The Accidental Time Machine

Last Fall Joe Haldeman read selections from his then yet unpublished novel, “The Accidental Time Machine” at an MIT Communications Forum panel. I kept looking for it at our local bookstore and finally saw it yesterday. Check it out if you have the interest or the chance.

Updated – 9/5

So I finished reading “Into the Land of Bones” (on Alexander the Great in Afganistan) on Saturday and began reading “The Accidental Time Machine.” I finished it on Sunday and thought it was great fun. A fast read, perhaps, but one that held my attention and interest from start to finish. Having heard Haldeman read and discuss the book made reading it that much more fun.

[tags]Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine, books[/tags]

Do your part to stamp out hubris

I’m working on some new business at work these days and part of that has meant reading a bunch of blogs that wouldn’t have read otherwise. One of them was The Dozen Blog by Julie Fleischer at Egg Strategy.

She wrote a post on BP and the obvious disconnect between their marketing message “Beyond Petroleum” and their behavior:


So what does BP do? They advertise Beyond Petroleum at the same time as the petition for – and receive – permission to dump 54% more ammonia and 35% more suspended solids into Lake Michigan…the lake, by the way, that my children swim in!!!!

Another example that has bothered me for a while is True.com. I’ve worked with a couple of online dating companies so paid attention to this market more than I would otherwise. True has consistently gone out with one set of messages seeming aimed at women – around safe dating, background checks, lobbying for legislation to require background checks – while at the same time running provocative ads on Web sites likely to be visited by men.

Do companies think everyone is blind or stupid or that we just don’t care? The degree of hubris out there is way too high and more and more of us have the opportunity to point out the disconnect between words and deed – and the attitude that it doesn’t matter – that these examples represent.

[tags]hubris, social media, BP, Egg Strategy, True.com[/tags]

Back from a well-deserved vacation

I spent the last week on vacation with my family. For the past four years we’ve gone to a camp up in New Hampshire. For most of the summer it’s a YMCA camp for kids; but at the end of August it’s open for families. The accommodations are rustic (no electricity, running water, glass, locks, etc.) but it’s right on Lake Winnipesaukee. Many of the families there have been coming for years and it’s a really relaxing break.

One thing that I notices this year was that LOTS of people wanted to talk about social media. They may not have called it that, but over several dinners, around campfires, sitting in cabins the topic of blogs or Flickr or podcasts kept coming up. I assume that everyone is as into/excited about this stuff as me but I usually have to remind myself that I work in PR and that social media is something that not everyone is paying attention to. This past week made me realize that maybe more people are.

It was great to see the interest and excitement (if not a good understanding) of this in such an unlikely setting.

vacation, social media, blogging

Content vs. Conversation

I haven’t posted in here in a while because I’ve been busy working on some really interesting projects. The main one has been to use social media to build grassroots awareness for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. There hasn’t been anything super flashy (not yet at least) but just open, direct engagement with established communities – Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, etc. The response has been great – after less than a week we have one of the largest September 11 groups on Flickr.

One of the things that has been especially interesting to me as I’ve worked on this is the difference in thinking needed for social media vs traditional media. In social media we’re always talking about conversation and engagement. We let ideas out into communities and allow them to develop and expand as they will. So far on this project that’s worked well.

There’s one community that we want to be involved with that is more controlled and is looking for more detailed information before becoming engaged. Someone mentioned that we’d have to provide the content for the site. What we need to provide isn’t the content. What we need to provide is the information to get the conversation started and then let the conversation itself become the content. This can be a hard shift in thinking.

[tags]social media, public relations, content vs conversation[/tags]