Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dealing with and being the media in Second Life

I've had some interesting encounters as a reporter in Second Life that have prompted this post. As a reporter in "real life" since the 80s, I brought the same high standards and ethics into my Second Life reporting career even though I was being paid a mere fraction of what First Life journalism pays.

To me, what I put out there as my writing is a reflection of not only my skills and abilities but my values even though I am careful to keep my personal opinion out of articles and report "just the facts." Still, I always want to be proud of my published writing as my childhood dream was to become a writer to "touch people's lives." I can't always write about things in a positive way, particularly if the facts are not as positive as a company or PR rep would like to portray.

So here are some of my tips for people dealing with the media in Second Life and for those who call themselves Second Life reporters.

For PR People and Anyone Looking for Positive PR

1. Everyone is Media.

If you hold an event in Second Life, somebody in attendance could be media so you should prepare for this and have a plan to handle this reality. Even private parties could have media in attendance unbeknownst to you because with the advent of blogs, everyone is potential "media" with some semblance of a readership.

2. Be Responsive.

If someone at your event identifies themselves as media, you should have someone in place as a spokesperson or as a media coordinator - just to make sure the questions are answered promptly, accurately and that the journalist doesn't wander aimlessly speaking to people who may not be the best voices for your project, event, organization or company. A reporter asking around for a contact or source is not a nuisance or troublemaker - they are a responsible journalist doing their job.

3. Be Honest.

If your event wasn't meant for public consumption or your project isn't ready for prime time, let a reporter know this and ask if they could keep information you give them as "off the record" or "embargoed." These are terms that any reputable and experienced journalist knows and usually respects, but you have to use these exact terms. Saying something like "Oh, this was meant to be a private affair" or "We didn't expect media show up and aren't ready " might say to the reporter that you are just making excuses. This doesn't say to them "please do not report on this yet - all of this is off the record." And make sure you say "Off the Record" before you start talking.

4. Return the Favor.

If a journalist holds something as off the record, remember that they did not have to do this and take it as an overture to having a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship. Nurture this relationship by providing them access when it is appropriate to reveal the full story. If a reporter has truly helped to protect your interests, they are doing it not only out of high morals or ethics but also because they hope it will forge a closer relationship so they can get to better news from you in the future.

5. Give Scoops With Care.

When you really have a good relationship with a journalist, consider giving them a scoop now and then to solidify that relationship. But don't give the same journalist a scoop all the time unless you have a strategic reason to do so. You could end up alienating other journalists which will not bode well for future coverage in competitor publications.

6. Make the Reporter's Job Easier.

Reporters are not here to make your job easier. They are not here to enhance your profile or your company's profile. They are out to do a job in the best way they know how. By standing in their way, criticizing or insulting them, or badmouthing them to their editors or publishers, you are setting yourself up for PR blacklisting.

There are many times when your hands are tied or someone within your company has made a mistake and said something to a reporter they didn't mean to say. Rather than accusing the journalist of something unethical or unprofessional for reporting it, find a way to diplomatically explain the situation the bad PR has caused and look for ways to work through the situation.

7. Suck It Up.

Most reporters are not out to make you look bad. If a reputable journalist makes a mistake, they will admit it and offer to print a retraction. If the mistake is yours and they still offer to clear up the error, you've found a truly rare breed of journalist. Most reporters are too busy - not too callous - to help you fix the PR mess you got yourself into.

If the mistake was yours and nothing can be done to correct the situation, then just suck it up and learn from your own mistakes. Don't use the reporter as a punching bag.

That said, if you encounter a disreputable reporter who has either lied or fabricated the details of a story, severely misquoted you to the point of causing serious damage or is grossly rude and disruptive at your event or place of work, this is definitely something you should bring up with their editor. Put your grievance in writing without threats. Explain the situation and ask for a remedy. Good publishers and editors will not tolerate bad reporters.

PR is a 2-ways street. Unfortunately because the nature of the business, the onus is on the company or organization to make sure everything is put forth professionally, strategically and positively. The reporter reports what he or she observes, is told and is given. But ultimately, you cannot control a reporter or what they glean from what you do, say or produce.

For Reporters and Reporter Wannabes in Second Life

I don't think any of these need much further explanation - just a simple list of things to do to be a good reporter in Second Life.

1. Report the Facts, Not Opinion. (unless you are writing an essay or opinion piece, of course!)

2. Honor "Off the Record" and "Embargoed."

3. Get and Use Direct Quotes When Possible.

4. Back Up Your Chat and IM Transcripts.

5. Protect Your Sources.

6. Correct Your Mistakes. (As best as you can or are able to do.)

7. Be Respectful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Recent Events on Athena Isle

I've been holding weekly events on Athena Isle for several months now. I do this entirely as a volunteer thing - looking to bring experts and authors into Second Life to provide valuable information and contacts for SL residents. And I love playing hostess.

We have our events Monday at 11am SLT, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12pm SLT on Athena Isle.

Here are scenes from recent events...

Don Peppers speaks to Second Life Marketers Club.

Pat Davis, CEO of Passion Parties, speaks to Second Life Women's Club.

Beth Groundwater, mystery writer and VP of Pikes Peak Writers, speaks to Second Life Writers Club.

Mary Ellen Gordon of Market Truths speaks to Second Life Marketers Club.

Elzbiet Meili teaches a workshop to Second Life Entrepreneurs Club.

Avarie Parker, editor-in-chief of SLentrepreneur magazine, speaks to Second Life Writers Club.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Great Sex Day a Success!

Just a few snaps from Great Sex Day on Athena Isle. Thanks to Pat Davis, CEO of Passion Parties, for kicking off the day with a rolicking chat about sex. TRANSCRIPT HERE.

And kisses to JueL Resistance who just rocked our world with her sexy sounds.

Also, congrats to Malburns Writer for judging our Sexy Diva Outfit contest and to the winners:

First Place - Evansmom Goodspeed (L$1000 gift certificate from Nyte'N'Day)
Runner up - Emme Eales (L$500 gift certificate from Nyte'N'Day)
Honorable Mentions - Isadora Ansaldo, Liadona Rau, and iAlja Writer (A colorful sex toy from Strokerz Toys)

Pat Davis, CEO of Passion Parties, flanked by two brave avies who joined the conversation about sex.

The sexy JueL Resistance.

Me looking around Athena Isle.

Runner up Sexy Diva Outfit - Emme Eales

Honorable Mention Diva Outfit - Liadona Rau (right)

Our judge Malburns Writer

Always lovely couple IYan and iAlja Writer (iAlja was another honorable mention for Sexy Diva Outfit)

The winner! Evansmom Goodspeed takes First place!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Heart Jack Linden, Second Life Magic Man

Cybergrrl is in the building!

After being locked out of Second Life since Thursday evening and going through the gamut of emotions, Cybergrrl Oh is standing in Athena Isle, watching her hummingbirds and butterflies.

I owe it all to Jack, the Linden guru who resurrected CG after "hijacking" her (was that a euphemyism for "checking her out") and giving me some quick and easy instructions. After showering the man with virtual kisses, I was back to business prepping for the Don Peppers & Martha Rogers chat today.

A heartfelt thanks to my true and wonderful SL friends who helped me through this difficult time. Between the virtual hugs and the immediate acceptance of my alt new personal assistant Safra Jetcity, I was able to ride the waves of loneliness into that warm place called Home.

I had gone so far as recreating Safra as Cybergrrl, using the same lovely shape created by JueL Resistance but I couldn't afford the RAC Carina skin on Safra's tiny budget (all my Linden was tied up in Cybergrrl and LL wouldn't let me buy L$4000 to make the purchase) so the result was a very blonde & goth CG lookalike. Well, she would have worked in a pinch, especially to film today's REAL BIZ in SL at the Playboy sim!

So I'm in. SL is wonky today so I'm afraid to log out. But at least I know I have a guardian angel in Jack. Mwah mwah!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Linden Lab Holds Cybergrrl Oh Hostage

So this is why I have not had any help from Linden Lab for the Cybergrrl Oh debacle. This just pisses me off. I'm resubmitting a ticket as a guest.

Anyone have any suggestions for a solution to this situation? I can't think clearly right now.

To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Ticket #4051-4566306: Created (Unable to log in since yesterday)
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008 11:44:38 -0500


Our system shows that you submitted this ticket from either a Basic account or with Guest Access. Basic account holders and guests may only submit tickets using the ticket type "Special Questions - Basic account or Guest Login". You did not select that ticket type, so the ticket will not be reviewed.

If your issue is one of the ones we offer support to, please submit another ticket with the information corrected.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Banned From Second Life & Gone Fishing...

I can't get into Second Life. I can't get to my Second Life. They won't let me in!

I've been trying to log in since last night around 8pm SLT. I received an error message that said I was logged out and to try again in an hour. An hour later, I tried again and received the same error. Then at 10pm, 11pm, 12am and now at 7am and 8am the following day.

Have I been banned from Second Life?

The weird thing is that I was able to log in as some of the avatars that I created for my clients - just not my own account.

What does this mean? Have I been marked for suspicious activity? Has someone reported me for being in Second Life far too much and this is some kind of addiction intervention? I feel like I'm being punished for something I don't even know I've done.

Well, this sucks. I have events to prepare for, I have some inworld meetings to attend this morning, I have a very busy Second Life and being kept out is already throwing a wrench into my day. Because I don't own an estate in SL and am not a major corporation or notable "friend of Linden Lab," I don't have Concierge Level status so cannot get a phone number to call in for help. I'm screwed.

I feel like I've been a good Second Life citizen. I've contributed to the community building by holding several events every week with authors and experts on my little parcel of land, Athena Isle, to not only bring valuable information and opportunities to Second Life residents but to entice First Lifers to see the benefits and values of living a Second Life. I know my efforts are only a drop in the Second Life sea, but I'm passionate about what I do.

I'm getting a sinking feeling knowing I'm supposed to meet with the guest for my show REAL BIZ in SL at 11am SLT today and that I may not get in to the meeting. I'm a responsible avie. I try to live up to all of my inworld commitments with the same sense of responsibility as my FL ones. I bring all of my RL values and work ethic into SL. I'm not a slacker. But if I miss this meeting, I fall behind on getting information to my crew for the show on Monday. And what if I can't get inworld on Monday for my show?

My SL work is part and parcel of what I do and who I am. This is worse than having my Internet connection go down because at least I could head over to a wifi hotspot in town and get back online. This is like being locked out of my home and told to come back some other time over and over again. Will I not be allowed to go home??

While I sit and fret, please enjoy this photo from my recent fishing jaunt with some of my favorite avies. I'm going off to have a good cry now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Metanomics Sinks Into the Second Life Sea!

Trying to get out more and get my nose off the grindstone for a breather. Headed to Metanomics today. First, I ended up in a total no-man's-land, but eventually found my way with TPs from friends.

Then, just as I settled in and got my sound working, half the sim fell into the ocean. No kidding! Pics below and posted at the request of Beyers Sellers who got a good chuckle when I sent one of these to him.

Immediately after taking the 2nd pic, I crashed, then made my way back to the sim. Many of us were stuck standing above the seating, and we began cracking some jokes about getting stuck on top of the glass ceiling versus under it.

This is Second Life.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Racing Dog Sleds in Second Life's Virtual Iditarod

Saturday morning, I went inworld for a moment and received a notecard about the Virturod - the virtual Iditarod - with the start of the event happening within the hour to coincide with the real life Iditarod race start time.

I couldn't resist checking things out so followed the link to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau's web site to another link with the SLURL. I arrived less than half an hour or so before the event and the place was basically empty except for a handful of avies including Lou Tones who I eventually learned heads Virtual World Builders, the company behind the build.

I decided this would be a great event to write about for so put on my Reporter name tag and began searching for a PR person or a rep from ACVB while trying to get Lou Tones attention to answer a few questions.

He was clearly busy making last minute arrangements so I began chatting up the other avies in attendance. One woman ran over to me and told me to contact Anchorage Dreamscape who I later found floating in midair but away from her keyboard where she seemd to remain for most of the morning.

I was excited to find SeymourMoose Alter, however. He's the ACVB mascot for their "Big Wild Life" campaign for Anchorage and was quite a good looking moose in Second Life. He offered to help but when he realized I was a reporter, he quickly referred me back to Lou who did take the time to answer a few of my probing reporter questions.

When I realized that the turnout was going to be sparce, I began inviting my friends to join me for the race. At first, I thought we were going to watch a race, but soon realized that we could actually BE the racers.

That's how I ended up being part of the first official race of the Virturod along with dear friends Ilanna Aya and Alanagh Recreant. Also in the lineup was Cabela Lorenz who was the first to figure out how to rez a dog sled and had taken a tour around the racetrack before our race began.

Here is Cabela, Inanna, Alanagh and me ready to start the race with Lou Tones and SeymourMoose in the back giving us instructions.

The race was fantastic! Tons of fun. Lou flew overhead to observe the racers as we tangled with one another, getting stuck in the ice, falling off the track, swerving, skidding, sliding. I had a blast!

Eventually, the race was down to Cabela and me. She was a tough competitor and we switched places often. Suddenly, she got stuck and I slowly took a lead, then my lead got bigger. I creeped up an ice hill and when I reached the top, there was a board with our times posted (it wasn't working) and Lou Tomes was floating close to the ground.

I thought it was the finish line.

"Where do we go from here?" I asked but he didn't respond and just hovered.

I looked around for some sign of an actual finish line just as Cabela came up the hill. Lou flew back up into the air and Cabela turned onto the path where Lou had been and headed down the hill. What?!? There's more?

Maneuvering around the top of the hill to point down the path was tricky. When I finally did it, I could see the finish line below and Cabela hanging out with Lou beside it. Darn!

Lou had inadvertently blocked my path to get down the hill. Double darn!

With my adrenaline pumping, I made my way recklessly down the hill and got stuck at the finish line. I started chiding Lou for flying too low and blocking my path. He and Cabela laughed and probably thought I was a poor loser.

I later chatted a little more with Cabela and invited her to race with me and my friends again. She agreed so I sent her a Friend message. She declined.

"You're the first person in the year that I've been on SL who has declined a friend offer..." I said, hoping for some explanation. "How else can I find you to invite you to race with us again?"

"Don't take it personally," she said.

Not discouraged, I gave her a few tokens of friendship including one of the rare fish I caught the other day fishing with Soph, Ally and others (photos to follow) and one of my custom tshirts that says "Still Rezzing."

But alas, no friend here. She did, however, later IM me to critique some of my wording in the article I had turned in a few minutes before the race began: Virtual Iditarod Off to a Bumpy Start. Oh well, such is Second Life.

Let me know if you'd like to join me over the next 3 weeks to race a dog sled!