Saturday, November 29, 2008

Orlando airport incident shows that TSA and Orlando police should not air their dirty laundry in the media

When I read Friday's article in the USA Today about how an Orlando airport contractor boarded a plane with 14 guns and 8 pounds of marijuana, I saw the classic finger pointing exercise that is typical of government agencies.   Having worked for the Air Force for 20 years in the public relations arena, I've seen these "turf wars" of who is going to take the blame.

First, the facts of the story.  According to an article written by Thomas Frank in Friday's newspaper, Thomas Anthony Munoz boarded a plane with the weapons and drugs.   Munoz worked as a contractor at the Orlando airport when he boarded a Delta contract flight from central Florida to Puerto Rico.  According to the article, Orlando police knew that Munoz had guns as he boarded the plane.  They notified the TSA of Munoz' status as he boarded the flight from Florida to Puerto Rico.

Munoz's arrest has brought the Transportation Security Agency's Inspector General to call for a screening of all contract employees who work at the airplane.   Franks article stated "that the IG report stated "Munoz evaded airport security by carrying the duffel bag through an employee entrance that leads to airplanes."

  As a former government public relations supervisor, I have seen one effective way on what to do when confronted with a mess like this.  The smartest way is:
1)  To admit errors.  

2) To tell the media that you learned from them and how you're going to fix it for the future
3) To move on to find a way to improve upon the process. The media will check back to make sure you keep your promises.

Such a confession does not make for a page three story in a national newspaper. However, the Orlando Police Department and the TSA got into the "who's at fault" issue about notification of Munoz's ability to smuggle the guns and drugs onto the plane which Franks reported in his article.  By airing their issues in public, it created the media poopfest that sells newspapers instead of really addressing the issue.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Will the elderly accept a better security system that allows their children to monitor them?

As someone who works in a public relations capacity for security firms, I have seen how security cameras and devices can be used in operational capacities. For example, security cameras used to protect construction sites from the theft of copper and other valuable materials can also be used for operational management and safety compliance.

Now, with the help of several of my security integrator clients, I have seen how security cameras can now be used for helping elderly people and their families deal with falls. I have an 82-year-old father-in-law who lives in Miami, Florida. While visiting him, he fell on the way to this office.

And, then I have my dad, 76, who is taking care of my mother, who is suffering through the first phase of Alzheimers. While my pa still walks and rides a bike, he's getting a little feeble. And, the weather in Decatur, Ill., is not that great in the winter.

John Barney, the vice president and owner of TriStarCommercial in Austin, tells me that there are new tools for home security systems that provide sensors. For example, if one of my parents doesn't go into the kitchen every 8 to 12 hours, it could send an alert to my cell phone.

I like that option, but I believe that a home security system with a camera placed in the kitchen is a better option. I can remotely check on my 82-year-old father-in-law or my parents in Illinois from my laptop computer.

While the concept seems pretty straight forward, getting acceptance from them is another story. They don't want to give up their independence and the thought that I could monitor them is not that appealing.

So, I am working with some mainstream reporters on the value of having elderly folks or their children install a security system, especially for folks who are downsizing from a large home to a garden home or a condo. It's my hope to work with reporters to help them understand that when someone moves into a smaller home for their Golden Years that they add a new video system instead of the traditional keypad security system.

Adding a professionally installed system will cost $500 or more, depending on the cameras and the system installed. However, the cost of such a system can become amortized into a new home loan. My friends who are professional realtors advise that it's easy to add such a device into a loan package.

Having a professional security system will provide peace of mind to people like me who have elderly parents. Will I convince either one of them to add such a system? I like the Detroit Lions' chances against the Titans in today's Thanksgiving game better than the possibility of them wanting to add such a system.

A dream that the other Matt Scherer will help the Cardinals defeat the Cubs

Thanks to that handy little Google news search tool, I know that Matt Scherer, the right handed reliever, was named to the 40 man roster of the St. Louis Cardinals. And, if you know anything about me, you know that I bleed Cardinal red during every baseball season.

I have this vision that the other Matt Scherer will make it to the big club next year, and my baby brother, the one with the connections to get tickets for the Cardinals in St. Louis are sitting in seats as the Cubs are in town. My little brother, God bless him, has become a Cub fan. When he was little, he was somewhat neutral, but I believe his wife, a lifelong Cub fan, convinced him to follow the team during his courtship.

As comedian Jeff Allen once noted: "Happy Wife, Happy Life."

But I am off track here. Let me get back to my vision and dream for 2009. It's the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals are holding a one run lead with two outs and Derek Lee at bat. My namesake strikes out Lee, and my brother is so upset, he leaves me at the park.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jury awards $8 million in inadequate security case

While visiting my 82-year-old father-in-law in Miami, I saw a news clip about an $8 million settlement for what the teams team at Channel 7 termed security negligence. As someone who has spent a lot of time working for security firms, I find that term of interest. A quick search for the term brought me four or five sponsored searches from law firms that specialize in this form of litigation. All of them were based in Florida.

But back to the facts of the case. According to today's Miami Herald, Starsky Garcia, a 27-year-old man was shot to death in the parking lot of a North Miami Beach apartment complex almost two years ago.

