The|Intangibles » Public Relations http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/boydneil Selected posts from Boyd Neil's blog at http://www.boydneil.com Tue, 23 Nov 2010 20:22:30 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Another Study on Social Media Usage by Business http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/11/8/another-study-on-social-media-usage-by-business.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/11/8/another-study-on-social-media-usage-by-business.html#comments Mon, 08 Nov 2010 19:17:45 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9410873

Valeria Maltoni at Conversation Agent reports on another study from SmartBrief on the use being made by business of social media. I haven’t had a chance to look at the study itself, but Ms Maltoni does a quick-and-dirty summary of the study’s eight key themes.

One of her conclusions surprises me:

Despite their early presence in social media, communications and PR firms are not the chosen source of advice or consultation on social media for companies. Instead, the majority of companies are using internal resources for developing and implementing their social-media strategies.

It may explain, though, why according to Ms Maltoni’s review of the the study most companies are focusing on what she labels “generic topics and mainstream tools” specifically Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs.

Which in turn raises the question whether the topics and tools are being chosen by internal teams as the outcome of a strategic assessment of the social web in the context of business objectives, or random experimentation driven by an executive itch for results that needs scratching.

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Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Literacies http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/9/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/9/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies.html#comments Sat, 25 Sep 2010 17:54:08 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:8983194

Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs among other writings on technology and culture, spoke (inspirationally) last Thursday at Toronto’s Ryerson University about the use of social media in education. That’s him below . . .

One of his themes is the need for educational institutions, instructional designers and teachers to recognize the new ‘literacies’ required of graduates, and the implications of them on how and what is taught.

The ‘literacies’ in Rheingold’s lexicon are attention, participation, collaboration and critical consumption, all of which make sense given the ubiquity of information, ease of search and value of networks in invention and ideation. Critical consumption – or crap detection – is especially important in a culture in which even barely educated Hollywood celebrities and 16-year-old pop singers have political and social opinions they think worthy of tweeting. And I would also add visual mindfulness to the list given the increasingly dominant place of images in online narratives.

I did wonder, though, about how much Rheingold values what he called ‘alphabetic’ literacy and the role it plays in his collaborative model of learning. As the final assignment in his course at Stanford, Rheingold asks his students, reluctantly I sense, to create (not ‘write’) an essay drawing together the words or concepts defined throughout the course. But the chronicle seems secondary to the process of connecting and interacting to develop the understanding, which now that I think of it is true . . . to a point.

My experience teaching at two urban Canadian universities and as a communications consultant in a large firm, makes me sensitive to any devaluation of the act of writing and what it requires in logical structuring and presentation of ideas. I see a lot of sloppy writing, from essays to news releases. And by sloppy I don’t mean the creative manipulation of language to make a point or give birth to a feeling, which can be artful.

Writing in Wired a few months ago, Clive Thomson reported that:

In interviews, they (students) defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world. For them, writing is about persuading and organizing and debating, even if it’s over something as quotidian as what movie to go see.
Nothing wrong with that. But persuading, organizing and debating, especially persuading and debating, without the rigor of expression is ineffective and usually boring. Not that I think Rheingold undervalues rhetoric. He is too much the master of language and reasoned argument himself. But I do think he and others should be careful not to turn a blind eye to how untutored many people are these days, and the fault is only ours when we don’t ask for high standards in expression even if people are attentive, participatory, and collaborative and exhibit effective bullshit detection.
Critic and scholar Jacques Barzun justifies why in the preface to his 1986 book A Word or Two Before You Go:

The fact is that great ideas and deep feelings cannot be fully known or enjoyed, rightly valued or reported, unless they are closely scanned in the only way open to us – matching the experience with the right words.

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‘Managing’ Negative Perception http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/1/27/managing-negative-perception.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2010/1/27/managing-negative-perception.html#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2010 23:53:03 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6447675 The slides below are from a presentation I gave today at a conference on renewable energy infrastructure. I am not sure how useful the presentation will be without my narrative, but if you have any questions post a comment and I promise to answer.

