‘Green’ needs transparency

April 2, 2008 at 7:40 pm (public relations, social media, strategy) (, , , )

Global EnvironmentAs companies put sustainability and environmental efforts at the forefront of corporate responsibility efforts, conversations stir about what it actually does to the image of the company. A recent article, posted on AdAge.com, reports that the Nielson Report shows that bloggers have a high impact and voice in discussing sustainability, including green initiatives in corporations. It talks about how bloggers are “a highly skeptical consumer group.” Bloggers are calling out companies that are forcing green efforts in key messages. The companies are over-exaggerating initiatives and often practice inconsistency and contradiction against what they are telling their audience.

I think public relations professionals of these companies need to provide consultancy about transparency and integrity. When talks of green efforts look fake and don’t coincide with actual practice, it negatively impacts the company. In a world where the digital community’s voice is so prominent, there is no way to get out of fake and unconvincing green initiatives. Corporate social responsibility is becoming so saturated with ‘green’ strategies that it no longer looks innovative, but is looked at more critically and sometimes scrutinized.

Another thing to point out is how poorly it impacts the public relations profession. People will often translate an incorrect and false image to public relations campaigns that went wrong. PR professionals need to be careful and make sure the company actually cares about its initiatives and stays transparent at all times.

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Al-Fassam [Online! :D]. It was taken under the Creative Commons License.

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Science using social media as a resource

February 27, 2008 at 12:05 am (social media, strategy) (, )

Encyclopedia of LifeCheck this out! Scientists are turning to social media as a resource for sharing consistent information. The Encyclopedia of Life focuses on creating an online database of all the species in the world. I think this an incredible step that scientists are taking to utilize business technology to their advantage. (I say “business technology” because science uses a lot of technology in other ways.) The Web site even has a blog.

I think this shows that social media can work for anyone, if used the right way. It’s incredible. The Web site designers created the software to text mine information from several natural history libraries in the world, after they electronically scan the literature into computers.

According to the project’s brochure, the Web site “will be a moderated, wiki-style environment.” This is something that requires careful analysis and attention. As a student, I’m constantly reminded on how Wikipedia is a great place to start understanding a topic, but it is not a reliable source. You never know who edits the information and whether or not it is accurate.

Luckily, Encyclopedia of Life is in its early stages of production. The Web site just launched this week. The developers need to strategically think about how they want to build the community and moderate the incoming information.

In the mean time, I’m going to keep looking through the Web site and brainstorm ways something like this can maintain credibility. Do you have suggestions?

Here‘s the article that introduces the site.

* Image courtesy of Encyclopedia of Life.

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Social media, writing and the public relations job candidate

February 22, 2008 at 3:32 pm (development, social media) (, )

hand shakeThis blog is extremely beneficial to me – not for potential future employers, but for personal professional development. I agree with David Reich of my 2 cents. I don’t think I am a better job candidate because I am active in social media. I am a better job candidate because I have some public and people relations skills under my belt, as well as actively listen and learn about the profession.

However, researching and finding things to blog about have helped me come across the conversations that other public relations professional are talking about. It’s a way to keep myself updated and interact with others.

Reich talks about how the most important skill he looks for in a candidate is writing. He then says, “It’s an acquired skill that comes from studying how media stories are written, coupled with good on-the-job training.”

Maybe public relations students need the opportunity to partner or shadow with journalists to get a better understanding of what they look for and how they write. Or – maybe public relations students should be journalists first (but that’s a lot to ask for). I bet the best public relations candidate is someone who started in news or magazine or worked in a news office before.

Since I have little experience in the newsroom, I think blogging is the next best way to acquaint myself with public relations writing and development. I practice writing with each post, finding a working style and voice. I also submerge myself into the top issues and topics.

Although social media may not be the main attributes an employer looks for, it surely is a great way for public relations students to develop a better understanding of the field before entering the job market.

*Image courtesy of Flickr: SDPanek

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Learning to podcast

February 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm (Podcast, social media) (, , )

Podcast stationI turned in my podcast assignment for class today. Let me just say, it was an interesting experience. On top of learning how to use Garageband, I had to learn to like how I sound in a recording. I’m pretty sure most people are surprised with how they sound. I’ve been a little under the weather, so I had to hear a little bit of that nasal-y tone as well. But when all is said and done, I actually enjoyed creating the podcast.

I tend to be a little bit of a computer nerd so I learned how to use, cut and edit in Garageband pretty quickly. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how to get my laptop fan to stay quiet. Every time I started recording, it would start going crazy. When I edited the recording, I could hear a little bit of the cuts because of the background humming noise. Luckily, the “female radio” feature was there to smooth it down. Any ideas on how to get it go away completely and isolate my voice?

Other than that, I figured out a technique to make myself sound more natural. I pretended the computer was another public relations colleague. So, I did the entire podcast in one recording and talked like I was having an actual conversation (talking hands and all). I found that I could let go of the nerves from the thought of the microphone and be myself.

If you are looking for more tips to creating a podcast, Jason Van Orden has a great complete and free online tutorial. Just visit: How to Podcast. He talks about everything from terminology to promotion.

*Image courtesy of Flickr: the_scottish_podcaster. It was taken under the Creative Commons license.

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Danger: framing a social media strategy as a “campaign”

February 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm (social media) (, , , , )

Computer deskPaul Dunay‘s post about the terminology of “campaign” in the realm of social media really caught my eye.

Recently, I’ve been working on a small social media strategy for a client at AHPR. I realize that there is so much more to it than just sticking it into a PR campaign, which is what my team and I ended up doing. It needs to have its own strategy along side the PR campaign because there are so many components for a client to understand.

First of all, it is true – the word “campaign” is dangerous to frame a social media strategy. Social media take a lot of time to build and sustain. It is much longer than the standard PR campaign. From my understanding, for example, it can often take up to a year for a blog to obtain a steady readership (courtesy of my professor, Kelli Matthews). Framing the social media strategy as a standard campaign can increase client expectations for both timelines and strategies.

Here are two things that I think are important to convey to a client when proposing a social media strategy:

  • Emphasize that it takes time. Getting noticed in the information age takes a while, especially on the Internet. It will take a while for readers to trust you and consistently keep track of your social media efforts, as well as results of increasing search engine optimization.
  • Reiterate the importance of the client’s role and participation. The client needs to know that being part of the Web 2.0 means continuous surveillance and activity. In order for the audience to trust the client, the blog posts and comments, and any other social media tactic, need to come from the client. It means he, she or they need to take the time to research and write. The social media realm is too personal to have a PR professional write personal notes as the client to the public.

I’ve talked to the AHPR client about these two things, and the social media strategy is still moving forward. However, in the future, I know I will emphasize the size of it and make it a separate or supplemental plan.

*Image courtesy of Flickr: Paladin27. It was taken under the Creative Commons license.

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Social media privacy

February 6, 2008 at 2:59 pm (social media) (, , )

Can I get a little privacy?Yesterday, I gave a brief presentation on a Web 2.0 service to the Advanced PR Writing class I am taking. I chose Yelp.com. However, during the selection process at Go2Web2.0, I came across another service that posed a privacy issue.  

I was registering for Zookoda, a free e-mail marketing service for bloggers, when I was prompted to give personal account information. The service would not let me sign up without providing my physical address. Red flag! Granted, it wasn’t as serious as asking for my social security or bank account numbers, but it still seemed odd to me. For a service that is Internet-based, it should not need my address. 

In the last couple of years, Facebook has undergone huge privacy changes due to the increase of users and information options. I distinctly remember an outrage by users when they implemented the  news feed application with little privacy options. Luckily, the Facebook team immediately addressed and fixed it so users can choose how private they want their profiles.  

What I don’t understand is why social media services aren’t taking extra precaution when it comes to privacy before it becomes an issue. I personally do not post my address on Facebook for safety reasons. You can never be too careful.  

How do I know that Zookoda is a legitimate service when I sign up and not a hoax just to get addresses? Social media needs to be responsible and perform all the same precautions that online stores (that really need private information) do. 

On the other hand, you need to be aware of what you are signing up for. Your privacy is automatically lowered when you join the Internet, social media realm, but if you are careful, it won’t be an issue. Be responsible and selective. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media services are fantastic resources and tools – just don’t ask for my address if it’s not necessary.  

*Web 2.0 graphic courtesy of Flickr: Montara Mike©.  It was taken under the Creative Commons  license.

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