Sustaining a launch/campaign - the Attention Wave is just the spark...

A few weeks back, Bryan Person replied to my Attention Wave case study with this comment (my emphasis added):
I like the "attention ripples" expression, and it feels like a more sensible way to steadily build awareness and momentum around new products and services. You *can* still drop multiple blog posts, for example, on "launch day," but why not also have an editorial plan to publish content across multiple social channels over several days and weeks?


The last part is the critical point to me. Packaging your initial content into an "Attention Wave" should just be the spark that ignites your campaign/launch/etc. The goal of that first package of content is to:

  • tell your story from multiple points-of-view
  • provide the resources to help others tell your story (ex. provide an embeddable video people can use)
  • get as much initial visibility as possible

But if there's no plan to continue the content creation, then your nice Attention Wave package of content becomes simply a spark that may light a small fire but soon runs out of fuel.

To Bryan's point, you should have an editorial calendar that continues to build on your launch package and that streams out in the days, weeks and months after your launch. You want to feed fuel to the fire and keep the flames burning.

The Attention Wave is just the spark...

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Visualizing an "Attention Wave" - What does it look like?

What does an "Attention Wave" look like? Building on my last two posts of:

I thought I'd share a quick sketch of one way of visualizing what you are trying to create (click the image for a larger image):


There are undoubtedly other ways you could picture this, but hopefully this provides one view.

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Creating an Attention Wave - A Case Study in how multiple corporate blogs can deliver different perspectives

What is the value in having multiple corporate blogs? How can they help you tell multiple sides to a story?

When I wrote my original "Creating an Attention Wave" story, I mentioned in the "Package Components" section about creating multiple posts in different corporate blogs to go out as part of the overall "package". Commenter Tamara Gruber liked this emphasis and relayed her own story:

A client of mine just did an announcement through a blog post from the CEO that talked about the new features and business benefits. That was followed on by a post from the CTO that got into the nitty gritty details. All of these pieces help tell the story. We always need to remember to step outside and take an outsiders view and guide them through the news with multiple forms of content to make sure they "get it."

I thought it might be illustrative to provide a specific example of how I and my team used this concept with a recent announcement we made at Voxeo.


Back in August at the SpeechTEK conference in New York City, we put out this news release on August 25, 2009, announcing the newest version of our software, Prophecy 10:

Voxeo Announces Prophecy 10: The Unlocked Communications™ Platform

We followed that with a series of blog posts and a video podcast across several blogs:

Voxeo Talks (our main corporate blog)

Voxeo Developer's Corner (technical topics for developers)

The Tropo Blog (posts about our platform)

IMified Blog (posts about our IMified platform)

VoiceObjects Developer Blog (posts for developers using our VoiceObjects tool)

Emerging Tech Talk (video podcast)

Altogether we had 5 supporting blog posts on the day of the launch and a total of 7 blog posts and 1 video podcast within 48 hours of the launch.

All of these blog posts, once posted to our blog sites, also were distributed to readers via:

All of this distribution happened automatically through our platform.


As I look down the list of posts, several points pop into my mind:

  • MULTIPLE AUDIENCES - As you look through the different posts, you can see that they are written to cater to the different users of our various platforms and tools. They get specifically into how the announcement matters to the specific audience.

  • DIFFERENT DEPTHS - The posts vary in technical detail. Both the Voxeo Talks post and the ETT video focus on the overall message. Some of the other posts touch on the very basics of how someone can get going - and then a few dive into technical details and even include code samples.

  • VARIED HEADLINES - The headlines... the titles of the posts, vary widely. There is the Voxeo Talks post title that uses the "Unlocked Communications" theme we were announcing in the release. There are longer, more descriptive headlines. There are shorter headlines. You can easily tell which are my titles... they are the longer ones (outside of Voxeo Talks). I tend to write my headlines for Twitter. I literally do copy/paste my title over into Tweetdeck to see: 1) will it fit into 140 characters with enough room for a retweet and for a link; and 2) how does it look in Twitter. The goal is of course to get people to open your link. But I do also like having the shorter titles mixed in there as well. Some of them are short and succinct... I might have changed a couple but overall it's a good mixture.

