“Media” can connect us in times of divisive communication.

I was sitting in a church service the Sunday morning after the Newtown massacre, and like many churches that day…the topic of discussion surrounded the events of this tragic shooting. Here we are over a few weeks removed and the discussion is still in full force…we are trying to seek answers.

We are asking ourselves lots of questions. We are wondering why these images of the children are being shared all over the television screens, websites, and social media platforms.

A quote that resonated with me that Sunday morning…something Pastor Johnny Mckinney shared, “During this time, we must lean in as a community of faith.” As I replay this thought, this quote, this statement…I think of the image where first responders from Friday morning’s shooting were huddled together. They were leaning in together, consoling each other, comforting each other especially those who had to witness those horrific images from inside the school.

Many have debated whether the media coverage of these events have blatantly crossed the lines…from numerous angles. Whether it may be questioning the intentions of journalists trying to question children witnesses right after the events *or* spending too much time in this small town compiling continuing coverage…many believe that “media” has created a division in public discourse. I am thinking through this idea of overall access to media including the news media and coverage of topical items. “Media” brings us access to frontline discussions.

Media is defined as “tools used to store and deliver information or data”. (From Wikipedia).

Oxford Dictionary defines media, “The word is also increasingly used in the plural form medias, as if it had a conventional singular form media, especially when referring to different forms of new media, and in the sense ‘the material or form used by an artist” 

“The Media” is also defined by Oxford Dictionary as “(the media) [treated as singular or plural] the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively.”

“Media” provides access to information, bridging divides by allowing individuals to share information. We are connected via media through the contextual understanding of events. From images of the events in Newtown to the editorial dialogues of the news media that bring us context from the “inside” of the story.

Stories come in many forms. We see them from the televisions from inside our living rooms. We hear them on the radio and through podcasts. We share them through our connections as we talk amongst each other, either in person or online.

“The Media” or journalists provide this frontline access to these stories as they unfold, painting the picture for us to see, hear, smell, and relive in our daily lives. Technology is the connection point to these stories…these thoughts, these moments in time where we feel so connected. As time moves along in linear fashion…we will shed tears even as those events venture further and further in the past.

We not only “lean in” to the stories that bring us context, but to the people who share and bring to us to the front-lines each and every time. Think…how many times did you share your thoughts about Newtown, shed a tear, then maybe hugged someone. “Media” can connect us in more ways than just interacting online.

Social Media: Are We Disclosing Our Relationships?

I am starting to notice more and more friends in my social space marketing more and more products and services. Specifically, products and services some they represent either by contract or full time employment. Above is one of many updates that have been showing up in my Facebook feed after Christmas. I looked and looked, and there is no disclosure of her relationship to Visalus? Should I care? Does it matter? Do I like to get these updates in Facebook along with all the other advertisements?

Now…I know we all want to share when we are excited about a product or service. But, are we sharing because we are excited or are we marketing a product or service just to market to a sphere of influence? If it is the latter, are we disclosing the relationship (our material connection)?

I am not opposed to individuals using their sphere’s of influence to share products and services that they are excited about.

What speaks to me and calls me to question motives are a few things:
1) Individuals who have built a core sphere of influence online and have switched the sharing focus from personal to business updates. This is especially apparent in more private, closed social outlets like Facebook.

I have a few friends that have switched from complete personal posting on Facebook to a heavy mixture of pushing products and personal updating.

2) Individuals do not disclose their relationships with the products and services we are marketing in our social spaces.

We all should spend a few minutes and refresh our marketing memories with these simple guidelines shared by the FTC and WOMMA. Even I should go through and remind myself when I am sharing content from organizations I represent.

This guidelines are covered in the WOMMA Social Media Disclosure Guide as it relates to the FTC’s “material connections”:

Material Connections
The FTC explains “material connections” as any connection between a blogger and an advertiser/marketer that might materially affect the credibility consumers give to that blogger’s statements. Important examples of “material connections” include:
1) Consideration (benefits or incentives such as monetary compensation, loaner products, free services, in-kind gifts, special access privileges) provided by an advertiser/marketer to a blogger; and
2) A relationship between an advertiser/marketer and a blogger (such as an employment relationship).

Responsibility of Advocates
Advocates also have a responsibility to ensure their relationship to a marketer is adequately disclosed. An advocate must disclose his or her relationship to a marketer when making statements or providing reviews about that marketer’s product or service, or a competitor’s, as part of a marketing program or initiative in effect at the time of review or statement. Finally, an advocate must comply with stated social media or blogging policies.

Clear and Prominent Disclosure
No matter which platform is used, adequate disclosures must be clear and prominent. Language should be easily understood and unambiguous. Placement of the disclosure must be easily viewed and not hidden deep in the text or deep on the page. All disclosures should appear in a reasonable font size and color that is both readable and noticeable to consumers.

Does it bother you more and more people are using their social spaces to market products and services? Maybe or maybe not? Or maybe it is the same thing as marketing blogs like this in my status updates? Do people realize who I am representing or connected to virtually?

So in full disclosure…this is who I work with and represent professionally. Here is my client list…http://bobbyrettew.com/clients

To download the WOMMA Social Media Disclosure Guide, CLICK HERE.

I used this link for information:
http://www.fanscape.com/about/WOMMAFTC_Disclosure_Guide/

The State of Social Media – 2012 Recap

Nielsen just released their social media report from 2012 and I thought I would share some the information from the report. Much of this will be from the actual report.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS COMING OF AGE
“Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Since the emergence of the first social media networks some two decades ago, social media has continued to evolve and offer consumers around the world new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events, and brands that matter to them. Now years later, social media is still growing rapidly and has become an integral part of our daily lives. Today, social networking is truly a global phenomenon.”

What’s driving the continued growth of social media?
“More people are using smartphones and tablets to access social media. The personal computer is still at the center of the social networking experience, but consumers are increasingly looking to other devices to connect on social media. Time spent on mobile apps and the mobile web account for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media. Forty-six percent of social media users say they use their smartphone to access social media; 16 percent say they connect to social media using a tablet. With more connectivity, consumers have more freedom to use social media wherever and whenever they want.”

How is consumer usage of social media evolving?
“Social TV is on the rise. The skyrocketing adoption and use of social media among consumers is transforming TV-watching into a more immediate and shared experience. As of June 2012, more than 33 percent of Twitter users had actively tweeted about TV-related content. Some 44 percent of U.S. tablet owners and 38 percent of U.S. smartphone owners use their devices daily to access social media while watching television.”

“Social Care is transforming customer service. Social media has emerged as an important channel for customer service, with nearly half of U.S. consumers reaching out directly to brands and service providers to voice their satisfaction or complaints, or simply to ask questions. In fact, one in three social media users say they prefer to use social media rather than the phone for customer service issues.”

“Whether through a computer or mobile phone, consumers continue to spend increasing amounts of time on the Internet. Time spent on PCs and smartphones was up 21 percent from July 2011 to July 2012.”

Social Networking Is All About Mobile
“When it comes to accessing social content, it’s all about mobile—particularly apps. App usage now accounts for more than a third of social networking time across PCs and mobile devices. Compared to last year, consumers increased their social app time by 76 percent, spending more than seven times more minutes on apps than the mobile web.”

“While the social media audience via PC declined a slight five percent from a year ago, time spent increased 24 percent over the same period, suggestinging that users are more deeply engaged.”

A Look At The Top Social Networks
“The list of most-visited social networking sites is pretty much the same whether people are going online through a PC browser, through their mobile web browser or using an app. Mobile usage once again proves to be a key component of social as each of the top networks via mobile web saw significantly greater growth compared to its PC audience over the last year.”

The Spotlight is on Pinterest
“Pinterest has experienced exponential growth since bursting on the scene last year. Although that growth has leveled over the last few months, Pinterest had the largest year-over-year increase in audience and time spent of any social network, across PC, mobile web and apps.”

Why We Connect…Some General Feelings
This is an interesting look at some of the general feelings after individuals participated in social networking.

Twitter Drives Social TV
“Twitter has emerged as a key driver of social TV interaction. During June 2012, a third of active Twitter users tweeted about TV-related content, an increase of 27 percent from the beginning of the year.”

Social Care Is Growing
“Social care, i.e. customer service via social media, has become an immediate imperative for global brands. Customers choose when and where they voice their questions, issues and complaints, blurring the line between marketing and customer service. Brands should consider this evolution and ensure they are ready to react on all channels.”


Social Advertising
“Brands and advertisers looking to share their message on social might consider this: While a third of people find ads on social networks to be annoying, more than a quarter of people are more likely to pay attention to an ad posted by a friend.”

This information was compiled from the Nielsen NMIncite 2012 Social Media Report. If you would like to download this report, GO TO –> http://nmincite.com/download-the-social-media-report-2012/

Happy Holidays

Hello Friends,

It is that time of the year and I hope you are doing well. Just the other day, I had someone ask me if I was sending out another Christmas card with a picture of Rose. I even still see last year’s card still hanging in some of your offices. This thought just makes me thankful for so many things.

I normally write something individualized to each of you, but I felt each you should read the same little message.

I just finished my third year of business and it is because of you, your friendship, your kindness, and commitment to our relationship that I am still able to work side by side with you. I think about three years ago and the journey I embarked upon and here we are doing some fun projects and sharing some great times. Each year we have grown together as my business has grown.

