MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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I’ve heard of an end-of-semester bash, but that was uncalled for

When I heard we’d be doing yet another client communications plan and pitch, I must admit, I pouted. Many of my classmates agree that the age-old client comm plan has gotten a little bit redundant over the past four years of the Bachelor of Public Relations degree. Fortunately this final project was different.

Working with Danielle Gaudet and the Women in Business initiative was an excellent experience. She was the most receptive and participative client I’ve ever worked with for an academic assignment. In addition to providing detailed responses to all of our questions, she asked questions of her own, demonstrating a genuine level of interest in our work.

The requirements for the communications tactics were also a refreshing change. Working solely with social media tools allowed us to transcend the monotonous press release rut that many of us have gotten ourselves into. I’m so grateful to complete my degree with an arsenal of fresh ideas along with the theory and practice to back them up.

On another note, I’d like to address something that happened toward the end of our class presentations—and I say this with the utmost MSN smiley emoticon-ness . After one team finished their pitch, several student spectators took it upon themselves to interrogate the team, questioning the validity of their research and the suitability of their tactics.

While we’re all encouraged to be critical thinkers, I don’t think it was an appropriate occasion to articulate those criticisms. From my understanding, the classroom should be a supportive learning environment where students can bounce ideas off one another—not squash them in front of a client to whom a team has just presented weeks of evident hard work.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just naïve, but I think the same standard should apply everywhere—even in this business world that we’re all so competitive and eager to enter. I would hope that we, as Public Relations practitioners, could set an example in mustering up some support and tact in regards to our colleagues. As self-gratifying as it is to be competitive, things seem to work better when we drop the cut-throat attitude and work as a team.

Okay that’s my beef.

It’s been an awesome semester and I’ve learned so much from everyone—what a sharp bunch of ladies (and gentleman) we are!

Best of luck to all! 

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

A new world…

All of the aspects we have learned in this class I feel are so important in today’s PR world. I can already see the benefits it will have for us and the organizations we will work for in the future.

One of the greatest parts to all of this is the way in which we evaluate it. I think it is so important we understand how to evaluate everything we are suggesting our employers use and know when it is working and when it is not. Being able to use all different types of social media is one thing but understanding how to think strategically about it is entirely other issue.

The presentation we saw on evaluation was so valuable to me as a professional because with social media once you put something out there, it’s out there. There is no real way to take it back and understanding what will work and won’t and why can make a really big difference to organizations.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

“Plug it in and Change the World” : Making Moments with Social Media

The day before C.C. Chapman spoke to our class via Skype he posted a great podcast on Managing the Gray. What I’d like to pull from the podcast is what I think could be one of the most important lessons we’ve learned about social media.

Inspired by a presentation by Ze Frank at Webstock in New Zealand, Chapman discusses creating moments through social media. For Chapman, his moment was when I guy came up to him after following the podcasts and explained that he had quit his high level executive job to follow what he really wanted to do because of Chapman’s discussions on following your passions. Definitely a jaw-dropping moment. It’s certainly easy to forget the kind of reach you may have through social media and the impact what you’re saying might have on people. I think Chapman put his thoughts on the subject very nicely so here’s the quote from his podcast:

“I’m sitting here in Massachusetts with a microphone in my Mac and I’m talking into it but the words that come out of my mouth every so often can really affect somebody. And that’s a moment. That’s when you realize, ‘wow.’ And that’s why I’ve always treated this medium as something different. And while people are out there- whether it’s podcasting, Twittering, blogging, whatever it is, while most of it is just throwing stuff out into the ether you never know when something you throw out is going to resonate. When that’s going to create a moment for yourself or somebody else.”

I think this is an important lesson for us if we are to continue using social media in the future. We must recognize that we will, potentially, hold a great deal of power in our hands and what we tweet or blog about or podcast may actually impact someone’s life one day. The idea of creating moments for people makes social media take on a whole new meaning for me. No longer is it about just getting your name/business/product out there. It’s about reaching the masses and creating your own moments and moments for others.

In closing, the song “Electric Feel” by MGMT. The lyrics were probably not meant to be about social media but I think it fits! If “electric”=computers and blogging, and “making electricity” and “changing the world” =making moments then it works, right?!! Take a listen and enjoy! It’s been great blogging for you all 🙂

“All along the eastern shore, put your circuits in the sea

This is what the world is for, making electricity

You can feel it in your mind

Oh you can do it all the time

Plug it in and change the world

You are my electric girl”

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

The Next Step After Second Life??

In keeping with the feel of Second Life and creating “online” identities: Is this the direction we’re heading? I hope not! Cool interactive site though if you have time to play around with it. Choose your Surrogate.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | , , | Leave a comment

How do you define success?

And then there was one- one final post on course related material. The final reading, Social media ROI- a calculator for not for profit campaigns gave us four steps for building ROI models for online communities. In light of what I’ve learned through applied learning in our client project, one step in particular really resonated with me: Identify what success looks like in the online community.

I believe that success in the online community is not necessarily all about dollar bills. Of course, this is all relative to your client’s brand recognition. If, for example, your client is virtually unknown, then it’s unrealistic to expect online users to give to your client’s cause. I know this sounds commonsensical, but so many not for profits nowadays are jumping on the social media bandwagon because, well, everyone else is doing it.  However, without an existing online presence, worthy causes risk sounding like disreputable beggars. Too harsh?

  Success in the online community is similar to campaigning for voter support. If you do not first promote yourself, your platform and what you stand for, you simply are not going to receive the riding support needed to win the campaign. Similarly, without an online presence, social capital and established relationships with people of similar interests and beliefs, then you are not going to get the kinds of funds needed to make a decent ROI. Thus, success can also be defined as establishing a network of like-minded individuals, cheerleaders if you will, you believe in your cause, so much so, that they are compelled to take action.  As some of you have already indicated, social media may not be the greatest way to raise funds, yet is effective in generating cause awareness. Essentially, it’s all in how your not for profit defines success.  Awareness and brand recognition where none existed before is pretty darn successful in my eyes.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Up, Stand Up: Stand up for Your Rights!

Online privacy issues have dominated the news both nationally and internationally for the past few weeks. Coverage has ranged from Bill IP21C (Way to represent Matt!) to Iran’s chokehold on civilian Internet access. Since hasn’t updated since May 24 (Seriously, guys, get with it!), I’ve decided to blog about what these issues mean for us as users. I’ve also thrown a light article in to the mix to help validate a few of my points.

So, as the story goes, the city of Bozeman, Mont., has invoked a human resources requirement that has job applicants forking over tons of personal information. The requirements include, but are not limited to, “…any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.” The etc. here includes email passwords by the way!

Bozeman Attorney Greg Sullivan defended the requirements in the media, stating that a number of the positions (Police, Fire, lifeguards) require people of “high integrity.” So, they conduct these types of investigations to “make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the city.”

While I admire the effort this city is going to ensure it has the finest town council possible, I feel that it’s a tad ludicrous. I mean, it’s a bit like allowing your employer to snoop around in your underwear drawer. Sure, the town would like upstanding citizens to serve the municipality, but where does it end in regards to background checks? It is really necessary to have access to personal email and websites? When did the disclaimer “this is not a reflection of XYZ organization“ expire? Did Bozeman miss the memo that grants civil liberties to ALL, and not just those outside of civil service?

For me, all of this dialogue around state officials demanding personal information and pushing bills that allow authorities to take personal information from ISPs is a blatant violation of the constitutional amendment. Are we shifting toward a communist type approach to Internet governance? Are we moving toward a state-run-media like China?

Just Friday, it was reported in the New York Times that the Chinese government had ordered Google to take down its Google Suggest application because it gave search results with “suggestive implications.” Alike their Iranian counterparts, Chinese computer users are also outraged by such government censorship. What’s more, the Chinese government has also announced plans to “force computer makers to install Internet censorship software on all computers sold in China after July 1.”

Again, I get that there are good intentions behind these outlandish requests, such as limiting pornography, but aren’t adults capable of making their own choices as to what they should or should not view?

My dear colleagues, it seems that sadly, our privacy is being threatened, and that the line between being secure and being invaded is incredibly blurred. My hope is that our friends in Iran and China continue to fight for their online rights, and that we Canadians blogg and tweet like nobodies business to have our online voice heard- we will NOT be silenced!

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hottest Man On Twitter

Well this week, my life decided to catch up with me and Monday morning lucky me, I was sick in bed. Ok well I guess I wouldn’t say lucky actually it was horrible. But back to the blogging, since I missed class on Monday and Wednesday was an independent class to work on our project, I didn’t have any readings to base my post on. So I decided to research CC Chapman. If this guy is as awesome in person as he is on paper, I hate the fact that I was sick. However, he does also does seem a bit different.

Known as the hottest man on Twitter, this guy seems to be extremely successful and certainly knows what he his talking about when looking at Social Media. Check out his website, to see the cool stuff he is doing. But I have to say, he certainly does not fit the social media type. I mean, when I think of social media gurus, I don’t think stay at home dad. This goes to show how SM is often associated with young guys.

But seriously, check out the website. It’s hilarious; he even has calendars for sale. All proceeds go to a charity of his choice. Thing is he did a photo shoot with chilly peppers, clever right Hottest man on Twitter.

Anyways, I wish my body had decided to take another day to protest but I guess you can’t choose this.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | 3 Comments

How I Learned that Social Media is More Than Just Facebook and You Tube

A few other people have written posts on what they have gotten out of this course, and I have to agree with them. When I signed up for this senior seminar, I never imagined I would learn as much as I did in just a few weeks.

The speakers that we had were able to demonstrate for us how social media is used in the real world of marketing, pr and communications. This was totally new to me, but I found the lectures interesting and will definitely apply my learning in future jobs. Whether we are ready for it or not, social media is something that many  of us are about to face as we enter the working world

Not only did we cover plenty of theory, but we were able to apply our learning to practice. By focusing on different areas of social media each week, we were able to get hands on approach to many different sites. Second Life and Twitter were two websites that I didn’t know much about before starting this course, and now I have experience using both of them. The blog and the wiki were also interesting tools to use- it was really great to be able to integrate them into our learning and actually use them, instead of just learning about them.

I remember Denel mentioning that she thought that in a few years this course would be required for the PR program, and I couldn’t agree more. Social media is becoming a huge part of the PR world and is expanding at an alarming rate. It’s hard to keep up with, but with the training and knowledge that we have gained from this course, I think that we can all say we are a few steps ahead of where we were two months ago.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | 1 Comment