Want Authenticity in your Brand? Take a Tiny Risk.

"Use social media to be authentic. Use social media to show you are human. Use social media to show a little personality."

These are mantras, orders, directions, suggestions, broken records heard in corporate environments 'round the world, but bosses, managers, directors, head honchos are unsure exactly how to do that. What does one mean by "be authentic"? Hasn't his hard work day in and day out been authentic? He thinks it has. He isn't wrong.

Show I am human?, she muses. I am an on-air host for a TV station. I move and talk and walk and investigate in front of cameras. How could I be any more human than I am already? It's not a stupid question. And personality? Her title is television personality. 

I think what they mean is this.

You see, The Today Show has a Tumblr. That's already a smart move. This Tumblr blog links to, among other things, videos on The Today Show website with short little quips or still images added, making it more micro-bloggy. These posts flow into Tumblr users' dashboards and Today Show videos these users would have never seen otherwise get watched. Why is that?

Because someone updating The Today Show Tumblr took a tiny risk.

Not only did the author of this Today Show Tumblr post take a tiny risk by expressing opinion about a guest's appearance, he or she also tagged the post with the term "delish." 

That's funny. It's also brave for a morning news show. But they know that Tumblr users are not their traditional audience and by being familiar with the ways that people use that medium (by employing tags like "delish", etc.), they were able to endear themselves to an entirely different group of individuals than those who normally watch The Today Show.

The reaction was glee, lots of reblogs and plenty of heart clicking. When a Tumblr blogger jokingly asked, "OMG TODAY SHOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING," the Today Show Tumblr author didn't freak out and delete the post or apologize and backpedal. He or she responded with, "We’re just doing what you’re already thinking."

Which is honest and playful and further endearing these users to The Today Show brand, all because this author did something unexpected, a little brave and stuck by the post.

Newsweek even chimed in with "Media Tumblrs: WE ARE PEOPLE TOO!"

Which is true. Tumblr users know how Tumblrs get made. Even the ones for major television programs where the stars make many, many millions of dollars. It's one or two people, maybe a small team--maybe--deciding what to publish and how to do it and how often and how come. To pretend that the author of that Today Show Tumblr post doesn't have an opinion or a sense of humor or a mind of their own is dishonest. This is what they mean by "be authentic." It kinda just comes down to "don't lie." 

We know that is an attractive actor. They know that is an attractive actor. Saying it aloud in the right forum--one where the audience can recognize and appreciate your tiny risk--is not a danger to your company's bottom line. It just isn't. 

To the first set of mantras and orders listed at the head of this post I'd add, "Take reasoned, tiny risks." It's what people do. It's what people have to do as humans. In this way your company can be more like the people it aims to reach. And the payoff can be tremendous.

You've Never Had a Better Reason to Watch Jeopardy! Tomorrow

Tomorrow night, set a reminder. My friend Tony Hightower is going to be on Jeopardy!.

You should watch for several reasons:

  • Tony is funny. Tony
  • Tony is the creator and host of Trivia NYC, which is popular and well regarded, and so it should be interesting to see if this knowledgeable master of ceremonies can hold his own.
  • Jeopardy! is always a good time, but it's better if you know someone who is playing. Now, tangentially, you do. Sort of. Just work with me on this one.
  • If you were on Jeopardy!, Tony would totally watch your show.

Okay! So, set your TiVo, gather your friends and if you are in New Yawk, head to Dempsey's for a viewing party that I really, really, really wish I could be there for. And give Tony (and Sam and Jo and errbody else) a hug for me.

Say That Again

"Georgia, right?" ... "Are you from North Carolina?"

My southern accent is a regular source of conversation and outright amusement amongst those I've met since moving to the Bay Area. People try to pinpoint where I'm from, but usually only those who are also from the South. No one ever guesses Tennessee, but I've gotten Kentucky a few times.

What is funny to me is how when I waited tables in Murfreesboro and in Nashville I was often asked from the locals where I was from. Because my Southern drawl wasn't as pronounced as every one else's. And I called it soda.

Then I went to work for a TV station that doled out a little charity and let me be on the air. I learned, or tried to learn, even more how to hide my Tennessee twang, though I'm not sure I ever succeeded. However, when I hang out with the good folks of Cheatham County, where I went to high school, the vocal divide is readily apparent. I have nowhere near as deep an accent as my Ashland City and Pleasant View friends.

I drop more g's when I've had a couple to drink, and I snap into a slower lilt when I'm on the phone with my terrificly twangy Mom, but on the whole I do not have a strong southern accent. Which is why this blog post from Honest Lee made me laugh:

i follow three people on twitter (via their xml rpc api via rss via newsbeuter). defectiveyeti (matthew baldwin), dooce (heather armstrong) and brittneyg. and i had no idea brittneyg had a southern accent

He's referring to a video segment I did for CBS 5 in San Francisco. And frankly, I don't really hear an accent. So, I want you to do me a favor. Watch this video and weigh in with your comment: Do you hear a Southern accent? I am particularly interested in how the answers will skew based on location.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

KPIX On-Air Piece #2

This morning I was on the t.v. again, this time with the super smart Sweet Melissa, who could teach me a thing or two about how to act in front of the camera. If you watch the video above, notice when they cut to the two-shot of us how she is leaned forward on her forearms in a very serious, woman-to-watch-for way while I lean back with the goofy grin on my face. She looks so self-assured. I should smile less.

There were less uh's and um's this time, so cheers to that. And thanks to Melissa for getting up so early on a weekend to come in for the show. She was my first choice for the blogger segment, which may become a regular thing*

*I need to find out how often I can appear on the air before I am considered "talent" and have to pay $1500 in dues, I was told today. I'd NOT like to get surprised with that sort of bill, so thank you very much, Mr. Producer, for the heads up.

Old Media Mindset On Display at V-Squared (R.I.P.)

This comment was left by a Nashville News 2 staffer on the farewell post at Volunteer Voters, the political blog once run by that station:

Although, I always hate to see any one lose their job and I appreciate the work that Adam did here at WKRN. I have to say that if his departure saves the job of just one employee that actually does tv work then it was worth it to me. This is a tv station not a blog station. I saw a lot of tv employees lose their jobs while Internet people remained. Before Adam was let go we had 3 Internet people and only 4 directors. For a TV station that is just not smart. Blogs are a luxury for a tv station not a necessity and this station can’t afford any luxuries.

While I can totally see why this employee would feel this way, it is evident that they are completely unaware of how the internet is changing their profession in radical ways that cannot be ignored. People with this mentality will either catch on or get swept away in the new media tide.

Adapt or die.