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Transcript:
FORUM 09 in Denver – Communicating Cable 3.0: People, Products & Value
An ACC Online Chat – October 1, 2009
Download .PDF version of the transcript

Introductions

Michelle_Butler Welcome to ACC’s latest online chat – FORUM 09 in Denver – Communicating Cable 3.0: People, Products & Value! During the next hour, we will discuss the latest issues in cable communications, how your peers are addressing them, and how they will be explored at FORUM 2009. All are welcome to participate. We only ask that you remember that this is a professional forum and act accordingly.
Michelle_Butler ACC has lined up four facilitators to help us dig deeper during this discussion.
They are:
Doyle Albee - President & New Media Practice Director, Metzger Associates Public Relations
Amanda Batson - CEO, ADB Partners Education on Demand
Eric Becker - Executive Director, Corporate Communications, Starz Entertainment
Steve Jones - Executive Director, Association of Cable Communicators
Steve_Jones Hi… this is Steve Jones, I’ve been with ACC now for over 9 years and this will be my 10th FORUM Conference, my first was in San Antonio, TX back in 2000. FORUM is one of my key responsibilities here at ACC. The 2009 conference will be only my second time outside of DC!
amandabatson Hello! I'm Amanda Batson -- education architect and consultant. I founded ADB Partners in 2004 specializing in Education on Demand. My primary focus is on quality blended learning across platforms. I believe that cable offers an extremely robust, reliable, and responsive array of tools for digital delivery and content for entertainment and learning. I also am a speaker and facilitator of f2f and virtual experiences.
Eric_B. Eric B. - Hello, this is Eric Becker at Starz Entertainment. I work out of the Starz suburban Denver headquarters in the Corporate Communications department, with PR/media relations responsibilities ranging in everything from consumer/business/trade/technology press to working with our programming publicity team for Starz' increasing efforts in developing original, series-based programming. I also lead up the PR efforts for our small, emerging new media division, Starz Digital Media, out of NY. This group was created once Starz became a more vertically-integrated media concern following the acquisition of IDT Entertainment's assets and the subsequent birth of Starz Media and Overture Films. Starz Digital Media focuses on monetizing many of the acquired and developed original programming assets across alternative business models and technology platforms, with a wide range of business partners and assorted content genre.
Doyle Hi, this is Doyle Albee. I founded the Social Media Practice at Metzger Associates — a PR and marketing communications firm in Boulder, Colorado — about five years ago. As a 20-year PR/marketing veteran, I now focus on helping clients understand how to integrate new/social media into an overall strategic communication plan.

Trends in Communication and Social Media

Michelle_Butler What are the latest trends in communications?
Doyle Michelle, in my opinion, the most important trend in communication is realizing that we've rapidly evolved from one-way to two/multi-way communications. Nearly every media outlet, from the New York Times to BoingBoing.com, encourages readers to comment on stories. In fact, the comment string is sometimes better than the story that prompted it.
amandabatson Doyle -- I agree. An active array of comments certainly engages the readers and provides windows into thinking and concerns.
Michelle_Butler How can cable communicators tap into this trend and help them achieve their goals?
Doyle Cable communicators, like any industry, can — in fact should — begin by listening to what their customers are saying online. By understanding both where the customers are talking (which message board or community) and what they're saying, a solid plan can be developed to join and enhance those conversations.
amandabatson One way cable communicators can begin engaging is to actively monitor and read pertinent blogs, tweets, facebook interactions, etc. As Doyle just wrote, listening is the name of the game.
Michelle_Butler So, Doyle, that is where one should start online? Listening to what folks are saying. When do they know they should take it to the next level? What is that next level?
Doyle It's important for communicators to remember that today's small blog can be tomorrow's Internet sensation. We can no longer measure reach the way we did with traditional media.
amandabatson What is the role of the corporation in new and emerging media?
Doyle By starting by listening, it will tell you what areas of your company need to be involved. Are your customers asking about programming choices? Billling concerns? New products? Technical issues? It's important to be prepared from any area of your company that may inspire questions/conversation. By listening first, you'll have a good "heads up" on what areas need to be at the social media (socmed) table.
Eric_B. sounds intuitively obvious, but from my corporate PR perspective, it's just important to follow the key journalists and thought leaders - regardless of the medium. Like implied in Doyle's comment, every outlet must be taken seriously because blogs can easily - and quickly - lead to unwanted big stories
Doyle Right, Eric. In fact, even blogs can get big. When a story from an obscure blog catches on in some social bookmarking sites — like www.digg.com — it can go from a handful of visitors to hundreds of thousands overnight. In the days of print, that didn't happen. Now, a blog can both inspire a story in a big publication, or become a "big publication" on its own overnight.

How Important Is the Source?

amandabatson How important is source?
Doyle Amanda, that's one of the great questions of social media. When we read an article in the New York Times, we understand that it was prepared by professional journalists and editors. What about that blog? Is it a great piece of investigative reporting, or a lunatic in his basement making things up? We just don't know. As a result, the ability to easily multi-source online is important, as is a degree of critical thinking by all of us as readers.
Doyle But let's remember, Michael Jackson's death was reported first on TMZ.com. However, it was considered a "rumor" until the LA Times confirmed the story on their site.
Eric_B. ideally it could - and should - be ever-important, but as we are in a transition phase with the business of journalism, I am not so sure if the source is quite as important as it was - and IMHO should be
amandabatson The responsive, 24/7 interactive nature of social media requires almost immediate responses. This is where organizations, like Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Comcast, ESPN, TWC and others are active in digital space. Begin following on Twitter and you can learn -- even from one outlet.
Doyle Comcast learned the lesson of small blog/big headache the hard way when blogger Robb Topolsky wrote that his BitTorrents were being throttled. Then the AP got a hold of the story, and the next thing you know — FCC hearings for Comcast.
Eric_B. Doyle is spot-on with that one. Not a cliche or misnomer to say that the 24/7 news cycle is here to stay
Doyle Since then, Comcast — led in part by @comcastcares (Frank Eliason) has really engaged and is doing a great job online.

Is Social Media a Fad? Do You Have to Participate?

Michelle_Butler How do you answer the critique that social media is just a fad? Especially if it's from senior management? Conversely, can you choose to ignore it? Do you have to participate?
amandabatson Doyle -- yes -- each reader, tweeter, blogger must be a thinker as well. Just because something is written does not make it a "truth." That being said our global conversations allow us to engage and learn about people, their perspectives, interests, concerns. What a treasure for any company --
Doyle I think social media is, not a fad, but instead delivering the promise that mass media has always tempted us with. Remember when media was local? As a kid, I could call my local DJ and request a song, and he'd send it out to my girlfriend on the air. As media grew, that interaction decreased. Now, social media allows us to do that more than ever before, and judging from the 100 million people that log into Facebook EVERY DAY, I'd say we like the conversation.
Doyle While the actual properties may be "faddish" — MySpace was the 800-pound gorilla just a couple of years ago — the idea and practice of conversation media is not.
amandabatson To fully understand social media, leaders must engage or, at least, ask staff to keep them in the loop regarding digital conversations, hot topics, especially as related to the work of the company -- in our case cable, video, voice, data, apps, etc
Doyle Make that "conversational" media. Sorry!
Doyle You're right, Amanda. You don't have to write for a newspaper to read and understand one. With social media, however, participation is a critical part of the experience.
Eric_B. Going to answer the question literally. Not a fad as in it is not going away, but just like YouTube was all of the rage a couple of years ago and then settled into a role that - while prominent – is just one more outlet to view and distribute content among many, social media will settle into its place in society. There is a bit of a novelty factor in effect right now in my opinion, but “going away” or a fad? No way and communications professionals that ignore it do so at their own peril.

Social Media and Control

Michelle_Butler Another major reservation about engaging with social media is the issue of control - specifically the lack thereof. How do you address that concern?
Doyle Jack Holt, who runs social media for the U.S. Armed Forces, said to me, "control is an illusion." He's spot on. As communicators, we could never control what people said about our companies, but now they say those things in very public forums. What we CAN control is how we engage and repond to those customers.
Doyle Additionally, just because we chose NOT to participate doesn't mean the conversation about our company stops.
amandabatson Eric_B -- I agree -- the groundswell is driving social media among many other experiences. The groundswell expands based on thousands and millions of interactions. See the Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell. Such deep and broad activity cannot, will not be ignored.
Eric_B. This is important, for as Jim Maiella brought up on a recent chat, there is a “lunatic fringe” element out there that is beholden to no one and holds no protocol, decorum, or journalistic standards and will demagogue you to death if you let them. Engaging them may not necessarily produce the results that you wish and control can be lost. But, often times, folks are so grateful to have a voice and be heard that engaging them might actually give you control yet again. Tough with the cloak of anonymity to know exactly every conversation will play out.
amandabatson Control -- interesting but rapidly antiquated approach to leadership and even management. This is a hard turn for many who have built their career on control. But those who learn to listen, respond, engage find the "control" is no longer relevant
Eric_B. nicely said, Amanda
Michelle_Butler What is better: having your own social media "channels" (company blog, twitter account, etc.) or engaging with the most popular social media sites and voices out there? Or, is that a false choice? Do you have to do both?
Eric_B. we have tended to do the latter for our new, original programming
Doyle Michelle, the most important thing is to go where your customers are. Think about it this way: if you go to a cocktail party and see someone you'd like to talk to, do you yell across the room and ask them to come to you? Of course not, you walk up to them and introduce yourself. Same thing in social media. Then, after you've established a relationship, it's OK to invite people over to your house.
amandabatson I say "both." Going to the public via the public channels (Twitter, Facebook, blogosphere, etc) is crucial for broad understanding and listening. The "company" social media channels serve as value adds for fans, subs, consumers, customers. In addition, the company channels can provide that white glove customer care.
Doyle Too many companies, in my opinion, get excited about their own Web sites and properties before they even know where their advocates and critics are congregating online. Both are important, but joining the conversation is the first step.
amandabatson Yes -- I agree w Doyle.
amandabatson If companies are not in the SM pool now, they must swim rapidly (at M Phelps speeds) to catch up. Thus, I suggest that both public deep dives and internal SM development almost simultaneously will be required beginning first with a big dose of listening!
Doyle Amanda, you're right on!

How will FORUM 2009 address Social Media and Communication Trends?

Michelle_Butler There's no doubt that social media is very hot and it is a topic that cable communicators are grappling with. How will FORUM 2009, ACC's upcoming annual conference in Denver Oct. 26 - 28, address it?
amandabatson. There will be multiple experiences and sessions on SM at FORUM09!
Eric_B. well, the main point of emphasis we made in crafting the program was to give cable communicators perspective from both inside and outside of the industry
amandabatson From general SM overview to individual hands-on, there will be options for all at FORUM. There will be no "stupid" questions. Never tweeted? No problem. Learn at FORUM. Twitter not your style -- learn about setting up a Face book page
Eric_B. also, give folks the opportunity to hear big picture thoughts and analysis and also give a voice and opportunity to specific and finite questions for those that wanted them answered.
Steve_Jones We've got two hands on Web 2.0 sessions, our closing general session is completely focused on the use of new media, plus we have a session that will be all about best practices and practical examples of how networks, content providers and local cable systems use Web 2.0 tools for both communications and government relations activities.
amandabatson In addition, we have a superb session with cable folks telling their SM stories -- nuts and bolts on Wed morning: Cable and Social Media -- Learn from our colleagues: Michael Turk, Vice President, Industry Grassroots, NCTA Speakers: Tom Boland, Director of Interactive Marketing, WWE Greg Ensell, Government Relations Manager, Cox Communications Jennifer Kranz, Vice President, Advertising and Branding, WE tv and Wedding Central Jeff Simmermon, Director of Digital Communications, Time Warner Cable
Doyle I'm looking forward to participating at FORUM to both host a strategic session on communication strategies in social media, as well as have one of my colleagues host a very hands-on, tactical session the next day to help people learn the "rules of the tools" the next day.
Eric_B. Rob Katz, Vail Resorts' CEO, should give a fresh, Colorado perspective from a company that is - in the broadest sense - likewise in the leisure entertainment category. He is very hands on and adept when it comes to integrating new and social media into the consumer, non-real estate business of Vail
amandabatson Be sure to attend the Closing General Session for hands-on SM tips from these expert perspectives: Our panel is dynamic and diverse. We will look at new and emerging digital tools from the perspective of an international experience marketing agency George P. Johnson Experience Marketing http://www.gpj.com. Kenny Lauer, Ex Dir, Digital Experience will join us in Denver. Bill Tolany, Global Coordinator, Integrated Media, Whole Foods Market, Inc. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com. Check out "Talk to Us" on their home page -- that's Bill. Ari Newman, Founder & President, Filtrbox. http://www.filtrbox.com/about.html. Ari and Filtrbox help companies keep their eyes & ears open in social media spaces. Listening & diving into digital discussions are valuable tools. Dave Taylor, Social Media Consultant and Principal, Intuitive Systems, http://www.intuitive.com/bio.shtml His deep expertise and experiences with the Internet began in 1980. See his business blog http://www.intuitive.com/blog/ for his keen insights.

Why Should You Attend FORUM 2009?

Michelle_Butler I know it's a tough year out there. How would you respond to the cable communicators who are still unsure about attending FORUM? Why should they go?
amandabatson Why attend FORUM09? Even in tough time -- in fact, especially in tough times -- it is imperative to stay in touch with industry colleagues, keep your knowledge and skills up to speed, and particularly learn ways to keep your company moving ahead.
amandabatson Hi Pam! Glad you're here!
Steve_Jones FORUM 2009 has sessions that really touch on all aspects of communications. We've got sessions on Web 2.0 and the latest tools and techniques for integrating these into your communications. We've got a session covering the FCC and Federal issues including two FCC staff members, Kyle McSlarrow, CEO, NCTA will update everyone on his outlook for public policy issues on Capitol Hill and on Pennsylvania Avenue, and of course our CEO round table with 4 industry CEOs!
Eric_B. There is no better "forum" (pardon the pun) for advancing one's everyday skill sets and ability for critical thinking in the space than at this event. Networking with colleagues and peers is key - it's enjoyable and has helped me down the road in everyday PR life immeasurably. As someone who does not live in NY, such opportunities are far more limited and I do not take them for granted. Also, I find that at Forum I can multitask and not only take in the wisdom from the sessions, but helps me with new idea generation and brainstorming as well.

Draft Memo to Your Boss Arguing why You Should Attend FORUM

Steve_Jones And to make the case to attend to your boss, you may want to use the following to draft a memo to her/him:
Steve_Jones I would like to attend ACC’s FORUM 2009 Annual Meeting, October 26-28 in Denver (a very affordable city with low airfares also!) the premier event for cable industry communicators and public affairs executives. The conference will enable me to attend a number of education sessions that are directly applicable to my work and will allow me to network with a variety of industry experts and colleagues from around the country. Most if not all of the presentations are tailored to the cable industry or communications professional and will give me information on how to stay current and ahead of the curve in cable communications. I am seeking funding for the registration fee, travel expenses to the conference, and living expenses during the conference. A detailed cost breakdown is included below. After reviewing the conference materials at http://www.cablecommunicators.org/forum.php, I have identified a number of sessions and panels which will allow me to gain knowledge and understanding about how we can be more effective with our communication’s practices. The presentations are facilitated by both industry experts and outside experts who have faced similar challenges. I chose each of these presentations because it is directly related to an issue we are currently dealing with or may in the future. Getting the information in a seminar format will greatly reduce the research time and costs that we would normally incur in researching the topics. Incidentally, I have only listed some of the seminars that I will attend. < Insert the session descriptions which most apply to your responsibilities.> < You will need to insert your travel cost numbers in here > Here is the breakdown of conference costs: Roundtrip Airfare: <$xxxx> Transportation: <$xxxx> Hotel: <$xxxx> Meals: <$xxxx> Conference Fee: <$xxxx> The total costs associated with attending this conference are: <$xxxx>. The opportunity for me to develop better contacts and gain knowledge in specific areas of cable communications and public affairs makes my attendance at FORUM 2009 a wise investment, which will yield rich dividends for our company. Sincerely, XXXX
amandabatson Yes -- the panels and keynote speakers will bring the latest from DC both in the legislative and regulatory arenas. Times are changing and cable communicators need to be up to date.

FORUM and Cable Connection-Fall

Michelle_Butler I know that FORUM is part of Cable Connection - Fall. What is Cable Connection – Fall? How will FORUM interact with CTAM’s Summit and NAMIC’s conference? Will events overlap?
amandabatson The fall week focused on cable in Denver promises expanded learning and networking options.
Steve_Jones FORUM and The Summit (CTAM) will have two joint sessions in Denver. The Tuesday general session for FORUM is a joint session with CTAM and we have a session later that morning that will address communications and marketing professionals working together that is also a joint session. All FORUM or The Summit delegates may attend both with their registration.
amandabatson Pam -- why do you think it's important to go to Denver?
Steve_Jones The NAMIC conference unfortunately falls over the exact days and times as FORUM 2009. However it you do register for both, you can receive a discount of up to $150 off your total registration cost.
Steve_Jones And of course following a great day of sessions on Wednesday, the Kaitz Foundation dinner will follow. No additional travel to attend all of these great events in Denver!
amandabatson And Denver -- what a destination! especially in fall!
Steve_Jones To register for any of the Cable Connections events, including FORUM 2009, go to https://www.cteusa.com/cableconnectionfall/?ocode=ACC

What to Do and Where to Eat in Denver, Colorado

Michelle_Butler As Steve mentioned earlier, this is the first time FORUM will not be in DC for several years. Many folks are excited about it being in Denver. Do you have any suggestions of what they should see when they're there? Places they should eat?
Eric_B. All but one of my restaurant recommendations are in Downtown. Denver is a very walkable city and the weather - while unpredictable - is very temperate with lots of sunshine, so should allow for easy access to many fine restaurants, bars, etc. First the nicer restaurants that I have eaten at and recommend (in no particular order)
Jax - upscale seafood (not an abundance of great seafood in Denver with atmosphere - this is one of them)
Vesta Dipping Grill - upscale fondue
Rioja - upscale Mexican
Bistro Vendomme - French (and delicious)
Restaurant Kevin Taylor - modern American;
high on atmosphere Tamayo - upscale Mexican
Brown Palace Hotel - wonderful hotel and wonderful restaurant. - old and elegant;
Denver institution steakhouses: Denver is a big steak town - Morton's/Capital Grill/The Palm/Denver Chop House (a bit more casual than the others)
Other highly rated - though cannot personally vouch for are: Zengo Lola Panzano
Finally, if you don't mind a 10-minute cab ride, my personal favorite restaurant in Denver is nestled into the upscale Washington Park neighborhood. It's Southern Italian/family style (which is not everyone's cup of tea), but the food is just absolutely magnificent - Carmine's On Penn. As good as any Southern Italian food establishment you will find anywhere.
Steve_Jones And don't forget airline discounts, Airline Partner Code United Airlines*t 510CK (15% Savings) 800-521-4041 American Airlines** A15H9AG (5% Savings) 800-433-1790 Continental Airlines* ZFTEDFKSF-6 (15% Savings) 800-654-2240
Doyle ... and for the best breakfast in Denver, head to Snooze at 23rd & Larimer!
Michelle_Butler Thank you Amanda, Doyle, Eric and Steve for sharing your takes on social media and FORUM 2009! I look forward to seeing you all in Denver later this month.
Michelle_Butler Thank you for participating in ACC’s latest online chat! ACC offers an e-learning opportunity every month. The next event is: Nov. 2009 – Cable’s Corporate Social Responsibility: The Business Rewards of Making a Difference – an ACC Webinar Check http://www.cablecommunicators.org/resources_oee.php for more details. Please feel free to contact me at mbutler@cablecommunicators.org or 202-222-2372 if you have any suggestions for future topics, feedback on this chat, questions, etc.
amandabatson See everyone in Denver -- soon!
Doyle Thanks, everyone!
Steve_Jones Thanks for joining us!!
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