Stewart’s Gesture Adds Another Comparison To Earnhardt

It’s a dangerous thing when anyone compares a present NASCAR driver to Dale Earnhardt Sr. It’s almost like comparing someone to Michael Jordan or Bear Bryant. No matter what they do, they’ll never match all that those icons were able to do.

But Tony Stewart is treading close to Earnhardt territory not only on the track, but off it.

Like Earnhardt, Stewart has won multiple championships, gained a reputation as being an aggressive driver on the track and still seeks a Daytona 500 victory (Earnhardt finally won Daytona in 1998 after 20 years of trying).

And then there is this – that after Sunday’s Daytona 500, Stewart visited fans injured in as a result of the wreck near the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Here’s the  thing, though. There were no cameras, and Stewart didn’t appear to be doing it for attention. The visit was only reported after word was leaked to ESPN and Stewart’s camp confirmed that he did indeed visit the hospital.

This wasn’t a PR / image friendly TV spot. This was an ambassador of a sport saying, ‘get well soon and keep your head up,’ so to speak.

It’s not too different from what Dale Earnhardt was known for. There are stories within NASCAR from when Earnhardt was alive where there would be a family in need and Earnhardt would help them – only if everyone agreed not to let anyone know he was behind it. 

Within two hours, one driver may have done more than any statement at press conference could ever do. 

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Burger King’s golden opportunity

If you were close to anything social media-wise Monday, it’s a pretty safe bet that you heard about Burger King’s twitter account being hacked and instantly rebranded with McDonald’s likenesses with some rather colorful and unflattering tweets being sent out from the fast-food chain’s official twitter account. 

Like most social media events, attempts at humor by those across the twitterverse became part of the story.

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But going forward will be the most intriguing part of the the BK crisis. It’s a safe bet Burger King wasn’t on as many individual’s social media radar on Monday morning. This crisis changed that with a very quick rise in followers. It’s funny…a crisis like this grows your audience whereas an ill-timed tweet for other brands does the exact opposite. 

Burger King now has a captive audience and all eyes are on it. Going nearly four hours after the hacking to release a statement certainly raised some eyebrows at first. 

Bottom line – all eyes are on Burger King now within Twitter – there’s a golden opportunity to turn a negative to positive. It’ll sure be interesting to see if it propels the BK brand into a greater prominence that it could have envisioned. 

 

 

Social media lessons from ‘Nashville’

Within our household, ABC’s “Nashville” has become a favorite, either to watch live or catch up on later via DVR.

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As one working within social media, there are always instances which arise that can be applied to connecting audiences online. That happened this week.

This past week, one of the characters, Julliette Barnes (played by Hayden Pantierre) injected herself into the midst of a social media crossroads, one of which is very familiar to anyone managing a social brand.

Barnes went ‘off-script’ during a concert. After asking to see tweets about the concert, many negative, Barnes initially was taken aback. Later, however, she was referred to a video with overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The point is this. When you run a social media brand, especially when it’s only a few handle the messaging, it’s easy to take what is said about a brand personal. You are on the front line – you are excited to pass along the good but cower when being charred by the bad. It’s easy to be trapped into taking it way too personal.

But it’s always important to step back and look at the big picture. In social media, everyone has a voice, and odds are it’ll be on both ends of the spectrum no matter what you do. The key, however, is the embrace all facets of a social community.

The importance of being spontaneous

Fair or not, one of the most talked-about things from the Super Bowl will the 34-minute long power outage at the Super Dome.

Any time so many people watching an event have a diversion like that, things become downright entertaining on social media with countless individuals taking attempts at humor in light of the situation. The Packers – Seahawks ending this past season the the jet drawer explosion in the Daytona 500 come to mind, at first thought.

The key, for social brands, is to loosen up and get away from the structure and calling an audible, if you will. Here are some of the better ways brands capitalized on a very captive social audience. Major kudos to Oreo for the sharable content, too. It was retweeted more than 12,000 times within three hours, according to Buzzfeed.

Here are some of the better reactions to the black out, via USAtoday.com

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Memories of 120 Broadway

An era will end Wednesday morning here in Macon. It’ll be the first day for the news operations of one of my former employers, The Macon Telegraph, in their new home in the Mercer Village.

After some 51 years, they’ll anchor news operations out of somewhere besides the venerable offices on the edge of downtown Macon at 120 Broadway.

I can’t blame any current Telegraph staffers for being excited. I was very fortunate that when I started at the Red & Black at UGA, I started in its first semester in its brand new building atop Baxter Hill (I still miss that balcony view looking toward campus and downtown before lofts were built to obstruct the view).

So, anyway, since I am feeling all nostalgic, I figured, why not pull out top memories from my time at The Telegraph?

So, in no exact order…

– Roots

With both grandparents living in Macon, I usually pored over The Telegraph’s sports section when I visited them. I still have memories of the likes of Harley Bowers’ columns and wall-to-wall coverage of the Braves, Dawgs, Tech and others in an era before profit loss cut back the size of a product.

– Surprise appearance

In 2000, while still at Valdosta State, I spent the Friday night after Thanksgiving covering one of the smaller Valdosta area teams in the state playoffs – the game ended up being over at Thompson Stadium in Macon. After the game, needing a place to type my story turned into using The Telegraph offices and before I left, someone asking if they could run my story in the next morning’s paper since they couldn’t cover the game I was at. That person, Rick Nolte, would offer me a job six years later.

– The House of Pain

Although my primary job was page layout, I on occasion was slotted for game coverage. One of those came in the state football quarterfinals in Washington County, nicknamed the House of Pain. Being able to cover a game there was on my high school sports bucket list.

– Racing

When I arrived in Macon in 2006, there was an opening to provide limited auto racing coverage. Now if you know me, you know that’s something I am passionate about. It amounted to me covering races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and one round of the NASCAR Media Tour and Speedweeks. That February was quite memorable – I got to cover the entry of Toyota into NASCAR, experienced the circus of the media tour first-hand and got to cover the Daytona 500.

As time went by I took on local racing coverage as well. I have no doubt that that experience is a big reason that I currently work full-time in racing and remain thankful for The Telegraph giving me an opportunity to write about motorsports.

– ‘And then I became a columnist..’

Someone had the idea one day that since I knew so much about racing, why don’t I write a weekly column on racing? From there, it was quite an adventure. While some columns were mundane, few had the reaction from readers than one surrounding the All-Star Race and the then-driver of the No. 9 car who now drivers for Hendrick Motorsports. Let’s just say that if you were a Kasey Kahne fan then, you probably were not sending me any flowers.

– Newsroom nights

So what happens when you have a Clemson fan, Georgia fan, Tech fan and a few others mixed in working late nights with sports on TV? To put it mildly, some fun and memorable conversations, playful jabs, trips to Little Caesars, arguments over who has better fried chicken and so much more.

For so many who have passed through 120 Broadway through the years, there are many memories. Here’s to many more within the Mercer Village!

Perspective

In racing, like any outdoor event, there is no avoiding the natural elements. Whether its stifling humid heat or that wet stuff coming from the skies, its something that plays a factor.

Make no mistake, working in racing makes it a serious business if you’re involved in it. At times, you live and die by the moment, sweating it out over the rise and fall of a promotional plan, scheduling and promoting events and trying to drum up interest in racing. 

And at times, it is very easy to take it pretty serious, and get worked up on them.

Sadly, it takes tragedies to remind that sometimes, what you do as an individual isn’t too big in the grand scheme. Look, I know its a cliche, but it is.

 

The biggest thing that stuck out to me was how many times in racing, either as a fan or working, I’ve been at a track waiting out weather, seeing what it would do. Even this past Friday, in the midst of a rough thunderstorm, I had to make a mad dash to my car.

With racing events starting in the late afternoon, you learn to deal with late afternoon storms. 

Somehow, feeling down about races being rained out due to weather seems rather trivial at a time like this. 

 

  

 

Turning a Tweet-Hack Into a Positive

Within NASCAR, Mark Martin has been one of the latest to both embrace and see a massive fan reaction thanks to Twitter. He joined earlier this year and has received numerous followers. Part of that is because Martin appears to ‘Get it” on Twitter – answering fans questions and even talk about his tastes in rap music!

This past weekend, however, Martin fell victim to what many of us do on social networking sites. He was hacked. His account sent out peculiar messages and his twitter name was changed to “Epic Swag”

Well, after recovering his account, Martin is now back online. But Hack Gate isn’t finished.

This weekend at NASCAR’s race at Auto Club Speedway in California, the roof panel of Martin’s car, which bears his name, will have a different look.

Instead of saying ‘Mark Martin,’ it, for this race, will read, ‘Epic Swag’

Well played, Mr. Swag. Well played. 

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