November 2009


It was my turn to nominate a “word for the day” for my Hi-Noon Toastmaster’s Club and I selected the word counterintuitive.

For those of you not familiar with Toastmaster protocol, we try to work one new word into our everyday vocabulary during each meeting.

For those of you also not familiar with the word counterintuitive, it means something that is true, but contrary to what you would intuitively expect. I know, because I looked it up after hearing it for the first time this summer. Since then, I have heard it used over and over and over again. Either the word is becoming more popular, or I’m becoming more aware of it.

It’s a great word for describing Social Media.

I would never have predicted the level of opportunity to publish my own words online, nor the transparent sharing that has developed within what one writer so aptly describes as the “global network of digital campfires.”

(Don’t you just love the imagery? The author, by the way, is Sonia Simone, senior editor of Copyblogger and founder of Remarkable Communication. Both are resources worth watching.)

Now that I find myself sitting at those campfires every day and night, I’ve grown to embrace the candor of the culture and enjoy the opportunity to create and publish content all over the place.

Which is why a recent Advertising Age article surprised me by making big news out of PR professionals bypassing reporters to pitch directly to consumers in today’s shrinking media market. As one reader who agrees with me commented, these are strategies that have been reported for years…  “Good to see AdAge picking up on the trend.”

Some say this trend will rob reporters of their power and influence. I disagree.

When it all shakes out, I believe the working relationships with reporters will continue to be vital within the world of news — even though that world is swiftly switching from print to digital. The process of working with reporters will continue, along with new social media roles.

Like many places in today’s world, the playing field has been leveled. And as counterintuitive as that initially seemed, I’m now really comfortable with new opportunities to hit a few of my own home runs.

If you hear a huge whwhshshsh…. ing sound… don’t panic. It’s nothing more than the echoes of change happening.

Visualize a huge auditorium, where you and I have been sitting. But now, along with most of the other people who have been filling the seats, we have stood up and walked down the aisle and figured out a way to get on stage. We are now the new presenters.

In real life, that probably wouldn’t happen. But in today’s virtual existence, we are continually slipping in and out of the role of “broadcaster” without giving it a second thought.

This should be having a positive impact on self esteem. If my sandwich, and whether or not I added mustard, has become newsworthy… hmmm.

But the fact is, my sandwich and whether or not I added mustard, is really only interesting the first time I talk about it. After that, my audience expects greater things from me.

You can always tell a new Tweeter, because they are talking about the sandwich in front of them or the cookies they have in the oven. Food seems to be the common denominator we all turn to, when first asked to send out a tweet or facebook comment.

But then it gets interesting. We start to think about what we know, what we’ve observed, what we’ve read. And we start to explore an idea or concept that could really benefit someone. And we share.

We stop talking about the weather and share something that someone else might actually find useful. It’s what I’m starting to really like about this whole social media process. It’s fun to discover how much people have learned from life and the degree to which they are willing to talk about it.

I often wonder what Marshall McLuhan would think about today’s media…  If the medium is its own message, as he often wrote, what is the message behind social media? I do think we may all find “ah ha” moments of uplifting that reinforce our own value and the value of the people we exchange ideas with. And that’s a good thing.