Facebook’s Fireside Chat

It is often said that with great power comes great responsibility.

Returning from parental leave, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated the 21st Century version of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chat.” Mr. Zuckerberg used his social media platform to announce that his company may have inadvertently participated in Russia’s tampering of the 2016 presidential election.

Photo Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

After hiring numerous investigators, Facebook discovered approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017 associated with some 3,000 smear ads believed to be related to Russian ads during the election period.

In response to the findings, CNBC reports Mr. Zuckerberg’s stance as “bringing Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency.” The social media site will no longer allow their users to be fooled by ad companies and those working with them.

By strategically using his social media empire, Mr. Zuckerberg was able to inform the public on the developments and how the Facebook plans to combat them.

Initially, Mr. Zuckerberg was blind sided as well, pushing back on claims that viral fake news stories could have any sway on the election, calling the idea “crazy” and saying that critics lacked “empathy” for President Donald Trump’s supporters.

But pressure on Facebook has grown over time.

Some congressional investigators saw Russian activity on Facebook as key to understanding the extent of Moscow’s influence on the election. Before Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook video, Federal Election Commission member Ellen Weintraub called for an overhaul of disclaimer rules around political advertisements on the internet.

Followup interviews with Elliot Schrage, VP of Policy and Communications revealed that the vast majority of Facebook’s over 5 million advertisers use self-service tools. “This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts.”

“We are committed to rising to the occasion, Mr. Zuckerberg said. “Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference.

Now, that’s a great way to use great power, responsibly.

Pomp and Circumstance

Trending now is Graduation Speech Bingo for about-to-be graduates to play during the long, hot hours sitting in commencement caps and gowns with giddy parents watching their every move. The game is to see how many trite phrases are used: find your passion, it starts with us, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Here are some examples and exceptions:


Photo Courtesy of: Entrepreneur.com

Will Ferrell, University of Southern California  2017

Comedian Will Ferrell humorously recounted his early failures in a light-hearted commencement speech at University of Southern California. Providing graduates with a sense of comfort and reassurance, he ended with a butchered imitation of the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love you.”


Photo Courtesy of: AJC.com

Hillary Clinton, Wellesly College 2017

Former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton explained that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but that’s not a valid reason to give up on your dreams. Secretary Clinton was on the same stage 48 years earlier as a student speaker conveying the same message; to stand up and fight for what you believe.


Photo Courtesy of: CNBC.com

Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard University 2017

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and Harvard University dropout, poked fun at himself with…“If I get through this speech, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard.”


Photo Courtesy of: GettyImages.com

President Donald Trump, Liberty University 2017

President Donald Trump lashed out at the media during the US Coast Guard Academy commencement with “no politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly.” And again at Liberty Christian University, he reflected on his own persistence with “never ever give up”…without crediting Winston Churchill’s six words of success “never never never never give up.”


Photo Courtesy of: Notey.com

Dame Helen Mirren, Tulane University 2017

Dame Helen Mirren related to her college audience with “like a hangover, neither triumphs nor disasters last forever.”




“Biting the Hand that Feeds You”

taco blog montage

Every employee is an ambassador of the brand s/he works for … good, bad or ugly.

A recently-fired employee of Taco Bell, perhaps believing that one photo on his mobile phone of his licking a stack of empty taco shells wasn’t attention-getting enough, decided to post the picture on his Facebook page and Reddit, leading to a viral headache for his former fast food employer.

However, Taco Bell isn’t the only franchise that has had to deal with employees who express their lack of respect for the brand and the customers they serve.   Burger King and Domino’s Pizza both have had similar PR disasters in the recent past.  Burger King had employees post a picture of just their shoes standing on top of two open containers of lettuce, while two Domino’s employees posted a video to showcase their high velocity sneezes adding extra spice to the calzones.

The fast food industry and their franchisees need to establish the importance of brand image and new media manners during orientation.  Presentation coaching is a valuable investment for companies that consistently hire new and often young people who don’t know how to publicly present themselves.  Companies need to educate employees that they are the brand!

When employees get READY FOR MEDIA, they also learn that they should listen to radio station, WII-FM:What’s In It For Me!  How you have represented this brand will make all the difference in getting your next job, promotion or raise. And the next and the next!

When Hip Hop & History Collide, You Get a “Belieber”



bieber blog pic

After touring the Amsterdam hiding place of the young Holocaust victim and diarist, Anne Frank; hip hop sensation Justin Bieber decided to leave his mark in the museum’s guest book: “Anne was a great girl. Hopefully, she would have been a Belieber, (a believer in Justin Bieber.)  Her chronicle, The Diary of a Young Girl is recognized as one of the most inspirational Holocaust accounts of courage, perseverance, and faith. Observing this tragic time in history was an inappropriate moment for Bieber to talk about himself with such self conscious arrogance.

Even more unorthodox, the museum did not seem offended. By posting his guest book comments on their Facebook page, the museum used the controversy to reach Bieber’s 37 million online followers. “We hope that his visit will inspire his fans (teenage girls who may not have known of the historical figure) to learn more about her life and hopefully read the diary.”

Despite an online backlash of outraged comments, new media provided a marketing opportunity for both Bieber and the Anne Frank House.  Courses in media training and presentation skills along with acting, singing, and music help celebrities and others know how to perform in public.

The Medium Is the Message

In his presentation Trends, Fads and Transformation: The Impact of the Internet to Santa Barbara’s City College Lifetime Learning series, USC Annenberg’s Director of The Center for the Digital Future, Dr. Jeffrey Cole talked about how the Internet has altered mass media, societal social norms, and ecommerce.  News is less often read on paper, more often on the internet; we tell time, get the weather and wake up with a cell phone and put television shows and movies in our pockets.

Communications theorist and philosopher, Marshall McLuhan opined in the mid 60’s that the medium is the message. Wikipedia defines his meaning as  … the form of the medium embeds itself in the message creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. McLuhan proposed that a medium affects a society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.

According to Dr. Cole, American families in 1975 watched one television screen and an occasional movie screen for an average of 16 hours a week. Now, many other screens of all shapes and sizes have crowded into view: the desktop, the laptop, the tablet, the giant flat screen TV and the smartphone for average viewing of 44 hours a week. And Google Glass, an Internet bi-focal that interacts with the internet through our voice commands, may be next. Dr. Cole points out that screens have become our constant companions because of FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. So, many citizens of the world are constantly available on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and text. And anything communicated on the Internet can go viral within seconds. The immediacy can be both addictive and all consuming.

And everybody in the pool. According to a recent Pew Research study, more than half of seniors are online, too.  And a third are using social media. Dr. Cole questions how cool Facebook will stay? “The last place teenagers want to be is where their mothers and grandmothers are!”

Dr. Cole concludes that media doesn’t disappear. It merely adapts. Video and audio, which is still called television for lack of a better word, is how people communicate. Since 1981, audio/video recording of practice presentations and interviews with playback and constructive critique is how READY FOR MEDIA coaches clients to face audiences both in person and through the media.

In a Q&A session, Dr. Cole, who consults with corporations and governments worldwide, answered questions from the audience with respect to how small business must also adapt to the internet. We are adapting too, in helping clients get READY FOR NEW MEDIA.