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Embrace the Internet but don’t leave some employees behind

To gauge the importance of the Internet for the field of public relations we need not look any further than our classes this week. Without new technologies made possible through the internet, such as Skype and Twitter, we would never have been able to speak with Harold Simons in such a personal and effective manner and we would not have gotten the real world, real time experience of Ben and Kimberly’s Twitter experiment. 

The reading for this week by Paul Christ discusses the need for public relations professionals to embrace Internet technologies or be left in the dust, so to speak. I think, thanks to this social media class we are being taught very important and applicable lessons for our future careers that will certainly give us an edge as we search for employment in the future.

Rogers Plus internal communications strategy embraces the Internet in the way that Christ’s article suggests. One of the primary reasons offered by Christ as to why PR practitioners need to embrace Internet communication is because it is now one of the main ways people receive information. As an organization one must examine where their stakeholders get information and provide it through that portal. Simons did a great job with that. As most of Rogers Plus employees fit the 18-24 demographic they would most likely get their information via the Internet. By providing employee information via the ning site, he has made the information available in a way that they will most likely use.

Further, the Christ article, though it doesn’t speak to internal communications specifically, suggests that using the Internet helps to “develop stronger relationships with stakeholders [as] they can tailor their services to meet stakeholders’ needs.” This is evident through the initial success of the Rogers Plus employee site.  They found out what the employees needed from them and provided it through a custom site made especially for employees.

With all this in mind I still wonder: what does Rogers Plus do if a new employee doesn’t have access to the Internet? We (especially those of us who embrace social media like us) like to think that everyone we are trying to reach with our messaging has access to the Internet; but in reality that is not quite the case. As mentioned in a previous class, upwards of 80 per cent of Nova Scotians are without high-speed access. Is it really reasonable to expect that everyone will have the ability to do this training from home? This got me thinking about my own experience. When I started work at the NSLC, I had to do online training modules similar to the Rogers model. The option wasn’t even provided for me to do them at the work place. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but thinking back I now realize the importance of providing another option to new employees so that messaging gets across clearly and so that the organization doesn’t make anyone feel left out. More than that, employee training isn’t an optional message. If the message isn’t getting to those who absolutely need it to do their job then as a PR professional you have not done yours.

Any suggestions as to how to bridge the technological divide between new employees? Perhaps a shared employee computer at the work place providing access to the site?

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June 5, 2009 - Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. As usual, Tracey, you raise a good point. That is exactly why I asked Harold how Rogers ensures everyone has at least an equivalent experience.
    I had a not so similar, but somewhat related experience during my last co-op with Transport Canada, Marine Safety-ATL. My client was all fishers in Atlantic Canada and I was to relay important information about regulatory changes to ALL of them. Considering the sheer volume of regulatory information and the daunting amount of mail outs that fishers already receive and ignore I may add, I automatically turned to electronic mediums for message dissemination. However, I was quickly informed that a large portion of this public was not online. So agin, we’re back to square one. How do we bridge the divide? My suggestion is conquer and divide. We simply have to have alternatives because we all know what assuming does, yes, makes an ass out of you and me. If we do not have alternative means to get the same message across to off-line users then, as you said we have failed. I like your suggestion about providing computer access at work. I think that there should be more funding available for government installed public computers. They could be everywhere from local convenience stores, town halls- anywhere central that allows those without computers to have easy access.

    Comment by hollyfleming | June 21, 2009 | Reply


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