The last few weeks have been really, really busy. I’ve been out of town five times since mid-July — a shopping day trip to Grand Forks (about a 220-mile round trip); a shopping day trip to St. Cloud (close to 300 miles round trip); a one-day round trip to Albert Lea (about a 625-mile round trip); a second trip to St. Cloud for work; and a day trip to Fargo (also close to 300 miles round trip). Tomorrow, I’ll spend another five hours or so in the car as we head out of town for a long weekend and a much-needed getaway.
What I’m Reading
Picked up three comics today — nothing from my meager pull list, but a few things I wanted to check out. People have been raving about this week’s Hawkeye #1, so I picked that up; I grabbed Captain Marvel #1 which is one or two weeks old at this point; and I also grabbed Batman Inc. #1 which is from last week, maybe. Plus, I still have Saga #5 sitting on my iPad that I haven’t read yet. And, I’m three issues behind on my G.I. Joe reviews for The Terrordrome.
With the Batman Inc. thing, I keep wanting to give Grant Morrison opportunities to impress me. I really liked the first story arc of the last Batman, Inc. book, but didn’t keep up with that series at all. I quit on Morrison’s Action Comics after about seven issues because I just wasn’t hooked, and didn’t feel like continuing to spend money on the book every month. He’s getting another chance with this new Batman, Inc., title.
I’m also still struggling to make progress in A Game of Thrones. I keep hearing about how amazing this book is, and I just can’t get into it. Part of it has to do with me being father to a 14-year-old girl, and having the character Daenerys Targaryen be only 13 and treated the way she is. From a story perspective, it seems entirely unnecessary that she be 13, so it just seems like Martin being really creepy. The HBO show exacerbates this; I’ve only watched the first two episodes and haven’t wanted to go much farther because I can’t get “Dude, she’s supposed to be 13 in the books” out of my head.
Plus, as with the show, in the book the only interesting character is Tyrion Lannister and he’s mostly a sidebar.
“It gets better after about 350 pages!” But you’re assuming I’m going to tolerate it for that long…
What’s Up at Work
I started using a new toy we bought tonight, a media contact search and social media publishing tool suite from Cision. We are using the media list-building and release distribution tools, and also their Social Publish platform. I had a small story to release tonight, and used it as a testbed for both tools. The social publish tool is pretty cool; scheduling the post’s specific release time is not at all intuitive, but the process for entering the story into the system is really easy. Twitter posted immediately, but there was a slight delay to Facebook (“slight” meaning maybe a minute, and I think that has more to do with how often Facebook parses external sources for post updates than it does with anything coming from Cision); but it posted as well with one minor issue — due to user error, I was stuck with a default “powered by Cision” graphic as the post thumbnail on Facebook rather than our logo.
During our Cision demo, which has now been well over a month ago, my first impression was that the UI for the Social Publish tool was exactly what I wished I had for BSU Today
. The only thing Social Publish really adds is the built-in ability to post directly to Facebook and Twitter from within the post UI. This is somewhat counteracted by the fact that the Twitter and Facebook posts are the same — which means the information I post about a story on Facebook is artificially limited by Twitter’s character limit. We’ll have to see how often that even matters. MailChimp’s Social Broadcasting
plug-in for WordPress
does a better job of this; it allows for wholly separate and unique posts to Twitter and Facebook, allowing Facebook to be more detailed. Now that I think about it, we could probably use this plug-in to add this exact functionality to BSU Today…
Also, using Social Publish drives traffic away from BSU Today, and removes our ability to use Facebook and Twitter to publicize content on BSU Today that also is on social publish without double-posting. This is something I am definitely going to be mindful of.
For the traditional media release tool, building a single-city-specific media list to distribute the release there was painless. It took a few seconds; the media lists Cision generates are actually far more comprehensive than I’d ever need. Their database lists every contact at a particular outlet, so to get the four people I needed to send to in that city, I had to sort through a list of about 15 people. But, I could save the list of four after I created it, so that’s a one-time speedbump. Developing lists for larger communities — say, a distribution list to Minneapolis/St. Paul-area media — would obviously take a lot more time and effort.
One other twist to traditional-media releasing that I did not recall from our product demo was the “points” budget we are given to spend on distributing releases. We started with 5,000 points, and sending to the three contacts in Brainerd cost us three of those points. I’ll have to explore how often the point total will reset.
There are some other minor stumbling blocks — the Cision system has what look to be some useful project management tools for media releases, but as we only have a single-user account with one login, they are essentially useless to us (which is too bad; I’d have definitely been interested in exploring that).
Tonight was just the first step in a far-broader effort to integrate this tool into my workflow, really. But, I’d have to say the first experiment was pretty successful.
What I’m Watching
The more I think about “The Dark Knight Rises,” the more I get why there are people who really, really don’t like it. I still contend that the plot holes and plot ridiculousness and things that just flat-out don’t make sense were not remotely enough to derail my ability to sit in the theater and absolutely adore this movie. But I may be wavering on my initial statement that it’s the best of the three — that seems to be a case of just being caught up in that initial infatuation for something awesome. On repeated viewings it may not ultimately stack up all that well against “The Dark Knight,” but I still think “Rises” is an absolutely fantastic movie.
All for now. I’m through summer school and now have that distraction gone from my brain, so I’m hoping to be back here posting more.