I woke up Monday morning unemployed. I had been let go from a position about four months ago. I rushed out to find a part time job to bring in more money – I wasn’t at a spot where I was ready to be without a paycheck. I’m still not, but the four months of seasonal work gave me a little financial breathing room. Now at the end of a seasonal project, I’ve been able to think about to do next.
I’m completing a graduate degree this semester at Marywood University; I expect to receive my degree in December. I’m looking for a full time position for after graduation. If the right spot is available, I’d be happy to start before then while I finish my studies. I’m looking for contract, freelance, part time, and independent work to carry through the next few months.
But I’m also looking to use this time to complete some personal projects. Yes, I’m looking for professional opportunities and writing papers and projects. I’ve also given myself seven weeks to tackle a to-do list of items that have nagged me for years. There will always be projects, but this is my personal sabbatical.
I’ve tracked my diet and exercise for a year and a half as I’ve worked to be healthier. I’ve gotten close to my target weight, but I picked up a few pounds during the summer. These seven weeks give me the opportunity to drop the final few pounds. They give me the chance to work on my complexion. To do a better job digitizing notes, files, and photos. To organize and back-up that data. To fill in some missing information on my family history and to compile and organize my wife’s genealogy. There are more traditional projects too – getting our house ready for winter and transitioning the local SAR chapter to a new set of officers.
I hope to use this space to track my progress and to spur myself onward. These seven weeks equate to about 1,200 hours. That isn’t much time to change habits, to complete long-simmering projects, and to start new trends. Time to get to work.
Living in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a place with a bar and a church on every corner, it was hard to miss the news today. All the localmediaoutlets – even radio – were on hand to capture the bishops’ retirements. Rumors that the local bishop was leaving town had floated last week, and the local newspaper grabbed the scoop.
The Diocese of Scranton's Mother Church
After covering the press conference, each news outlet produced a similar reaction piece from around the Diocese. (The results were easy to figure out: Catholics who stopped going to church are glad he’s gone; Catholics interviewed on their way into Noon Mass think he did well in a tough job.) Then each newspaper and television station produced a piece highlighting the history of the Diocese of Scranton and its nine bishops. One television station went through the work to put together a piece on the challenges of leading a Diocese with changing demographics. (This is just a sampling of the coverage. You can find all of the articles from each outlet through the initial main news articles.)
I’m always interested in following the news, and I watched and read the coverage Monday evening. The tidbit of resigning because of insomnia at 63 – more than a decade before he’d normally retire – makes for a great twist too. (The auxiliary is retiring at 77.)
I’m sure Sunday will bring more man-on-the-street interviews and look-back pieces. Beyond that, I’m curious to see the additional local coverage. (About 325,000 of the 1 million residents is Catholic. That 30 percent figure is higher than the 22 percent nationwide so this is a big deal here. This is also a community that is big on religion, whichever one you follow.)
I’ve been away from Who Is Listening for a few weeks as I take a series of courses on public presentation and marketing management. Both courses gave me stuff to mull over – and some fodder for future posts. But I wanted to mention something now that was covered in a class in the past week.
The idea of Who Is Listening is that the way the message is framed is important. It isn’t enough to say it – you have to say it in a way that connects with the audience. This is no less true in video as it is in audio.
New GM appears to want to be more responsive and transparent to the consumer. (Comments about the American consumer/taxpayer being a de facto owner and entitled to transparency are fine. Go ahead and add comments below.) The company is launching an online suggestion box. It has a website dedicated as the home of its blog collection. And it launched a spiffy new commercial detailing how new the New GM is going to be.
The problem with the commercial? Watch it and take a look at some of the images. Tattered American flag. Hockey player pinned to the ice. Lots of unsold vehicles. Some of the images invoke thoughts of worn, old, outdated, and defeated. That’s not the message GM should want to convey.
It’s important to think about more than who is listening – or in this case, watching. You have to think about what they hear and see as well. Make sure that is in line with your message.
So we’re in a time of iEverything where we broadcast our every thought on Facebook and Twitter. Stake out your spot and move with the tribe.
But is it really best to run from Room to Room – or network to network – in an attempt to stay current with what’s cool? Isn’t it better to take advantage of the unique capabilities of each network and make that part of your strategy? (Note: a “Facebook Strategy” is more than “we should do that” just as a “Twitter Strategy” is more than “OMG can I Twitter all day!”)
Isn’t it better to use the real-time broadcast capability of Twitter, the scale of Facebook, and the embedding capability (and brand name) of YouTube when communicating? Only by breaking down the walls of these networks, can we use their full capability to communicate as widely as possible. Think of the sites as real world infrastructure sites. You’re taking on big infrastructure upkeep costs if you don’t want to be seen as an absentee landlord.
MySpace will continue to hold avid users, but will it be worth your time and effort to dedicate the resources needed to have a vibrant presence in that network? (Would you remain in Friendster if you had joined it in 2002?) Shutting down – or significantly scaling back – in these networks can alienate dedicated users. Don’t tell me that it’s expected to lose some people, and that you’re OK with it. You joined these networks to chase these people – you’re not OK with getting them angry at you.
Whatever you build or whatever you join isn’t a magic bullet. They offer something – even if it’s a unique way to connect to your audience. Figure out what that unique strength is, and incorporate your strategy around that. Jump on the new opportunities quickly, but know that you’re leaping at the capability and not the shiny toy.
Shiny toys are tossed aside when the next cool thing comes along. And in such a rapid environment, the next cool thing will be out before you build a big following in the old thing. Watch the Did You Know video as a reminder of the speed of change. (Then, think about how much that video reminds you of Sprint’s new What’s Happening commercials.
Now, think about how both videos reflect on individuals and what you’re doing right now. That’s kind of what Twitter’s about. What are you doing to use the things happening now in your communications?