Goodbye Fake News, Hello Selective News

The Media Can Filter Your Perception

Publishers decided what news the public got to read since the manual typeset presses created single page newspapers. There were always more stories than printed space available. But today, the selection process is changing based on technology and demographics.

Social_MediaBack in the 1980’s magazines released regional versions of their articles that were slanted toward its recipients to build more customers. People in the large cities received more liberal editions than the folks living in the Bible Belt. Advertisers could be more specific about who their audience was and create relevant messages.

Our printless society took selective publishing to another level. Millions of niche publications suddenly had a voice and was capable of attracting a very specific demographic. Advertising soon followed with a selection process that allowed you to determine who saw your ads.

Targeted Ads

I placed an ad recently for an automotive shop that was very specific. Since women make 80% of all car decisions, I targeted only women. Due to the average nationwide cost of keeping a car well maintained and what percentage the average person budgets, I selected a specific income window for each given household. My demographic profile then narrowed the focus of the ad campaign more precisely.

The end result was only women that fit the parameters saw the ad pop up on their computer screen or mobile device, while they searched or used a social media. There were 7,913 women that saw the ad, 23 that clicked on the ad, and 3 that responded to the ad—The selection process meant that it only cost the company about $23 to get three new ideal customers who spent $200-$600.

Can you imagine a world where you only get the specific ads you care about?

Now fast forward into the brains behind the largest social media firms. It suddenly dawns on them that they can save the country from a devastating blow to our national unity. They already own a solution that can bring peace across all social media platforms, reducing the controversies that divide families, communities and political parties.

What if the platform team filters who gets what?

Selective News

An article popped up this week about one company showing heavy support to the LGBT community on pro-LGBT pages, but not on pages that hold a more conservative perspective. Individuals known for supporting LGBT all saw the information, while conservatives never knew the company promoted the LGBT agenda publicly.

This technology has been used for years to focus advertising and is now positioned to focus “news.” Companies that support the left can now say it boldly to liberals and then turn around and support the right’s ideals to conservatives, convincing both sides that the company fully supports their ideologies. And, with the massive support people of faith bring to conservative organizations, liberal companies can now seek their support by angling their messages accordingly.

Consider the political candidate who can speak generally and moderately in public, but in detail to his or her liberal crowd, followed by speaking affirming words to his or her conservative crowd seconds later. The candidate will appear perfect to all voters and capture the election, while the non-savvy candidate won’t know what happened.

Then consider news companies only giving you the news that can specifically alter your perceptions and control your decisions, or how about presenting the stories that always make you comfortable and passive.

Can someone rise to power using social media that you believe, while pulling the wool over your eyes? In today’s technology focused profiling atmosphere, the answer is simply, “yes.”

A Simple Solution

The only way to avoid such a controlling society is to use face-to-face communications and gather together people where everyone wants to learn the real truth. Also important is creating an atmosphere where the sharing of ideas is more important than winning someone over to your perspective. Our survival from falling into the latest propaganda trap is merely to communicate truth, while exhibiting an open mind with our neighbors, friends and families.

How do you know that what you are reading and hearing from your favorite source is the real truth and not the one produced to keep you from taking some form of action against those in power?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Oddity of Friendship


Seneca, Roman philosopher

In the world of entertainment there are fans and super fans, all of which become “friends” in social media. In the world of business there are co-workers and managers, also listed as “friends” in social media. This is also true in religion, government and education.

But is it meaningful?

How friendship looks through the eyes of 21st century inhabitants seems to be dictated by mobile devices. The art of friendship has disintegrated through the politically correct posturing of social media and the lack of personal attention given to others.

My recent trip to Michigan in support of a long time friend caused me to wonder how many of my “friends” I would support through their grief. More perplexing to my psyche was the question about which ones might support me.

I came to realize that the depths of friendships we have are solely of our own making. Oh, it’s a two way street through the give and take of life events as they unfold, but we still choose our friends. We also determine how much vulnerability and intimacy we bring to each relationship.

I heard one person say that they only look for friends that will not judge them. Yet, everyone judges whether or not a person is worthy of his or her time and friendship, and rightfully so, as we only have time for a couple intimate friends.

The first-century Roman philosopher, Seneca, wrote letters on the two pillars of friendship: “a friend is a person with whom (one) may be sincere;” and, “one who seeks friendship for favorable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.”

I’m all too familiar with the person who wants to strike up a friendship to advance their career or social status. Fair-weathered friends are far more common than most think and happens within all levels of society. We can even lower our standards for the sake of what we too can draw from a relationship.

But let me be clear, I’m not condemning partnerships designed to move businesses forward or give life to charities, but rather I’m speaking to that intimate level of friendship that we all desire deep within our hearts. I’m speaking to the friendship where each involved will willfully give their life for their friend should circumstances require such a compassionate resolve.

True deep friendship is not about what we might gain from the other person. It’s about what we give of ourselves to maintain the relationship.

Seneca said, “He who regards himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly.”

My recent travel out of state was a seed sown into my friendship that may or may not ever be reciprocated. I was okay with that idea, as I was giving to the friendship not drawing from it. The day I need to draw from it will come soon enough in the scope of life’s ups and downs, but for now I needed to make a compassionate deposit.

Seneca had additional thoughts on how to capture more true friends than false ones when he said, “If you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means… When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment. Those persons indeed put last first and confound their duties, who … judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself… Regard him as loyal and you will make him loyal.”

Judging a person by their character and ability to maintain information as a confidant is of great value when deciding to let them into your heart for a meaningful relationship. Guarding your heart from those who don’t qualify for intimacy is even more critical.

Over the past few years I’ve met many good listeners and people of good report. The character of many has caused me to step up my personal efforts. But, finding a person who will not share my inner most thoughts with another person has come up empty all too often.

Most people of good character, in the name of love and wanting what’s best for me, report back to someone who tries to watch over me. Oh, I don’t mind a mentor or two, but I long for that one person who will keep my comments to themselves—someone who is willing to be a true friend.

The oddity of friendship is perplexing. We all have lots of secondary friends that are of great value. We have even more fair-weathered friends who support us circumstantially, which can be helpful. But, so few of us have that one friend who will keep our deepest, darkest secrets.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Braving Social Media at Award Ceremonies

Actors are great at developing hype to draw their fans to anticipate the results of an award announcement. They bring their fan base into the ballroom vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. The progressive evening puts fans on the edge of their seat and then…nothing. The actor stops the stream of updated posts because he or she doesn’t know what to do when the award goes to another artist.

Publicity boutiques coach their talent on how to push through the loss with skills that increase their fan base. That’s right, the loss can increase the actor’s fan based when it’s handled properly. Here are some of the points taught:

Fans love to follow their favorite actors down the red carpet and into the ballroom. Why? Not to watch them win or lose, but to watch them interact with other stars. Fans love to know that “their” star is well connected. This sense of ownership generates compassion and pride every time their actor chats or poses with another. And, if the actor is at a table of stars, all the better. One thing is certain; it’s not about the win. Only the actor is concerned about who receives the statue.

Networking with other actors that promote through social media increases both actors’ fan base. “Reconnecting” at a ceremony increases the interests of the fans to promote the actor through word of mouth. The more connections made at the ceremonies, the wider the distribution of word of mouth advertising.

Fans want to be there for the actor’s win, but more importantly they want to see the human experience played out. The fan wants to know the star is just like them – disappointment and all. Fans want to learn how to handle those same types of responses in their own life and they want to learn it from their role model.

Taking a great photo with each of the nominees in the actor’s category is a golden opportunity to share respect with peers before the winner is announced. It’s also an ideal moment to snap a picture of the actor sharing a smile with his or her winning “friend.” After all, promoting a congratulatory picture of the actor smiling with the winner will get massive traction in social media – Extremely valuable promotions. And, knowing that the actor’s circle of “friends” are award winners, means it’s only a matter of time before the fans see their actor make it to the big time – Instilling greater loyalty.

There are many more tips given by PR coaches, but the above will greatly accelerate the career of the average actor. It’s all about entertaining the fan base, while revealing the human condition. There is no better set of circumstances for developing true loyalty in fans. Actors must embrace and get excited about the great benefits of a well-promoted loss.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers


Why Kendrick Brothers and Miller Confuse Hollywood

Warren Miller EntertainmentWarren Miller Entertainment is the most respected name in shooting action sports films since 1949. I met director Warren Miller when I was at the university. He brought his team to La Crosse Mountain and shot stunt and trick skiers for one of his feature films. He also shot some comedic scenes that included my university drum line skiing down the slopes while we played our marching drums.

In fact the entire Marching Chiefs, our high stepping competitive marching band, also participated in the shoot – Well, at least the ones that knew how to ski. I’m not sure how it happened, but I also ended up playing my marching snare in television commercials demonstrating how wide the newest grocery store’s aisles where. But I’ve digressed.

Miller was known internationally for his great sports films and every university showed his movies regularly. The films drew large crowds based on the exciting tricks and the comedic fails and spills. And yes, our bass drummer took a nasty spill into the snow knocking over several other band members. As for me, I learned how to do 360s and helicopter spins from the trick skiers – After I had taken off my snare drum.

Miller’s films pulled in millions of dollars every year and confused Hollywood. They couldn’t get a handle on why he was successful. When they tried to copy his tactics to capture some of the revenue, the studios failed miserably. Some how Miller was the king of his niche market and made the exact type of films his audience required, complete with his own personal narration on most pictures.

War Room the MovieHollywood has never understood niche markets, especially in the latest genre of faith-based films. The Kendrick Brothers are now the latest source of Hollywood’s frustrations as their “War Room” movie continues to exceed expectations.

Several critics complain about their movies being stories that preach to the figurative choir, which causes Alex Kendrick to laugh, shake his head, and say, “they just don’t get it.” While the critics want the Kendricks to make their films more palatable for those outside of their niche, the brothers continue to make their trademark films for their niche audience.

Stephen and Alex are preachers who know exactly how to create movies that “preach” an important message to their niche audience. Their goal is to help the “church” understand important principles that can be implemented in their lives for the good of their families. They don’t care about the money or expanding the audience, but the witness their films make and the changed lives that result.

SUPER FANThe Kendricks and Miller have the ideal job as a filmmaker, which only comes about when a director finds his audience. They are able to make the shows they want and in the way they want. The great blessing for both comes in the form of super fans that make sure audiences continue to watch every film they make.

In the industry, production companies try to build a fan base of 500,000 people because that’s the number needed to continue doing what the directors of the show love to do. When the numbers are below that point of demarcation, studios and networks start dictating how the shows are made, which confines the director’s talent.

Thanks to social media and the faster flow of information, production companies now only need 1,000 super fans to give the director the same creative control that used to take a half a million fans to achieve. Both the Kendricks and Miller have their 1,000 super fans that support the director’s untainted vision.

Since Hollywood doesn’t understand the power of niche markets, and therefore understands little about super fans, they are forced to work with the Kendricks and Miller regardless of how they might judge the quality or universality of the films being released. In other words, they don’t get it.

Fans are people who like the artist’s work enough to tell a couple people about it. Super fans are people that not only like the artist’s work, but also do what’s in their power to help the artist get noticed. They are the fans that tell hundreds or thousands of people about their art.

I first learned about super fans when I met Miller. He introduced me to one of his super fans that pulled together enough showings for his films that he’d breakeven far before the budgets required. Miller was happy to help his super fan whenever he had the chance.

I’ve heard that the Kendricks also have super fans that are great influencers and leaders of churches. Every time they release a film, their super fans stir entire mega congregations to get out to the theaters and watch the important films.

This confuses Hollywood all the more. The studios and networks all believe that a film lives and dies based on its story and production values, not its message. However, a team of great super fans makes sure the pictures are successful regardless of the filmmakers ability to tell a great story or place high production values on screen.

Thankfully, both the Kendricks and Miller continually improved on their production values as a way of thanking the audience that supported their films. The more they worked on their story, the wider the audience grew beyond their niche.

This expansion is the only thing Hollywood might comprehend, but it may be a while before they understand how niche markets work. After all, Hollywood is too big to comprehend how niche films bless community.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers