have opinion pieces on the plight of Nepalese children and sex trafficking. The blog will also include experts on slavery in Nepal, directing users on how to help, and videos and blog posts that highlight Koirala and Maiti Nepal.
CNN iReport will also issue the second iReport Freedom Project challenge by asking users to make paper airplanes with statistics about slavery and messages of hope for victims. Users will also be able to check for updates across social media on the Freedom Project Facebook page or @CNNFreedom.
Get a front-row seat to the latest innovations in cable communications as a 2011 Beacon Awards judge. While judging the Beacon Awards, you will learn what your cable communications peers across the country are accomplishing and walk away from the experience with hundreds of new ideas and connections. It’s now easier than ever to judge—ACC sends entries to your location for evaluation at your convenience.
For the first round, ACC will mail or email entries to ACC member volunteers to review during a two-week period in July. To serve as a Beacon Awards judge or if you have any questions, please contact Michelle Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-222-2372.
As part of its “Fight with Style” pro-social initiative, The Style Network is launching a campaign to combat obesity among children and adults with the premiere of its first-ever town hall special, “Too Fat for 15: The Obesity Crisis,” on Monday, June 27 at 8:00pm ET/PT. Alison Sweeney of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” hosts this one-hour event and is joined by Style talent and health experts in a spirited discussion that offers parents and children advice and tips for a healthier lifestyle. The town hall also includes questions from the audience and candid answers from the panel participants, covering a range of topics from how to deal with bullies who call a young girl “fat” to how cold weather is not an excuse for being inactive. The town hall was filmed in St. Louis, MO, at the West County YMCA on April 16.
An inspiration to millions, Ruby Gettinger from her hit Emmy-nominated Style series “Ruby” sits down with Alison to talk about her own personal struggles with weight and what families can do to fight obesity. One of the most concerning aspects of this epidemic is how many children are affected and at risk. Students Tanisha, Carysn and Rachel from the Emmy-nominated docu-series “Too Fat for 15: Fighting Back” show off their amazing weight loss and share their stories with the audience to provide encouragement and motivation.
St. Louis Rams’ wide receiver Brandon Gibson and Wellspring Academy physical trainer and coach John Taylor, who is featured on “Too Fat for 15: Fighting Back,” discuss the importance of exercising while a nutritionist and chef offer easy, healthy recipe options. In addition, a variety of useful and practical information on fighting obesity is provided by Y-USA senior director of chronic disease prevention, Dr. Matt Longjohn and Dr. Denise Wilfley, director, weight management & eating disorders program at Washington University in St. Louis. Comprehensive information and vital facts about obesity and how to combat this epidemic will be made available at MyStyle.com/fightwithstyle.com.
ACC is sponsoring the panel “When the Unexpected Occurs: Managing Communications during a Crisis” on Wednesday, June 15 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Room S402 during the Cable Show 2011: Everything Possible held at the McCormick Place in Chicago. Communicating with key audiences and stakeholders when the unexpected occurs requires a deftly managed mix of advance planning and thoughtful response, coupled with an intelligent and timely use of communications channels in a highly-charged environment. Hear from top-level communications experts about strategies and tactics for managing communications in a crisis such as unique considerations for cable operators and programmers, tips and techniques for communicating in crisis, including establishing a crisis plan, and the importance of integrating social media into the crisis communications mix. Speakers will include former ACC president Ellen East, EVP, chief communications officer, Time Warner Cable; Chris LaPlaca, SVP, corporate communications, ESPN; David Leavy, EVP, global communications and corporate affairs, Discovery; and Barry Schnitt, director, corporate communications and public policy, Facebook. The ACC panel will be moderated by Alexis Glick, CEO, Gen YOUth Foundation and senior fellow, Kauffman Foundation.
Cable in the Classroom (CIC) also is sponsoring a panel that may be of interest to ACC members earlier on Wednesday, June 15 at the 2011 Cable Show. From 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in Room S401, CIC will present the panel “Lessons Learned: The Next Chapter for Cable in the Classroom.” After more than 20 years, Cable in the Classroom has re-positioned itself to promote cable’s award-winning educational content, enhance the role of broadband technology in education, and encourage digital citizenship. This panel discussion examines the connections between cable’s education initiatives and public policy, and how both solid research and guidance from third parties can be valuable in impacting policy challenges, reframing issues and moving them in positive directions. Panelists will include: Tessie Topol, senior director, strategic philanthropy & community affairs, Time Warner Cable; Kim Gilmore, historian, director, corporate outreach, History/A&E Networks; Debra Balamos, VP, marketing, Ovation; Ryan Koxzot, Educator; Larry Magic, co-director, ConnectSafely; and Marsali S. Hancock, president, iKeepSafe. For additional information, please contact Helen Dimsdale, senior director, Cable in the Classroom at email@example.com.
Every year an estimated 800,000 children are reported as missing in the United States. In recognition of National Missing Children’s Day on May 25, Time Warner Cable announced the launch of a new Missing Children On Demand category available via their Local On Demand channels, making information about missing children available to millions of Time Warner Cable digital video customers across the state of Texas. The new initiative is in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and will enable Time Warner Cable digital video customers in Texas to support efforts by law enforcement to help bring missing children home.
Time Warner Cable Missing Children On Demand videos, produced in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, will feature up to 10 new video profiles a month chronicling missing child cases from across the United States. Each video provides relevant details about the child’s case, including the name of the missing child, city of the disappearance, possible whereabouts, as well as likely abductors and photos. In cases where the child has been missing for a long period, an age progressed photo showing what he/she may look like at a more recent age will also be available. In addition, during the airing of each profile, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s toll-free 24-hour national missing children’s hotline (800-THE-LOST) will be displayed on the bottom of the profile, so viewers can report tips should they have any information. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Web site will also be available for viewers to report tips online at www.missingkids.com.
The FORUM 2011 Committee has nearly finished the development of seven general and breakout sessions. Invitations have gone out to industry CEOs for a key general session Thursday morning where they will update communicators regarding their views of the industry, its strengths and challenges, and how the unique skills of communications executives can help their companies to exceed expectations in the coming years. A reporters general session will wrap up Wednesday’s program with their informed viewpoints of what they see for the industry and how reporters and communications executives can work together to meet their respective needs. The conference opens Wednesday with a luncheon session looking at the global implications of social media, how it has changed communications and what’s the outlook for the future.
To register, please go to the FORUM 2011 page and click on the FORUM 2011 registration link. The current registration fee is $800 for the two-day conference, October 5-6 in New York City at the Hilton New York and includes the closing Beacon Awards luncheon and reception. On August 20 the registration fee increases to $900.
Additionally you may also reserve your room for FORUM 2011 and Diversity Week. Single/Double rooms at the Hilton New York are priced at $344/night plus tax. You must make your reservation by Friday, September 9 to receive this rate. You can make a room reservation by calling 1-800 HILTONS, and reference Cable Diversity Week to receive the group rate.
Room reservations may also be made at the Hilton New York online by going to, http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/groups/personalized/N/NYCNHHH-NCDW-20110930/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG. This registration page is specifically designed for all executives attending any of the events during Cable’s Diversity Week, including FORUM. For additional information or to join the FORUM 2011 planning committee, contact Steve Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-222-2373.
Support ACC by becoming a corporate member! For more information on how your organization can join ACC as a corporate member, please contact Steve Jones at email@example.com or 202-222-2373. For membership details, go to http://www.cablecommunicators.org/cmember.php.
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