Mass Media, Social Media and an Elf Who Got Too Jolly

When I spoke to the Ragan workshop with Shel Holtz yesterday, one of my points was how blogs and social media sites like YouTube work together with the mainstream media. Many times the fact that a story is mentioned in the mass media is what leads to it getting lots of hits on the Web. This message I got Thursday from Cindy at LifeSource, where I recently did a SMUG extension class, is a case in point:

Thank you for coming to LifeSource last week! Your talk was very interesting. I wanted to share with you something that happened to my husband this week regarding “social media” Curt is a sergeant with the MN State Patrol. A few years ago he arrested an elf…yes an elf….and the arrest made it on “You Tube” (you can find it under elf arrest). Two nights ago our phone started ringing off the hook at 11 p.m. and our friends and family said turn Jay Leno on, Curt is on the show! Well we missed it but Jay played his video! We were able to see the Leno show last night on the website and also looked at the You Tube video which went from a couple of hundred hits to over 58,000! Anyways…I thought you would appreciate that story. Have a great week! – Cindy

Here’s the “elf arrest” video that caught Jay Leno’s attention:


This is one of the points I often stress, but perhaps not as frequently as I should. Social media and mass media work together, and often the biggest impact from social media comes when it is noticed by someone in the mainstream media.

A Class Organization

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting a case study for a two-day workshop on social media for corporations that Shel Holtz was doing on behalf of Ragan Communications. Minneapolis was the second stop on Shel’s six-city tour, and he asked me to share what we’ve been doing with social media at Mayo Clinic. I’ll upload my slides a bit later, but for now just want to share a good turn done by the hotel at which the event was held, the Depot Minneapolis, a Renaissance Hotel.

When I arrived home last night, my MacBook Pro power cord was missing. So I quickly sent a message to Shel through LinkedIn, asking if he had noticed that I had left it in the meeting room. (Meanwhile, it was another reason I was glad I had bought my wife a MacBook, so I could use her cord.) A couple of hours later, when Shel landed in Little Rock, he sent word via his mobile device that he had found my cord and left it at the hotel’s front desk, and that I should contact the hotel so they could send it to me. I live 100 miles from Minneapolis.

What a relief…made possible by a social networking site and mobile e-mail technology!

When I called the Depot this morning, the front desk attendant asked for my name and confirmed that he had the cord. When I asked if he could send it, and said I would give a credit card to pay the cost, he put me on hold for a few seconds and came back to say they would mail it to me and that there wouldn’t be any charge.

Thanks to the Depot for its good turn…which deserves another…so I just want people to know about a good hotel in Minneapolis.

Mayo Clinic Podcasts Featured on

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to discuss our Mayo Clinic podcasts with Michael Sebastian from Ragan Communications for a newsletter article. My friend Chris Martin just passed along the article, which was posted on today. I think Michael does a nice job of summarizing our podcasting history and some of the current activity. Most importantly, I think he quite accurately reflects what we discussed in the interview; that’s a real treat. Check out the story.

If you’re interested in a bit more of what Mayo Clinic has been doing in social media, check out our Facebook fan page and the blog (and podcast) we’ve established for the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. My colleagues at also have some blogs and podcasts they’ve been producing, too, and we’ve got some more good things in the works.

I’m blessed to work for an organization that not only makes traditional media relations a priority, but also is enabling and encouraging us to engage in social media. I think a big part of the reason for this support is our leaders’ healthy appreciation of the role word-of-mouth from satisfied patients has played in Mayo Clinic achieving the reputation it has.

The on-line social networks like Facebook are just newer and more powerful versions of the water cooler or the backyard fence, where people talk about what’s going on in their lives and what’s important to them.

Their health care experiences are among those meaningful topics.

It’s an exciting time to be working in news media and social media, and particularly where they intersect. I’m looking forward to the next few days here at Health Journalism 2008, and particularly to the session on “Multimedia tools for telling stories,” which will include Scott Hensley from the Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog. He’s right at the intersection of mainstream and social media, and it will be interesting to hear his perspective.