Archive for December, 2010

Things or People Remembered?

December 31, 2010

The first decade of this new millenium draws to a close at midnight tonight. Whatever your timezone, chances are you will look back not only on the year past, but, should be so fortunate as to be a part of the generations that witnessed all the change the last 10 years brought to this third rock from the sun, you will also likely look back on what can arguably be called the decade of communication change.

Sure, we could focus on the fact that 2000 found us lugging around computers that (gasp!) could barely fit into our laps (hail the rise of the 8 pound laptop in years past) OR we could possibly focus on the use of ICQ and MSN messenger as regular means for the “super cool” to communicate. Me? While I could focus on how long it has been since I felt the excitement the screetching sounds of a dial up connection attempting (and often failing) to connect me to the “information superhighway”, instead, today, la ultima dia de 2010, I prefer to focus on how technology has brought people – not things into my life.

Earlier in this decade that now draws to a close, with the ample assistance of an incredibly fast 1 week international mail delivery system by FedEx, I sent my mother (now deceased) her first personal computer (a Compaq with a screen that came in a box 100 times the size of my new Mac Book Air).  While she boasted to others that her “girl child” had purchased her such an extravagant gift (computers still are a fairly hefty investment, though no where near as expensive or rare as they used to be in the Caribbean), what brought me joy was the fact that daily we could MSN chat with each other. In fact, e-based communication (then limited to email and Messenger chatting), replaced our need for expensive phone conversations. The computer brought us closer together, even though in reality we still lived miles apart and were more than disparate in age.

Fast forward 6 months and she got her first personal “cell phone”. Well yes! My mom and I exchanged text messages. And while the phones looked different than they do today and we were (sadly) impressed by the monochromatic screens, what I remember was not the technology, but indeed the emotion a simple text message could endure. I still remember her first LOL! Hell, I remember the first time a suitor sent me a 143 BEEP! But, beepers were SO 1990s…we’re like…NOT going there!

Somewhere following my return to the Caribbean in 2004, I discovered the internet’s ability to build bridges and heal relationships where once before that would have seemed impossible. Friends and family explored long distance “relationships” aided by e-chat, video chat, text messages and abetted by fare alerts from travel sites. Somewhere in the later half of the decade gone by, I discovered how technology brought people together in ways that could not be facilitated even 5 years before. Group trip planning, video tours of European sites and yes…SKYPE – that programme that saved me from near tragedy following a stoled passport in Europe just under a year ago.

So, while we could laugh at how digital cameras went from rare to norm and computers/ cell phones became part of our self identities (Iphone or Berry? PC or Mac?), what is possible a better communication question is how many relationships in this new, digitally supported life, do we owe to technology? Indeed, as we look back tonight, glasses in hand and 12 grapes poised to be popped into anticipated lips, I urge you to celebrate, not the THINGS of the decade gone by – but the people this decade, grounded into techonology, brought into our lifes.

Here’s to people remembered! Cheers and Happy New Year!


Lessons from Broadway?

December 15, 2010

Can art inspire you to live or do we inspire art? Broadway inspired me last year. In fact, blessed to be the child of a lover of the arts, Broadway (and the Caribbean’s version of same) has always given my life…well theme music.

Last year, the green faced Elphaba in Tony Award winning “Wicked” performed Wicke’s signature performance that indeed was the theme for me this year:

“To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown”

How many of us have accepted limits because “others said they are so”? Whether it is in our field, life or love, it is time for more to be willing  to do, as Elphaba did and learn to leap without looking.

So as this year ends, as communicators already have concretized plans for the next, make a plan to chart a new course. Defy gravity. Be an inspiration – you are a masterpiece waiting to be unveiled.



Multiple Facebook Profile Disorder

December 9, 2010

The digital world encourages many possible new disorders for today’s population. Already impatience is on the rise what with Crackberry syndrome (addiction to responding to Blackberry messages as they come in) and Facebook status overload (people who update their Facebook status at least twice as many times as they change their underway in a day) and various other “disorders” on the rise. Tonight, diagnosed as physically ill by a “real” (that is, real world, offline) doctor, I realize that I quite possibly suffer from another e-communication disorder….multiple Facebook Profile Disorder.

Indeed, I manage 4 Facebook pages, 2 profiles and my own Facebook identity. I have 3 blogs as well – each with their own unique audience and purpose. Then of course, there are the various sites I visit daily in addition to those requiring maintenance as part of my professional responsibility….every now and then, like on Sunday, I make a faux pas…I mix up the profiles/ tweets/ pages – you get the picture. I even occasionally have to make a conscious effort to put my mind into the right “frame of thought” for the “profile” I am managing….shouldn’t this indeed be listed as some sort of disorder?

Probably not…not yet! As Generation Z moves from middle to high school the plethora of social media channels and communication outlets at their disposal rises exponentially with their propensity to e-communicate. Soon, the notion of a single “style” of communicating will be as passe to their generation as Palm Pilots and rotary dial phones are to mine. Possibly then psychologists around the globe are pondering the very question I am…is their such a thing as Multiple “Facebook” Profile Disorder and, if so, will it require medication of some sort? For now, the only cure for same is the occasional “signing off” of the digital world – moving from virtual world to real world and yes, maybe even physically surfing instead of digitally doing so.

Disorder or not, the single channel approach to communicating is forever dead. Generation Z is defined by their multiple communication channels and varied styles. Come on Boomers, and Xers….its our time to adapt! Tweet, BBM and FB this blog – then weigh in and share an opinion.


Does Print Media Still Play a Role?

December 4, 2010

I have long been an avid believer that digital media would eventually consume traditional media. I believed wholeheartedly that already, as the digital native graduates from high school, generation X and the baby boomers are forever seeing the last days of the power of the print media and the fall of television to YouTube, Hulu and others. I have admonished advertising campaigns spouting the quotations of Social Media Guru Eric Qualman “Only 14% believe advertising”….”word of mouth is now world of mouth”….then reality struck. In the Caribbean, traditional media still plays a major role.

How did reality strike? Less than two months after some volunteer pr strategy work with YUMA to launch their Facebook page (well documented in the blog) led to international recognition of the entity and over 7,000 Facebook fans, a family owned business used a similar Facebook strategy + radio advertising + print media coverage. Surprise! Customers walking into the store CAME through the doors WITH the articles on the store in hand…more people told the store staff (I DON’T work there – I have a full time job that DID sanction my involvement in opening the business) they heard about the business on the radio than on Facebook! People opening their wallets were also GASP – more interested in hearing about future specials by text rather than email! It was an Oprah – esque AH HAH moment…or in more Caribbean terms it was an “Oh Gyad Oy” moment… Could it be the marketing teams who have tightly hugged the low internet penetration statistics in the Caribbean as the reason why they could never enter into anything more than a beach fling with social media….could it be these people, MBAs in hand and supported by research that goes against my gut instinct that the days of the power of press as we once know it be over….could all those folks that frown on my social media training session as frivilous….SIGH are they right? Are we in the Caribbean still hooked on print?

The answer – yes….and not really. Print media used to play the leading role in mechanisms by which the public could be accessed by Communicators/ advertisers….now…the role is important….but a new star has been born. Already, entities like the Guardian Media Group are opening embracing social media and, those with Caribbean roots can read the Advocate, Guardian, Express, Gleaner and others online AND leave comments, tweet and cite the stories on Facebok, Twitter and, for the savvy and adventurous (no examples yet)- Tumblr.

Am I saddened? Nope. I am heartened, should social media already be the star of Caribbean communication with such low penetration rates and use admittedly beyond the immediate means of those below the (as much as I hate stratification) lower middle class, it would mean we as a multiethnic and increasingly literate population are too easily swayed. Possibly our Caribbean need to balance the words of the web with the reality of a human edited and printed report shows that we believe news need come from a multiplicity of sources for, even in the first days of Caribbean produced and created media, it took us quite a few years to trust our own media houses enough to report news that occured just down the street from us. Those of my Grandfather’s generation remember feeling the pride of touching our first newspapers but still waiting anxiously for the paper from England to arrive, SAVING UP to but same as it was considered an indulgence AND THEN comparing the reports (if any) to confirm news reports. Possibly, we take longer to abandon traditions and possibly, our trust levels for accuracy are lower than those that live where corner houses were not the original news editors. I mean not to be disparaging in the least. As avaricious as my appetite is for social media, I too often verify Twitter feeds, Facebook messages about “news” by waiting to read/hear/see same from our official news media channels. For this, I must answer my own communication question today – does print media still play a role with a resounding yes…I will thus, though with a knowing smirk, bow to the Marketing professionals who has asked me to temper my statistically unsound passion for social media as “THE WAY” to get messages out and agree, if only for now, that social media must be balanced with traditional media for true effective Corporate Communication plans….As I sign off, I’ll reach for my morning sorrel  and  read the articles in the Trinidad Express, Guardian and Newsday by getting my moist fingertips dirty as they touch the print in what has become a family Sunday Ritual.

What are your views on social media vs. traditional media?