  • DEVELOPER-CENTRIC - In looking over the posts in hindsight, outside of the Voxeo Talks post and the ETT video, they are all focused on developers who use our various platforms and tools. While that is great to reach out to folks working on our platforms, developers are only one of our audiences. What's clearly missing as I look at this is anything related to more of a business focus, outside of the VT and ETT posts. The opportunity was here to put up, for instance, a post like "Prophecy 10 Brings SMS and IM To Your Contact Center" or "Want to move your customer interaction beyond voice?"... you get the idea... something that addressed the business impact of the announcement. (Next time...)

There were also different authors of the posts which provided different wording, different writing styles, etc.


So the good news was that we had multiple posts across multiple blogs addressing multiple audiences and using multiple headlines.

Going back to my Attention Wave post, though, for a variety of reasons we didn't package all of this content as a "wave". Even on the first day, the 5 blog posts streamed out over the course of the day, and the other 3 streamed out two days later. Largely the major issue was that we were simultaneously involved in the largest trade show presence we have all year... so our own internal attention wasn't able to focus on preparing the package of content.

Now I don't know that this was necessarily a bad thing. The upside of streaming the content out over the course of several days is that you kept the mention of the announcement flowing out through the distribution channels. There is a case to be made to have an initial wave of posts - and then follow that with subsequent posts to keep the attention. (Wait! Shall I call those "attention ripples"? :-) )


So in the end, what kind of coverage did we get? how effective were the multiple posts, etc.? That will have to be the subject of another post at some point because this one is already way too long...

What I wanted to do here in this post was illustrate how I/we used multiple blogs to tell different sides of the story. I hope this was helpful and if any of you have pointers to other posts where people have similarly outlined how they used multiple blogs to tell multiple sides of a story, please do leave links in the comments. Thanks.

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Creating an Attention Wave - Building a Package Around Your News Release

So you have some news you want to get out there. You are thinking of issuing the standard old news release... Yet in the era of the "real-time web", when new stories are found through services like Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed; when the ranks of formal journalists are shrinking and the ranks of online writers are growing - and the pressure to publish is greater than ever; when there are thousands upon thousands of stories coming out each day... in all of that mess...
how do you get people to pay attention to your news?

Today, in late 2009, I've seen many of us in the PR and marketing space sending out more than a news release... creating a "package" of related stories in multiple media. As I've tried to explain this method to other people, I have recently found it useful to talk about this in terms of aiming to create an "Attention Wave". Let me explain - and I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether this framework helps in explaining what it is we aim to do.


Ultimately, of course, you want customers to read about your news and buy more of your services, products, widgets, etc. or promote your cause, goal, etc. Naturally for them to read about your news, you need to get people to write about your news.

Can you do this with a single news release?

Unless you are Apple announcing their latest sexy gadget - or Google announcing their latest free service, the answer is almost certainly... no. The reality is that journalists, bloggers and everyone else writing online are inundated with a zillion stories every hour of every day. And they are scanning those endless headlines through Twitter, FriendFeed, RSS readers, email inboxes, search results and other aggregation means.

You have one... maybe two seconds to get their attention and have them open your content.

That's it.

Naturally, you need solid headlines that catch their attention and make them want to follow the link to read your content... but that's the subject of another post.

What I am talking about here is assembling a "package" of content centered around your news release that hits the web in one wave... multiple stories, some from you and some from others, cascading through the "real-time web", followed ideally by retweets and other redistribution / re-posting so that journalists and those writing online have multiple opportunities to see your content - and potentially will investigate for no other reason than that they are seeing many mentions of it.

The goal is to lengthen the time of exposure of your story to journalists, bloggers and anyone else writing.

Instead of 1 or 2 seconds while a writer is scanning new headlines, maybe you get 10 or 20 seconds... maybe a couple of minutes as stories appear and are redistributed... maybe more... maybe significantly more.


Nothing I've said so far is really different from "PR 101". It's always been the goal of PR to earn coverage of your news. We've always done pre-announcement briefings with the goal of getting people to cover you and come out with stories around the time of your news release.

The difference in our new world of social media is this:

The opportunity has never been greater to tell your story in your own words.

I'm talking about more than just the social media release, although that may be one of the communication tools you use in your overall package.

I'm NOT talking about creating a series of Twitter accounts to spam Twitter... or generating bogus stories on bogus web sites linking to your content. Those are games played by people who usually lack a story to tell - and in this world of transparency you will probably be called out on doing that. I'm also NOT talking about getting listed on TechMeme, Digg, or whatever the major news aggregation site may be for your industry - that may be an outcome of your work... but I'm talking about before you get to that.

You. Sitting at your computer. Putting together a package around your news. Aiming to generate a wave of attention focused on your news.


First, before I go further, there is of course one major caveat:


No amount of packaging can really help a worthless story. People now have a pretty high B.S.-detector. You might succeed in getting your story a bit more attention - but the backlash might also not be to your liking.

Let's assume you have a decent story to tell...


The pieces of your overall "package" will obviously vary according to your industry, your specific announcement, etc., but would typically include items such as:

  • a formal news release, including components targeted at making it easier for people to tell your story:
    • company/organization logos
    • pictures of the executives or others quoted in the news release
    • pictures of the product, or visually interesting screenshots
    • links to a video and other components of your package

  • a post on your corporate blog (you have one, right?), "humanizing" the more formal language of your news release and explaining the release in a more conversational tone

  • one or more embeddable videos, posted to your blog site or YouTube channel, providing a video interview, a demonstration, or other content. This could be multiple videos... perhaps one an interview with someone quoted in the news release going into more detail and a second providing more of a demo of the product. They need to have "embed codes" that allow writers to embed the video directly into their blog or news site.

  • a "deeper dive" post that goes into more detail around whatever was announced. Ideally with some interesting diagrams or other images that could be incorporated into other posts. Potentially, depending upon your industry, some sample apps or source code or items that others can try out.

  • companion posts on company/employee blogs: if you have other blogs for your company, perhaps targeted at specific audiences, can you plan a post related to your news that is relevant to that audience or vertical? can you ask employees to post on the topic of your news on their own blogs (assuming it is relevant to do so)?

  • companion posts on external/friendly blogs: do you know of people in the community around your company (you have one, right?) who might be eager to write about your new product or service?

  • posts on media/blog sites, resulting from pre-announcement briefing of appropriate media outlets.

Note that I am advocating for use of a formal news release. Multiple reasons, including the fact that news releases through wire services reach people who might not otherwise see the news - and also appear in news aggregation sites. They also serve as a formal statement of public record for many companies. The act of creating a news release also ideally has the effect of helping you tune your message and get it down to the essentials. (Or not, given some of the lousy news releases I've seen come through my inbox.)

Keep in mind, too, that my list is just a guideline. Maybe you want to include an audio podcast - or a slide presentation posted to your SlideShare account - or a supporting white paper. Whatever works for you... the point is that you are just creating multiple pieces surrounding and complementing your news release.


Beyond the obvious effect of having multiple pieces go out at the same time and create the wave of headlines, there are some other reasons for creating the package:

  • Reaching different subscriber bases - Some people will want to read your news in Twitter. Some will in RSS. Some in email. Some in dedicated sites like YouTube. Some will be interested in a particular aspect of how your news applies. In some cases you might be able to distribute pointers to your news release in all those channels. In some cases you may want to create channel-specific content.

  • Addressing different learning/consuming styles - Some people want just short, brief summaries. Some people want detailed technical info. Some people will prefer to watch a video or a screencast rather than read an article. You can address these audiences through different pieces. Have the formal news release... then put the concise summary on your corporate blog, or perhaps a "news summary" page. Post a technical deep dive on a developer blog. Put a video up on YouTube. Create a summary post somewhere linking all of this together.

  • Enabling others to tell your story - You want to make it easy for other people to tell your story to their audiences. If it's a compelling story that people will want to share, make it easy for them to do so. Provide the pictures, the screenshots... make the video embeddable (and please don't make it "auto-play"!)... make this all easy and "self-service" so that people who want to write about your story can do so.

Creating the "package" of pieces lets you do all of this.


An advantage of building a package like this, too, is that you can also try out different headlines in the different components of the package. The main news release can have the more formal headline:

The main corporate blog post can say:
Our Product YYYYY cures cancer, solves world hunger and more

while another post on a targeted blog can say:

How Product YYYYY Delivers 6-Month ROI to the Financial Industry


Man, check out how Product YYYYY smokes the competition

You get the idea... multiple headlines, each of which appears then in those various tools and searches monitored by media/bloggers/others. You have a chance to see what will work.


Obviously, putting together all the pieces like this can take a good deal of effort... and time. Generally the process will be something like this:

  1. Finalize the news release in advance of the launch date. Depending upon your capacity to produce online content (i.e. how quickly you can do so), you'll need that news release some amount of time in advance... 24 hours? 48 hours? 72 hours? More? You need the news release signed off on for your final messaging - and also to get to those who will prepare companion pieces.

  2. Determine the URL of the news release. If you can know the URL where your news release will be when it goes live, you can pass this along to those writing companion pieces so that they will link back to the release on your site.

  3. Determine the launch time and date. (And remember timezones when relaying the info) This is important for communicating to those who will write supporting pieces. Ideally you would like the various pieces to hit in the same general timeframe. This is also incredibly important with regard to who will see your stories. If you are in the US, do you want to go live in the early morning US Eastern time? (probably) Or for a European audience?

  4. Develop your companion pieces. Some of the companion pieces can be developed in advance and tweaked with final messaging - others may need final messaging before you start them. (For instance, video may involve too much post-production to re-do, and so you may want to wait for final messaging.)

  5. Deliver pre-announcement briefings. To anyone writing companion pieces, internally or externally, as well as to media sites interested in writing about your news.

And so on... most of this at this point is "PR 101" in how you gear up for an announcement.


At the designated time and date, ideally your news release goes out over the wire... your own blog posts appear... your video is live on YouTube... and the stories start appearing.

Some of this you can prepare in advance. Most blogging platforms let you schedule posts. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube and set to be private (which then also gives you the URL you can add into the wire service when setting your news release to go). Other content can be ready in offline editors for posting. Regardless, there will be work to do to make it all start flowing.

Once it starts, you need to make sure you have a tweet (or several) going out in Twitter, a message going out on your Facebook fan page, in Friendfeed and any other services you use.

After that, it's engaging in the conversation in the real-time media, responding to comments, retweeting other stories you see appearing, and all the other things we do these days.


It should go without saying that if you are going to put this much work into preparing for a release, you need to understand in advance how you are going to measure the results. What kind of web analytics do you have available to you? Can you include custom (and therefore trackable) URLs in your pieces? Can you use URL shorteners like that can track usage?

At a higher level... do you have an idea of what constitutes success?

Entire blogs and blog posts are written on the subject of measurement - be sure you have a plan.


What happens if someone runs with the story before you are ready? What happens if your video doesn't work? Or your web site goes down? Or one of the companion web sites? All the usual concerns you need to think about...


If you do this right... with a compelling story... an solid "package" of complementary materials... good headlines, etc., the opportunity is there to see this "attention wave" pass through the real-time aspects of the web today and generate some coverage. If it works well, you may indeed see the wave grow for a while.

There are no guarantees, of course. You may do all of this and at the time you go live there is some major disaster... or some celebrity action... (or Apple product release)... or something to divert attention away from you. But your odds of getting attention are way better than when you were thinking of just issuing that one news release.


This way of thinking about what we are aiming to do as an "attention wave" works for me... but I am curious to hear your thoughts, feedback, criticism and opinions.

What do you think of all this? Do you think this is realistic? Unrealistic? A good way to think about the process? Or just the same basic stuff PR has been aiming for but given a slightly different spin? Any pieces I'm missing above?

Have you used a process similar to this in the past? How did it work for you? What problems did you run into?

Have you seen particular companies, organizations or brands that have stood out in your mind for using a process like this? Anyone specific - or any specific announcement - stand out in your mind? Pointers to examples left in the comments would be greatly appreciated.

Any other comments or feedback?

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PSNH's Martin Murray on Twitter in the ice storm - and getting coverage via social media

How can Twitter be used as a communication channel in a time of crisis?

