Media Relations 2008

I’m heading back to San Francisco tomorrow, for the second time this year. I’ll be attending Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations 2008 conference. Here’s the schedule, which looks really interesting. I’m part of a panel on Tuesday called “Getting Personal:Telling your Story in Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn and More.”

Seems kind of weird to have two colons in a program title. Is that even allowable in English?

I hope to be liveblogging many of the sessions, wireless access permitting. I’m particularly looking forward to:

  • Keynotes by Robert Scoble, Charlie Rose and Duncan Wardle (from Disney theme parks)
  • Katie Paine’s session on measuring online media impact
  • Other technology, new media, social media sessions
  • Mike Moran from IBM’s address called “Doing it wrong quickly: What corporations need from PR in Today’s Transforming Marketplace” also looks provocative.

I’ll be sharing highlights here.

Rebranding This Blog

When I started this blog, I labeled it Lines from Lee. That was all about alliteration. In beginning to blog, I was looking to learn about neat, new tools of the trade.

I also had read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and found it immensely helpful, and thought the personal productivity theme would provide some good material. And it did. I’ve done a bunch of GTD posts. I may still write one more “off topic” post about the GTD Outlook plug-in. It’s really helpful.

And given my work in media relations, I had Public Relations as one of my major blog topics, too. I expect I will continue to do some posts related to PR and news media, even with the change I’m making.

As I’ve “found my voice” a la Hillary Clinton, the social media topic seems to be what makes my vocal chords vibrate. When I attend and speak at conferences and workshops, it’s the practical “how-tos” that seem to be most helpful to people I meet (many of whom work in PR or marketing.) I’ve wanted to find a way to provide an orderly, systematic introduction to social media, so I can tell anyone I meet where to go to find a step-by-step means of learning about these tools and how to practically use them.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the idea for a special blog section that would take a university theme to provide this structured learning. Late last week, I launched the SMUG section. But as I considered it further, I decided this shouldn’t just be a section; it should be the whole blog.

But as a brand that tells readers what to expect, Lines from Lee is lame (one more alliteration for old times’ sake.)

So from this moment, the diffuse blog title:

PR, New Media and GTD – Lines from Lee

Thoughts on New Media, News Media and Productivity

has become

Social Media University, Global

Hands-on social media training and practical applications for lifelong learners

We still need a good logo, though. I’m eager to have someone with artistic abilities develop a visual representation for this virtual university.

And I say “We” because the other major benefit of this no longer being “Lines from Lee” is it opens us to adding SMUG faculty members, visiting professors and guest lecturers. I can play my role as Chancellor (I love making up these official-sounding titles!), but hopefully can draw some other contributors, too.

I’ll still have occasional posts of a personal nature (although my Facebook page will be the better spot for most of those), and I hope to liveblog the conferences I attend, so some of those post might not exactly fit the SMUG sweet spot. I’ll continue the sporadic book reviews and social media news analysis, too. But for the most part, “Hands-on social media training and practical applications” is what you can expect here.

Social Media University, Global

In December, I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop at the Association Forum of Chicagoland, as part of that organization’s Knowledge Lab. I called the course Facebook 101. There were lots of great questions and comments, far beyond what we could get to in that brief session. For several of the questions, I joked that they would be covered in the Facebook 201 course.

I’ve also found that some of my most popular posts have been those that offer practical advice on how to get started in social media. My 12-Step Program for PR Pros has even been edited and repackaged for Association Executives and veterinarians. I reflected on this as I traveled to Phoenix for the Frost & Sullivan conference, after having said I was planning a series of how-to, step-by-step posts about using Facebook for qualitative research, I changed my mind. It seemed it was time to develop a more structured approach to these tutorials. If a 12-step introduction to the social media field has been helpful to many, perhaps a thorough, detailed exploration of particular subjects would be even better.

So to have a little fun with this I’ve decided — in keeping with my family’s homeschooling experience and the disruptive nature of Facebook, blogs and social media —  to establish a new online institution of higher education. I’m calling it:

Social Media University, Global

(or SMUG, for short.)

In some future posts we’ll cover:

  • Why SMUG? How is it different?
  • Administration
  • Applying for Admission
  • Advanced Placement
  • Accreditation
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Tuition and Financial Aid
  • Attendance Policies
  • Auditing Classes
  • Majors and Minors
  • Graduation

I’ll be mixing those posts about SMUG’s structure with some actual coursework. And the very next post will be Facebook 101: Introduction to Facebook.

Frost & Sullivan User-Generated Content

Douglas White of MindComet invited me to be part of the un-panel for this session that he’s moderating. I’m with Kevin Hoffberg, Rick Short and Chris Curtin from Disney, VP of Global New Media.

This was a highly participative session, which is only appropriate given the topic. Having a session on UGC without having substantial discussion would be odd.

The project from Mayo Clinic that I highlighted is Care Pages, a service we provide to our patients to enable them to provide updates to family and friends.

When Kevin was writing a book about customer experience, and ran into Yours is a Very Bad Hotel he started to see the potential. And because the most powerful customer experience can be fixing a bad experience, tapping into complaints and fixing them can be a great win for your company.

Chris and Disney are mostly reacting to UGC vs. creating it. It’s really happening without their involvement. People already go to Disney theme parks and upload pictures to Flickr, Facebook or MySpace. He mentioned how Procter & Gamble has a contest open to engineers throughout the world to help design or improve P & G products. Disney is planning to find ways

Disney has a Moms panel/forum that lets expert Moms answer questions in real time on their web site.

Earthlink had to pull back from hosting UGC because they found out there aren’t a lot of enthusiastic users about internet connections. The only people commenting were those who had a gripe, because Internet connection is viewed as a utility. It’s only news when it doesn’t work.

