Many people ask me how I can get so many things done, how I can have so many projects going at one time and how I can possibly find time to socialize. I simply tell them I do not sleep. Actually, it’s time management with a twist: utilizing little blocks of time lost between other transactions. In other words, time I spend waiting between say one issue or project and the next. Simply put, I harness the power of mobile computing, social media and the Internet. So let’s say while I am standing in line at the DMV, I am researching methods for better use of technology in the expeditionary environment to get imagery out of an area of operations faster.
I have more than 20 years experience in the field of public affairs/public relations as well as in print production processes, photography and journalism. I have been deployed in several large-scale operations around the world, served as media officer with international and national media outlets and lived abroad for 7 years. Add to that a dash of information systems management experience, 5 years as a firefighter and emergency communications director, and just a general desire to learn about what makes everything tick and voila: you have that which makes up Alan Black.
I’m an avid public speaker and present to groups both large and small on issues covering all aspects of public affairs/public relations. I present at senior-level conferences and workshops as well as in smaller offices and seminars. Many people already have the great ideas within themselves, I try to help them bring those ideas out into the open where they can effect change in their organization. Audience participation is a big part of any time I present. I am available through contact information below to speak at conferences and events.
Early on in my life, I had a stint working as a Jungle Cruise Skipper on Walt Disney World’s attraction the Jungle Cruise. This is probably where I learned how to entertain people, but more importantly, how to communicate with people. Makes sense when you realize that after standing in 98-degree humid weather for 90 minutes the 30 people that would board my boat for a 10 minute ride were in no mood to be disappointed. Right off the bat I had 30 guests I had to persuade that they were going to have a good time and had about 30 seconds to do it. But, each time, by the end of the 10 minutes they forgot their bad experience in line and went on about their day with a smile on their face.
Although public affairs and public relations are not about making people laugh, the functions are about getting people to understand your message. On the Jungle Cruise I had a message to deliver, that Walt Disney World was a place to come relax and have fun with the family. Sometimes I think communicators forget what their purpose is. The point is not to produce X number of press releases or X number of products, or use X number of social media tools — the point is to communicate, by whatever means necessary, with the stake holders. Sometimes PA/PR practitioners sometimes get wrapped around the products and dismiss the content. I’m hoping to help them realize it is all about the content and not the products or medium.
Social media is the new medium that has all the buzz, yet, it is the content and the interpersonal communication that is at the heart of everything in social media. As Dr Mark Drapeau, a research fellow at the National Defense University, points out in his blog, it’s not really New Media, it’s Now Media. It has immediacy. I agree with Mark, the telegraph was once New Media, so was television (remember the live via satellite?) at one time. To me, social media is just another tool we use to accomplish what we really do: communicate, deliver content, influence.
About My Blog
BlackVector is a blog I produce to try to socialize ideas and concepts that are not so much in the mainstream PA or PR. For example, when I first started using Adobe PDF back when it was first released in the mid 90s, I saw an opportunity to change and age-old process for newspaper production. I moved production of a newspaper I was the editor for from the paste up process to a computer-to-plate application which included distribution of it via PDF on E-mail. The idea was looked at as something that would never work. Yet, a year later, not only was I successful at it, I shaved $33,000 off the contract we had to publish the newspaper as a result of the cost savings.
There are many ways in which processes and practices can be improved upon, but I find usually that people root themselves in the old way and sometimes cannot see past the ingrained tried and true (although I would argue this) processes. People have really good ideas, we need to share those ideas, and we need to: Listen – Talk – Transform. Often times, leadership may be the impediment to change, yet, as David Meerman Scott points out, leaders need to let go of control. The control of information is perceived — information can’t be controlled and packaged and sent out when ready. This is particularly true when it comes to communication. We live in a now media world in which anyone can become a spokesperson, either with you, neutral to you or against you. The perceived control organizations have over their brand or message is just not there, it is a fallacy. It’s true that an organization may be able to shape a message, but to do that, their communicators have to access social media and be plugged in to the now media landscape and be able to respond just as quickly if not faster. See my blog entry on the C-17 crash story.
Why name TheBlackVector and AFPADude for E-mail?
TheBlackVector was chosen as the name for two reasons; first, Black is my last name. Second, vector implies a direction. Since this blog deals with my thoughts on the direction of public affairs and is not an official endorsement from my employer, I choose that name. So TheBlackVector are Alan Black’s thoughts on where public affairs could be headed and ways to improve overall process for public affairs or public relations in the government and private sector.
AFPADude certainly does not sound professional, but let me explain the logic. I was reading a bio online from David Meerman Scott and one his entries is similar to this. People ask him why he uses Meerman, his middle name, in everything. Basically it came down to branding. There are hundreds of David Scotts out there, but David Meerman Scott was very unique. Seems that I share the same fate, Alan Black is about as common as you can get. My first name is Earl, also rather common. So I could not use a clever play on my name, so AFPADude was born.
LinkedIn: Alan Black http://www.linkedin.com/in/blackalan