Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Call It Anything, ...But Call It!

Working with many different types of people means encountering all kinds of interpretations and reactions to seemingly innocuous words. I remember Jeff De Cagna saying, '"If you want to see an association exec's head explode just say the word, "wiki."'

Other popular social tech words still have this same effect for many people. Here are several that I've observed people grapple with within the past week:
  • Social Media
  • Twitter (and anything "twelated" to Twitter)
  • Wiki
  • Blog
  • Augmented reality
  • Mobile tech
  • Location-based tech
Social Media is a newer type of communication that mostly falls into the same patterns that apply to any type of common sense rules about relating information to people: Don't lie. Get to the point. Be human.

What I hate is watching someone who has much experience and intelligence shut down because of a lack of understanding with new words that apparently seem threatening. As a result, I (and others around me) have been attempting to find better ways to get our messages across without using what we might consider the most descriptive or accurate words in our immediate grasp. "Social Media" becomes "electronic marketing" or "emerging media" or "enhanced communication channels" because of our listener's preconceived notion that social media is what 12-year-olds do and is some kind of kiddish fad that could cause more problems than solve.

There are many reasons why these fearful people should hear past their trigger words. You can read blogs by this person, this person, and this person and get a good idea of why it is a good idea to give up misgivings about particular words in order to see a more important lesson...that social media is not a fad and your biggest risk is not getting involved at all.

Anyone have stories to share about crafting your language to avoid scaring off the Luddites in your midst?

What words scare you? When I start hearing people talk about sports and the stock market, should I really be looking at that as an opportunity to educate myself and not to shut my listening down?

What say ye, dear readers?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DelCor Social Media Sweet Spot Webcast ASAE Annual Participation

It's time to start planning for DelCor's Social Media Sweet Spot Webcast ASAE Annual coverage and participation! You can help out by taking this poll and sharing your thoughts with me. Of course, we'll also start discussing on the webcast each Friday at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

Talk with you soon!

Monday, April 19, 2010

What’s Stopping Them From Joining? (CRP Virtual Lunch Date)

Title: CRP Virtual Lunch Date
Date(s): Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Location: Virtual - Audio Only
Member Fee: $0.00
Non-Member Fee: $0.00
CAE Hours: Earn up to 1 hours

Program Description
Each month the component relations section has a discussion on a topic of interest to its members. Share with your fellow CRPs your challenges and successes. This is an opportunity to bring new ideas to the table and get some feedback! Follow the discussion on Twitter at #CRPLunch.

This Month's Topic: What’s Stopping Them From Joining?

Register Now:
Guest Presenters:
  • Lorna Kent, American Society for Microbiology
  • Tracy Rettie, CAE, American Staffing Association
Join your colleagues for a strategic discussion in this month’s component relations hot topic—what is keeping chapter members from joining the national association? Guest presenters Lorna Kent and Tracy Rettie will represent the professional society and trade association perspectives respectively. Hear about the relationships that Kent and Rettie’s organizations have with their chapters, details about their targeted efforts getting chapter members to join at the national level, and why they think chapter members aren’t joining. Once Kent and Rettie have shared their experiences, it’s your turn! Share with everyone on the teleconference your successes (so we can learn from you) and your challenges (so we can help you address them) in this informal and fun virtual networking event.
* Please note: this is an Audio Only program.
Time: Noon - 1:00 pm EDT
Fee: Complimentary
Cancellation Policy: We are requesting courtesy cancellations within three business days prior to the start of the program.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Censorship in the Digital Age

Last week Acronym Blog, produced by the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), added a thought-provoking post titled, "Consultant Wasteland," with the first sentence reading, "Why Consultants Suck."

The content of the post wasn’t scandalous, but the dramatic title and first sentence struck some people as offensive and the post was quickly removed -- but not before several regular association bloggers had already read and commented on the post (and not before the post arrived in various feed readers, which saved the post in spite of it no longer being available on the main website).

ASAE eventually responded in the mounting list of comments to their replacement post explaining the deletion, but that did not seem to quell the conversation's hungry spirit. Association bloggers and ASAE members connected by social media networks continue to debate and discuss the reasons behind the retraction of the article. To be honest, there hasn’t been much of a debate as most of the people talking seem to agree matters were handled poorly in this case.

But what should ASAE have done? Several suggestions have been made, some of which include:
1. The post should have been reviewed before it was posted so that a phrase like, "Why Consultants Suck" wouldn't have been released in the first place.
2. The post should have been edited after discovering the parts that angered people, and had those parts removed.
3. The post should have remained "as is" and ASAE's official response been made in the comments or as a follow-up post.

In reading up about other blog censoring issues, I ran across the Washington Post case from earlier this year involving a controversial stance and some pointed phrases being eliminated from a piece about DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

What the Washington Post example showed me was that even if the article had been altered to have “watered down” language, the response would have remained the same. 

People are having issues with not being allowed the chance to review and comment on the post and with the very real possibility that this instance may cause people to self-censor potentially important controversial subjects that need to be discussed in open with other association professionals.

Many voices from the ether seem to be saying, “We are adults. Allow us to deal with these subjects on our own.”

Times have a'changed, folks.  We can't make something like a controversial blog post just disappear, so we have to approach it in another fashion. We have to smartly address issues head on and in public (gasp!) and not be afraid to anger the people who rather shut uncomfortable conversations down than see unpleasant words on their association blog.

There are two sides to every story. Ultimately, we need to recognize that from this particular situation there is obviously a need to discuss consultant-client relationships and expectations AND a need to identify procedures for controversial public blog posts in an age when nothing disappears.  

What do you think?


NOTE: Somewhere in the thick of the conversation, someone asserted that this wasn't a case of just to be clear - 

Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material, which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.
Censorship. (2010, April 2).

In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:44, April 2, 2010, from