MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Social Media Insurance?

Hot on the heels of Hilary’s latest post – public openess on the internet has garnered much more interest than I would have imagined. As we’ve heard so may times, we are living in a world that changes exponentially, and the changes that we are seeing in regards to social media, throughout this class alone, have been astounding. In a recent post on PR Conversations, author Kristen E. Sukalac discusses how social media has really arrived, so much in fact that people are inquiring about social media insurance. 

Kristen points to a recent e-newsletter by the American Automobile Association (or CAA for us Canucks) where headlines were “do I have coverage for saying stupid things on facebook” and “is my coverage up to par for blogging activities.” Basically suggesting that people want insurance over what they say online in case someone tries to sue them. While these inquires almost shock me, it is a real reminder that the internet is not just its own world, but that the ‘real’ world is transitioning onto the web. 

As mentioned in the post, this insurance inquiry, also has to make you wonder how the content on social media will change. As social media becomes more mainstream will it loose some of its original transparency, maybe some of its clout, as people become more cautious?

How the world continues to shock and terrify me…


June 10, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Live the change you wish to see”

This week on PR 2.O, Brian Solis posted a paper he wrote about the impact of social media on PR practise as we know it: The State of PR, Marketing and Communications: You are the Future.

Though lengthy, this is a paper that is more than worth reading – its relevance to our futures in public relations can’t be argued.

The paper examines public relations in its current state,  including all of its shortcomings, malpractices and all of the stereotypes it has inherited over the years. Solis sums this up when he says (and please note I’ve bolded certain parts for impact):

Just ask any executive what comes to mind when you say “PR” and note the common misperception shared by many decision makers. The brutally honest responses, whether you agree or not, will represent more than we’d care to know or acknowledge. The assessments and responses will most likely span from “publicist” to “networker” to “press release” to some fallaciously degrading and sexist stereotypes of what PR people are, how they act, and what they look like. You’ll also summon war stories and bad experiences with PR people and agencies that unfortunately continue to reinforce the current state of PR crisis for the PR industry in general.

Social media offers our profession an opportunity to move away from malpractise and misconception, and a move toward transparency and genuine two-way communication… but this is easier said than done. To quote Solis again, “As long as PR agencies and consultants are profitable as is, why would they reinvent themselves?”

I witnessed this firsthand at my last work term at Harbinger, a successful PR/integrated marketing agency that handles clients such as Unilever (Dove, AXE, Hellmann’s, Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s) and Corby (Absolut, Malibu, Havana Club, Beefeater). During my term, the company did an offsite to a social media presentation. During the question period that followed the presentation, it was apparent that my colleagues were not entirely convinced – about whether or not companies would adopt this new vision, how we, as agencies, could quantify our results without traditional media impressions, etc, and why we should make the switch in the first place when most of our tranditional campaigns were perceived as “successful.” For many of my colleagues, who have made very successful careers (and large paycheques) from becoming “experts” at traditional PR, the resistance was especially noticeable.

We, as aspiring PR practitioners on the cusp of graduation with previous field-related experience, find ourselves in an interesting situation – a kind of crossroads, if you will, between the old and the new. In Solis’ paper, he discusses the idea that PR is a dying profession… and perhaps it is. Perhaps the “traditional” PR (which according to Solis has meant, “relying on hyperbole and jargon filled press releases for coverage, spamming targets with irrelevant information, maintaining a superficial and shallow knowledge of the products and industries we represent, and maintaining distant and removed relations with those we wish to cover our stories“) will die as our predecessors retire. This means we are faced with a choice: between ahering to traditional practices, or embracing the unknown and starting to make the shift now.This course has made me feel as though, already, I’m behind when it comes to social media, and in fact has been a bit of a wake up call. It has forced me to think critically about what my career in public relations will hold, and has made me personally accountable to my role in my own development as a professional.

 I think through social media, we are being given a chance to renew the face of public relations. I feel as though we will be able to put so many of the “best practises” that we learn in school to use (ie: ethics, two-way communication, transparency) with the transfer of power that is occuring as more of the public’s voice is being heard through new channels. I feel like it’s beginning to sound cliche, but perhaps we will see the “public” put back in “public relations.”

I find this invigorating, and maybe it’s just because I’m in the bubble that is this class, but I truly feel motivated to be part of this change in our profession. It may be challenging, but I think ultimately it will be worthwhile and rewarding – for any of you that were in Wade Kenney’s Ethics class, I feel like this shift to transparency, honesty and genuine communication will make the pursuit of “eudaimon” that much more attainable.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment


I came across a piece today on IMR titled The Latest Experiment in Online Journalism. The article talked about a new website called True/Slant that has been receiving a lot of buzz in the journalism world. The website has already been covered in newspapers like The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

True/Slant describes itself as “original content news network tailored to both the entrepreneurial journalist and marketers who want a more effective way to engage with digital audiences.” Basically, it is a place where contributors, consumers and marketers all share an equal voice.

