MSVU Social Media Course Blog

Just another weblog

Questions, queries & quandaries: The high standard of communication

I’ve been thinking about the readings we had to do for class last week and the great discussion we had in class on Wednesday, and I’ve been trying to decide what stood out as a point worth pursuing. I realized that this class and the use of social media have gotten me thinking about a lot of small things and a few big things all at once. I am constantly digesting new information and adapting to the nature of my ever-expanding perspective. Ok, I’ll move on from that statement for fear that I may sound a little too ‘Deepak Chopra’.

What I really mean to say is…am I processing this information from the perspective of a twenty-something individual or as a soon-to-be PR professional? And, does my perspective matter?

This week we’ve been talking about issues like the right to communicate, the age of ‘slacktivism’, gender and self-identity. As an individual, I take all of this information and apply it to my own frame of reference. As a PR professional, I take this information and think about it within an organizational or maybe even a global context. But where do the two meet?

Let me give you an example. We have been taught that transparency is an important aspect of organizational communication when it comes to social media. If an organization does not practice open and honest communication while using these tools I would have a difficult time working there. We don’t like to hear that organizations have employees going undercover as bloggers to promote various products. As PR professionals (I hope) we would never encourage an organization to hide the truth or pretend to be something that they are not.

Now what about my personal use of social media? I can go on Facebook, create a profile and write anything I want about myself. I can start conversations and relationships, post pictures and videos, basically create any identity that I want-whether it is true or false.

As communicators are we called to a higher standard of communication in our individual lives because of what we do professionally? Should my individual standards when it comes to using social media reflect my professional standards, or are the two even related?

My response is yes. Everything I do as an individual should reflect what I do as a professional and vice versa. When I work for an organization and encourage them to follow a certain standard of communication I think that my professional integrity depends on how well I ‘practice what I preach’. Don’t we expect a police officer to obey the law even more so than an average citizen because that is his/her profession?  

So obviously I’ve got an opinion and lots of questions. My final one is, what do you think?


May 25, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , | Leave a comment

Exclaiming (!!!) the variety of Spark

This week on Spark there were many topics to explore. Although I couldn’t help but read or listen to everything, for sanity’s sake I will give you only the ‘Reader’s Digest’ version. Here are two interesting tidbits:

-An interview with Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl about all things grammatical. She talks a lot about the overuse of exclamation marks in email writing.
Do you think we’ve taken advantage of the exclamation mark?  Is it unprofessional to use multiple exclamation marks in an email? What about emoticons? I think this is a relevant discussion for PR practitioners.  Please, do tell!!!!!! (grammatical pun intended)

-Spark conducted somewhat of an online experiment in partnership with a website called

Allison Buchan-Terrell writes, “Have you ever been embroiled in a fight you just can’t resolve? You’ve talked to everyone you know about it, but you can’t seem to find an impartial ear. Why not trust the blind wisdom of the online masses to solve your dispute and get a crowdsourced resolution.” allows people to make anonymous postings defending one side of an argument and then the ‘crowd’ gets to decide who the winner is. This is an interesting concept. I’d like to know if Sidetaker actually helps end arguments, or if it just becomes the root cause of many more arguments.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | 2 Comments

Naked Airlines and the Green Movement

In looking at the Buzz Bin this week, the post dated May 21st talks about the latest buzz surrounding a new ad for Air New Zealand, which shows staff painted naked. This concept was built around the idea that the organization is transparent and has no hidden airline fees. The “nothing to hide” idea is directly linked to its air fares, but also to its organization philosophy to be transparent and social media is being utilized to help market this philosophy. Geoff Livingston says of the organization, “Social media is about being you and Air New Zealand definitely feels comfortable showing its character”. This just goes to show that social media should be used to its fullest potential to get people’s attention. This organization knows who they are and is not afraid to spread their messages in ways that people will me sure to respond to. Livingstone supports this gutsy move stating, “you can’t please everybody all the time, unless you are saying nothing at all. And at that point you’re just not marketing – at least not well”.

In the world of social media there is so much creative freedom and so many messages out there, so it pretty much forces organizations to be creative in how they present their messages.

Another post which caught my interest as Livingston’s commentary on the Green movement, dated May 17th. He emphasises the challenge of changing behaviours and getting people to change their lifestyles to truly be “green” which ties into my discussion of online activism. He states that there are 3 hurdles to overcome before the green movement will be fully adopted by the public. First he states that most green products and services are not yet accepted because they are unproven and expensive. Secondly Livingston says that with the green movement, the Good Samaritan approach (“it’s the right thing to do”) isn’t quite enough to encourage people to act anymore. And thirdly he states that an attitude that green isn’t cool still exists – despite the fact that it IS the right thing to do. Overall, Livingston thinks that green companies simply need to make their products more appealing and attractive to users, in order for there to be a move forward.

In looking at both these posts I wonder if environmental groups and companies could learn something from Air New Zealand and perhaps strive to become more effective in their messaging in a way that grabs people’s attention. After all, the commercial with naked stewardesses and baggage handlers definitely caught my attention, if I ever have the chance to fly with them, I will!


May 25, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment