MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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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

I’m hip, I’m cool, I skype!

My street cred in the world of social media is about to take a near-fatal blow. I had no idea what Skype was until I started this class.

I can practically hear the wave of gasps and oh no’s as I try to explain myself.

I’ve used sightspeed to stay in contact with my friends, thinking it was the next best thing to sliced bread. Cliched, but sliced bread is pretty awesome in my world. Anyway, I’m getting off track. Skype = awesomeness. Skype opens up so many possiblities for PR practitioners that I’m giddy with excitment to get into the “real world” and start throwing these ideas out. As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I’m a newly hired Media Analyst for a government department in Ottawa. This involves news conferences – and you know what news conferences involves?

Teleconferencing.Yawn. Droning voices coming from a machine without a face. I’ve often listened to reporters on teleconferences and wondered if they looked as boring as they sounded. Now there’s a chance to actually find out!

Skype could be the new teleconferencing. It’s like teleconferencing on crack – the cat nip for PR professionals. The use of video conferencing, while not a new idea, is something that my peers in the workforce almost feared. What if there was a glitch? What if there was reverb? All valid fears, but I believe my co-workers were thinking of the hazards of teleconferencing the old way with satellite an an actual video camera. Today, all you need is a web camera and a laptop.

Not only do you save costs by having a web conference, you’re increasing the potential volume of media in attendance (I know I’m repeating myself from my last post, but it’s just so awesome to me). Think of a traditional news conference in a board room or hotel with maybe a dozen local media in attendance. Add a video conferencing element, and I’ve got reporters from the Associated Press, reporters in Britain, Austrailia Newswire, etc. The list is endless and the globe can be infintismly small when considering the possibilities.

So, until I’m in the workforce and have the opportunity to be a part of this, I’ll continue my giddy excitement of Skype (and Sightspeed).



June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

Media Relations Evolving due to Social Media

I read an article today regarding media relations, and as some of the third years in our class are experiencing Media Relations class this summer, I found it particularly relevant and how they tie social media as a contributing factor on how it will evolve in 20 years.

Don Bates: What will media relations look like in 10-20 years?

Here are some of the major key points that Bates took from his research on social media’s affect: (

  • Social networking sites and podcasts are used least often for editing and reporting compared to other sources, and most often by editors/ journalists younger in age and experience. Blogs are used almost as often as trade journals.
  • For monitoring responses to stories, only websites and blogs are considered important; conferences, trade journals, industry newswires, social networking sites, and podcasts are rated as unimportant.

As a future Media Analyst, and knowing we will be starting pod casts next week, the thought comes to mind – how can we make this important? How do we take this prediction and shape it so the use of social media in media monitoring and relations can be utilized? When we graduate, of course. We need to take our ideas to those who may (or may not be) as tech-savvy as we are, and show them the many benefits of social media in media relations. Here are a few examples I came up with:

1. Skype: video conferencing can bring in a much larger volume of press when doing a news conference. With the teleconferencing and microphones, have a small laptop set up with a webcam so people can connect via Skype (or other video conferencing alternative).

2. Facebook/Myspace/LiveJournal, etc: Like we learned in class, we run risk of discovering “slacktivism”, but to the critical mind, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites are a gold mine for finding out perceptions to news, a new product, a crisis, etc. On my second workterm during a Canadian Coast Guard crisis, I scanned facebook and within 12 hours of the crisis hitting, there were 25 seperate groups in memory, in anger, for support and for information popping up all over the site. Understanding that people use Facebook much like a forum to express themselves, it really is worth taking advantage of.

3. Podcasts: This could really be much more internal. At my work terms, employees were allowed to use their iPods and MP3 Players as long as it didn’t affect work productivity. Why not have an audio version of a newsletter or a message from the CEO/Director downloaded straight from an organization’s intranet site? As long as it’s creative and upbeat, people will be less likely to ignore it. Even add some humour into it, and you may have a hit on your hands.
Media relations and media monitoring is going to change in the next 20 years, according to Don Bates. Not drastically, but he predicts that social media will have a significant impact on how it will be done. As future PR practitioners, I believe we can use social media to our advantage in media monitoring/relations to reach more audiences and to move up with the technological times.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

Hinson & Wright: Social Media Overtakes Porn

Okay, so this title is misleading. On the Institute for Public Relations website, an article published on March 13, 2009 is titled as such. So, reading it, you’d think you were about to head into a tirade of how Social Media has encompassed all corners of the public realm and pornography was simply just something that was bound to get noticed.

Curious as a kitten, (because who wouldn’t be curious how porn is being affected by Social Media?) I clicked on it to read. Save for the first paragraph that mentions that porn is being sent through the internet via social media, there is very little about pornography in this article. Instead, they speak of how non-traditional methods are being used for the average American to find information. Newspapers are a thing of the past and few people are turning on their local television stations (as we can see even here in Halifax as CTV struggles to make a slice of profit against bigger corporations and cable companies). Today, people seek their information on their own time, through the comfort of their computer screen.

In their research, they found that 93 per cent of people polled used social media (blogs or otherwise) in their workplace. I find it interesting that it is such as high number. The reason for my intrigue is because as a co-op student who completed three federal work terms, facebook and blogs were blasphemous. To even speak of it as a possibility in the workplace was to get a big red letter pasted to your forehead. So my quesiton is are more organizations being open to social media and the benefits it can provide, or do they even realize that their employees are skulking around on the internet using social media?

The article states that in terms of accuracy and credibility, traditional media methods get the highest score. What can we do as PR practitioners who have a desire to use social media in the workforce to create, maintain and promote credibility in social media when any Mr.Smith can put in his two cents worth?

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Second Life

Experiencing Second Life for the first time, but not virtual realities, has given me some reservations regarding using software and applications such as these for professional use. Second Life has been used for professionals meeting for quite some time now, and I had heard of it being quite useful in the past. However, applications such as IMVU have been used for non-professional applications for years as well. Being associated with programs such as these give me reservations as a future PR practitioner because A) it is impossible to use your real name, and need to have a pseudonym. Additionally, you are able to create characters that look nothing like your real life self.

Why does this matter? Well as PR practitioners, don’t we continually and strongly promote honest two-way communication? It seems that without the transparency of a one-on-one meeting, this application seems almost fake.

However, I feel that with certian guidelines or an understanding of these limitations, Second Life can be used to benefit PR practioners, and ultimately, organizations as a whole. Multi-nationals that have satellite offices who spend thousands of dollars on expensive plane tickets for meetings could utilize this program and save money in a hard-hit economy. As long as there are rules, and guidelines in place for using Second Life, I feel there is much potential for utilizing it in an organization.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Social Media for a Collective Mind

Taweel discusses social media being used today by savvy public realtions practitioners. I use social media. I’m constantly on Facebook; I’ve attempted to “tweet” (and failed miserably), and I even joined after seeing it during our first Social Media class. I would like to think I’m up on the technology, but when I think about my chosen profession, and my personal life, I wonder how those two will connect. Taweel states that more and more coporations are using social media (some wrongly, treating it the way they would use the old tools), but there are some companies who have integreated social media successfully into their operations. Taweel’s article brought forth some questions into my mind that I don’t have the answers for yet, but I hope to by the end of this course.

My issue lies here – a corporation legally is an entity, but when picking it apart, it comprises of a multitude of parts, working together to form a cohesive unit. After reading Taweel’s article and how organizations should use social media, I walked away wary. Should we really? I’m on the bandwagon because it seems we’re on a roller-coaster ride through the Social Media fantasy land, and will learn to use it to the best of my ability, but I don’t know if it’s really the right choice.

Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are social networking sites to connect people together. It was started for the individual to find other individuals and connect. I don’t see how a multi-national corporation  fits into Facebook, Twitter or similar sites. When we are being bombarded by 3 second advertisements to get the biggest bang for your buck, finding Ford Motor Company and Dell Computers on Twitter just seems artificial. Is there a human face behind these accounts, and how does a public relations practitioner get that human touch when using social media for a corporation?

I come to this from a consumer’s perspective. Perhaps through the progression of this course, I can move my mind from the cynicism of a personal user of social media to the professional, analytical mind of a public relations pracitioner who can use social media as a tool, but effectively and ethically.

May 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Institute for Public Relations Digest

I posted this comment this morning, but it is being evaluated by a moderator and may not appear until later during the day or Monday. So I’m re-posting the article, and my comment! Enjoy!

David Rockland: New Ketchum Award Winner (and Why We Do This)

imageOne of the Institute for Public Relations’ oldest and most prestigious prizes, the Ketchum Excellence in Public Relations Research Award goes this year to Minjeong Kang, a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University. She will receive a $2,500 grant to support her work on measuring social media credibility. A six-stage research project will seek to validate methods for measuring social media and examine its impact on public engagement and branding.

The award has been around since 1992. Originally known as the Smart Grant and Internship, it was sponsored by Ketchum from the beginning. We do this to foster the development of new public relations research methods, especially when it comes to measuring effectiveness. The resulting research papers are published by the Institute, and many are now available free on the website.

Miss Kang earned her master’s degree in public relations at the University of Maryland, and her bachelor’s degree in economics at Chonnam National University in South Korea. She also holds an associate degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and her work history is strongly oriented to the fashion industry. So what is it that moved her toward a career in public relations teaching and scholarship?

It appears to be the never-ending intellectual challenges of our field, judging from the research proposal she submitted when applying for this award.

The management of credibility is key, she believes, to the relationships we build between the organization and its publics. The credibility of any communications channel helps determine what audiences choose to get involved, and how. So as our publics pay ever more attention to social media, what do we really know about the credibility of those channels? What roles do authenticity, authority and passion play in determining who the real influencers are?

Miss Kang’s research will employ focus groups, new scales designed to measure social media credibility, a multi-sample survey to validate the scales, and laboratory experiments to investigate causality and connections between social media credibility, engagement and branding.

“Without valid and reliable measurement, the management of credibility in social media will hardly be feasible,” she says.

You’ll be hearing more about this project in the months ahead, and about this bright young researcher as well.

David Rockland
Partner & Managing Director
Global Research & Interactive Communications

I completely agree with with Miss Kang’s statement about credibility. Without credibility (as well as maintaining those vital relationships between a company and its publics) the entire purpose of public relations is moot. We have been moving towards Grunig’s two-way symmetrical model for quite some time now, but with the emergence of social media, we’re enabling our publics to voice their concerns and thoughts with more ease then ever thought possible. But with this causes potential problems she lists – how trustworthy are these channels?
The fact that she is employing research to study social media and how organizations can evaluate the effectiveness of this new tool is absolutely amazing. You can tweet and facebook all day, but in the end, how will you know your message is really getting across to your publics, and how authentic are our publics, or even our message using these tools?
Congratulations to you on this achievement and award.

May 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Itty bitty teeny weeny little… micromedia.

Micromedia. Millions of people around the world have embraced it, tweeting their minds out and following celebrities and friends. Micromedia is social media, but in a tinier, more compact format. Twitter is the first one that comes to mind, but with some investigation, there are, in fact, many more options available to the techno-savvy individual who wishes to use social media in their everyday lives.

070410-twitter Twitter – answers one question – what are you doing? Through the use of rapid (and short) status updates, you can keep all the
people connected to you informed on what you are doing.

In regards to communicators, Twitter has even  been used to combat crises. Take Ford Motor Company, for example. In “The Ranger Station Fire” fiasco, Scott Monty utilized Twitter, and tweeted 138 times over 19 hours, helping calm the online wildfire.

Ford Motor Company isn’t the only company using Twitter. Starbucks, Dell, ComCast, and The Home Depot have Twitter accounts.  Sharing corporate news, new products and coupons, companies that are tweeting are reaching more people than those who don’t.

* Taken from &

– similar to twitter, it allows you to post to a “lifestream”, whereby you explain what you’re doing, how you’re doing, thoughts, ideas, etc. Like Facebook, you can also add comments to other people’s accounts,  and it is compatiable with Nokia cell phones for mobile microblogging.

*Taken from

tumblrTumblr – lets you share anything. Photos, quotes, text, ideas and emotions, videos and music. Nothing is impossible with this social media tool.  Like MySpace, it allows users to customize their blogs or profile pages to their liking with backgrounds, pictures, etc.

*Taken from

plurkPlurk – is extremely similar to Twitter. It allows you to send status updates (or anything you feel necessary) in 140 character chunks. Updates are shown on a chronological timeline, and you can reply to someone’s update by an instant message or text message.

*Taken from

utterli1Utterz – Now known as Utterli, this site allows users to start discussions from their computer or their phone. Texts, audio,
video and photos can be uploaded and other users can comment to begin a discussion of your original post.

*Taken from

seesmic1Seesmic – is a new application, whereby users can use their webcam to upload videos and have conversations with other users. It is a video blogging application and has been referred to as the “Twitter of video”.

*Taken from – Like Twitter, this application allows users to post 140 character updates. Like Twitter calls its updates “tweets”, refers to these 140 character updates as “dents”. It supports  XMPP which ultimately means users can import their dents into Twitter, or to an aggregator.

*Taken from – Allows users to upload cell phone videos or webcam videos to Twitter, Facebook, or leave them on the 12seconds website. Their marketing slogan is “What can you do in 12 seconds?”

*Taken from

May 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment