Batkid Captures Public’s Heart

SF BatKid saves Gotham City!
SF BatKid saves Gotham City! (Photo credit: Dave Schumaker)

Scriptwriters wish they could write a story (video) like this. A child in remission from leukemia, a dream, and fulfillment courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation.

He wanted to play at being a hero. He already is.

Traditional media and social media contributed (big shout out to Clever Girls Collective social marketing company which contacted Twitter), as well as over 12,000 people volunteering to participate, witness and cheer on Batkid.

A sampling of tweets from adults:

I’m not even gonna lie. I spent most of the day following Batkid. One of my favorite stories by far.

Everyone thought they were helping Batkid today. Truth is, he was helping us. The world was a better place, if just for a little while.

And if a tear didn’t tug at your eye, or a smile on your face, then you’re a fitting replacement for Mr. Freeze or Capt. Cold.

Reporter’s Notebook: A Few Words On Comments

Social media is neither good nor bad. Just like a car, a gun, or a word— it’s all in what you do with it. I was reading a blog by “laurenc129”  which covered an interesting social media by-product: the comments section.

She writes “I’m not sure what I expected, but the venom injected into so many of the comments was jarring.”

Add Your Comment

While social media offers the writer fenceless pastures in which to roam, the comments section can often be riddled with bushwhackers.

I point to Lauren’s blog because not only did she express sorrow that people find the need to rip others in the comments section, but she also offered some suggestions and hope.

She points out that we need to not only “understand the power of our words, the impact that they have on others, but also on ourselves.”

And then she left herself wide open to her own comments section.

What did people say? Read the blog and see.

Reporter’s Notebook: Nothing is Absolutely Essential

Writing is a chore for some people; for others it is a diversion. And for still others, such as reporters, bloggers, scriptwriters and such, it is our life. We are sad when there’s nothing to write about, but then sit at the keyboard cursing when we get the words out and the story doesn’t flow.

English: So many words to keep track of!.
Words. Words. Words! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then we have to edit the copy. And most writers don’t like to edit. That job belongs to someone else.

Laura Hale Brockway wrote a short post about the job that writers so dislike. Her advice to writers is to “eliminate redundant expressions.”

41 Redundancies You Should Ditch from PR Daily

Mix together. How else do you mix things?

Introduced for the first time. Obviously it is the first time, that’s why you are being introduced.

Absolutely essential. If it is essential, then you must absolutely need it.

Take note of joined words that really shouldn’t be paired.  Eliminate these word groupings, then you can devote less time to editing and more energy to writing.

Reporter’s Notebook: TV and Social Media

Social media as a tool to report & comment on a TV series is now giving way to social media becoming an integrated part of the programming. Alexandra Jacopetti, Senior Account Manager of Rocket Post recently wrote an interesting roundup 5 Top Shows Killing It With Social Media (Social Media Today).

She writes: “CBS’s returning crime show Person of Interest is inviting fans to submit their photo through a new Facebook app. The app determines your “threat level,” then creates a profile picture you can post on your timeline. You can then submit the photo to the show’s producers and it might show up in a future episode.”

Jim Caviezel
Jim Caviezel star of Person of Interest (Photo credit: Air Force One)

As a fan of Person of Interest, these promotions and social marketing are quite inviting.

Read the article for yourself.

Granted this integration intensifies the personal experience of the program’s viewer. But, will it improve the writing or bear any fruit in attracting non viewers?  Advertising revenue is after all still based on ratings.

Additionally, could it even backfire, going so far as to alienate any of a program’s current viewers who may not be as “fluent” in social media. Would they begin to feel ostracized or discriminated “from the party” and tune out?

What do you think?

Reporter’s Notebook: RIP SMM

Wow. Not very profound as writing goes, but honest. Being a social media manager may rival the rise and fall of the dot coms.

According to Fortune magazine, “Growth in positions with the title ‘social media manager’ slowed to 50% in the past year, a dramatic decline from recent years, when triple (and even quadruple) digit growth was commonplace.”

Ryan Holmes, CEO, HootSuite
Ryan Holmes, CEO, HootSuite (Photo credit: Realtime Report)

The article was written by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hoot Suite, based on info from that  study issued by Indeed.com.

However, according to B2C website “…what’s really interesting is that the same Indeed study found that job mentions with ‘social media’ in the description actually grew by 89%, which highlights the expansion of social media beyond marketing departments and throughout organizations.”
In other words, keep sharpening your skills in the brave new world of social media, but it might be best to not to give up the day job. Let it be your main employment calling card, and extol your social media capabilities as extended benefits of your value.

Reporter’s Notebook: Putting Punctuation in Its Place on National Punctuation Day

The Rules of Grammar, unlike Captain Jack Sparrow’s “Pirate’s Code,” are not merely guidelines. Nor are the rules in existence to make your life more difficult. They enable readers to better understand your words, phrases, and sentences– or words, phrases and sentences depending on whether or not you are an advocate of the Oxford comma (if you don’t know what I mean by that side reference, perhaps you should look it up).

Punctuation Cookies For National Punctuation Day
Punctuation Cookies For National Punctuation Day (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

To dot the “i” and cross the “t” on this topic, look no further than Tuesday, 9/24/13: National Punctuation Day.

In its (not it’s) 10th year, the celebration offers a website with pictures, videos and suggestions to point out the correct and incorrect use of the apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark and semicolon.

For example, look at the article that recounts the tale of the $2-million comma. It has more to do with a contract than with article writing, but the point of proper placement is made.

Essay and Twitter contests  are also a part of the celebration website link (highlighted below).


National Punctuation Day

Reporter’s Notebook: Evolving State of Journalism

Repeatedly I’ve put forth that the “traditional media” is on its last legs— and that you boys/girls and men/women represent the future of journalism.

Old News - canon rebel t2i
Old News – canon rebel t2i (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

And just what does that future hold if you want to actually earn a living as a writer? The diminishing opportunities for newspaper reporters have been much in the news.

Content curation looks to be one solid way to go. That is according to an item in the Content Curation Community Newsletter which in turn focuses on an intriguing and informative article observation:

“…marketing departments are starting to function more like newsrooms that produce unique content about their brand and report on industry topics and trends. And journalists are being recruited to oversee the content part of content marketing.”

You should read this  guest post by Holly Regan that ran recently on the Thought Leadership website.

Reporter’s Notebook: You’ve Got To Want It

Road to eternity
Road to eternity (Photo credit: NicolaiZoffmann)

Reconnecting with people is a street you travel more often as you grow older. If you are a pessimist then you look in the rear view mirror at the roads of what-might-have-been. As an optimist you steer towards the avenues of activities you cherished.

Anne is a lady who worked with me on the first publication I created (The Entertainer in CT, 1972-1976 RIP). I haven’t spoken with her in over 30 years. Trust me bloggers, the years will fly by as you get older. We lost touch but thanks to the Internet, and especially LinkedIn, we’ve reconnected.

If I were to be considered the chief cook & bottle washer on the editorial, production and business sides of the newspaper, Anne was the one-man (one-person) band covering music, theatre, politics and sports.

Single mom with two little kids; she was putting herself though college. With all that on her plate, she walked into my office, asking  for a chance to write.

Although the movie The American President hadn’t even been written, let alone made at that point, there is a great Aaron Sorkin line that perfectly describes Anne.

President Andrew Shepherd says “America isn’t Easy. America is Advanced Citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad.” (Actually “want it badly” but the Prez was speaking from the hip in that speech, which you can see here if you wish)

Journalism also isn’t easy. It’s far more complicated than stringing a few words together. And Anne wanted it badly.

Badly enough that she took every assignment, turned each in on time, and didn’t argue when I edited them. Anne, sorry, I don’t recall what you were taking at college. I don’t think it was Journalism. But you had talent and I hoped you would continue after we all went our separate ways.

That memory drives us back to the present. Anne went on to be a solid reporter at several newspapers in CT, She did successful stints under various editorial hats as well. Wow. According to a little blurb she just put on my LinkedIn page, The Entertainer & I influenced her life. Double wow.

The point being my padawans, grasshoppers, and young bloggers (in age as well as in experience), keep your window open to any advice an older or more skilled person offers. And be prepared to offer a back seat ride to a person who asks you for an assist. The rules of the road you impart may have a bigger influence in their life than you might expect.

Anthony M. Scialis

Reporter’s Notebook: Readers Do Care About Spelling

Responses to my last two blogs were not as I had expected. Some friends called (yes… called instead of commenting. What can I say? Old school is still cool for some folks). They said I was lecturing to deaf ears. Consensus was that the writers of today gave as minimal a value to spelling as do readers.

Not so I said. Prove it they said. But I had no stats. The conversation ended.

Then out of the blue, up pops a survey with stats. You have to love the Internet. If what you need isn’t there, wait a bit and it soon will be available.

Disruptive Communications is a London, UK based agency focusing on digital PR, content marketing and social media. It decided to “research into what brand behaviour annoys people in social media. Surveying a total of 1,003 UK consumers, we asked what would be most likely to damage their opinion of a brand in social media ”

What turns off readers. What irritates them about a brand. A brand being a business or just a writer promoting himself or herself.

“Most people flagged up poor spelling and grammar as their number one turn-off.” Those are the words of Disruptive Communications. Let’s hover over that statistical revelation.

Now look at the Infographic to reinforce the point. A significant 42.5% said spelling and grammar matter. Yes, it does drop to 20.9% in the 18-24 age group— but it is still their 2nd biggest gripe!

Interested in learning more? Read another commentary on various aspects of the story by Shel Holz in today’s Ragan’s PR Daily. And then there are the thoughtful comments from readers as well (take note my old school friends) that reinforce the survey.

Anthony M. Scialis

Reporter’s Notebook: Self-inflicted Media Wounds

“A gaping, self-inflicted social media wound bleeding all over the Evansville, Indiana airport Facebook page.” How would you like something you wrote to be forever described like that?

That’s how Jay Baer on Social Media Today labeled a recent FB post that I feel proves my point of the dangers that you bloggers face when avoiding journalistic responsibility to check your facts and write intelligently with respect for your readers.

Facebook logo
Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is the Facebook item:

We just saw a tweet from Google facts that an airline in India only hires women because they are lighter, so they save $500,000 in fuel!!! Insert your women drive jokes below – haha!

Not to diminish the really bad taste soliciting for “women drive jokes,” and flat out offending women fliers, but I want to concentrate on the “responsibility” factor of the author of this bit of “writing.”

There are so many errors & misrepresentations in that post that if the writer had checked his/her facts, and then double checked what he/she wrote, this post would not have been written (I hope).

As an editor and as a writer, I would ask: is this a long-standing policy or a new one (hasn’t even been launched, but the post seems to indicate this is an ongoing practice); is this company-wide (no, just for flight attendants, but the post seems to imply all positions are so marked); is the fuel savings daily, monthly, yearly or total (yearly).

I did my homework and researched the item about low cost carrier Go Air, pulling these facts from several sources, including this CNN story.

“Weight and its reduction is a key focus for airlines as fuel costs, comprising a third to half an airline’s operating costs, continue to rise.”

The airline is also reducing the size of in-flight magazines and capacity of water tanks; the hiring of ‘women only’ is neither an isolated incident nor even impending. The current “130 male cabin staff (out of 330 total) will be unaffected — the policy affects future hires only. The airline expects to hire around 2,000 flight attendants and pilots over the next seven years.”

As you can see, after you check out the basic story, the focus was really on an airline trying every which way to cut costs. Nothing funny about that. And as Baer points out, nothing to do with female drivers.

Granted this was not an issue with a blog, but with a Facebook post. Yet my point about you bloggers being reporters, self-training yourselves to check facts, watching what you write and respecting your community of readers is self-evident. If you don’t learn this in your formative stages, it will come to haunt you, and someday someone will hang you with creating a “gaping, self-inflicted social media wound bleeding all over” the internet.

Anthony M Scialis