NoVA Communicators Newsletter – August 2013

In this Issue

Reaching People with Hearing Disabilities

This should be an easy one, right? You’re a Public Information Officer. You organize press events. You even know about your agency’s translation services. So what do you do when you include members of the deaf and hard of hearing communities in your live messaging? You call in a sign language translator (ASL here in the states, BSL in the old country). Dust off hands, next problem. Right? Well, not exactly.

Source: The Face of the Matter

Despite Record Usage, Appeal of Top Social Media Sites is Declining; Traditional Media More Trustworthy

What started out as an enjoyable and innovative way for people to connect and interact with each other is turning into a time-consuming chore, according to a recent survey to determine consumer attitude toward social media. Conducted by E-Score, a consumer research service that provides information to media and entertainment companies, the survey shows that while awareness and usage of social media sites is extremely high, the allure of using these sites is starting to wear thin with consumers. The survey also revealed consumers trust traditional media brands exponentially more than social media brands.

Source: The Bulldog Reporter

The 7 Best Photos to Post on Facebook

If you represent a brand on Facebook, you should be posting photos. Photo posts receive vastly higher rates of engagement and viral spread than your standard text or link posts. But not all photos are created equal. What types scream out for “likes,” comments and shares? Let’s look at the brands that are having the greatest success with images on Facebook.

Source: Ragan

The Communicator’s Dilemma: Tell the Truth or Massage the Message

Communicators sure are an excited breed. It would be better if they were less excited and more to the point. Communicators seem to be incapable of delivering bad news without first wrapping it up in shiny language and tying a bow of excitement on top. Do traditional communications strategies of covering up the truth work? Surely, someone has some research. It would be great to hear about it. Because all the evidence we have seen over the years from our testing is that smiley faces and excited language are huge irritants for customers. People are very busy and very skeptical and cynical today. They want you to get to the point.

Source: Gerry McGovern

New Study Uncovers Key Components of YouTube Success

A recent study conducted by undergraduates at Columbia College in Chicago determined the common traits in the most popular YouTube channels. The study involved the analysis of the top two hundred and forty-one channels. Short videos are often associated with YouTube-however, the most popular sites tended to have average video lengths of over four minutes. The students found that producing regular episodic content was much more important than video length.

Source: Bulldog Reporter

Worldwide, Digital Video Viewers Spend More Time with Live Video than VOD

Research from video publisher Ooyala (March analysis) of its customer and partner database found that digital video viewers were spending substantially longer periods of time watching live video than they were video on demand (VOD) content. In fact, those on PCs spent an average of 40 minutes watching live video on a per-play basis, compared with 3.15 minutes for VOD. Those on tablets spent an average of 16 minutes with live content and only 3.6 minutes with VOD. A gap also existed among those watching on a mobile device.

Source: eMarketer

Paula Deen: A Lesson in Crisis Communications

As human beings, we love three stories: The overnight success, the great fall from grace and the redemption. Paula Deen is at the second phase. Communications is critical for the redemption phase and to rebuild her reputation. Unfortunately, there are many case studies Deen and her people could have turned to for reputation crisis advice. But they chose to instead use time as a defense strategy, which no longer works in our 24/7, digital world. As painful as this would have been, the second she was deposed, she should have gone public with it. It’s likely against every attorney’s counsel to do that, but it would have allowed her to tell the story herself, leaving no room for anyone to speculate. In the communications world, there are issues and there are crises. An issue is something you bring forward, admit to, and apologize for before anyone discovers it on their own. Coming forward the second she was deposed would have been an issue. She would have been in control of the story. An issue becomes a crisis when someone else finds out and tells the story for you. It’s when you lose donors (Susan G. Komen), scholarships (Penn State), championships (Lance Armstrong), and sponsorships (Paula Deen and Tiger Woods). It’s not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest decisions you’d have to make. But wouldn’t you rather tell your story than have someone else do it for you?

Source: Spin Sucks

Content Repurposing – 5 Experts Share Their Favorite Secrets

Repurposing your content strategically can make the difference between always struggling to produce enough fresh content to get yourself noticed, to working once and having that same piece of information spread almost effortlessly all over the web. Now I’m not talking about writing an article and then submitting it to hundreds of free article directories, or “spinning” the article and getting poorly written versions of it splattered all over the internet. This sort of strategy is a poor excuse for producing quality content, and in any case, it won’t work. Google, along with the other lesser players in the search engine world, is constantly adjusting its search algorithms so that their users get what they are searching for…real, relevant good quality content that satisfies their search query. So instead of playing a losing game with Google trying to outfox them, why not just deliver high quality content from the start? Here’s the ultimate repurposing strategy: write one piece of high quality content at a time and then use multiple targeted, efficient and effective distribution strategies to get that content out there in as many different forms as possible so that you have the widest possible reach and tap into all the various preferred learning styles of your target market.

Source: MarketingQI

Boston Marathon Explosions: Analyzing First 1,000 Seconds on Twitter

Rumi Chunara and John Brownstein recently published a short co-authored study entitled “Twitter as a Sentinel in Emergency Situations: Lessons from the Boston Marathon Explosions.” At 2.49 p.m. EDT on April 15, two improvised bombs exploded near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Ambulances left the scene approximately 9 minutes later just as public health authorities alerted regional emergency departments of the incident. An analysis of tweets posted within a 35 mile radius of the finish line reveals that the word stems containing “explos*” and “explod*” appeared on Twitter just 3 minutes after the explosions. “While an increase in messages indicating an emergency from a particular location may not make it possible to fully ascertain the circumstances of an incident without computational or human review, analysis of such data could help public safety officers better understand the location or specifics of explosions or other emergencies.” In terms of geographical coverage, many of the tweets posted during the first 10 minutes were from witnesses in the immediate vicinity of the finish line. “Because of their proximity to the event and content of their postings, these individuals might be witnesses to the bombings or be of close enough proximity to provide helpful information. These finely detailed geographic data can be used to localize and characterize events assisting emergency response in decision-making.”

Source: iRevolution

FEMA Building Social Media into Response Planning

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses social media as a channel to share information to help people prepare for impending disasters, amplify messages from hard-hit localities, convey information about how emergency assistance is reaching stricken communities, stimulate volunteer support and donations, and to get feedback on their efforts. The agency also uses social media to debunk rumors and deliberate misinformation posted online. In testimony at a July 9 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, Shayne Adamski, FEMA’s senior manager of digital engagement, said the agency has seen dramatic growth in social media following, jumping from 25,000 followers across all social media in June 2010 to more than 500,000 today.

Source: FCW

In Case of Emergency, Tweet

When Asiana flight 214 crashed on the runway of San Francisco International Airport, the first pieces of information that surfaced were tweets from passengers. Use of social media is changing the way people prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. At a hearing Tuesday, a House Homeland Security subcommittee explored how social media are transforming the way FEMA and others handle disasters.

Source: UPI

2013 Freedom of Information (FOIA) Workshops

During the month of September, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Advisory Council will be sponsoring its 2013 FOIA workshop in the following areas:

  • Richmond – Tuesday, Sep. 10
  • Lebanon – Monday, Sept. 16
  • Lynchburg – Tuesday, Sept. 17
  • Harrisonburg – Wednesday, Sept. 18

Anyone with an interest in learning more about the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is invited to register for these workshops. For registration details, check the FOIA Council’s website at or contact the FOIA Council directly toll free at 866-448-4100.

How Social Media is Transforming Preparedness, Response and Recovery

Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, on July 9, testified on behalf of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) on how social media is transforming preparedness, response and recovery. His input was specific to his utilization of this technology during the recent response to the tornadoes as well as the survey NEMA conducted with the Center for Naval Analysis. This testimony was presented before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications. Other panelists were Shayne Adamski, senior manager of digital engagement, FEMA; Suzanne C. DeFrancis, chief public affairs officer, American Red Cross; and Sergeant W. Greg Kierce, director, Jersey City Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Source: Subcommittee Hearing Web Page

Sheriff Responds to Viral Video

The Rutherford County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Office has responded to a university student’s video of his verbal altercation with Deputy A.J. Ross with a video of its own — the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s dash camera recording of the incident.  The 27-minute dashcam video shows a confrontation between the student, Chris Kalbaugh, Ross, and Deputy Mike Hoekstra regarding marijuana that was allegedly found in the Kalbaugh’s vehicle.  The student’s video went viral and claims through captions that Ross violated Kalbaugh’s constitutional rights during the altercation. His video, however, does not include any mention of marijuana.  After six days of silence, Sheriff Robert Arnold said he completely supports Ross and the way the deputy interacted with Kalbaugh at the checkpoint.

Source: The Tennessean

Criticism of Communications during Toronto Flood

During the height of Monday’s [July 1] record-setting storm in Toronto, residents took to social media to scour the web for updates and information about everything from power outages to transit troubles. But in the midst of the chaos, there were a few noticeable absences on social media. As flood waters began filling the bottom level of a double-decker train, commuters began tweeting images of the flooded train and asking for information regarding their rescue.  Meanwhile, GO Transit’s official Twitter page – a normally active account that had been responding to regular customer inquires up until 5:07 p.m. – was silent. The account did not tweet any information regarding the flooded train or weather delays on other routes until three hours later.

Source: Global News

Wake-Up Call for New Yorkers as Police Seek Abducted Boy


In cases of child abduction, law enforcement officers often rush to alert as many people as they can since the grim reality is that the odds of finding a child worsen with each passing moment. So countless bleary-eyed New Yorkers were jolted upright just before 4 a.m. on Wednesday when their cellphones suddenly started blaring with a message about a 7-month-old boy who had been abducted hours earlier by his mother, who had a history of mental illness, from a foster care agency in Harlem. It was a watershed moment in the intersection of law enforcement and technology: the first mass Amber Alert sent to cellphones in the city since a national wireless emergency alert system was established. And, the police later said, it directly led to the child’s being located.

Source: New York Times

10 Tips to Help You Ace a Media Interview

Businesspeople often mistakenly assume that because they know their companies, industries and products so well, they can handle a media interview. But even the most sure-footed spokesman can bomb an interview when he doesn’t plan properly. A little media training goes a long way. Here are 10 tips that will prevent you from stumbling and making a poor impression in your next interview.

Source: Ragan

Case Study and Analysis of Asiana Airlines Flight 214

Social media needs to be an integral part of any crisis management plan for an airline or airport today.  There is no longer the luxury to respond in two hours, or even twenty minutes.  The first tweet about the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was sent out just thirty seconds after the airliner impacted at San Francisco International Airport.  Passengers were posting information not just on Twitter and Facebook, but also on Path and Sina Weibo.  A number of organizations, including San Francisco International Airport, the NTSB, Boeing, and a few other airlines kept travelers updated on the latest situation.  Asiana Airlines, however, was slow to respond and was far from satisfying the insatiable need for more information in the hours after the crash.

Source: SimipliFlying

If Your Video Content Is Truly Compelling, Keep Calm and Go Long

There’s a myth that you can’t have a successful video if it’s over 15 minutes in length (and some would say the bar is much lower). But long-form videos have a place, and can be hugely successful. They’re no different from short-form videos if they’re entertaining and compelling. One of the longest videos is “Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” It is 1 hour, 16 minutes and 27 seconds long. “Randy Pausch Last Lecture” was uploaded on Dec. 20, 2007, to the CarnegieMellonU channel on YouTube. That’s back when most YouTubers couldn’t upload videos longer than 10 minutes. The “Randy Pausch Last Lecture” has more than 16 million views. And according to the Viral Video Chart powered by Unruly, the video has 176,203 shares. Now, does anyone actually think that “Randy Pausch Last Lecture” is too long? Or how about one of the most compelling videos of the United States Presidential election in 2008, the “Obama Speech: ‘A More Perfect Union’” – which has almost 7.2 million views even though it is 37 minutes and 39 seconds long. Need a third example? Then watch “Kony 2012,” the short film created by the non-governmental organization Invisible Children Inc. Published on Mar. 5, 2012, “Kony 2012” now has more than 98 million views and over 10 million shares. And according to Unruly Media, “Kony 2012” was by far the most shared video ad of 2012.

Source: Reel SEO

The Right Way to Run a Press Conference (Video)

It’s easy to find an example of a spokesperson getting a press conference all wrong. It’s less common – and worth noting – when someone gets it exactly right. One such example occurred after the recent plane crash in San Francisco. Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), faced cameras shortly after the accident to discuss how her agency would handle its investigation. During the first half of her short briefing, Hersman delivered the information reporters needed to file their stories; during the second half, she took three questions. Watch the video in this article. It offers spokespersons everywhere a wonderful example of the right way to run a press conference during a crisis.

Source: Mr. Media Training

Digital Lessons Learned From Superstorm Sandy

Perhaps due to the location of Superstorm Sandy and the incredibly media-savvy and connected population in New York and New Jersey, social media quickly became the story as images of flooding and damage were immediately publicized. In Sandy’s aftermath, international groups of emergency managers focusing on the use of social media in disasters discussed some of the lessons learned. As Jenny Sokatch, of the DHS Lessons Learned Information Sharing system, explains, “These chats (as well as the #smem hashtag) helped us identify creative ideas and innovative practices used during Sandy that we may not have originally included in out lessons learned information sharing system,” The following key concepts were refined from the discussions:

  • Residents will use social media to ask for emergency assistance.
  • Cell towers, smartphones and mobile friendly solutions.
  • Expect that spontaneous volunteers will show up and organize without you.
  • Pinterest and Instagram became new communication tools.
  • Crisis mapping and crowdsourcing.

Source: Continuity Insights

National Mall and Memorial Parks Creates Media Twitter Feed

The National Mall and Memorial Parks Office of Communications has set up a Twitter account to provide updates to the media regarding Park events and issues as well as logistical information. Media can access the Twitter feed at @NationalMallPIO.