Bandwidth » Corporate Reputation http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Blocking Social Networks at Work – A Dying Practice? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/16/blocking-social-networks-at-work-a-dying-practice/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/16/blocking-social-networks-at-work-a-dying-practice/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:49:09 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9472308  

(Once again I’ve enriched a post with a Rob Cottingham cartoon since no one captures the social web zeitgeist better. I don’t think he’ll mind.)

I hope the title of this post is true. But based on my experience with some organizations over the past six months there are fewer offering this “benefit” than I thought would be the case given where we are in the social web’s six or seven year history.

The resistance is still coming from senior management teams and human resource departments (a) concerned about the impact on productivity (b) afraid that organizational intellectual property will be compromised.

Others can desconstruct the problems with these quarrels. Instead, let me suggest five arguments in favour of making Rob’s cartoon redundant:

  1. The signal sent by blocking Facebook, other social networks and micro-blogging platforms like Twitter is that you think your employees are children . . . if not idiots. That feeling is likely to be a greater draw down on productivity than a few minutes checking a social network feed.
  2. With smart phones and mobile apps employees can simply duck their hands below their desks and check Facebook and Twitter anyway.
  3. As Rob says in a post accompanying the cartoon above blocking these platforms may mean missing an opportunity for “companies and organizations (to create platforms – my addition) for productive, collaborative work.”
  4. The social web isn’t going away. Many businesses are trying to find a way to make it relevant for them. By shutting off desktop access to the social web you are slamming the door on creative business scenarios or better customer service strategies.
  5. You will delay learning what kind of specialized content might make users of the social web pay attention to your products and services, because your employees won’t help you find out.

Senior managers can be stubborn, especially when backed by IT departments mumbling about non-business driven server overload. So don’t bet these ideas will tip the scales among the hold outs . . . though it’s worth a try.

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Does ‘Brand’ Mean Anything? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/03/does-brand-mean-anything/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/06/03/does-brand-mean-anything/#comments Thu, 03 Jun 2010 19:40:05 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7748417 I have had a post in mind  for a while now talking about what ‘brand’ and ‘reputation’ mean today.

This isn’t that post. I’ll get around to it at some point over the summer.

But over the past two weeks, I’ve come across two posts (with a hat tip to a colleague for pointing me to Leroy’s) which make strong and similar statements about brands that are certainly worth throwing into the idea mix:

Leroy Stick (not his real name), the person behind the satiric Twitter account @BPGlobalPR, says performance – not brand – is everything:

So what is the point of all this?  The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND.  You don’t own it because it is literally nothing.  You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

And here is what the inimitable Doc Searls posted not too long ago on his blog about reputation and branding:

That’s because brands are nothing but statements. At best they are a well-known and trusted badge, name or both. At worst they’re a paint job, a claim, a rationalization or an aspiration. Branding can help a reputation, but it can’t make one. Real work does that. Accomplishment over time does that.

Bit of a wake up call to communications professionals isn’t it?

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Digital for the Defense http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/07/digital-for-the-defense/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/05/07/digital-for-the-defense/#comments Fri, 07 May 2010 20:55:05 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7597684

The plaintiff's bar, according to Richard Levick, "has asserted digital dominance over the defense. In countless class action engagements, plaintiffs’ attorneys have outpaced the companies they target in search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO), in the blogosphere, and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube."

The same can be said for companies under attack by activist groups and angry citizens. Activist organizations are much better at using the social web in attack mode, although they nearly always have far fewer resources at their disposal than their targets. The examples are legion, from Nestle to Toyota to critics of the development of Canada's oil sands.

It isn't so odd really. To use the social web to greatest effect, you need quick decision-making, nimble approval of content, faith that public opinion matters, and willingness to let others speak for you . . . in other words, actions counter to the command-and-control and circle-the-wagons mindset that overtakes the C-suite in a crisis. Unless it is proved that public opinion will influence the purchase behaviour of a company's customers, piss off regulators or make investors unhappy, there is a propensity for managers to equate defense with inaction.

