It Is Not A Flippin’ Bandwagon

There is an anecdote making the rounds about a focus group where the moderator turned to an early 20-something and asked, “How often and when are you online?”

In response, the attendee gave him a confused look, pulled out her smart phone, “What do you mean? It is ALWAYS on.”

This is where we live now – and will live every day moving forward. A world changed by connectivity and access; to each other, to brands, to corporations, to issues, to elected leadership.

Articles like this one just published in the Idaho Business Review do a huge disservice to how we as a global culture are interacting, communicating and evolving. (Advertising, PR firms help clients make best use of social media - sorry it is behind a paywall.)

The piece starts off with, “As the social media landscape continues to grow, Idaho business owners may wonder whether they need to jump on the bandwagon. ”

It is not a flippin’ bandwagon.

To call it such minimizes the broader context of what is at stake.

Tools, platforms and technology emerge, grow, gain traction, evolve into something else or die. That is the product lifecycle that has existed since we became an industrialized world.

In the article, several peers in the communication space here in Idaho make the argument that social media doesn’t fit into every public relations strategy.

If you only think of it as a tool, you’re right.

If you truly understand the full context of how communication has changed globally, that is shortsighted and dangerous.

Every organization and individual needs a healthy respect and awareness of where your brand and issues are being built, looked into and attacked – and that is online and interactive. Just as any good business leader develops a business plan that evolves on a quarterly and annual basis and integrates multiple facets of revenue drivers and market opportunities, so should any progressive communicator develop a plan that integrates all aspects of where conversations are occurring. Every client and situation is unique. But all deserve the respect of knowing how the current communication dynamic incorporates so much more than it did 20, 10, or even 2 years ago.

Social media is no longer new or different or separate. It lives right there with you in everything you do. And it is on, 24/7

Now, does that mean every company needs a Twitter feed, an iPhone app or a Facebook contest? Of course not. To suggest that that is the only way organizations engage in our new normal is a bit, dare I say, old school.

Being engaged online means being aware and responsive to conversations occurring about your industry, your brand, your competitors, your trends. It is the ultimate corporate intelligence tool, SWOT analysis source and focus group resource. It provides insights and awareness you would never have otherwise.

Most importantly, if you aren’t aware of the vulnerabilities you fall victim to them.

Your reputation is not just shaped in the newspaper today – it’s being shaped instantly by (often) millions of people who were never exposed to your company even two years ago.  It’s about conversations, so companies and individuals need to decide how they are going to tell their story as part of the conversation and be aware of where those conversations are occurring.

Thinking that you have privacy these days is naive.

We are no longer gatekeepers. Acknowledging that is the first step.

But it is not just outward-facing, it has also changed the way internal/employee communication and recruiting is handled. Social media has become one of the biggest tools in the HR world.  If you are applying for a job, you WILL be researched online.  And, in most cases – if you don’t have a presence in some way, you probably aren’t going to be competitive in the job market or even in the business development game if you are an entrepreneur.   There is rarely a potential client that walks through our doors that does has not done an assessment on where we as a firm exist in the digital world – not just professionally, but personally.

Being a true business counselor to clients requires that we as communication professionals remain alert, at the forefront and progressive in our approach to the evolving landscape. It is our duty to be the devil’s advocate, to challenge assumptions and the status quo ways of doing things.

At the end of the day it is not about choosing this or that, old or new, it is about assessing all of what is at our disposal for the best integrated proactive approach.

- Jess Flynn

(A good friend and great brain, Tac Anderson, is writing about where he believes we are now – the Post Social Age. Take a gander at his blog )




Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover

I grew up as a tomboy, a wanna-be jock, a hyper-competitive point-me-at-the-goal-and-I’ll-run-over-anyone-to-get-there kind of gal. Needless to say, that competitive fire has followed me through my adult life and been the spark that helped me co-found a company and embrace the entrepreneurial moniker. But, I’ve also checked off the boxes on some other milestones.