I thought that this was a great example of how social media is opening the gate for open two way communication in all aspects of our lives.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | | Leave a comment

Your Secret’s Safe With the Internet

A recent post on SXSW made me really think about how the internet has developed into something much more than a place where people can get information from, add information to, or be entertained.

I’m aware that the internet has recently become a medium for people to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas and sometimes very personal stories, but I’m only just coming to the realization of the many different ways that people are able to do it.  Post Secret is a site that I love to check every Sunday, it’s a place where people anonomously send their secrets to on homemade postcards and they are then posted on the site.  It’s amazing what people will share.  The internet has almost become something that some people can trust even more than their closest friends.

Another type of “secret sharing” website was recently featured on SXSW. The 2009 Web Award winner in the category of Art- from traditional photography to untraditional resources was a site called Things I Have Learned in my Life, So Far.  It is a user generated content site, like PostSecret, where people were asked to upload their life stories whether it was typographically, in the form of a photo or a video. Essentially, it’s like an online diary, that people from across the world can contribute to. The site is amazing, full of great quotes, uplifting videos, photos and writing entries.  Here’s a cool video that was posted to the site:

Obviously people have embraced this form of revealing secrets, telling life stories or simply telling people what’s on their mind. The internet has made it possible for people to reach out and say things that they would normally keep to themselves. I believe this is a great thing for many people who are looking for a way to express themselves, but would not necessarily say it out loud.

On that note, I stole a styrofoam bowl from the cafeteria yesterday…


June 9, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment

iTube, WeTube, we all scream for YouTube

Digital Ethnography @ Kansas State University has yet to update their blog, so I went back in time, to my birth month and found another YouTube related blog post from one of Prof. Wesch’s students, Becky.

Becky posted a blog titled “The Internet has a Face”. The blog post discussed her interest in vlogging as “meaningful interaction (with others) beyond the limits of text”. She produced a video compiled of some vlog videos that were posted to YouTube. She says her video was “created to explore the content and purpose of vlogs, as well as the networking and interconnectivity as users respond and reach out to each other within and beyond the YouTube website.”

Once upon a time people wrote in a diary, kept a journal, wrote a letter or phoned a friend. Today people are text messaging, video calling, blogging, tweeting , poking, writing on walls, nudging and emoticoning.

 Oh, and vlogging.

People are vlogging about very personal and private things and posting it to the Internet for the world to see. This at first might seem odd, but it’s working for them.

In class we regularly discuss the pros and cons of social media vs. face to face communication; a very worthy discussion. Becky takes our conversation a bit further; beyond the boardroom and rows of cubicles we will all eventually come to despise and focuses on the “YouTubers” themselves. She argues that the Internet is “no longer just text to text, the Internet has a face. The Internet has a heart. The internet has humanity. …with YouTube.”

The video is actually quite moving. I think that YouTube allows people to connect more than any other social media tool. It allows people to be real and express whatever it is they want, whether it’s humility, honesty, humor, compassion or love. And people are connecting. People are just being themselves, telling a story and other people are coming to support them and share with them. It’s actually quite powerful.

Becky says “if there was a fear that the internet was making society antisocial, vlogging would seek to prove otherwise.”

And I think she’s right.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are we losing our voices?

As PR practitioners, we are constantly searching to find our voice, and the voice of others. Finding your voice will differentiate you from others; it is what makes you a weak, ok or great writer. This week on the Community Marketing Blog, an article caught my interest. It might have had to with the fact that this American based blog mentioned Prince Edward Island. But as I kept reading, PEI had nothing to do with it. The blogger, Doug Hall, was questioning if social media affects your voice.

In his post, Why instant feedback on the internet can be BAD, he says “Instead of saying what I believed – I was writing based on what I thought the audience wanted. The result was a “dumbing down” of my messages. And, a lack of authenticity.”

This is a bit alarming, what is social media doing to our future? Is our intelligence really creating us to become dumb? When looking at tools such as Twitter or Facebook, people are updating their status as if it’s going out of style. With 140 characters, you can’t say much so instead of using proper English, a new lingo is created. Also, people seem to start to write only what they believe others want to hear. I feel this is making people become superficial. This makes you wonder, if people are losing their critical thinking skills to social media? By not writing what you believe and simply what you feel others want to hear, you don’t need to think much since in today’s society we are bombarded with what messages we should think.

On another note…

The results are in! With over 40 bloggers who entered the blog-off contest, a winner has been announced. Over a two week period, 12 bloggers posted on the Community Marketing Blog. However, there is not one defined winner. Instead, the 12 bloggers will be invited to contribute on a weekly basis. So, what was the point of the contest if there was no winner?