But that isn't the best strategy. As Mao Zedong said "the only real defense is active defense.", which is a good description of what companies should think of doing online, and a more felicitous strategy for the social web than the common adage that 'the best defense is a good offense.'

Companies don't need to be combative or belligerent as might a plaintiff's counsel in the U.S. But they should offer -- and be willing to discuss -- a point of view using social web tools for three reasons:

  1. A transparent, fact-based story shared with appropriate humility (if a mistake has been made) and discussed will get traction with non-aligned, non-dogmatic (yes, there are some) social web participants. The critics on the social web may shout the loudest, but the conversationalists and collectors can have political impact (Note . . .  Forrester Research social technographic categories)
  2. The ubiquitous use of search -- on any platform (Google, Twitter, YouTube etc.) -- means that the company's angle on an issue or problem at least stands a chance of getting exposed to  non-obdurate or non-ideologically driven citizens.
  3. Digital memory is timeless and the next time something happens to the company that digital retrospection may not just be of a mess but also of an accurate explanation.
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The plaintiff’s bar, according to Richard Levick, “has asserted digital dominance over the defense. In countless class action engagements, plaintiffs’ attorneys have outpaced the companies they target in search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO), in the blogosphere, and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.”

The same can be said for companies under attack by activist groups and angry citizens. Activist organizations are much better at using the social web in attack mode, although they nearly always have far fewer resources at their disposal than their targets. The examples are legion, from Nestle to Toyota to critics of the development of Canada’s oil sands.

It isn’t so odd really. To use the social web to greatest effect, you need quick decision-making, nimble approval of content, faith that public opinion matters, and willingness to let others speak for you . . . in other words, actions counter to the command-and-control and circle-the-wagons mindset that overtakes the C-suite in a crisis. Unless it is proved that public opinion will influence the purchase behaviour of a company’s customers, piss off regulators or make investors unhappy, there is a propensity for managers to equate defense with inaction.

But that isn’t the best strategy. As Mao Zedong said “the only real defense is active defense., which is a good description of what companies should think of doing online, and a more felicitous strategy for the social web than the common adage that ‘the best defense is a good offense.’

Companies don’t need to be combative or belligerent as might a plaintiff’s counsel in the U.S. But they should offer — and be willing to discuss — a point of view using social web tools for three reasons:

  1. A transparent, fact-based story shared with appropriate humility (if a mistake has been made) and discussed will get traction with non-aligned, non-dogmatic (yes, there are some) social web participants. The critics on the social web may shout the loudest, but the conversationalists and collectors can have political impact (Note . . .  Forrester Research social technographic categories)
  2. The ubiquitous use of search — on any platform (Google, Twitter, YouTube etc.) — means that the company’s angle on an issue or problem at least stands a chance of getting exposed to  non-obdurate or non-ideologically driven citizens.
  3. Digital memory is timeless and the next time something happens to the company that digital retrospection may not just be of a mess but also of an accurate explanation.
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Be Careful How you Judge http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/03/19/be-careful-how-you-judge/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/03/19/be-careful-how-you-judge/#comments Fri, 19 Mar 2010 19:56:28 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:7070353 Thanks to a former colleague - Sharon Fernandes - for directing me to this YouTube video. Warning, though, you need to watch it all the way to the end to understand exactly what is going on. It's less than three minutes long.

While the video is about book publishing, there are important lessons in it for anyone in an organization responsible for its interaction with customers, the public or communities . . . be careful how you judge what they value.

 

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Thanks to a former colleague – Sharon Fernandes – for directing me to this YouTube video. Warning, though, you need to watch it all the way to the end to understand exactly what is going on. It’s less than three minutes long.

While the video is about book publishing, there are important lessons in it for anyone in an organization responsible for its interaction with customers, the public or communities . . . be careful how you judge what they value.

 

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Slightly Indecent Self-Promotion http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/18/slightly-indecent-self-promotion/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/18/slightly-indecent-self-promotion/#comments Thu, 18 Feb 2010 17:42:25 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6710974 As best as I can recall, I have never used this blog to promote either my own consulting practice or that of my employer -- the public relations and public affairs consultancy Hill & Knowlton. Forgive me, then, if I make an exception this one time with the reassurance I'll return to my normal probity immediately afterwards.

Having spent 25 years or so providing counsel to organizations and companies on reputation and issues and crisis management, and seven years as head of the corporate communications practice for Hill & Knowlton Canada, effective this month I'll be focusing almost exclusively on helping build H&K's social media and digital communications business as practice leader. I will be working with a team that includes the inimitable dean (my description, not his) of social media in Canada -- David Jones -- the talented and creative Lynn Crymble, the Quebec digital communications luminary Michelle Sullivan and others in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.

Although I am not, shall we say, in the demographic usually touted as the natural home for social networking, I recognized five years ago -- about the time I began blogging -- that social media and social computing are a rupture in the fabric of personal, political and business communications. For five years I have been proselytizing within my firm, on this blog, in classrooms, with clients and in speeches globally that the public relations business' media relations, crisis management, government relations, product marketing and reputation enhancement and defence models of the past will over time have to be vigorously renewed if not replaced.

Rather than this belief remaining a passion, I now have the freedom, and the charge from our CEO, to help people more expert than me at H&K do something about it.

Yes, I can already hear some of the 'snark' about me positioning myself as a 'self-styled social media expert', which of course I am not.  As with any young discipline, there are people within social media consulting and writing in North America who are nasty, gossipy and narrow-minded especially when they feel others who aren't part of the clan are pushing into their territory. I'll ignore them because as Cato the Elder said "We cannot control the evil tongues of others; but a good life enables us to disregard them."

My juiced up new focus will change the content of this blog only marginally. I will continue to write about the intangibles, but now through the more apparent filter of how social media can make things more tangible and persuasive.

Wish me luck.

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As best as I can recall, I have never used this blog to promote either my own consulting practice or that of my employer — the public relations and public affairs consultancy Hill & Knowlton. Forgive me, then, if I make an exception this one time with the reassurance I’ll return to my normal probity immediately afterwards.

Having spent 25 years or so providing counsel to organizations and companies on reputation and issues and crisis management, and seven years as head of the corporate communications practice for Hill & Knowlton Canada, effective this month I’ll be focusing almost exclusively on helping build H&K’s social media and digital communications business as practice leader. I will be working with a team that includes the inimitable dean (my description, not his) of social media in Canada — David Jones — the talented and creative Lynn Crymble, the Quebec digital communications luminary Michelle Sullivan and others in Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.

Although I am not, shall we say, in the demographic usually touted as the natural home for social networking, I recognized five years ago — about the time I began blogging — that social media and social computing are a rupture in the fabric of personal, political and business communications. For five years I have been proselytizing within my firm, on this blog, in classrooms, with clients and in speeches globally that the public relations business’ media relations, crisis management, government relations, product marketing and reputation enhancement and defence models of the past will over time have to be vigorously renewed if not replaced.

Rather than this belief remaining a passion, I now have the freedom, and the charge from our CEO, to help people more expert than me at H&K do something about it.

Yes, I can already hear some of the ’snark’ about me positioning myself as a ’self-styled social media expert’, which of course I am not.  As with any young discipline, there are people within social media consulting and writing in North America who are nasty, gossipy and narrow-minded especially when they feel others who aren’t part of the clan are pushing into their territory. I’ll ignore them because as Cato the Elder said “We cannot control the evil tongues of others; but a good life enables us to disregard them.”

My juiced up new focus will change the content of this blog only marginally. I will continue to write about the intangibles, but now through the more apparent filter of how social media can make things more tangible and persuasive.

Wish me luck.

]]>
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LISTEN UP: Four Reasons to Care about Social Communications http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/08/listen-up-four-reasons-to-care-about-social-communications/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/02/08/listen-up-four-reasons-to-care-about-social-communications/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2010 12:49:51 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6508102 The Economist, as it often does, sums up a business trend succinctly: In the introduction to its special report on social networking, its author argues "Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovation around the world faster than ever before."

