Humour comedy club

Successfully Using Humour to Generate Political Engagement

The marriage of comedy and politics dates back to MAD magazine covers, thoughts of Kevin Nealon and Norm Macdonald taking shots on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or maybe it was Roger Abbott’s Jean Chretien impressions and the whole Air Farce troupe. More recently, Rick Mercer and Jon Stewart come to mind.

But the digital age has brought about more opportunities to push out biting comedy clips than ever before, and increasingly groups are using that tactic to involve young people. It’s not as simple as just putting up goofy clips to earn a laugh, though. Using comedy for political engagement is a tough balance.

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A troll under a Seattle bridge

“We Do Not Negotiate With Trolls,” Pt. 2 – Preparation

Last month, we talked about the best way to respond to negative criticism online. However, that post was all about the reactive – about turning around negative publicity and knowing how to respond.

This week we’ll talk about the importance of preparing ahead of time so your responses are ready to go.

Audit your organization

It might be uncomfortable, but the first thing you want to do is conduct an audit of what issues your organization may be criticised on. This can be done internally, but having an outside agency do it can help round it out and ensure it is more complete (and that you don’t cross anything off the list that you don’t deem “important” enough).

Once you have identified the topics that leave you more vulnerable for online backlash, develop a “Dirty 30.” Simply put, this document should list the 30 negative questions you would most likely be asked to comment on or criticized for.

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Trolls online

“We Do Not Negotiate With Trolls”, Pt. 1

Even though you don’t have to pay a toll to get onto social media, trolls still abound.

They sit on Twitter and Facebook waiting to pounce on unsuspecting brands, organizations and individuals. In truth, they can be scary. Their methods range from posting negative comments about your group to flooding your Facebook wall with graphic, inappropriate content in an attempt to get you to take it down.

It can seem overwhelming, but there are ways to navigate the – at times – rough terrain that trolls thrive in.

For detailed steps to take when responding to negative criticism, read on!

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Carleton’s Anniversary Hashtag Gets a Makeover

Launching a hashtag to promote your brand often provides great potential to expand your reach, connect with fans, and use the power of the masses to help build up reputation. But as Ottawa’s Carleton University found out today, it also provides rife opportunity for subversion.

The school launched a new public awareness campaign this morning to celebrate its 75th anniversary, that follows the theme “Distinctly Carleton.”

As part of the launch, Carleton revealed a new website (as well as a special campaign page) and unveiled massive portraits of famous alumni like former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, writer Lynn Coady, journalist Nahlah Ayed, and Ravens basketball star Philip Scrubb, among others.

Part of the launch also included a hashtag campaign.

It didn’t take long for students and faculty to give the hashtag an entirely different meaning.

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Te’o, Thamel and Deadspin: How the Web Outreported the Traditional Media

With the unraveling of one of the strangest sports stories of recent memory still leaving much to be explained, in the wake of Deadspin breaking the story that Notre Dame Fighting Irish All-American linebacker Manti Te’o’s inspirational girlfriend was, in fact, fake, it strikes a few questions on how something like this could go on for so long.

The circus surrounding this issue started just yesterday when Deadspin, an online sports blog that is part of the Gawker Media family, revealed that Te’o’s girlfriend, who passed away of leukemia just six hours after his grandmother had also passed away, has no record of ever existing. Despite being a graduate of Stanford, having been in a serious car accident that hospitalized her, and having been admitted to a (unnamed) California hospital for months for leukemia treatment, and ultimately passing away, Deadspin journalists’ Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey found no paper trail for Lennay Kekua having done any of these things. Or even being an actual person.

Photo by Flickr user JamesChicago. Published under Creative Commons.

Photo by Flickr user JamesChicago. Published under Creative Commons license.

While there has certainly been swirling tidbits of gossip and speculation as to why such a hoax was pulled off, let’s leave that alone and look at how such a story proliferated through the mainstream media for so long.

Remember, this wasn’t just some hoax that didn’t carry any weight outside of the Notre Dame community. No, the death of Kekua garnered national media attention, especially after Te’o spoke of her making him promise to continue playing no matter what happened to her. That same narrative of Te’o overcoming great amounts of grief (some of it real, as a result of his grandmother’s passing, keep in mind) followed him throughout the entire season, on his way to seven major collegiate football awards, and a Heisman nomination. There is no denying Te’o was a skilled player, yet you must still question whether that emotional aspect played into the minds of voters.

So, again, how did such a story receive so much coverage without this information of Kekua’s non-existence coming to light earlier? There are a few significant problems in the reporting of the story that can be looked at here.

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