The scoop on flavorful social media approaches
NAME: Jeff Turrentine
TITLE: Culture & Politics writer
COMPANY: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
BIO: Jeff Turrentine works in the communications department of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he writes news stories and opinion columns that explore the three-way intersection of politics, culture, and sustainability, for one of the largest and best-known environmental non-profits in the country. The NRDC is at the forefront of the national conversation on some of the most pressing environmental issues of the day, including climate change, fracking, sustainable energy, clean air, safe drinking water, wildlife conservation, and more. Turrentine also is a freelance cultural critic who writes frequently for publications such as The Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review, and Slate.
SOCIAL MEDIA URLs:
FACEBOOK: Jeff Turrentine on Facebook
LINKED IN: Jeff Turrentine on Linked In
Q: We have access to so much news on a daily basis. What kinds of information do you consume at the start of your day?
A: As a bona fide middle-aged person who came of journalistic age during the last days of print media’s primacy, I can’t seem to shake my dependency on legacy-media stalwarts like The New York Times and The Washington Post—both of which I read online every morning, typically on my laptop at home or my desktop at work. Even my digital media consumption would undoubtedly strike most Millennials as “mature”: culture sites like Slate, Salon, and Arts & Letters Daily; environmental news sites like nrdc.org and Grist; and pure-politics sites like Politico and Talking Points Memo. I don’t mind that these choices date me as a bourgeois-establishment type; I wear the badge proudly.
Q: How do you use social media?
A: I’ll confess that part of the reason all the cool kids under the age of 30 are moving away from Facebook is because I’m on it so much, doing embarrassing Gen X things like proclaiming the eternal greatness of Paul Westerberg or sharing Halloween photos of my kids. But I also use it to promote my own writing—and shamelessly, at that. My organization has studied our analytics very closely and determined that the vast majority of people come to our site horizontally, via social media, rather than via our home page. So my self-promotion actually ends up rebounding to the benefit of my employers! Increasingly I find that I’m using Facebook and Twitter as news blotters, scanning them for big, trending stories as well as for smaller stories that seem to be “vibrating” in such a way that they’re likely to be trending soon.
Q: How has social media changed your life?
A: I don’t get as much exercise as I did before, and I spend less quality time with my wife and children. On the plus side, I now know which of my friends support Hillary and despise Bernie, and which of them support Bernie and despise Hillary—which is useful for figuring out the seating arrangements at dinner parties.
Q: Do you think social media has enhanced or diminished our personal relationships?
A: The easy, pop-sociology answer, I guess, would be to say that it has diminished them, but honestly I have no idea. I will say that it has re-connected me with people from my past whom I was fairly sure I’d never speak to or hear from again—and that, to me, feels like a net good.
Q: What organizations, brands or personalities do you follow? What makes them worth following?
A: On Twitter, I tend to gravitate toward funny and/or quirky individuals (@SarahKSilverman, @pattonoswalt, @arnettwill, etc.) and folks who can alert me to weird/fun facts or goings-on in the literary or design worlds (@walterkirn, @bengreenman, my old friend Rob Walker @notrobwalker). As far as news goes, my job requires me to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of sustainability, so I follow legions of environmental sites and organizations: @NRDC, @Grist, @CityLab, tons of others. Facebook is primarily for seeing how all of my friends vote, and for keeping creepily close tabs on all the people who were cruel to me back when I was in elementary school.
Q: What kinds of posts spark your interest?
A: I’m probably the rare Facebook reader who actually likes those really long, wordy posts that require you to hit the “read more” button, so long as they’re written by someone smart—and especially if they’re about books, music, or pop culture. As I get older and my youthful idealism gives way to pragmatism, I find that I’m less inclined to post and/or comment on partisan political issues. It’s just not worth it.
Q: What is/are your favorite social media platform/s and why?
A: Facebook and Twitter. And, of course, SnapHash.* Oh, and HashFace.** Instagram, not so much: I’m a words guy.
Q: Favorite hashtag or one you’d like to see?
A: #larrykinglear. (Actually, it’s mine. Sample post: “Many a true word hath been spoken in jest, and most of them have come out of the mouth of my next guest tonight: the brilliant Marty Allen.”)
Q: What advice would you give to a brand about how to get started with a social media program or make their existing one more effective?
A: Be funny. I’m dead serious about that. Also: Avoid using the horrible digital-landscape jargon that has infected the English language, if it’s at all possible. Use real words and phrases that have been around for more than ten years. There’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time.
Q: If you could follow any historical figure on social media, who would it be?
A: Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what the Twitter feed for @RealSamuelBeckett would have looked look like. When you think about it, in a way, he was sort of Tweeting the whole time. “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.” PLEASE RT!
Q: Cone, cup, or straight from the container?
A: If by “container” you mean half-gallon container, then yeah, sure.
Q: Favorite flavor?
A: The pistachio gelato from Bulgarini Gelato Artigianale in Altadena, CA. You’ll find it all the friggin’ way up Lake Avenue—keep driving, basically, until you’re just about to run out of road. Once you’re seeing nothing but sad and semi-abandoned strip malls and you think you’ve almost certainly passed it, you’ve found it. The owner is a half-mad Italian who’s quite literally obsessed with sourcing; he travels all over the globe to bring back his ingredients, and then makes them into the best ice cream you’ll ever eat in your entire life.
* Not real.
** Also not real.
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