That’s all for now,


June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , | 1 Comment

Social vs. Traditional

On May 26, Social Media Group (SMG) columnist Doug Walker posted a blog entry entitled: “How much does social media rely on traditional media?” The entry discusses the decline of traditional media tools as social media tools become increasingly popular. Traditional formats like newspapers are losing precious advertising dollars to free online news sources–which, of course, are more attractive to consumers as they are free.

The problem is many online sources have an original source in some traditional media source. News blogs, for example, tend to borrow from newspapers, summarizing and commenting on stories which have already been published elsewhere. As such, many blogs have been inadvertently siphoning advertising dollars from the newspapers whose stories they rely on.

Traditional media outlets are now rallying for something to be done to even the playing field. TV and news tax models have been suggested along with pay walls for online news.

My concern here is that raising the pay walls on social media will suffocate the dialogue that it generates in the first place, thus defeating the purpose of the medium.

I’m also concerned that it will be difficult–if not impossible to slap a price tag on something that has been free to consumers for so many years. Furthermore, how could traditional media news outlets determine and monitor each of the millions of bloggers who benefit from sourcing stories from traditional outlets? And when I say benefit, I’m not necessarily referring to financial gains. Most of the bloggers using the stories aren’t at all motivated by money, but rather a universal need (and right) to feel connected, and to comment on the world in which we live. If we begin to police that right we will be moving backward instead of forward when it comes to open communications.

MoneyIt seems to me that traditional outlets would also experience some benefit from bloggers referencing and linking to their stories. This is a free form of promotion for them. Something tells me, however, that promotion and increased connectivity are not $olely what motivate traditional media outlet$ . . .

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are we becoming social media experts?

Another week and still no new post from Managing the Gray. Instead of going on a tangent of my own about how this “social media expert” isn’t adhering to some basics of blogging, I found a rant Chapman did himself and would like to share it with you all.

In response to several emails asking, “How do I become a social media expert?” Chapman posted a video message. He seemed pretty frustrated with the question because as he says, social media is really no different than become an expert at anything. As we are in a social media class, I guess trying to learn this very thing, I thought it would be interesting to examine his response and see if it measures up to how we are learning to be such so-called experts.

 His advice consists of the following:

-work hard and keep yourself up-to-date

-just like anything else, you have to practice it

-if you’re in it because you think it’s hip or cool or it will be easy- then get out

-be passionate about it

-make it a part of your life, your job and then push forward

 I think as a class we are on our way to becoming experts. The most a class in social media can do though, is give you the basics and introduce you to everything in the hopes that you will continue use of it outside of the classroom. With presentations from people who work in the field of public relations (such as Ben Boudreau, Harold Simons  and others) we get to see how important social media is becoming in public relations and just how interesting it is. If you’re ever going to be passionate about social media, this class will do it for you. If after taking this class and you’re still indifferent to it, then perhaps you will never become a social media expert. At the end of this term I don’t think we will all be experts, but I think we will have solid foundation to go out on our own and pursue social media without fear and reservation. 

My question for you all is: do you think you’ll pursue social media further after this course ends? Do you hope to become a social media expert?

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | 4 Comments

Work Life Balance

One of the areas in life the Generation Y is supposed to be good at, is maintaining a great work life balance. A great example of this balance can be seen in my blog, Entitled.

The girl who writes the majority of the posts for the blog has not been writing since June 3rd and will not have another entry posted until June 22. She is gone on vacation and at first she is on a work related trip, she will be leaving from there is cruise through the Bahamas. She posted to say she is taking a real vacation and will not be checking her work or personal email and definitely not blogging while she is away.

I feel this is a great practice of some of the issues she speaks about on her blog. Generation Y is better at turning everything off than their predecessors when is comes to taking time off. We understand the benefits and need for time off and complete time off. We work for it and enjoy when it comes and enjoy turning off the work part of our life.

This is not to say we do not work hard when we are at work. It simply means we know how to relax when we aren’t there. We understand the idea of leaving work at the office and we are also really good working to live and not living to work.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

Wasting Away in the Twenties

The blog I’m following, Entitled, gives a very interesting look to the world of being twenty and a young professional. One of the issues which really struck a cord with me was the post on wasting time in our twenties.

Being a 24 year-old woman I continually find myself asking the “What am I doing?” question. I already have a degree and in less than a year I will be all done of round number two.  This causes me to ask “When is my life going to start and shouldn’t  I be more something right now?” I feel this is a common isue with the Generation Y types.

We are forced to go to school longer than any pervious generation so a young professional these days will be me, an eager 25 year-old. We constanly hear how we do this and that the wrong way and we’re lazy but I think it may be that we are more mature. Starting out, we are older and have lived through more than our parents did at our age. We take the time to know ourselves before getting married, get one or two degrees to know we can take care of ourselves and travel to understand what else is out there.

I know I have the moments common to other generation Yers where I’m thinking, where have my twenties gone and what have I accomplished. Although, I think since we start doing everything later in life there is a chance we may be more prepared for the rest of life when it happens.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 1 Comment