That caused Rick to bring up the video showing the Comcast service guy sleeping on his couch because he was on hold so long.


Rick’s team at Indium has a Public Discourse policy as opposed to a blogging policy. They started by having service techs who help customers by phone every day go on the Internet and type their communications instead. It was a no-brainer.

For me, the “aha” moment was when we saw that we already had more than 1,000 Mayo Clinic employees and students in Facebook.

Kevin says the data for involvement in social media are overwhelming, but for most people an anecdotal story makes the difference.

The Economist has a story this week on the music industry. A record company had a focus group with kids, offered a “take as many as you want” pile of CDs, and nobody took any! Talk about an AHA moment!

About half of the participants in our session have Facebook profiles. More are on LinkedIn. Fewer are on MySpace. I said for people in PR, or Sales or Marketing, it should be a basic level of knowledge.

Here’s the group I created for the Frost & Sullivan conference, where today’s conversation can continue. I hope lots of the participants from today will join.

Kevin mentioned Flock as a way to incorporate all of your social networking presence.

Action point: Join Facebook now and friend me.

365 Days of Memories

Just as companies may choose to use a fiscal year that doesn’t coincide with the calendar year, I’ve decided that my annual Aase family year-in-review should go from December 30, 2006 to December 29, 2007. When I did my first on-line Christmas letter last year (around Thanksgiving), we were only looking forward to one of our family’s major milestones. It seems only fitting that this special day should be the starting point for any review of the last 365 days, and that I should be writing about it on the one-year anniversary of the event.

Walking Rachel down the aisle
A year ago today I walked my eldest daughter Rachel down the aisle for her marriage to Kyle Borg. If you’re in Facebook, you can go here to see the highlights. My brother, Mark, took a lot of candid photos and did a great job. We’ve thought about starting a little weekend business doing wedding photography and video, and that may get going in 2008. But for now, we’ve both been really busy with our regular jobs. So I videotaped four weddings in the last year (including Rachel’s and, as a bookend to the year, Mark’s daughter Allyson’s yesterday) to help friends and family and to get some experience. I set up a Facebook group to display some of our work, and then also a Facebook fan page when that became an option in November. Perhaps in 2008 we can make some time to update our Facebook presence by getting more video and photos added. I do think Facebook would be a good way to market a business like this.

In May, we had the unique event of having both my 20-year old son, Jake, and my brother Mark graduating from college on the same day. Here’s a post about that special day and Mark’s commencement speech; Rachel followed Jake in graduating from UW-La Crosse earlier this month. Jake worked at Camp Shamineau this summer, co-leading the high school counselor program. Now he’s working in La Crosse as Rachel and Kyle spend their last year there before Kyle graduates and they move to California for him to attend seminary. We’re glad Rachel and Jake are so close and that Jake and Kyle are good friends, too.

In early July we had a fun family trip to Kansas City for the National Bible Bowl Tournament, where our youngest daughter Ruthie did extremely well as an individual and led the team that included her siblings Joe and Rebekah to a 10th-place finish. Ruthie and Rebekah are both high school juniors this year, taking all or most of their classes at Riverland Community College through Minnesota’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options programs, which enables them to take college classes for high school credit. This is the plan that enabled their older siblings to graduate from college before age 21.
Bekah made honorable mention all-conference in volleyball as Austin’s middle hitter, and is starting on the Packer girls’ basketball team that’s off to a 6-2 start. As I discussed here, we’re using a Facebook group as a way for team members, parents and fans to share photos and video highlights, and to link to newspaper coverage. She’s almost 6’1″ and is barely (for now) taller than her 13-year old brother, Joe. That won’t be true next year.

We (mostly Lisa) continue to homeschool Joe and John (9). Lisa’s good homeschooling work has been validated by her early college graduates and how well Ruthie and Bekah have done on their ACT and PSAT standardized tests. While in my work I tend to get more immediate feedback on successful projects, Lisa’s is more of the long-term variety. I think she has good reason to take immense satisfaction in what has resulted from how she has given of herself for our children.
John has zero interest in sports, but is a sharp student and more of an artistic/creative guy. Joe plays in orchestra at the middle school and also is involved in football and basketball. It’s really special that he plays on both teams with his cousin Tom, Mark’s son, and that my parents get to attend all of their games (and Bekah’s.)

I often say we have a Norman Rockwell kind of life, with three sons and three daughters being raised in my hometown, near both sets of grandparents. Lisa and I are so grateful for all of these blessings, and for my job with Mayo Clinic that has made it possible for us to live in Austin.

Speaking of my work, 2007 started with separation of another set of conjoined twins from North Dakota. When they went home in February, it capped a one-year period in which three sets of conjoined twins were successfully separated at Mayo Clinic. Our team coordinated the media involvement for the families and medical teams.

New Media, also called social media, are becoming a more important part of my job. We launched a series of Mayo Clinic podcasts in July. This blog and my Facebook exploration have been keys to my social media learning process. It’s interesting to me that a year ago my familiarity with Facebook was indirect; four of my kids were in Facebook, but I wasn’t. Now Lisa and I both have Facebook profiles, and we’re “friends” with Rachel, Jake, Bekah, Ruthie and Joe. I’ve also enjoyed meeting people with common interests through this blog and through Facebook, and at several conferences throughout the year.

So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I hope this personal digression won’t make you irregular. 😉 For you, I’ll be following up with a post about how blogs and social media can do a better job than the traditional Christmas card/letter at personal updates to extended family and friends…or how they can make an annual update unnecessary.

And if you’re a family member or friend who got this link from me as part of our annual Christmas letter, I hope you’ll join Facebook and “friend me” so we can stay connected throughout the year.