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The slides below are from a presentation I gave today at a conference on renewable energy infrastructure. I am not sure how useful the presentation will be without my narrative, but if you have any questions post a comment and I promise to answer.

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Why Sidewiki May be Okay http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/11/13/why-sidewiki-may-be-okay.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/11/13/why-sidewiki-may-be-okay.html#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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Why ‘Media’ with ‘Social’ http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/10/19/why-media-with-social.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/10/19/why-media-with-social.html#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2009 12:00:00 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5501477 A post by a colleague got me thinking about the phrase 'social media' as the lexeme to describe the technologies of web-based self-publishing that have led to unprecedented connection, conversation, engagement and community.

The provenance of the phrase is evidently to contrast user-generated news and comment with mainstream or industrial media in which the 'means of production' to use the Marxist description (also favoured by cultural commentator Andrew Keen) are owned by corporations not the individuals who create the content. The debate about whether 'social media' is the right term has been going on for at least two years.

The problem I have is less with the 'social' element of the lexeme than with 'media' to describe the interface, although a colleague did comment the other day that it would make it easier to sell social media as a communications strategy to companies if it didn't contain the word 'social' which smacks of people-driven rather than business-driven decision making . . . which is the point of course.

Let's do a little academic geekery here. Dictionary.com defines media as "the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely." (The 'reach' is becoming questionable and the 'influence' declining. But that's the subject of a future post.) The Online Etymology Dictionary suggest a derivation from the "notion of 'intermediate agency,' a sense first found around 1605." According to Spiritus Temporis, media refers to "those organized means of dissemination of fact, opinion, entertainment, and other information."

You see the trend: The word 'media' has about it the notion of a channel by which you deliver something to people, not interconnect with them. Some, well many, communications and marketing people have a hard time switching mental models when it comes to assessing social tools for online interaction. They fixate on the term 'media' and apply old public relations patterns and benchmarks to social media strategies.

Doc Searls (co-author of the groundbreaking book The Cluetrain Manifesto), for one, objects strenuously to the limitations and misdirection prompted by the 'media' terminology. I do to . . . but the battle for a new conceptual model may already be lost as usage soon drives definition. Even though the conceits of social computing tools, social interaction software or social engagement strategies seem to collocate better the important elements of the digitally-driven cultural revolution, they still aren't really there yet.

So, can we revive the two-year-old or longer debate? Or has it been resolved and I am just out of the loop?

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A post by a colleague got me thinking about the phrase ’social media’ as the lexeme to describe the technologies of web-based self-publishing that have led to unprecedented connection, conversation, engagement and community.

The provenance of the phrase is evidently to contrast user-generated news and comment with mainstream or industrial media in which the ‘means of production’ to use the Marxist description (also favoured by cultural commentator Andrew Keen) are owned by corporations not the individuals who create the content. The debate about whether ’social media’ is the right term has been going on for at least two years.

The problem I have is less with the ’social’ element of the lexeme than with ‘media’ to describe the interface, although a colleague did comment the other day that it would make it easier to sell social media as a communications strategy to companies if it didn’t contain the word ’social’ which smacks of people-driven rather than business-driven decision making . . . which is the point of course.

Let’s do a little academic geekery here. Dictionary.com defines media as “the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely.” (The ‘reach’ is becoming questionable and the ‘influence’ declining. But that’s the subject of a future post.) The Online Etymology Dictionary suggest a derivation from the “notion of ‘intermediate agency,’ a sense first found around 1605.” According to Spiritus Temporis, media refers to “those organized means of dissemination of fact, opinion, entertainment, and other information.”

You see the trend: The word ‘media’ has about it the notion of a channel by which you deliver something to people, not interconnect with them. Some, well many, communications and marketing people have a hard time switching mental models when it comes to assessing social tools for online interaction. They fixate on the term ‘media’ and apply old public relations patterns and benchmarks to social media strategies.

