Tag Archives | Reputation

Cory Booker’s Twitter Love Goes to Washington

cory bookerIn the recent campaign for Senate in New Jersey, Republicans tried a completely predictable communications strategy. They blasted Newark mayor Cory Booker as a “celebrity” candidate, who was interested mostly in his own reputation, something he’d carefully built using Twitter.

It is true that Booker is the Twitter mayor, and critics have¬†denounced his Twitter feed as narcissistic, disingenuous, and self-promotional. There may be a bit of truth in all of that – one doesn’t run for office without a bit of chutzpah and ego – but the impact of Booker’s Twitter feed is far greater than his reputation alone.

I live and work in New Jersey, so I’ve a bit of perspective not just on the race, but also on the cities in our state. I travel about quite a bit, and I have business meetings everywhere from bucolic Hunterdon county to gritty Trenton. One of the big disappointments of New Jersey is that almost all of its cities are under assault: too much crime, too much corruption in government, too much apathy, too much decay.

Newark traditionally has been one of these cities. Its reputation, for as long as I can remember, has been poor. Most people never go beyond the train station, a transition point for the trip into New York City.

But Booker’s Twitter feed has succeeded in reacquainting the rest of the state to what is our largest city. Whatever you think of Booker, he is the face of Newark. More importantly, to the city-shunning suburbans, he has introduced the people of Newark. The rest of the state must now acknowledge: There are folks who live and work in Newark, and who love it. To the many Twitter followers outside the boundaries of Newark, he shone a bright light on these residents, and gave them a megaphone.

This could become his biggest legacy, if the next mayor chooses to carry it on.

Booker was successful because he connected personally with the people of Newark. This new way of governing – of giving everyday people a real and intimate voice – was a promise extended by the Obama campaign in 2008, but never realized during the Obama presidency. It has been a huge disappointment, because the opportunity to listen to the unfiltered opinions of the electorate seems so, well, democratic.

Booker’s election reignites that hope. Maybe it’s not possible for him to answer every tweet from every Jersey Girl or Boy, but I’d sure like to see him try. Even simple analytics on his Twitter feed – measuring the sentiment of the people about the government shutdown vs. defunding Obamacare, for example – would be an amazing act of political insurgency.

My vote is always with the people. Let’s hope Booker represents it well.

Comments { 0 }

Social Media is Not the Jazz Age: It’s the 60s

In June, my family and I took the ferry to Governor’s Island. We’d never visited this small island in the New York bay, and we wanted to take advantage of nice weather and bike rentals to explore it.

On the ferry, we suddenly felt transported into another decade. Dapper men with handlebar mustaches, straw hats and bow ties were escorting pearled ladies with hats and gloves. Parasols abounded. Flappers with bobbed hair and short fringed dresses pursed their darkened lips while surveying the modern-day crowd with disapproval.

And we deserved it, I think. I looked around at the rest of us, those not aware that the Jazz Age Lawn Party started at noon on the island. We looked god awful. Faded T-shirts, gym shorts, women make-up free.

It made me feel sad, and it made me miss a time that I’d never really experienced, when people actually dressed up for a weekend outing.

My grandmother was a child of the 1920s era, and she never lost a bit of decorum, insisting on dressing in her Sunday best even at casual weekend gatherings. Unfortunately, I was a child of the 70s. So as a teenager, I rebelled against the formal dress code. Dismissed it. Donned the ripped jeans and the concert T-shirt. I also thought fashion was shallow and below me. I believed in deeper things, stuff that no matter how you dressed it, it demanded respect and thoughtful consideration.

I eschewed the dress code, but I never let down my guard on good writing. Over the years, I did come to appreciate both the art of fashion and the value (and the return) of dressing well. But slipping my writing into a pair of blue jeans never held much appeal to me.

Social media is the 60s counterculture of our era. There is, I think, a deliberate disregard for the finer points of good writing, good spelling, and good grammar.

We’re all too familiar with SMS lingo: “R U @ home?” I understand that all of our text messages can’t be written with perfect grammar (although if you text me, I will reply in full sentences, with words spelled correctly and commas in all the right places). I get it, I do.

But, in all other communications, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for perfection. We need more decorum in our emails, our blog posts, even our Facebook status updates.

Because even if we think the bar is set lower and our colleagues expect imperfection in electronic communications,  a status update riddled with spelling errors (using their for there, for example) creates an insidious impression on your reader.

Whether you’re a business or an individual, people form prejudicial attitudes about you with every word you write. If you want to create a positive reputation, remember that words count. So dress them up – every day of the week.

Comments { 1 }