Tag Archives: ron petrovich

Robot voices made me laugh in emergency landing

“Computer voices that countdown to destruction are curiously calm. Wouldn’t want to panic just before the end of the world.” I was agreeing with that tweet from celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson while recently assuming the crash position during an emergency landing on a Boeing 757. I didn’t experience anything close to Armageddon and the voices counting us down were not computers, although they were barely human. This potentially catastrophic event made me laugh, as I rationalized that my coping mechanism of finding humor was as unnatural as the deliberate, calm performance of the flight crew.

A half-hour prior to our scheduled landing into Minneapolis, MN, a silky smooth voice alerted passengers about a small problem, “From the flight deck, our on-time arrival will be a little delayed so we can take a few minutes to resolve a minor mechanical situation. We should have you on the ground shortly.”

Five minutes later, a new voice was more restrained than the previous smooth jazz host, “Due to a problem with our wing flaps, we will be preparing for an emergency landing.” That’s all we get? I’m hearing Apple’s Siri with a dying battery and Amazon’s Alexa on Quaaludes. I want Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes On A Plane”  screaming, “Everybody strap in. I’m about to open some (expletive deleted) windows!”  or Lloyd Bridges in “Airplane”, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop using amphetamines.”

Do all pilots and flight attendants go to the same voice school or is there a robot translation machine? Our next announcement was slower and more contrived, “If there are any firefighters or police officers on board, can you please move to the emergency exits in the event of an evacuation?” To me, this sounded somewhat urgent, but the energy of their delivery was falling faster than our altitude.

I found absurdity in the deadpan delivery and imagined Siri and Alexa delivering doomsday messages:

  • From the flight deck, there is no need to use the lavatory. It is satisfactory to remain seated and evacuate your bowels and bladder. Many of you have already completed this task.”
  • “There is positive and not so positive news. You will no longer be required to endure political posts on Facebook, but it is unresolved who will remove your profile from this social media service.”
  • “It has been three hours since you heard the word “robust”. That is no longer the case. Delta Airlines’ robust training procedures will now be utilized.”

When the flight crew took over, it was obvious that they also graduated from The Calm Voice School of Broadcasting, “We will be making an emergency landing in five minutes and we will practice bracing against the seat in front of you.” This was my chance to stand-up for all the victims who have been squished by rude, reclining passengers. I expected some panic, but it was eerily quiet while flight attendants made final preparations, “Two minutes until touchdown, brace for impact.” We assumed our positions and due to the malfunctioning flap, we approached the ground at a rate way above normal landing speed. (I’m no expert but it looked really fast as I peeked out the window to record video) Anticipating a heavy thump, there was only a soft ripple. The rear wheels lightly kissed the runway, the nose lowered gently and we met the ground with fire trucks greeting us. The crew slammed the brakes and we rolled to a smooth stop, a nearly perfect landing. More than 200 passengers agreed, erupting in into applause.

Through the clapping I exchanged texts with my wife and daughters. We said that we loved each other and they jokingly asked if I was disruptive and forced the landing, or if Jack Bauer from the TV Show “24” was on board.

After getting off the plane, my friend and colleague, Alaine Johnson Westra and I took a sigh of relief selfie.  Next, I needed to make one more call.  Siri, “What are the odds of crashing in an airplane?” Before I reviewed her response, I briefly reflected and truly appreciated the professionalism of the Delta crew and admired how they prevented panic with their curiously calm performance, and then when I listened to Siri’s monotone answer, I felt even better, thinking this was probably my first and last emergency landing.





Three Ways The Media Set A High Standard With Buffalo Snow

More than a dozen people are dead, residents remain trapped in homes and roads are impassable. As Buffalo digs out from a record snowfall the focus moves to building collapses and flooding. Mother nature’s big dump stirs feelings of isolation and fear when you know you’ll be crushed by a mountain of snow when you open your door, but as seen below, some people overcame that by downing a few cold ones before clawing out.

Alcohol may have helped, but TV, social media and digital devices played an even bigger role to reduce fear and isolation. Six feet of snow is a record-setting height and during this event, the media set its bar just as high; they all complemented each other and connected the Buffalo community and the world in real time. This is just a glimpse into the future of story-telling, where consumers demand multiple sources of news from multiple forms of technology, even drones.

1. Local TV News Does It Best– Local stations covered the storm wall to wall and proved that TV is still the most powerful medium for big events. Why is this? TV stations dedicate hundreds of staffers and spread themselves across the scene when major stories hit. This provides a valuable public service and the metrics back this up.  The Buffalo News reports that Channel 2, WGRZ was the ratings winner for the storm and viewership with stations beat a Buffalo Bills game, no small feat. Today’s TV news media is much more than reporters live in the field; journalists want want to share as many interesting human elements and public safety announcements possible. That’s why they dedicate personnel and resources to facilitate and coordinate the social media conversation.

2. Social Media Lit It Up -Posts ranged from warnings of a building collapse via the Erie County Sheriff’s Facebook page to multiple images of regular people trying to cope.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.14.36 PM

Lohud was one of many sites that chronicled stories of regular people digging out. Social Media posts appeared on TV stations, newspapers, other blogs and often went viral without media help.Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 4.19.55 PM

3. Digital Technology Flies High –It’s strongly advised that news choppers avoid severe weather and news crews on the ground encountered limited mobility, so James Grimaldi programmed his drone to record video the storm with this dramatic story.

The blanket coverage from television news, aka “smotherage” combined with social media and digital story-telling made this communications effort one for the ages, just like this epic storm. I won’t predict the weather, but it’s safe to forecast that this is the future of news delivery and consumption. Local TV will always play a major role in our backyard and from now on, it will have an even bigger supporting cast of credible platforms with stories and images that bring the news even closer to us, in real time, which benefits everyone.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich

picture of Ron Petrovich

picture of Ron

From Mayo Clinic Social Media Week: Creating and Launching a Brand Journalism Site

We work at Mayo Clinic where we try to connect with the heart, mind and eye. We’re not neurologists, cardiologists, psychologists or ophthalmologists. What are we? We’re brand journalists and that means telling our story with emotion, credibility and imagery on traditional and Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 3.14.11 PMsocial media platforms.  Learn about our successes and challenges in this post on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Health Network 

Where Do We Go When We Die On Social Media?

RIP GravesiteHappy Birthday to You. Happy Birthday Dear (your name). Happy Birthday to You. Keep singing in your head and now pretend that you are dead for a moment. How old are you? How old are you? Even though you have died, don’t worry, social media will keep celebrating with your friends and family.

If you are on Facebook, it’s likely that you have been notified about an upcoming birthday from a dead friend. Unfortunately, I’ve received too many of these lately.

Baby Footprint It was only about five or six years ago that a newborn’s first footprints were recorded in ink at the hospital; today our first footprints are recorded in digital. As soon as babies take their first breaths and from cradle to grave an entire life of milestones will be shared on social media, which is a ton of fun, but what happens when it ends?

My wife Stacey and I hope we don’t leave too many unanswered questions for our family when we die and recently formalized an Advanced Directive, a legal document that expresses our end of life health care wishes. After we completed the paperwork I thought about a few more loose ends: event notices from Facebook, my legacy on social media sites and the ability for others to say nasty things about me after I’m gone like, “He thought he was so funny. We only laughed at Ron because we felt sorry for him.”

My concerns may be exaggerated but I believe there is a better balance between blowing out virtual candles for dead people and all the good that social media does to promote health and unite us in illness and death.

During hospital stays, the password-protected sites CarePages and CaringBridge  serve as therapeutic conduits to update family and friends on posts that range from a happy birth announcement to a terminal illness. On another social media platform NPR reporter Scott Simon shared his love for his dying mother on Twitter.

Paul Bisceglio featured the well-known Simon in a poignant article in the Atlantic, How Social Media is Changing The Way We Approach Death. He spoke with people who believe that social media may distract the caregiver from the patient, but mostly how social media can lend a compassionate hand. Even though his mom passed, Simon’s tweets still resonate.

As sentimental as the Scott Simon account was,  Laurie Penny, contributing editor  wrote Selfies at Funerals and memorial hashtags: mourning in the digital age , “In recent weeks and months, social media has been unremittingly macabre….. Most recently, 25-year-old journalist and socialite Peaches Geldof was found dead in her home and…. everyone from Boy George to the Irish prime minister tweeted their condolences…..”

Stephanie Buck from Mashable published, How 1 Billion People Are Coping With Death and Facebook, and concludes that as of 2012, 30 million people who maintained Facebook accounts have died. She freaked me out a little and inspired me to dig a little more on my own. Here is where you begin on Facebook and this is what you’ll see if you want to remove a deceased friend or family member.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 6.58.38 PMOn Twitter, the company’s policy asks that a representative acting on behalf of the estate or a verified family member manage this process. The most helpful site I found is dedicated to grieving and dealing with death, Modern LossModern Loss. It posted this comprehensive listing with instructions required by Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and other social media platforms.

These decisions are very personal and there is no right answer and your position may evolve like mine has. I’ve moved toward acceptance because social media’s influence will continue to flourish with most of it for the greater good. When I saw the respectful comments on my deceased friend’s Facebook wall recently, I mustered the courage to write a condolence and took it a step further to pay my respects digitally on the funeral home’s community web site.

When you die you’ll definitely leave some sort of digital footprint, but how big do you want it to be and how much hassle do you want your family to endure? I’m still leaning toward sharing my passwords with my survivors so they don’t have to file a bunch of requests and hopefully remember more of the real me rather than the digital me.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich

picture of Ron Petrovich

Disco Riot Anniversary: A Social Media Perspective

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 4.12.25 PMHe wobbled, stared at me with glassy eyes and mumbled, ” Wow man, I’ve never pissed on second base.” Next he fumbled with his zipper then sprayed his impulse all over his pants, shoes and eventually the intended target. In baseball terms he stole second and in stoner lingo he scored and fried. I still smile when I think of that unknown, fellow rioter on the baseball field from an infamous promotional campaign that is now part of Rock ‘n’ Roll, baseball and Chicago media lore, Disco Demolition.

35 years ago this week, two high school friends, Ralph, Mark and I made a last minute decision while listening to our favorite Rock Radio station to drive 40 minutes from Northwest Indiana to Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, the former home of the Chicago White Sox. Admission to the double header between the Sox and Detroit Tigers was 98 cents (the radio station promoting the event was WLUP, The Loop FM 98) and a 45 rpm disco record, which looked like an oversized CD with a hole in the middle. Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 12.37.35 PM

WLUP disc jockey Steve Dahl had recently been fired from a rival station after it converted to disco music programming. This promotion carried out his revenge and our disdain for the genre. In between the games, Dahl, dressed in an anti-disco military uniform strutted to a dumpster in center field and fired up 59,000 fans with “Disco Sucks” chants. When he reached his destruction destination, he blew up thousands of records and ignited the mayhem. A giant plume of white smoke and gunpowder smell blended with the blue cloud of burning weed that had been wafting before the first pitch was even thrown. Seconds after that explosion, I heard, “Let’s Go,” and we were off. From center field, our thundering herd flew over seats, sprinted down ramps and hurdled retention walls until we landed on the grass near first base. Our trio slowly wandered and gazed up toward the empty seats marked by Disco Sucks banners while dozens of other knuckleheads set fires throughout the field. For at least a half-hour, everyone disregarded the pleas, “Holy Cow, please get off the field,” from famous announcer Harry Caray. We savored every second of our major league debut until tactical police units arrived on horseback with billy clubs.

It would have been cool to record all that action like we do today with our mobile devices even though I hold onto vivid memories of the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the entire stadium rumbling during the initial rush, which is a great thing. I embrace social media and I’m uncertain what kind of thing this is, but I believe that if Disco Demolition was promoted today, it would not spontaneously combust because of the medium’s ability to spread news so quickly. An audience much bigger than fans of Steve Dahl would control or crash the party for five reasons:

  1. Twitter would be trending with #discodemolition #discosucks and #disco prior to the event
  2. Instagram would be rolling for days with selfies of kids wearing Disco Sucks T-Shirts
  3. Vine and YouTube would be filled with videos of teens destroying disco records
  4. Facebook pages of WLUP RadioThe White Sox would be smothered in disco-hating rants
  5. Organizers would react to the social media conversation and take preventive steps and bring in extra security 

Disco Demolition

Back then, we didn’t take a lot of pictures of ourselves. Now, we watch old footage on YouTube and recall this anniversary through our memories of the sights, sounds and smells that connect a bygone media era to today’s social media. There could even be a lesson as we chronicle so many moments on social media. Before, during or after that selfie, think about pausing for a moment and engaging all of your senses to remember and interpret; not knowing it at the time, this worked for me at Disco Demolition and just might help make your milestones more memorable.

With Disco Demolition, Steve Dahl became a media icon because he was an outrageous visionary who understood the power of being himself. Today, he’s active on social media, has his own network with podcasts and is just as real as he was in 1979.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich and the days of hating disco are way behind me even though I still fear dancing. 

picture of Ron Petrovich

picture of Ron


Twitter and TV go hand in hand to make history

I am so proud of my fellow-couch potatoes that I’d stand up and applaud except that I am holding three remotes and an iPhone in my hands and resting a MacBook Pro and Kindle on my lap. Tweeting and watching TVWe used to watch TV open-mouthed and drool on the furniture but that was so 2010. Today we’re onto to something big-our consumption of traditional and social media is making history. TV used to own the prime real estate of ratings and now it wants to share with social media. This is a good thing because the giant consumer research company, Nielsen, recognizes this trend and for the first time ever, has begun measuring Twitter and TV together like traffic and weather. TV shows like Dialing For Dollars, entertainment oriented web pages, blogs and Facebook built the framework to share a programming experience and today, Twitter has made interacting even better. It’s fast, easy, reaches millions of people and lights up the globe during big events. When the horse California Chrome lost his big for the Triple Crown at Belmont, the reaction to his owner’s tirade about fairness instantly ignited a real time conversation #CaliforniaChrome that has lasted for days. tweets on california chrome Why is this happening? It’s simple-television and Twitter have altered our brains and fingers to work as one to watch, talk and listen. I have to credit our daughter, @manthapetrovich, a TV aficionado, for introducing us to Jimmy Fallon and his creative use of #hashtags to engage his audience, as shown by buzzfeed.

(Article from buzzfeed that shows examples of hashtags with Jimmy Fallon

Anna Washenko Anna Washenko posted this story on the TV industry’s leadership of #hashtag use.  She references the creative crime solving comedy hit (now concluded) Psych on USA Network and how it invited viewers to help catch a criminal on Twitter. Twitter sees this potential too and has been testing TV engagement. It is probably biased, but I agree with this study conducted by Brandwatch and posted by the staff at Hashtags.org that says TV shows with hashtags deliver better viewer participation, which possibly translates to ratings. Personally, I remember events better while Tweeting because to me it’s like taking notes. As mentioned in the top of this post, TV ratings company Nielsen has started measuring how Tweets and TV complement each other. (more in this report by ABC) It found that the Grammys, Oscars and SuperBowl generated the most tweets and reached the most people. Breaking Bad, one of the best TV shows ever, led the way with engagement, averaging more than 500,000 tweets per episode.

Click on this image to read the post on Nielsen Ratings

Click on this image to read the post on Nielsen Ratings

News organizations are using this same brand journalism formula. Reporter Dr. Nancy Dr Nancy SnydermanSnyderman is a journalist who brands herself and NBC News on Twitter. While she connects with audiences on TV and Twitter, she is also developing good sources for future stories and growing her fan base. What will the future bring? It’s logical to assume that the barriers between all the media are blurring and that there might be more happy places for popular platforms to prop each other up, something we all need when we’re in couch potato mode. Fellow coach potatoes, if it’s not too much effort, here is another chance to see Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake take hashtagging over the top. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. My Twitter handle is Ronald Petrovich.

All communicators need to know multimedia

If you want to flourish in today’s fractured media environment jump in and don’t worry about your age or your technical ability.

Graphic showing different positions in social media

Graphic showing different positions in media and journalism

Many of my former TV news colleagues say I’m too old to be learning social media and my family will attest that I can barely load paper in our printer, operate the TV remote or organize the dishwasher.  Despite this, I am doing OK with social media and multitasking with multimedia, proving that if I can do it, anyone can. If you work in communications, you need to learn these skills now.

An instructor at San Francisco State University, Rachele Kanigel Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 5.38.25 PMwrote this blog post about journalism in the 21st century. She mixed reporting skills and multimedia storytelling which received a positive reaction from students.  Her lessons apply beyond the classroom and journalism.  If you work in media today you should always think about delivering your story on TV, radio, newspaper, blogs and mobile. You can drive the same message with slight alterations through multiple social media tools and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo.  No longer is this an extra; it is now  a requirement for your job.

This strategy can potentially reach thousands and millions of people at very little cost and it will increase your value as an employee. Today’s integrated workflow affects journalism, marketing and every other facet of communications. Rachele, thank you for preparing students for the future and teaching  all of us about the importance of communicating effectively on multimedia. Definitely worth a retweet!