MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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If You Build It, Will They Actually Come?

In the same spirit as many other recent blog posts, I too really enjoyed Harold Simons’ presentation via Skype on Wednesday. I am starting to learn a valuable lesson in the realm of social media—don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Now, I don’t think this mantra applies to everything; however, as an outsider looking in on the Rogers Plus internal website, initially I was quick question their social media strategy. Do they really expect employees to jump on board with an interactive internal site? What about when the hype wears off and they are left with a lacklustre employee gossip page frequented by five disgruntled employees?

I know, I know, hard to believe I could be so cynical. Realistically, I’m always a little hesitant to believe that new initiatives are really as great as they sound. In this day and age we see beautiful words, beautiful pictures and beautiful people promoting beautiful things all the time. But until you actually try on the dress, use the new vacuum cleaner, drive that car, or try out the new interactive website, it’s hard to know if it’s all as beautiful as it sounds.

As Harold continued with his presentation, I realized that Rogers Plus really does seem to have a good thing going. It is encouraging to hear that Rogers has found a way to increase employee involvement, start dialogue, and enhance organizational culture through social media. Nothing is perfect, but I can tell that Rogers Plus has a positive attitude and an effective strategy when it comes to the use of social media as an internal communications tool. Am I ready to pitch this idea to an organization? Am I ready to believe that social media really can benefit an entire organization (internally and externally)? Lots to think about…but I know one thing is for sure, I am a cynic no more.

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

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?

June 5, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , , | 1 Comment