Bandwidth » Intangibles 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 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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Print Backsliding – Cause for Worry? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/30/print-backsliding-cause-for-worry/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/30/print-backsliding-cause-for-worry/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 23:00:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5928912 It's maybe time to close the book on the reality of the decline in newspapers and get on with the argument about the hole it leaves, or doesn't. The latest is summarized in a blog post on Reflections of a Newsosaur aptly called "Carnage continued in Q3 newspaper sales"

"Continuing 14 straight quarters of mostly accelerating declines, total print advertising in the third period fell a bit less than 29% to $5.8 billion. Interactive advertising sales, which the industry once hoped would be its salvation, dropped nearly 17% in the third quarter to $623 million, marking the sixth quarter in a row of declines in this crucial category."

This is stark evidence that in spite of industry claims to the contrary the legacy media infrastructure is, like Marx's hope for the State, simply withering away, and the end point of the decline isn't yet in sight.

It is what it is and there is likely no going back, even if I share the angst the diminution occasions. The important discussion now is what should be saved and how. In spite of the stupidity of much of today's 'entertainews' , we still need columnists like the Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson who keeps the current Canadian governing party in his sights and calls it out for every mendacious and insensitive word and act, which keeps him busy.  Democracy ought to have a vigorous fourth estate. Or, at least, it cant do without wise, critical, often cantankerous, always careful sentinels.

But let's be clear about a few things:

  1. The disappearance of print vehicles isn't the same thing as a flight from the consumption of news and information. People today are consuming more information and news than they ever have in the past. A lot of it is junk like TMZ.com and Perez Hilton's blog. (Then again, there have always been gossip, scandal, heartbreak and blood-first news books.) But it can't be denied that the rate of taking in news, facts and opinion is, in fact, going up.
  2. People are finding niche and important-to-them information, arguing with it, deep diving into it when it concerns them or affects their lives, and forming into groups when the news or chicanery requires action. There may be, to quote the 'Internationale' (there is a theme here you can tell) "a better world in birth."

I am in the camp which thinks the new substructure already exists for a strong new 'estate' of inventive, articulate (even if their metier is the image), critical guardians of democracy and its breeches. All the cream hasn't yet risen to the top as it has in print and television commentary. But there are beachheads, in Canada anyway, with the likes of David Eaves or some of the writers at the online newspaper The Tyee and, occasionally, The Torontoist.

So, there is no cause for worry because, as a recent article by David Carr concludes:

Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful.

 

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It’s maybe time to close the book on the reality of the decline in newspapers and get on with the argument about the hole it leaves, or doesn’t. The latest is summarized in a blog post on Reflections of a Newsosaur aptly called “Carnage continued in Q3 newspaper sales”

“Continuing 14 straight quarters of mostly accelerating declines, total print advertising in the third period fell a bit less than 29% to $5.8 billion. Interactive advertising sales, which the industry once hoped would be its salvation, dropped nearly 17% in the third quarter to $623 million, marking the sixth quarter in a row of declines in this crucial category.”

This is stark evidence that in spite of industry claims to the contrary the legacy media infrastructure is, like Marx’s hope for the State, simply withering away, and the end point of the decline isn’t yet in sight.

It is what it is and there is likely no going back, even if I share the angst the diminution occasions. The important discussion now is what should be saved and how. In spite of the stupidity of much of today’s ‘entertainews’ , we still need columnists like the Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson who keeps the current Canadian governing party in his sights and calls it out for every mendacious and insensitive word and act, which keeps him busy.  Democracy ought to have a vigorous fourth estate. Or, at least, it cant do without wise, critical, often cantankerous, always careful sentinels.

But let’s be clear about a few things:

  1. The disappearance of print vehicles isn’t the same thing as a flight from the consumption of news and information. People today are consuming more information and news than they ever have in the past. A lot of it is junk like TMZ.com and Perez Hilton’s blog. (Then again, there have always been gossip, scandal, heartbreak and blood-first news books.) But it can’t be denied that the rate of taking in news, facts and opinion is, in fact, going up.
  2. People are finding niche and important-to-them information, arguing with it, deep diving into it when it concerns them or affects their lives, and forming into groups when the news or chicanery requires action. There may be, to quote the ‘Internationale’ (there is a theme here you can tell) “a better world in birth.”

I am in the camp which thinks the new substructure already exists for a strong new ‘estate’ of inventive, articulate (even if their metier is the image), critical guardians of democracy and its breeches. All the cream hasn’t yet risen to the top as it has in print and television commentary. But there are beachheads, in Canada anyway, with the likes of David Eaves or some of the writers at the online newspaper The Tyee and, occasionally, The Torontoist.

So, there is no cause for worry because, as a recent article by David Carr concludes:

Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful.

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CSR and Social Media http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/20/csr-and-social-media/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/11/20/csr-and-social-media/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2009 12:35:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5827054 Companies have an ambivalent relationship with corporate social responsibility. To the extent that CSR involves commitment to compliance, environmental targets, strategic philanthropy, annual reporting and some level of stakeholder engagement, it is comfortable or at least acceptable as a risk mitigation strategy.

However, most CSR programs are starved of what Canadian Business For Social Responsibility (CBSR) calls the truly 'transformational', what I like to think of as the broader promises for accountable behaviour, transparency, community-building and dialogue (the "art of thinking together" - William Issacs). This is not to say this is for every company either easy or even desirable. Some industries and service sectors, whose products simply use up non-renewable resources, will never achieve anything even close to social assent.

Here's one idea though for companies who want to do a little more than the routine CSR hygiene activities: Explore the possibility that people may want to talk with you about what you are doing. The most productive way of doing that today is through social media. Although the risk-benefit ratio is a little higher than, say, hand-picking a stakeholder advisory panel to advise on your CSR report, the upside of creating or, better, joining social media platforms -- in knowledge-gained and friends made -- is worth it.

Some recent writings that throw a little light on what's possible:

  • At 'Reimaging CSR', Jessica Stannard-Friel provides a summary of recent discussion about the part that a social media strategy can play in ratcheting up the impact of CSR in organizations. Ms Stannard-Friel herself is an observant commenter on CSR trends.
  • An article in Fast Company looks at how an American bank is using crowdsourcing to select the beneficiaries of its strategic philanthropy program.
  • Melissa Rowley at Mashable gives three good reasons for using social media as part of a company's CSR program . . . "getting to know your constituents", "influencing customers as citizens", and "getting your good work out there".
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Companies have an ambivalent relationship with corporate social responsibility. To the extent that CSR involves commitment to compliance, environmental targets, strategic philanthropy, annual reporting and some level of stakeholder engagement, it is comfortable or at least acceptable as a risk mitigation strategy.

However, most CSR programs are starved of what Canadian Business For Social Responsibility (CBSR) calls the truly ‘transformational’, what I like to think of as the broader promises for accountable behaviour, transparency, community-building and dialogue (the “art of thinking together” – William Issacs). This is not to say this is for every company either easy or even desirable. Some industries and service sectors, whose products simply use up non-renewable resources, will never achieve anything even close to social assent.

Here’s one idea though for companies who want to do a little more than the routine CSR hygiene activities: Explore the possibility that people may want to talk with you about what you are doing. The most productive way of doing that today is through social media. Although the risk-benefit ratio is a little higher than, say, hand-picking a stakeholder advisory panel to advise on your CSR report, the upside of creating or, better, joining social media platforms — in knowledge-gained and friends made — is worth it.

Some recent writings that throw a little light on what’s possible:

  • At ‘Reimaging CSR’, Jessica Stannard-Friel provides a summary of recent discussion about the part that a social media strategy can play in ratcheting up the impact of CSR in organizations. Ms Stannard-Friel herself is an observant commenter on CSR trends.
  • An article in Fast Company looks at how an American bank is using crowdsourcing to select the beneficiaries of its strategic philanthropy program.
  • Melissa Rowley at Mashable gives three good reasons for using social media as part of a company’s CSR program . . . “getting to know your constituents”, “influencing customers as citizens”, and “getting your good work out there”.
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Twitter . . . Why Bother? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/04/twitter-why-bother/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/10/04/twitter-why-bother/#comments Sun, 04 Oct 2009 20:18:41 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5368009 Maybe it isn't enough to denounce silly sniping at Twitter - as I did in the previous post - without making a case for why bother exchanging 140 characters with some friends and many more people I've never met.

How about because:

  1. You can use Twitter to reinforce the legitimate personal need to provide value through your comments, links, humor and polemic . . . I do.
  2. Twitter, as Andrew Keen said last Friday at a panel discussion with Clay Shirky, is pure, by which I think he means it is direct and surprisingly transparent.
  3. Twitter posts expose personality, your own and that of others, better than dinner party conversation. You learn a lot about people by what they contribute and how they participate.
  4. Twitter has some many political and social uses as evidenced by last June's elections in Iran. Jim Gilliam, creator of the Twitter petition tool called act.ly says his 'tweet change' tool makes it possible 'for anyone to pounce on an opportunity, no matter how small, without the run-up and vetting and committee meetings that traditional advocacy groups might have to churn through before they act.'
  5. It can be, says web strategist Jermiah Oywang, a shared feed reader, chat room, listening tool, traffic driving tool, and note space.
  6. People direct me to great stories, edgy ideas and very occasionally products (usually wine) that I would not find otherwise.

In other words, assuming you choose the right people to follow (and by "right" I mean those who you want as part of a community of interest) Twitter helps build fruitful, lively, and perspicacious reciprocal relationships.

If you have an extra six minutes, watch this video about why others like Twitter.

 

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Maybe it isn’t enough to denounce silly sniping at Twitter – as I did in the previous post – without making a case for why bother exchanging 140 characters with some friends and many more people I’ve never met.

How about because:

  1. You can use Twitter to reinforce the legitimate personal need to provide value through your comments, links, humor and polemic . . . I do.
  2. Twitter, as Andrew Keen said last Friday at a panel discussion with Clay Shirky, is pure, by which I think he means it is direct and surprisingly transparent.
  3. Twitter posts expose personality, your own and that of others, better than dinner party conversation. You learn a lot about people by what they contribute and how they participate.
  4. Twitter has some many political and social uses as evidenced by last June’s elections in Iran. Jim Gilliam, creator of the Twitter petition tool called act.ly says his ‘tweet change’ tool makes it possible ‘for anyone to pounce on an opportunity, no matter how small, without the run-up and vetting and committee meetings that traditional advocacy groups might have to churn through before they act.’
  5. It can be, says web strategist Jermiah Oywang, a shared feed reader, chat room, listening tool, traffic driving tool, and note space.
  6. People direct me to great stories, edgy ideas and very occasionally products (usually wine) that I would not find otherwise.

In other words, assuming you choose the right people to follow (and by “right” I mean those who you want as part of a community of interest) Twitter helps build fruitful, lively, and perspicacious reciprocal relationships.

If you have an extra six minutes, watch this video about why others like Twitter.

 

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