Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Facebook Foibles

Gonzo is into Facebook as much as the next person. However, even he has limits when it comes to annoying posts. Herewith is the countdown for Gonzo’s Top Five Cardinal Sins On Facebook.

Number 5 -- Too much information. There should be limits to how much one shares on Facebook. So, be it pictures of dinner or comments on the banality of everyday existence, he doesn’t need to know one's every move. Keep it in the mind's eye, where it belongs.

Number 4 -- Too much braggadocio. A little self-confidence is a good thing, to be sure, but let’s not go overboard. Gonzo attended 12 years of Catholic schools, so he can recognize a bullshit artist when he sees one –- and he can pick one out of a crowd.

Number 3 -- Too much profanity. Gonzo knows all the words and can curse a blue streak with the best, when necessary. But he won’t abide a potty mouth on his timeline where his boss can see it. His advice? Develop a vocabulary.

Number 2 -- Too much harassment. Don’t debate the merits of an issue and then do a touchdown dance on his head in an attempt to end the discussion. If it happens again, Gonzo will suggest a face-to-face meeting. He'll be accompanied by his friends Guido and Antoine: big guys with nothing much to lose.

Number 1 -- Too many insults. If you want to be friends, you can’t bemoan public employees as a pox on civilization. Gonzo has been a public employee most of his life. He is not the enemy. He did not accept bailout money and then give himself a multi-million dollar bonus. He goes to work and lives within his means.

Having said that, Gonzo will not pull the lever on the trap door for one -- or even more than one -- violation of “the code.” But he may hide chronic offenders to spare himself some angst. For more, check out Facebook Manners and You.

Vile Vitriol

Editor's note: Admittedly, I couldn't help myself. The juxtaposition of two articles in The Echo begged for a retort. 

To the editor:

When my copy of this week’s (November 7) Leavenworth Echo arrived, I immediately noted the Veteran’s Day Salute, including an admiring tribute to Bill Cowles, a local Vietnam veteran, written by fellow veteran Bill Forhan, editor of The Echo.

Unfortunately, the warm feelings generated by the piece dissipated almost as immediately when I saw the vile vitriol spewing from a letter to the editor written by -- you guessed it -- Bill Cowles, castigating other letter writers for being “stupid” and “idiotic.”

Do you like apples, Mr. Cowles? The Tea Party in this country has just been vanquished (some would say swallowed whole) by “the changing face of America.” How do you like those apples?

Perhaps Mr. Forhan should hire Cowles as a staff editorial writer. He’s already in The Echo nearly every week. On the other hand, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Future Starts Now

Wearing various and sundry hats as a member of the Public Relations Society of America, I traveled to San Francisco, "the City by the Bay," for the 2012 PRSA International Conference on October 12-16.

It’s always a challenge to keep my commitments at these conferences, from my roles as a leadership assembly delegate for the PRSA Greater Oregon Chapter, to advisor for the University of Oregon Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and board member of the PRSA North Pacific District.

But that never stops me from trying. This time, I had one more event to attend as a new inductee into the PRSA College of Fellows.

Plus, it's always nice to take a little time to see the sights: Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, The Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Cliff House and, of course, Chinatown and North Beach, where Jack Kerouac and his beatnik buddies would hold court.

But more on that later. Landing in SFO late morning on Friday, October 12, my first order of business was to grab a shuttle downtown. At $17, fares are not cheap, but it’s considerably less than a cab. Arrived at the Marriott Marquis and set up my room in time to meet up with my peeps from UO PRSSA (below) for lunch.

Later that evening, I attended the reception for Leadership Assembly delegates representing 110 PRSA chapters, 10 districts and 16 special interest sections both nationally and internationally.

On Saturday, October 13, nearly 300 delegates participated in PRSA’s 2012 Leadership Assembly. In year’s past, I would liken the assembly to a frontier legislature, but this year was different. Instead of haggling over by-laws, this year's Leadership Assembly (below) focused on finding ways to enhance benefits for membership.

PRSA Chair and CEO Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, one of our own from the PRSA North Pacific District, addressed the delegates on “PRSA at work,” citing initiatives relating to advocacy, ethics, diversity and much more. His parting message to PRSA practitioners was, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, “act ethically and carry on.”

After assembly, it was time for the PRSA College of Fellows induction ceremony held in the historic Green Room of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. The College of Fellows is a group of more than 300 senior practitioners who have distinguished themselves through their leadership and experience.

When friends ask me about the College of Fellows, I liken the experience to being elevated to the Jedi Council of public relations. Per longstanding tradition, new fellows are escorted by a current fellow to receive their honor; my official College of Fellows escort was 2002 PRSA Chair/CEO Joann Killeen (below).

On Sunday, the conference kicked off with the first of three keynote speakers. PRSA has always impressed me with their ability to attract top-drawer and nationally renowned “keynoters.” Over the years, I have seen James Carville and Mary Maitlin, political strategists; Mitch Albom, sports columnist and best-selling author; and Tim Russert, broadcast journalist and moderator of NBC’s Meet The Press.

This year was no different. Keynoters included Biz Stone, co-founder, Twitter; Tim Westergren, founder and chief strategy officer, Pandora; and Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. The common thread? All three keynoters emphasized the continuing importance of face-to-face communications despite all the new media.

“People are looking for humanity in the social media space,” noted Westergren, (but) “there is no substitute for in-person conversations. We never advertised Pandora -- it was all word of mouth.”

In discussing the presidential debates, Steele said, “it’s the ultimate public relations campaign to say (what you believe) in your own words and in person.” On the quality of communication, he noted “the power of personality and the power of the individual to be his or her own public relations machine is unmistakable.”

For me, Stone was the most enlightening, and certainly the most entertaining, of the three: “access to unlimited information is not necessarily going to make us smarter or allow us to do anything more important. What we have to do is understand that information.”

On Sunday, I was sorely tempted to skip the opening night gala in an effort to see the San Francisco Giants play the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park. But I deferred and was rewarded for my patience: on Monday evening, I saw the Giants beat the Cards, 7-1, to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

On Monday, I briefly saw the sights. Walked through Chinatown on my way to North Beach for a visit to Vesuvio (above) and City Lights Bookstore (below), and climbed Telegraph Hill for a view of San Francisco. The city originally was known as “Yerba Buena,” or “good herb.” No, not that herb, but a local species of mint.

All in all, a great trip to a great conference with great people in a great city. As novelist William Saroyan, a native of Fresno, noted: “If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco. If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life.”

Or, from novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling: “San Francisco has only one drawback. It’s hard to leave.” Or this, from broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite: "Leaving San Francisco is like saying good-bye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible."