“Real time” media coverage can have a profound impact on military decisions in the midst of warfare. Remember the First Gulf War and how media personalities like CNN’s Peter Arnett, the “Scud Stud” (Arthur Kent) and others provided “play by play” as viewers watched war in “prime time” from the comfort of their living rooms? Some media outlets were even warned that their coverage of scud missiles hitting ground in Kuwait and Israel might inadvertently be providing “targeting” information to the Iraqis.

Ultimately, the First Gulf War ended as images of carnage on the “highway of death” caused General Colin Powell to cease hostilities because, as he wrote in his autobiography “My American Journey,” the television coverage “was starting to make it look as if we were engaged in slaughter for slaughter’s sake.” Technology, and increased media access, has made viewing “real time war” an uncomfortable reality.

This past week we saw cable television and the internet (including Facebook and Twitter) bring terrorism, a criminal investigation and the apprehension of a terrorist suspect into “real time” as well. Most of the “post mortem” of the Boston Bombings has turned to “why”, “who else was involved” and the societal impact of terrorism reaching American soil in a way that Israel and others have contended with for years. However, the fascinating impact of the media, particularly social media, on the way that story played out in “real time” deserves significant analysis as well.

Americans watched the chaos of the Boston Bombings in real time and many of us had flashbacks to 9-11 and the days we spent glued to the television desperately seeking answers to what had happened and why.  On 9-11 we collectively shared a common bond with New York City; last week the murderous terror attack at the Marathon instantly made us all Bostonians – at least for a while.

Almost immediately the social media sites became a repository for video and photos from the scene and amateur detectives began scouring the photos for clues to seek out the “evil” that had struck us. It was a target rich environment. It became a race, with some wondering whether the bloggers or the FBI would identify the perpetrators first!

After two particular men became the “target” of the blogosphere, and even made their way to the front pages of newspapers, the FBI decided to release photos of the alternative key suspects that they had identified. It now seems fairly clear that the FBI would have held on to the photos a bit longer and not actively engaged the public in the search if the online posse was not running so fast and furious. There are numerous media reports that the suspects were planning additional bombings. The preemptive release of their photos by the FBI, precipitated by the ravenous demand for instant information in the social media world, forced the terror suspects to move earlier than they had intended – and may have caused a series of mistakes that led to them being killed and captured. But for the social media and blog-tectives the carnage in Boston or some other target city might have been repeated with a second, more deadly attack.   

The blog-tectives weren’t the only ones using social media. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apparently tweeting while hiding and on the run from authorities. Numerous citizen journalists captured video of shootouts and house to house searches with their ubiquitous camera-phones. America watched, breathlessly, on live television as the drama of the search for the remaining suspect played out…and then almost immediately after the search was ended (like a commercial break just before the detective show ends and the killer is caught) the climactic conclusion aired – in prime time. It was a reality show on steroids…but it even more “real” than reality television.

As we dissect the motives and movements of the terrorist duo, we should also examine the way media impacted the story. Much of what was reported by the mainstream media in the heat of the process was inaccurate, and some information in briefings provided by authorities proved false as well. Much of that is the peril of “live reporting” in the midst of a crisis. In the not-so-distant past, television networks gathered information, checked sources, confirmed the facts and then reported what they had gleaned throughout the day during their evening news broadcast. Now, EVERYTHING is breaking news and it is ALL reported on the fly. Mistakes are not only likely, they are CERTAIN.

Some media misinformation, however, was an intentional “shaping” of the story to fit a particular perspective, such as anchors speculating on “tea party” involvement due to the attack occurring on April 15 (“tax day”) with nothing more substantive than a calendar to back them up. Others “hoped” “white males” were responsible, and ignored the conflicting truth as it poured in. Some are STILL reluctant to see the motivations of the terrorists, despite “jihadist” intent obvious to even the most casual observer.

This will NOT be the last big story viewed in real time and in which social media will be a major player. So, what are the three major lessons to be learned from this episode?  First, virtually everything reported in “real time” during the first twenty-four hours of a major story will prove to be inaccurate. Take a breath, be right rather than rushed and take every reported “fact” with a strong dose of skepticism. Some media outlets did better than their competitors this time. The rest should take notes.

Second, the role of social media, including instant analysis, real time photos and videos, and perhaps even interjection from those involved in the story (or their families) will only increase rather than subside. Get used to it…in fact some of the blogs that closely followed this story had faster and more accurate information than the “traditional” media. The challenge is figuring out which ones are accurate THIS time…as history won’t always be an accurate guide to NEXT time.

Finally, expect to be played. “Spinning” and “tweaking” the story will happen at an even faster pace than ever before. Immediacy will create opportunities for those who want to take advantage of the “speed” of reporting to input their own version WHILE the story is breaking. Anticipation and skepticism should guide news directors, reporters and bloggers every step of the way. The best reporters have always been armed with a strong instinct toward cynicism…and when EVERYBODY is essentially a reporter or commentator (at least everybody who is facebooking, twittering or video-commenting about the news), then EVERYBODY should acquire that same instinct. How? Don’t trust…AND verify.


Steve Gill is an attorney and strategic communications consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. His website, which is always skeptical of EVERYTHING, is   

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A liberal SuperPAC is apparently at the center of an investigation into the bugging of the campaign headquarters of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. An audio tape of the secretly, and most likely illegally, recorded meeting of campaign officials discussing a potential opponent was provided to the liberal publication Mother Jones. The publication then widely circulated the private strategy discussion of the vulnerabilities of potential McConnell opponent Ashley Judd – including her mental health issues and extremist views on religion and family. CLICK HERE. Some are shocked that the Left would employ such illicit, Nixonian dirty tricks to undermine and spy on their Republican opponent. But is it really a “surprise”?

After all, it fits perfectly with the written “game plan” that liberal groups in North Carolina prepared and which came to light just a few months ago. CLICK HERE. You can see the actual document HERE.

Marked “not for distribution” and circulated among liberal nonprofit groups, the blueprint for dirty tricks talks about “crippling” Republican leaders, creating “tension in Republican ranks,” and trying to “eviscerate their leadership.” The primary strategies to accomplish these goals included the use of “video trackers” and “private investigators” to follow the “targets’ every move.” They didn’t specifically mention illegal wiretaps, but maybe the Kentucky Democrats came up with that on their own.

The Liberal media will not pursue this story with the vigor that they applied to Watergate, since they are determined to protect their own at the expense of truth and journalistic integrity. And we should certainly not expect them to draw the linkage between the Liberal blueprint for political success and the application of those strategies in the actual political arena, either. That would require effort, though not much, and intellectual honesty — again, not much. Both of which are, however, too much to expect the liberal media to muster.

Republican candidates should study the Democrat/Liberal game plan and then be prepared to see it executed against them. At the very least Republican candidates should not be surprised when the Left follows their plans to the last comma and dotted “i” and engages in the most vile and illegal campaign practices.
PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will run an ad in Kentucky, 20 months before elections, targeting women voters and celebrity and possible Senate Candidate, Ashley Judd.

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Ticketmaster is waging a national attack on the rights of fans to own, really “own”, tickets that we purchase to gain access to sporting events or concerts. The battle is underway in Tennessee. And Texas. And at least half a dozen other states RIGHT NOW. (More details available at

Florida is also a battleground state in this conflict over free markets and property rights. Two pieces of legislation under consideration in Florida could either alter or protect the way the secondary ticketing market functions…one will ELIMINATE the rights of fans in the property (tickets) we buy, the other will PROTECT our right to our property. This SHOULD be an easy choice for conservatives, right?