Long-time readers of this blog or FIR listeners will remember that back in January 2009 I interviewed Public Service of New Hamphsire (PSNH) spokesperson Martin Murray about his use of Twitter during the December 2008 ice storm we had. Our conversations resulted in two interviews: a 9-minute Emerging Tech Talk video interview and then a longer 30-minute FIR audio interview.

Today the folks at Ragan Communications came out with a new interview of Martin that covers some of the same territory, but also includes a story completely separate from the ice storm about how Twitter helped PSNH get additional coverage of an event. It's a great illustration of how these social tools like Twitter, Flickr, etc. can wind up also helping get coverage in mainstream news media. Here it is:

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Video of my FIR interview of Eric Schwartzman (and briefly Christopher Penn)

fir_100x100.gifListeners to For Immediate Release episode 460 last Thursday, June 25th, will have heard that I interviewed Eric Schwartzman and then briefly spoke with Christopher Penn as well. Although FIR is only audio, there was actually a video component to my report last week. You see, I didn't have my audio recorder with me at the event where Eric and I met, so I simply recorded the video using my small JVC Everio hard disk video camera. I then imported the movie into iMovie '09 on my MacBook Pro. Next I opened the resulting movie in GarageBand, where I deleted the video track and exported the remaining audio track as an MP3 file that I sent to Shel and Neville for the FIR episode.

But... since I did have video, I decided to upload the video of Eric (and briefly Chris) to YouTube where you can watch it now:

You can find out more about Eric at (sans beard and mustache :-) or follow him on Twitter at Christopher Penn can be found at or

The For Immediate Release podcast can as always be found at


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My new role...

I realized today that in the spirit of full transparency I should probably mention it here as I did over on Disruptive Telephony. My role at Voxeo has changed. I'm now "Director of Conversations" responsible for all marketing, PR, AR, media, social media, blogs, etc. I have a longer writeup over on that explains more of what is going on. The end result may be that you'll see more posts from me over on this blog. I do admit to being excited to have the opportunity to try out many of the things I write about here and we talk about on For Immediate Release. Definitely interesting times ahead...

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Congrats to Neville Hobson on IABC "Chairman's Award"

A huge congratulations to my good friend Neville Hobson on his receiving the 2009 IABC "Chairman's Award". As the announcement says:
Each year the IABC Chairman honors one or more members of the association who have made selfless contributions and worked hard behind the scenes to enhance the association’s image, facilitate member development and benefit the communication profession. The award recognizes members who have demonstrated initiative and leadership at the international level through serving on committees, speaking at seminars, working with students, assisting with conferences, or writing articles for professional journals. Any current IABC member who has belonged to the association for at least five years is eligible for the award.

Gibson said, “In thinking about who I wanted to honor with the Chairman’s Award, I looked to my ‘Four I’s of IABC’ (international, influence, inspiration & individual). I wanted to select someone who was helping the association be more international, who had influenced and inspired me personally, as well as other members, the profession and beyond, and who took individual initiative to make things happen, rather than sitting back and waiting for others to make a difference. Neville Hobson, ABC, embodies all those things.”

The award statement goes on at some length. It's great to see Neville get this recognition and I'd say he definitely deserves it.

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TechCrunch: Is OpenID being exploited for PR purposes by the "Big Internet Companies"?

BBA831C6-CAD7-498F-9164-AC5BA8FEADD7.jpgAre the Big Internet Companies (AOL, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) really committed to OpenID or are they merely exploiting it for PR purposes? That's the question Mike Arrington asks today over on TechCrunch.

When I last wrote about OpenID back in January, that was pretty much my same question in: "Yahoo supports OpenID... Yaawwwnnn... when can I *login* to Yahoo! services with OpenID?". As I recounted in that post, I have no problem with getting an OpenID identity. In fact, the problem if anything is that I have too many options for OpenID identities! I can use my own site, my LiveJournal account, my Yahoo account, my AOL/AIM account, etc.

But where can I use my OpenID?

That remains the key question. I want to consolidate my various accounts behind one (or a few) OpenID accounts. I want to be able to login to my Google account with the same OpenID that I use to login to my Yahoo account, my AOL/AIM account, my LinkedIn page, other websites (and heck, why not Facebook, too?)

This is Arrington's point, really. The "Big Internet Companies" are issuing news releases about their support for OpenID, but are only going halfway. So his point is... is this really just good PR for these companies? That they can use it to look good, but not actually help move OpenID along.

The challenge, of course, is that the "Big Internet Companies" would all like to be that "one account" that I use. They would like to be your "home" on the Internet. So on one level there is a severe DISincentive for them to start accepting OpenIDs for login. If they start accepting OpenID logins, users might potentially use an OpenID account of one of the other Big Internet Companies that have not yet opened up. So if Google opens up first and lets logins via OpenID, users might all use Yahoo accounts as their OpenID. If Yahoo opens up first, users might use a Google account.... and so on.

It's almost like there needs to be an "OpenID Big Bang Day" when all the big players start accepting OpenID logins. At the agreed-upon time, all the Big Internet Companies start letting people login with an OpenID URL. No one is disadvantaged. Users can just start using whichever account they want. (In fact, maybe the Big Internet Companies might then start offering reasons why they are the better OpenID provider?)

In the meantime, I expect we'll probably continue in the current state.... many Open ID providers... not as many places to use them. (And yes, I do realize there are an increasing number of smaller sites that are accepting OpenID.)

More coverage today:

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Is the "Puppy Toss" video for real? Or is it a setup? Is there a rush to judgement?

37A02020-B9AD-43B6-8D45-5EF9B5CD04A0.jpgAs I would expect (hope?) the VAST majority of you all reading this would be, I was thoroughly appalled when I learned by way of the Bryant Park Project about the horrid "Puppy Toss" video. In this 17-second video, a solider appears to be throwing a puppy off a cliff. The soldier is referred to as "Motari" which has led to the subsequent potential identification of this soldier as a David Motari of Monroe, Washington.

This appalling video has of course spawned a feeding frenzy in the blogosphere and a strong stream of stories in the mainstream media. News reports indicate that Motari's family has been threatened and has had to disconnect their phone while local authorities in Monroe, WA, attempt to deal with the attention. Motari's page on social networking sites has apparently been filled with hateful messages (one assumes on "wall" types of message boards). The US Marine Corps has meanwhile condemned the behavior and indicated that they are investigating the issue.

But with the thousands of hate messages flying around the Internet, the techie in me who knows how easy it is to create this type of thing can't help but wonder:

Is the video real? And is the perpetrator really David Motari of Monroe, WA?

Right now the conclusion of the blogosphere seems to be that it is real and that it is this particular guy. But I would suggest there are at least four potential possibilities:

1. IT IS REAL AND IT IS MOTARI - If it is, in fact, real, than Mr. Motari and his colleagues certainly deserve some form of punishment. Motari also needs to do some serious groveling and apologizing to his family for all the stress he's putting them through!

2. IT IS REAL BUT IT IS *NOT* MOTARI - What if this is a setup? All that people are going on to identify the soldier as David Motari is a brief mention of "That was mean, Motari" by an off-screen voice (possibly the cameraman). What if it was someone else? What if it is a malicious setup? What if someone wanted to get back at this David Motari and set it up so that his name was mentioned? What if someone staged this to tarnish the reputation of the Marines?

3. IT IS A HOAX BUT STILL MOTARI - It could be fake. It could be not a real puppy. There are some analyzing the video saying that it's not real or was exchanged before the throw. If it was, though, David Motari, he certainly has some explaining to do to the USMC and also his own family.

4. IT IS A HOAX BY SOMEONE ELSE - It obviously could be a hoax by someone else. But why the hoax? Is someone trying to hype something? Again, is someone trying to damage the military's reputation?

My point again is this:

In an era of near instanteous access to some information, are we rushing to judgement?

The "cybervigilantism" of posting the guy's address and phone number... of harrassing his parents and family... of barraging his social networking pages... are they deserved?

What if it turns out to NOT be him but rather some other Motari?

Can the phone calls, hateful emails and hateful posts be taken back?

What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

Should we not all just step away from the keybards for a little bit and wait to see if in fact the authorities determine it was him?

What if it were YOU who were mistakenly identified as being in a video like this?

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