Sunday, December 23, 2007

British Monarchy launches Youtube Channel

Just in time for the Queen's yearly televised Christmas message, Buckingham Palace today launched its own Youtube channel to broadcast this year's royal Christmas wishes. The Queen is hopeful that the new medium will make her Christmas message "more personal and direct" and reach younger audiences.

A nice PR move to make the royal family more attractive in the eyes of the younger generation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Facebook tries to save face with Beacon apology

Seems like it finally dawned on Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, that he needed to join the Beacon conversation! He posted an official apology on the Facebook blog today, acknowledging that his company was wrong in the way it handled the Beacon problem. Note that he directly addressed one of the hot-button issues in his post - his choice to make Beacon an opt-out instead of an opt-in program - thereby showing that his company is listening to user concerns.

Zuckerberg's blog post is structured like a textbook example of a crisis PR response:
  • Paragraph 1: Apologize for the specific problem

  • Paragraph 2 & 3: Explain what happened/what let to the mistake

  • End of paragraph 3: Condemn the mistake

  • Paragraph 4: Explain what needs to be done to fix the problem. In my opinion he would have been better off addressing Facebook users directly here instead of referring to them as "people" (not very personal)

  • Paragraph 5: Explain what has been done to fix the problem and tell users about it

  • Paragraph 6: Thank users for sharing their concerns, thereby validating them. The only thing he didn't do at the end was discuss how Facebook plans to "make up" for their mistake (such as Apple offering in-store credit to early iPhone adopters, or JetBlue issuing vouchers after the Valentine's Day disaster). But then again, Facebook is a free service which sets it apart from those examples.
Zuckerberg's apology is similar to Steve Jobs' open letter to iPhone users after Apple upset its fan base by dropping the price of the iPhone after only a few months on the market. The apology is not the only similarity though. Facebook and Apple both managed to anger an otherwise ultra-loyal public - the people who love their service/product. Apple's iPhone faux-pas and Facebook's Beacon dilemma also act as a good reminder to companies not to underestimate the power of their key publics to organize online and pressure for change.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Facebook Group for PR Job Hunters

Since some of you will be graduating in two weeks, I thought you might be interested in this Facebook group for PR job hunters. It would be a good place to show off your new social media resume.

NATO takes the war against the Taliban to YouTube

I caught a story on the news yesterday about NATO realizing that it needed to take the war against the Taliban to YouTube. In a speech delivered last month, NATO's Secretary General explained the problem: "When there is an incident in Afghanistan, the Taliban are quick to say there have been high numbers of civilian casualties. The wires pick it up, then the TV stations, then the Web. Our response comes days later – if we are lucky. By that time, we have totally lost the media battle." According to a NATO spokesperson the Taliban is "doing better than we are on key battleground -- and that's video".

In an effort to counter Taliban propaganda, NATO has declassified some videos showing Taliban fighters disguising as women and using little children as human shields. The Record, a daily local Ontario newspaper, ran an interesting story describing how NATO came to change its position on releasing these videos.

In response (?) to NATO's move, al Qaeda's TV production unit today released a new Bin Laden tape accusing NATO of having disrepsected the rules of war and having attacked and killed women and children on purpose.

That just goes to show that fighting a war is about much more than just the physical combat on the ground. The real war is fought in the court of public opinion with YouTube videos as the new weapon of choice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Facebook Beacon & Facebook Social Ads

When we talked about Facebook Beacon and Facebook Social Ads in class today, we used those two terms interchangeably. They're not quite the same though. Let me try to explain the difference (as I understand it):

Facebook Beacon:
- Beacon works by allowing one of Facebook's partner sites to put a cookie on your browser when you interact with their site (i.e. when you buy something on Overstock, rent a movie, etc.)
- The cookie then sends the information about your online activity (i.e. what you bought, what movie you rented) to Facebook
- Facebook then publishes that information to your friends' news feeds.

The result looks something like this (picture from Charlene Li's blog):

Facebook Social Ads:
- Company writes the ad copy and decides who they want to see the ad
- Facebook displays the ad "in the left hand Ad Space — visible to users as they browse Facebook to connect with their friends — as well as in the context of News Feed — attached to relevant social stories."
- So social ads can work independently of Beacon, but they don't have to. Facebook Beacon allows Facebook to feed the social ad to users whose friends have interacted with the company's Facebook Page or their website

Here's an example of a Facebook Social Ad (note that it displays the user's profile picture):

According to Facebook's website, "Facebook Social Ads allow your businesses to become part of people's daily conversation." Judging by the growing popularity of's Stop Invading My Privacy group, that conversation seems to be turning against them though. Even the mainstream media is starting to weigh in on this issue. Here's a CNN story on Facebook Beacon that should qualify as negative media coverage:

I've also just stumbled across this blog post which outlines a lot of the privacy concerns we discussed.

Update: According to the New York Times, Facebook has bowed to the pressure and announced changes to its Beacon program which are aimed at protecting its users' privacy. Here's the official press release. And lastly, an interesting story from CNN on behavioral targeting in online advertising.

Yet another update (Dec. 4):
Brian Solis just published a good post which analyzes Facebook's reaction from a crisis communication perspective and criticizes Zuckerberg's choice of a press release as a way to communicate changes to the Beacon program to a community of networked users. So if the press release was a bad idea, what should Zuckerberg have done? Todd Defren has a suggestion or two for him.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Analysis of Viral Video Trends

Considering our latest discussions of viral video, you might be interested in the following article series on YouTube trends from the No Man's Blog.

This series of 5 reports examines the most viewed videos (all time, monthly, & weekly) on YouTube and provides some interesting insights into what goes viral.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cluetrain Manifesto Reading - The 95 Theses

We'll be examining the Cluetrain Manifesto next class. Please read the 95 theses of this manifesto so that we'll be able to have a class discussion on it.

As you read them, think about how these theses apply to the practice of PR and how we could change current PR practices to respond to some of the criticisms contained in the Cluetrain theses.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Google's inner workings explained

Since search engine rankings are equivalent to influence in this Web 2.0 world, it seems like a good idea to take a closer look at the inner workings of the mother of all search engines - Google. More than half of all online searches are currently run by Google!

This page does a great job visualizing what takes place behind the scenes when an Internet user runs a search on Google. This site doesn't discuss Google's search algorithm, but rather focuses on the logistics of running the search.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CNN announces Second Life Reporting Endeavor

CNN today announced that it is launching an I-Report hub in Second Life to report on events and stories happening in Second Life.

This is how it works: SL residents submit reports and CNN I-Report producers decide on what stories to run, and then publish them in SL. Here's a video explaining it all.

So in essence, a virtual news station to cover virtual news.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Greenpeace's social media campaign for a greener iPhone generates publicity

We've already discussed how Greenpeace used social media technologies to pressure Apple into producing more environmental computers. We also briefly examined their latest attack on the iPhone and the lawsuit that was filed against Apple last month. (Below is the Greenpeace iPhone video that sums up their charges against the iPhone:)

Looks like Greenpeace was rather successful in generating publicity for their latest campaign, as CNN ran a major story on it today - the same day that Apple finally launched the iPhone in Britain and Germany.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Honor Hunger Week by Entering the UN World Food Programme Viral Video Contest

As St. Edward's University is getting ready to honor national Hunger Week, you can participate in your own way by practicing your newly acquired viral video production skills and producing a 30 or 60 second video that raises awareness about world hunger.

The United Nations World Food Programme is calling on amateur video producers to put their creativity to good use in an effort to influence public opinion about world hunger. The detailed call for entries can be found on the Hunger Bytes YouTube page. The submission deadline is midnight August 1, 2008 - so there is plenty of time to get your entries in and make your contribution to the fight against hunger.

Here's another fun (and educational) way to honor the spirit of Hunger Week and improve your vocab at the same time. The FreeRice website donates 10 grams of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for each word you get right on their vocabulary test. According to their site, "When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people." A creative idea IMHO!

Social Advertising on Facebook

On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled its somewhat controversial plans to launch an advertising system based on social networking (see the press release announcing Facebook Ads, and a CNN story explaining how the system will work).

The announcement has let to concerns about privacy issues (see the Techcrunch story). It will be interesting to see how Facebook will go about convincing its users to embrace this new advertising format, especially considering the anti-social advertising groups that have already started to pop up on its site.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Social Media Resume for Students entering the PR or Advertising Industry

In the newest Forward podcast, Bryan Person discusses the idea of a social media resume for PR and advertising students (11:36 minutes into the podcast). Bryan also elaborates on the need for a social media resume on his own blog and provides a couple of examples.

These examples are very close to what I would like you to do for your upcoming SMNR assignment in which you are supposed to "announce” your qualifications, career goals and job expectations in form of a SMNR. The point of this assignment is to demonstrate your social media skills to prospective employers in a creative manner and to tie together all the different technologies we have explored in this class (such as blogs, podcasts, web video, social bookmarks, etc.). As you explore the examples posted by Bryan, pretend that you are a potential employer looking at these resumes. Which type of resume would make a stronger case for a candidate's social media skills? A traditional resume, describing the skills, or a multimedia resume displaying them? Loaded question, I know.

Wikipedia Vision: See who is editing Wikipedia in what parts of the world

This neat web application, named Wikipedia Vision, displays anonymous edits to the English Wikipedia as they are made. The data map displays "the title of the article, the summary of the edit (if the person who made it gave any summary), link to the changes that were made to the article, geographical location of the wikipedia user and the time the edit happened".

It works by matching Wikipedia users' IP addresses to their corresponding geographical locations and mapping them on Google Maps.

Resources for capturing web video

Here are some web applications & add-ons that will allow you to capture web video:

For free video stock footage, try this site.

For free stock photos, try the Stock.Xchng.

And finally, for help with iMovie, check out Apple's iMovie tutorials.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dove Onslaught Video - The follow-up to the Evolution Video

Here's the newest Dove video, a follow-up to the "Evolution" video we discussed today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A comparison of Wal-Mart's and Target's Facebook Campaigns

Here's a good comparison of Wal-Mart's and Target's Facebook campaigns we talked about earlier in the semester.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Local Social Media Club right here in Austin

When we talked about the social media news release a few weeks ago, we also briefly discussed the Social Media Club and its role in pushing for SMNR publication and distribution standards.

If you are at all interested in the work of the Social Media Club, you should check out the local Austin Social Media Club and their events.

The Austin Social Media Club will be hosting a workshop on the effective use of social media tools and strategies in business in November. What's great about this workshop is that the workshop site contains a series of videos and slideshows from previous talks and presentations - a great resource for this class. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Learning from the 2007 PRSA Conference & Conference Blog

Today marks the end of the annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) international conference. Although the conference might be over, the discussion surrounding some of this year's hottest PR topics continues at the PRSA conference blog.

If you are still wondering whether or not we are in the middle of a technology revolution and whether PR professionals really need to understand new social media technologies, take a look at this year's session highlights and at the conference theme: "PR Evolution: Innovation. Collaboration. Influence." Conference highlights included:

- Campaigning on YouTube and in Second Life
- Video Blogging to Build Brand Reputation
- New Media, New Metrics: How to Survive in the New Consumer-Driven Media World
- Strategic Blogging for Successful Marketing
- Understanding and Influencing the New Influencers

The neat thing about this year's conference is the conference blog which is supposed to carry on the conversation about all these issues online. So take this blog as your chance to catch a glimpse of the conference and join the conversation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blogger Relations: What not to Do

Since we just talked about blogger relations in class, I thought this post on "How Not to Pitch a Blogger" might be of interest to some of you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

InnoTech Conference on the effects of Web 2.0 on Marketing & Business

Ben just forwarded me an email about a technology conference taking place here in Austin today. As part of the Innotech conference, there will be live interviews from the tradeshow floor on the effects of web 2.0 on business, marketing and the world economy. The interviews will be broadcast on between 9:30am - 11:30am and 1:30pm - 3:30pm. Listen in if you have a spare minute today!

Here's an interview from the conference with Rudy Rodriguez, General Manager of the St. Edward's University Professional Education Center. In it, he talks about Web 2.0 and its effect on the education industry:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Resources for producing and publishing a podcast

Here are a few resources for producing and publishing a podcast:
- Apple's web seminar entitled "The Podcast Recipe: Producing a successful show"
This free online seminar is divided into three parts: a section on performance (and microphone selection), a section on production (using Garageband), and a section on promotion (using the iTunes directory). The production section serves as a great tutorial for Garageband novices.
- iTunes Podcasts on learning to podcast
This link will take you to the iTunes store where you can you can download those podcasts for free.
- Another free tutorial from Apple on how to Create a Podcast
- South by Southwest panel discussion on 5 tips to make your podcast listenable
- A tutorial on how to podcast using Blogger and Feedburner
- 70+ podcasting resources from Mashable

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Conversation on PR education and the role of PR 2.0

The Forward blog just released Forward Podcast 32: A snapshot of PR Academia. In it, Bill Sledzik, associate professor of Journalism & Mass Communication at Kent State University, talks about PR education and the role of social media in today's public relations practice.

I encourage you to listen to this podcast, both as a supplement to the things we talk about in this class, and as a great example of a podcast interview (which will be your next assignment - due October 25th).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Use your blog to pay for college - seriously!

I just stumbled upon this scholarship opportunity for college bloggers. The bad news: the application deadline is October 6th. The good news: the application essay for this $10,000 scholarship has a 300 word limit. So what are you waiting for?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Citizen bloggers shut down in Myanmar

Here's a disturbing CNN story on the Burmese military junta silencing citizen bloggers & journalists by cutting of the Internet connections in the country. The fact that they saw it necessary to shut them down shows what a powerful force citizen blogging can be. Some exiled bloggers have vowed to continue reporting on the brutalities of the military junta.

