Why this news station Epic billboard FAIL doesn’t matter

So a local news station thought they’d show how down they are with those kids tweeting and a facebooking, but they ran into a slight glitch.

A trio of of television anchors in Mobile, Ala. have learned the hard way that Twitter and electronic billboards don’t mix very well.

A reader e-mailed me the unintentionally humorous photo above of a billboard for WPMI-TV.

Next to the image of three WPMI anchors is a “right now on Twitter” screen. Giving drivers updates on Twitter in real time as they pass by the billboard is pretty cool, right? Well, it is, unless the update says “3 Accused of Gang Rape in Monroeville.”

That Tweet was posted on Wednesday afternoon and a thrifty driver grabbed a photo of the unfortunate side-by-side.

(via Epic billboard fail.)

This is definitely funny. I’m sure some shouting was done and more than a few people at the station were embarrassed, but what is the real consequence after the “meme” passes? Has the news station lost their reputation? Will they never be trusted again to deliver the news? Are they going off the air!? Or, will everyone have a laugh, they’ll add another layer of moderation to similar marketing products, and a ton of people who had never heard of WPMI-TV will tune in if they ever make it to Mobile, Alabama. Oh, and people like me have already checked out their website — upping their traffic stats for the month. Hello, advertisers!

Allison Fine wrote a post recently called, “Branding is about trust not control.” I relate all to well to her points about how terrified senior management at nonprofits are about their brand being diluted or destroyed if they open up the social media floodgates.

The struggle is about the intersection of control and trust that the leadership of too many nonprofit organizations are struggling with right now. Here’s the argument. Staffers and volunteers on social media channels like Facebook cannot be counted on to talk about our organization in a way that won’t do harm to the perception by people that we are trustworthy and reliable and valuable. And the people out there can’t be trusted to participate in these conversations in civil, constructive ways.
(via A Fine Blog)

As Allison points out in the blog, my first argument with such nonprofits is, “Well, hire people you trust.” Are they really hiring people they cannot trust to tweet without several levels of sign off?

Next I ask: What’s the worst case scenario? Often, what they are really worried about is ruffling feathers internally. The issues often have little to do with the outward brand, but the inward turf wars that waste time and energy at so many large nonprofits. However, even a public worst case would do minimal damage in most instances. The bottom line is that there needs to be a shift where those opposing social media projects must prove why it will undo the brand’s value, not the other way around. New Media teams that are always on the defensive will always be behind the curve and far less valuable to their organization.

As we see in the Billboard FAIL, the biggest fear is that supporters will say something that gets the nonprofit in hot water. This rarely happens. What is most likely to happen is supporters raise some good points, and some bad. Some will challenge the organization’s policy stance, and this is the value of social media…Conversation. Social media used right is a conversation tool. It gives a nonprofit thousands of teachable moments they wouldn’t have otherwise. You can’t start the conversation with censorship.

Open the gates and let your supporters in. There may be a few landmines along the way, but you can always look to the great Billboard FAIL of ’09 and say, “It could be worse.” Most likely, it won’t ever be that bad at all. In fact, your organization may soon find your supporters trusting something far more valuable than your brand — you’re people. Conversations with people instead of brands, what a novel concept for Not-for-Profit organizations.

How news organizations are using Google Wave

Some news organization use Google Wave to enhance commenting

Some news organization use Google Wave to enhance commenting

People have canada viagra no prescription been saying I'm obsessed with Google Wave, but how to get some viagra I think I'm more intrigued by the concept of what can be done with Wave.

This time news organizations are jumping ahead of the curve with really cool uses of the new Google Service. Chicago Tribune’s RedEye blog started its first public wave on November 10, and since then it has attracted more than 300 blips.

Austin American-Statesman's social media editor, Robert Quigley, has started two public waves, giving his readers a virtual town square on stories. Think of it as a commenting board on steroids.

“People are enthusiastic and they want to talk about news. I was surprised how much discussion there was about the news,” he said.

However, said Quigley, the challenge right now is keeping public waves on topic. If they get more than 50 blips discussion grinds to a halt, reported Quigley. He added that in order for Google Wave to work during a news event, there needs to be the ability to moderate and or easily spin something into another wave and link to it in the first wave to keep it on topic. He stressed Google Wave is in its early stages and in preview, but there’s definitely potential with it, so these are issues that could be addressed in the future.


Happy Thanksgiving. Now enjoy these text messages from 9/11, a site that specializes in leaked documents for the public good, has obtained 24 hours of pager texts beginning at 3AM on September 11, 2001 and continuing through 3am on September 12, 2001.

I’m all for “Sunshine,” and pushing as much information into the public sphere, but I’m not a fan of the timing of this, starting the day before the holiday, which is a major travel day and continuing three hours into Thanksgiving.

The only reason I felt compelled to blog this is that my natural reaction to information is to free it and share. I’m one of those people trying to get my colleagues to embrace the web ethos and not be so protective over their information and obsessed with timing. Yet, here I find myself upset with WikiLeaks for not considering those factors.

Let’s find the happiness in this mess. In this case, I’m overjoyed to learn the Bush twins were known by the Secret Service code names “Twinkle and Turq.”

“TWINKLE AND TURQ ARE ACCOUNTED FOR AND SAFE,” the message says. Twinkle and Turquoise were the code names used for then-president George W. Bush’s twin daughters Jenna and Barbara.

Now, that is something to be thankful for. I’m off to read My Pet Goat.

The full info is on

From 3AM on Wednesday November 25, 2009, until 3AM the following day (US east coast time), WikiLeaks is releasing over half a million US national text pager intercepts. The intercepts cover a 24 hour period surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

The messages are being broadcast “live” to the global community — sychronized to the time of day they were sent. The first message is from 3AM September 11, 2001, five hours before the first attack, and the last, 24 hours later.

Text pagers are usualy carried by persons operating in an official capacity. Messages in the archive range from Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults at investment banks inside the World Trade Center

The archive is a completely objective record of the defining moment of our time. We hope that its entrance into the historical record will lead to a nuanced understanding of how this event led to death, opportunism and war.

An index of messages released so far is available here.