Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cool Creativity from our East Coast Friends: iPhone, eat yer heart out!

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Wouldn’t you like to own one of these?


Nice to see the public sector willing to try something a little different.

Note: the Pomegranate Phone campaign was created by our east coast partner.

Wall Street and the Art of Creative Communications

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Amid the chaos engulfing Wall Street, this is a useful reminder that powerful communications can take many creative forms… and, in doing so, achieve exposure far beyond its traditional confines:

(Photo credit: ESeraph)

Update: Check out portraits of other “fallen icons” from the same artist


The Challenge of Social Media Measurement… in a Nutshell

posted by Brendan Hodgson

David Churbuck calls it the web metrics quote of the century… and I have to agree in spades (particularly as it relates to social media):

“Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts”



Questions from the C-Suite on Social Media and corporate reputation

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Only a day back from vacation and I was presenting to a boardroom of senior executives of one of Canada’s largest corportations on the topic of social media and corporate reputation. Having given a number of these educational sessions to the C-suite, I’ve noticed a few recurring questions which I’ll be blogging about over the next few months – here’s a sampling:

  • Why should I care if a Youtube video attacking our company has been viewed only XX times or if a Facebook group targeting our business has only XX members?
  • When should we respond to criticism in the social media space – or do we risk making a small issue bigger?
  • Our company workforce numbers in the ‘000’s. How can we prevent employees from mis-using social media and potentially damaging our reputation?
  • How can social media help us to counteract the voices of our detractors?
  • How can we prevent rogue employees or activists from capturing “gotcha” moments on their camera-phones?
  • How can social media help me in a crisis? What do I need to do to prepare?
  • Who should “own” social media in our organization?
  • How do we measure it’s effectiveness?
  • Where do we begin?

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer… Not Likely!

posted by Brendan Hodgson

As the seasons shift from spring to summer, there’s always a smidgen of hope – soon dashed – that the hottest months might, in fact, be a tad quieter than the rest of the year. And without exception, this year demonstrates the folly of harbouring such expectations.

From a digital perspective in Canada, there appears to be no let up in sight, nor does the social media world appear to bring any respite for the weary, as even during a brief lull and a few days at the cottage and by the sea, much appears to have transpired:

  • In the U.S., the Securities & Exchange Commission finally gets with the times. Per a recent speech given by Kim McManus, Special Counsel, Division of Corporate Finance, the SEC will be providing ”additional guidance and greater certainty on how companies can use their web sites to provide information to investors in compliance with the federal securities laws.” - It will be interesting to see what this will mean for Canadian companies and those companies trading on Canadian exchanges. Equally interesting is the debate around whether this will signal the death knell of the newswires that rely so heavily on disclosure-related activity, as some are already predicting.
  • Kate Trgovac pointed me to this recent post by Jeremiah Owyang initially discussing what appeared to be a potentially ill-guided foray by ExxonMobil into the Twittersphere, but which later showed the company to be the unwitting victim of a brandjacker. This incident clearly reinforces the need for vigilance against brand attacks from across any channels, not simply traditional media. At the same time, however, and while this situation highlights the increasing influence of micro-blogging tools such as Twitter for purposes both nefarious as well as good, it also demonstrates the power of both the blogosphere and Twitter to escalate this issue, despite any real efforts (other than it would seem by Shel Holz) to go to the source to determine if “Janet” was, in fact, an ExxonMobil employee. 
  • Speaking of disclosure, Jon Hamilton at Petro-Canada (Pump Talk blogger and client) recently notified me that the Blog Council, to which they belong, recently published its Disclosure Best Practice Tool Kit, a “draft series of checklists to help companies, their employees, and their agencies learn the appropriate and transparent ways to interact with blogs, bloggers, and the people who interact with them.” Much like H&K’s own social media guidelines, all common sense, yet a vital reminder to all employees of an organization (not just professional communicators) of the importance of transparency in this age of transparency.

What if there were no stop signs?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

We don’t have clients like this in the PR world… do we?


Want to jazz up your municipal web site? Start with Explosions!

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Rarely is it that municipal websites offer up anything of great excitement. So it was some kind of wonderful to be able to watch video of the controlled demolition of the lower half of the southside stands at Ottawa’s city-owned Landsdowne Park – which took place yesterday (July 20, 2008). Video provided courtesy of the City of Ottawa website.

For sure, explosions are cool. Even somewhat lame one’s such as this (only half the stands?). But given that this is a PR-focused blog, there’s also a communications message here, albeit buried amid the carnage. Namely, that innovative organizations – public and private alike - have incredible opportunities to become content creators and distributors in their own right, and to do so in ways that are far more compelling, and even relevant, to many of their target audiences, make their sites much more desirable destinations, and which go beyond traditional text-based media.

So should organizations simply video-tape and post content such as this for the sake their, erm, incredible awesomeness?  Yes, of course. More of the same, please. But they should also do so with the same level of consideration given to any communications strategy. Meaning, of course, that they have to get it right.

For example, what is the message the City is trying to reinforce here? Is there even one? Ultimately, I would suggest that this demonstrates clear “action” being taken by the City to move ahead with its plans – whatever they are – for the Park. Sadly, a lot of that context is missing from the site – and whatever there is is very difficult to find.

Because where communications typically lets people down is when it’s more about talk and soundbites rather than the actions that often validate those soundbites, and when information is communicated without context and thought to why it’s being communicated. And when you can show something as ‘memorable’ as this, it becomes a “proof point” that will stick in the minds of residents (and voters) when elected officials are asked to remind us just why they’re there, and just what we as taxpayers are paying for. 

Third Tuesday Ottawa is Back… featuring a rag-tag line-up including yours truly

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Yes, we at Third Tuesday Ottawa have been remiss… although I blame Joe and his uncooperative appendix.

But what with work, and trying to find top speakers who were prepared to brave the Ottawa winter, the stars just never seemed to align.

But hey, we’re back! And (he says smugly) the speaker line-up is awesome!

“It seems that almost every day, we hear an announcement of a new social media tool, social network or open standard that the inventors tell us we soon won’t be able to live without. At this month’s Third Tuesday Ottawa, we have a panel of Colin McKay, Ryan Anderson and Brendan Hodgson to lead a discussion of which social media tools are most useful and which are just code looking for a reason to be.”

Hmmm… there could be some very interesting tangents to follow here.

The rest of the deets:

Monday, May 5, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Clocktower Brew Pub
575 Bank Street downstairs
Ottawa , ON K1P 5N4

And kudos, once again, to our sponsors, CNW Group, who make it possible for us to keep Third Tuesdays as free events for the social media community.

Watergate hero on what makes good journalism

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Earlier this week, Roy Greenslade at the Guardian summarized a talk given by Carl Bernstein to attendees of the Perugia Journalism Festival. From the perspective of better understanding the motivations of media in times of crisis, and the culture of misinformation that now dominates the information landscape – driven primarily by the web – Bernstein’s insights are powerful reinforcement for those who, like myself, believe that the traditional media is under enormous pressure from a variety of forces – both financial and sociological.

“(Bernstein) talked of consolidation by the conglomerates that ‘makes truth-seeking secondary to making huge profits’. And, given that making any profit all has become increasingly difficult, the task of carrying out good journalism is more difficult than ever before.

Good journalism, (Bernstein) explained, is “a simple matter but difficult to achieve”, namely “trying to obtain the best attainable version of the truth.” And the best way of doing that? “Being a good listener.” And? “Listening to source after source after source”. And? Knocking on doors and wearing out shoe leather.

Bernstein believes that the web is redefining “what is news” and “is taking us back towards what news ought to be.” He agreed that there was also “unchecked crap” in the blogosphere but, overall, his view of the possibilities of online journalism seemed very positive. He liked the “free-for-all, opinionated, noisy, different stuff” that is available on the web.”

Why for you bury me in the cold cold ground?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

You get the picture… the Australian marsupial with its “ravenous appetites and crazed behaviorConstantly hungry and devouring everything in sight.”

It’s much like how I sometimes feel… complete with growls, screeches and raspberries… in trying to keep up with all the changes coming out of the ”social media” (r)evolution; the struggle to keep up, to consume, and to make sense of the endless morphing of the tools and technologies to which people turn to find, share and create content and information with people who share similar passions and interests.

And social networks are no exception.

Case in point, according to the Register, “web analytics outfit comScore has confirmed what the chatter in bars and cafes has been saying for months – people are, just, well, bored of social networks.” (hat tip to Kate). Around the same time I found myself perusing this tidbit about what might be (or already is) the next youth destination and metaphor for “cool”.

And it makes sense. As Harris succinctly puts it: It may be as simple as the first law of nature: Teenagers, as a matter of self-preservation, don’t want to be where their parents are… If Facebook — with 60 million members, seven million of them Canadian — has become the national water cooler for adults, Nexopia is the corner convenience store attracting their pierced and tattooed kids. The Canadian site now has 1.2 million members, only six per cent of whom are 23 or older.

But it begs the question (and the lame Looney Tunes metaphor): how do we stay on top of this (and all the other) new destinations that are emerging to challenge the status quo (if 18 months of faddishness can even be classified as such)? And how could I have missed it… me, with my hundred-plus feeds (that I rarely get round to reading). It’s perplexing. And frustrating. But it’s also what we’re paid to do.

So yeah, sometimes I feel my head is so buried in the day-to-day that I fear I’ll churn right past that left turn at Albuquerque.

Am I alone?