The Miami newspaper noted that during a four-year period when Garcia was murdered by an unknown gunman, police recorded 24 burglaries, nine assaults, three shootings and two robberies at the apartment complex. According to the newspaper, the apartment management company responded to the growth in crime by not fixing a fallen fence or a broken security gate. Nor, did the firm add a security firm or security cameras, the Herald reported.

According to Douglas McCarron, the attorney who represented Garcia's family in the civil law suit, the owners "stuck their head in the sand and basically told residents they're on their own.''

Will this $8 million settlement motivate other apartment firms to upgrade their security? Sadly, it won't motive owners of companies like this one. The only solution is for a judge to require the ownership group to spend three months living fulltime in the complex in addition to their financial penalty.

However, this settlement could be the impetus for other businesses to consider an upgrade in their security system. While it wasn't apparent from the Herald article, who is going to pay Garcia's family for his death, I would suspect that there was an insurance company who will pay for this loss.

Security integrators, by convincing their apartment and multi-use customers, to upgrade their systems could help prevent future lawsuits. And in turn, having a more advanced security system could eventually lead to lower insurance premiums, especially if the property's staff is well trained on the equipment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why some PR efforts are like a person trying to killing a swarm of angry hornets with a can of Raid

One of the problems with working in public relations is that a lot of people think they can do your job.   To those outside the industry, PR seems easy and not hard for someone with a gift of gab or a compelling story.   And, while it's easy for anyone to call a local media professional, there is more to this than a call to a local reporter.

After driving through Florida and speaking to my uncle, the former pest expert, I kind of likened what I do to what my favorite relative on my mother's side did for a living.   Like those who think they can call a local media to get a story placed, I believe companies who try to do the self help model are like the folks trying to rid their house of cockroaches with a can of Raid instead of getting professional extermination help.  Buying a can of bug spray may kill a few, but it doesn't finish the job.

Here's why the self help appoach provides limited results.  A professional public relations counselor has been through interviews and knows the kind of questions a reporter may ask.  By helping prepare their client for even a simple question such as financial earnings, they can help them proactively respond to what may have been an annoying question.

Secondly, a public relations professional knows how to tailor a story for the right medium.  20 years ago, the media approach was easier with only TV, radio and print.  Now, with the addition of social media, a good PR person should know how to reach those kind of communication outlets.

And, finally, here's why a PR professional is like a professional exterminator.  When a business has a public relations emergency, a smart communications expert knows how to use the media to help mitigate any possible reputation damage.

So, businesses have a choice.  They can go the "can of Raid" approach to their public relations program, or they can work with a professional who understands the nuances of working with the various medias.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Memorial blog sites can help those coping with grief

Can blogging sites help with grief?  Such a topic made me think of the death of my oldest son, Andrew Franklin.   It's ironic that such a topic popped up on the Help A Reporter Out web site because the Monday before Thanksgiving was the last time I held my son before he died of lung complications due to his Trisomy 18 genetic condition.   For those who don't know anything about Trisomy 18, it's kind of like combining Downs Syndrome and cancer.    With a third chromosone cell, Andrew would have died at birth, except he lived almost a year.

A reporter in North Carolina posted a question on this topic, and it got me to want to blog about it.   First, the grief process for anyone who loses a child is difficult.  There are family grief support groups out there, but a blogging site allows those of us who have problems sharing our grief to write about it.

From reading the query, it appears that the reporter is trying to set up a site for her newspaper.  I would think it would be on the scale of a living memorial.   If you lose a son, daughter, spouse, brother, sister or other loved one to an accident or illness, a memorial blog allows everyone to share their thoughts and sympathy with others who have faced the same issues and difficulties associated with this tragedy.

Maybe, this new blog is an effective way for funeral homes, non profits and other organizations to  share information and provide online support.  For many of us, the grieving process can take years to overcome.  Even now, the thought of losing my oldest son still hurts a little, but I was fortunate enough to have friends and family to help me.   Had this loss occurred today, a blogging site would have helped me deal with the grief.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spotted: God in a black SUV

So I am driving through Baton Rouge yesterday (on my way to Miami) when I spotted a black SUV with the license plates reading:  "GOD."   I would have thought of God as someone who drives a simpler auto such as my wife's blue Honda hybrid.   And, I would suspect that he would not drive me off the road as he or she drove to the LSU-Mississippi game.

However, I did spot one of his representatives Sunday at a truck stop along I-10.  He was holding a church service in the trucker's lounge. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So what's in your LinkedIn profile?

I have a couple of clients who are excellent business executives with great web sites and powerful marketing materials.  Still, they have the most Godawful Linkedin profiles.    To paraphrase that credit company, "They don't know what's in their LinkedIn profile."

Here's why have a good Linkedin profile is important.  First, a lot of people check the web to get information about you and LinkedIn can direct them to information about you, your work and your company. Unlike most other web sites, the folks at this California networking site allow you to control how the whole world perceives you.   While my profile isn't perfect, I have spent some time and effort updating it.    And, just like any web document, a Linkedin profile is a work in progress.

