Tag Archives: syracuse

Social Media Breakfast Syracuse: a grand central (social) station.

IMG_3242Was thrilled to attend Social Media Breakfast Syracuse for the first time on Thursday morning, at LoFo in Armory Square. Having so many of the most active, innovative and dedicated social media marketing professionals in Central New York in one location generated a kind of excited buzz and kinship among those of us who all speak the same language that seems so foreign to many colleagues.

The event, hashtagged #smbsyr, resembled 90 minutes of friendly frenzied networking chaos. Some found it unusual the event had no speaker or program, but I loved that it instead emphasized connecting — which is, after all, a crucial component of social media. I finally met wonderful people face to face I’ve had conversations on Twitter with for years, caught up with some real-life friends I haven’t seen in far too long and met plenty of amazing new people. Attendees included higher education and news media, corporations and creative agencies, small business owners and students. The marvelous mix just added to the merriment.

LoFo put out a great spread and about the only drawback was that the huge turnout, which seemed to exceed even the volunteer organizers’ ambitious goals, really packed the space. The event sold out in advance, and if it hadn’t I would have invited more folks from our college. As it was, Oswego had a nice showing of five folks from campus, all of us pleased with being part of such an exciting event.

Next meeting will take place Thursday, March 21, in the Hank Sauer Room of Alliance Bank Stadium, home of the Syracuse Chiefs. It will include a panel discussion on “Social Media and Sports,” and thus more structure than this month’s event, but should draw another great crowd in terms of quality and quantity. Like the Social Media Breakfast Syracuse Facebook page to stay up to date.

While the event keyed on social media, worth noting that I almost never pulled my iPhone from my pocket to check on what was happening on Facebook or Twitter. Why? Because despite all that we love about social, its ability to connect us with fascinating folks face to face is one of its strongest appeals. We’re reminded that social media is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

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#140cuse in review: talk about the passion.

If one word resonated across the inaugural edition of the fast-moving #140cuse conference, it was passion. Sure, the conference of mostly 10-minute presentations at Syracuse University focused on social media and the real-time web, but the passion of presenters and speakers for communicating, for connecting and for humanity came through loud and clear. Some examples:

  • George Couros, an education leader at the Parkland School Division in Alberta, discussed “140 Characters of Kindness,” including a heartbreaking story about how many people connected with him when his beloved dog died. Just as relationships are the foundation of good schools, he said, hashtags are the foundation of community on Twitter. “If you think the web’s just a place to ‘look up stuff,’ you’re missing the best part,” the connections, he noted.
  • Harrison Kratz, the community manager for the MBA program at the University of North Carolina, said things like the battle against SOPA, Occupy Wall Street and 2008 election provided examples of how to rally people behind causes they believe in. He noted that while leaders are important, without the passion of followers no change is possible.
  • Jeff Pulver, founder of the #140conf movement and VoIP pioneer, discussed “Being Vulnerable in the Era of the Real-Time Web.” Noting his passion for ham radio, he said connecting — not technology — is what drives social media. He believes listening, connecting, sharing and engaging are the four most important actions and that emotion is the medium’s truest currency.
  • And Amanda Hite of Talent Revolution closed the conference in style, urging attendees to pull together their most passionate advocates to do a one-day focused call to action. She discussed her 30-day lifestyle challenge via social media which picked up an amazing number of participants. She charged everyone at the conference to tweet something they wanted to accomplish with a #bethechange hashtag, and the results were wonderful.

Other topics included building community among cancer survivors, a few different sessions on connecting passionate sports fans, engaging citizens in scientific discovery, music fans across the web bonding over their first concert and how passionate social media users can make a difference any day.

Oh, and I did a session on our 24 Hours in Photos project, which was neat and I’m happy people responded positively to it. But the real news was learning about the amount of passion out there in social media just waiting to connect, and what awesome things are possible when it happens.

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thinking of ballparks as brands.

Just as the campus should reflect what your college finds important, so are ballparks the places where baseball teams really live their brands. That this may or may not have much to do with what happens on the field tells us how baseball is more like a civic treasure than it is a game.

This summer, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit four different baseball parks: big-time majors to small-town majors, new and old, large and small. Like any good brand, ballparks (imho) can be boiled to a single noun or adjective … one that often also says a lot about the surrounding community. (DISCLAIMER: These opinions are mine alone. Your mileage may vary.)

CitiField: A visual extravaganza.

CitiField: A visual extravaganza.

CITIFIELD, HOME OF THE NEW YORK METS.

In a word: Prestige.

CitiField opened this year with a lot of promise, as did its franchise. The Mets spend a lot of money every year on payroll and, in general, find ways to fall short. The ballpark itself, however, in no way falls short of its promise. It’s cool, it’s shiny, it’s a hot ticket. It’s the place to see and be seen. And yet, unlike its crosstown rival Yankee Stadium which was (rightfully) skewered for luxury prices, CitiField is fairly affordable yet affords you the prestige of saying that you enjoyed a game there. The huge video boards and ads rival the visual pollution of Times Square, but plenty of people love how big and loud New York is. And if some people are willing to pay $8 for the privilege of drinking Bud Light — when you can pay just as much for a vastly superior Hoeggarden — then CitiField is succeeding in making anything you do there feel like a luxury.

Safeco Field: Let the good times Ichi-roll!

Safeco Field: Let the good times Ichi-roll!

SAFECO FIELD, HOME OF THE SEATTLE MARINERS

In a word: Fun.

Seattle is a great sports town without the luxury of a lot of good teams, and its Sonics hoops team was recently stolen by a bunch of businessmen from Oklahoma City. Perhaps because the Mariners and Seahawks were mediocre for so long, Emerald City franchises learned to sell much more than the game. According to folklore, after all, Seattle is where The Wave started. And so Safeco Field gives you majestic views of Puget Sound, more in-game contests than most major-league games, odd distractions like the scoreboard hydro races and affordable regional/cultural cuisine (Ichi-roll, anyone?). When I visited, a large group of Japanese fans wearing Ichiro jerseys appeared to be having the time of their lives. And that, more than anything (even winning!), is what you want for a night out at the ballpark.

Alliance Stadium: Good seats, sights still available.

Alliance Stadium: Good seats, sights still available.

ALLIANCE STADIUM, HOME OF THE SYRACUSE CHIEFS (AAA MINORS)

In a word: Aspirational.

Just as the players on the Chiefs aspire to make the big leagues for parent club the Washington Nationals (or perhaps another, better team), so does Alliance Stadium seem to aspire to be something better. Caught between trying to serve up a major-league calibre experience and the corny promotions of minor-league ballparks, its brand is less certain than other parks. You score a box seat for $10 only to fork over $5.50 for a midrange beer. Most nights the crowd is small and even the exhortations of the scoreboards and announcers can’t lift it. As a bonus, the stadium sits near the mythical site of DestiNY USA, a much-promised mall/theme park/pipedream sold to transform the region if only its owner could get anyone else to pay for it. So the ballpark, the team, the city looks to break out of its own identity issues. Like many parts of Central New York itself, Alliance Stadium has potential with an eye cast towards opportunities for improvement.

Falcon Park: Little Leaguers on the field for the National Anthem? Sure.

Falcon Park: Little Leaguers on the field for the National Anthem? Sure.

FALCON PARK, HOME OF THE AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS (CLASS A MINORS)

In a word: Community.

Most Doubledays players don’t have much of a shot of making the majors. The cheesy between-inning fare includes arm-wrestling contests, racing a mascot, musical chairs. Little Leaguers take the field with the players for the National Anthem. Its most popular promotion is Dollar Beer and Hot Dog Night on Thursdays. That these are all embraced by the ballpark, the team and the community show everyone remembers baseball is more than just a game. I attended a Doubledays game a couple days after a Chiefs contest, and the latter had a larger, livelier, happier crowd. I sat with someone from Auburn and ended up getting upgraded to box seats right behind the home dugout. Most regular Doubledays fans know half the crowd in the ballpark. Folks ask each other how the kids are doing, how work was this week. Going to a Doubledays game is like attending a community picnic … one that happens to include a baseball game.

Intentionally or unintentionally, stadium experiences say a lot about both a team’s business ethos and the community it calls home. If you’re involved in any kind of brand marketing, what do your environment and customer experiences say about you?

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less news than we bargained for.

Earlier today came the official announcement of the end of an era, on Syracuse’s WTVH-5 ceasing news operations and laying off 40 loyal employees. This hits home for me, because 5 is the TV news I’ve watched since I was a young boy, an outlet that helped interest me in journalism and where I had my most influential internship.

The announcement tries to position it as 5’s newsroom merging with that of neighbor and former rival WSTM-3, but it essentially ends an institution with a proud tradition. TV5 was SUNY Oswego grad Al Roker’s first professional weatherman gig. When I interned there, one of the nicest guys was Mike Tirico, now well known as a lead announcer for ABC Sports and ESPN. Other TV5 alumni are working jobs all over the country, thankful for the small-market start.

This news came on the heels of the Rocky Mountain News’ abrupt shuttering by parent company Scripps Howard. If you happen to have 20 minutes to spare, the video on the ghost paper’s home page is an engaging yet devastating documentation of the end of a proud and important paper. And the sad thing is that more TV5s and Rockys will join the club of former journalism outlets.

One part where I disagree with the RMN video, and other pundits on this subject, is in the anger and blame directed at bloggers for the demise of journalism. This is misplaced, albeit trendy: While there are some rogue bloggers trying to supplant journalists, most bloggers (and Twitters and Facebookers) trafficking in current events post links to newspaper articles. It’s just a different distribution method, as I don’t know a single blogger who wants to see newsrooms close, or is working toward putting journalists out of work.

If you’re looking for blame, try corporate boardrooms that have bought up all these journalism outlets and see them as lines on a balance sheet … not as the community resources they are. When Scripps Howard gives up after a mere month of trying to find a buyer for the Rocky Mountain News, when Granite Broadcasting decides to phase out 5’s news function, they are merely redlining an expense to keep shareholders happy. That a community with fewer journalism checks on power is a disservice to everyone, that cities shedding jobs now losing news sources they’ve come to trust like friends is one more kick in the gut … these human costs do not fit into the equation. No film at 11, no special edition, just a fade to black.

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