MSVU Social Media Course Blog

Just another weblog

Are you being blocked?

It has been a busy week for Evgeny Morozov on his blog, Net Effects. Seriously, lots of interesting blogs that make you go hummm.

The blog that made me sit back and think was one that dealt with Web filtering.

In this blog, Morozov quotes a newspaper article from Ontario’s Epoch Times on May 20, 2009.  In the article, author Matthew Little, describes a library in Mississauga, ON where a man was blocked from Chinese websites with content on the repression of the Tibetans and controversies during the 2008 Olympics. As these web sites should not be blocked, the man complained to the library manager and the issue was later brought to the city of Mississauga’s IT department.

The city blocked web sites that were in Chinese and did not have a translation for the IT employees to read. To help filter more Chinese web sites the city bought a web filtering package from a Chinese company. However the package had any web sites that rivaled the Chinese regime blocked. The city’s IT department was too lazy to change the security level for a non-communist county that allows free speech and does not censor political rivals.

This made me think. If the Chinese government is able to block and censor web sites that challenge its ideals, could this happen in Canada. We have experienced large media convergences in Canada in recent years with many internet suppliers owned by some of the large newspapers and broadcast companies. Could these few owners start blocking our web sites?

How do we know if our open communication and free speech is not being censored by big brother?

What do you think?



May 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Social press releases – how to combine the old with the new

On Monday, Brian Solis made a post on his blog that discusses the anatomy of a social press release  (this post is definitely worth taking a look at as its insights may benefit all of us in developing tactics for our client project pitches!).

To reiterate, the post is really worth looking at – I know that personally, I didn’t have a clear understanding about exactly what a social press release entailed – so this gave me a greater understanding of how we as PR practitioners can utilize social media to better communicate a message in a way that a traditional press release couldn’t.

To summarize, a social press release can include any material that will enhance the value of the message it’s sending – be it video, picture, or link – leaving the reader (in most cases, journalist) with a more complete impression. Not to sound cliche, but if a “picture paints a thousand words,” then as practitioners we can certainly use this visual impact as a way to communicate better and keep journalist’s attention better. It may allow us to convey a message better than 4 traditional pages worth of press release material ever could.

Brian Solis suggests blogs as a forum for these social press releases. To quote him, “It’s the most profound forum for actively demonstrating expertise and sharing vision and direction consistently over time. Blogs are also an ideal home for sharing news in a format that tells a story in a more human voice. It shouldn’t read as a typical release however. It should capture the essence of what’s new, unique, and worthy of attention and present it in a format that mirrors the story you would ultimately hope to read elsewhere – complete with all of the shareable media content that also speaks to people, their way.”

This point of view makes sense – but what about the old school journalists, who over the years, have developed names for themselves in traditional media as respected and reliable sources, and who aren’t social media savvy and would rather practice their craft in the good old fashioned way (the way that made them successful)?

We may have to rethink media relations practice completely in order to successfully integrate social media releases. Will this mean picking and choosing which journalists we think would be open to this new way of receiving our messages? Will this question provide a forum for discussion among PR practitioners and journalists about “what works”?

And from a client’s perspective – how can we explain all of this and still have them trust that their money is being put to good use… that there will be a result? A print article is (literally) black and white when it comes to coverage and audience impressions.

Any thoughts on how social media releases may change the face of media relations for PR practitioners?

Til my next post,


May 21, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment

About that Ice Cream Thing . . .


So I was thinking about the Social Media in Plain English  video that we watched in class this week on Youtube. And I was thinking that, while it does a great job of simplifying the concept of social media for those who have been living under a rock for the past five years, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

The video uses an ice cream metaphor to explain the social media phenomenon. Before social media tools, we were living in a world where information was disseminated by big companies, and therefore we only received a few types of information—or flavours of ice cream. Once the new tools came along however, people began to create their own flavours at an affordable cost. This created endless possibilities and a variety of flavours for everyone to enjoy.

But is it really that simple?

First of all, the video makes the assumption that everyone has access to the ice cream making tools. This is not the case with social media. Not everyone has access to a computer and/or internet. People in developing countries, for example would be hard-pressed to find access to the right tools to create and distribute their own flavours of information—and perhaps these are some flavours that should be shared in order to open our eyes to how diverse our world truly is. There could be thousands of exotic fruity ice creams that the world is being deprived of, because those who know how to make it don’t have the right tools.

Furthermore, not everyone knows how to make ice cream, or social media contributions. Senior citizens, for example grew up in a world without computers, and many of them don’t have the knowledge and skills required to share their stories and viewpoints through new media. I have a feeling that we are missing out on some real classic ice cream flavours here. With such emphasis placed upon social media, will those old recipes be lost once the older generations pass on?

While social media is an improvement in information sharing, it is not the idyllic solution that the Youtube video purports it to be. We still have a long way to go in creating a world where everyone’s voice can be heard. Recognizing the importance of information-sharing, I think it’s crucial that we improve access to and education surrounding social media tools. That way, we can ensure that we’re not depriving ourselves of the array of flavours that exist in our world.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment