Avalanche series ‘Perils in Powder’ starts today

The Chronicle began a 3-day series on avalanches this morning with a hell of a story by reporter Jason Bacaj, who interviewed a local man who survived being buried in an avalanche a couple years ago. It’s a suspenseful story that actually had me on the edge of my seat wondering just who would be left alive by the end of it.

We also have a couple of stories on this first day by Laura Lundquist, who looks at the mechanics of an avalanche learned via another survivor’s tale, and by Jodi Hausen, who looks at how better gear is getting more and more people into the backcountry, where they can easily find trouble if they don’t have the experience to avoid it.

More stories are coming tomorrow and Friday, but the thing I’m excited about at this moment is the interactive that’s going along with the story online. It includes lots of data Bacaj dug up from avalanche centers across the West and presents them in nice, interactive graphics. In the spirit of transparency, we have even made the data downloadable.

So take a look at the stories and let us know what you think, and look for more to hit your doorsteps and computer screens in the next couple days.

Montana tourism facebook posting

UPDATED: Social media manager seems to quit job very publicly on Montana state tourism Facebook page

Sometime early this morning, a post appearing to be from a disgruntled social media marketer went public on the state of Montana’s tourism page on Facebook.

Around 2:30 or 3:30 this morning, the following message went out to the page’s roughly 150,000 followers:

F this job. I just want to live in Whitefish with my future husband. Leaving Bozeman for good tomorrow […] Thanks for the good times MercuryCSC!

MercuryCSC is an advertising agency based in Bozeman and San Francisco. Outside magazine this year named the company one of the 30 best places to work.

The company lists its work with the state’s tourism office as one of its case studies. “Mercury’s work for the Montana Office of Tourism has been widely recognized as some of the most effective and innovative tourism marketing in the nation,” the Web page says. There’s a video touting the success of the campaign on Vimeo.

The posting has since been deleted, to the chagrin of entertained followers, if the “posts by others” on the Facebook page are to be believed.

The posting does live on in screenshots and on Reddit.

Sarah Lawlor, spokeswoman for the tourism office, said the state office works closely with Mercury in its social media strategy, so Mercury employees do have administrative rights to the Facebook page.

“They usually run everything they will post through us first,” Lawlor said.

“It was a personal error by this person, and once they realized this error, we removed the post,” she said. “Obviously, it wasn’t content intended for our Facebook audience.”

The Office of Tourism will post an explantory statement to its page today.

Lawlor said it was too soon to tell whether the incident would affect the office’s relationship with Mercury.

“We’re going to have to have that discussion internally,” she said. “We haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but there will certainly be some review.”

MacLaren Latta at MercuryCSC said she could not discuss the matter since was a personnel issue. She also could not say whether the person in question was still with the company.

Update: MercuryCSC has released a statement about the incident, noting that it is no longer doing social media work for the state’s tourism office.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012, an employee of MercuryCSC made a mistake and posted unprofessional personal comments as ”Montana” to the Montana Facebook page.

As soon as the post was discovered, it was removed. However, images of the post were distributed throughout social media and news channels causing confusion and speculation about the source and the nature of the post.

MercuryCSC no longer has administrative rights to the Montana Facebook page, and MercuryCSC is no longer performing social media work for the Montana Office of Tourism.

MercuryCSC accepts responsibility for and is actively working with the Montana Office of Tourism to address the situation.

MercuryCSC regrets this chain of events. We apologize to our client and the state of Montana for this issue.

As it is a personnel matter, we are not able to make additional comments.