Archive for December, 2008

NORAD Tracks Santa

NORAD, you have out done yourself this year.

I’ve written about the famous NORAD Tracks Santa program — an effort that began accidentally in the 1950s when a department store catalog unwittingly listed the NORAD help desk as the number for Santa. Kids across the country started calling in, and NORAD played along.

Today, the DOD has brought that tradition into the 21st century.

I encourage you to check out their Web site, which is very well done. YouTube videos, a Santa countdown, even an app for iGoogle.

But what really impressed me is that NORAD Tracks Santa is Twittering — and doing it extremely well.

I’ll soon be taking a look at how the services are using Twitter — they all have accounts with this microblogging platform — but I should start now by saying that this Twitter handle should be considered a role model.


The services Twitter with varying degrees of success. Here is what is great about NORAD Tracks Santa Twitter:

  • When I followed them, I got an immediate return follow.
  • The page is fun and playful, like the NORAD Tracks Santa program. The page is managed by “Blitz the Twittering Elf.”
  • The Twitter feed isn’t just promoting NORAD — it is used to engage in conversation. All @noradsanta messages are returned with a personal comment.

And this approach seems to be working. The number of followers has been growing steadily, and NORAD has a strong follow base given that they have a relatively young Twitter account.

To the communications team at NORAD, BRAVO.


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Well, it looks like my handicapping for the Pentagon top communication role came up empty (other than the fact that, as I surmised, Morrell will stay on with Sec. Gates as the spokesman).

Politico is reporting the Jennifer Palmieri, a senior Clinton administration official currently serving as senior vice president for communciations at progressive think tank American Progress, is in talks to become the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Puzzle Palace.

I don’t know much about her, other than she graduated from my alma mater. So she’s good in my book. Once an eagle…

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How not to communicate

Great shot by Michael Yon. He is one of the best. If you aren’t reading him (and/or contributing to his continued journalistic efforts), you should be.

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Dang. Scooped again.

Dang you, David Meerman Scott, for beating me to the punch on what the Air Force is doing in the world of social media.

Not only does he have a better, glossier and more professional blog photo than I do (left), but he also got the first interview that I know of with Capt. Faggard, USAF Public Affairs. I wanted to talk with him, but got beat.

Stupid day job is getting in the way of my unpaid pundit gig. (And for anyone from my company reading this, let me be clear that I’m only kidding.)

Oh well. At least if I was getting scooped it was by him. Damn fine post. Go read it.

And for corporate communicators, I’d definitely get familiar with the chart that the Air Force uses and Scott posts on his blog. It is a great template for judging how and whether or not to engage with bloggers:

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As a former Army PAO, I enjoy ribbing the Chair Air Force every now and then.

But when they do interesting things, I need to give them kudos.

Yesterday, Capt. Dave Faggard from Air Force Public Affairs posted a call out to airmen around the world to create their own video showing why he or she has the best job in the Air Force.

While the video promoting the effort is somewhat bland (check out the link above to see what I mean), I am a huge fan of the concept. Getting real airmen to show the American people what they do is a great idea — and can be a great tool for recruiting.

Why? Because the videos are real. No one is more knowledgable, passionate and excited about the work of airmen than the airman him or herself. This kind of authenticity comes across in video; viewers are likely to have a great deal of trust for the people appearing on camera if it is real rather than produced.

Furthermore, a lot of the “official” video content created by professional communicators (both in and out of the military), frankly, SUCKS. It is bland and corporate and boring.

The Navy has already proven the grassroots video can be fun and memorable, and even viral when posted online.

I’m excited to see what the Air Force gets out of this.

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Happy Holidays

Now, through the New Year, it will be snowing in the D-Ring.

Thanks to WordPress for this fun, but not quite useful feature!

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So this isn’t about the military. And it is only tangentially about new media.

But I have always believed that choosing to write on a blog or another social media platform is NOT a license to write poorly. (Note: Edited to add a key missing word there. Thanks KJ!)

Enter Copyblogger, perhaps the best when it comes to advocating for strong online writing.

Brian Clark has a great new post. Even if you think that it is “inconceivable” that you use words incorrectly, you should check out the Inigo Montoya Guide to Commonly Misused Words.

(The reference comes from one of my favorite quotes from Mandy Patinkin’s character in The Princess Bride: “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)

His tips are:

Adverse / Averse

Adverse means unfavorable. Averse means reluctant.


Afterwards is always wrong. It’s afterward.

Complement / Compliment

I see this one all the time. Complement is something that adds to or supplements something else. Compliment is something nice someone says about you.


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