Tag Archives: Facebook

Vail Resorts seeks to bypass Foursquare & Gowalla

Drop Your Knee Not Bombs!

Powder day at Vail. Photo credit: Flickr, zachd1_618

Vail Resorts has begun beta testing a new location-based social network for skiers and boarders at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek in Colorado and Heavenly in California. Dubbed Epic Mix, the system relies on the existing bar code scanners the lift operators use to scan your lift ticket before you board the chair lift.

I found out about it when a friend skiing at Vail this week posted an update on his Facebook page. (Apparently I missed Vail Resorts’ August news conference in New York announcing Epic Mix. I mean, it was in August. Who holds a news conference in August?)

This video explains:

At any rate, the idea is pretty simple. If you have an Epic pass, which is a plastic ID photo with an RF identification chip embedded inside, you can join the network.  Continue reading

A Picture’s Worth a 1,000 Clicks

For such a small camera, the Canon S90 packs a punch.

The camera never blinks.

This year I rediscovered my love for taking pictures and I have a cell phone to thank.

While the New York Times reported last week that people are increasingly leaving their point-and-shoots at home in favor for their cell phones, the HTC EVO 4G inspired me to purchase a Canon S90 point-and-shoot. I often take both with me when I leave home.

Continue reading

Throw Out the Bathwater

The mural at the top of the dome is called the "Apotheosis of Washington".

My favorite place in Washington: the view looking up inside the Capitol Rotunda.

“Why pay for a golf trip, dinner or full-page ad when you can tweet for free?” asks Cecilia Kang in a front page story of this morning’s Washington Post.

“The influence peddlers of K Street have discovered the power of social networking on such Web sites as Twitter and Facebook,”  Kang writes. “Using their own names without mentioning that they work in public relations or as lobbyists, employees of companies with interests in Washington are chattering online to shape opinions in hard-to-detect ways.”

In the story, Kang points out how some PR people and lobbyists are less than transparent in their use of Twitter, Facebook and other social  to advocate for their clients. Though Sprint was mentioned in the story, she doesn’t cite us an example of companies who are working “undercover” or as an “influence peddler”.

That’s because our team fully discloses our affiliations online. For example, I use Sprint’s logo on my Twitter background and I identify myself as spokesman for Sprint on public policy issues. On my tech blog and my You Tube channel, I have an even lengthier bio. Disclosing that is not only in Sprint’s interest, but it’s in my personal and professional interest.

My fear is that more conservative, risk-averse companies will read Kang’s story and decide social media shouldn’t be used at all. I hope not —  I believe the more open and more spirited the debate is, the more likely it is we’ll end up with a reasoned public policy decision.

In my view, Kang appropriately questions the lack of similar disclosures by others. More companies and trade associations should require their employees to disclose their affiliations online. Sprint does.

Photo credit: Flickr: o palsson

Everything has its Place

My father's workshop was quite a bit more organized than this one.

When I was growing up, my father had a workshop filled with tools of all kinds. He had a table saw, drill press, several power sanders, dozens of wrenches, clamps and other woodworking tools. Each one was kept hanging on a special hook on a pegboard wall.

Everything had its place.

Since beginning this blog, I’ve started used several other social networks and social media tools to communicate with different groups of people in my life. Some channels are for co-workers, some for reporters I work with, some are for Sprint’s customers and yet others are just for my close friends and family.

What I’ve been trying to figure out and keep straight is what tool to use when.

After some thinking, like my dad’s workshop, I’ve decided every tool has its place:

This blog is where I talk about public relations, internal communications and marketing. Recently, I’ve strayed from that and mixed in some posts which are about Sprint and the wireless industry (but not in the context of the PR or marketing in the wireless business.)  Going forward, I expect to use my Posterous site for posts like that.

I’m using You Tube to provide video content to both sites. (I love my Flip Cam!)

Plancast is the tool I am using to keep track of interesting tech gatherings and the people who make them interesting. As the audience for Plancast grows, I expect my purpose for it will change.

Foursquare continues to intrigue me. I think once more businesses recognize its potential to create a loyal and local customer base, it will take off. For now, it’s winning out over Gowalla, namely because I use a BlackBerry and Gowalla, inexplicably hasn’t launched a BlackBerry app yet. I use both as a way to learn about new restaurants and bars and other interesting places. Note to Foursquare and Gowalla users: I don’t consider the baggage claim at your local airport an interesting place.

Linked In continues to be the best way for me to keep up with my co-workers and people I once worked with. (A note about Linked In: I only add people to my network who I’ve worked with closely or know well. If you use Linked In differently, please don’t be offended when I opt not to add you to my network.)

And yes, I use Facebook, but really as a way to stay in touch with close friends and family. If you want to treat your Facebook page like Twitter, go for it — but for me, it’s a much more personal tool. (I continue to be surprised to get Facebook friend requests from Twitter people I’ve never met in person.)

One rule I have about Facebook which I recommend: don’t friend anyone from work. Period. Inevitably if you friend that one friend on your team who you know you’ll stay in touch with long after you’re no longer working together, you end up getting friend requests from that guy in accounting you really don’t know or worse, that woman in sales you really don’t like. Rather than risk hurt feelings with people I work with, I don’t friend anyone I work with. When people leave the company or when I change employers, that’s a good time to add them to Facebook.

Another Facebook rule I started during the 2008 elections — don’t use Facebook to engage your friends about politics or religion. I have a friend of 20 years who was vehemently supporting several candidates I disagreed with over some religious issues. When I expressed a different opinion than his, he unfriended me.

(That’s what prompted me to start two other blogs — one on politics and the other on faith. Neither are associated with my name, but they are my places on the web to say what I really think about issues that are uniquely personal for most people.)

Twitter is the thread I use to stitch all of this together. It also continues to be the best source for interesting information that I wouldn’t likely uncover on my own. With the addition of Twitter lists, I’ve been unfollowing people I don’t have regular conversations with and adding them to the various lists I keep. (That’s helping me better manage the Twitter fire hydrant.) For me, the people I follow at any given moment are the people I am having a conversation with — they are not necessarily the folks I like or agree with.

I am sure there are others who use these channels to communicate differently. But that’s the point of all of this, isn’t it? What works for you, won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa.

Speaking of what works, what is working for you?

(Image credit: Fotographix.ca, Flickr)

What You Can Do Right Now to Help in Haiti

The television images from Haiti’s earthquake are haunting me and I suspect everyone else who has seen them. People around the world want to help, and for the moment, right now the best thing to do is to contribute money. Fortunately, social media and the Web make this easier than ever.

If you’re a subscriber to AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Nextel, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Sprint, you can donate $10 via text message. All you have to do is click — your donation will show up on next month’s bill. My colleague Crystal Davis, who leads our crisis communications team at Sprint has a great blog post about how the process of mobile giving works. She’s also has the short codes for five major relief efforts.

My friend Sunita Ray, who works in corporate communications for KPMG, pointed out on her Facebook page this morning that if you’re donating to organizations like the Red Cross, you should be sure to check your company’s matching gift program before you press “submit” on that donation website.  KPMG matches employee donations dollar for dollar.  According to www.matchinggifts.com, ten percent of us work for companies with a matching gift program.

Speaking of Facebook, my friend Andrew Noyes, who works in PR for well, Facebook, pointed out a Facebook resource for disaster relief on his Facebook status this morning. (As an FYI, I’ve never written the word Facebook that many times in one sentence.) Andrew suggested that his friends become fans of  Global Relief on Facebook. The page seeks to “spotlight efforts on Facebook to help respond to disasters around the globe.”

Earlier this morning, President Obama addressed the situation in Haiti and he described what people and governments around the world are doing to help. In his remarks, the President had a special message for the Haitian people which bears repeating. The President said in part:

Finally, I want to speak directly to the people of Haiti.  Few in the world have endured the hardships that you have known.  Long before this tragedy, daily life itself was often a bitter struggle.  And after suffering so much for so long, to face this new horror must cause some to look up and ask, have we somehow been forsaken?     

To the people of Haiti, we say clearly, and with conviction, you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.  In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.  The world stands with you.  We know that you are a strong and resilient people.  You have endured a history of slavery and struggle, of natural disaster and recovery.  And through it all, your spirit has been unbroken and your faith has been unwavering.  So today, you must know that help is arriving — much, much more help is on the way. 

Rupert Murdoch de-friended me

Yesterday Rupert Murdoch “de-friended” me on Facebook and “unfollowed” me on Twitter. I am deeply hurt.

Well, not exactly. As far as I know, Mr. Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp. and owner of Dow Jones & Co., The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, isn’t active on Facebook or Twitter at all. But he is apparently concerned about his employees who are.

In an internal company memo to employees, Wall Street Journal Deputy Managing Editor Alix Freedman cautioned reporters who work at The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch and Dow Jones Newswires about using social media to engage with sources and readers. The memo was published Tuesday by Editor & Publisher. (I’ve included it in its entirety below.) Continue reading

Jump in, the Water is Fine


Jump in, the water is fine. Photo credit: Esquire.com

Two years ago I went to an IABC conference in New Orleans and attended several workshops on social media, none of which I understood. While it was a worthwhile conference in all other respects – especially that meal at Nola and the drinks on Bourbon Street – with regards to the social media sessions, I returned to my office relieved that our Corporate Communications team at Sprint Nextel had a really bright team to head that up.

 “Thank God, we’ve got Sean and Justin to handle that for us,” I said. Essentially, I gave myself permission not to worry about social media. Continue reading