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As I sit on my balcony this cloudy and cool Saturday morning, all of the events of 2011 are flowing through my mind. What a change this year has brought! I recall thinking through various scenarios this past spring, trying to decide whether I wanted to stay in Washington, DC and help the entrepreneurial community there grow and thrive, move to New York City (or Houston) to become a [social media] Mad Man, or head out west to San Francisco to do the Silicon Valley startup thing.

And yet on this 70 degree morning in the middle of Texas I can’t imagine being anywhere other than right here in Austin.

The last six years working in the media sector have allowed me to experiment and innovate with new forms of storytelling and in just that span the entire industry has changed tremendously; it was extremely exciting to ride that wave. From coordinating and working on engagement strategies for local news (man, elections are fun!) back in Columbia, Missouri – to imagining, creating, and teaching hundreds of public media practitioners how to use social media to bring their communities together. It was an adventure each and every day.

Earlier this year, I transitioned into a new type of role at PBS allowing me to help lead efforts to reconstruct one of the largest online video streaming sites in the US from the ground up. My team had a lot of success and was doing some really amazing things with the code that was being written every day. Unfortunately, they still just dont have the time, resources, or vision to build a world-class experience. I have the type of personality that requires excellence, and I’m willing to put everything I have into doing what’s right, so it was time for a change.

Which brings me back to the present.

After only two short months in Austin I feel more at home here than I have in the DC area for a while. You might say that Austin agrees with me. Between the fantastic weather, friendly people, and challenging job this is exactly what I need at this point in my life. Austin has a very special blend of southern charm, midwestern sensibility, Texas pride, and coastal arrogance (in moderation) that all comes together in a very Weird way. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Since moving down here, I haven’t said much publicly about what I’m doing professionally now, part of that has to do with how difficult it is to describe exactly what a ‘global online product manager’ really does. Suffice it to say, it has taken me a while to figure that out as well. Transitioning from a small (comparatively) non-profit with $500 million in yearly revenue to a Fortune 50 multi-national with $60 billion in revenue has been quite a change. Day to day I find myself working across multiple global business units helping to imagine, define and execute on ways to better create and distribute content to users on Dell.com in 100+ countries and 20+ languages across the globe.

I may start my day on a conference call with colleagues in Europe or Asia on the latest videos being created, meet with my team here in Texas for lunch to talk about next year’s projects, then finish up the day taking a class or learning more about how peers in South America are using the tools my team creates to cater and customize content to their locale.

What a difference a year makes! I can’t wait to hear about your year, and to see what happens next.

 

(Yes, I realize that in the span of a couple hundred characters I said it was both cloudy and cool, but also 70 degrees. Welcome to Texas.)

 

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About a month ago I was searching around online for some new clothing (as personal friends will know, I’ve been improving my lifestyle and have lost a fair amount of weight and have a changed body composition). Shortly after sending a tweet about needing some new clothing a representative from Modern Tailor sent me a note asking if I’d be willing to try out their online self-service custom clothing service. How could I say no?

Over the next week or so — I’ve been crazy busy at work recently — I worked on designing a new shirt.

Reviewing all of the details of my soon to be new shirt.

Over the next week or so — I’ve been crazy busy at work recently — I worked on designing a new shirt.

It ended up taking nearly an hour to get everything set to my specifications, carefully examining each and every possible variation and detail of the shirt.

Some of my choices:

  • Sewn in collar stay
  • Wide-spread collar
  • Single collar button
  • Standard placket
  • Mother of Pearl buttons
  • Cut corner, 1 button cuff
  • Monogramming on the left cuff

Once the order had been placed, it took about one week for Modern Tailor to build the shirt and pass it off to the shipper. Then about a week after that the shirt arrived (carefully packed for its journey from China).

If you haven’t ordered a custom built shirt online before, it’s quite the experience when the package comes — you just can’t wait to try it on and see how it fit. Thankfully, this shirt was perfect! The fabric is a just-right thickness (I prefer a thicker shirt, and this fit the bill although they have over 1,000 fabrics to choose from).

The fit was exactly as ordered and within normal variances. Being my first custom tailored shirt ordered online, I was a little generous with the measurements I gave them, just in case, but that clearly wasn’t necessary and my next order will be even more precise.

Suffice it to say; the ordering process, execution, and delivery from Modern Tailor was fabulous and I will certainly be returning. The prices are very economical (this shirt was around $80, shipped) and you’d pay a comparable price for something off-the-rack but that wasn’t made to your exacting specs.

Now, some pictures of the shirt.

     *Note that Modern Tailor gave me a great deal on this first shirt with no strings attached, however I’m a firm believer in spreading the word when a company takes good care of a client, and the shirt came out wonderfully. Also the links in this post are referral links so I get a little something if you do place an order.

 

 

 

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As a product and marketing guy I don’t often attempt (nor desire) to touch very much code. I’m thankful however to have been tasked with figuring out how to construct a fan/like-gate for PBS over the last several weeks. Freedom Riders by American Experience is the first show to offer up their content exclusively for fans of PBS on Facebook — check it out before the app comes down on May 13th.

I absolutely would not have been able to create this fan-gated experience without the knowledge shared by those who have attempted to build such a thing previously.

The actual construction of a rough in-Facebook fan-only experience was actually fairly straightforward using readily available tutorials across the blogosphere. The devil however, was in the details. You’ll find some of the resources that I used when creating PBS’ app below. Stay tuned though, we have plans to open-source our own script to make this process even easier. Watch for that announcement over on the Open.PBS blog.

Essential reading for creating a Facebook iFrame Tab

Fixing the Inevitable scrollbars that show up once you launch

Note: Be sure to read the comments on those posts as well, they’re as valuable (or maybe even more) than the posts themselves in some cases).

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As you may have read here, here, and here, Fortune Magazine’s “Fortune 500″ issue just hit newsstands — and guess what? One of the cover stories is an in-depth look at the inner workings of Apple and Steve Jobs. Who can resist a good story about Apple? I sure can’t!

The folks over at Fortune did a masterful of releasing juicy details about what was in the article to the blogosphere.

Being an Apple junkie (aka fan boy), I read at least a half-dozen of those summary posts by other bloggers (This one on Fortune’s blog was the post that sent me over the edge wanting more). Once I’d read all of the summaries and snippets I was hungry for more. It turns out, the newsstand and Fortune iPad app are the only places to get the full article.

I sure as heck wasn’t going to try to track down a newsstand, so I opened up the App Store and downloaded the Fortune iPad app — promptly paying my $4.99 for the latest issue.

I couldn’t be happier, and couldn’t resist giving Fortune some major props for content marketing. It’s hard to catch anyone’s attention in the current media climate, and they converted me.

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I read several really good blog posts today that clearly articulate the power of location-based social networks for content providers, if you’re a brand marketer you need to be thinking through these issues. If you’re a public media institution, you should be experimenting with these tools.

Read these blog posts, then come back here:

I believe that these technologies (not just Foursquare, but all the others as well) present a huge opportunity for local media outlet relevance. What better way to tell our story than to give it to users while it’s contextual in the real-world? No appointment TV, no appointment web, no discovery — just serendipity (well ok, a little discovery).

With the coming of location-based social networks and a new venue for ‘push’ marketing, we’re finally starting to see the convergence of our online lives with those of the real world. Don’t leave serendipity totally to chance.

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Well, now that it’s February 2010 I’ve already pretty well given up on that New Years Resolution to blog each week!

But… I do have some pretty amazing posts all in various phases of draftiness that will be coming your way over the coming weeks.

Here’s a preview:

  • The Innovators Dilemma (Public Media Edition) – The Problem
  • The Innovators Dilemma (Public Media Edition) – Solutions
  • What does an “online membership” look like for non-profit organizations?
  • Appointment Web: So crazy it just might work!
  • How do you build a Community of Practice
  • The end of PBS Engage, and what it means to PBS and social media
  • Setting priorities amongst multiple projects
  • Early AP vs. PBS as distributor/connector of content
  • Public media is full of smart community organizers and yet we can’t seem to organize ourselves

As they say, “Stay tuned!”

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After several months of chewing on and discussing it, PublicMediaCamp is finally being announced to the public today.

Back in March of this year, Andy Carvin, Margaret Rosas, Jen Reeves, and several other passionate supporters of public and community media got together at DrupalCon DC to discuss the future and how tackle it.

One thing we all decided on, too many conferences and collaborations between PBS, NPR, and other organizations were too formal and expensive. In the age of the unconference, we had to ask ourselves why we haven’t been able to mobilize technology evangelists in the name of public service.

And as they say, the rest is history.

The first Public Media Camp will be held right here in Washington, DC October 17th and 18th. We hope that this will turn into a series of user generated conferences that bring together public broadcasting entities (namely PBS and NPR stations) and their local technology communities.

If you’re going to be in town in mid October, sign-up now to be alerted when tickets go on sale.

Later this week I’ll post a little more about the vision and thought behind the event, so check back soon!

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First off, thank you for sticking with me. I’ve really done a fantastic job of ignoring my blog for the last several months. In the mean time, I’ve been spending most of my time over on Twitter where I’ve amassed a nice little following.

In the meantime, there has been a lot of thinking going on in the background as I try to decide where to take my personal site — and brand — next. A lof factors are going into this but I decided in summary:

  • Drupal was too ambitious for my personal site, I really like the system and remain a big fan, but I don’t have the time to devote to making it work exactly how I want here.
  • WordPress lets me get up and moving quickly, it’s also typically the first CMS to get plugins developed for new social networking sites and services, this makes sure that I can try things out quickly and efficiently.
  • On a daily basis I wrestle with form vs function, and for my personal site — as in much of my work — I want this to work for you and me. If it doesn’t function well, there might as well not even be a pretty design on top.

Stay tuned, there’s much more to come here. (I’ll update this post or post again when most of the changes are in place)

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Today I’ll be hanging out at the AMC Loew’s Georgetown theatre to watch all 5 Best Picture nominees, courtesy of AMC Theatres. Be sure to follow my Tweets throughout the day for information about the event, the films, and more!

Here are the films and times I’ll be in them:

  • “Milk” – 10:30  a.m. – 12:38 p.m.
  • “The Reader” –  1:05 p.m. – 3:07 p.m.
  • “The Curious Case of  Benjamin Button” – 3:45 p.m. – 6:33 p.m.
  • “Slumdog  Millionaire” – 7:15 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.
  • “Frost/Nixon” –  9:45 p.m. – 11:47 p.m.

Who’s ready for some popcorn and candy!?

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pbs-at-sxsw

Meet and Chat with me and other PBS Employees at the SxSW Interactive Festival March 13-17, 2009.

In just a few short weeks I’ll be headed down to the SxSW Interactive Festival (I’ll be in Austin March 13-17) with PBS Engage. We have lots of very fun events planned and lots of opportunities for you to help put the public back in public media. For several hours each day you’ll be able to chat with PBS employees who can share ideas and show off what we’re working on.

If you’re reading my blog, you probably know the best ways to find me — but if you’re unfamiliar. Hit me up via Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Be sure to block off time on your schedule to visit the PBS Pub (we’ll be setting up shop at the Moose Knuckle Pub in Austin). For more details and to see my schedule visit PBS.org/sxsw. We’ll be Twittering (@pbsengage and @jdcoffman), live blogging, and even have streaming live video for you to enjoy.

I’ll see you there!

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