So, here are a couple of points for those who have the Steve Martin version of what I would term as the "I was born a poor black child" LinkedIn profile.  In other words, you  may have entered a name and the the dates they started their duties with a new company   There is nothing else to it, and it leaves the reader wondering about you and your qualifications.  If you are in any form of community outreach, sales or marketing, having this abbreviated form of a LinkedIn profile is like wearing Bermuda plaid shorts and a dirty T-shirt to a job interview.

To overcome this poor effort in your marketing effort with your LinkedIn profile, I would suggest the following:

1)  Take a pad of paper and outline your key points for every job you ever held.  Then, write it up into your Linkedin profile.
2)  Ask a trusted advisor or friend like my good friend and colleague, Jay Fraser, to serve as your grammar enforcer.  Allow them to nitpick it for errors and suggestions on how to improve it.
3)  Reach out to others within your industry.   LinkedIn allows you to share with others in your industry.  Looking for a way to improve a process.  Your colleagues will share their input with you, especially if you reside in San Antonio, and their base of operations is Baltimore.
4)  Ask your friends, former bosses and other colleagues to comment on your work.  These third party endorsements allow you to convince others that you truly are the best in your business.

Finally, here are some great Linkedin profiles that should give you some inspiration for how to make it better:

Brian Massey: One of the best Linkedin profiles on the web because it gives you a sense of what the Conversion Scientist does for a living.
David Smith:   Another great profile because it chronicles the CEO of HBMG's achievements for the past 30 years.
Michael Kelly:  My friend Mike Kelly's LinkedIn profile shows how endorsements legitimize his efforts and acchievements throughout his military and civilian career.

A LinkedIn profile like these allow you to take advantage of the changes in today's marketing channels.  There is no cost for setting one up, but with a little time and effort it can help open your doors to new opportunities and connections.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jonestown tragedy -- how the Air Force quickly responded to one of the world's biggest tragedies

In the midst of all the various news stories this week was this little reminder that it was the 30th anniversary of the Reverand Jim Jones and his followers death in Guyana. Like a lot of other disaster stories, I had forgotten about this tragedy, but the news coverage made me think of how the Air Force handled the crisis.

One year after the Air Force returned the remains of the reverand and his followers to Dover AFB, Del., I remember how the senior Air Force commander at DINFOS turned over most of his commander's call so that a classmate statoned at Dover during the tragedy could brief on how she and her colleagues handled the disaster. Until the Jonestown Massacre, Dover had been a sleepy little base with a C-5 airlift wing and the Air Force mortuary.

According to my classmate, the influx of telephone calls, not only from the media but also from the family and loved ones of Jones' followers forced the public affairs staff to turn to volunteers to help deal with the crush of community affairs and media questions. Looking back on that talk, I found it amazing that a senior Air Force officer would use his time to brief all of his service's students on what happened at Dover.

If there is a message to this blog, it's this. First, we can learn from those junior in service. Secondly, the good public relations organizations adapt to crisis situations. Before the Air Force could send in more professional help, the public affairs officer at Dover was smart enough to turn to a group of caring volunteers who could answer the phones.

I remember my classmate talking about how the volunteers served 12 to 14 hour days for over two weeks to deal with the influx of calls. As a result of the Jim Jones' tragedy, the Air Force began to realize that when a major crisis occurs that it needs to bring in people to answer the phone.

Some 15 years later, I was working in the Bosnian NATO campaign when we had more calls than we had people to answer the phones after two Air Force F-16s splashed three Serbian Galebs. As someone who remembered the lessons from that commander's call inolving Dover, I got our office to get more volunteers and phones.

Today, with the advent of Twitter and other social media tools, it would be easy for the Air Force to set up sites where people could chat and respond in real time to questions involving a tragedy on the scale of the Jonestown massacre. While I hope that the Air Force never has to deal with another tragedy involving the deaths of so many, I wish that the military and other government agencies realize the need to embrace social media tools along with more phones.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here's hoping my friend Kevin Koym rounds up a round of enterpreneurial bovines in Austonio

With the announcement that my friend Kevin Koym is officially launching Tech Ranch, it's great to see some new form of business development within the Austonio region (for those who don't recognize this term, it's the area between Round Rock to Pleasonton, Texas). As an entrepreneur, Kevin has helped similar projects within Chile and Mexico.

Here's hoping that Kevin and his associates round up a herd of projects that will help the region grow and prosper. In these tough times, it's up to those innovators to help grow new "bidness" with the region.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How public relations is like baseball

I have to chuckle at the comments of Terry Badger, the former Associated Press chief, and currently the PIO at U.S. Global Investors. Speaking at the Business Wire breakfast meeting, he likened public relations to baseball, my favorite sport. By getting his client a lot of singles, doubles, an occasional steal or sacrifice with public relations, he helps his client move their exposure ahead.

I like also his comments about how public relations guys sent him a five-page report on copper future when he was at the AP. Knowing that there wasn't a lot of copper firms in San Antonio, I have to wonder why the public relations firm didn't do a little research on Badger's work.

Obviously, that firm's effort to promote copper firm information was a strike out in the game of public relations.

UTSA students should understand the art of networking

So, I am sitting at the Business Wire breakfast meeting, and I noted that all of the UTSA communications students are sitting together in the back of the room. As someone who kind of understands the art of networking, I am wondering why the soon to be graduates are all sitting together instead of with the experienced public relations types.

Cell phones emerging as ultimate source of information and entertainment

Today's Wall Street Journal's article "A New Odd Couple: Google, P&G Swap Workers to Spur Innovation" brought to light some interesting data on the change in media usage.   According to the WSJ's sidebar "Where the Buyers Are" that accompanied this article, Forrester Research notes the typical American spends 12.7 hours using the Internet and 10.4 hours watching what my mother would term as the "boob tube."   More interesting to me is the 8.9 hours a week that the typical American spends on his cell phone.

For me, the Internet has replaced TV as the source of news and information.  First, I can get the info in real time without having to wait for the score of the Florida-Citadel football game on ESPN or Fox Sports.   However, the true source of information and soon, entertainment, is my cell phone.   Just ask my wife, and she'll tell you that I will sneak looks at my cell phone for updated news and information.

For one client, Crosslink Media, this change towards a heavier usage of the cell phone is an ideal situation for them.   I believe the company has created some truly innovative marketing applications for cell phones.  However, the cell phone has some other operational capabilities that make it appealing to businesses.

For example, south Texas gets one or two ice storms every year.   When the roads and bridges freeze because the weather gets below 32 degreees, a lot of companies use their local TV and radio stations to report business or delayed closings.

However, what if that business could enroll every employee's cell phone into a database that sends a message at 6 a.m. that because of inclement weather they can spend a couple of extra hours at home until the roads thaw out?  Imagine too, that you have a family of three kids, one in the local college, one in a public high school and another at parochial elementary school.   Each school could also send an advisory about possible class cancellation.

There are ways that marketing companies and advertising firms can make money by the use of these new devices.  However, the traditional ad firms make too much money on traditional TV advertisement for them to think of ways to use wireless advertising.   For traditional business, it's time for them to ask their advertising and public relations firms to show them the ways that they can embrace wireless technology as well as a better use of Internet campaigns.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dick Tracy would love this latest wireless technology.

As a kid who read the Sunday comics of the Chicago Tribune, I loved reading about the exploits of Dick Tracy.   I always thought his wrist phone was something I would want to have in my technological tool kit. Right now, I am working on a project with a client and a government integrator that could convert a cell phone into something that Dick Tracy would want to use in his battle against crime.  The hope is that the new technology will help first responders get updates and other data as needed.

Scott's latest blog post provide a proactive guide to finding that next job

David Meerman Scott's latest blog on networking and finding that next job is something every person should read.  Write's the leading author:  "You want to find a new job? You have to stop thinking like an advertiser of a product and start thinking like a publisher of information."

For a guy that has been fired three times, his advice is timely and worth sharing with those who are looking for a job or think their future with their current company is dubious.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three clients get excellent coverage in the Austin and San Antonio media

Three of my clients got excellent coverage in San Antonio and Austin media in the past 48 hours.

First, the Lonestar Brewery condo redevelopment project was featured on KSAT 12's 10 p.m. newscast. Steve Spriester, the anchor of the evening news, completed a 2-minute feature on the brewery. And, then this morning, I noted that the Express News featured the brewery on their roadmap for the Nov. 16 marathon.

Then, HBMG, my longtime client, was featured Friday in a story on their new E-Manager software in the Austin Business Journal.

Lastly, Crosslink Media, a new client, was featured in the San Antonio Business Journal.

Dinfos Trained Killers now up to 300

Somehow, I missed the fact that the DINFOS Trained Killers has now reached 300 members this week in our LinkedIn tribe. In the six months I started this group, I have found two to three old colleagues and connected with a lot of people I never would have met. I have to thank Kevin Koym, the founder of the Enterprise Tribe, for showing me six months ago the value of using online colloboration tools.

For me, the number 300 is signfiicant as it represents the number of Spartans who battled the Persians. If you have ever worked in military public affairs, you can appreciate the fact that it seems like we're a small bunch of warriors fighting a lot of issues. Start with all the experts who think your job is easy, and then add the fact that you often have to do the job without the technology and personality resources. That's why reaching 300 members is significant.

But, I won't rest on our laurels. We still have to engage other former and current PAOs to share techniques and tactics to do our job. And of course, we still have to enroll some of the more famed DTK alums like Al Gore and Dan Quayle into the group.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Teaching my wife how to soar in her first blogging efforts

I can't win......   I sitting in one of my regional offices at Indigo Joes, working on some things and trying to teach my wife, Jackie, the Madison physics teachers, how to capitalize on her EarthWatch Institute fellowship in Maryland.   Her Earthwatch  blog is just starting up, so I am trying to teach her to use Twitter as a way to promote her work.  

My wife is first of all a science teacher so she loves facts and other details things.  Then, throw in the genetic combination of her Bohemian father and her Irish mum, and you get someone who is a little stubborn at times.  So showing her about Twitter was taking a person who just soloed in a Cessna and asking her to fly a F-15. 
Recognizing that she's not ready, I had to regroup a little, as my wife is still working through her concerns with Twitter.  Still, I believe that social media is a great way for teachers to communicate with students.  It's just that she has some legitimate reservations.  With time and love, she can overcome these fears.
My ultimate goal is to get readers for her blog.  And, I know this takes time.  So, I am going to let her fly about in her puddle jumper of a blog.  In time, she'll want to reach into a higher stratosphere.

North Chamber tech council helps youth with annual holiday charity event

Today, the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Technology Council, will hold its Christmas party, Dec. 12 at the chamber's office . Members will be asked to donate a bath towel and a backpack for the Roy Maas program. The San Antonio charity needs the bathroom accessory to give troubled children a sense of belonging. Need more details: Debbie Zucker, dzucker (at ) northsachamber (dot) com.

Is Roy Bragg the next Mike Royko?

I got an interesting Tweet from Roy Bragg, the San Antonio Express blogger in chief, about the need for readers and page views. Frankly, it's sad that a writer like Bragg has issues with page views. Roy is the funniest writer since the late Mike Royko graced the newspapers in Chicago. (For those of you who have never lived in the Midwest, Royko was the author of the famous book "Boss.) It's time for the editorial leadership at the Express News to recognize his draw and promote the heck out of him.

But, what do you expect from the same management team that dropped Doonesbury for one week because Trudeau correctly picked Obama as the winner. Note to Express News editors: "Get some cojones and push Roy." It will increase your readership/page views/advertising revenue.

It's time for government public affairs officers to embrace the full capabilities of social media

Mention Twitter to most old school public relations professionals, and it's a topic that most of them don't understand. For government communications professionals, the use of social media tools is not something they understand or want to embrace. Furthermore, most public relations professionals have an archaic perspective to using Twitter or searching blogs.

During my Air Force career, I set up the Internet for the Allied Forces Southern Europe Public Information Office. We used tools like Gopher, Veronica and Archie to monitor the pulse of the Bosnian conflict and the growth of NATO in former Warsaw Pact nations.

Looking back, I realized that I was a trailblazer in this area. I remember my American military colleagues looking at the early stages of the Internet and not understanding its capability. Now, a California developer has created a tool to monitor the use of Twitter and other social media tools with its application. For government public affairs professionals, this is like my use of the older Internet tools at AFSOUTH during the Bosnian conflict.

Having listened to a video and checked out their web site, I think it's a great application. However, the developers have a major technology barrier to overcome. The typical public affairs or information officer has to deal with the firewalls and security infrastructure protecting their organization's information system.

For this new app to work, the government has to allow its PAO and PIO professionals to have access to the world wide web. As most government firewalls protect their information structure by not allowing PIOs to not monitor the blogosphere with their processes and fire walls, it's time for the proactive government communication types to work out a process that allows them fulltime access to Twitter and blog sites.

The easiest solution is to allow PAOs to have at least one or two laptops with an air card that allows them access to the full capabilities of the world wide web. And sadly, the public affairs professionals have enough other "turf battles" that the availability of the fulltime use of the Internet is probably not their highest priority.

The death of Big Yellow

My local telephone company dropped off my 2000-page business directory on my porch, and I wished they hadn't killed a tree or wasted their gas to get me what I call "Big Yellow" for my house.   Now, my wife still uses the book from time to time, but I am one of the people who uses a search engine to find everything from a plumber to a restaurant.     

Still, I wish that the search engines would make it easier for me to find things.   For some popular categories such as barbecue, the paid per clicks for that listing make me look through 10 to 20 other options before I can find the information I want.

From talking to search engine experts, I don't expect to see any changes in their tactics.   Companies like Google, Yahoo and make a lot of money from helping businesses get the number one position in local and national searches.   I just wish that there was a way to find an alternative to the phone book with the Wayne Wright ad on the spine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Missing in action -- my web site

Last night, I was at a cocktail party for Computer Solutions who was celebrating their 30th year in business. I met a Microsoft representative who asked me about my web site. While I have a web site host, and I have some tenative web pages, I am one of those rare PR and communications people without this marketing tool.

Sometimes, I feel like the shoemaker who wears shoes with holes in soles. And, yet most of the time I feel I don't need a web site. I have an active blog. I have a Linkedin profile with over 450 contacts and 11 endorsements from clients and friends. I use a Twitter account that allows me to post my blogs and thoughts to customers.

Instead of my web site, I send people to my LinkedIn profile. And, my active use of blogging has created a growing circle of friends, associates and clients. Will web sites become passe? I liken them to online brochures. They provide a need and they educate customers, but changing them take time, effort and a lot of thought.

For me, I much rather put my energy into social media tools. As I told the guy from Microsoft, I spend about 30 minutes to an hour on these communications processes instead of the traditional web site.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So your teenager has a cameraphone or a webcam....

