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

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

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

You’re not intelligent, but your pen is smart!

This social media thing gets a little redundant from time to time. I find myself knowing the same information, learning new tools, asking and answering similar questions, but mainly I find myself losing and gaining interest almost as much as I shower. Okay maybe that was a bit much, but seriously—every time I begin to write my blog I switch from losing interest in social media to becoming completely fascinated by it.
Five minutes ago that exact thing just happened. But then I read this post on the blog I’m monitoring (  This was a post from Prof Wesch on Mar 11, 2009 titled “SmartPen as Digital Ethnography Tool”.  This is the craziest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I mean, have you ever seen something online or on YouTube and said “this can’t be real?” I.e. the YouTube video, “Microsoft Surface” that received over two million views.
But this SmartPen is real. Prof Wesch describes the pen by saying “In short, it records audio as you write and links what you are writing to the audio (by recording what you write through a small infrared camera near the tip of the pen).  When you are done recording you can actually tap the pen anywhere on your page and the pen will play the audio that was recorded at the time you were making that specific pen stroke.  Students are already sharing lecture notes in the community section of  As recording devices become increasingly embedded into everyday objects the days of protecting lectures from being recorded seem numbered.”
He includes his first use of the pen during his midterm research updates by his assistants. You can enlarge the image and actually click anywhere on his notes and you can here the discussion that took place while he wrote his own notes. The interesting, and I hate to say it but –ironic- part is; when I clicked on his notes, the discussion happened to be centered around “ownership” and “authorship” in the context of code, and developing websites.
He uses the example of a painting belonging to the artist who painted it, but if he used Photoshop, would his image belong to the creator of that software, where the image now belongs to the paintbrush and not the person using the paintbrush. I say this is “ironic” and I say that lightly, because if a student uses a tool like this to share lectures and lecture notes isn’t it the same idea of ownership? Who will own that knowledge or lecture? Will it still be the professor who originally wrote the lecture and taught it to his students? Or the student who wrote her notes and recorded it with her pen? Or the makers of the software that allowed that pen to copy the lecture? Or even still would it be the person who coded the site that allowed that student to upload his/her professor’s lecture with the Livescibe pen and share it with the world?
Ahhh this is so exhausting…but so fascinating.
Chew on that for a while ☺

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wonder world

Wow, I can’t believe blogging is a requirement for a university course; this is actually amazing. I am so excited for the social media seminar; this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. And it seems there is no better place to start than with Tracey Taweel’s paper, Social Media, Social Capital and Public Relations.
This paper was a great read for the introduction of the social media class. With the evolution of communication and society’s dependence on the Internet, Taweel is right when she says; this dependence also presents a lot of choices when it comes to social media options. The question of which method to use, when, why and to connect with whom, are questions I hope to find answers to in this class.
In my time as a PR practioner, working on my co-ops I have found that many organizations do recognize the importance of using the Internet and social media as a primary information source, and the importance of having a strong web presence, but few know exactly how to do that. Few organizations understand how to utilize the same channels that their stakeholders and clients are utilizing.
I agree with Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, authors of Groundswell – organizations need to encourage, listen and connect with those who use social media tools and they need to spend time answering consumers’ questions, responding to their blog outbursts, and correcting misinformation that flies around in cyberspace.  The recent Domino’s crisis (which didn’t have to be a crisis) is a prime example of the way social media can cause an unnecessary issue if the organization isn’t paying attention to what social media it’s employees, consumers’ and stakeholders are using. If you aren’t monitoring what is being said, if you aren’t connecting with those around you who are online and participating in these trends, than you will end up being slapped in the face by it.
James Grunig said it best, “new media offers tremendous potential for environmental scanning, issues management, rumor control and crisis communication…”
Today, people are all about the videos. Everyone has a video camera on their mobile device, or a video option on their digital camera. People are uploading their videos as often as they upload and share pictures. is a great example of this new wave of video popularity. This website is the one-stop-shop of how-to videos. They have it all from how to dance, to how to make a toothpick launcher with a clothespin and string. And if you are creating your own video for your website, is a platform that enables users to add video channels to their sites based on topics. This site provides video discovery, social networking, and custom players. They even have a live chat so you can talk directly with a web video expert.
I definitely believe that what scares organizations away from using social media is the lack of control they have over the way their message is used once it’s out there.  Taweel’s paper says, consumers now have a choice whether or not to accept your message and they will be happy to tell you and everyone in their online community what they think about it. That can be a scary thing, but it can also be an amazingly exciting thing.
My hope is this class will provide me with the tools to evaluate when it’s right to use social media, who to connect to and why, and most importantly how to evaluate the use.
Kim Bottomley
May 12, 2009

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mommies Like Social Media Too

The Motrin Ad.

Is there really anything else to say? Other than HIDEOUS?

I was embarassed for the company while watching that ad. I couldn’t believe that was their take on Motherhood, and that they truly felt that’s what it means to be a mom.

I think what it comes down to is the fact that whoever was behind this ad obviously knew nothing about motherhood, and nothing about the power of social media.

If this ad was on TV, I’m sure these media savvy mommies would have been just as angry and still could have voiced their anger online. However; what they would have been missing was the ability to link their comments to the specific commercial or share the links with their social networks. Because this ad was online, they were able to easily share it with the cyber world.  Also, I’m sure if this ad was released on television it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much negative feedback in such a short amount of time.

This is the beauty of social media. The public has a voice, which was clearly demonstrated with this case.  Part of the article showed a great quote from the Vancouver Sun:

“They (moms) were making their views known in an online storm that blasted through the blogosphere and the micro-blogging website Twitter, spiking traffic and spreading bad news about the brand”

I think this was a huge wake up call for Motrin, who apparently didn’t have any idea of the chaos that was happening over this ad.

This whole mishap makes me very thankful that I chose to take this course.  If I’m ever in charge of putting together an internet ad for a company, I’ll know all the bases to cover.  And I’ll most certainly do some background research on the target audience.

What do you think of the power of internet ads over television ads?

Farewell to you all!


June 17, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | Leave a comment

Motrin Causes Mommy Headaches

I know I’ve been talking a lot about YouTube and its role in social marketing or just building communities, but I have to do it one more time – so bare with me.

This post isn’t even necessarily directed at a YouTube “issue”. Rather more focused on Motrin’s lame attempt at delving into social media marketing. The article discusses the Motrin ad and compares it to other “social media infernos”, but I also think there are some key lessons that Motrin learned (hopefully) from the disaster that was their Controversial Motrin Moms Commercial.

The first issue I found with this whole campaign is that Motrin did not look for or listen to feedback. After 48 hours, other social media sites (other than YouTube) were flooded with conversation of disgust centered around the advertisement. Clearly Motrin did not do their research about social media and how to use one tool effectively and other tools to monitor the response and ongoing conversation after the release of the ad into the online world.  Note to all organizations: you must understand more than one social tool and/or network before unleashing an advertisement, message, conversation, etc. to people who completely understand and respect the tools and the conversations that occur in that environment.

What’s even more shocking is they didn’t even go online to find mothers/mommy bloggers and ask how they felt about the advertisement. And they didn’t even think to include mothers in the process of developing the advertisement in the first place. This completely boggles my mind. The ad probably doesn’t make any sense to mothers. I mean, I doubt that if Motrin ran a focus group with mothers, the majority of them would identify ‘fashionably wearing their baby when it causes them so much pain’ a major concern. I doubt they would say, “if only I had a pain killer I could strut around with my fashionable baby strap all day long!!” Puuhhhllleeeaassee!!

Anyway, basically I think it’s time that organizations become a little bit a lot more responsible when it comes to using social media. There are way too many examples of what NOT to do, and how-to-do-it-right. Anyone can learn, it’s just a matter of the organization taking the time to do it, and paying attention.

This class is ending and I feel so privileged to have been a part of it. I have learned so much and I’ve had such a great time doing it. I can already see how this knowledge I have picked up is going to help me in the PR world. Employers are excited about it and I’m excited about it. I think CC is on to something…eventually (and I can’t wait) the term “social media” will fade away and it will quickly become a part of common communication practices.

Peace out PBRL 4405!! It’s been a time!

Kim 🙂

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , | 3 Comments

farewell my friends!

So this is it, my last will and testament… aka my last official blog post. It’s really sorta sad, but as I reflect on what this blog has taught me, I can’t help be excited.  First, I’m excited that I’ve actually written on a blog, that I didn’t totally suck at it (I think)  and that other people read it . Secondly, I’ve learned so much from all of your posts and looking at all of the assigned websites. And, last but not least I think I  finally get the whole idea of social media.

Looking back, I’m not quite sure why I was so scared of it… seriously let’s break it down: social – well as most of you can probably tell I’m social, almost a bit too much, and media – well that’s just self-explanatory, we are surrounded by media almost every second of our lives.

So, why was I so scared to take the social media plunge? Maybe I’m just scared of change in general, but after this class and engaging in it myself, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to being a ‘social media scardy cat.’ 

I’m glad that I made this transition from old media advocate to social media wannabe in an encouraging and ‘safe’ environment. I realize that I’m no expert and don’t plan on ever being one, but I honestly feel that I’ve acquired some very useful and relevant skills in this class. So thanks!

So I’ll leave you with these wise words from my dear friend Frank (not Frank Ovaitt):

And now, the end is here

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I traveled each and ev’ry highway

And more, much more than this, I did it my way…


Such a stretch, but a dramatic close, nonetheless.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , | Leave a comment

R.I.P Traditional Communication Tools

As this is my last post on my monitored site, SXSW, I was anxious to write about something SUPER cool to end it with a bang.

As I browsed through the latest updates to the site, I came across a clip of another award that was given out- Category: Blog – Sites that revolutionize the power of publishing by providing regularly updated content of a personal or professional nature.

This award went to a blog called The Bygone Bureau, Which was created by two college seniors. It’s basically an online newspaper which has over 2000 contributors. Many of them have not even met the two creators of the site.

In the interview after winning the award, one of the creators was asked if he thinks blogs will someday take over print newspapers. He responded “I really, really hope that newspapers don’t go away.”

Well, I really, really hope newspapers don’t go away either. In fact, I really, really hope that cd’s don’t go away (although that’s looking more and more of a possibility) and I really, really hope that comic books don’t go away, or person-to-person conversation, or bank tellers, or telling secrets to friends, or books, or dvd’s.

What I’m getting at here is that after 5 weeks of monitoring my site, looking back at all of my posts, they have almost all had to do with technology replacing mediums that have been around for ages! This goes for a lot of our class posts as well.

I think the progress that technology has made in such a short span of time is amazing. And amazingly scary.

I mean, I’m all for technology. I can’t live without my cell phone, can’t go anywhere without my iPod, checking facebook has basically become  part of my everyday life and yes, blogging is fun! I just find myself moving forward and not looking back, not taking the time to stop and think about just how much technology is advancing.

I hope that someday social media and traditional forms of communication can live in harmony, pleasing everyone. I would like to still be able to wake up in the morning and check the morning paper over coffee. Because I know myself too well, and a mug of coffee over a laptop just wouldn’t work.

What are your thoughts on technology replacing traditional communication? It’s EVERYWHERE!

On a side note: I will definitely still be keeping up with SXSW as often as I can. I suggest you all take a look at it too!


June 16, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , | 1 Comment

Bull Twit

On June 15, Social Media Group posted a blog entry called “Tweeting your way into a Twinternship”. A Twinternship is essentially an internship where students can act as a Twitter expert, consultant or content manager for large organizations or high-profile individuals that don’t have time to Tweet themselves.

Considering Twitter’s sole mandate to determine: “What are you doing?” (“you”, meaning organizations and individuals on Twitter), does it make sense for someone from outside the organization to come in and answer that question? Does a fresh-faced student, not-yet immersed in the company culture have the knowledge and intuition to provide daily updates on the inner workings of an organization? Maybe.

On one side of the coin, an outside source would be free from the biases and cynicism that result from years of working for the same company. Someone with a fresh perspective could tweet about exciting news and events that they know would be of interest to the outside world.

On the other hand, that fresh perspective may not be an accurate one. Furthermore, it might not be articulated in a tone that is true to the organization or celebrity.

It’s one thing to Tweet about oneself. We don’t have to research the current events in our life, or adopt a specific tone in order to accurately portray our Twitter status. But when we Tweet on behalf of an organization or celebrity, we must assume the personality of that organization. Someone external to that organization would likely have to fake it.

I suppose that is what we, as communicators do when we write a news release or speak to the media on behalf of an organization. The difference here is that social media claims to be a more organic, or “real” medium. Can companies, political figures and celebrities really claim that they’re using social media to be “real” and transparent when they pay someone else to do the tweeting?

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment