Monday, December 8, 2008

Of the importance of monitoring online conversations

I was just looking up ComCast Cares, the Twitter account of Frank Eliason, ComCast's Director of Digital Care, when I came across this wonderful Flash animation on his personal blog. It's an interactive presentation on the need for companies to monitor online chatter and respond to it in a timely fashion. The presentation was done by While you're there also check out their animations on social bookmarking, companies that use Twitter, and Lifestreaming - all concepts that pertain to class. Kind of like an interactive Flash version of the Common Craft Show.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Call for Papers on Social Media in the Communication Classroom

I know that there are some academics who read this blog, so this post is for you - please feel free to share this call for papers with your peers. 
Special Issue:
Communication Pedagogy in the Age of Social Media

Over the course of the last few years, social media technologies such as blogs, microblogs, digital videos, podcasts, wikis, and social networks, have seen a dramatic increase in adoption rates. To date, Internet users have uploaded roughly 80 million videos to YouTube and launched approximately 133 million blogs worldwide. Because of their ability to connect people and to facilitate the exchange of information and web content, social media technologies not only provide a powerful new way to interact with one another, but they also present exciting new pedagogical opportunities.

Earlier this year, the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released the 2008 Horizon Report, which seeks to identify new technologies capable of affecting the way we teach and learn. Among the critical challenges outlined by this year’s report is the need for universities to equip students with new media literacy skills and to develop curricula that “address not only traditional capabilities like developing an argument over the course of a long paper”, but also “how to create meaningful content with today’s tools.” (The New Media Consortium, 2008, p. 6).

Considering that these tools center around the ideas of collaboration, participation, and conversation, they should hold special interest to communication researchers and educators alike. As a result, this special issue seeks to examine the pedagogical applications of social media technologies, especially with regard to the communication classroom. Examples of best practices in social media adoption in all areas of communication education are welcome, as are case studies or empirical research analyzing the effectiveness and/or effects of incorporating social media technologies into the communication classroom. Research examining the role these technologies play in the social construction of a collective knowledge pool would also fit within the scope of this special issue.

The special issue is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2010. Deadline for completed manuscripts is April 1, 2009. Submissions should be electronic (.doc or .rtf format) and must conform to the specifications of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. Place author’s contact information in an email to the editor only, not on the title page of the submission.

Issue Editors:
Corinne Weisgerber, Ph.D. and Shannan H. Butler, Ph.D.
St. Edward’s University

Send inquiries and submissions to: corinnew AT stedwards DOT edu

More on Social Media & the Mumbai Attacks

I had planned to discuss the Cluetrain Manifesto in class tomorrow, but the events of last week in India have lead to a slight change in plans. As Twitter user naomieve observed a few days ago, Mumbai is a social media experiment in action and because it is such a great case study, I figured that we should take a closer look at the role social media played during the live-reporting of the Mumbai attacks. I've put together a slideshow that covers the types of social media used by citizen journalists during this tragic event:

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: citizen mumbai)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social media sites cover Mumbai attacks in real time

I just learned about the horrible terrorist attacks in Mumbai. I've been following the developments on Twitter - weird how just a few months ago I would have immediately turned on the TV and set it on CNN. Another good example of the effectiveness of social media in times of crises.

Poynter has a good summary of all the social media sites currently covering this tragedy.

11/27: CNN and Gauravonomics also have detailed accounts of the real time citizen journalism that took place during the attacks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Making a YouTube video that's worth watching

Here are a few additional guidelines for your upcoming video project :-)

YouTube Contest Challenges Users To Make A 'Good' Video

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tweeting about layoffs at Zappos

Very emotional day for everyone at Zappos. I’ll be sending out an update later today with details of what’s going on.
That's the message Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh sent out over Twitter today. The details he would later reveal were plans to lay off 8% of the company's workforce in order to deal with the economic slowdown. The company, which has more than 400 employees on Twitter openly discussed the layoffs on its employee Twitter page. Asked if it was okay to tweet about the layoffs, Hsieh responded: "Our Twitter policy remains the same as it's always been: just be real, and use your best judgement." Nice to see a company being that transparent about bad news for once.

Obama Takes the Presidential Transition Process to the Web

Looks like president-elect Obama isn't losing any time preparing to take office in January. Today, his campaign launched, a website supposed to chronicle the presidential transition process. Most interesting to me is the part of the website that allows users to share their vision for the country. To do so, users fill out a short form and can then input their ideas into a form field and upload a picture or video.
Start right now. Share your vision for what America can be, where President-Elect Obama should lead this country. Where should we start together?

I've always been convinced that the Obama campaign really understood the power of social media. I think the campaign results and the money raised speak for themselves. What's nice to see now, is that they seem to be planning on keeping those social media tools in place even after winning the election. To me, the webpage shows a desire to stay connected with voters and a willingness to listen to them. seems to be all about transparency and dialogue - a true web2.0 site.

Actually, the idea behind this site reminds me a bit of Dell's Ideastorm site - a site which encourages users to post ideas for Dell products and services and which has received a lot of acclaim.

The Internet & Social Networks: A museum of personal mistakes?

I came across this excellent video via the OpinionWatch blog. It's an hour long documentary on reputation management and personal branding in a hyper-connected world. The documentary is in French (hey, a good time to practice those French skills!) and was produced by 13ème Rue, a NBC Universal Global Networks channel.

The first part of the video focuses on the problems the net poses for public figures and celebrities who see their every move captured on video or in pictures and broadcast in near real-time to the whole world. When those moves include off-the-record remarks, revealing personal pictures, and troublesome video, the Net's promise of increased transparency suddenly turns into a grave danger to a person's reputation as illustrated by numerous examples. Any carelessly spoken word or inadvertent gesture has the potential to become a lasting liability. In the case of politicians, video that captures these "personal glitches" becomes a campaign weapon, used and released by enemies at an opportune moment.

Instead of 15 minutes of fame, the Internet now offers 15 minutes of shame to people who have to watch their mistakes broadcast to hundreds if not thousands (or sometimes even millions) of people. The documentary does a nice job showing how our digital footprint creates our personal brand and why this brand may need to be carefully watched and managed. It also introduces a powerful new idea with regards to social networks: that of the "droit à l'oubli" - the right to oblivion, or more specifically, the right to erasure of data. According to the documentary, our current society ignores that right by following people both in space (through videotaping) and in time (through social networks). Our lives are constantly recorded digitally and then shared online where the pictures and video may live on indefinitely. Hence the idea proposed at the end of the documentary: that the Internet has become a museum of human mistakes.

So what to do about all this? The documentary suggests that we need to set boundaries but stops short of offering a viable solution. Are there any?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Student Podcasts

This semester's student podcasts are finally in! For this project students worked in teams to produce a 5-10 minute podcast on an issue pertaining to class. Each team was given the option of either interviewing an expert on the topic of social media or organizing a panel discussion on a social media and PR issue. Here are their podcasts:

Friday, October 31, 2008

"I Voted" Sticker Photo Contest

Voted yet? If so, don't throw away that "I Voted" sticker. Mercury Mambo, a local hispanic marketing firm, has launched a photo contest, which asks voters to submit a creative picture of them and their “I Voted” sticker.

Web2.0 Video Assignment: Creating Video Without Commercial Software

When I first designed this class I felt that it should contain a web video component so students would learn to communicate a message in a number of formats, including digital video. I therefore covered basic iMovie video editing skills in class, stressing the video editing techniques rather than how to execute them on a particular software package. I didn't want students to think they needed to have access to the same software package we used in class to create another digital video. I'm afraid some of them may have walked away with just that idea.
To (hopefully) correct this misconception, I have decided to rely entirely on Web 2.0 video creation tools this semester. Students will each pick a tool from the list below and use it to complete their video project. We'll still cover basic video editing techniques in class, but students will have to figure out on their own how to apply that knowledge to the particular tool they picked. Here's what we will use:
  • Flowgram - Mashup of web-based tools and voiceover narrative enables people to create a brand new type of webcasting multimedia experience.
  • StoryMaker - A simple tool for creating digital stories. Using audio, pictures and text you can create storyboards, slideshows and much much more.
  • Sprout - A quick and easy way for anyone to build, publish, and manage widgets, mini-sites, mashups, banners and more. Any size, any number of pages. Include video, audio, images and newsfeeds and choose from dozens of pre-built components and web services.
  • TVNima - One of my favorites! An online machinima application that lets you create TV shows with your own images, videos, music, voice, sound effects etc.
  • RemixAmerica - Allows users to create remixes by uploading their own video footage and sound clips to the site, searching YouTube for footage, or using video clips already uploaded to Remix America. Wired story on the RemixAmerica.
  • VIDDIX - A new video platform that allows users to add all kinds of webcontent to their video timeline.
  • muveeMix - Allows users to create their own short personal videos from raw footage, music and pictures. The result, called a muvee, can then be embedded in your blog or shared with your friends via email. The service comes free of charge (for limited accounts), though registration is required.
  • Animoto - web application for making videos. Matches the video to your pics & music.
  • JayCut - Create your own movies and slideshows, so called mixes.
  • Brightcove Storymaker - Produce and publish professional slideshows, podcasts, and custom rich media
For even more Web 2.0 video editing sites, go to "go2web20" and select the video tag, or check out the tools listed on the 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story wiki.

Additional Resources:
  • CurrentTV assignments - List of all the news & commercial assignments on CurrentTV
  • FixMyMovie - If the quality of your video footage is low, run it through this first. Automatically cleans your movies with MotionDSP's advanced video technology.
  • Public Domain Pictures - Repository for public domain pictures
  • Wikimedia Commons - A media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to all
  • Resources previously listed on the course blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dark Side of Twitter: Terrorist Tweets

Seems like I forgot to mention that twitter also makes a good terrorism tool according to a military newsletter supplement discussed in a recent Wired post.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Twitter and its uses in PR, journalism, crisis communication...

Now that your blogs are all up and running, it's time to give microblogging a try! Since Twitter is the most popular microblogging tool, that's what we will focus on in class. I've created the slideshow below to introduce you to both the technology and its many uses. The slideshow contains a lot of embedded links to examples. Please note that sometimes you have to position your cursor just right to be able to click on the link.
Twitter for Public Relations
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: twitter pr)
Links to the videos contained in the slideshow:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 08: Of bloggers, muckrakers and a worldwide financial crisis

Today is Blog Action Day and I wanted to take a moment to contribute to this great project by blogging about the subject of poverty. 
I’ve been fortunate enough to never have experienced poverty on a personal level but the global financial crisis has certainly brought the topic to mind more than once over the course of the last couple of weeks. A segment of my Intro to Public Relations class focuses on the history of PR and as luck would have it, I happened to cover that topic at the height of the global financial crisis. Having just covered the industrial revolution, the robber barons, and the social injustices of that time period in class, I can’t help but to examine the current financial crisis in light of those events.

There’s been a lot of talk of another great depression lately. We’ve been bombarded with news of increasing unemployment and inflation rates, a global economic slowdown, major bank collapses and even national bankruptcies.

The gap between the rich and the poor seems to be growing dramatically again, just like it was during the industrial revolution. The middle class feels trapped in the middle of this global mess and is angry at overpaid CEOs and corrupt politicians who’ve been compromising their financial future through irresponsible actions and policies. Replace the CEOs and politicians with the robber barons (i.e. the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts) and again, it is easy to draw parallels to the industrial revolution. Back then, it was the muckrakers who drew attention to these social injustices by writing books, newspaper and magazine articles designed to expose the oftentimes unbearable conditions people lived in. Nowadays it is bloggers who are uniting in a concerted effort to raise awareness of social problems such as global poverty. After all, isn’t this the point of initiatives such as Blog Action Day?

There's plenty of people living in poverty right now who need our voice, but there's also plenty of people who for the first time in their lives find themselves at the brink of poverty due to the events of the last couple of weeks/months. I want to include them in this post. Unfortunately, I think the threat of poverty has become a lot more real to a lot more people lately. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tips for your upcoming podcast assignment

Check out these podcasting tips from Len Edgerly. His post contains good advice for all you budding podcasters!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Global Warming Awareness Campaign features Suicidal Wildlife

I just saw this video and had to share it. It's a powerful new global warming awareness campaign for a Portuguese environmental organization named Quercus. The PSA was created by McCann Erickson Portugal.

The tag line at the end of the video reads "Global Warming - If you give up, they give up."

