My Dad approached me last week and asked me about my Seven Things post.  He thought maybe I was sharing TOO much.  He asked me:  Do I ever have apprehensions about anything I share on this blog?  Do I worry about posting my picture or my name on the Web?  Perhaps I (we) share TOO much in the age of Social Media.

“Daaaaad,”  I said. “This has been hashed over a million times.  This subject is talked out.”

And then we had the Twitter Phishing scam and Celebrity Hacking fun of 2009.

So MAYBE my dad was right.  Maybe we should talk about this some more.

As far as social media is concerned, do we trust too much?

Many of us, me included, have become far too comfortable handing out our passwords.  We click on link after link on Twitter to see how we rate or to see how exciting our tweets are and we provide our Twitter passwords to obtain the results.  But are these safe places to hand out our passwords?  And why do we so freely type our passwords out?

Dan Tentler speaks about the security risks involved giving passwords in his AtenLabs blog. When typing your password, always look at the URL, and make sure the url matches the site you believe you are on. In the Twitter Phishing scam, folks were taken to a screen that looked like Twitter, but was not actually Twitter.  We should ALL be more careful about looking at our URL’s on a regular basis.

I never share anything I wouldn’t want a future employer or client to read.  I never click on something without looking at the URL first.  And now, I don’t share my password unless I have examined the site I am on. I’m sure I have more to learn about protecting myself online.  But there is no way a little phishing and hacking is gonna scare me away from the social media world.

What do you think?

Should we as a community be more concerned about posting our pictures online?  How about the small bits of personal information that some of us share? Are there ways that hackers and phishers could exploit that information as well?


As this post deviates from my usual social media/PR topic areas, I thought it best to provide some background before diving in.  “Seven Things You May Or May Not Know About Me”  is a game that has been circulating around the blogosphere.  Bloggers are asked to both reveal seven things about themselves others may not know, and to tag seven other bloggers.

I was tagged by Dirk Singer over at This Is Herd. Dirk is a social media guru across the pond.  He not only runs an award winning agency (Cow), but he has an outstanding blog that is updated daily.  I subscribed to his blog about two months ago.  I think you all should, too.

7 Things About Me

  1. I am a classically trained violinist.  I played for nine years when I was a kid, but had to give it up when I went to college.  I still play now and then but am not half as good as I used to be.  My mom, coincidentally, is a violin teacher.  She was never mine.
  2. Speaking of music: I hate video games but am currently, stupidly addicted to Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero World Tour. In one week alone, I have beaten the drums and guitar on easy and am halfway through the medium level.  I am now restricting myself from the game until after my daughter goes to bed.  (I know, sad.)  BTW, the drums are more fun.
  3. I used to compete in speech and debate on a national level in both high school and college.  My events were Lincoln Douglas Debate, Team (college), and Impromptu.  After I was done competing, I spent two years coaching.  I still live for a good argument.
  4. I read every night before I go to bed.  Reading helps me relax.
  5. I believe life is what you make of it.  If you choose to be happy and put one foot in front of the other, good things will come.  If you choose to stay in bed, life will be harder.  I live in the land of positive thinking.
  6. When I was very little, my Grandpa used to tell me “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”  I know now that he was very right.  Whether talking about social media, being a parent, or any subject, there is always so much to learn.  I am always seeking knowledge.
  7. I moved a lot as a kid.  I lived in 3 states, 5 houses, went to 19 schools!!!

Now it’s your turn!  I want to hear from you! My seven are:

Lindsay Maines: http://rockandrollmama.com/

Sean Percival: http://www.seanpercival.com/

Dan Tentler: http://atenlabs.com/blog/

Christine Putnam: http://somedayistoday.wordpress.com/

Jillanne Emerson: http://nycmoments.wordpress.com/

Rebecca Rose: http://asgideajournal.wordpress.com/

Tina Wilmott: http://tinawilmott.com/

Here are the rules:

* Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged

The problem:

Honestly, NO ONE in the world could be a more HORRID PR practitioner than Lois Whitman-Hess.   You didn’t hear about her?  Click here, or here.  This is a woman who thinks that just because a reporter is attending a tradeshow, they HAVE to meet with her client.  This is a woman who CALLS 45 reporters at the Wall Street Journal in ONE day.  This is a woman who spams journalists like it’s cool.  This is the kind of PR practitioner that makes bloggers think “PR” is a bad word.

WE GET IT.  There are some REALLY HORRIBLE public relations practitioners out there.

The solution:

Bloggers- I want to ask you a HUGE favor for 2009. HUGE.  I want to see one of you- one of you with the respect of the entire PR industry start a new blog or weekly column.  It will be called: The PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG or something similar.  In this blog/column, you will call out the most outstanding PR pitches you have heard and call out the individuals who pitched.  This will be the anti-blacklist.  (The White-list.  Generic.  You get the idea.)

The philosophy:

I don’t think people learn from rants.  (Ironic since I am writing one.)  I think people learn best from shining examples of good.  In 2008, we’ve suffered through the economy, and if there is one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that (most of the time) positivity rises to the top while negativity sinks, ignored.   Maybe if we have a list of GREAT PR folks, people will strive to MAKE the list.  Let’s give PR people something to strive toward, not a list of avoid.

What now?

I’m one person.  A PR person, a blogger.  If you agree, if you want to see the PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG come to life… forward this blog.  Who will do it for us?  For the WHOLE public relations industry?

I would be forever grateful.

It has been speculated by the new (fabulous) blog Lalawag that Qwitter has possibly gone under.   Article.  Could it be?  (Wahoo!)

For those unfamiliar, Qwitter is/was a Web application that e-mails Twitter users (who sign up) every day notifying them of fellow Tweeps who stop following their micro-feed.   While interesting in theory, what followed was an onslaught of Tweeps complaining about being “Qwit,” threatening to un-follow anyone who un-followed them and really, general high school patheticness on a massive level.

I never signed up for Qwitter, and this is why:

1) Not every person I find valuable is ALSO going to find my tweets valuable.  Should this offend me?  No.  We all have different offerings/services to provide to the greater community.  This is what makes Twitter great.

2) If I Tweet 140 characters, and someone doesn’t like what I have to say and therefore un-follows me, I am not going to change the way I tweet and “who I am online” to please one person.

3) When Twitter started, there might have been an unwritten code that if I follow a person, he/she should follow back. Given the size of Twitter now, those codes are off.  I follow over 500 people, and honestly, my favorite Tweeps are getting lost in the information shuffle.  At some point it’s IMPORTANT to be more selective to serve your business needs.

4) Finally- why?  What did I stand to gain to find out who was quitting my feed and when?  I would rather focus on the positive and learn about my new followers.

Services like Qwitter reinforce the feeling that social media can be just like high school.  If we put the focus on how many people are our friends or who quit today, we lose focus on what we stand to learn today.

I would never wish for a company to go under.  But in hard economic times, I would prefer that social media, and social media tools help us as a community stay in touch with positive forms of networking  and helpful dissemination of relevant information.

What do you think?  As always, I welcome your feedback.

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One of my favorite things about the holiday season (which even I admit is obnoxiously upon us earlier than usual this year) is all of the fun viral computer holiday activity.  Not since Elf Bowling in 1999 have I had as much fun with ANYTHING holiday related as I had last year with OfficeMax’s ElfYourself.

The concept behind ElfYourself is simple- last year you were given 4 elfs… you then uploaded 4 photos of your family onto the elf faces, wherein you “Elfed Yourselves” and watched your family and friends dance around like silly elf fools.  Most then sent the dancing elves to their friends and families and it had a downright viral effect.  In fact, According to TechCrunch, ElfYourself had just as much traffic last Christmas as Facebook!!!

I took a spin on the newly released site this morning and elfed myself anew for 2008 (as you can see above), and noted a few awesome things.

  1. OfficeMax has partnered with JibJab.com.  For those not familiar with JibJab, they started with amazing interactive political satire animations such as “presidential raps” (Capital Ill) and the Happy Birthday “Fart Waffle.”   I have been a fan of JibJab for years now.  As the immature person I am, the Happy Birthday Fart Waffle kept me coming back for more, and I assume ElfYourself will have the same effect on many more.
  2. ElfYourself is improved this year!  JibJab has added:
  • Three new dances!
  • An extra elf!
  • The ability to embed your video onto your blog!
  • And of course, purchasing power.  I know I want my elfish face on a mug.  Don’t you?

We’ll see if ElfYourself can have the same viral effect two years in a row.  But one thing is for certain: The holidays are upon us early, like it or not.  And I plan on embracing the viral zaniness that comes with the season.

(Feel free to share your elf-ed selves via the comments, or with your friends!)

Usernamecheck.com ROCKS!

Quick post tonight about the importance of claiming you user name all over social media land.  Go do it!

Oh and the stars?  Yeah, that’s because finding all the social media sites in one place like this?  HEAVEN.  Now if only claiming personal brand could be done with less clicks…

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“There is no such thing as off the record.”

If you’ve ever worked with a PR person, sat near a PR person or know someone who knows a PR person, you’ve heard this message loud and clear.  Yet, throughout my career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people utter the phrase, “This is off the record, but…”


So I was not at all surprised today to find out that approximately 10% of college admissions officers consider social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace when considering who makes the collegiate cut.  Check out the msnbc video that addresses the subject: Here.

Most adults participating in social networking communities probably won’t find it surprising that while a page from a social network won’t get you into college, its content could be a deciding factor in your rejection from the school of your choice.  Adults deal with this all the time when applying to jobs.  Most adults have learned to put their most professional face forward, leaving fun/inappropriate sites anonymous.

Shockingly, as savvy as most high school students are, many don’t know the repercussions their online lives can have on their real life.  Last month I spoke to a few High School classes.  I asked them two key questions:

  • Is there anything on your Facebook or Myspace page you wouldn’t want your parents/teachers to see?
  • Do you think that content could effect you in the future,  professionally or personally?

Nearly all of the students had something on their social networking pages they didn’t want seen, and none had thought through the repercussions of that content. 

I believe that part of our responsibility as members of social media communities is to educate the youth about how to use social media… and what content should be “off the record” and never posted.

Off the top of my head, important items for high school seniors to have on their social networking sites include:

  • Honors clubs and educational activities
  • Sports of interest
  • Listing of jobs, if applicable
  • Volunteer activities
  • Clean/appropriate photos with friends participating in educational/family/sports related activities
  • A blog, if well written, spell checked and grammar checked, focused on an application-safe passion.

High School seniors should be careful of the following social networking site mistakes:

  • Spelling errors
  • Inappropriate photos
  • Content demonstrating a passion for partying
  • Speaking negatively about anyone
  • Inappropriate comments from friends
  • Sending inappropriate comments to their friends

The way I see it, social networks are quickly becoming the “non-application.”  Whether we as a society like it or not, we have a responsibility to put our best face forward on our pages.  If you post it, expect it will be read.

And remember: There is no such thing- anywhere- as off the record.