True Till Death: How Metal and Hardcore Punk Shaped my Career in Public Relations

The hardcore/metal scene is one formed upon community, friendship and progressive ideas. Yes, it has evolved over time, but for the most part, its ideals have remained the same: choosing to focus on integrity, morality and finding light within the dark.


The belief system referenced above also exist in public relations.  Sure, the structure, tools and players have also changed with time, but the message and goals have also remained the same.

Share stories with a positive message.  Value your relationships.  Respect your audience’s trust. Shine a light where needed.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The similarities exist because both communities have important stories to tell. I guess that is why I am a member of both.

Below, is a short documentary on Enjoy The Massacre – a Chicago-based metal/hardcore band whose talent is only surpassed by their passion for life and music. The documentary puts the finishing touches on my above-described ideas rather nicely.

An added bonus – fast-forward to 3:42 to hear about the time my band, The Auburn System, played a crack house in Detroit, Michigan while on tour with ETM in early 2008.

Are You An Early Technological Adopter?

Apparently we are doomed and there is nothing that can stop our inevitable decline. It’s all your fault too. You just had to answer your cell phone didn’t you?

It’s completely cliché to hear about how technology touches our lives on a daily basis. It is also equally cliché to hear about how technology lowers our intelligence and is weakening our social fabric. This is still an argument I hear today!

If the latter is in fact true then American’s really are in the midst of downward spiral. That is because according to a recent study conducted by Forrester Research, we are embracing technology faster than ever before. An excerpt:

“According to the study, which surveyed 53,668 households in the United States and Canada by mail, half of all American adults are gamers. Sixty-three percent of American households have a broadband Internet connection. Three-quarters of American households have cellphones and PCs. And nearly 10 million American households, out of nearly 118 million, added an HDTV in the last year, a jump of 27 percent over 2007.”

Sure, landlines and analog televisions are things of the past and the practice of sending letters is steadily going the way of the buffalo…But has that really affected your life? Most likely not, especially when numbers like those above prove that the race to become early technological adopters has indeed gone mainstream.  I think what the study really proves is not our societal decline, but that digital immigrants are becoming relics of a very recent past.

In many ways this is nothing new because our society has always focused on progress and the old guard has always tried to fight it. That is because those who do not understand the future usually fear it. But it looks like the old guard is coming around a bit faster these days…and I say cheers to that!

What do you think?


Social Media and Abuse of Trust?

Tim Otis at Daily Axiom recently spoke about what he labeled “social media @-kissers.” These are individuals who abuse social media trust by using social media in a strategic manner. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“I feel as though we’ve really abused the issue of trust in some ways, and have actually redefined the notion of it by simply kissing up to blog writers via comment, retweeting Twitter posts—and for what? Their approval? Since when is approval even remotely close to trust? Being connected is all about approval, not about trust. Somehow social media has blurred those lines and people are listening to it.”

This is certainly not a new concept. Many folks have recognized this for quite sometime and I commend Tim for speaking out on something he feels strongly about. In many ways, I agree with him.

Reading further, Tim notes what we should all know about social media. It’s about being natural:

“…I’ve found the same thing time and time again: [social media is] about being natural. The minute you’re forcing something to go through to reach your targeted audience, you will fail, because it reeks of being contrived.”

Tim’s post got me thinking about the true effectiveness of social media, especially Twitter, so I shared my thoughts on his blog. I agree with his points regarding abuse of trust issues, seeking SM celebrity approval and agenda-setting, but I do not necessarily think that it derails the effectiveness of the service. That is because in many cases, Twitter is an extension of our real life actions.

I was reminded of the “Twitter is a cocktail party,” comparison. When one goes to a cocktail party or networking event, many work the room with a purpose. Some people act natural and some come off as phony. The phony can obviously be spotted miles away, yet I’ve seen both strategies result in the same successful outcome.

Is this right? Is it wrong? Will we ever truly know?

What I do know is that at the end of the day, you will always be able to find me hanging out with the “natural” crowd.

Why Public Relations?

This is a question I am asked a lot in my personal and professional life and my answer is not as “cookie-cutter” as you might expect.

Many people believe PR to be a business full of glamour and perks run by bad guys who are all about spin and damage control.

I happen to have a more humble opinion on the matter because I recognize that communication as a fundamental aspect of the human condition.

From a baby crying for its bottle to a business owner offering a product they believe in. Nothing happens unless we communicate clearly and objectively. No progress. No meaningful relationships. Nothing.

Communication is an art that is not mastered overnight, but instead perfected overtime. It requires hard work and dedication. It is about making sure we get back to basics.

Without communication we would cease to exist.

So, why public relations?

Because we need to be reminded of this.

Sociology and Social Networking

Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist who is often considered the founding father of the field. He held distinguished views on the topic of social solidarity. Social solidarity seeks to recognize the interactions and shared values that hold relationships together. According to Durkheim, social solidarity falls under two categories: mechanical and organic.

Mechanical solidarity refers mostly to a society that is linked mostly by the similarities that are shared by its members. Members often share the same lifestyle, values and experiences. Rituals and routines are very common and help build their collective conscience. Mechanical solidarity focuses on primary and familial relationships.

Organic solidarity refers to society whose members are highly individualistic but interact in order to achieve a common goal. Members are dependent upon one another and very often do not share the same lifestyle, values and experiences.  Organic solidarity puts a large emphasis on secondary relationships.

Below is a chart from the Collins Dictionary of Sociology which defines the two in a bit more detail:


Mechanical solidarity

Organic solidarity

Morphological (structural) basis

Based on resemblances (predominant in less advanced societies)
Segmental type (first clan-based, later territorial)
Little interdependence (social bonds relatively weak)
Relatively low volume of population
Relatively low material and moral density
Based on division of labour (predominately in more advanced societies)
Organized type (fusion of markets and growth of cities)
Much interdependency (social bonds relatively strong)
Relatively high volume of population
Relatively high material and moral density

Types of norms (typified by law)

Rules with repressive sanctions
Prevalence of penal law
Rules with restitutive sanctions
Prevalence of cooperative law (civil, commercial, procedural, administrative and constitutional law)

Formal features of conscience collective

High volume
High intensity
High determinateness
Collective authority absolute
Low volume
Low intensity
Low determinateness
More room for individual initiative and reflection

Content of conscience collective

Highly religious
Transcendental (superior to human interests and beyond discussion)
Attaching supreme value to society and interests of society as a whole
Concrete and specific
Increasingly secular
Human-orientated (concerned with human interests and open to discussion)
Attaching supreme value to individual dignity, equality of opportunity, work ethic and social justice
Abstract and general

This brings me to the social networking movement that has exploded in recent years. Everyone under the sun and probably beyond it has already told you this.  No matter what way you spin it, the advent of these new technologies has changed the way we communicate forever.

But Myspace, Facebook and Twitter have also undoubtedly created their own communities.

One might automatically assume that the types of relationships formed through social networking communities fall under the model of organic solidarity but I think that if you take a closer look, you might be surprised.

Either way, I think it is important to remember that Durkheim would also not care “What 80’s Hair Metal Rock Star” you are.