In days past, the best way to reach a large audience of people was to use a press release. You could spend hours to craft a message, create quotes, and prepare it for delivery. You’d then send, or even fax, the release to media outlets in the hope they’d pick it up and spread the news for you. For the big news, you’d pay a service to send out the release to hundreds or thousands of places.

Then came the Internet. Thanks to websites, and eventually blogs, companies, organizations, and even individuals could spread the word on their own terms, and at less cost.

Now, we are experience peak social media. There have never been more outlets for companies, businesses, and people to have direct access to customers, influencers, other brands and more.

I’ve enjoyed watching a new style of press release emerge in the last year. This type of press release is new and exciting – it’s a screenshot.

Yes, a screenshot. Usually of a notes app on someone’s phone, where they’ve typed or copy and pasted and then taken a screenshot. It’s a genius way to get around the character limits of a platform like Twitter. If you want to read the entire image, you just view the full-size image.

One audience I’ve seen using this new “press release” lately are college athletes who are announcing their departures from college to go pro. Here are two recent examples:

Screenshot as Press Release Example Screenshot as Press Release Example #2

The University of Missouri was one of the first schools I’ve seen use this when they used a screenshot to share a statement from campus leadership back in November of 2015.

Screenshot as Press release example #3

It’ll be interesting to see if larger and larger companies start to use this method for sharing news. In higher ed, I could see using it for weather closings, all-clears after emergencies, schedule changes, large announcements, and more.

This past week, large parts of the country were affected by cold weather, snow and ice. We here in Northeast Ohio were no exception – we were lucky enough to get a second round of polar vortex chilling temperatures.

One of the fun parts of my job is monitoring social media, and Monday afternoon we started getting bombarded with tweets from students asking if we were going to close because of the weather and cancel classes on Tuesday.

As more and more local colleges and universities started to close, the tweets increased, calling for us to close. I did my best to respond, saying that as soon as we heard from the administration about our status for Tuesday, we’d announce it via email, web, text message and social media.

I did have a bit of fun–replying with this meme to one student:

Boromir describes the weather

At one point, we had to deal with a student who changed his name to John CarrollU and stole our avatar and started posting messages that the University was closed. After I noticed a few retweets of that story, I had to @ message him to cease, take down the tweet and change his icon. Luckily, he did.

To be safe, I sent this message out.

When the word finally did come that we were going to close Tuesday, we used our regular closing protocols, but this time, I added a graphical element to our closing messages. I created a Photoshop document with a few different weather contingencies, including we’re open, we’re closed or we’re delayed. In today’s short attention span world, I figured it’s easier to just show them. So here are the social media messages we sent out Monday night:

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.01.30 AMScreen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.01.03 AM

I’m happy with the results – I think the only thing I’d add next time is also posting this to Instagram. We have a lot of students there and it’s a great visual medium especially with the quick scanning you do there. If social media isn’t part of your emergency weather communications mix, it should be.

This week’s social media backlash is brought to you by Adecco, a large HR company.

It seems they started a new marketing campaign using the web and social media channels called “Around the World in 80 Jobs.” They even go so far as to trademark it, using the silly ™ sign everytime they mention the program1.

So they’ve been marketing this program and contest, Around The World in 80 Jobs™. They have a Facebook page and hashtag. They even made a video with a young man setting out to find jobs around the world.

Just a problem – there’s already an website, where a young man has been doing the same thing on his own for quite some time. And Adecco swooped in and stole the concept from him, name and all, including using his likeness and personality in their launch video. That’s creepy.

Here’s a video explaining the situation from the blogger, Turner Barr.

In the age of social media and instant communications, it’s much harder to steal from the little guys and get away from it. This guy used his tribe to start the outreach to let Adecco know this wasn’t cool, and it’s been picked up by websites like Reddit and Consumerist.

Then the social media backlash begins.

I’ve become an interested observer of the social media backlash. It’s interesting to watch people descend on a companies Facebook and Twitter pages and just inundate every single post with vitriol relating to the current wrongdoing. Here’s an example of such backlash. Click for a larger, full view.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 9.01.13 AM

What I fail to understand is why companies like Applebee’s and Adecco continue to have live, unmoderated Twitter feeds on their homepages. In Adecco’s case, they’re just posting all the posts that include their hashtag, in this case #waytowork. It’s full of negative, brand-damaging posts. An example:

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 9.31.24 AM

To test if this was in fact a live, unedited stream, I posted a tweet using the hashtag and wouldn’t you know it, there I am:

It took about a day for Adecco to respond, offering this pseudo-apology and a “we take this seriously.” They say:

We’re sorry for some recent negative comments. We’d like to make something clear.

The intention of Adecco’s youth initiative was to give perspective to young people so they can better prepare to enter the workforce and achieve their ambitions. Youth unemployment throughout the world is an at all time high. This can not stand.

We understand there is concern with the use of the term “Around The World In 80 Jobs” and we take this seriously. We’ve worked to resolve this and to create a mutually beneficial solution. We will continue to do so. In the meantime, our only goal is to inspire young people to find a way to work. We invite you to join us.

Your Adecco Way to Work Team

By the way, that’s a can not, and not a cannot. I copied that directly from Facebook.

The lesson here – don’t steal. If you do, and you get caught, apologize quickly and earnestly. And take the Twitter live, unedited feed of your homepage. Duh.

1 – I think its silly when you use the trademark (™) or copyright sign (©) in your marketing copy or headline. It’s fine to place it in a footnote at the bottom, but is writing something like “Come to the Boats on the Bay©” really effective marketing copy?