Update: I just read a post on the Textdepot which mentions a new grassroots Facebook group that was launched earlier this week to support the protesting monks and currently counts over 100,000 members. The group is coordinating protests in cities all across the world and urging people to wear red on Friday in support of the protests. Need I say more about the power of social media?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ikea launches major social media project

Looks like Ikea has decided to go web 2.0 with the America at Home initiative they announced today. The project is dubbed a "collaborative photo event" and invites Internet users to upload pictures that capture the "emotions of home". Judging from their FAQ, the America at Home project is designed to support a major new branding campaign entitled, "Home is the Most Important Place in the World." Both HP (Snapfish) and Google are providing technical support for this project.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monitoring Conversations on Facebook

As we start talking about new influencers, consumer evangelists, citizen marketers and empowered Internet users, questions of whether or not organizations should actively monitor, and participate in online conversations, will begin to emerge. Today we will look at conversations on facebook and what they mean to PR professionals. We'll look at an on-campus example first before we'll examine Wal-mart's latest facebook endeavor.

Campus examples:
Facebook Groups that are opposed to the new parking garage on campus:
Boycott the parking garage group - 304 members
Students against parking garage fees - 339 members

Business examples:
Wal-Mart's facebook group
Target's facebook group

Below are some thoughts on Wal-Mart's Facebook strategy collected from around the blogosphere:
WalMart’s Facebook Strategy Sinking: Analysis and Reccomendations - Jeremiah Owyang
Facebook Sponsored Group Analysis: Target vs Wal-Mart - Jeremiah Owyang
Can Wal-Mart's Facebook Campaign Survive Transparency?
- Robert Gorell
Sorry, Wal-Mart. The kids would rather talk labor politics than home d├ęcor - Burt Helm
Walmart on facebook. beginning of the end?
- Darryl Ohrt
Ad Week report comparing Wal-Mart's effort to Target's

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Netscape announces social news website

The Netscape blog today announced that Netscape will soon launch Propeller, a social news website.

You might want to check it out once it goes online.

Some ideas for deciding what to blog about

Since you are required to start blogging on a regular basis starting this week, I thought I'd add a few tips on how to identify potential topics. Remember that the idea of these posts is to get you to engage the course material critically and to have you keep your eyes open for interesting material to blog about. You will need to become an active learner and start being on the lookout for material to incorporate into the class instead of relying on me, as the instructor, to tell you what is important. Your blog posts should demonstrate your ability to locate examples of PR applications of social media on your own.

1. Start reading the PR blogs (Micropersuasion, PR 2.0, PR Squared, etc.). I have added a number of them to our course blog. This is where you'll find a lot of info pertaining to our class.

2. Read technology blogs. There are tons of them out there!

3. Watch/read the news. The presidential candidates, for instance, have been using different forms of social media for a while now, and you could find out about their latest uses by keeping up with the news coverage of their campaigns.

4. Start using some of the social bookmarking services we talked about in class. Find someone who tags social media sites and subscribe to that person's bookmarks via RSS. That way you'll come across sites/stories you may never have looked up on your own.

5. Just keep your eyes open while you are online - and have fun!

Social bookmarking & tag cloud sites we talked about today

Here's a list of the sites we talked about today, in case you didn't write them down:

- Furl
- Stumble Upon
- Many Eyes
- Newzingo

Monday, September 10, 2007

Geocaching as a PR tool

We briefly discussed geocaching last class. This site talks about how the boy scouts use it for PR purposes among other things.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Wikiscanner - an Anti-Astroturfing Tool?

When we talked about wikis last class, I mentioned the wikiscanner, developed by CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith. Wired ran a story on it last month which is worth reading.

The wikiscanner was designed to shed light on anonymous Wikipedia edits by identifying the source of those edits. It does so by checking the IP address of the editor against a database of IP addresses in order to locate the organization that owns that particular set of IP addresses.

Now what does that have to do with PR, or this class? Remember astroturfing from your intro to PR class? The open nature of Wikipedia carries with it the disadvantage that it can easily be used by organizations, governments, and individuals to push their own agenda and engage in astroturfing.

With no easy way to check the sources of the thousands of Wikipedia entries and edits, "wikiastroturfing", unfortunately, has become an all too inviting option for businesses and individuals with shady ethics.

The wikiscanner's ability to out such incidents of astroturfing makes it a powerful new tool in the fight against unethical PR and business practices.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Why PR students need to become involved with social media

In this brief interview, Paul Young, director of the Forward podcast, discusses the growing importance of social media in the PR field and specifically addresses the need for PR students to learn about new social media technologies.

Listen to the podcast: