Full disclosure here: I’m pretty old school.
When I started in the newspaper business about 124 years ago, my first piece of equipment was an IBM Selectric typewriter.
We had no fax machines, no cell phones, not even cable TV, for gosh sakes. We did have push-button telephones with a hold button, which came in handy when we needed to cool off an angry reader. And our version of "social media" meant a bunch of reporters playing a friendly game of softball.
These days I’m a blogger and hopefully will be Tweeting soon, and I’m conversant but far from expert on what social media has evolved into. So I learned as much as any of our non-profit guests who participated in yesterday’s Comcast New Media Exchange at our headquarters in Philadelphia.
Many of Comcast’s grantees and community partners were among the 70 non-profit executives in Philadelphia and about 400 viewers of the live webcast – including City Year, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way and the National Urban League. As Comcast Executive VP David L. Cohen said in his welcome, "This is a way for us to provide additional value to the non-profit community."
Comcast’s Frank Eliason – Tweeter supreme and as new school as it gets – wrote a terrific preview of the event, and his presentation with Jay Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand was both informative and, at times, emotional.
It was a full day that featured everything from "The Power of Blogging" and "Tweeting with a Purpose," to some inside scoop about how the Obama campaign effectively used social media, to incorporating social media into fundraising efforts and even managing your personal and company reputation online.
Chris Krewson, the Executive Editor Online/News from The Philadelphia Inquirer, had my favorite line of the day: "If you want to create a (social media) community, you can’t be a summer home. You have to be open all year."
Comcast Chief Blogger Scott McNulty had a good line, too: "I will never emerge from geekdom to the mainstream."
In truth, we were all geeks for the day. There was even a live Twitter feed with more than 100 Tweets from inside the room and sites around the country.
I did a quick canvass afterward and picked up a few comments.
"It was a very productive day. I thought the points made today by the presenters were absolutely on target for this audience."
— Col. Robert Gordon, Senior VP, Civic Leadership, City Year
"It’s been a great day. The social media area is moving so fast … but it’s just wonderful to stop and think about how to present social media in everything you’re trying to do."
— Kay Keenen, VP, Marketing and Communications, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
"I think it’s important we all get on the social media bandwagon. I’ve been reluctant to do so because I just didn’t know … now I’m looking forward to Tweeting to everyone possible."
— Monica Lewis-Wilborn, Director, Marketing and Communications,
Urban League of Philadelphia
I hope there’s a little more room on that bandwagon, Monica. It’s getting harder and harder to find a replacement ribbon for the ol’ Selectric.