Get More Media Savvy

Posted by

You have probably seen enough instances of immaturity in the Social Media channels to make you feel like this is nothing more than a digital kindergarten.

Personally, I still believe this to be one of the major reasons why the more senior executives and professionals of industry shy away from publishing their thoughts in these channels. Because the online channels are so personal, you wind up seeing people and their true colors shine (in a not-so-pretty way). More often than not, their indiscretions and acts of unprofessionalism (even when they fall into the minority based on their overall presence) casts them in a very different/negative light.

Be more like a journalist.

If you don’t like the idea of being a journalist, then just consider (for a moment) taking some time (and it doesn’t need to be a lot of time) to get more media savvy. The more media savvy you are, the more the likelihood will be that you will take that extra second before tweeting something, updating you Facebook status or publishing that Blog post to ensure that the information you are about to share with everyone connected to you is as accurate and reliable as possible.

Let’s do this without removing the humanity of it all.

This is not a plea to turn every tweet and Blog post into something that looks like an op-ed piece in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. This is much more about accepting the very powerful gift we have all been given to publish our thoughts in text, images, audio and video instantly (and for free) for the world to see.

Here’s how to get more media media savvy in 6 steps…

  1. Spelling and grammar. While it was once not a critical part of the Blogging world, proper spelling and grammar is now an important part of being taken seriously. I often make spelling and grammar mistakes, and I’m thankful to the many people who email, tweet or message me with the corrections. That being said, I do try to edit the content as much as possible prior to pushing it out there.
  2. Be skeptical. How many celebrities have been announced dead on Twitter only for it later to be revealed that it was a mistake? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because anyone can publish content, everyone must become that much more skeptical of content we see. This means that you have to dig – just a little bit.
  3. Check sources. This doesn’t mean that you have to call BP to find information about an oil spill if it’s being discussed online, but it wouldn’t kill you to click on a link before retweeting it – just to ensure that it links to the right piece of content, and that it’s something you would be proud to share with your connections.
  4. Ask questions. If you read or follow something that doesn’t sit well with you, ask, probe and push your community for their insights and thoughts. Beyond that, always remember that those who ask questions (and lots of them) are usually the ones who come up with the most interesting answers and understanding on a specific topic.
  5. Don’t blow your fuse. People often tweet or post "in the moment" – as something is happening to them. While this is an important part of Social Media, it’s also important to take a deep breathe, cool down and really think about what you’re about to post. Passion running high is critical. Passion without thinking it through and be critically damaging.
  6. Be personable. Don’t become a robot and don’t take these points to mean that you should change your style, flow or content. You should use these concepts to add to your arsenal. To make you better. To make you a more effective communicator (because once you publish anything, that’s exactly what you are).

Many people don’t know that my professional career started off in journalism and magazine publishing (over two decades ago). I learned many valuable lessons in those formative years. These included lessons about writing, editing, interviews, mass media, new media, publishing, advertising, marketing, etc… but the biggest lesson of all was listening, learning and reading. I not only create media (for our clients at Twist Image and for myself), but I’m a constant and continuous student of media.

The more media savvy you get, the better the media that you are producing will become.


  1. Thanks for this re-fresher course Mitch.
    I continue to make use social media (personally) to put forth both professional and personal ideas. And sometimes I wonder if I’m going too far with the personal stuff as I now own my own business and need to be weary of what I say and who might hear.
    A good exercise would be to count to 10 before tweeting or blogging something just to make sure than we don’t get caught up in something we might regret later.

  2. Simple, practical advice I wish more people would listen to. Also – I *really* like your left nav of this site – atypical to have it wider than normal, really stands out in a good way.

  3. Considering how *well* search engines, online media and traditional media, not to mention credible spokespeople and subject experts did…and how low rated in “trust” were “family and friends” and (especially) “social media” in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2011, trying to research, think and write more like a journalist does appear to be a wise course, moving forward.
    (I’ve reviewed the global results. Apparently Canada Findings are being released on February 14th.)

  4. Love this post, Mitch. Communicating effectively has as much to do with trust and confidence as it has content.
    If I’m reading a post and trip over a misspelled word or struggle to find my way out of a maze of clauses, I lose patience and the writer loses me.
    I believe your last point is especially important. Rules and structure don’t inhibit creativity, they support it.

  5. Very good advice. Sometimes I find myself getting swept away with the speed of information that streams through the social media channels I follow. I have to remind myself to slow down and think ‘value’ before retweeting or posting something who’s title catches my attention. If I add it to my own channel it’s as good as signing my name to and then I have to deal with the consequences if I haven’t put the effort to verify it.

  6. A big one for me: Don’t pretend to know everything. It’s okay, actually it’s great, to use your blog to generate awareness around a topic. Your writing doesn’t have to be the final answer.

  7. Great post. As a former newspaper reporter, I couldn’t agree more. Taking that extra few minutes to double-check is crucial, and it’s a shame that many professional journalists, let alone folks with no media training, do not take that extra time.
    And it was cool to learn you have a journalism background too!

  8. Some of these suggestions could be applied to every aspect of your life, I think. For example, spelling and grammar are still important every time you have to write down something, and if you work with a computer chances are it’s gonna be quite often. I remember receiving curricula which embarassed me as I was reading them.
    Not blowing your fuse is essential in business, I remember the popular rule of waiting at least 24 hours before answering an email that upsets you, not to act in the rush of the moment.
    I feel like it’s not just about being more media savvy, but having more awareness on how people around us think and behave.

  9. As a former journalist-turned-marketer, thank you for writing this. A huge part of marketing, as you’ve said, is listening (to the market, customer, etc) and not just yelling (selling?) at the market. A huge part of marketing is learning (new media, new technology, new industry best practices, new channels, etc). And marketing now is also about sharing (information, stories, time, comments).
    If J-school taught us anything, it was to write well, check your facts, be objective, and always be “on” for a new angle, new story, new lead, new info, new gadget.
    There are a lot of journalism skills I learned that I transfer to my everyday tasks as a marketer.
    Great post Mitch

  10. It’s a shame that we still have to teach people how to be human. I’m happy to be at a company that takes a journalistic approach to marketing.
    Also, I wish someone told me back in high school and college how important English classes were going to be. If I knew back then how much I’d be writing now, I would have paid a little more attention (though I’m doing just fine for myself now).

  11. Great tips! People RT’ng bogus facts on Twitter is one of my pet peeves. How hard is it to Google/Bing the item, (and also checking how reliable this person is,) before spreading it all over the social media sphere. And I’m also a firm believer of controlled posting, especially on heightened peaks of emotion, you know you’ll end up regretting whatever you posted during those moments.

  12. Thanks for the post Mitch..
    We have to keep our online reputation as good as possible, because once it’s damaged it will be very hard to repair.. Bad Online Reputation is viral, once it spread in the Internet or Social media it’s almost over for anyone’s online identity.. So Don’t Blow your Fuse.

  13. Great tips and comments. I’ve wondered if the skills of a journalist or writer would help us amateurs. Or whether professional training would get in the way.
    I don’t even know how to type! That hasn’t been a huge impediment since there are so many different types and sizes of keyboards (Blackberry, iPad, MS Natural Keyboard etc). Typing slowly gives more time to think 🙂

  14. Great points!
    Since we can easily be misunderstood through social media, I think we should present ourselves more consciously through our words. I think the image of our brand and our relationship with our clients should always come first.

Comments are closed.