If that is not reason enough, here are four other arguments for caring about social communications (For the contrarian perspective, you can always depend on Paul Seaman blogging at 21st Century PR Issues, who believes "Social media is looking less glossy after bruising encounters with business, personal and political reality"):

  1. Major brands are beginning to invest heavily in social media projects. Unless a company or organization creates a strategy based on an analysis of its readiness, balancing of the opportunities and risks, and designing a road map to social success it could easily be out-manoeuvred.  Although missing the point about Twitter, even venerable Procter & Gamble apparently has dozens of projects underway looking at how social media can benefit their marketing programs and reputation. If coldly sober P&G is taking social media's measure, it's evidence that this isn't kids stuff.
  2. If you don't listen to what bothers people about your organization, and don't recognize how social communication has become the midwife for organized anger, you could easily be out-gunned by someone who doesn't like you and knows how to use social networks and social communications to do something about it. This is simply the lucid logic of effective issue management playing out on a new battlefield.
  3. People are becoming hardwired to react, take advice, learn and challenge ideas differently. A whack of research studies have identified that the most trusted source or information for people today is someone like themselves. People find people like themselves in social networks. This is unlikely to change, even if the social networks or social communications infrastructure within which they seek the advice. Such an evolutionary reconstruction of culture is always hard to accept since it happens slowly and often finds itself questioned by short-sighted talking heads. But organizations who need a public license to operate should recognize that the zeitgeist of engagement is bending differently today.
  4. The marketing and corporate communications vocabulary in social media is also shifting, and some marketers insist on speaking the wrong language. An example: Marketers have slapped the social media concept of 'engagement' on top of their beloved 'brand' and come out with a concept called "engage with a brand". Engage generally means to interact with or attract (It can also be defined as 'to enter into combat with'). It is personal and reciprocal, and it is only wishful thinking when it comes to the relationship between a person and a product or company. Avoiding this type of awkward and alienating juxtaposition of a social communications reality with a marketing communications ambition happens when you recognize your word-stock doesn't fit anymore.

I'll leave the conclusion to David Carr writing about Twitter in the New York Times at the start of the year in an agreeable precis of the personal pleasure and business opportunities of social communications that is better than anything else on the subject I have read recently . . . "The most frequent objection to Twitter is a predictable one: 'I don’t need to know someone is eating a donut right now.' But if that someone is a serious user of Twitter, she or he might actually be eating the curmudgeon’s lunch, racing ahead with a clear, up-to-the-second picture of an increasingly connected, busy world."

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The Economist, as it often does, sums up a business trend succinctly: In the introduction to its special report on social networking, its author argues “Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovation around the world faster than ever before.”

If that is not reason enough, here are four other arguments for caring about social communications (For the contrarian perspective, you can always depend on Paul Seaman blogging at 21st Century PR Issues, who believes “Social media is looking less glossy after bruising encounters with business, personal and political reality”):

  1. Major brands are beginning to invest heavily in social media projects. Unless a company or organization creates a strategy based on an analysis of its readiness, balancing of the opportunities and risks, and designing a road map to social success it could easily be out-manoeuvred.  Although missing the point about Twitter, even venerable Procter & Gamble apparently has dozens of projects underway looking at how social media can benefit their marketing programs and reputation. If coldly sober P&G is taking social media’s measure, it’s evidence that this isn’t kids stuff.
  2. If you don’t listen to what bothers people about your organization, and don’t recognize how social communication has become the midwife for organized anger, you could easily be out-gunned by someone who doesn’t like you and knows how to use social networks and social communications to do something about it. This is simply the lucid logic of effective issue management playing out on a new battlefield.
  3. People are becoming hardwired to react, take advice, learn and challenge ideas differently. A whack of research studies have identified that the most trusted source or information for people today is someone like themselves. People find people like themselves in social networks. This is unlikely to change, even if the social networks or social communications infrastructure within which they seek the advice. Such an evolutionary reconstruction of culture is always hard to accept since it happens slowly and often finds itself questioned by short-sighted talking heads. But organizations who need a public license to operate should recognize that the zeitgeist of engagement is bending differently today.
  4. The marketing and corporate communications vocabulary in social media is also shifting, and some marketers insist on speaking the wrong language. An example: Marketers have slapped the social media concept of ‘engagement’ on top of their beloved ‘brand’ and come out with a concept called “engage with a brand”. Engage generally means to interact with or attract (It can also be defined as ‘to enter into combat with’). It is personal and reciprocal, and it is only wishful thinking when it comes to the relationship between a person and a product or company. Avoiding this type of awkward and alienating juxtaposition of a social communications reality with a marketing communications ambition happens when you recognize your word-stock doesn’t fit anymore.

I’ll leave the conclusion to David Carr writing about Twitter in the New York Times at the start of the year in an agreeable precis of the personal pleasure and business opportunities of social communications that is better than anything else on the subject I have read recently . . . “The most frequent objection to Twitter is a predictable one: ‘I don’t need to know someone is eating a donut right now.’ But if that someone is a serious user of Twitter, she or he might actually be eating the curmudgeon’s lunch, racing ahead with a clear, up-to-the-second picture of an increasingly connected, busy world.”

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A Year in Five Social Media Movements http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/04/a-year-in-five-social-media-movements/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/04/a-year-in-five-social-media-movements/#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2010 21:13:31 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6132697 Reports on social media trends in 2009 are ubiquitous — here’s one of the most useful lists from Adam Vincenzini in The Comms Corner — as are cogitative posts about what to expect in 2010 like that by David Armano blogging at the Harvard Business Review.

My assessment of what mattered last year is shorter and more personal, and I am too deferential to the forecasting abilities of others to speculate on 2010:

  1. Many words, occasional invective and a lot of social media blood were spilled over the demise of newspapers and its effect on journalism and those who practice it within the historical news delivery infrastructure. I weighed in often enough because I believe there is a radical shift in the sources of reporting, the formation of public opinion through communication, and the opportunity for individuals and groups, when motivated, to work around the traditional news infrastructure to exchange information, ideas and opinion for social change and political purposes.  The critical words on this issue in Canada may have been spoken by The Supreme Court of Canada. In late December its ruling on responsible communication made it clear that such communication is not just the province of journalists, but of anyone engaged in public communication including bloggers  As David Eaves so eloquently summed it up in his post “The ruling acknowledges that we are all now journalists and that we need a legal regime that recognizes this reality.”
  2. During the Iran elections in June 2009, Twitter became the means for getting images and news out about the repression of democratic protest. Recognizing that Twitter was a tool by which people in Iran were communicating with each other, and the world outside, even the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay its scheduled maintenance outage in order not to impede the flow of information. In my view, this was the single event that brought Twitter naysayers to heel, especially cynical journalists. News was being reported by citizens through a social network that some silly luddite columnists (still) see as “little more than the glorification of self indulgent trivia”. (Martin Vander Weyer in The Spectator, January 2, 2010).
  3. Speaking of reality, it is now being augmented in ways that are mind boggling. Augmented reality refers to the overlay of the virtual on the real. As explained by Ben Parr last August “These applications combine virtual data into the physical real world by utilizing the iPhone 3GS or an Android phone’s compass, camera, and GPS system. The result is that you can see things like the location of Twitter users and local restaurants in the physical world, even if they are miles away.” While excitement has been focused on fun apps like being able to wave your iPhone or Android in the air and find the nearest pubs, there are obviously hundreds of other uses, especially for product seeding . . . about which I know nothing. As for reputation management, corporate communications or issue identification and control, well, I’m not sure.
  4. I am a little surprised that Google’s Sidewiki has become a non-story. At first blush, it seemed to have the potential to be a game shifter in how people interact with web content about which they have strong opinions, pro or con. It may be that social networks are already platforms for interaction about web content and Sidwiki in the context of opinionated and criticism-friendly social networks is simply redundant.
  5. As a consultant over the past couple of years, I have been recommending social media strategies as pivotal in the success of reputation management programs largely because they are community (or affinity) rather than media focused. Clients are buying into it. But the conversations I’ve been having with companies over the last few months lead me to think we are at a social media tipping point (no, I have not read Mr. Gladwell’s epnymous book). According to the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, “Social media is mainstream. Forty-three percent of Inc. 500 companies consider social media important to their business, with 91 percent of Inc. 500 companies employing at least one tool in 2009.” Employing one tool, however, is not a strategy and many companies and organizations are recognizing that the one-off Facebook page or Twitter handle isn’t giving them traction, nor will it. They’ll want — or should be wanting — the full game plan.

