MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Helpful or Opressing?

As the communications world grows more comfortable with social media and its various uses, it is inevitable that we are going to shift away from our traditional methods of communication in most all ways.  This includes media releases.  We have moved into a time where it is not uncommon to see what is now called a “Social Media Release” whereby an organization utilizes their various social media tools to get their message out there via a media release in the social media realm.  While this is an exciting  time, IABC has recognized that the marriage of this traditional tool with an untraditional one is a complicated relationships that must be carefully crafted.  On the Hobson and Holtz Report this week, they talked about the conference where members of IABC came together to discuss standards and formats for this new(ish) form of communication.

The Wiki that is maintained by IABC explaining these standards explains the purpose of setting a standard and format for these new media releases, “hRelease is an open, social media news release standard that encourages the electronic distribution of news across the Internet. hRelease will allow news authors to create a single copy of their online release and share it electronically with wire services, members of the press, and the public. The goal of the hRelease format is to enable a simple way to markup news, allowing authors to share news through blogs, personal and corporate websites, web feeds, and any other online repository.”

What are your thoughts? Do we really need someone telling us how to write our releases? Or will it be super helpful?

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s get a tan instead of hiding in the dark because we’re afraid of the sun!

I remember sitting in Amy Thurlow’s Intro to PR class several years ago and being really excited to hear the definition of PR because, to be honest, I really had no idea what PR was.  Three years and about a million comm plans later I could spout off that definition in my sleep…actually my husband told me I actually have before (scary). Amy taught us about mutually beneficial relationships that are achieved through two way symmetric communication. I remember being so pumped about two way symmetric communication.  Obviously there was no other way to practice PR.  Over the years though, after actually stepping out into the work world and seeing how people practice PR for real, I think I became a little bit jaded.  In Amy’s last class, Advanced PR Management, we read articles about how Grunig’s model was outdated and idealistic, about how two way symmetric communication was an impossible pipe dream and practitioners needed to just grow up and realize the truth, we were destined for one way asymmetric communication.  I think I believed the author.

What does this have to do with social media, you may be asking.  I have come to realize over the course of this class, that not only is the world changing and evolving but so is our ability and techniques to communicate.  That author obviously never participated in a wiki or followed and commented on a blog.  The truth is, social media is not only changing the way people connect with each other, it’s changing the way we communicate. As we enter the field in a couple of weeks or months or years or whatever it may be, we are entering a new and exciting era of PR.  No longer will one way asymmetric communication be acceptable. People realize that they have something to say and that they have the right to be heard.  This means that organizations are not going to be able to get away with pushing messages without finishing the feedback loop. Everyone has feedback. And everyone will push to finish the loop on their own.  Without this two way symmetric communication, organizations are going to ultimately fail in favor of other organizations who do practice effective communications.  And social media is a massive stepping stone to this future.  That future isn’t so far off either, it’s not like we’re talking about robots and higher level technology here. We’re talking about people learning and utilizing tools that are already available to them to communicate with us, to have their voices heard.  The revoluation has already begun. And I’m psyched about it! Finally my first year enthusiasm is creeping back into my already jaded mind and I’m getting geared up to establish an effective model of communication in my work place. I recognize the importance of following this model, my publics recognize the importance of following this model and sooner or later my organization is going to have to recognize this importance as well.  Social media provides us with an opportunity to transition into this model.  Even if it’s only one step at a time.  From leaving comments to wall posting to blogging to collaborative wikis, these mediums of communication are all about leaving it open for feedback and response.  They are all about giving people the oppportunity to have their voices heard.

While we have been pushing collectively for a huge shift like this within the profession for, at least as long as I can remember, some are terrified of social media and its implications for the future. I think that’s because we’re not explaining it well enough, we’re not putting it into words that they’ll understand.  We’re not saying things like “two way symmetric communication” we’re saying “let’s start a blog and let people comment on it so that everyone can see both the negative and positive.”  That scares people, putting control in someone elses’ hand and having faith in their organizations.  It’s now our job as more informed social media users (thanks DeNel for helping us in that regard) to educate not only our peers but our superiors and our students as well that we are on the dawn of this new horizon and we need to embrace it. Let’s get a tan instead of hiding in the dark because we’re afraid of the sun!

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

How to find your comments..

I know you all probably figured it out, but DeNel asked me to put this up.

To find a list of all the comments you’ve made just go to My Account (top left-hand corner) and in the drop down menu click My Comments.



June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Looking Back

Words never come too easy to me, so when thinking back to this course and what all I have learned I find myself staring into space, trying to organizing all the insight I’ve gained into manageable sentences that make sense.

 I find that as frequent users of social media, a lot of us likely entered this class thinking we already knew the ins and outs of social media tools….that was so not the case – at least not for me.

 Firstly, hearing of all the tools out there on the first day—ones that I hadn’t even heard of— was astonishing. Its crazy to think that after all we’ve covered in this course was only the tip of the ice burg that is social media. Then after learning about the history of social media, I realized it’s been around longer then I had thought, even though its only caught on in the past four years or so.

 Another thing that I know I’ll take away from this class is the value of an open mind. Though the idea of Second Life seemed strange to me right from the get go, I did give it a try and at least now I can walk away knowing what its all about. As young professionals who are currently— or about to be— looking for work, employers are counting on us to have the scoop on these tools. Although this was a short class, it will give us an advantage over others to say we used things like second life, blogs and wikis for our program.

 Patience is a virtue and that applies to social media as well. Many of us were likely pulling out our hair at times while learning our way around newer tools such as the class wiki project. However with patience and practise we all learned how to collaboratively use this great tool directly. I also got to learn more about twitter – a tool I have always been passive towards. Now, I understand and respect the value of such a tool in the PR world for managing information and sending messages. In addition, communicating with professionals with such tools as Skype and Podcasts have given us insight into the alternate ways to connect with one another – something we should certainly keep in mind upon entering the workforce.

 Overall, this class was a huge eye opener and a fabulous learning experience. Hearing the opinions of everyone in the class provided an enriching element to the class, and DeNel you’re knowledge was great all the way through! Let’s hope that this class eventually becomes integrated as a required course, so that all graduating students can take this great insight with them.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

We Can’t Rewind, We’ve Gone Too Far.

Well fellow bloggers, it’s been a good (almost) seven weeks. Before I get into my final social media ramblings, I’d like to thank DeNel for doing such a great job with this class. Every day has been interesting and we’ve had the privilege of engaging with such a variety of communicators and social media experts. I appreciate that we got a lot of information from a lot of different sources, so thank you!

I’ve been trying to think about social media today and figure out exactly what I’ve learned and how my perspective has changed over the past few months. After a few hours of thinking and typing, I can’t find any way to sum it up in a few short paragraphs. And that, I think, is a good sign. 

Every day I’m realizing a little more that social media is changing the way we talk and listen, write and read, argue and agree, accept and reject, process and create. The list goes on and on! We have been given the tools and it is always our decision what to do with them. I’m excited to graduate and head into the ever-changing world of communications as a professional equipped to take on the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media.

Who knows where social media will take us. No one could have guessed that technology would come this far and I have no doubt that we still have a long way to go. One thing I do know, is that we always have to be ready to move forward because things will not stop changing.

Video did kill the radio star…but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , | 3 Comments

Social Media…is it dead?

Upon checking out Livingston’s Buzz Bin blog for the last time (for this course), it was interesting to find him talking about BlogPotomac – a “unconference” held in DC focused around social media and marketing sponsored by Livingston Communications. The event was held on June 12th and generated a great deal of buzz (mostly positive) on Twitter and numerous blog sites. However, Livingston stated on his latest post on the Buzz bin that the final BlogPotomac will be held in October. One of the reasons why Livingston has chosen to end the conference, is because of his claim that social media is dead.

 At first this statement might seem shocking and make you think “no its not! Its just beginning!”. Livingston explains the statement by saying that from an innovators perspective, widespread adoption of social media. Because the technology cycle has been maturing towards social media, Livingston claims it is no longer a new and unique type of communicate. Livingston also reaffirms that this doesn’t mean social media will go away, there will just be more of a focus around the future of social.

 After thinking about this further, i have to agree with him. Social media has become so integrated into our lives that it feels like nothing surprises us anymore. We may stumble upon a new tool that makes us go “hmmm…this is neat” but overall, we have adapted to social media. I think back to a time hen people would ask “what’s a Blog?” or “what’s Facebook?” – and that was when social media was new. Nowadays, if social media isn’t part of your daily life, you have at least heard of such tools as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

When thinking about this I can’t help but think about Apple, and their constant slew of new products always coming out. When the iPhone was introduced, the initial response was overwhelming, but now Apple could put out various new versions of the phone, with one or two different features, but we will never embrace the new versions as much as the original iPhone.

 Personally, I know for sure that social media will not slow down, and it will only become more and more common in the everyday lives of individuals and the corporate world alike. The future is bright, and more and more tools will be introduced to us. We may not be surprised when this happens, but we will for sure keep embracing social.

 What do you guys think? Any thoughts on the future of social media?

 On an ending note, I’d like to say how enjoyable it was following the Buzz Bin for this course. I will for sure keep checking back!

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

3 things that took me 6 weeks to learn

As I ponder about the last 6 weeks and how social media can be used in public relations, I would like to think I’ve taken some valuable lessons from it:

1. Social media doesn’t work…. if you’re anti-social.

  • You’re not going to get to everyone. As a consumer, I find it difficult to stay on track of the dozens of sites that are available to me. In fact, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with not only the wiki assignment, but these blog posts as well. My own personal blog has sat, untouched, for over 3 months. If you accept that a) not everyone has a computer, and b) those luckily enough to own one aren’t necessarily building a ning network or tweeting to their tweeps. Take what you have, and use it to the best of your ability.

2. Social media will take over traditional media

  • Of that I am certain. We are so close to the tipping point, if not already past it, on the rise and popularity of social media. Save for those people in my earlier lesson who will never use social media, mostly everyone and their dog has at least heard of it. Once the older generation passes (as horrific as that sounds, it’s true), and the newer generations keep on coming, it will just be an everyday occurrence that people will check social networks like they do their email. Just like my grandmother used to write her weekly letters – new tools for a new generation.
  • For public relations – this means stepping away from sending out news releases, media kits and the same old, same old. It means actually being innovative, and thinking with a fresh brain or looking at the world with a new set of eyes. Once the old-fashioned PR practitioners retire, the social media world is ours.

3.  Nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication

  • With my personal conviction that social media will become an everyday tool not only for us PR practitioners, but for the world, I believe a caution must be exercised. Nothing has more impact than a face-to-face conversation. People paid attention to President Obama’s tweets, but no one could take their eyes off him as he said his inspirational words about change, and being able to face a world in crisis. Social media tools are just that – tools. It shouldn’t be used as a crutch, but as a channel. Whenever possible, always keep your human connection – the emotional touch that truly will persuade an audience or make them listen that much longer, or more attentively.

These are the three most important lessons I’ve taken out of this course – along with the technical ability to use all of these social media tools.

I am taking away the ability to step back from it, think about it, and say “How can I use this effectively? Is it worth it or am I just throwing it out there because it’s new and hip?” Like DeNel wished, when I think about how social media can influence my future work, I’m going to sit back and think critically about it for a little while before I jump on the bandwagon.


June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Research is the way to be, even for Social Media

I read the good-bye article from Frank Ovaitt, the CEO of the Institute for Public Relations today. In it, he lists the four things that took him only five years to learn.

1. there is no reason to assume public relations is inferior to marketing, advertising (or many other management functions) in terms of our research

2. there are three kinds of public relations research

  • Research used in public relations, to guide and evaluate communications programs.
  • Research on public relations, to understand what we do and how we do it.
  • And research for public relations – theoretical development to provide the social science underpinnings.

3. The public relations field is more interconnected globally than ever before, and research is one of the great connectors.

4. Public relations professionals who understand research will rule this field.

It seems Mr. Oviatt is a researcher above all else. Which is a great thing, and something I agree with wholeheartedly. For those of my peers who haven’t had the pleasure of taking Research Methods, you’ll soon find out how great it really it. I stuck more onto point three than anything else. Globally connected. This ties into our whole social media spectrum – with the advancements of wikis, blogs, podcasts, social networks and micromedia, we’re all globally connected. Those of us who have the privlidge to have 24/7 access, that is.  When we have the time and effort, we can immerse ourselves fully into this world and find out that there is a wealth of research in there that has been largely untapped. Qualitative research for social media, which what the blog I’ve been following is ultimately about, is something that PR professionals should dive into head first and use the thousands, maybe even millions of bits of information out there to help guide their organization’s mission and help get their messages across.

Research, research, research. And according to Frank Ovaitt, as long as it’s relevant and done properly, you’ll be on the top ladder in the PR world.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment