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The kitchen table talk

Have you had “the talk” with your family?

No, not that one.

I’m talking about the talk about how you handle the social web with your family. Have you ever taken time to talk about what is appropriate sharing and posting as a family? I consider this the new important family talk. To me, I envision it happening around the kitchen table.

February 11, 2014 was Safer Internet Day and I truly believe the core of safety online starts with your family. An open discussion about what is shared across the generations will help prevent anger, disappointment and confusion. It can also help set up expectations about how each person hands activity only.

If you have a chance, I’d recommend these topics:

• Sharing, tagging and mentioning family members online: One person’s comfort zone of sharing may be totally different from another person’s comfort zone. You should bring the teenagers, parents and grandparents into the same room and talk about what is right for everyone.

• If you think someone you know is sharing inappropriate links by email or on social media, that person’s accounts may be hacked. Let your friend or family member know your concerns. If that person takes the time to change his or her password, that might be just enough to keep that infected link from going to another person.

• Take the time to search yourself and your kids on search engines and social media. It’s good to see what information comes up about you and your loved ones.

• The best and most important tip of all is to always remember the way you conduct yourself online should be exactly how you would conduct yourself in public. Make sure you share that belief with the rest of your family and make sure you can be an example for others. We are all able to help teach friends and family better ways to use the social Internet.

During Safer Internet Day, I joined in on a pretty fast-paced Twitter chat about the state of Internet safety. I created a Twitter list full of resources and people who really care about Internet safety. Check out some of the pretty helpful information from the chat and a good number of excellent resources on Internet safety.

The chat included many other people who are trying to bring more digital literacy in to the social web. I’m excited to continue working hard and training so many people to communicate with customers better.


Using Scavenger Hunts to Learn

I recently led a two day bootcamp on social media basics for communications leaders from a number of AARP state offices. I love getting the chance to help build onto the foundations of communication skills and hone the skills behind. My biggest challenge with all-day training is finding opportunities to get up and move. I think I found the best formula yet: A social media treasure hunt.

Near the end of my career as a journalism professor, I watched a team of former Missouri School of Journalism doctoral alumni team up to challenge their journalism students with a week-long social media scavenger hunt. Students were challenged to find all kinds of interesting things across campus. The class with the most findings would win.

I decided to tweak that idea and fit it into an hour or so in the middle of my first day of training. Here’s how I did it:

At the beginning of the day, I and a couple of other co-trainers met with each attendee to make sure they had installed, signed in and connected multiple iPhone applications to social media sites. iPhones are a standard tool used by most AARP communications professionals and I wanted to make sure we were all using the same tools together. I recommended a long list, but I focused in on:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • Magisto
  • Vine
  • Foursquare

Once we had everything set up, I and additional trainers in the room talked on the basics of personal and professional use of Twitter and Facebook. We were also fortunate to also have a chance for Facebook representatives to share some of their insight with the attendees through a webinar/conference call. With a good lunch and open conversation about different ways to use two of the most used social media tools, I set the group up for the scavenger hunt challenge. I handed out a two-page sheet with a list of tools I wanted them to use and a list of point-based challenges. They had one hour to complete the challenge.

I offered participants the chance to win prizes for the most points. I also offered a “Wild Card” option where a person could earn an extra 10 points for doing something different and possibly outside the app list I shared. The result can be found on many different social media platforms by just searching #AARPhunt. I especially enjoy seeing the #AARPhunt Twitter stream because people who didn’t attend jumped in, engaged with attendees and even offered additional challenges or tried out technology on their own that was mentioned during the hunt. You can see a full collection of the hunt on this Storify collection.

In the end, I think adding a scavenger hunt to the bootcamp made it a real hands-on experience. Instead of opening each app and walking the room through how to use it, we just used it. Jumping in and trying new tools are one of the fastest ways to understand how they work.

Sharing My Brain with AARP

For almost a year, I’ve had the chance to learn and grow in a new job at AARP. It’s been an vast change and at the same time it hasn’t been too different from my old job as a journalism professor and newsroom manager. I continue to teach and learn and find ways to deliver my knowledge to others. For almost a full 12 months, I have developed training for the organization while learning how it works to offer so much support for people who are 50+. In reality, I feel my job reaches all age groups. I have the chance to teach older generations that have a lot of influence on all other generations. I have the potential to help influence the most influential generation in our country!

One of my most public accomplishments happened a couple of weeks ago in time for my second AARP Life@50+ conference. I took a piece of my brain and turned it into a website full of social media training tips. It’s just the beginning. I have tips that span from Facebook and Twitter to blogging and photo/video tools. I’m excited to continue to add my tips and tricks for more to use.