David Gallant, the guest speaker for today's North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce's Technology Breakfast, made an interesting point about the use of teenagers sharing intimate photos of themselves to their boy or girl friends. For Gallant, a former Air Force Office of Special Investigations professional, the transmission of a 15-year-old girl sharing a picture or video of their body with an 17-year-old boy friend is akin to child pornography. Gallant, a Computer Security and Forencis Specialist with the San Antonio office of e-fense, made me think that I should discuss this with my teens.

Here's what I will probably tell my shy introverted son, Peter, who's 19 going on 20: "If for some reason you get a Playboyesqe picture of a girl who is not 18 years of age, tell them that you're going to delete it and that you don't welcome these kind of pictures." By accepting this photo, you could put yourself under jeapodary of child molestation."

As an added way to protect your children, I would tell them your computers have Helix installed on it and that you can catch these unsolicitied pictures at any time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three great social media tools available on the net

After hearing my friend, Andy Meadows, chief executive of Live Oak 360, today at the Austin Business District Open 4 Business, I found these great social media tools:


How Twitter is causing us to disown our TV.... how cool

So, I am sitting at the Austin Business District Open 4 Business social marketing conference when I heard perhaps one of the most enlightening thoughts from Jon Lebkowsky.  Lebkowsky, one of the panelist for the social media conference today and one of Austin's leading social media gurus, said that Twitter and blogging allows people to move outside of their silo to communicate.    Jon L discussed how people got into their silos thanks to the invention of TV which caused people to not talk to each other.  Now, Twitter allows businesses to communicate to their customers and their partners in real time.

My wife can tell you that I love to use the Twitter and the blogging stuff.  Truthfully, I have the TV on as background noise, but I often turn it off to reach out to other people.

It's time to educate the local media on the changes in security systems

One of my local TV news teams featured an article on the increase in crime. Leila Walsh of WOAI had a short report on how one neighborhood was going to hire a security guard to lower crime. And then there was Erik Runge, also with WOAI TV, reporting how the greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce may issue an alert to its business members on ways to lower crime in their shopping districts.

I am going to call my friend, George Garza, a leading residential and commercial security integrator, to check if he wants to call these media. A security guard is not an effective way to protect a neighborhood. And, while the chamber is trying to promote how safe things are in the city of San Antonio, it would be wise for them to have professionals like George teach business owners how to upgrade their security systems.

For example, as noted in a recent blog by Sam Pfeifle, the editor of Security Systems News, there's a growing movement to educate consumers on their choices in home protection features. And, what's often overlooked is commercial security in this ongoing marketing campaign. Property managers often add a basic feature as a selling point, but if a business owner truly understood the difference between a keypad system and a video system, they would ask their landlord to upgrade their system to that platform. Professional integrators know that if an alarm goes off with the properly configured video system that their customers can log onto their surveillance camera's IP address to see what set off the alarm.

Even better is the fact that if the business owner communicates this video capability to the local police, the responding officer can verify the location of any criminal inside a facility. It's time for professional integrators to take a proactive lead on educating their two market sectors -- residential and commercial -- on the upgrades available to them. And, when there's a crime outbreak, integrators should take the time to engage the media or hire a professional PR type to help convey their story.

Cisco and IBM mashup -- how Fortune 500 companies are recognizing the potential of video surveillance platforms

L. Samuel Pfeifle, the editor of Security Systems News, noted in a recent blog posting. how IBM and CISCO colloborated on a video surveillance mashup (or is it mash-up). What's interesting is that it was IBM and CISCO working together in the eight-hour mashup. Typically, startup companies work together on this type of research and development. However, E-week's Clint Boulton quoted Guido Jouret, the chief technology of emergning markets for CISCO on the new app: "What's unusual about what we showcased is that you think about Web 2.0 and a lot of people are saying 'I can take my RSS feed and splice it into something else. It's possible to widgetize, or represent in a very graphical way, things that people don't ordinarily think of as being Web 2.0, and the most remote example we could come up with is a video surveillance camera, but you could take that logic and apply it to a digital sign, to any kind of physical object that's capable of receiving or sending rich media. "

For security industry professionals, the cross development between Cisco and IBM is significant as it helps develop new uses of security technology within business. As a security publicist and marketer, I have helped my clients develop the concept that surveillance tools can do more than keep a business secure. In the construction industry, surveillance tools can help with operational and safety management. When Fortune 500 companies like Cisco and IBM recognize the potential of video surveillance platforms, integrators and dealers will benefit with increase marketing exposure and sales.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another round of positive publicity for the Lone Star Brewery

Thanks to Tricia Silva, the real estate columnist at the San Antonio Business Journal, my client, Mark Tolley and the Lone Star Brewery redevelopment project, got great publicity in Friday's San Antonio Business Journal. Silva's article detailed how the San Antonio Conservation Society is working with Tolley to get residents at the project tax benefits.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Take time to thank a fellow veteran

Although most cities held their Veterans Day parades yesterday, most of us will ignore the day except to get angry when our financial institution closes for their "bank holiday." My local schools will stay open on Veterans Day to allow teachers an extra day off during the Thanskgiving Week holidays. Our federal and state government employees will have a holiday, and many will take a vacation day Monday to extend their holiday.

As a veteran, I'll wear my medals in public today in church, and I will go to the Fort Sam Cemetary Tuesday to honor my fellow comrades. Yet, most Americans will not even understand the significance of this day nor will they remember that Tuesday is Veterans Day.

American military protect our freedoms to express ourselves in public. While on active duty, I remembered going to a public school symposium on how organizations could help their local schools. As the chief of community affairs at Lowry AFB, Colo., I worked with school districts to help their teachers learn how to call upon my base for speaking and educational resources. One school administrator, who looked like she was still living the "free love" era of the 1960s, asked me if I was going to teach her students how to become "baby killers."

"No, I am going to teach them how to appreciate the fact that people in uniform allow people like you to express their feelings in public without the fear of repercussion," I said. And, then I smiled.

About six or eight people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for having the courage to confront that woman. In time, thanks to the efforts of the 200 or more volunteers who worked with me at Lowry, we helped to overcome the attitudes of others like that one educator.

The moral of the story? First, veterans should be proud of their accomplishments to protect American democracy. Secondly, we should take the time to recognize our service. Lastly, we should make our elected officials remember the sacrifices of our service. The fact that unionized federal employee groups get both a retirement check and disability pay, while disabled veterans don't get the same type of benefits is one of the many things wrong with the way that brave men and women who protect our country is something our politicians can amend right now with legislation.

If more veterans show proactively to others what it means to be a veteran, more Americans will support the benefits and services that veterans, especially disabled ones deserve.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Garry Trudeau's "Dewey" moment

It was such a busy week that it wasn't until my Saturday morning breakfast with my wife Jackie that I learned that the San Antonio Express News wasn't the only paper to not run this week's Doonesbury strip.  So, taking a few moments to look at the Google news archives, I found a couple of articles from other major newspapers concerning their decision not to run this week's strip.  My favorite?  Why it was the one from the Chicago Tribune comparing the strip to their 1948 headline:  "Dewey defeats Truman!."  Except, Garry Trudeau the genius behind the Doonesbury comic strip, got his prediction right.

My wife joins the blogosphere so that her students will learn more about the environment

With an impending trip for the Earthwatch summit in Maryland, my wife, Jackie has joined the blogosphere. Her blog will focus on her research and her off-site education for her San Antonio James Madison environmental science and physics students. As a rookie blogger, Jackie will have to learn about such great tools as Budurl, Twitter and other social media tools that will help her get an audience for her online work. Today, she bought her own video camera for her research, so I will have to share with her how to post her videos online. Right now, I'll get her a Youtube account, but I will begin to look at other video sharing resources.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Father of Texas Longneck to be part of KTSA radio piece on Lone Star Brewery project

Until I coordinated an interview with KTSA and Jerry Retzloff, the retired marketing executive with Lone Star Brewery, I didn't know how the brewery created and made popular the longneck bottle. With the official launch of the Lone Star Brewery condo project today, KTSA interviewed Mark Tolley, the Lone Star developer as well as Retzloff.

As the staff at KTSA needed someone who knew about the brewery, I asked Retzloff to do an interview with their news team. He described how the brewery developed the longneck bottle and how Willie Nelson and other Texas acts made this form of beer packaging popular. Retzloff's said his marketing team's efforts to provide the top Texas acts with the "national beer of Texas" during their performances helped make the longneck popular with college students in the 70s and 80s.

The interview airs today at 12:10 p.m. today.

Found, the Doonesbury comic strip

After having to go to the official Doonesbury comic web site because my newspaper didn't want to run the strips on the military and the election, I found my favorite comic in the Austin American Statesman in its normal spot -- the comic section.   As I am away on business in Austin, I don't know if my local paper, the San Antonio Express News is still running old strips.   I would guess that they are still running the tired old Zonker calorie comics.

Texas suspension of player shows how companies should have well defined blogging policy

So what's on your Facebook page?  Texas Longhorn center Buck Burnette probably didn't think much of his social media musings until his comments about Barack Obama's election on his Facebook page got him cut from the team.  Mack Brown's decision to cut the third-string center from Wimberly is something every business and organization should address with a well-defined social media policy.    Just like the annual sexual harassment training, employees should know the consequences of posting things that could cause problems for their organization.

I know of several businesses who monitor their employee's emails and blogs.   For a small company, it's pretty easy to find blogs by using the tool.   Even so, a well defined policy that is often communicated to every staff member is a must so that your company and organization doesn't find something that could create a bad image.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A baby with a mustache

I am traveling to Austin to meet with several clients and also on behalf of one client. One of my meetings is with Bill Leake, the e-marketing chair for this year's Austin Innotech. It's my hope that Bill can lead me to the process to help this client use the blogosphere to reach targeted clients. The problem I will face is that my client doesn't know much about this process. Adam Hirsch described my issue when he described social media as: “It’s a baby. But it’s mature. It’s a baby with a mustache.”

Still missing in action -- the Thursday Doonesbury comic strip

As the San Antonio community honors the military with its "Celebrate America's Military" week of events, you have to wonder why the local newspaper isn't running these strips about how the troops are reacting to Barack Obama's victory in Tuesday's election.
If there is a cartoonist who gets the military, it's Gary Trudeau who has supported causes such as the Fisher House and other military causes without much fanfare.    

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Missing in action -- the Doonesbury strips from my local newspaper

So, what's the deal with the San Antonio Express News and Doonesbury? It wasn't until I looked online that I found out that my daily newspaper was using old strips to fill their editorial hole.
Perhaps, the editors made a decision note to run the strip because the one running today had Obama winning. I plan on writing an email to the local editors protesting their decision to not run these strips.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why the media should be conservative when it comes to posting news results

I had to laugh when I read the Stuffjournalistslike blog with all of the great comments about dealing with politicians and issues. However, the real chuckle came when the blogger in chief made a very clever note about editors getting their headlines correct. His link to the famous Harry Truman pix holding up the Chicago Tribune headline that has "Dewey Defeats Truman" is something every reporter, publicist and anyone who deals with the media should keep close to their desk as a reminder of how mistakes can screw up a publication's credibility.
Sadly, the electronic types will get a lot of results wrong because there will be pressure to beat the others to the punch.

Article research shows schools not prepared to deal with tornados

I am working on an article about education safety and security for Security Products magazine that is due in another 48 hours.  As I have completed the research and putting the finishing touches on the first 400 words, for an 850 word article, I am saddened that America's school children are not very safe, especially those who reside in Tornado Alley.

As a youngster, I grew up in Decatur, Ill., a town that has seen its fair share of twisters.    While in the Air Force, I made it through a minor typhoon.   And of course, I have a wife who has lived most of her youth in Miami, a city that attracts it fair share of hurricanes.

Hurricanes are somewhat predictable, and they take before they strike a city.  Tornados can fall out of the sky at anytime without warning.   From talking to several experts at ASSA ABLOY, it's difficult for the typical school to react quickly to a twister.   In Kansas, the state statutes require that schools test their tornado response three times a year.  In most schools, that means going outside into a hallway and having each student putting their head between their knees. 

In Enterprise, Alabama, students went into the hallway where a Fujta Scale 4 tornado (a tornado with wind speed of between 207 to 260 miles per hour) killed 11 students.  The district thought that the hallway was safe but a wall caved in, killing them.  

The new FEMA 361 guidelines provide districts with the resources needed to build a safe school shelter, but then there's a funding issue.  In Wichita, funding for 60 schools is part of a major bond package that voters will approve today.  As FEMA has grants that pay for up to 75-percent of each shelter, schools still have to finance the remaining amount.

I believe that a school's ability to protect their students from a twister is about as good as their policy to deal with a crazed gunman.   Most educators can talk a good game, but when a crazed gunman or a twister hits, most don't have an effective way to deal with the issue.

It's only when people ask their school that effective chance can occur.   I hope that my completed article will arm people with the information needed to make schools safer.

Why Obama's race is not an issue with America today

Barack Obama's historic campaign reaffirms the thought that many of us have become color blind when it comes to evaluating a person's capabilities. I grew up in the 60s in Decatur, Ill., one of those quiet little redneck communities. I remember the Chicago riots and I have never forgotten the impact of Martin Luther King's death in 1968.

And, then I joined the Air Force in 1977. From the first day in basic, with a Hispanic noncommissioned officer who berated me in English and Spanish, I knew that the world wasn't all lily white. In time, I became color blind to those around me. The only thing that mattered was the rank of those above me.

My children have grown up in a world that doesn't tolerate racism. I remember discussing the Will Smith movie, Ali with my oldest step daughter. She didn't get the message of the movie, because she grew up in a world where people don't evaluate people because of their color, religion, heritage or gender.

While the media will make a big deal out of Obama's race if he wins today, for most of our youth, it's not a big deal. For those of who remember the bad old days of Birmingham, Alabama, or Mississippi, it's refreshing to know that our children have become totally color blind.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brogan's ebook is a must read for any communication pro trying to morph into the new realms of social media

Chris Brogan's latest ebook "Fish Where the Fish Are" is a must read for any communication professionals, especially guys like me who are morphing their traditional business with new social communication tools.  Brogan's e-book reaffirms the strategy I'm taking for some of my clients, but it also points out some new tools and tactics to improve the processes I want to take.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Do Republicans have a better sense of humor?

Does Sarah Palin have a sense of humor? After seeing her appearance on Saturday Night Live and with this crank call with the Masked Avengers, you have to realize that she is the first politician since Dick Nixon said "Sock It To Me" on the Rowan and Martin Laugh In to use the humor portal to make people think she's just an average person. By the way, Hubert Humphrey said one of the major reasons that he thought he lost the 1968 campaign was the fact that he didn't appear on Laugh In.

I find the appearance of Palin on SNL and this appearance on the Masked Avengers as planned appearances to make her seem like a normal guy.  Like Nixon's appearance during the 1968 campaign, Palin's interview with the Avengers was a planned event that will make the Republican vice president seem like a regular person. 

If Obama loses Tuesday, will his handlers admit they should have taken more opportunities to show the humorous side of their candidate.   Doubtful.  But, Palin's appearances make for an interesting way for  a political candidate to get her message to the voters.