Have you heard?

April 4, 2011 2 comments

Blog-Mediated Crisis Communication Model doesn’t sound like the sexiest thing to be reading on a Sunday evening, and then about halfway into I realized–this is perfect!  I guess you could call it fate, maybe it was meant to be.  Last semester I started a paper on urban legend and rumor and how it spread on the Internet.  I’m specifically interested in the “Obama is a Muslim” myth and why this rumor is so persistent after all these years.  I’ve found several models that explain cognitively why rumor exists, and a few that explain how they exist within media effects and framing.  But this is the first model I’ve found that attempts to measure and counter them.

The blogosphere is blowing up at an exponential rate and no doubt has an enormous effect on public relations strategy.  As Jin and Fisher Liu suggest, blogs provide a forum for organizations to monitor and communicate with their publics.  They talk about how to identify and prioritize influential blogs as well as define their credibility and level of involvement and effectiveness.  For an effective blog-mediated communication model, it’s very important to understand the relationships between bloggers, their followers and the issues that motivate them.  (Jin and Fisher Liu, 2010 p.437)

J-bloggers are shifting the way journalism traditionally works and is turning the agenda setting theory on its head.  Blogs have the ability to move a mere rumor into a crisis situation fast because the way they spread.  Some rumors, such as the Obama Muslim myth, make it into the mainstream media, become news, and gain credibility.  Once they have such a large audience rumors are difficult to control, which is why it’s so important to monitor ongoing issues and provide rumor response appropriately before they go viral.  The proposed model goes into how to apply crisis management response strategies in stages after determining what type of rumor it is and how much influence and credibility the blog has.  I intend on exploring this model for my paper, thanks for assigning this!

The articles Monitoring Public Opinion in cyberspace and Digital Public Relations, Online Reputation Management run along the same vain as the previous article, both focuses on how companies and their public relations practitioners need to shift their tactics to online strategies.  Digital PR mentioned the web site audit tool PRePARE that they used to conduct audits of major newspapers daily for corporate crisis issues.  The findings are staggering, 43% of companies didn’t deal with online crisis, and that over half of the companies in their audit still rely on press releases to respond to crisis.  (Cakim , year?) Steps to take before a crisis such as exploring possible scenarios and building a dark website to launch if the crisis arises are great tools for an organization have in place.

Chapters 1-3 of Social Media Metrics breaks down the components of web analytics to help companies build customer satisfaction while lowering cost and increasing profits.  Sterne goes through various types of social media and tools that can be used to measure them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Engaging

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Desensitize Detox

While navigating across current digital platforms, I notice advertising messages seem suspiciously familiar.  I dismiss it as coincidence at first, but after a while, can’t help notice those ads are directly marketed to me based on my previous searches and purchases.  After getting over the initial creep factor, they’ve become barely noticeable these days.  I think I’m in the majority of the desensitized public on the Internet.  I’ve caught on, I understand the tactics, and frankly I feel a bit empowered by knowing these chincy tactics won’t work on me.

Of course, now that the jig is up, marketers and advertising can no longer rely on tossing ads out at a target audience.  They have to dig deep and really see how we as consumers can interact and use brands.  I like the “brand story” idea (Martin and Todorov p. 61) used to identify frequency and use of different platforms throughout the day and how they can interconnect to create a digital dialogue. Of course, it’s a visual, so I REALLY get it.  The gist of the article is that to be successful today, interactive advertising needs to move beyond the traditional model of  “disruptive” and into a “productive” role to create a perceived need that we cannot or do not want to live without. (pg. 64)

Dissatisfied and Disgruntled

Power to the people!  I love how two people proved that they could force change with some passion, a blog, and a little social pixie dust.  Saving Disney by Feldner and Meisenbach highlighted this online campaign as an example of how the Internet has reshaped public relations from the inside, out.  It started out as pushback in the boardroom.  Roy Disney and Stanley Gold realized in order for them to get the changes they wanted, they would have to work from outside the company while maintaining their internal ties with employees.  By prioritizing their publics within the cast member community and using lingo that was unique to them, they built a movement that spoke as one collective voice.  A large part of their success stemmed from the amount of engagement they had with their audience.  The importance of fostering relationships was at the heart of it.

Get that Blog on a leash!

A good rule of thumb, if it smells unethical, it probably is unethical.  Such was the case of the Raging Cow blog propped up by Dr. Pepper and 7-Up in March 2003 where the company asked young bloggers to chime in on their blog campaign but not to mention they had been briefed beforehand.  One might argue that being in the very early stages of blogs, the rules were unclear therefore they didn’t know it was unethical to carry out such a campaign that way.  I would counter that by saying they were fully aware, but afraid of loosing control of the content.  The article gave a nice example of a blog gone right with the Nip/Tuck Carver, showing that when control is given over, it is perceived as more credible.  A company can have a successful blog by allowing partial control while they managing certain parts of content and distribution.  But as the article mentions, there are inherent risks involved such as an employee divulging company secrets or other legal matters.  Implementing blogging policy would be beneficial to both the company and the employees with guidelines to help in online engagement and navigation.

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you

From spreading ideas and gaining leverage, to connectivity and trust, this is the glue that binds it all together.  The Trust Agent touches on these points, but the quote that sums it up for me is “trust on the Web is more highly impacted by what other people say.” (Brogan and Smith, p. 80).  As in Saving Disney, the idea that one or two people that come up with a better way of doing things now have a work around, gatejumping.   The old hierarchal method of top down is dying.  Those relying on the influence and power of their positions better get with the program.

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Look Who’s Talkin

March 7, 2011 4 comments

 

Groundswell wrapped up with some good insight on how we can tap it within organizations.  The emphasis: start small, build a firm foundation, and most importantly, make sure to have the backing from top management.  Trust is gained with little increments of success.  This can eventually lead to larger portions of control given to groundswell efforts.   The examples of Dell’s flaming notebook story showed how the company could let go of control while facing a crisis, and allow their employees to connect with customers.  The transparency built trust with their customers and empowered their employees.

Another good piece of insight shows up in the Blue Shirt Nation story.  Best Buy effectively tapped into their employee’s enthusiasm and allowed them to collaborate and problem solve with each other.  It shows the company trusts their employees and values their ideas, and in turn produces a creative work environment for everybody.    Speaking from my own experience, there’s nothing worse than working at a place that has no interest in what you have to contribute.  It’s a sure way to create a toxic work environment and lose good employees.  I think the ID-ah! idea is a perfect example of how to assure this doesn’t happen.  Whenever top management and employees can interact and exchange thoughts, it’s a good thing.  The key to keeping things fresh and have good ideas consistently coming forth stems from relationships.  The only way to build relationships is by having contact, no matter in what form it happens.

Onto Mommy Bloggers Speak Out article, and there’s that “trust” word again.  Seems to be a theme here.  I have to admit, I haven’t given the blogger ethics much thought, especially as it pertains to product endorsement.  I guess that’s because I considered them an extension of Op Ed columns.  After reading the article, it makes sense that the FTC came up with rules to deal with the PR and marketing side of it.  I was glad to read that most of the mommy bloggers already adhere to ethical guidelines.  My question is, how will they go about enforcing those who decide not to follow them?  But then, as I read on to the JIAD article, I learn that there is considerable difference between UGC and eWOM, depending on how they are disseminated, and they are not held to any kind of objective standards.  OMG this can be confusing.  The study was very informative in the way it breaks down the consumers in how they use various online exchanges for information, which are most valuable and in what way.  The “major finding” that people trust product information generated by other people instead of manufacturers seemed like a no brainer.

The Razorfish study eco’s along the same line, but way more into depth on the social influence scale.  May I just add, thank goodness for an article with some interesting visuals.  I think in this world of combined media, scholarly articles might take another look at how they push out their findings other than graphs with numbers; even a splash of color would help.  Okay, I’m off my soapbox.  Bottom line here according to the study, those who buy your product control your product.  Don’t be afraid, just engage and engage often.

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Embrace it or die ;-)

February 28, 2011 1 comment

The moral of the Groundswell this week is simple–embrace it.  “Muster up the humility to listen and tap into the skill to take what you’ve heard and make improvements.” (P.194) If a company is ready to listen, really listen to critiques and suggestions then adapt accordingly, their content generated from that will increase their speed of growth.

I really liked the example of Credit Mutuel and how they approached their customers by aligning with them.  It seems so mundane and simple, yet it made a lasting impact on their customer base.  They rephrased a question from “tell us” to “what would you do” in the “If I were a banker” call for suggestions.  Simple psychology 101 stuff that we learn way back in grade school like sharing, caring and being good listeners really is at the core of what makes people tick.  We all just want to be heard and have our opinions valued.  The wiki in chapter 8 is a perfect example of this.   A forum where people share, validate and perform acts of selflessness for a greater good and to gain psychic income.  (I love that term)

Jim, the eBag evangalist really resonated with me.  As a photographer, there are always new tools to shoot better, faster, easier.  In fact, there’s so many that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with it all.  Lucky for us, there’s always a few “photo geeks” who can’t wait to buy and review.  And to think I used to believe they were doing that just to make the rest of us look late adapters look slow.

