Archive for the ‘Collective Soul Blog’ Category

Social Media … Are We Missing The Connection?

 

“OMG, Hold on, did you see that? I HAVE to post this! #Amaze!”

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How many times in a day do you reach for that phone, open up a tablet or laptop, click on your favorite app, and almost absentmindedly share, friend, RT, pin, etc., whatever funny thing in your feed that has made you snicker, or shocked you so much that you just HAD to share?

I have a love/hate relationship with this “thing” that allows us to have instant access to share our opinions about things going on around us. I, myself, was happily posting photos on Instagram of my darling three-year-old daughter at a parade over the Memorial Day weekend, and got just a smidgen – ok boat-loads – of joy as the comments and compliments rolled in from family and friends.

I also get a lot of my news from social media. Last year in fact, when the bombings happened in Boston during the marathon, I think I found out about it first on Facebook, from a friend who happened to be at the race, at least full minute before it came across on CNN.

This toy, this tool, allows us to immediately share and comment on snippets of our lives, our friends’ lives and lives of people we don’t even know, but we feel like we know them because we are all so “connected.”

But are we really connected?

For a short time, dinner with my husband became increasingly quieter as we constantly checked messages, Facebook and Twitter feeds, making sure we didn’t miss anything. After realizing that we were spending more time looking at a tiny screen, rather than the person in front of us, we quickly remedied that habit (not to say we don’t slip up sometimes, but we try to keep it at bay).800px-Cell_phones

My husband and I want to make sure that the example we set for our daughter always is one of true love and respect: one where we value each other, her and others around us much more then re-tweeting the latest inspiring quote from someone we don’t even know.

I saw a powerful short film on YouTube a few weeks ago, titled “Look Up,” in which the narrator challenges viewers to step away from our ever-present technology, even if for just a short while, to embrace what else life has to offer. He goes through several examples of how, while we are technologically becoming more connected, a severe disconnect in our society is growing by leaps and bounds. It moves me every time I watch it.

(Note: the video contains one very mild profanity, but is definitely worth the watch!)

As much fun as it is to share the latest goofy Vine, or post a video of another couple lip-syncing ANOTHER song from “Frozen,” I am reminded and challenged to treasure the gift of life given to me every day from a God who is just waiting to “share” with me His blessings via my family and friends – something I have to remind myself to “favorite” every day.

 

Telling Good News

As an account executive at A. Larry Ross Communications, friends sometimes ask me: “What do you do?”

The easy answer is: write press releases, schedule interviews and help Christian organizations communicate.news-65343_640

But when friends ask that question, they often seem to be skirting a more profound one:

Why would a Christian organization need a public relations agency? After all, if an organization has nothing to hide, why does it need public relations?

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The answer lies in the wide gulf between biblical values and our secular culture. Most members of the mainstream news media don’t understand Christianity, and they’re naturally suspicious of things they don’t understand.

Instead of the Good News of the Gospel, bad news often dominates the media — stories about government corruption, ill-mannered celebrities and salacious crimes. Recently, for example, the headline on the top story on CNN.com read, “Elderly man decapitated, wife missing.”

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Colin Covert, a writer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, had this to say: “Don’t expect good intentions to get you space. The fact that you’re trying to fight cancer is great, but it’s not news. If you do something interesting, we’ll write about it.”

But because the media is so influential, it’s important to get your story out into the world. Like a missionary in a foreign land, you need to learn the media’s language and culture if you want to effectively share your story.

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With so many voices competing for the public’s attention in today’s Information Age, sharing your story is harder than ever to do. But if you can learn to understand the news media and speak into its needs, your ministry can access a broader and more diverse audience than you ever imagined.

On the other hand, no ministry — no matter how well intentioned — is immune to media crisis or criticism. When a pastor takes a stand for biblical principles, for example, mainstream reporters may brand him “hateful” or “intolerant.”

When a crisis occurs, we never advise ministries to lie or cover up wrongdoing. Instead, we help them admit wrongdoing (if that’s what they did) put their best foot forward and take steps to ensure it doesn’t occur again.

Ultimately, all we can do is try to tell the Good News behind the bad news.

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Pause for a Commercial Break, a Laugh and a Lesson

I love the era of the DVR and being able to watch television shows in almost half the time. But, every once in a while I will forget that fast-forwarding is an option and accidently start watching the ads. More often than not, I quickly realize the mistake and move on, but sometimes, a commercial will catch my attention.

These gems are a few hilarious examples:

Another ad caught my attention. This one not because it was funny, but a little shocking compared to your typical “look how awesome we are” ads.

Dominos pizza launched a commercial in April that states: “Failure is an option.” The ad pokes fun of Dominos and their idea for a cookie pizza that was a big flop. This isn’t the first time Dominos has admitted to a mistake. One of their ads from last year makes fun of the difficulty of placing pizza orders over the phone. It said, “ Ordering Dominos over the phone isn’t that great.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the brand, but then these ads go on to say what Dominos has changed (no more pizza cookies, but other great recipes and online ordering) and why they are better because of the change.

In PR, I have always been taught to never say anything bad about yourself, because there are plenty of people that will do that for you. But, I think what Dominos is doing in their ads is also something that can be translated into PR. Plus…rules are made to be broken, especially if you have a good reason.

What Dominos is really advertising is a change of course for the better. This also reminds me of advice I received when going for a job interview. If an interviewer asks what your biggest weakness is, you use your example to show how you have conquered that weakness and would make a better employee because of it.

In actuality, failure isn’t just an option, it’s a fact of life.

Most all companies have and will experience failure, downturn or a crisis. When it happens, the best way to move forward is to explain the problem, make a clear and direct course change and then showcase why you are better because of the mistake.

 

 

On Breaking Bread

Over the past few months I have been participating in a book club with a group of four other young women from my church. We are all single, in our twenties or early thirties, struggling through school, career changes, relationships and other issues during what is a highly transitional time for many people our age. Most in the group have known each other little more than a year. We have been gathering in coffee shops after church, and though discussion has been generally friendly, I could sense that most of us were holding something back —  reserving only the tidiest, neatest parts of ourselves to share with one another.

But the other night, instead of meeting at a restaurant, a pair of roommates hosted the group in their home — or “rental, sweet rental,” as the sign in the kitchen read. They served pot roast, rolls, fruit and leftover cheesecake from a sampler platter one of their families had sent for Easter. We ate with plastic forks off of paper plates. The furniture didn’t match.  It was a Monday. We were tired from long days at our jobs, and we had to be up early the next morning.

And yet, that night we talked until nearly midnight. Coaxed from our reservations by warm, home cooked food and the humility of our surroundings, we found ourselves revealing our fears, hopes, failings and deep longings for connection.

The significance of making and sharing meals is universal to the human experience. Archaeologists that have studied pottery ancient peoples used to hold their food and drink believe the care and attention paid to these vessels conveyed how intrinsic hospitality was to strengthening societal bonds — the more decorative and elaborate, the more important food and drink were to building trust among those peoples.

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Sharing meals is so integral to our lives that we also find traces of it in our languages — the word “companion” comes to English by way of Old French. It means “one who breaks bread with another.”

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory posits that, before “self-actualization” can occur, a person’s physical and emotional deficits must be met. This suggests that in order for connection to take place — and the necessary communication that enables it — we must first put others at ease. That doesn’t always take the form of a meal, but it is perhaps the easiest place to start.chinese_family_eating

And after all, Jesus fed His disciples a meal of bread and wine before going to His death for them.

As we move out of the Easter season and into summer — a time of barbecues, camp-outs, ice cream trucks and block parties — opportunities to cultivate better and deeper connection over shared meals abound. How can you meet someone’s needs by feeding them physically, emotionally or spiritually today?

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