  • Freshman 15 (& adult 20+)? Check
  • Aching joints as I entered my 30′s? Check
  • Speed demon rep slowing down a bit on the soccer pitch? Double check
  • Increasing pants sizes and a bit of mid-section softness? Check :-(

Vanity drove me to suck it in, down Advil to compensate for muscle and joint strain & pain, avoid doctor appointments for the usual pains of getting older, and like many of my generational peers – try out various diets from time to time. Problem always was… I. LOVE. FOOD. I mean, I really love it. Heck, I’m a food blogger in my other life who espouses the wonderful attributes of bacon, charcuterie, cheese and pasta. Cutting back and being disciplined about what makes me happy? No way.

Through it all, whenever I talked about getting in better shape – for vanity or other reasons – supportive friends, colleagues and peers always said ‘But you look great!’ or ‘You are so young and look even younger.’

A wake-up call this week drove home the point that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

As I blogged about earlier - Red Sky is a proud partner in this year’s Go Red For Women event on November 3 in Boise. We are helping to spread the word about the free BetterU program designed to makeover your heart and educate participants on heart healthy lifestyle.

I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach, modeling behavior and never asking others to do things you wouldn’t. So when the program recommended getting a checkup from your doc to set baselines on your key numbers I sucked it up and scheduled an appointment I’d been avoiding.

I’ve been having chest pain for several months. Dull, aching pain on the upper left side of my chest. It was easy to dismiss and ignore. I’m 35 and look alright for my age, what could be the matter? Yes, I’m stressed every day but who isn’t? Work by it’s nature is stressful and I’ve always thrived in that environment. But like I said in my last, now prophetic, post  - It always starts out like a normal day until… it’s not. There is always something more important that focusing on yourself…until you’re faced with no other option.

I’m a 35 year old woman and as of two days ago I’ve been placed on high-blood pressure medication and ordered to make significant changes to my lifestyle. Two hours of poking and prodding, chest x-rays, EKG and a blood panel indicate the chest pain wasn’t something to dismiss. Apparently something – lifestyle, stress, diet, exercise, etc. is causing blood pressure to be significantly above normal and my heart is showing the strain (and showing signs of something delightful called Left Ventricular Hypertrophy)

As I jokingly said to my doc when she checked my blood pressure… “So… you’re saying that scoring 100 isn’t a good thing in this case?”

Um yeah, it’s not. I love to wear the color red & have a burnt orange alma mater, but landing in the dark orange/red category on the AHA blood pressure chart isn’t an accomplishment I wanted to claim.

I’m embarrassed. I’m scared, ashamed and mortified that I’m finding myself in this position.

But I’m also pissed off. That my ‘edge’ of being able to juggle stress and responsibility might have caused this. That my lifestyle of laissez faire could be contributing. That I’m having to make changes from what is comfortable. That I’m facing this right now in the so-called prime of my life. And – I’m definitely pissed at myself.

Heck – I own Bacon chapstick and socks and am was trying to make it at home. And I bought a book about salt’s impact on global development. Now I’m having to follow some different rules of life

  • No caffeine (are you kidding me!)
  • Significantly reduce sodium intake (bye bye bacon obsession & cheese for a bit)
  • Reduce stress (um, what? How am I going to do that!?)
  • 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily (so my 90 minutes of soccer exertion once a week doesn’t count?)
  • Take BP meds and take my BP daily (I now own a BP cuff, I feel like my grandfather)

But in the midst of my complaining and whining I’m extremely thankful for a number of things:

  • That through serendipity or dumb luck, being part of Go Red had this issue at the forefront of my mind and I acted on it.
  • That I’ve got the opportunity to make changes
  • That I have supportive friends, colleagues and family members who are supporting me in making the changes I need (It’s always good to have that friendly voice asking you if you need an exercise buddy to nudge you towards what you need to do.)
  • And that I can (try!) to put my shame and ego aside to share what I’m going through to try and help one more person to listen to their body and make changes to get heart-healthy.