Doc Searls (co-author of the groundbreaking book The Cluetrain Manifesto), for one, objects strenuously to the limitations and misdirection prompted by the ‘media’ terminology. I do to . . . but the battle for a new conceptual model may already be lost as usage soon drives definition. Even though the conceits of social computing tools, social interaction software or social engagement strategies seem to collocate better the important elements of the digitally-driven cultural revolution, they still aren’t really there yet.

So, can we revive the two-year-old or longer debate? Or has it been resolved and I am just out of the loop?

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International Public Relations SUMMIT http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/9/27/international-public-relations-summit.html http://www.boydneil.com/blog/2009/9/27/international-public-relations-summit.html#comments Sun, 27 Sep 2009 21:01:04 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:5315749 Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I will be able to attend the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit in London this October. It takes place Friday, 30 October 2009 at Merchant Taylor's Hall, Threadneedle Street, London and the theme is PR in times of crisis – From austerity to opportunity. You can register here if you can spring for a thousand or so British pounds, plus travel.

This is one of the few international conferences I get to, having been to three IPRA Summits in London over the past 2 1/2 years. (Disclosure . . . I am a member of the IPRA's governing council.) Having not been offered a speaking platform (which I have in the past), and running up against the restrictions on business travel common to many agencies these days, the chances of getting to the U.K. for October 30th are slim.

I'll miss it.

The number of North American public relations and social media conferences is overwhelming. However, at them seldom do you hear the perspectives of French, British, Israeli, Norwegian, Russia, Irish, Indonesian, Indian, Nigerian, and Singaporean public relations professionals, for  example, as I have at the London meetings. Their experiences can be sharper than in North America; their stakeholders more aggressive; their governments over-intrusive; their cultures less - or more - flexible; their political sensibilities acute; and their use of mobile technologies extravagant.

The speakers at this year's conference include Nick Sharples, Sony Europe (who has tweeted all of once at @SharplesN); Fernando Rizo, Ketchum UK; Robin O’Kelly, T-Mobile; Rob Brown, author of Public Relations and the Social Web; Elizabeth Goenawan Ananto(Indonesia); Tim Weber - BBC Interactive (who tweets at @tim_weber); and Maria Gergova - IPRA.

Less cosmopolitan than usual, but still a strong cast.

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Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I will be able to attend the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit in London this October. It takes place Friday, 30 October 2009 at Merchant Taylor’s Hall, Threadneedle Street, London and the theme is PR in times of crisis – From austerity to opportunity. You can register here if you can spring for a thousand or so British pounds, plus travel.

This is one of the few international conferences I get to, having been to three IPRA Summits in London over the past 2 1/2 years. (Disclosure . . . I am a member of the IPRA’s governing council.) Having not been offered a speaking platform (which I have in the past), and running up against the restrictions on business travel common to many agencies these days, the chances of getting to the U.K. for October 30th are slim.

I’ll miss it.

The number of North American public relations and social media conferences is overwhelming. However, at them seldom do you hear the perspectives of French, British, Israeli, Norwegian, Russia, Irish, Indonesian, Indian, Nigerian, and Singaporean public relations professionals, for  example, as I have at the London meetings. Their experiences can be sharper than in North America; their stakeholders more aggressive; their governments over-intrusive; their cultures less – or more – flexible; their political sensibilities acute; and their use of mobile technologies extravagant.

The speakers at this year’s conference include Nick Sharples, Sony Europe (who has tweeted all of once at @SharplesN); Fernando Rizo, Ketchum UK; Robin O’Kelly, T-Mobile; Rob Brown, author of Public Relations and the Social Web; Elizabeth Goenawan Ananto(Indonesia); Tim Weber – BBC Interactive (who tweets at @tim_weber); and Maria Gergova – IPRA.

Less cosmopolitan than usual, but still a strong cast.

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