October 28, 2010 - Comments Off on Well, Look at Mr. Social Media Tough Guy
So, I recently returned from what could best be described as descent into confusion, madness and finally, utter euphoria. You see, I’ve just completed what some PR folk might call a “media tour” and others would refer to as a Mr. Magoo-like dodder-fest through the dark world of socialized media into the enlightening universe of pure communal interaction with some very intelligent and creative folks at the PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C.. Not only did I speak at the PRSA International Conference and do a video interview right after I finished, but I also did an interview with the brilliant Eric Schwartzman, host of “On the Record…Online,” penned a blog post at PRSA.org and led a webinar about social media – all within a 6 week timeline.
But let’s start from my arrival in the former District of Columbia…
…I exited my Amtrak Iron Horse after she galloped safely into Washington’s Union Station, thinking I would be a clever chappy by using the mighty D.C. mass transit system to reach my final destination – the Washington Hilton, home of the 2010 PRSA International Conference as well as the place where then-President Ronnie Reagan was shot at by a slithering toad (and Jodie Foster aficionado), named John Warnock Hinkley, Jr. back in 81′.
I must confess to being a bit of a tech junkie, as I was aptly armed on my journey to Washington with my Android phone, an iPad, an iPod and a computer loaded to the silicon gills with what I hoped would be a delightful tiptoe through the social media glory of a Website that The Mechanism had built for Flight of the Conchords. The comedy pop duo and former HBO stars are now likely the bona-fide and rightful owners of the country of New Zealand after a successful tour of Europe and the United States during the summer of 2010.
In addition to my shoulder pack containing every electronic device known to human, I was slugging my suitcase, a freshly-pressed suit, and finally, a three-foot-by-two-foot flat slice of unassuming cardboard, which contained some very nicely designed and rare Flight of the Conchords posters (graciously donated by the band’s management), which I was truly excited to give away to some lucky attendees of my chat at the PRSA Conference. I figured if I really bombed as a speaker, my saving grace would be at the end. After the boos had ended and the cat calls of “Well, look at Mr. Social Media Tough Guy!” had subsided, I could whip out a couple of fancy posters – and much like Houdini shackled in a chest in the ocean – escape as the awesomely heroic “Pied Piper of Social Media”, dancing my way into everyone’s hearts and minds.
So…I’m inside the cavernous Union Station in D.C., seeking advice from my Android for the best mass transit route to my destination. After several moments attempting to locate the subway station on the Google map and giving up, I walked out into the afternoon air. I strolled like a knucklehead toward the first person who looked like a native of the city and pulled some real “old-fashioned” social media mojo on them by personally asking how I could get to the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Ave.
“Well, that depends which side of Connecticut you want to go to,” she politely said, indicating to me that not only were there at least two Hilton hotels in Washington, but there were two Hilton hotels in Washington in opposite directions of the same street. It was at that precise moment that I realized that the cardboard poster container that I had held so dear to my survival at the PRSA Conference had been left back inside Union Station against the wall.
I politely, yet discretely excused myself from my conversation and high-tailed it back into Union Station. Surprisingly, and mercifully, the Social Media Gods were shining down on me, and the posters were safely leaning against the wall, exactly where I left them. I grabbed them, kissed them and returned to my journey.
I should have realized the trouble I was about to be in and taken a taxi immediately…
The underground mass transit snake that I boarded took me swiftly to Dupont Circle, which a kindly fella in the Metro Station had told me was in the vicinity of the hotel. In my opinion, this particular destination is possibly a portal of hell, resembling – from a birds eye – an unholy nucleus of evil incarnate, with none other than 12 streets slithering from it’s demon heart in every direction. Of these 12 foul streets, four of them bear the name Connecticut, and both directions from Dupont Circle are suspiciously named “Connecticut NW”.
For the next hour and a half, I wandered aimlessly in every direction but the correct one, carrying a computer bag, my suitcase, a freshly-pressed suit and finally, that 3-foot-by-2-foot flat slice of cardboard which contained some very nicely designed, and as I’ve mentioned, rare Flight of the Conchords posters. After leaving a trail through the Dupont area that could only be compared to the flight of a brain-damaged hornet, my destination was in sight. Halfway up the hill, I squinted my tired eyes to gaze upon the Hilton sign and the place where I would be speaking about Social Media, the Flight of the Conchords Website and be giving away some very nicely designed – and as I’ve mentioned extremely rare – Flight of the Conchords posters.
But I didn’t have the cardboard container.
With sore feet, a sour disposition, an aching back from carrying a now sloppily packed and disheveled suit, a computer bag and a suitcase on wheels worn to a bloody axle, I realized that at yet another point on my now Oddyssec journey from Union Station to the Washington Hilton, I had inexplicably put the posters down again and left them behind. Rather than go absolutely ape-shit (like anyone else could have rightfully done in my opinion), I decided to slug back down the hill, with all of my crap dangling from me and try to find the posters…
After another half hour attempt to recapture the true magic of my mindless path (exemplified by the blue line on the map below), I realized that it wasn’t to be. I scaled the hill to the Washington Hilton and checked in – truly defeated and anticipating a hissing horde of social media gurus to torch me at the end of my presentation like Frankenstein's Monster or the Hunchback of Notre Dame, without the necessary lifeline of my fancy posters to save me from certain doom.
Needless to say, this story ends quite happily. After dropping everything off in my lovely hotel room, I gallantly retraced my steps and located the three-foot-by-two-foot flat slice of cardboard (containing some very nicely designed, rare and likely expensive Flight of the Conchords posters) – laying casually in the street, exactly where I had left it. My talk went well, as evidenced by the well wishers, tweeters and generally friendly folk at the PRSA Conference. Some of the attendees gleefully walked out with some fancy Flight of the Conchords posters devoid of any desire to boo, beat or burn me like a social media Quasimodo, lost in the unholy maze of Dupont Circle.
Dave Fletcher is the Founder & Executive Creative Director at The Mechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. He is also an avid Social Media junkie as evidenced by the number of confused Gowalla and Foursquare check-ins that occurred on his hellish trip through the wilds of Dupont Circle. He also wants to thank Albert Chau, the photographer who sent over the photographs from the 2010 PRSA Conference and the fine staff of PRSA for a grand old time in Washington D.C..