Monday, 7 June 2010

Confessions of a Tweet-a-Holic

Before I began this program, I will admit that I had signed up for a Twitter account. This was mostly inspired by instructors at my previous institution encouraging me that Twitter was the way of the future, and if I was going to become a public relations professional that I too must have a presence in the Twittersphere. I really didn’t see the point of using such a medium to broadcast my every movement, such as some of my followers do. However, in recent weeks, I have begun to understand the importance of Twitter, and why as a budding professional, I must be present.

I currently work in a post secondary institution, where our main public is students. And where are students?! That’s right; students are on the Internet, at least that’s where the students at my tech-savvy institution can be found. In order to reach students then, I have had to develop creative social media tactics, including the use of Twitter, with #hashtags and all! So, from my own experiences at work, I definitely can understand how Twitter can be helpful in spreading one’s message.

However, the most powerful use of Twitter that I have seen in recent weeks has come in the wake of a horrible disaster, the BP oil spill. A previous PR practitioner from BP has created a Twitter account and released article’s explaining his dissatisfaction with the way in which BP has been handling the crises. The biggest argument is that while the oil spill in ruining more and more of the ocean and the lives of millions of aquatic life, BP is concerned about rebuilding its reputation instead of fixing the crisis. Through a series of mocking Tweets , the outraged public has joined together as the reputation of BP continues to decline as they fail at fixing the global crisis which they created.
What I’ve learned from this – there is a purpose for the existence of Twitter. There is an entire community of Tweeters who voice their concerns, communicate with friends and obtain information from this social medium. I’m proud to say that this community now includes yours truly.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Volunteering has something that has been part of my life from a very early age. I was inspired by Clare’s blog on a “Cheeky Warning”, after my experience volunteering for the Crohns and Colitis Society. I agree that many organizations have jumped on the social media band-wagon and have begun to post messages of awareness on the like of FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube.

Most recently, over the 2009 holiday season, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation created public service announcements that encouraged viewers to give their spouses pap smears for the holidays. This odd and almost humorous gift choice received mixed reviews from audiences. Most importantly however, these add which originated on Television and then to YouTube, had a huge viral appeal. The PSA’s got people talking, and therefore built awareness.

Another trend that we’ve seen on television and magazines for a while is the use of celebrity endorsements. Recently, celebrities have been used in PSA’s. Specifically last month, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention created a campaign called “i know”. The campaign is created around social media outlets, and below you will find the video staring Jamie Foxx that was created in support of the campaign.

Arguably, these videos can make people uncomfortable and can cause a sense of shock – but shock, just like sex works. Shock grabs people’s attention, shock invokes the ‘I just have to tell someone ‘sensation and shock causes people to yearn for more. Public Health campaigns seem to have this down to a fine art – the art of shock. Does shock work in every arena or should it be left for those arenas that are embarrassing and that people don’t talk about unless forced to through shock?!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Mastery of the Blog

When I was determining what to do with my life once I had finished a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications, continuing with my education and going on to get a Masters always seemed like the next logical step. I have always believed, that the harder one works, the more they will succeed, or at least I’m hoping that will prove to be true when I’m finally finished after 23 years of consecutive schooling. Thinking about this concept, the importance of higher education brought me back to Sabrina’s post on the validity of PR qualifications.

It is logical that experience is invaluable, and for much of my job search, I have had to learn the hard way, taking entry level jobs as my education greatly surpasses my experience. I do however see the value in gaining an education, and I was pleased that there are programs that exist, such as the one I’m currently enrolled in at the University of Stirling. In keeping with this trend, I began to think more about the importance of education in other realms of communication, specifically in regards to social media. One of the largest areas of social media that we have explored today is the use of the blog. Many argue that as print media become less relevant, blogs are becoming more relevant and therefore more important. Some industry experts have even gone as far as stating that bloggers may well be the future journalists.

In Martin Waxman’s recent blog, he argued that perhaps there needs to be some sort of formal education for bloggers to learn techniques in writing, editing, publishing, etc. - the very same courses that journalism students today receive during their formal education. It is also argued therefore, that as the blogger becomes the traditional journalist, perhaps PR professionals ought to be paying even more attention to them and engaging them more often. This will mean that PR professionals will also have to receive further education on how to reach bloggers, how to capture their attention and how to monitor effectively what is being said about the clients that they represent.

As we find ourselves enrolled in a Masters of Public Relations, will there one day be an option to receive a Masters in Blogging?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Future of Press Releases

As the world continues to be changed by advancements in technology and the increased usage of the Internet as a communication medium, bloggers continue to crave more information in a timely manner. Traditionally, bloggers write about products, their personal lives, perspectives on various world events or represent a company and promote their own agenda without having to go through the process of getting the traditional media interested in their story. Often, journalists had their own blog and would provide their perspective through this medium. It had been believed that as more journalists turned to the blogosphere, the methods in which stories were fed to them would have to change to meet the urgency demands of the blogs.

In an article written in this week’s PR Weekly by Mark Evans Tech , the notion of the social media press release was discussed. It made sense that to satisfy the demands of these bloggers, current information be delivered in the same method that it would be transmitted to audiences. The social media press release at one point in time, was believed to be the next up and coming trend to hit the world of PR. Not only would this new trend eliminate wasteful paper trails, it would provide journalists and reporters with the opportunity to gather time-sensitive information in a convenient and interactive method.

It is argued that although this method was seen as convenient for bloggers and profitable for PR firms, the trend never caught-on due to the fact that the press release is considered an ‘old’ method, regardless of whether it is published on paper or electronically. If this is the case, if it’s true that the very people that PR professionals spend hours writing these releases for, the journalists and bloggers, aren’t paying attention. Why do we spend so much time learning how to perfect this ‘ancient art’? Is it as Mark Evans argues, are relationships and the pitch that much MORE important? Or, as more and more companies and journalists choose blogs as the medium from which to communicate to their audiences will the social media press release live up to its potential and become a staple in PR practices?