I hope to take the training site and use it as a resource as I focus on helping expand a national conversation on why digital literacy can bridge across all generations. Digital literacy is understanding how to conduct yourself on in a digital community. It’s very similar to how know how to conduct ourselves in the real world. Digital literacy is knowledge everyone deserves. The trick is finding ways to bridge assumed and actual existing gaps. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had someone assume people 50+ are not using computers, smart phones or social media. That is so untrue! That assumption alone hurts opportunities to teach and learn about digital literacy. Traditionally, younger generations look up to the older generations. If there’s any decay in that assumption, I feel education about digital literacy can help.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts and discoveries about this topic often along with my adventures in speaking, teaching and learning with AARP.


There are all kinds of ways to learn about me. First, feel free to chat with me on Twitter.

You can visit my LinkedIn profile.

Or check out my profile.

Or read articles where I’m mentioned.

Or visit my Google Profile.

Here’s the short version of my resume. I have a super long CV. I’m happy to email it to you if you’d like.

Amazing Customer Service

As I move from the journalism world into a membership and non-profit focus, I suddenly look at experiences with brands a little differently. I was fortunate to work with Brooks Running as it launched its PureFlow2 shoes. They sent me a pair and simply asked me to share what I thought about them on social media if I wanted to. And to be honest, I wanted to. They’re great shoes for me as I continue to run a couple of times a week and a few races a year.

But my best customer experience came from the last couple of weeks with Southwest Airlines. I’ve been a fan for a long time. But since I started my new job, I’ve used the airliner a lot in the last six months. I tend to snag a seat near a window and enjoy the views. Every once and a while I get to use one of the free drink tickets they sent in the mail. While I was attending the SXSW Interactive festival this March, I couldn’t get the check in process to work for me since the online process wasn’t working and I had fully lost my voice. (It’s a problem I tend to have near the end of SXSW each year.) I mentioned my problems on Twitter and a customer service person made sure everything was handled for me.

Pretty great, right? Well, that wasn’t even the best moment I’ve had with Southwest this year. It happened after I wrapped up a flight from Washington, DC. I had fallen asleep on the flight, packed up my stuff and headed out to my car and enjoy a two hour drive from St. Louis to Columbia, MO. I was a little groggy but ready to snag my luggage and get home. What I hadn’t realized is I left my iPad in the seat pocket. My iPad! And I didn’t even recall putting it there.

Later that week, I messaged my brother and told him I thought I left my iPad at his place. That’s because I had no memory of putting it in my bag or pulling it out on the plane. (I must have been really tired.) I wasn’t worried and didn’t even think about checking my Find iPhone app that I have attached all of my Apple products.

I assumed wrong. How did I find out? Because someone from Southwest emailed me. And the email was vague:

Dear (my email),

We have obtained your email information from an item found on Southwest Airlines. If you have recently lost an item while flying Southwest, please follow the link to fill out a lost report Once you have completed the report, reply to this email with the lost report number.

Thank you,
Southwest Airlines Lost Article Recovery Team

That was the first moment when I thought that maybe, just maybe, that iPad was left on the plane. But this email was so vague, I thought it might be a scam. So I did a little research on how Southwest handles missing items. I tracked down the Frequently Asket Questions page on Southwest’s website and found a question about leaving something on a plane. It led me to a link that was identical to the one that was included in the email.

I filled out the form and emailed the person who had emailed me initially and shared my lost item report number. She confirmed Southwest had my iPad within EIGHT minutes.

Seriously? That’s amazing.

I sent Southwest my FedEx information and six days later (only because I wasn’t home for the first two deliveries), my iPad is back with me. Southwest even left me a note:

Tape It Down

I spent the last week visiting the AARP headquarters where I work. I’m a teleworker based in Columbia, Missouri tasked with helping train the entire organization about social media. Those tasks range from understanding the ethics and etiquette behind the use of social media to ways to use it effectively on a personal and professional level. It’s a vast task that I’m trying to do in as logical a manner as possible.

The one resounding theme I taught as I met with groups from all kinds of different portions of the organization was: You need to organize your social media usage or else you will feel completely overwhelmed. I explain it like this:

When you tape down and organize your social media, it is less overwhelming and stressful.

Tape Down Your Social Media!

Imagine you’re in charge of painting a room. You have two options: Tape down the windows and edges or just try to do your best to not paint on the window frames, ceiling and crown molding. Taping down is tedious but when you finally get to painting, it’s a fast and simple (non-stressful) process. Painting without tape is slow, tedious and stressful.

Social media is no different.

If you tape social media down, you have set up an organizational structure that helps you track information that matters to you to do your job and improve your connection to information that may be personally important. If you don’t set up lists, RSS feeds, search alerts and more, you will feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Setting up lists, feeds, alerts and more can be tedious and annoying. But it is the best way to get your work done without feeling like you’re drowning in a sea of information.

My co-worker, friend and managing editor of the AARP blog, Alejandra Owens (@frijolita) is working on a series on her blog called #GSD (or Get Sh#t Done) and lists a great collection of ways to tape your social media down. She’s also shares how she personally stays up to date and organized. I am actually in the process of re-working my organizational use of social media since I changed jobs. The one thing I can say is no matter what you do in your career, being a part of social media is so much easier when you build a structure to help with how you manage time. Take a look at this presentation I’ve given a handful of times on time management and let me know how you keep social media taped down.

Social Media Time Management from Jen Reeves

We are all journalists

I’m working on a collection how checklists on what you need to do when you join some of the top social media platforms… Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. The overarching theme I keep thinking about is how we all need to think like journalists before we post content into any platform. A blog, email, social media site… you name it. It’s so easy to hit publish, send, tweet, post before you really investigate the information.

Sometimes a story can seem too good to be true… And if you take a little time to investigate, you’ll probably discover you’re right. It isn’t true.

Imagine if just one sports reporter decided to look into Manti Te’o’s story about losing his girlfriend and grandmother in the same week. Fact: His grandma passed away and it’s documented how close he is to his family. Fiction: He never had a girlfriend who was sick, in a car accident or died.

How did that come into the open? Because a couple of guys at a website called Deadspin took a little time to investigate. And once they started that basic investigation, they dug even deeper and found some huge lies.

The investigation Deadspin started could have been launched by anyone. It’s a perfect reminder for each person who publishes to think, search, ask questions and report what they’ve learned or fact disappears very quickly.

Room to grow

Nine and a half years ago, I embarked into a career adventure few could imagine. I was the proud mom of a one-year-old toddler who was looking at her first opportunity to help manage a newsroom. As executive producer, I had a chance to take my knowledge as a newscast producer into a professional environment while teaching up and coming journalists at the same time. No where else in the world can you run an NBC affiliate and teach at a world-renowned journalism program.

My career took a fascinating (and some would say geeky) turn when my news director, Stacey Woelfel, allowed me to research and prepare our newsroom’s transition from linear editing and an old newsroom computer system to non-linear editing that communicated with a new newsroom computer system. I analyzed how newsrooms used it, what they did right and wrong. The building and organizing process opened my brain to coding and digital organization. (By the way, that picture is me managing breaking news from the floor of an airport in 2007.)

About a year later, the Missouri School of Journalism’s relationship with Apple gave me an opportunity to help introduce podcasting to the higher education world. I helped lead EDUCAUSE into the concept of podcasting by collecting and sharing a collection of podcasts during the EDUCAUSE Learning Institute conference in January 0f 2005. I had produced an entire conference experience for anyone to hear on demand.

On demand!

In 2005 the only on demand experience I knew came from TiVO. The idea of delivering information that lands into your iPod blew my mind. This was BEFORE the iPhone and podcasts that easily fed into iTunes. It opened my mind and I just didn’t stop from that point forward.

How many work environments would have fostered my desire to continue to learn and teach young journalists along the way? I traveled to China, I taught and spoke across the country, I watched hundreds of former students do AMAZING things with their careers. At the same time I started really understanding the digital world, my daughter was born. My digital knowledge helped me as I started to navigate the special needs parenting world.

What an amazing ride.

As I move away from my 17 years of journalism… I have to recognize the remarkable experience I’ve had at KOMU 8 News, the Missouri School of Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. I was able to discover the incredible potential of social media long before it really caught on. The @KOMUnews account launched in June 2007. We had a Facebook page LONG before brands had pages. I worked in an environment that fostered and supported my energy to constantly learn and experiment. Sure, not everything worked. But everything we did on air and online taught the industry and students about the changing face of journalism. (That picture is from our J-school centennial in 2008.)

Without this experience, I would have never met members of the social team at AARP during SXSW in 2010. I would have never even known about the opportunity I’m about to take. I’m so excited to take my years of experience as a teacher and as a journalist to help the AARP. What an amazing challenge to take my teaching skills and help build a curriculum for the organization. I have even more to learn and so much to share. It’s really exciting.

Thank you to the many, many students who worked with me these many years. I am so happy to continue working and learning with you. Thank you to the fabulous faculty members at Mizzou – in and out of the journalism school. Thank you to the many J-School and KOMU staff who were so wonderful to work with. Thank you to the incredible social journalists and members of #wjchat for being a part of the journalism community that cares about the industry and good journalism. And most importantly, my husband and the rest of my family deserve a lot of thanks for putting up with my geekiness.

I am not closing my connection to journalism… I’m just going to be working differently. I’m planning to stay in touch thanks to my role as a moderator of #wjchat. My husband will remain in the KOMU newsroom so I won’t be too far away. And best of all, I have the many former students who remain in the journalism and communications industries. We’ll continue to share and learn from each other… Just like I said I always would. Once you’re my student, you’ll always be my student.

Online to reality

Almost two years ago, a friend who used to teach at Mizzou introduced me to a mom who was connecting with other professional moms. We both happened to know a lot of the same women in the mom blog world. Not long after that, Hollee Schwartz Temple asked me for a favor: to review her new book, Good Enough is the New Perfect. She wrote it along with Becky Beaupre Gillespie and focused the writing on research that helps us all better understand where many women are finding success and failure with work/life balance. The book looks at research that finds type-a moms or “never enoughs” tend to be more stressed and unhappy than moms who allow moments of imperfection. The “good enoughs” are okay with store-bought food or skipping a soccer practice.

I enjoyed the book and blogged about it on Born Just Right back in 2011. After the blog post, Hollee and I became Facebook friends. We would talk there and on Twitter from time to time.

Fast forward to this week. Our local women’s network invited Hollee to speak about her book and research. We finally had a chance to meet! We had breakfast together, I helped shoot video of her speech and I quickly discovered I’m SO glad we had a chance to meet online because we were meant to meet in person. Moving a friendship that starts online and moves into the real world is one of my favorite parts of being in the social media world. I’ve met people from around the world who I would have never known and when we can actually meet in person, the relationship just grows. It is never awkward for me because the person I appear online is exactly who I am in person.

I’m looking forward to my next chance to meet up with Hollee… and many, many more people as I move into my next career.

The presidential election can teach you how to use social media

This post was originally written for Dubtizzle on 9.20.12:
Four years ago, I watched social media explode right in front of my face. I watched the Obama campaign use Facebook and Twitter. I watched newsrooms crowdsource images and information. But four years ago, social media was not mainstream.

Fast forward to now.

Social media may not reach each and every person who can be a customer or client, but it certainly gives you a direct line to thoughts, opinions and interest groups. For years, I have watched the White House post photos on its Flickr account and other social outlets before releasing them to media outlets in more traditional ways. Social has removed the middle man and allows politicians to speak directly to voters. If you’re ever looking for new ideas on how to share and gather information about potential customers, watch politicians closely.

A presidential election year is a perfect time to study up. Not long ago, Ad Age created an infographic showing the reach for Obama and Romney (and their wives) along with some statistics on how the two candidates use the powerhouse tools: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

With November getting closer, the two candidates have done some interesting things to encourage social media sharing and information collecting on voters.

The Romney camp has two different apps available for mobile users. One allows you to take your pictures and brand it with different sayings like “I’m with Mitt” and “Romney Ryan 2012.” The other app keeps you up to date with the campaign. The campaign encouraged people to sign up and use it so they could be the first to find out Romney’s vice presidential nominee. The app released Paul Ryan’s name before Romney announced it at a public event.

The campaign also became the first political campaign to purchase a sponsored hashtag on the final night of the Republican National Convention. The price tag to promote #RomneyRyan2012 is said to have been cost around $120,000.

While the Romney campaign spent a lot of money to engage the Twitter community, the Republican National Convention tweet with the most retweets was this image:

53,877 retweets to a photo responding to Clint Eastwood’s convention speech where he spoke to an empty chair representing President Obama. (Which also launched the #eastwooding meme.) That’s a huge response on Twitter.

That same week, Obama reached out to a social community that has never seen a presidential candidate make a visit: Reddit. The president spent about an hour answering questions that ranged from political to sports and beer. Did you visit that link? It’s had almost 1.9 million views with more than 24,000 comments. That’s remarkable engagement.

It doesn’t matter where you sit on the spectrum of political preference. Both camps can teach you a lot about ways to reach different audiences. Watch what works and doesn’t work for the candidates and consider giving it a try for yourself or your brand. (An interesting study by the Pew Research Center found the candidates are doing a great job talking inside social media, but not really engaging.) Do you have a public Spotify account? Both candidates do. They also have Instagram and Tumblr accounts. Watch and learn. Both camps may teach you how to share and listen in ways you’ve never tried before.