Saturday, May 31, 2014

And the rest of the story...the Clint Black Concert

If anyone doubts the power of social media to make connections, read on... 

Many years ago, I had the chance to tour the White House with country music great Clint Black and a friend (read that story here). An item on my bucket list has always been to see him perform again and maybe, just maybe, be able to meet him again.

That chance materialized when he came to Florence to perform at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. When I learned about the concert, I set out to make the right connections to meet him again and find out if he remembered that fun adventure at the White House with the same clarity that I did. 

I figured that every day in my professional life I make connections using various communications tools to make a case. So maybe I could use those same strategies to make contact with Clint’s people and convince them I wasn’t some middle-aged crazed fan.

I thought about the resources I had available to me to get my story to him… old photos, relationships, social media and a good story to tell.

First, I posed a question on Facebook asking if anyone had connections to the country music world or Clint Black's “people.” Then I turned to relationships in Florence through work colleagues, personal friends and news media contacts. Both the Facebook and the personal relationships turned up some good leads that I started pursuing.

Then I went to my personal archives (i.e. old scrapbooks in the attic) to find the collection of photos and memorabilia from that visit to the White House. Fortunately my personal archives from that era are very well organized. I just snapped some photos of the old photos with my iPhone and set to writing a blog post that described this once‐in‐a‐lifetime experience.

In the meantime, one of my personal relationship leads panned out to the point I was assured of a place on the pre‐concert meet and greet list should Clint decide to do that.

But I knew there were more options to pursue.

The next day, I posted the story of that White House adventure on my personal blog. The post included a bunch of photos, and I tagged Clint Black's fan page on the off chance his "people" actually monitor the posts (with 700k+ fans I really had little hope on this one).

Much to my surprise, the next morning I had a nice email from Clint's manager. Clint had seen my post and was inviting me to the meet and greet before the concert!

I evangelize every day at work about how social media is a common thread that can weave together just about everything we do. This connect point with Clint and his manager really illustrated that good can come from social media when used the right way.

The “meet and greet” with Clint didn’t disappoint. We were part of a very small group waiting to meet him, and his “people” were very gracious. We were led into a green room space with a backdrop like those used at the Academy Awards.

The manager arrived first and asked if anyone had photos for Clint to sign. I had enlarged a photo from the White House visit, and he took it back to the bus to be signed. Since I had no negative, I quickly discovered a scanned and enlarged version of a 24-year-old photo yields a very fuzzy duplicate. 

When Clint arrived, he was dressed in black from head to toe with the signature black hat. A few butterflies flitted in my stomach as I kept telling myself...he’s just a guy my age who happens to wear a black hat and has sold millions of records.

He made his way through our group kindly speaking to everyone in a hushed voice (the manager had warned us he tries to keep his voice soft leading up to a performance). I was the last in line with my friend Eleanor who was my “date” for the night.

He said my name and gave me a hug…not quite like long lost friends but still it was cool. We popped through the requisite photo snaps while quietly talking about the fact he did, indeed, remember going to the White House. Although he admitted his memory was a little hazy on how it all came to pass.

Then, he was ushered off to make his final performance prep. The manager handed me the fuzzy photo with an autograph that seemed so appropriate for this middle-aged adventure.

"To Reba…The past is always a little blurry. Clint Black."

Yep, he’s right. Maybe the start of lyrics to new song?

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