So, I lied: Number five is a 2010 forecast.

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Newspapers as Niche News Providers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/12/09/newspapers-as-niche-news-providers/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/12/09/newspapers-as-niche-news-providers/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 20:30:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6027861 This post by Jim Horton at Online Public Relations Thoughts makes an interesting follow-on to my last post on the decline of newspapers.

The story Mr. Horton references adds even more evidence of the print implosion going on. But his point that "newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium" is the one that hits home: (This is the full text of his post.)

"This is interesting. Newspapers have finally recognized that they are no longer mass media and are cutting back to a core of readers willing to pay for the paper daily. In other words, newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium, no longer powerful but catering to what is probably an older crowd. This means, of course, that newsrooms will continue to shrink and coverage as well until a balance between cost and revenue is achieved. The hard task for newspapers is not to cut too much. The New York Times, for example, is in the middle of newsroom buyouts and lost some of its well-known business reporters in the last few days. Who will replace them? No one.

In PR, we have seen this coming for a couple of years and as practitioners we have been shifting away from newspapers for some time. The problem is that in some areas like business news, there is nowhere else to go. There are no independent blog sites for business news that have become prominent like Politico for political news. Business news blog sites are associated with the same mainstream media that are cutting back. It is a challenge for corporate PR that will only become larger."

There is a shortage of reliable and trustworthy social media alternatives for business news and analysis. Yes, there are dozens of financial and market-watching blogs, online newsletters for the investment industry, and an assortment of kvetchers, but as far as I know no credible news alternatives to the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times of London or the New York Times business pages (at least for the time being).

Until that gap is filled, it will be difficult to convince some organizations of the value of social media-driven communications strategies, although as Mr. Horton points out there may be little choice if business reporters become extinct.

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This post by Jim Horton at Online Public Relations Thoughts makes an interesting follow-on to my last post on the decline of newspapers.

The story Mr. Horton references adds even more evidence of the print implosion going on. But his point that “newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium” is the one that hits home: (This is the full text of his post.)

“This is interesting. Newspapers have finally recognized that they are no longer mass media and are cutting back to a core of readers willing to pay for the paper daily. In other words, newspapers are fast becoming a niche medium, no longer powerful but catering to what is probably an older crowd. This means, of course, that newsrooms will continue to shrink and coverage as well until a balance between cost and revenue is achieved. The hard task for newspapers is not to cut too much. The New York Times, for example, is in the middle of newsroom buyouts and lost some of its well-known business reporters in the last few days. Who will replace them? No one.

In PR, we have seen this coming for a couple of years and as practitioners we have been shifting away from newspapers for some time. The problem is that in some areas like business news, there is nowhere else to go. There are no independent blog sites for business news that have become prominent like Politico for political news. Business news blog sites are associated with the same mainstream media that are cutting back. It is a challenge for corporate PR that will only become larger.”

There is a shortage of reliable and trustworthy social media alternatives for business news and analysis. Yes, there are dozens of financial and market-watching blogs, online newsletters for the investment industry, and an assortment of kvetchers, but as far as I know no credible news alternatives to the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times of London or the New York Times business pages (at least for the time being).

Until that gap is filled, it will be difficult to convince some organizations of the value of social media-driven communications strategies, although as Mr. Horton points out there may be little choice if business reporters become extinct.

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Why Sidewiki May be Okay http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/13/why-sidewiki-may-be-okay/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/13/why-sidewiki-may-be-okay/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2009 22:00:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5780816

I am a bit late to the game with comments on Sidewiki. (It launched more than a month ago.) A student in my Ryerson University reputation management class gave a presentation on it the other night which got me thinking that the debate about its influence on public relations has been thin. Surprising really given that some, like Mark Rose, believe Sidewiki "is a PR game changer".

Here's what Sidewiki allows you to do once you have installed the application: As Google describes it "Google Sidewiki is a browser sidebar that lets you contribute and read information alongside any web page."

In other words, you can write an un-moderated comment beside any web page you want. You can add anything you like (with the usual caveats about libel, perversion, vulgarity, etc.), provide your perspective on the page, add new information, share an anecdote, or add a link that sends readers somewhere else.

I believe Google uses an algorithm to rank Sidekwiki posts by relevance and credibility rather than chronology. Through its webmaster tools it will also allow the website owner always to have the first note in the sidebar.

Of course, the dangers are self-evident. My first Sidewiki contribution to the front page of the Globe and Mail was a complaint about the panic-inducing headlines and coverage of H1N1 in Canada's national newspaper. As much as I like to be helpful, I am just as likely to get frustrated by the content on organizations' web pages. Now I can have that frustration, even anger or disgust  made evident to every other reader of the page with the Sidwiki app.

The debate about the ethics of being able to tread on the last piece of web ground that an organization could "own" should go on for a long time yet once people take the full measure of this new social combat tool. At least I hope it does. (If you want to see some pretty harsh and cogent criticisms take a look at the website called Sidewiki Sux.)

But Sidewiki may have one benefit. For those of us who get stonewalled whenever we suggest that organizations should pay more attention to their websites, make them more peppy and responsive, treat them less like a print annual report or marketing brochure and more like, say, a collaboration platform, this may be a turning point.

Could Sidewiki actually encourage (force) website owners to breathe life back into moribund web anatomies because people may actually be stopping by and, excuse the vulgarity, taking a piss on them?

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I am a bit late to the game with comments on Sidewiki. (It launched more than a month ago.) A student in my Ryerson University reputation management class gave a presentation on it the other night which got me thinking that the debate about its influence on public relations has been thin. Surprising really given that some, like Mark Rose, believe Sidewiki “is a PR game changer”.

Here’s what Sidewiki allows you to do once you have installed the application: As Google describes it “Google Sidewiki is a browser sidebar that lets you contribute and read information alongside any web page.”

In other words, you can write an un-moderated comment beside any web page you want. You can add anything you like (with the usual caveats about libel, perversion, vulgarity, etc.), provide your perspective on the page, add new information, share an anecdote, or add a link that sends readers somewhere else.

I believe Google uses an algorithm to rank Sidekwiki posts by relevance and credibility rather than chronology. Through its webmaster tools it will also allow the website owner always to have the first note in the sidebar.

Of course, the dangers are self-evident. My first Sidewiki contribution to the front page of the Globe and Mail was a complaint about the panic-inducing headlines and coverage of H1N1 in Canada’s national newspaper. As much as I like to be helpful, I am just as likely to get frustrated by the content on organizations’ web pages. Now I can have that frustration, even anger or disgust  made evident to every other reader of the page with the Sidwiki app.

The debate about the ethics of being able to tread on the last piece of web ground that an organization could “own” should go on for a long time yet once people take the full measure of this new social combat tool. At least I hope it does. (If you want to see some pretty harsh and cogent criticisms take a look at the website called Sidewiki Sux.)

But Sidewiki may have one benefit. For those of us who get stonewalled whenever we suggest that organizations should pay more attention to their websites, make them more peppy and responsive, treat them less like a print annual report or marketing brochure and more like, say, a collaboration platform, this may be a turning point.

Could Sidewiki actually encourage (force) website owners to breathe life back into moribund web anatomies because people may actually be stopping by and, excuse the vulgarity, taking a piss on them?

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Twitter . . . One More Entry http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/05/twitter-one-more-entry/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/05/twitter-one-more-entry/#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2009 15:42:26 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5403360 Okay, just one more post on Twitter. Hat tip to Meghan Warby for directing me to this:

Dilbert.com

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Okay, just one more post on Twitter. Hat tip to Meghan Warby for directing me to this:

Dilbert.com

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