Multi Me-dia

There are rules I follow. And, there are rules I break. Sometimes, it’s the very same rules!

For instance, I constantly encourage my partners and clients to narrow their focus and message down to one key differentiator. As a branding guy, I absolutely believe that’s crucial in business.

So you’d be forgiven for scratching your head and asking, “What’s with your multiple personas on-line? Three very different blogs, 4 1/2 Twitter accounts…what’s up with that?” It’s a great question, and one I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time.

Let me explain. No, there is too much…let me sum up (if you understand that movie reference, please indicate so in the comments!)

I have multiple areas of deep professional and personal interest. And they’re all me – all of them make up Brand Woodruff.

Just as I have multiple (5) sons, and seek to nurture and grow them all, so I have multiple areas of knowledge and business and creativity that I try to cultivate. They’re all part of who I am as a human professional (not merely a corporate brand). Common to all of them is network-building. Connecting people. Sharing.

How’s it working? Well, as with so much in social networking, it’s a life-experiment. Lots of on-the-fly adjusting and evolving. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for most people/businesses, but there are specific reasons why I’m doing it this way that I’ll share in the coming week. And I welcome your thoughts and comments about how it seems to work from your perspective.

If you’re on Twitter, here’s the executive summary: interacting together with me occurs primarily on the @swoodruff account. The other accounts (@Impactiviti; @ConnectionAgent; @StevesFree; and @LeadershipChat [shared with Lisa Petrilli] are primarily information-sharing streams right now). I’ll explain more next week what those different personas represent. And, so will I! Me, too!


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Who “Owns” Social Media? Answered!

The debate has been raging across the social sphere – when it comes to business, who should “own” social media? Should it be PR? Marketing? Corporate Communications? HR?

Well, meeting an end-of-October deadline for a decision, the Social Networking Ownership & Responsibility Treaty (SNORT) has just been ratified. At a secret meeting convened by the Global Union of Relative Unknowns (GURU), an A-list conclave of social media mavens and all-stars has come to a final decision, announced at midnight last night on Twitter.

Social media, from now on, will be the responsibility of the Maintenance Dept.

Anticipating an upwelling of surprise at this announcement, the cabal of rockstar bloggers and tweeters outlined the rationale for this decision, in five main points:


  1. The other departments are used to just throwing stuff out there and leaving the aftermath to others. Maintenance, on the other hand, is used to cleaning up the mess, and who better to deal with all the detritus that will result from ill-conceived and poorly-executed social media programs?
  2. Maintenance is already “on” 24/7. Instead of paying high-priced employees or agencies to respond to social platforms at all hours, janitors and groundskeepers can easily be trained to field comments and tweet on behalf of the company at little or no extra expense.
  3. Social media is all about tools. Maintenance works with tools.
  4. The only turf wars Maintenance cares about is defeating grubs and crabgrass. That means greater corporate peace, more productivity, a healthier corporate climate, and ultimately, a flourishing of social media happiness and harmony.
  5. Maintenance really doesn’t worry much about ROI. So that’s a natural fit.

It isn’t yet clear what all the ramifications of this move will be, but it is widely expected that most bloggers will now end up with their computers in the basement, which actually should not present any real change management issues.

While all of the members of the GURU committee had expected to remain anonymous, Wikileaks managed to obtain a 90,000-tweetchat transcript of the secret deliberations and decision (#GURUSNORT), which also indicated that there were plans afoot to certify social media practitioners through a SXSW-style popularity contest, and to stratify them according to a new measure of credibility, the “Wiley.” Wikileaks did redact out all the names of the participants, explaining in a statement that, “we didn’t feel it necessary to publicize any particular individual’s participation, because if we mentioned Mitch Joel, we’d have to talk about Joseph Jaffe and Jim Long, and then DJ Waldow would get jealous and want to make sure we also included Amber Naslund and Lisa Petrilli – so we just left all the names out. Even Liz Strauss.”

Meanwhile, the city of Austin is urging SXSW to add a new “Maintenance” track to the annual geek spring break festival,with such topics suggested as “Trash-talking Ain’t the Same as Joining the Conversation,” and “Unclogging your Micro-blogging.” The track should be held after all the other guests have left, so that the downtown area can be restored to end-to-end cleanliness by leveraging an iPhone-toting cleanup crew.


Latest post by the Connection Agent: Multi Me-dia

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See prior spoofs :>}

Social Media Strategy in 30 Minutes

A challenge has been issued by my SOBCon friends (Terry Starbucker and Liz Strauss) – come up with a proposed social media strategy for a company that currently has no footprint in the social space (here are the details of the challenge/contest).

The firm is Colorado-based Carlsen Resources, a media/telecom executive recruiting outfit.

Typically I’d want to spend an in-depth day with the client going over brand and differentiation and message and all that good stuff, but here’s my set of suggestions based on a half-hour of musings:

1. Produce and launch the Carlsen 2-minute Drill, a weekly video series (YouTube) hosted by Ann Carlsen, and eventually others, giving helpful tips to both firms and individuals involved in the job search process. It’s so simple and inexpensive nowadays to produce reasonable-quality video for the web, and that high-impact medium will play an increasingly prominent role in all of our social communications. Eventually this “channel” can include client interviews, etc.

2. Establish a Twitter account, mainly to link up with key business people and social influencers. Provide insight through it about the search process. Give out helpful links about resume preparation, aptitude assessments, etc. Also use it to promote the videos. Make it a 2-year goal to become the go-to name for executive recruiting among the socially-connected set.

3. Take far better advantage of LinkedIn. Ann Carlsen has only one recommendation on her profile – but there are loads of recommendations for the company on the website. That imbalance needs to be rectified. LinkedIn status updates can be used quite effectively to distribute links to the videos, and can also be tied to Twitter updates. Since LinkedIn is the premier professional platform for job seekers, tying all social efforts closely to it is a no-brainer. Also, the other Carlsen employees should have much deeper sets of contacts, and recommendations, on LinkedIn – those profiles are very uneven in depth.

4. Create (and promote) a Netvibes portal for job seekers, and one for employers. Stuff them with top links/destinations for anyone seeking to gather resources for the search process. This is a build-once, benefit-forever endeavor requiring little time. Since this portal will be fed by RSS feeds (blogs and news sources), it also provides a rich resource for surfacing “stuff” to tweet on Twitter daily.

Of course, all of this has to tie into the overall company culture and method, which means that, at minimum, the company website will need some renewed attention. Right now, it’s too much text and recruiter-speak. Probably the best course is to play off of the line, “The Best People in the Business” by spotlighting (in a more personal way) more about each employee, and also how selective the company is to only recruit and work with the best. Right now, much of the text on the website could easily be one-for-one swapped into some other recruiter’s site, which means that the distinguishing message isn’t at the forefront and being driven through.

It would take a bit more analysis to fine-tune the recommendations and come up with some uniquely creative angles, but this is a start for the basic blocking-and-tackling level. The most important two bits of advice to add:

1. Be in it for the long-haul.

2. Be ready to evolve.


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Leadership, and the NPR Firing Fiasco

Juan Williams had one of those “transparent moments.” He said something that sounded politically-incorrect (when extracted from its context). He wandered off-script from the acceptable speech codes of his politically-partisan bosses. He was diagnosed as a bigot and summarily fired by those paragons of tolerance and free speech, National Public Radio.

In some countries, leadership and censorship have always been affiliated. But here…?

Society’s grievance groups will always call for the scalp of anyone that speaks uncomfortable truth in plain terms, because they make no distinction between honest humanity and evil bigotry. But radical Muslim clerics didn’t even have a chance to issue a fatwa on Williams before the imams at NPR tossed the apostate under the bus. After all, he’d committed a capital offense – being himself. Showing some transparency that didn’t conform to the NPR template.

And isn’t that what effective leadership is all about? Keeping the troops in line and punishing those who violate the canons of controlled speech?

On the Twitter #LeadershipChat tonight, we’ll be discussing how leadership operates in this dawning era of increasingly-public transparency. There are new challenges in the area of corporate leadership, brought on by the transparency encouraged (and sometimes, the exposure forced) by our always-on, unfiltered media networks – including our rapidly-growing social networks.

Juan Williams revealed something of himself and paid a price. NPR certainly exposed something of itself and is paying a price in the public discourse. So how do we lead, and how do we express our own humanity, in an environment where transparency may clash with (in)tolerance?

Read what my co-moderator Lisa Petrilli has to say about this topic. Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)


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Freelance PR Project Mgr wanted

My friend Betsy Raymond Stevenson is looking for a part-time freelancer to help organize student entries for a Pecha Kucha event (life sciences). Here are all the details:  RSHC Freelance Project Position

UPDATE: Resource found!

Are Women Better Leaders than Men? Puh-lease!

Talk about plunging our feet into controversy! What are we thinking, taking on this topic for our 2nd weekly #LeadershipChat?

Well, stirring the pot, that’s what!

Lisa Petrilli and I are reacting to this article recently published by Forbes, called “Girls Rule.” It’s an interesting read, about how well some public companies are doing under female CEOs.

Of course, as usual, people want to generalize based on exceedingly narrow data pools. Sigh. Can’t we get past these dumb, divisive approaches?

Here is Lisa’s take on the issue, in which she raises some great questions. On the other hand, below is my rant. I don’t often use the word “stupid” in video blogs. But it only takes a few seconds into this one to pull that word out the hat.

Here’s the main point: Certain people will be better leaders for certain groups of people, in certain situations. It’s not a matter of male or female superiority in leadership. It boils down to the individual case.

What do you think? Read the Forbes article, read Lisa Petrilli’s post, and give it some thought.

Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)


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Leadership and Power – Let’s Chat!

Tonight, Tuesday Oct. 12th, will be the inaugural #LeadershipChat on Twitter. If you’ve missed the prior notifications, here is where I announced this joint venture with my co-conspirator Lisa Petrilli. #LeadershipChat will be held at 8 pm ET Tuesday nights, starting today!

Our approach will be to take one highly discuss-able topic, and before the chat, write up our perspectives (usually it will spring from an article by a third party). Here is our theme this week: Leadership and Organizational Power. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is interviewed for this piece called The One Thing You Need to Get Ahead, and we both have strong reactions to it (please read it for yourself ahead of the chat!)

Here is Lisa’s post yesterday on her blog (which is excellent, by the way – subscribe if you haven’t already)! Below is my video-blog reaction. I really REALLY wanted to do a scorched-earth evisceration of the article but instead, tried to be at least halfway civil (no guarantees on restraint tonight – it might get pretty free-wheeling)! It’ll be interesting to hear your reactions and perspectives as we discuss it.

These links should be enough to get your wheels turning for the chat! Grab a glass of wine and let’s talk – just search on the term #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions. It’s one fun and fast-paced hour)!


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