The Going Green article spoke about the voice of public relations disseminating on social media in an environmental context.  The information was pretty basic, even for a late adaptor such as myself.  It did make me think about a recent campaign I checked out recently.  Gasland is a documentary that started as a grassroots effort to find out about the expanding natural gas drilling industry and how underground drinking water is being affected by it.  It recently won at the Sundance Film Festival and is nominated at the Oscars, bringing widespread attention.

http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

The gas companies launched a very clean and wholesome counter campaign to directly refute the documentary here:

http://anga.us/learn-the-facts/the-truth-about-gasland?gclid=COuZjNiEqqcCFYHu7QodtVMyDA

And blog here:

http://blog.energytomorrow.org/2010/11/addressing-hydraulic-fracturing-issues-one-by-one.html?gclid=CKm43veFqqcCFcpQ2godCW5UDQ

A new piece released by The Times with some new info:

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2011/02/26/us/100000000650773/natgas.html

 

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Connection is key and Alpha moms rule!

February 14, 2011 1 comment

 

According to authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.  (pg. 9)

 

Although the root of the first three chapters hinges on business, online trends, and gaining insight to audience, it offers even deeper look into the human psyche.   Weather online or in person, our lives revolve around the relationships we form.  Humanity has an innate need to be engaged with one another, being connected enables us to have the engagement.  The technology of today consistently offers us new and better ways to make these connections.

 

Chapter one offered up some interesting stuff that I’ve heard rumors about, and now finally have the back-story for.  The spread of the number 09 F9 11 02 HD-DVD Processing Key for released movies on Digg and the reaction of the film industry was an iconic example.  It explained how tide changed from a corporation-controlled hierarchy to people taking in charge via the internet.  Even after being threatened with legal action, then realizing that the train had already left the station, Digg decided to err on the side of the masses by allowing the posted code to remain up.

 

Chapter two talks about apps and activities that give insight riding the ebb and flow of groundswell.  The authors’ compare groundswell to jujitsu, saying if you harness the power of your opponent, you may be able to turn the momentum in your favor.  (p. 17) Some of the examples are tools like RSS feeds, widgets, and content tags that help build relationships and enable social activity.  These tools may also help monitor and evaluate what is happening with the message.

 

Chapter three focuses on the people participating in groundswell.  The measurement tool they use is Technographic.  It’s a research method created by Forrester for surveying consumers.  They incorporate a Social Technographics ladder that uses rungs labeled for consumer involvement.

 

  1. Creators
  2. Critics
  3. Collectors
  4. Joiners
  5. Spectators
  6. Inactive

 

Defining how consumers participate and overlap on the ladder will determine how to profile them.   I found the case study of the Alpha moms really helpful in defining how the ladder worked.  The study describes how they selected a segment of women to target.  Ultimately it leads to the company rethinking its original strategy based on the profile from Technographics.

Howe’s article points out how crowdsourceing contributed to the downfall of professions such as photojournalism by undercutting and over supplying stock imagery to the masses.  It’s pretty hard to stay in business when the going rate of a photo slides from $150 down to $1.  The content packager has taken over the content generator, and the tinkerer is changing the entire process of how business does business.  Crowdsourcing has essentially turned the old models on their head, shook it around a bit, and introduced an entirely new way of working.  The ones who stop fighting and start adapting will gain leverage in this environment.  The others will wither on the vine.

 

The Dijck’s and Daughtery readings solidify the notion that the consumer and their user-generated content have forced the advertising and media industries to reinvent themselves.  Now the consumer tells them what they want, how they want it, and in what format they want it.  The key to navigating this new model is understanding the consumer’s attitudes and what motivates them.

 

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How Pinteresting!

February 7, 2011 1 comment

A hundred pages of Shirky, drifting with ants.

In Chapter nine, Shirky talks about FOAF networking, small world networks, and the bonding and bridging of social capital.  As I was reading, I kept seeing this visual of fire ants in my head.  During heavy rains and flooding, they bond together forming a ball that allows them float as they are carried along the current.  As they make their way, they bump up against other clusters of fire ants that formed their own bond, but are floating in the same direction.  They bump, merge and expand their cluster, much like the way small networks do when they bridge to larger ones.  Okay, I may have gone way out on a metaphoric limb with this one, but hey, I’m a visual person.

I think Ronald Burt makes a very smart observation when he says, “most good ideas came from people who were bridging structural holes.” (p. 230) I found this to be true in work environments, so why wouldn’t it work on the web?  Searching for answers to problems from outside sources may not be a natural fit for everyone.  Being able to step out of ones comfort zone and explore for answers takes just that, an explorer with some self-confidence.  This allows for the flow of fresh content and idea generation that may otherwise never have been introduced in a closed circuit environment.  The example used on pages 256-259 where Shirky gives us the example of the seasoned AT&T engineers who clashed with the much younger Pearl programmers on what programming language to use.  They couldn’t comprehend using something that had no similar structure or commercial support.  The Pearl community relied on organically generated support from outside sources, totally self-sustained, and totally free!  The community sustained though shared ideas, and because they cared.  There’s something to be said for the “touchy feely” stuff.  The model of do something because you want to, not because you have to, will always prevail.

Twitter Me Please

I admit I was not one of the early adaptors.  In fact, I sent my first tweet about two weeks into this class.  Now that I follow and have a few followers, the chatter on my page has me visiting it first thing each morning.  I like the idea of personally filtering people and companies that I feel are going to be relevant to me.  The condensed nature of the tweets flagged with their icons gives me quick visual cue that enables me to fly through at warp speed.  Much less cumbersome than facebook, and there is no glaring ad column (at least not on my page anyway) trying to steal my attention.  I understand the intent of banner and pop up ads, but it doesn’t make me anymore prone to click on them.  If I’m shopping say on Amazon, I take advantage of the profile they’ve created for me and I believe it’s appropriate to have choices suggested.  That’s all part of the shopping experience, isn’t it?   It’s those crazy pop up ads that scroll across the screen when I’m trying to read something that I find downright repulsive.  I rarely visit the St. Petersburg Times website specifically for this reason.  I love their coverage, but can’t live with the ads.

Brands and Branding

According to Hobsbowm, software apps have left large media owners scratching their collective heads as the old model of managing brand control flies out the window.  The era of sharing has arrived where we are no longer told what is hot, we the consumer convey that information.   Through our social networking, images and information is filtered up to the branders, letting them know what we think is cool.   Creative media such as Pinterest http://pinterest.com/boards/?sort=picks

A social catalog service that refers to themselves as a “virtual pinboard” allows users to display their wants, ideas, or collections of personal lifestyle artifacts among their peers.  Giving consumers control of choice, and finding the right tools to filter content will be key in helping companies design their next steps.

 

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Wiki, Blog Catching & Shirky

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

 

A woman protests at a demonstration against the Egyptian government in Berlin.

Egyptians living in South Korea shout slogans during a rally denouncing President Hosni Mubarak’s rule near the Egyptian Embassy in Seoul.

“Self-healing,” is the term Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales uses for the sites self-correction process.  (Shirky p. 116)  Wikipedia is essentially a living document, continually being resuscitated with fresh content supplied by its users.  My first thought about the Wiki was one of distrust.  The idea of anyone being able to add or alter content would surely result in heaps of misinformation, or at the very least, contain posts from those airing their opinion.  But strangely, the Tragedy of the Commons hasn’t happened here–it self heals collectively through its publics.  Why?  Perhaps Shirky states it best in his analogy of the Shinto shrine and Wikipedia.  “Wikipedia exists because enough people love it and, more important, love one another in its context.” (p. 141) The idea of these types of tools living on the web as renewable building material paired with the idea of users collaborating for a greater good is definitely a step in the right direction for our global society.

As new social media tools are applied to expanding shared awareness, groups are able to mobilize in real-time.  The movement are currently witnessing in Egypt would not have been possible before.  Social media provided a collective voice and continued momentum to hold their government accountable and force change.  The medium is a game changer that oppressive

NGO’s are able to disseminate and coordinate information and resources to the most remote, disease prone areas of the world.  Individuals are connecting with each other without barriers or boarders.

Media Catching

With the downsizing of newsrooms and news gatherers, media catching has become a necessity for both journalist and the public relations practitioner.  The two professions have a long dueling history.  The journalist’s job is to find and tell the story objectively and ethically, telling the positive and negative components.  The public relation practitioners’ job is to control the message so that it best fits the needs of the company.  To pair the two seems unnatural, but is a growing necessity.  The challenge is to find a common ground where both can effectively do their jobs without compromising their professional ethics.  This compromise should be rooted in trust and built with interpersonal relationships as Waters, Tindall and Morton state in their article.  Social Capital and Social Media by Hazleton, Harrison-Rexrode and Kennan highlights the importance of building trust and interpersonal relationships through both social media and traditional means.  Building social ties and forming mutual trust is related with the amount of time and investment put into the relationship. The result is social capital used to help link individuals and achieve goals in both mediums.

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