This past Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, I got the opportunity to speak as part of the MountainRunner Institute’s “Now Media” seminar at the National Press Club. For the less sharp-eyed out there, I’ve been proud to call Matt Armstrong (MRi President and a highly AWESOME blogger) a friend for some time… even before he provided the first forum for Must. Be. AWESOME!!! in its proto-stage. A few months ago, Matt asked me to help him transform his blog, MountainRunner, into a full-fledged nonprofit institute devoted to the study of and conversations about public diplomacy and strategic communication.

One of MRi’s key offerings is a seminar Matt honchos about “Now Media,” his concept of understanding the existing and emerging media environment as it relates to influence and engagement. These seminars give us an opportunity to wrap up everything we learn into something useful for communication practitioners. At this particular event, we had attendees from the U.S. Marine Corps public affairs team, the State Department, and even a contingent of Indonesian bloggers visiting the States on a State Department exchange.

Matt asked me to put together something to capstone the day, integrating everything from his lectures to the examples and information of our guest lecturers. I thought I would present that briefing, “Engaging in a Now Media Continuum,” here for everyone to check out. Accompanying the slideshow is the first of five videos of my actual presentation. I’ll deploy a new chapter of this video series every day for the next five days, so tune in or subscribe to the blog via RSS to get the whole story!

This was my first time presenting on behalf of MountainRunner, so I’d be really interested in everyone’s feedback: What do you think about engaging in a “now media” continuum?

(Note: Special thanks to Rob Watwood for his time and energy discussing the various ideas, thoughts, and challenges that I eventually cobbled together into this preso.)

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Gov 2.0 Expo 2010

Phew! Lots of conferences, workshops, and summits lately. Given that I love connecting and networking with people, I find that even the least relevant of conferences can yield super positive experiences.

Still, time is a commodity, and it’s sometimes hard to determine what’s worth your while. I used to work for a government program manager who used to tell me that meetings and conferences were a waste of time; that you spend more time trying to determine if the event is worthwhile than actually working. We always butted heads about this because my view was that even at the most time-wasting event, you can still find value if you know where to look and you have an objective.

I’m getting ready to board a train to New York for the Social Business Edge conference put on by Stowe Boyd. Despite missing all of The Dachis Group‘s Social Business Summits this year, I’m still convinced that social business is the new big concept for strategic thinkers and planners. Since this is a path on which I intend to take, I’m willing to “waste” a little time and money connecting with this community, integrating some of their skills into my business offerings, and, hopefully, booking some work.

Here are a couple places you can catch me over the next couple months. Feel free to holler at me if you want to connect in person in and around any of these events:

Thanks for reading and participating. This is Must. Be. AWESOME!!! Dot com.

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Monday, October 5th, I attended an event at George Washington University billed as “New Approaches to U.S. Global Outreach: Smart Power on the Front Lines of Public Diplomacy (PD) and Strategic Communication (SC).” A mouthful of whaaaaaat?

The point of said “event” was to purportedly discuss strategic and tactical issues involved in U.S. government communication. Quite a few familiar and some new faces were on the panels, to include Rosa Brooks from DOD’s Policy shop, Daniel Sreebny from the State Department’s Global Strategic Engagement Center (GSEC), public diplomacy scholar Kristin Lord, some old guy from SOCOM’s Strategic Communication Directorate, and a Congressional lawyer that made me want to commit seppuku on the spot.

A bunch of other PD bloggers are going to scholarly and academically get into the nuts and bolts of this discussion, and the conversation will turn back to how sorry we all are that there’s no strategic leadership for PD/SC, how no one can agree on who owns what, how no one cares, blah blah blah.

I, on the other hand, want to know why this community is purposely avoiding AWESOME.

We’ve been having this debate about the delineations and roles/responsibilities of PD, SC, military information support, and all the other information disciplines for years. Like all good alcoholics, we know we have a problem… we just aren’t going to stop drinking because we’re such assholes.¬†We always end up asking the same questions, arriving at a bunch of solutions, but then drop the ball at implementation. Oh sure, there are reams of reports out there analyzing specific problems with the USG’s communication apparatus… but to paraphrase Dr. Bruce Gregory, no one seems to want to actually LEAD this community and establish a SOLID BUSINESS PLAN for implementing reform.

Im here for yer publik diplomasees.

I'm here for yer publik diplomasees.

So what ends happening? Everybody putters about like a mass of retarded lemmings, hanging on the charity of others, hoping someone else will figure things out and give their lives meaning. Meanwhile, it’s Clown Shoes Day every day on the world stage, and the United States is Ronald McDonald.

The tragedy is that this is not even LAME. It’s just… mediocre. None of these people is purposely LAME. Some are weak, some assholish or crapulous. But ultimately, the community is just… meh.

It’s just a community that shows up. Do they care? Sure. Will they do anything about it? Not… really.

Well, wait, doesn’t it count that we’re talking about the issue? Sure. But we’ve been talking for YEARS. People have been railing against the State Department’s mistreatment of the public diplomacy field since the U.S. Information Agency was forcibly integrated into the department in 1999.


The lawyer at the panel basically defended Congress’ abdication of responsibility for fixing the interagency legislation, oversight and budgetary authority. The SOCOM guy complained about antiquated laws. Sreebny said he was new on the job. The refrain was the same: “It’s too HARD.”

Well, you know what, taxpayer-paid-for govvies? THAT SUCKS.

We do not need more administrators managing the status quo. We do not need more lawyers to find new loopholes in the problems. We do not need more apologists for this bullshittery.

We need LEADERSHIP. Moreso, we need AWESOME LEADERSHIP. If this administration is truly about change, then get off your goddamn asses and FIX IT.

Stop the complaining. Stop the beauracratizing. Stop the crack-addled fantasies that this will all be taken care of by someone else.

If you claim to be a public diplomat, a strategic communicator, a PSYOPper, a Foreign Service officer, a counselor, a scholar, a believer… if you call yourself anything that tracks back to this venerable profession then get involved. I, and many of my fellow taxpayers, are tired of you bitching about how screwed up the communication disciplines are. FIX IT!

Defy mediocrity. BE AWESOME.

[Joker pic H/T to Ben @]

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