12 Happy Holiday Pics for Your Use

It’s that magical time of year when all of us get to spend time with our family and friends. Personally, I hope to rest quite a bit and have fun with some personal projects during the holidays.

You may be like me and have forgotten or did not have time to send holiday cards. Never fear. I’ve been taking lots of holiday photos for the 365 Full Frame Project. You can take one of these photos, download it, and then use the image in Canva (a free image creation app) to send a personalized card to your friends.

The 12 images include the opnening featured image of the National Christmas Tree with the White House in the background, which you can download here. And here are the remaining 11…

MerryChristmas

Download the Christmas tree sans text here.

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Download the Old Town holiday lights image sans text here.
lights here.

Happy Chrismukkah
Download the Chrismukkah image sans text here.

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Download the Hanukkah lights here.

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Download the Christmas Carollers here.

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Download Yoda here.

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Download the Nativity scene in ice here.

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Download the Winterberries photo here.

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Download the Union Station photo here.

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Download the Star here.

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Download Frosty, the Snowman here.

Whatever you decide to do during the next couple weeks, have a great time. I will resume blogging on January 5. Happy holidays!

P.S. The 365 Full Frame project does license photos. If you like the work and want to see more, please consider a license. Your money is used to buy more photography equipment.

Final Punishment: Sandwich Board Shame at the White House

Finally, it’s time for the third punishment from The Punish Geoff Fundraiser for Mark Horvath’s InvisiblePeople.tv. Yes, the sandwich board was donned saying, “I’ve written two social media books. Please hire me.” But instead of a walk of shame in front of Congress social media savoir faire was mocked in front of the White House.

Enjoy the fun.

And do support Mark Horvath’s InvisiblePeople.tv. Mark’s journey across the continent has finished in Canada and now enters the U.S. leg as he drives back to the West Coast highlighting the hidden faces of homelessness across America.

Thanks to all of you who donated and supported the Punish Geoff Fundraiser.

The Fallacy of a Strong Defense

“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” Hamlet, Act III, scene II

Defensive Dice
Image by M Hillier

When you engage in questionable acts, sometimes you or your organization have to set the facts straight to protect brand reputation. Many individuals and some brands tend to want to over-defend themselves. Instead of removing the tarnish, strong defenses can do the opposite, keeping an issue alive, and in most cases suggest a complicit nature in the brands’ actions.

Questionable is defined as when the community starts publicly doubting your approach or acts. Note this is the public’s perception, not when you think you are right.

A recent example is the White House protest of Standard & Poor’s well broadcasted credit rating downgrade. The Obama Administration looked powerless, and again at fault for not successfully leading the country into a better and less contentious resolution of the debt ceiling. The sudden and ensuing Justice Department investigation into Standard & Poor’s 2008 mortgage actions also looks like a smeer job (Why not all three credit agencies?).

The right thing to do would have been to follow standard reputation management protocols, and issue the White House’s differing opinions with the $2 trillion error clearly pointed out, and leave it at that. The White House would have been well served to simply acknowledge the political issues at play. While Obama has publicized the political divide in recent weeks, it has been in a negative attacking manner. The overarching series of reactions have in turn validated Standard & Poor’s criticsm.

Defending Personal Reputation

Cullen Burnett, 14, of Culpeper (left) and Master Deputy Chad McKnight, (right) practice defensive tactics. Sgt. Owen Bullard, who leads a team of school resource officers for the Sheriff’s Office, looks on (center).
Image by Culpepper County Sheriff’s Office

While brands make this mistake, more often it is the terrain of individuals who take personal issue with criticism. We see this everyday in the blogosphere, but because well known bloggers are prone to drama when criticized, let’s use some celebrity examples.

Mel Gibson is the classic example of the questionable person who over defends himself. His angry tirades on public TV and in embarrassing off-air recordings don’t counter the behavior in his alcohol related arrests (and incidents of fascism), rather they signal complicity and confirm characterizations!

Instead say you’re sorry, change, make some amends and let it go. Or simply acknowledge the mistake and move on. Or disagree about characterizations in a public statement, and move on. Any of these would be better than the strong retaliations Gibson has made. He is now unbookable by most accounts in Hollywood.

Conversely, when Michelle Bachman was dubbed the Queen of Rage in a cover story on Newsweek, she completely ignored the story. Many Tea Party loyalists came to her defense, and Bachman sidestepped character issues by simply refusing to acknowledge the criticism, in turn making it look like an attack. It is doubtful that the Newsweek cover changed many people’s minds about Bachman (but it may have sold a few magazines).

The Newsweek article is analogous to a troll. Most critics are not trolls, rather they have strong differing beliefs, and as such they should not be ignored even if they will never agree with you. Just as President Obama has to acknowledge Tea Party criticism, it is wise to address issues raised by the opposition.

Just like engagement with a negative commenter, state the facts, and if you believe you are in the right, simply let your statement and actions represent you. In marketing a brand, an overtly strong defense can signal complicity. Address questions, be right, be confident, and move on.

What do you think of strong defenses in questionable matters?

How BP Swept Dispersants Under the Rug

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The PR battle continues between Obama and BP (image by boxhai). With the climax occurring today between BP top brass and Obama at the White House, another major danger continues to spread in the Gulf, BP’s widespread use of Corexit toxic dispersants. More than 1,000,000 gallons has been deployed by BP in an effort to break up surface and underwater oil.

Corexit is deadly. It is toxic and it has even been banned from use in BP’s home country, the United Kingdom. Both state and local officials have asked BP to stop using it (versions Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A), and for a small period environmentalists complained.

BP evaded responding, issuing brief statements and ducking the issue. Since then the drama about compensation and culpability has drowned out the pressure on BP’s Corexit usage. BP is content to let is stay under the rug, and the company continues refusing to listen to its U.S. regulators.

Whether the reasons are simply same old incompetent irresponsibility or a cover up by BP doesn’t matter. The toxic impact on the marine environment cannot be underestimated. The Gulf is getting destroyed by two types of toxins, the crude oil from Deep Horizon and BP’s Corexit dispersants.

Until pressure is brought to bear on BP, we can count on the company letting the toxic chemical versions of Corexit stay under the rug. Don’t let the government BP media war distract you from the true dangers the oil spill presents: Reckless destruction of our marine environment and livelihood.

Special thanks to Leigh Durst and Jimmy Gardner for suggesting this topic.

P.S. Citizen Effect’s Dan Morrison and My Yu will join me on a mission to the Gulf on June 27 – July 1 to help affected fishermen. Details are here.

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

WhiteHouse.gov Breaks New Ground with Social, But…

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The highlight of last week’s YNPNdc briefing on the Obama Administration’s nonprofit policy was Macon Phillips, Director of the White House Office of New Media (pictured above). Phillips detailed how the White House was using social to engage stakeholders online.

As you can see, the White House site is very social, playing with every tool possible. While there are forays into conversation (one such foray had Phillips asking Obama during a chat if he planned to legalize marijuana), the overall effort seems more shiny object-oriented, and less conversational.

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BlogPotomac Keynotes Beth Kanter and Shel Israel joined me for the briefing. Shel noted that while there was a Scoblesque joy for tools, the site lacked full on dialogue. In review, consider that while you can share White House blog posts and comment on your various social networks, you can’t actual enter a comment on the White House blog. True to form, the White House Twitter feed pretty much publishes links, and doesn’t engage in dialogue.

There are bright spots in the social media effort. The Flickr page is outstanding with hundreds of comments, and a less polished look at the Obamas in their day to day activity. You feel like the President is real, finally. Facebook and YouTube have more dialogue, too (while Vimeo is open for chat, but has less traffic).

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What’s really missing? Frank on-site conversation and dialogue — good and bad — about the very real issues Obama is facing. Instead, what we get is glorified message delivery on whitehouse.gov, with said conversations occurring on beachheads elsewhere.

For an initial White House foray into social media, this is a great start. The barriers to Gov 2.0 are significant and substantial in nature. But… We all know this isn’t full on social media. It’s more of an experiment and test bed to see how American citizens interact with its government at arms length. Progress, my friends, not perfection. I give it an eight out of 10.

Overall, I felt the larger Obama Administration nonprofit team had lots of bubbly comments for the YNPNdc attendees about how great their efforts were. Then we received patronizing platitudes of hope, pats on the head for tough questions, and very little substance. While it’s early in the Obama presidency, I’d like to see a lot more substance from Buffy Wicks, Trooper Sanders and Sonal Shah. Otherwise we will waste our national nonprofit policy and dollars on disparate and uncoordinated activities with little impact.