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When pressure builds, what do you tweet?


Running through my various lists of San Diego Sports Tweeps today, I came across this tweet from Bill Johnston, the PR Director for the San Diego Chargers.

I was a little surprised to see the PR Director tweet something so negative.  Ridiculous?  How is pressure for a great draft ridiculous? Or is it the fans who are ridiculous for putting the pressure on the team?  I felt compelled to point this out to him. You can see here my response and his “save.”

This is a really great example of someone not taking that one extra moment to re-read a tweet before hitting the send button. With 6281+ followers, I suspect there are a few Chargers fans in the mix. Would Bill’s tweet have made a more positive impact had he posed a question?

“Who are you hoping the Chargers pick up in the NFL draft?”

Or could he have shed some light on the secret wishes of the players?

 “The buzz in the locker room is that so-and-so is high on the wish list.”

To keep the communications in the positive zone, I responded with:

Main point being, there was a good chance to engage fans and let them have a say, take a moment to interact. The comment/opinion from the PR Director only sets a stage for negative replies, as some might interpret him calling the fans ridiculous.

I’m all for being human and authentic, and certainly feel that even frustrations can be creatively vented online with a dash of humor and an open invite to comment.  When you are a public figure, or sit in a position like the PR Director for a professional sports team, you really must remember that every time you post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or elsewhere, you really have to give second thought to how your post will resonate with your audience.  For someone in Bill’s position, he should be able to turn what seems like a personal frustration into a positive interaction with Chargers fans. Furthermore, and no less significant, when the PR Director for a sports team sends tweets out a bit haphazardly, what kind of example does that set for the players and FO staff?

How do you think Bill should have tweeted his pressure-filled comment? What examples have you seen where a negative sentiment or frustrating situation is turned into a positive moment where fans feel included?  Thanks for sharing your links in the comments!



It’s an Issue of Trust

trust word in letterpress type

Perhaps you’ve seen the news peppered with stories about university athletic departments all geared up to monitor their student-athletes’ social media accounts. With several universities receiving media attention and NCAA infractions, it’s no wonder athletic departments are “scrambling” for solutions.

Without a proper education, there is no doubt that student-athletes are going to commit social faux pas online. Even coaches and athletic department staff have committed noticeable errors. However, the message that you send the moment you set up a monitoring system is, “We don’t trust you.”  Your message to your players becomes,  “We have the greatest faith in you on the field, but the moment you’re out of our sight, we don’t trust your actions or your judgement. We don’t trust that you know how to communicate or what to say. We don’t believe in you.”

Educating your players, on the court and in the office, prepares them to be successful communicators and builds trust between an organization and its team members.  When you (re)educate your team – and I mean every staff member, coach and player – about your brand identity, the brand message and provide social media guidelines (methods for successful communication), you empower your people to serve as brand ambassadors. Enabling them with a better understanding of the various communication tools develops personal pride and a willingness to better serve your organization. Directors and Head Coaches serve as positive, capable examples and can better relate with staff and players about the events happening in the social stratosphere. A thorough education and open discussion can serve as a spring board for ideas which may be generated from the most unexpected sources.

Some universities have chosen to provide some level of social media education, but yet continue to employ monitoring services, “just in case.”  That only sends mixed signals to the players,  “We want you to learn how to use these tools and we want to help you improve your communication skills. But…we still don’t trust that you’ll be successful and remain worried you’ll say or do something stupid.” How else are these young adults to interpret this? How are they (and you) to learn from their mistakes?

ASU’s Michael Crow said at the NCAA Convention in January that the student-athlete experience is, in a sense, a leadership academy. In addition to creating opportunities for their players to become the best athletes they can be, the ASU athletic department staff and coaches offer “life coaching” to motivate their young men and women athletes to consider what they want their life to mean, what life goals they want to achieve and what they want to contribute to the world.

In a CBS video of several coaches weighing in on social media, it was Jim Christian at Texas Christian University who said, “As opposed to just restricting them, you know, sometimes they have to make bad decisions in order to learn. And I think that’s what college is all about.” And UNLV Basketball Head Coach, Dave Rice chimed in with, “I really believe in the importance of empowering student-athletes, making it a part of the education process and really using social media in a positive way.”

Universities, which are at their core, educational institutions, are far better off preparing their athletes for success versus assuming their failures and continually operating in crisis management mode.  Educating your athletes about reputation management, personal branding and all the nifty details of social media, challenges them with responsibility and professionalism and a chance to rise to the occasion.  At the end of the day, that IS what college is all about and a sure method for creating an environment of trust and empowerment while paving a path for tomorrow’s leaders.

Through Beaming Bohemian’s branding and social media education, including the development of social media guidelines, you can change your tune and deliver the message of trust to your student-athletes. Investing in this education is a uniquely positive approach which delivers the message, “We believe that you are amazing individuals who have a unique ability to inspire others through your leadership. We believe you are just as talented off the field as you are on the court. As a student-athlete, you have a more visible platform for story telling and brand development. We trust that you respect yourself, your teammates, your coaches, fellow students and members of the community. We believe in you and we are excited for you to share your story with the world.”


Media Sources

Maryland Bill Addresses College Athletes’ Social Media Privacy via The New York Times

Supreme Court to schools: Take care with First Amendment via LA Times

Athletic departments get free rein with social media via Minnesota Daily

UNC, NCAA Address Monitoring Athletes On Social Media via WFMY News (CBS)

Schools scramble to monitor athletes’ social-media activities after NCAA ruling via philly.com

NCAA: No plans to police Twitter via Missoulian

There’s a problem with your Google+ profile

That was the lovely message I saw when I logged onto Google+ this morning.  Let me start by saying that I don’t actually visit my Google+ accounts everyday.  If the darn thing were integrated into my Hootsuite, then I would post a lot more often. Just as Google built Google+ as an afterthought, so is my interaction on the site. I have to actually remind myself to visit, post, red and interact.

So when I do login and see this notice, I grow a little less patient with the site.

There’s a problem with your Google+ profile

It appears that the name you entered does not comply with the Google+ Names Policy.

The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life in your profile. Nicknames, previous names, and so on, should be entered in the Other Names section of the profile. Profiles are limited to individuals; use Google+ Pages for businesses and other entities.

If you do not edit your name to comply with the Names Policy or appeal with additional information by March 21, 2012, your profile will be suspended: you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile, such as Google+, Buzz, Reader, and Picasa. This will not prevent you from using other Google services, like Gmail.

We understand that Google+ and its Names Policy may not be for everyone at this time. We’d be sad to see you go, but if you do choose to leave, make a copy of your Google+ data first. Then, click here to disable Google+.


Umm. Ok? So do you want me to verify my name, or do you want me to leave? You seem awfully eager for me to disable my account. Hmm. Well, I’ll go ahead and appeal the flagging of my name, as that is my name, it’s what everyone calls me and I simply refuse to add my middle name to the mix to make this fully legal.

When I clicked the appeal link, this message popped up:

Your profile is being reviewed

Thank you for submitting your profile for review. Your profile will be reviewed again to see if it complies with our Names Policy. Reviews are usually completed within a few days. In the meantime, you have full access to Google+ and all other Google services.

If the review is successful, this message will disappear and you can continue using Google+. Otherwise, you’ll be informed that the review was unsuccessful and provided with further instructions.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

We understand that Google+ and its Names Policy may not be for everyone at this time. We’d be sad to see you go, but if you do choose to leave, make a copy of your Google+ data first. Then, click here to disable Google+.

The only part of that message that is right on the money is this: We understand that Google+ and its Names Policy may not be for everyone at this time.  I’m certainly not digging it! And again, what’s with the encouragement to see me go?

I was a bit frustrated with these two messages, and posted publicly to Google+:

Hey Google+ – What’s up? My real name isn’t good enough for you? You may suspend my account? You state at the end of your explanation that “our Name Policy may not be for everyone at this time.” Also that I am welcome to leave Google+? I may take you up on your suggestion if you don’t find my real and commonly used name a fit for your policy. Absolutely ridiculous!!!!!

Apparently, others have had issues to and lent some empathy. Finally, a Google engineer chimed in:

Yonatan Zunger  –  Hrm, seems like a false positive to me. Will check. 

That makes me feel sooo much better! So, I thoughtfully crafted this response:

Shanna Bright  –  +Yonatan Zunger Since you are with Google, may I suggest that you warm up the communications to your users. This paragraph: 

We understand that Google+ and its Names Policy may not be for everyone at this time. We’d be sad to see you go, but if you do choose to leave, make a copy of your Google+ data first. Then, click here to disable Google+.

…comes across as a suggestion to leave. Telling users that you/they are not a good fit comes across as a suggestion to leave. I’m already finding it difficult to make time to update my Google+ as I do not have Hootsuite integration….so Google+ is an afterthought in my social networking activity. When I do log on and find that I’m not considered “real” or “acceptable” or that I don’t fit policy… or now that I’m a false positive… it makes me even less enthusiastic to participate. There is much friendlier language that could be used which would not alienate your current users. Example?

Hey Shanna Bright! Your name is so unique, our computers think it might not be real. Can you click here and help us verify your name for us. If this is your nickname, that’s cool, but we need to list your profile name as the name you are commonly referred to. You nickname can now be entered here…

Something along those lines….. See what I mean?


While I did not receive a response to my suggestion, I was delighted that my good name was finally cleared:

Yonatan Zunger  –  +Shanna Bright We cleared the bit and you should be OK now. I’m sorry about that message — you got the “we’re pretty sure you’re a spammer / spambot” message. We’re tracking down why these false positives happened in the first place now; this shouldn’t have happened.


To which I replied:

Shanna Bright  –  +Yonatan Zunger Thank you for looking into this and for clearing my name. I’m glad to be considered a human again and not a spambot. I hope my profile doesn’t trigger any false positives in the future. Please do consider submitting my suggestion for brand communication style changes. Thank you – SB


At the end of this experience with Google, I feel a bit beaten up. I don’t feel valued, I don’t feel human and it seems my suggestion for warming up their communications fell of deaf ears.  But really…what a missed opportunity to positively interact with your users and inject your brand identity and core values into the conversation.  Definitely does nothing to welcome me back to the site and rev up my interaction levels.

This is really something to consider though. Your brand identity needs to be stamped in every communication from your company or personal accounts.  This means your invoices, error messages, receipts, tweets, updates, posts… everything.  Because one little slip – like a stupid little false positive name issue – leaves an impression with your clients. They interpret these messages as part of your brand values.  In this case, Google leaves me with the “cold shoulder” impression. Not once was a “thank you,” “we appreciate you,” or even “good idea” remarked. Google+ missed the opportunity to make me a fan. Instead, the network will remain nothing but an afterthought.

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