Posts Tagged Social Media

Jonseing for java (apps)

I have a strict morning routine (I’m sure most of you out there have a similar one):
– rinse my Strabucks Grande To Go Tumbler
– throw Tumbler onto my passenger seat
– fill up Tumbler with Americano at Starbucks
– gulp down coffee

Ever since my first year of college I have been gulping down a huge cup of joe each morning to give me a jolt – to wake me up. It’s gotten worse since then. I now consume more coffee than I do water (eek!)

Today, I came across an article in the Toronto Star that just screamed “Maricel! Read me!”

The article, by Associated Press reporter Emily Zeugner, reveals many of us have become coffee-dependent zombies is because we are living in a culture of overstimulation. Experts blame sleep deprivation on people being increasingly addicted to technology.

We are no longer staying up to catch the 11pm news (we’ve already received the breaking news alerts on our BlackBerries), or watch a re-run of Jerry Springer (we’ve already seen it on YouTube) or to fall asleep to an infomercial about some weird concoction.

We’re cutting our sleep time short to blog, e-mail, chat on MSN, Twitter and to post videos on Seesmic – basically, we spend our time in front of the computer instead of in front of the TV.

That means stakeholders  are also yawning away in front of the computer screen. 
They’re blogging about products and services, they’re posting pictures on Facebook and they’re taking part in conversations PR people should be listening in on.

This article didn’t just remind me that it’s extremely unhealthy to function on less that eight hours of sleep. It reminded that we are living in a world where discussions don’t die at the end of the work day.
Where public opinion shifts with the help of just one blog post.
Where a video posted in the wee hours of the morning can garner media attention from major outlets because websurfers have caused a stir about it.

We’re all tired because we’re online way past our bedtimes, but clearly we aren’t growing tired of this trend.



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The more you read, the more you know…

I finally picked up Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.
I’ve only gotten as far as 1/3 of chapter one, but I felt compelled to blog about how great I think this book is for PR students like myself.

When my professor Gary Schlee asked the class to create a personal blogs a couple of students moaned and groaned. They thought it was either a waste of time and energy or because they had absolutely no idea how to even go about doing it or what they would write about. I was one of those students.

After getting my blog up and running my opinion changed. I began to enjoy it. I began to understand the importance of familiarizing myself with all ins and outs of the world of social media.
We don’t work, communicate, learn, shop and share the same way we did a couple of years ago. The number of people who pick up the morning paper is declining, there are more magazines on the stands because readers are choosing a different means of getting their information and television ratings aren’t what they used to be.

Where are all of these readers and viewers?


On the inside sleeve of the book it says:

“Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on YouTube. They’re defining you on Wikipedia abd ganging up on you social networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenon – the groundswell – that has created a permanent shift in the the way the word works.”

Keeping this in mind, PR students should realize what an exciting time it is to be entering the industry. Things are constantly shifting as millions of people across the city, the country and the globe log on and off. I was a bit scared about jumping in and and exploring the social media buffet because I’m no social media pro, but I compared it to swimming – the only way you’ll ever learn how is if you jump in.

So I think the best way to keep up with the current is to read, read and read some more.
Read blogs and read books recommended by PR pros, but I think taking the time to write and reflect about the information you pick up is also important.


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Beware while surfing…someone may be AstroTurfing


What is AstroTurfing?

– AstroTurfing is a formal public relations project launched under the impression of spontaneous, grassroots behaviour. The goal is to fool the public/intended audience into believing the posted material was authored/created by a person/persons who have no ties to the person/service/product/organization in which the post is related to.

Wikipedia’s definition of AstroTurfing:
In American politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous, grassroots behavior. The goal is the appearance of independent public reaction to a politician, political group, product, service, event, or similar entities by centrally orchestrating the behavior of many diverse and geographically distributed individuals.

Several cases of AstroTurfing have made headlines across North America.
Wal-Mart and Edelman Public Relations launched the Working Families for Wal-Mart organization and portrayed it as a grassroots group in December 2005. The organization was created to counter criticism of Wal-Mart from union-funded groups like Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart. The organization’s website posted the following mission statement:

“Working Families for Wal-Mart is committed to fostering open and honest dialogue with elected officials, opinion makers and community leaders that conveys the positive contributions of Wal-Mart to working families. We believe that Wal-Mart provides value to its customers, to its associates and to the communities it serves.”

Working Families for Wal-Mart apparently also sponsored the “Wal-Mart Across America” blog – where a couple posed as “Wal-Mart” fans travelling in an RV to various Wal-Mart locations across the country. It was later discovered that the male was actually a photographer for the Washington Post and the female was freelance writer who worked for United States Department of Treasury.

To read Fortune’s article about the issue click here.

We live in the electronic era, making it easier for companies to form an AstroTurfing campaign. A number of resources and tools are ready at the click of a button and the Internet makes it more cost effective.
PR bloggers Paull Young and Trevor Cook have spearheaded a true grassroots campaign to get PR practitioners around the world to take a stand against AstroTrufing.

AstroTurfing is unethical and – when carried out as a PR campaign – makes the profession look horrible. So how can young PR people help? Pall Young has a couple of tips:

  • Join the conversation – write against astroturfing on your blog or comment on the blog posts listed on the Anti-Astroturfing page on the New PR Wiki
  •  Declare you and/or your agency astroturf free
  • Expose possible examples of astroturfing
  • Link to the Anti-Astroturfing page with the image provided and add your name to the list of supporters below
  • Call on your politicians to take tougher legislative action against astroturfing
  • Call on your industry / professional association to speak out against astroturfing
  • Encourage friends and colleagues to get involved

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Social media: hurting or helping your job search?

Joseph Thornley writes:

I do not hire entry level people without looking at their blog, following their twitter stream and checking their Facebook presence. I want a sense of who they are over time, not just when they are in my office. I want to know what they think on the issues they care about and how they express themselves. I want to see whether and how they connect with others. And I can find out all those things from their social media presence.

What happened to the days when employers looked over your resume, did an interview (or two) and then made their decision based on information and observations gathered from the process?

I’ll tell you what happened.

Facebook. MySpace. Blogging. Twitter.
You get the picture…

I’ve read several articles about the effect social media now has on the hiring process. Most of the articles looked at this trend negatively, but I disagree.

It’s a win-win situation for employers and employees.

Before social media took over, employers relied solely on resumes, interviews and references to help them decide whether or not a candidate met all of the requirements. They only got to see the sugar-coated, polished, dressed-up version of candiates.
Now, they have the tools to help them scratch the surface a bit to see if the nut inside is as fetching as the shell.

If you have common-sense (which, funny enough, isn’t very common at all), you know employers are looking at Facebook profiles, MySpace pages and blogs to help them figure out who they should and shouldn’t hire.

Having said that, you should think twice before posting or writing anything on the World Wide Web.

Remember that picture of you after a couple of tequila shots from last Friday’s pub night?
(note to self: take pictures from pub night down)

Probably not something your potential employer would like to see.

I think if you keep in mind that your audience consists of more than just classmates and friends, having a strong and active presence in the social media world means:

  • you can showcase your strong communication and writing skills
  • employers can verify that the nut inside the shiny shell is just as admirable
  • you can paint a very positive and accurate picture of yourself
  • you can set yourself apart from the other candidates (involvement in/with companies, organizations, etc.)

One more thing. If you have ANY of the following listed under “interests” or “activities”, you may want to consider revising that list:

  • Drinkin’ wit my pples and havin’ a hella good tyme
  • Rollin’ fat ones
  • Moochin off my ‘rents
  • Just chillin’ and veggin’ out

Why did I mention that? Please read this article.

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