Florida House Bill 1353 and Senate Bill 1652, which are being proposed and promoted in similar versions across the country by Ticketmaster, control what consumers do with tickets they purchase and own by letting venues (and corporations like Ticketmaster) dictate whether and how tickets can be resold – or even given away! 

A recent Zogby poll shows Floridians heavily opposed to any legislation that restricts our property rights in the tickets WE purchase with OUR money. How heavily opposed? How about 76%!! (In Tennessee the number is over 84%!!) Yet some Republicans in the legislature (being urged forward by Ticketmaster’s lobbyists) persist in wanting to legislate winners (Ticketmaster) and losers (Fans)! The Ticketmaster scheme gives them a huge GOVERNMENT MANDATED advantage over competitors in the ticket resale market. This is government favoring one business over another, picking winners and losers. Conservatives oppose these kinds of things when Obama does them, so why are some Florida Republicans seeking to do the same exact thing???

The Ticketmaster bill redefines property ownership. If I buy a product, I own it. It is mine to use, destroy, give away or resell at whatever price I can negotiate. If it is not, then I do not own it. The attempt by Ticketmaster, and the complicity by some in the legislature, to structure the law where they can sell me tickets yet control what I do with them afterward is a shocking attack on basic property rights. And they are seeking to do the same thing all over the country!

If I buy a book at Barnes & Noble today and really enjoy it and want to pass it on to my neighbor, co-worker or family member, Barnes & Noble can’t stop be from giving away MY property. If I want to sell it in a used book store I can do that! Why shouldn’t I have the same rights in a ticket that I purchase?? I can’t make copies of the book and sell those; nor should I be able to make counterfeit tickets and sell those, either. We already have laws that make those activities illegal. Hiding behind a “call to action” to deal with counterfeits is a bogus powergrab by Ticketmaster, and nobody should be fooled by it…least of all conservatives!!

It is time to put FANS FIRST, starting in Florida! Go to to find out more about this issue that is popping up from Tennessee to Texas to Florida and beyond.

By the way, the HOTTEST ticket in sports? Not the SuperBowl. It’s the Masters Tournament, and how many of those tickets are held back to sponsors versus sold to fans???



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Steve and Mike Kopp from MMA Creative were the political panelists on This Week on Nashville’s News 2 this weekend. STEVE GILL ON “THIS WEEK WITH BOB MUELLER” 02-10-13

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It will be difficult if not impossible. CLICK HERE. IF, and that depends on whether or not she could win in Alaska at this point, she ran for and was elected to the Senate from Alaska she could re-emerge as a political player. But she traded in her reformer brand for “reality show” fame and fortune…and others would do well to learn from her missteps. CLICK HERE.

There is a shelf life in politics that starts ticking the moment you leave elected office and become a personality…others who are actually DOING things have the chance to pass you by. Names like Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Suzanna Martinez, Niki Haley, and others are all in position to improve their brands and remain relevant. For Palin it is harder…particularly without the platform of Fox News at her disposal.

We talk a lot about branding with our Gill University programs, and PROTECTING YOUR BRAND is at the top of the list. The bottom line for Palin’s descent is that she failed to protect her “brand”. She relied on (which ultimately gets back to her own judgement) staffers who failed to properly treat her brand as an “asset”. And she (and her family) succumbed to the Siren call of fame and celebrity rather than focusing on substance and results. They have learned that fame is fleeting, even if sometimes profitable. Being famous for being famous, whether it is JWoww, Honey Boo Boo, or Sarah Palin, is not really something to aspire to — though many do exactly that.

If Palin hired Gill Media (which she probably won’t) to help her rebuild her brand I would recommend she do three things:

1. Write, or co-write, a significant and thoughtful well researched book on Energy Policy from a conservative/conservation perspective. Use examples of real people and practical solutions. Publish it and then do a speaking tour on college campuses and at think tanks, not Barnes and Noble. Make it serious, but not pompous. Plenty of pictures of beautiful scenery where America’s abundant resources are being drawn upon without destroying the scenery. Talk about hunting as a way to promote rational wildlife management, with examples like Ducks Unlimited and Wild Turkey Federation as groups that can promote conservation without going crazy. Then promote a common sense energy policy agenda based on the book, and enlist other political figures to join you in the effort. Some of the policies should be state based initiatives and you should meet with state leaders who will carry those policies forward. Develop a track record of success in policy making to remake the brand! Energy is the perfect vehicle because it ties back to those Alaskan roots but is also forward thinking and a pocket book issue that never goes away.

2. Develop and raise money for a Palin PAC that focuses on electing common sense conservatives (men and women…not just Mama Grizzlies), and make sure the overwhelming amount of the money goes to funding candidates rather than consultants and the Palin family. Show the way it SHOULD be done rather than the way most celebrity politicians these days use their PACS as travel slush funds that are more about the celebrity politician rather than electing good conservatives. Use that PAC as a base for speaking to serious groups about serious things, like Heritage, Cato, National Review Institute, etc. The website for the PAC should be heavy on substance, news related to key issues and policy making, though with plenty of photos to be visually appealing and reveal a grassroots connection and personal approach to promoting solutions to the important issues of the day.

3. Ban anybody and everybody in the Palin family from every doing another reality show. Ever. Don’t even let anybody in the family WATCH another reality show…including cooking shows! Even watching might tempt somebody to get back in the reality game. Just say NO!!

I might have a few more ideas, and the secret is always in the implementation not just the big picture. But for the rest of the story she WILL have to hire me. I lived in Alaska for three years as a kid, so I know the way!

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I was having lunch with a friend the other day and as we discussed the role of innovation in warfare, business and politics he noted that the old adage about Generals preparing to fight the “last war rather than the next one” is holding a lot of companies and individuals back from success. “David,” he pointed out, “didn’t defeat Goliath by fighting him in the traditional way with sword and armor. Instead he changed the rules, adopted a completely new strategy and fought in a completely unexpected way.” I agreed…and he made me pick up the check — which was NOT completely unexpected!

Others have followed the “new path” to success. Henry Ford didn’t attempt to make a faster or better horse drawn carriage…he made something entirely new: an automobile! Innovators, like Steve Jobs, sometimes create new products we don’t even know we want…and then create an insatiable need for what they have developed. The French Maginot Line was easily bypassed by the German “blitzkrieg”.

If you and your company are playing by the same set of rules and simply trying to do what your competitors are doing only slightly better…you may or may not succeed. But if you chart a NEW course, CHANGE the rules, ALTER the playing field, you can force the competition to respond to YOU rather than vice versa. Sometimes it is called “thinking outside the box.”(But don’t just think; ACT!)

Star Trek fans might cite Captain James T. Kirk’s response to a test at Starfleet Academy which featured a “no win” battle and rescue scenario designed to gauge the leadership and discipline of the cadets. The “Kobayashi Maru” scenario could not be won…until Kirk secretly reprogrammed the computer and crafted a winning alternative — becoming the first cadet to ever “win” the simulation exercise. He went on to fame and fortune as an Starfleet Admiral…and later as a spokesman for Priceline.

Reprogramming the computers is not necessary, but reprogramming your thinking is an absolute requirement to using innovation as a weapon. From the time before we enter grade school we are encouraged to “draw inside the lines.” But leaders; innovators; winners all have something in common. They draw OUTSIDE the lines. So squiggle away…and use bright colors, too!

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The anti-gun crowd is increasingly frothing at the mouth with their hysterical attacks on the 2d Amendment — including a bizarre parsing of the words “bear arms” to claim that while guns may be protected the right doesn’t extend to ammunition. Really? A gun without ammo is essentially a…club.  Wouldn’t the Founders have articulated the “right to bear clubs” instead of “arms” if that was the intent? And does the 1st Amendment only guarantee the right to bear a quill pen but deny practitioners of free speech the right to access ink?

Opponents of the 2d Amendment have also claimed that it only protects the weapons existing at the time the Constitution was drafted, such as muskets, rather than modern weaponry. Presumably the 1st Amendment is equally limited to the communications of the era, parchment and manual printing presses, rather than extending to the internet, cable television, Twitter and Facebook.   Granted if the Constitution has been limited to 140 characters being tweeted by Madison he might have stopped at “Congress shall pass no laws…” and we would all be better off!

None of the so-called journalists leading the fight against America’s freedoms has been more rabid in their rhetorical assault on the Constitution than CNN’s Piers Morgan. First he demeaned the Constitution as a “little book.” Now, he has asserted that reliance upon guns to protect Americans from our own government is ridiculous because our leaders have access to nukes and could simply kill us all. Talk about destroying the village to save it! Even the most looney extremist conspiracy theorists aren’t arguing that Obama would intentionally kill millions of Americans with the U.S. nuclear arsenal — but apparently Piers thinks it is a possibility.

His latest emotional outburst left him screeching about whether the Founders would have intended that private citizens be allowed to own tanks. CLICK HERE. The short answer, and with Piers refusing to allow his guests to answer that is the only one to attempt, is “yes.” Oh, and presumably aircraft carriers, too.

The 2d Amendment was intended to provide the “people” with the weapons to protect themselves from an overreaching government, meaning they should have the same access to arms that the “government” might use. Muskets were the most modern weapon of the time, along with the more expensive, accurate and longer range rifles favored by frontiersmen. They were the AR15 of the time. They were deadly.

Likewise, there was private ownership of cannons, though they were expensive and not widely owned by private citizens. Most were kept as a “community” weapon, but there was no restriction on an individual having one. A cannon on wheels, moved to the location where it was to be used, was essentially the 18th century equivalent of a tank. So yeah, Piers, they would have no problem with us having access to the modern version of their own private weaponry.

Individuals also privately owned warships…which bristled with their privately owned cannons! CLICK HERE. We probably would not have defeated the British and won our freedom from the tyrannical government of King George without the “privateers” and “merchant vessels” that roamed the seas and battled the British Navy. Piers and his colleagues at CNN would probably hate the flag that a lot of those vessels flew, too. Those armed, private ships would be the equivalent of our aircraft carriers…so if you could buy and outfit your own the Founders would seemingly have had no problem with that.

Finally, while Piers is having a conniption fit over the idea of Americans owning tanks (which are for sale in Britain by the way), wait until he hears about the private ownership of fighter jets here in the states! CLICK HERE.


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While liberal Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) pounds the drum for gun control and the Obama White House seeks to capitalize on a tragic shooting for an anti-gun political advantage, it might be wise to heed the words of ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso: “Not so fast, my friend!

Despite an all-out assault on the NRA and the 2d Amendment by the mainstream media in the weeks following the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut the NRA remains as popular as it was BEFORE the shooting. CLICK HERE. The push for banning weapons of ANY kind seems to be gaining no traction at all with the general public. CLICK HERE. And the American people are voting with their pocket books with record levels of guns and ammo being sold in December, 2o12…even in the “bluest” of states. CLICK HERE.

Many of the national political “experts” assert that protection of the 2d Amendment rests solely in the House, where Speaker John Boehner allegedly has a tenuous hold on his caucus.  The reality is that any significant gun control legislation is almost certain to fail in the Democratic Party controlled SENATE where (with two Independents who caucus with the Democrats) they have a 55-45 majority! Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has already backtracked on his initial support for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. CLICK HERE.  Newly re-elected Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is taking a very cautious approach to any discussion of restricting the 2d Amendment, in part because anything he does to embrace gun control may not hurt him with voters for a while but would almost certainly create a backlash against his fellow Montana Senator Max Baucus (D) who has to face voters in 2014. CLICK HERE. And newly elected Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is making it very clear that she doesn’t support gun control. CLICK HERE.

Prospects for Democrat-led Senate action against guns gets even more dicey when we look ahead to Democrat Senators in red (and pro-gun) states who are facing reelection in 2014: Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (who only won by 1 percent six years ago); Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (a state Obama lost by over 20% in 2012); Colorado Sen. Mark Udall; Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu; North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan; and South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson. A handful of other Democrats facing reelection in 2014 will have to carefully consider whether picking a fight with gun owners is a way to kick-off a campaign, including Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). 

The Obama White House may want to take on this fight because he never has to face the voters again…but the Democrats in the U.S. Senate don’t enjoy that same luxury and many of the most vulnerable Democrats, who could swing control of the Senate to the GOP in 2014 with a few missteps, are not likely to want to sacrifice their careers for a lame-duck President.


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In cowboy days in the Old West the range riders were told to “ride for the brand.” That meant to live up to the reputation of the ranch and what that brand stood for. What is your brand? Personally or as a company? Is it effective? Are you living up to it? An effective brand must do at least three things:

1. STAND FOR SOMETHING. An effective brand has to communicate what you do, who you are, what distinguishes you from your competitors. It is a lot more than a logo…the logo simply identifies the brand, it isn’t THE core of what that person or company stands for.

2. BE AUTHENTIC. If you are selling cheap products and the business is more of a scheme than a business built on integrity and customer service a pitch that you are selling high quality goods and that you put the customer first won’t ring true…because it won’t be true! You can fake it until you make it IF your brand accurately reflects what you do and where you are going…you can seem bigger and more powerful than a little startup company actually is; but if you are faking the core, the reality of what the person or company really does, it simply won’t work for long. Be true to who and what you are…and tell your story with honesty, passion and integrity.

3. HAVE BUY IN. If you people who work with and for your company don’t believe in the brand, don’t want to “ride for the brand”, or don’t know what the brand is then it will be almost impossible to effectively communicate the brand and live up to it. Every person in a business has to know what the core values and mission of the company are and how they are to be implemented, and then strive to make the brand stronger and better understood by customers and clients. They also need to understand that their personal brand as an individual is tied to the company…if the company is perceived as shoddy and shady then their personal integrity won’t be able to overcome the taint of the brand on them; if an employee who works for the company is dropping F bombs on 7 year olds as a little league coach in their personal life that will reflect on the company brand, too. The brand isn’t just on the sign outside the store or business, it is on the people who make up that company, too.

To make sure YOUR brand is worth riding for, first figure out what you stand for…or WANT to stand for, then COWBOY UP and make it happen! To learn more CLICK HERE.

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Then why not make 2013 the year to express it? Last year I read A Simple Act of Gratitude (CLICK HERE) and wrote thank you notes each day for a couple of weeks…until I ran out of the first box of note cards and then the practice just slipped aside. It really takes about thirty days of consistency for something, good or bad, to become a habit. So to kick off 2013 I have over thirty note cards stacked on my desk to help insure I make it through the first thirty days.

The idea is really pretty simple. Write a thank you note to somebody for something each and every day. Over the course of a year you will touch someone with gratitude 365 times. But as the book notes, YOU will gain much more than what you give in gratitude. Hand write them; hand address them. Think about what you open in the mail first; what is most meaningful to you and it is easy to understand the impact that not only a “thank you” but a more personal connection can make. Is it a little harder than a text or an email? Yes. Is it more impactful? Certainly!

So start TODAY. Kick off a new year with a focus on expressing at least some small piece of gratitude everyday. You will find that you have a LOT to be grateful for, and you may even have to start writing two or three notes a day as the benefits of gratitude flow more dramatically in your own direction.

Why not help make 2013 a year of gratitude…for yourself and others? In a year when many will be seeking self improvement, this is a perfect place to start.  CLICK HERE.

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