Michael Vick – My Game Went To the Dogs – How One Choice Brought An Unexpected Consequence

Most everywhere you turn when looking at sports these days you’ll see and hear stories about the prosecution of Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons football star quarterback. Expecting to be prepared to advance his career, Vick is now considering his options as to whether to accept the government’s plea deal.

As stated in the White Collar Crime Prof Blog, “A best-case scenario for Vick that the defense lawyers may be seeking is a “Martha Stewart” double-nickel sentence: five months in prison, five months of home confinement. The government’s offer would most likely call for a term of a year-and-a-day, which under the Bureau of Prisons guidelines would allow Vick to receive a 15% good time credit, reducing his sentence by 54 days to a bit over ten months. Any sentence under a year that his attorneys are trying to negotiate would have to come in under ten months for it to be an advantage because there is no good time credit if the sentence is a year or less.” http://www.chuckgallagher.com

Not only does it look difficult for Vick, but others who were charged in this Federal dog fighting conspiracy accepted plea agreements and decided to cooperate with the government. So, at this writing, it would seem that Vick is in the proverbial “dog house.” His actions have had multiple and far reaching consequences.

It seems that Nike and Reebok have given Vick the boot. According to ESPN.com news services, “Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Michael Vick on Friday, while Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.” Likewise, Donruss, a major trading card company pulled Vick from future releases and Upper Deck removed autographed material from its on-line stores. And finally, Rawlings decided to end its relationship with Vick due to the conspiracy charges. All of these changes have huge financial implications.

All of the above consequences came directly as a result of Vick seeming to enjoy a non-football passion – dog fighting. Now the question that is worth reviewing is did Vick at any time give any serious consideration to the consequences of his illegal actions? I can imagine that he saw this as a sport (perhaps one that isn’t recognized), but to him a testosterone filled pastime. After all what harm can come from fighting pit bulls? Apparently a lot!

Once you look past the surface abuse of animals (a big issue for PETA), the fact it’s an illegal activity, etc., you’ll find that Vick rationalized his behavior just like any of us who have been convicted of an illegal action. I am convinced that Martha Stewart, for example, had no clue that her choice to sell stock on a tip from her broker was going to end in a prison sentence. The fact is that many an unsuspecting person may make choices that can have immediate or prolonged consequences in unexpected ways.
The consequences of actions are not limited to activities that folks even understand are illegal. Take for example, Genarlow Wilson, a young man who is incarcerated for 10 years for his sexual activity with a minor. His case has received national attention, yet, even after the law that convicted him was changed, he remains in prison. Whether the consequence is fair isn’t always relevant. What is a fact is EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

The Choices Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to teaching young people the relationship between choices and consequences. “If we can impress on the mind of our youth the direct correlation between what we choose and the consequences that follow, perhaps we can help them avoid consequences like those Michael Vick are facing,” stated Choices Foundation founder Chuck Gallagher.

In a presentation to a youth group not long ago, one young man stated, “Well, it’s not dishonest if you don’t get caught.” Attitudes like that are what empowers people to make unethical decisions and expect no direct consequence. From my personal experience, I know that one can rationalize a choice all day long and it doesn’t color the action or change the consequence. “My actions left me incarcerated in Federal prison, an experience I will never forget.,” stated Gallagher.

As a motivational speaker and ethics keynote speaker, Chuck Gallagher shares his experience in a way that connects with his audience, whether a business executive group or a youth group from a university. http://www.chuckgallagher.com “Understanding the effect of Choices and Consequences from one who directly knows can be powerful and an influence for ethical behavior.” Perhaps, when the smoke clears, Vick can see the effect clearly from the choices he made. And maybe, just maybe, Vick will use his powerful influence for good, helping those who have looked up to him understand that Every Choice Has A Consequence!

Who Owns Social Media In Corporate Landscape?

In 2009 the Canadian Public Relations Society held its annual conference “On the Edge” in Vancouver. Like the good communicators they are, John Kageorge and his organizing team encouraged members and attendees to blog, tweet, debate and discuss the communications issues of the day. It was a lively exchange and I’m sure made for a better conference.

One of the blog posts really caught my attention. A recent PR grad at the time posed the question “Should marketing report to communications?” In this case the word “communications” was code for Public Relations. Some folks find PR to be a dirty word (okay, phrase) and look to disguise it. I do not. She went on to say:

What I have come to understand is that the job of the communications team is to listen. Marketing’s job is to speak. Proactive versus reactive messages.

It has taken me two years to calm down enough to write about that statement. Just kidding. Sort of.

A complete misunderstanding of marketing

I’m sure my MBA marketing profs would guffaw at the naiveté and complete misunderstanding of what marketing is. However, that’s not my point, nor is it my intent to pick on a youngster – the question was asked in good faith.

My point is there’s a real turf war firing up in 2011 over where social media “belongs” in the corporate landscape, or more precisely, which department “owns” it. People are carving out social media turf and sitting on it protectively without much thought to the greater strategic impact on the organization.

Since the summer of ’09, when I read that post, I have seen numerous articles and heard many conversations along the lines of “PR should own social media” or “it says ‘media’ right in the name, so clearly media relations owns it” or “this is a matter for human resources” or legal or *fill in name of department that wants control here*.

It’s like fighting over who owns the telephone.

Social media is a tool that might be employed successfully by many departments. It needs to be a child of a greater communications plan (which includes marketing, public relations, community relations and heaven knows what else). The communications plan must be a child of the business plan. In other words, good social media serves the goals of the corporation, not one silo or another, and the corporation does not serve social media any more than it does the phone.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past two years. I think there’s a collision happening among the disciplines, a communications “mashup” in Internet parlance. Call it “PublicReMarkVertising”. Ask yourself – is a Facebook ad for a job advertising or social media? Yes it is. Is a social media release on an environmental program PR, engagement, or marketing? Yes it is.

An old-media paradigm

The main reason the silos between marketing, advertising and public relations exist in the first place is a factor of old media production. You did PR because you needed journalists to write stuff your intended public would absorb. You booked ads because the audience was captive in mainstream media. You distinguished between marketing and PR because one was strategic with an eye to paid media and the other was strategic with an eye to earned media. But now there’s owned media, and un-owned media.

The Internet is changing the old production-based silos, breaking down the barriers. It isn’t pretty, it is disruptive, and as the disciplines shift, the turf wars heat up. Eventually it all has to blend. Public relations, marketing and advertising have always been about talking to people to get them to think about (your) stuff, they’re just now merging as they must.

I look forward to the day we see Vice Presidents of PublicReMarkVertising blending the best of all three disciplines. On second thought, maybe we should disguise that as VP Communications.

Twitter – The Good, the Bad, and the Ashton Kutcher

I first heard of Twitter a year ago and was baffled by its usefulness. However, the website’s popularity has caused me to reexamine and revisit the site. If you are new to the site, twitter is a site in which users frequently broadcast brief updates, usually of one or two sentences long. When I first visited twitter, I saw little value in the social network, but as an educator it’s my responsibility to understand and utilize new media.

Many micro-bloggers use twitter as a means of broadcasting meaningless events from their life. This form of status updates, popular on Facebook and MSN, are referred to as lifecasting. Ashton Kutcher, a frequent and popular Twitterer, is a quitessential lifecaster. Despite logic, Ashton is on his way to becoming the most popular person on twitter. He’s become so popular that he has recently challenged the national newsnetwork CNN to a twitter popularity contest. CNN represents another form of twittering known as infocasting, where small amounts of information are posted. Despite their usefulness, infocasts can often become hollow or superficial. However, a valuable infocast to follow is education where useful news about education trends and developments are posted.

The brighter side of twitter is called mindcasting. Twitterers that are mindcasting will never share their meal choices or bad date experiences; instead, mindcasters share thoughtful ideas and useful resources. Anyone can tap into the thoughts of some of the world’s most innovative minds, which is a great resource for any professional, especially educators.

Top five mindcasts to follow for media literacy teachers

1) Jay Rosen: “I teach journalism at NYU, write the blog PressThink, direct NewAssignment.Net, and try to grok new media. I don’t do lifecasting but mindcasting on Twitter.”

2) David Parry: “I think about things, and talk about things with students, and get paid for it. (Emerging Media Prof. at UT Dallas.)”
3) Scott McLeod: “An Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University and director of CASTLE.”
4) Alec Couros: “Professor of educational technology & media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.”
5) Scott Meech: “Technology in Education isn’t the Future, It is the Present!” He is an expert in education and technology.