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6 posts from July 2009

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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OSCON WordPress MU slides online - video coming soon

Last week out at O'Reilly's OSCON, I gave a talk "Creating a Corporate Blog Portal Using WordPress MU". As I mentioned on Voxeo's Behind The Blog, I have now put the slides for the talk online. I did record the talk on video - and aim to get that video up online next week. Meanwhile, here are the slides:

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"United Breaks Guitars" took far less than a year to hit 1 million views!

When I initially wrote about the "United Breaks Guitars" video two days ago, it only had about 15,000 views. On his website, Dave Carroll wrote this:
At that moment it occurred to me that I had been fighting a losing battle all this time and that fighting over this at all was a waste of time. The system is designed to frustrate affected customers into giving up their claims and United is very good at it. However I realized then that as a songwriter and traveling musician I wasn’t without options. In my final reply to Ms. Irlweg I told her that I would be writing three songs about United Airlines and my experience in the whole matter. I would then make videos for these songs and offer them for free download online, inviting viewers to vote on their favourite United song. My goal: to get one million hits in one year.

No worries about hitting 1 million in one year... this morning as I write this the count is:


Under four days since it was posted July 6th! (Probably hit a million in 3 days.)

Dave Carroll obviously hit a public nerve, too, as he has now been all over the television world... CNN with Wolf Blitzer... CBC... CBS Morning Show... and comments on YouTube have indicated its popping up on TV in all sorts of different parts of the world. Mainstream media has covered him, too... some examples include the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, the LA Times.

It has, of course, been all over Twitter (also another search).

His "SonsOfMaxwell" Facebook page and MySpace page chronicle some of all the ensuing craziness.

As he said in his website post, he really does need to thank United. This one little video (and only the first of three planned) has really propelled him to a global stage... no way to really know but you'd have to imagine that SonsOfMaxwell have no doubt sold a good bit of music online in the past few days (you see mention of people buying in various comments). It helps, too, that Carroll seems very honest and transparent about this whole thing and that in this case it does seem like United was clearly in the wrong, even if he didn't file his claim within the 24 hours United's policies require.

unitedairlines.jpgTo their credit, it's good to see that United is responding. Their updates to their unitedairlines Twitter account clearly state that they are sorry, that they are working to make this right by him, and that they will be using this video for internal training purposes. The CNN video also refers to a statement from UAL.

It would be interesting to see what, if anything, United does to work with him on subsequent videos. Video #2 is apparently nearing completion, but it sounds like video #3 is still open... could be an interesting opportunity for them if they were interested. It would be fun if they invited him to sing at some United event. Externally, they seem to be putting a good face on it. Internally, no doubt some folks are cringing.

Also interesting to note that Taylor Guitars has so far been low-key on their Twitter account, not really responding or jumping into the conversations on Twitter. They did, though, post this piece about safe air travel with your guitar on their website that does not refer to Dave Carroll or the ongoing issue directly, but does give tips about how to safely travel with your guitar. That piece is also pointed to from Taylor Guitar's home page.

All in all another great example of how in the age of social media your customers are in control and, if you don't provide appropriate service, have multiple avenues to voice their frustrations.

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Social media: Where brevity is appreciated, where clarity and simplicity win

This morning by way of Skype's publicist Chaim Haas, I learned of Renee Blodgett's interview with Robert Scoble Skype's chief blogger Peter Parkes (direct link to video). The interview itself was quite interesting as Peter spoke about the role blogging in particular plays within Skype and about his role as "chief blogger", as well as how it has changed since he began in 2006. Robert Scoble also gave his perspective on how corporate blogging has evolved. It was an interesting discussion.

One phrase of Peter's, though, stuck out in my mind as being so accurate about Twitter and really the whole current state of social media:

It's actully quite refreshing to be able to work in an environment where brevity is appreciated, where clarity and simplicity win.

Indeed. A nice concise summary.

As I wrote about way back in December 2007, using Twitter is my daily lesson in attempting brevity. As I wrote there, it's hard for an old-school trainer who wants to be sure that everyone completely understands to learn the art of conciseness and brevity. I keep trying ;-)

The full video, which is worth watching, is here:

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"United Breaks Guitars" - If you don't like their customer service, create a satire music video!

In yet another example of how a customer can respond when they are not pleased with the service they are getting from a company, here is musician's Dave Carroll's music video, "United Breaks Guitars":

As Dave Carroll writes on his explanation page:

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.

The "Detailed Version" of events on that same page goes into the particulars of what transpired.

As my friend David Bryan said on Twitter, this is one of the most clever ways to complain that I've seen. And for United, this is only part 1 of 3.

United... are you paying attention? Your customers are voicing their dissatisfaction.

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I will miss Kodachrome (though I haven't used it in years...)

kodak.jpgI was sad to learn recently that Kodak has ended the 74-year-run of its Kodachrome film. The Wikipedia page on Kodachrome has some good info and links - and Kodak themselves put onlne a tribute site to KODACHROME.

In my younger years, I was seriously into photography and shot tons of rolls of slide film. When I was the University of New Hampshire in the mid-1980's, I used to put together slide shows for public events for the NH Outing Club (an outdoor activity group, i.e. hiking, canoeing, skiing, etc.). Admittedly, working on the typical student budget, I shot mostly Ektachrome in those days due to the cheaper cost of processing, but in later years I did use Kodachrome quite a good bit. I used it on various trips out west... on a trip to Greenland... in many different places. There was just something about the colors in the film. Great to shoot with.

The reality, though, is that I haven't bought a roll of Kodachrome, Ektachrome or really any film in probably...

fifteen years.

Maybe even more. Now, between jobs, family and other activities, my photography activities dropped off and the 35mm cameras and lens all sit in the basement... as do the many, many trays of slides... waiting for the mythical time when I'll have the cycles to scan them all in to my digital photo library.

I'm obviously not alone in that. Here's question #1 in Kodak's FAQ:

Why has Kodak decided to stop offering KODACHROME?
Due to declining customer demand for KODACHROME, continued production of this film in no longer viable. Over the years people have moved from KODACHROME to other methods of capture, be it new films or digital. Simply put, not enough people are shooting KODACHROME for us to continue offering it.

And that's the thing, isn't it? We've all gone digital with our photography. When was the last time any of you actually bought film?

Let's be honest, too... how many of us really want to go back to using film? The convenience of digital photography is just far too great to even remotely think about going back. Even now, I'm watching the prices of DSLRs continue to drop and keep waiting to jump back into doing more photography with higher-end gear...

Still, it's sad to hear of the passing of such a great institution within the world of photography.

I may just have to find a roll of Kodachrome before it all is gone, dust off the camera and lenses and go off for a picture-taking spree... just for old times sake...

R.I.P., Kodachrome...

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