27 February 2010

Video: Social Media Brand Compilation

PR Geek Blogger created a webcast explaining social media use for brands.

The 7 minute long video “Social Media and Brands” covers such questions as:
   1. What is social media and why it is called social?
     2. Cultural and sociological concepts behind social media
       3. What are the negatives of Social Media for Brands?
       4. What are the positives? What’s in it for me? 
    5. How to prepare Social Media Strategy for business?

19 February 2010

Social Media good for brands. Is it for us?

This webcast was produced for studying purposes. It explains what social media is and why it’s called social. Its positives and negatives for business and it’s relevance to PR and social media and brand connection. 

It is my first webcast and I used Camtasia Studio to make it. I had a few technical difficulties during production process of Social Media and Brand which you can probably hear at some point of the video – Camtasia refused to fix them even after several of my attempts.
But I hope you can still  enjoy it… 

11 February 2010

PR pollution

The work of PR professionals is to identify audiences and create campaigns which could influence them by changing their attitudes, habits, perceptions or raising their awareness about particular issues. The most popular and current issue that comes to my mind now is human footprints we leave on the environment. Almost everywhere we look there’s a news story reminding us about it. We pollute Earth with trash and so PR people created social campaigns to warn us about dangers of rising litter or amounts of carbon we produce.

Now reporters created campaign, An Inconvenient PR Truth, targeted at PR people to stop them polluting journalists’ work environment. Apparently public relations industry is contaminating newsrooms with trashy press releases which are irrelevant to reporters and make their work more difficult. 
See the campaign ad here:

10 February 2010

CSR – a little bit of good, a little bit of bad for the society

To CSR or not to, that would be the question for our PR debate. I was always interested in corporate social responsibility because I saw it as a chance to do something good for the community by a company. Perhaps most of us see corporations as evil and up to no good, carrying only about their profits and thinking how to manipulate us to get some of our earnings. But there are good deeds that big companies did and still do.
Avon, for example, which is in partnership with such organisations as National Cancer Institute, has established Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade which helps to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Also Avon Foundation for Women, which is helping to fight domestic violence with Reese Witherspoon as its ambassador is donating big money to tackle the problem. This sounds as very good deeds company is doing.
Another example here is Whirlpool Corporation and its Philippines branch which joined non-profit organization Operation Smile Philippines (OSP) in sponsoring surgeries for Pilipino children with cleft lips and cleft palate. And there is more to the company. Since 1999 Whirlpool partners with Habitat for Humanity by helping fight poverty in USA. Corporation helps build homes for those who are in need of one but can’t afford it (for example single mothers with children). Their message is “Every Home… Everywhere, with Pride, Passion, and Performance”. If you want to read more about Whirlpool CSR have a look at its Sustainability Report.
There are many examples of companies and corporations which do good for local communities or wider society. This not only works well for their reputation but also brings profits to them. Many experts claim that good reputation is very important for the success of a corporation; they consider reputation “a company’s asset” because it is connected to corporate brand equity and it adds to the value of that company (write Schwartz and Gibb in ‘When Good Companied Do Bad Things: Responsibility and Risk in an Age of Globalization’).
There is yet another side to CSR. In my PR class some of my fellow students believe that corporate social responsibility is merely a window dressing for corporations that want to avoid paying tax or just hide their harmful to the environment activities. One of my colleagues brought to our attention example of Shell Corporation. To gain public trust and gain their positive attitude towards the company, Shell made promises to build schools in Africa as a part of its CSR program. But children are still waiting for those. Are they just dressing the window with its CSR plans?
Mallen Baker in his blog wrote: “If the arguments for a socially responsible approach were widely accepted, nobody would be even using the label "CSR" because everyone would be doing it”. And I agree with him. I think many corporations wouldn’t be doing CRS if they behaved ethically and morally in the first place. I don’t believe that Nike, for example, would be trying any of its CSR programs if it didn’t use child labour to make its shoes.
What do you think?

2 February 2010

There's Something About Social Media

The Good Stuff

Though social media are not novelty any more they are still one of the hottest topics in public relations theories. It’s enough to listen to dissertation topics students pick for their final papers this year to find out that social media are still in the centre of discussions. People wonder, what kind of impact will/does it have on PR? Is this a threat or an opportunity to the industry? Is this another stage for corporate and political propaganda? How can we use it in PR campaigns?

I found out that in 2009 there were 225 million global facebook users. So far Unites States and Britain are the largest countries that use this platform and there is more female users comparing to male audience. But facebook is not the only social networking platform out there.

Pew Research Centre found out that in America “Twitter and similar services have been most avidly embraced by young adults. Nearly one in five (19%) online adults ages 18 and 24 have ever used Twitter and its ilk, as have 20% of online adults 25 to 34. Use of these services drops off steadily after age 35 with 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twitter. The decline is even more stark among older internet users; 4% of 55-64 year olds and 2% of those 65 and older use Twitter”.

All these information is very valuable from the point of view of marketers and PR professionals. So what that such platforms as YouTube or Twitter don’t earn money. They are worth billions of dollars because of the data gathered on them: details on date of births, locations, e-mail addresses and even interests of potential consumers to marketers and PR people.

Social networking certainly gives advantages for these two industries, such as for example: reaching vast numbers of people; a chance for two-way communication between the company and its public (especially if it comes to feedback and people’s opinion on products or services); it gives an opportunity to create a buzz among certain audiences (above all young people) and make the word of mouth more effective/vast.

„Today’s public relations industry has become so pervasive that part of its invisibility steams from the fact that it is, indeed, everywhere [...]”, wrote Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in Trust Us, We’re Experts. This invisibility is a big advantage for PR, and new media became a new stage for public relations activities where PR can be almost transparent. Who can say who is on the other side of that net where the message was sent? Who can say, what are the motives of people posting blogs on specific topics (life for instance fashion blogs)? Who is taking up discussions on consumer forums? These people can be hired professionals exaggerating some issues or trying to divert readers’ attention from others.