The SCN Encourager – Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“Don’t even think about it, Buster!”

That’s the kind of encouragement I got at home Sunday. It’s not very uplifting, right? So while you’re locating a crying towel or some kleenex for me, I’ll explain.

Everything should’ve been fine. Sunday was a great afternoon for TV sports, particularly if you like Big 10 college hoops. M.S.U. played Indiana in the early game, and later Illinois went at it against Michigan. 

I was ready to just sit back and enjoy. And although I sometimes feel guilty about watching TV if there are projects to work on, this wasn’t the case on Sunday. I had already spent a couple of hours preparing and proofing several new district outreach and enrollment materials over the weekend. Everything was in place. I could even find my remote.

With my job related assignments done (well, one was . . . the plural is a bit of a stretch), I looked forward to watching guilt-free TV. That is, until a brief incident arose in our living room that reminded me “timing is everything.” 

Now picture yourself in your favorite chair. (That was me.) You’re watching a great basketball game on TV. (That was me.) Your spouse is in another room in the house. (That was me.) Sounds innocent enough. Well, for you maybe. (Not for me.)

In a span of less than 10 seconds, my wife “happened” to enter the room and walked past the TV while CBS Sports jumped to a commercial. The ad at the time was promoting the network’s upcoming Super Bowl coverage, beginning Monday and running through game time on February 3. “More than 50 hours of analysis and in depth stories are coming your way!” the ad blared. 

Without  breaking stride, my wife calmly said, “Don’t even think about it, Buster!”

Errgh . . . like I would watch this much TV anyway without dozing off in hour one.

So having been placed on notice, I began thinking about the Super Bowl and all of the ramped-up coverage leading up to the game itself.  Since I wasn’t going to be watching any of it, at least I could still think about it.

A couple of related articles caught my eye. They reminded me that this is Super Bowl number 47, where once again, most of us make the time to get together with our friends and family and all watch the same event. Whether it’s the appetizers, the game, the  potential for a wardrobe malfunction, the hit-or-miss commercials, seeing a friend’s new TV, or just enjoying the people around us, Super Bowl night has earned a special place in our common experience. It’s an experience that should probably go on an “endangered” list somewhere. We don’t have many like it.

Even the day after the Super Bowl is unique. We’re able to go into work on Monday morning and talk about “the event” with nearly everybody. How often can we do this? Today these universally shared experiences are rare. We’d better enjoy ’em while we can.

An article from Adweek said that the Super Bowl is one of the few times where traditional media grabs the spotlight away from social media. Traditional advertisers have gone “all out” budget-wise with traditional media buys for a traditional event in an effort to reach traditional consumers. This is the way marketing has always been at Super Bowl time. Traditional. How long will it continue? Who knows? We may be nearing the end of it. (Maybe this is what the Mayans were trying to tell us after all . . .)

Last week marketing guru Seth Godin wrote:

“Slow media is patient. It’s not on a deadline. It isn’t measured in column inches. It can be calm instead of sensational, deep instead of superficial. In the age of “Breaking news, Emmy nominations announced!” and 140 characters, it’s sort of surprising to realize that we are also living in the golden age of slow media . . . where the goal isn’t to get the show on the air faster or to make it noisier. Instead, the goal, like the goal of a good book, is to say something worth saying, and to do it in a way that’s worth waiting for. “

In our many of our districts, we don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes tapping into the power of technology and the speed of social media. But we also have those times where we purposefully go slow and strive to say something worth saying: at our commencements, award banquets, induction ceremonies, homecomings, new parent welcomes, and so on. As leaders and school communicators, we try to balance our fast and slow media strategies. This seems like this would be easy. It isn’t. We have  long-time traditions to honor as well as a whole new generation of parents to reach.

Now back to the upcoming Super Bowl. I’m thinking that it might actually be worth waiting for (as Godin would say) even more so now without the “50 hours” of shrill 24/7 hype.

Maybe this is what my wife was trying to tell me. 

Tom “Buster” Page, SCN managing editor

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