Brendan Hodgson » video At the intersection of yesterday & tomorrow Wed, 14 Oct 2009 12:08:41 +0000 en hourly 1 Friday Digital Miscellany: Crisis, activism & a behind-the-scenes look at what IT is really up to? Fri, 27 Jun 2008 13:09:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson Summer in London may not be springtime in Paris, but at least it didn’t rain last week for an internal digital and crisis conference I attended with fellow H&K crisis practitioners from across Europe, North America and Asia.

The key learning of the two-day event – other than to not let Cy Twombly’s art truly aggravate you: digital can no longer be considered an afterthought when preparing for, or executing during a crisis. It must be burned into the system from the outset - the technology, the people and the processes. It must become an integral part of the training regimen, be designed to support various crisis thresholds and provide sufficient flexibility to evolve as the crisis evolves. And not only is it simply about launching a “dark site” or adding a line item to a manual. It is also about guiding employee behaviours online, assessing how and when to respond (and not respond) to misinformation and speculation that may be bubbling throughout the social web, considering new ways and formats to deliver content and messaging, and working with other functional areas (per my last post) to ensure the ‘machine’ operates seamlessly.

Developments on the activism and social media front and the impact of the citizen journalist on the newsmaking process also caught my eye this week. In Canada, much like what happened recently in the U.S. over downed cattle resulting in one of the largest beef recalls in history, activists using a hidden camera were able to reveal what many consider to be questionable practices related to the slaughter of horses. And while the footage generated considerable media coverage, it also raised a number of questions related to how the industry is regulated. Not only is this further demonstration of the increasing levels of transparency now being imposed upon organizations through the use of technology and the rising importance of video and images to communicate in a way that text never could, it also demonstrates how easily such footage can be taken out of context, according to one industry expert: 

“…Shanyn Silinski, executive director of the Farm Animal Council in Manitoba, an animal welfare group, noted regulations govern the slaughter industry… Silinski cautioned against drawing conclusions about a particular facility based on clips of camera footage.” 

Finally, and on a more humorous side, props to Churbuck for, one sick video that, in the words of Homer Simpson, is funny cuz it’s true.

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"Supercuts" and their impact on reputation Tue, 27 May 2008 13:02:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson I was reading a recent post by Andy Baio on the proliferation of what he calls “supercuts” or video montages made by obsessive fans of their favourite TV shows, films or video games – and he lists quite a few classics.

What’s interesting is how easily I see this format transferring into both the political and corporate arena by organizations and individuals seeking to capture a litany of “promises” or statements made by elected officials or corporate spokespersons either to demonstrate support for or, more likely as in the case of this famous “flip-flop” video of John McCain (courtesy of Jeff Jarvis), highlight more negative behaviours.

As more and more “gotcha” moments are captured on film or audio and shared throughout the social web (here’s a recent, and extremely powerful, example) , the implication on corporate, political and personal reputation is significant. The aggregation of incidents such as these over time coupled with the permanence and searchability of the web, could become a significantly damaging force in times of crisis, and when organizations (and their reputations) are under the spotlight.

Nor is this “syndrome” restricted solely to the social web. Increasingly, mainstream media are collecting and presenting lists of “related” stories around organizations and issues that often - through selective aggregation – portray that organization in a negative light - typically highlighting recent stories of past tragedies, crashes, blow-outs etc., or other failings that have hit the media (case in point).

And the risk of reputation damage becomes even more acute when these clips and stories are aggregated without context, or with the intent to portray a specific bias, further propagating this culture of misinformation within which we increasingly exist.

For those charged to defend an organization’s reputation, it won’t be enough to simply cry out: Noooooooooo!

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When was the last time you did something truly different? Tue, 30 Oct 2007 01:55:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson When I look at the business of PR today, I often ask both myself and my colleagues, ”when was the last time you did something truly different?”

It’s an important question because clients are looking for increasing levels of creativity in the plans and strategies we’re asked to provide. Granted, they may not act on them. But they want to know that we can think out of the box, and do so in a fashion that makes sense to their business.

Moreover, it allows consultants (particularly those new to the profession) the ability to look beyond the basics and the more traditionally-focused tactics (read ‘media’) that they learned in PR school. And when they know that they are able to expand their horizons, and do so within the context of what we’re being asked to do (meaning, with senior strategic oversight), exciting opportunities can be created.

Obviously, the best-case scenario is when our clients act on those ideas. Case in point: we’ve been privileged in recent months to work with Intel Canada on their gaming business. At the core of the strategy is Gamefaces, and driving the campaign is a focus on creating original content that we hope will resonate with gamers. And that speaks to the question I asked at the beginning of this post.  We’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with a client that get’s it – that understands the importance of “content” as table stakes. It means we now have the ability to capture and share the stuff that traditional media might not touch, but which our audiences might find both entertaining and useful, and ultimately help to re-shape perceptions. It means being able to engage real gamers in ways that might previously have never been considered in a PR context – and using the social media tools available in order to reach gamers where they go to get information.

Equally interesting, this campaign is already moving beyond Canada’s borders and – with the current Extreme Gamefaces Zero G promotion – providing the foundation for reaching audiences across North America and, potentially, globally.  

So when was the last time you did something truly different? If you haven’t, start now. Clients are asking for it.

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Camp Okutta… or is it? Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:47:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson I am constantly blown away (no pun intended, and you’ll see why) by the online creativity of non-profits who, for the most part, cannot afford the large-scale ad spends of their corporate counterparts.

This is perhaps one of the better examples of an emerging viral campaign I have seen in a long while: one that combines a highly compelling website built around a fictitous summer camp and outrageous (and not in the funny sense) viral video that puts AK-47’s in the hands of children. The organization behind it: War Child Canada. The campaign: the use/abuse of children as combat soldiers in conflicts around the world.

The humour of the video is grotesquely powerful (particularly being a father of young kids myself). and the site tells a real story that leads directly to the call to action. Kudos to the team behind it.

Update: well, it seems the site has also angered many in the Toronto area where posters also accompanied the campaign (clearly this is bigger than even I anticipated).  

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When music, the military and Youtube collide… Wed, 11 Apr 2007 15:32:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson The fervour with which the armed forces of various countries (and their supporters) have embraced video – and Youtube, in particular – as an outlet to reach out to potential recruits, showcase the conditions under which the troops serve, communicate to loved ones, and deliver personal tributes to the men and women who serve in the military (of which there are nearly 100 for the Canadian Forces alone) is fascinating. 

Without question, Youtube has helped to more broadly expose the harsh realities under which our troops operate, and to amplify the efforts of recruiters to reach younger audiences. 

But they can also portray a lighter side of a dangerous job, one that highlights the pride and camaraderie of the soldiers, sailors and airmen on the front lines. Perhaps the most entertaining are the growing numbers of music videos created (out of sheer boredom, one wonders) by the servicemen and women themselves. A sample playlist:

  • The “Sun Kings” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116 rendition of the Black Eye Peas’ hit song, “Pump It” and Outkast’s’ “Hey Ya,” (You can read here about the potential impact of these videos on recruitment. Hat tip to Ian Ketcheson.)
  • Not to be outdone is the Royal Navy’s version of Queen’s Bohemian Rapsody.
  • And you can judge for yourselves which version of “Is this the way to Amarillo” is better: this video by British soldiers stationed in Iraq, or this clip video’d by the Dutch military in Afghanistan. (what is it about this song?)
  • One clip I wish I could find, and an example from a Canadian context, is Rick Mercer’s 2005 (or was it earlier?) visit during his This Hour Has 22 Minutes days to Canadian soldiers stationed in the Former Yugoslavia, to lead a rousing karaoke sing-along to ”We’re here for a good time, not a long time” by Canadian rock dinosaur, Trooper.

    Sadly, since I can’t show that, I figured I’d show another Mercer/Trooper moment just prior to the 2006 one of the recent Federal elections, and to the tune of “Raise a Little Hell“. Fun, but not quite the same impact though.

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