Thank you so much for being you. Thank you for everything you have done to help me become successful. And finally, thank you for supporting this business, my family, and our friendship.

Merry Christmas!

PS…if you would like to see the holiday video many people still remember from 2010…here ya go! http://youtu.be/4PpDFnxfNw0

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words or even a few.

There are so many things about this photograph that haunt us, make us wonder, and make us question. But that is the joy of photojournalism…and the act of capturing these moments in time. What is it about this photograph that make us question the photojournalist’s intentions?

1) Why did he not help?
2) Why take the picture instead of helping?
3) Why take the picture?
4) Does capturing the moment out-weigh human life?

Or, is it the words on the image of the New York Post front page that really haunts us the most? The words integrated into this instant online meme has the social space in complete conversation. If you take the words away…what would we think? Would it strike us as much? For all we would know, there is a subway and a man in the way.

The word “DOOMED” indicates fear and a final resolution that questions the person’s life is against time. Time to get out of the way of this subway.

Pictures have been brought into our living rooms, business, and now electronic devices providing context of life around us.

How about this image from photojournalist Kevin Carter and his 1993 trip to the Sudan.

“The photograph was sold to The New York Times where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993 as ‘metaphor for Africa’s despair’. Practically overnight hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived, leading the newspaper to run an unusual special editor’s note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown. Journalists in the Sudan were told not to touch the famine victims, because of the risk of transmitting disease, but Carter came under criticism for not helping the girl.”

How about this picture from Saigon in 1968?

“A fitting quote for Adams, because his 1968 photograph of an officer shooting a handcuffed prisoner in the head at point-blank range not only earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, but also went a long way toward souring Americans’ attitudes about the Vietnam War.”

Later, Eddie Adams admitted he regretted taken the photograph which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1969.

His regret came from the context of the image and the lifelong impact it had on his life. But, we might now ask…could he have saved General Nguyen Ngoc Loan from being shot as he was standing there handcuffed?

For years, we photojournalists have debated these situations. If we were pulling up to a car wreck and noticed someone in the car that could be saved before the fire engulfed the scene…would we capture the moment with our camera or save the person?

Some say they saving the person’s life outweighs the ethics of the profession. Some say that capturing this moment in time for others to see far outweighs the short term impact of human life. Many people in this debate have used the phrase: “short term impact of human life.”

Some even say they would set their camera down to automatically capture images while they were attempting to save the person’s life. Best of both worlds solution?

So many of us have an opinion, but none us know the answer until we are put into those situations. To me…this is a similar debate to the whole controversy over the death penalty. We might stand for or against the death penalty, but we never know until it is time for us to be the one to pull the lever that sends the electric charge through another person’s body. How will we know we would react until we are put into that situation. Would we pull the lever?

Mr. Abbasi, the freelance photojournalist who took the subway image, admits he was caught in a situation with compromising time sensitive, split decisions to be made.

For me, the controversy lies in the use of text in the photograph. What made the editors feel the need to add words? Poynter Institutes Kenny Irby feels there were other photographs from the subway to use that were less disturbing. I think the discussion should be pointed more towards the usage of words in the photograph on the front page of the New York Post that bring emphasis to the tragedy.

I ask…was it really necessary to use words that may or may not represent the moment in time?

Regardless…there is a big story here and it has the attention of the masses. I guess they achieved their goal.

Here are references for this blog post:

Vulture Stalking a Child – Blog Post
http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/vulture-stalking-a-child/

13 Photographs That Changed the World
http://www.neatorama.com/2007/01/02/13-photographs-that-changed-the-world/

Poynter: NY Post photog: ‘Every time I close my eyes, I see the image of death’
http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/197176/ny-post-subway-photog-every-time-i-close-my-eyes-i-see-the-image-of-death/

 

Three Years and Rolling! 11 Things I Have Learned as an Entrepreneur

It is amazing…I am sitting here enjoying a 3 year birthday. This is not a birthday for a person, this is a 3 year birthday for my business. Bobby Rettew, llc is now three years old and I am excited, humbled, and reflective.

I asked myself this morning, how did we get here, how did we make it this far? Three years ago, Sarah and I made the decision to start this business with only one long-term signed agreement…but lots of relationships willing to engage.

The economy was in the tank coming off one the biggest recessions since the great depression. I remember getting ready for Christmas, Sarah and I were counting every dollar projecting how long we could make it if we did not sign another deal. It became a game, how much cash could we put away providing a little more security…especially if we did not pick up another client.

We had just bought a house a year earlier, two cars that needed to be replaced, and planning to have a child. I am thankful in 2006 we started one of the tasks we have ever under taken; paying off all of our un-secured debt. That effort was one of the major reasons we are here today.

So where do we stand today? Wow, I am working out of my own office, I have a wonderful set of relationships who are clients, Rose is now a little over a year old, and the business is growing. We spent two and a half years working out of a small office in the back of the house, building a business slowly on a sound fiscal approach…CASH IS KING.

I remember five years ago, I was taking a class learning how to start a small business. I remember how naive I was when the instructors explained the two-year mark is the toughest to achieve for any small business. Here we stand at 3…and growing.

There are so many things I have learned, so I wanted to share a few:

1. It is ok to be a small business.
I read a powerful book last year that really spoke to me, Rework by 37signals. Most of you might know 37Signals and even use some of their products like Basecamp. This book emphasized it is ok to be small, embrace it and leverage it. We live in the upstate of South Carolina surrounded by high-impact high-growth businesses and conversations. So many meetings I sit in, so many people I meet, so many entrepreneurial groups I interact with…the message is all about high-impact and high-growth. That is not for me and it was hard to resist. For the first two years, I thought I was going to have to pivot this business to become a high-impact venture. What I learned…it is ok to be small, especially for my current business model. Less stress, less overhead, more opportunity.

2. Live your passion.
I love working with people helping them tell and share their story. I also love to teach. Nothing more and nothing less. This has translated well into my business as I work with groups to capture and tell their story using documentary storytelling. From telling stories of grants with the Duke Endowment, stories of health care advocacy for South Carolina Hospital Association, stories of health care for Greenville Hospital System, to stories of advocacy for groups like Safe Harbor, to even stories of inspiration for the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame…the list is growing.

This is also true with the three groups that I have helped grow their digital brand. If you look at Greenville Hospital System, IT-oLogy, and Serrus Capital Partners…we have been growing their social media presence as a part of their strategic initiatives of their communication efforts.

And finally, it is so true when it comes to teaching. Over the last year, I have been working with the new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Clemson University as the Digital Communications Instructor, teaching students how to take their business ideas and share them online in the social/digital space.

3. You just can’t do it all!
It is ok to ask for help and empower those who have a larger skill set to help you achieve your goals. So many projects I take on, I realize I have no idea how to tackle small or even large parts of the goals. I have learned to ask for help. I am one person and I am a small business…there is no way I can do it all. Getting help is fun and promotes good business and a collaborative environment.

4. Take on projects and opportunities that scare the CRAP out of you.
Yes…this is what helps me grow both personally and professionally. Sometimes we need to be challenged, but these projects help us learn how to problem-solve and stretch our professional capabilities.

5. Read as much as possible.
I try to read as many books as I can for both business and personal growth. My brain needs nourishment and reading helps me stay sharp. I also subscribe to lots of blogs surrounding numerous topics areas. My Google Reader is loaded with tons of content to read on a daily basis like business blogs from Harvard Business Review to personal blogs from my friends who are screen writers.

6. Have a good CPA and Lawyer as a colleague and a friend.
My CPA is TJ Way and he was a fraternity brother at Clemson. We lived together when we were fresh out of school and now he is a vital part of my business. Andy Arnold is my attorney, a client, a friend, and is surprisingly a Gamecock. Oh well…but he is just a phone call away with my questions about contracts or our personal living wills.

7. Make time for the family.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn during the second year of my business. During year two, Rose was born and I was balancing my current passions with my newest passion, our little girl. So I learned at the end of the day to cut off business, close the laptop, and enjoy time with the family. This was one of the reasons I moved out of the little home office into my current office. I wanted to be able to come home and be home. There are times when I might work late or work longer, but Sarah and I have learned to integrate family into a small business. This is an ever-learning process…but is vital for the soul.

8. Give your time.
I do not have a lot of time to give, but I try to do one thing…give my time to one non-profit/advocacy group. Each year, I pick a non-profit where I feel connected. I donate my time as if they are a client. For the last year and a half, I have been working with Safe Harbor and they have a powerful mission. I try to make them feel like a client, providing my time and expertise to their initiatives. The best part, I learn from them and we grow together. To me…good business growth is more that just making money.

9. Go on vacation…A LOT!
Seriously, go on vacation at least three to four times a year. This is a huge priority for our family and we have learned that I must leave the laptop, turn on the email auto-responder, and go relax. This allows us to get away from the grind, enjoy some time together, and relax. Rest is huge if you run a small business…getting away is food for the soul.

10. Continue to Focus
Take time at the end of the year to assess your business. Look at more than your financials…look to see if you business goals/mission matches your passions. Look to see if the type of business you are doing matches your balance sheet. Then, ask yourself is this where you want your business to continue to grow. Then focus and write your plan for the next year.

11. Be an Advocate.
Advocate for something. Stand upon some alter and render an opinion. Pick a cause, an initiative, something and advocate. You never know…you might find your calling…your passion.

* Image Credit -> MomOfTheYear.net Blog