The history of public relations practice - A student project

My intro to PR class just finished its PR history project and since I've been trying out a brand-new assignment this semester, I thought I'd share the end product here. The assignment required each student to research a particular time period and to upload the findings into a digital timeline created on Dipity. Students had to write a short narrative to summarize each event and locate multimedia files (pictures, links, videos) that would illustrate those events. Each student was responsible for identifying at least 5 events within a given time period. 
The result is a pretty neat (okay, so I'm biased...) little timeline of the history of the PR profession which we will hopefully build on in future classes. We found out the hard way that Dipity doesn't allow for B.C. dates, so you'll need to excuse the ancient Greeks and Cicero showing up on the wrong date. Take a look, and if you like it, let them know - they've done a lot of work on this.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gov. Perry launches YouTube Channel to spread Hurricane Relief Message

Looks like the governor's office created a YouTube channel today to appeal to people to donate to the Texas disaster relief fund - a fund intended to help communities affected by disasters such as Hurricane Ike. Gov. Perry's YouTube channel currently contains a single video - an emotional PSA developed by Idea City. The 30-second spot is also expected to air on cable and broadcast stations across Texas.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Social Bookmarking Assignment

Now that we have discussed what social bookmarks are and how they could be used as a PR tool, it's time to start bookmarking. For next class (09/23), please set up an account in Blackboard Scholar and add a bookmark (related to PR and/or social media) to the Scholar Course Home. See the slideshow below for instructions on how to set up Scholar:
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: scholar socialbookmarking)
Social bookmarks do not only carry important PR applications, but they also constitute a powerful pedagogical tool. For that reason, we will be using them as a way to get everyone to actively contribute course resources and to share them with the class.

Social Bookmarking Assignment:
You will be expected to contribute 10 high quality resources on the topic of social media and PR to Blackboard Scholar by November 18th. These can be links to blog posts, videos, podcasts, slideshows, etc. The important thing is that they provide quality information for your peers as well as others interested in the study of social media and its PR applications. We will occasionally review these bookmarks in class. During those reviews, you will be expected to tell your classmates about the resource and why you decided to include it in our course resources repository.

We will spend some time in class learning how to add resources to Blackboard Scholar. If you are absent that day, or if you need further instruction, you will need to make arrangements with me to learn how to post your content to it. If you encounter technical difficulties adding your resources, you need to let me know before the due date. There will be no extensions given for content added late. Also be sure not to duplicate resources that have already been added by your classmates or me.

For each resource you add to Blackboard Scholar, you need to fill out the following fields:
  • Bookmark Name: Give your bookmark a name if it doesn’t already have one
  • URL: The URL should be added automatically. If it isn’t be sure to add it
  • Description: Summarize the resource and explain why it is a good source to include
  • Tags: Include a number of tags that describe the resource you’ve added (the same way you would tag your blog posts)
  • Discipline Tag(s): Select “Communication studies” as the discipline tag
  • Course Tag(s): Select the Course Tag for our class 
  • Status: Select “public”
Grading criteria:
  1. Included 10 resources by the deadline (to make sure you don’t add all 10 at once, you can only add 2 links on any given day)
  2. Resources contain all necessary fields
  3. Tags appropriately describe resources
  4. Summary is comprehensive and clear
  5. Rationale for inclusion of the resource is sound
Extra-credit opportunity: (this is optional)
Pick any topic you are personally interested in. This can be anything: a hobby, an issue you are researching for a paper, a concept you’d like to explore, etc. Using Scholar or a different social bookmarking service (i.e., Diigo, etc.), locate someone who shares that interest.

To do that:
  1. Bookmark a resource on your topic of interest. Pick a good one here. The more specific the resource, the easier the rest of the assignment will be
  2. In your list of social bookmarks, look to see who else has bookmarked that resource and what else they tend to tag. Examining their tag cloud will give you a good idea of what their interests are.
  3. Keep looking until you identify someone who really fits your interests (i.e. who tags resources you would tag). This person should have bookmarked lots of pages on the topic of interest to you, and not just one or two. You may have to repeat steps 1-3 a few times to find that “perfect match” ☺
  4. Write a one page profile of that person. What are their other tags? What interest categories does the tag cloud reveal? What do these tags suggest that person does for a living? Can you tell what field or profession they might be in? 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Timeline of Memes

Since we just talked about memes, take a look at this Internet meme timeline:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Listening - the new consumer research method?

In class yesterday we discussed Paul Gillin's idea that enthusiasts can be seen as a "global online focus group that works for free" and that businesses stand to learn a lot by simply listening to their online conversations (from Gillin's book The New Influencers). It seems like Procter & Gamble and Unilever have taken Gillin's advice to heart. In an Advertising Age article published Monday, Kim Dedeker, VP of external capability leadership, global consumer and market knowledge at P&G, is calling for the end of consumer research as we know it. The article, appropriately titled The End of Consumer Surveys? questions the viability of "boring and antiquated" survey research and argues that it is time for companies to get serious about mining consumer feedback online. Definitely a lot of food for thought here. Also check out the Advertising Research Foundation page which has partnered with P&G and Unilever in their quest to devise new ways to harvest online chatter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Houston media relies on social media technologies in the wake of Ike

As a former Houstonian I have been following the news coverage of hurricane Ike with great interest. Looking back on my media consumption over the last couple of days, I've come to realize that I switched from TV to online media pretty much as soon as Ike came onshore. Yes, I watched the hurricane make landfall on CNN but since then I've been relying mostly on the online version of the Houston Chronicle and on KHOU for my information needs. What I've noticed is something a number of other crisis situations before this one have brought to our attention - namely the power of social media as a crisis communication tool. 
I've used Twitter search to see how my old neighbourhood fared, scanned Facebook for updates from friends in the Houston area, and caught a glimpse of the devastation from citizen journalists reporting their stories, uploading videos and sharing pictures. 

There is a lot of talk these days about the impending death of newspapers, but I think the type of reporting the Houston Chronicle pulled off this week in the wake of hurricane Ike shows that there is a lot of potential for media outlets who learn to harness the power of social media. Today, the Chronicle released a note to its readers, which lays out their approach to online journalism: 
If you’re visiting us because of Hurricane Ike, we hope you’ll stay awhile. We’re proud of our rich Web site with all kinds of nooks and crannies. You’ll find a formidable list of bloggers, including experts in science and technology, interesting databases, interactive features, photo galleries, lots of fun video and the best darn reporting of events in this part of Texas.
The Web has created a space where reporting is a partnership (emphasis added) between a news organization and its readers. Thank you for contributing to our coverage - whether it’s commenting on a story, uploading an image or sending us a tip. Your participation is much appreciated.
Thus far the Chronicle's hurricane reporting has made ample use of social media technologies. Below are just a few that I am aware of:
  • Houston electricity map - allows Houstonians to report which neighbourhoods have power and which don't. Mapped on a Yahoo map.
  • Damage report database - allows users to locate spots where flooding and damage has been reported. 
  • Houston gas station database - allows users to "find which gas stations are open and supplying fuel, based on accounts from eyewitnesses, Houston Chronicle staff, official accounts and reports in other news media." (I remember that 3 years ago, during the hurricane Rita evacuation, people called into radio stations to share this info)
  • Open businesses database - lists businesses that have reopened and allows users to submit additional openings.
  • Ike Answers blog - allows users to post a hurricane related question in the comments section and wait for Houston Chronicle staff or other users to answer it.
  • Free access to the electronic edition of the Chronicle - because of problems distributing the paper copy of the newspaper, the Chronicle has made its e-version available for free (user name & password=ike)
I think all of these examples show that the Houston Chronicle definitely "gets it" when it comes to social media. Their reporting and use of social media in this time of crisis has given us a glimpse of what the future of online journalism could look like.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spotting Spin now easier than ever

Just saw this on ReadWriteWeb: a Firefox plugin that allows users to spot media bias and mark it as spin.

SpinSpotter is also expected to add a feature that will let readers know if a story uses language that resembles that of a press release.

Indeed, Google has a long memory

We ended today's class on blogging and personal brand management discussing the idea that Google has a really good memory. When I came back to my office and opened my RSS reader, I thought what better example to illustrate this point than the United Airlines Bankruptcy story. Granted, this story doesn't pertain to a personal brand, but it definitely shows that information on the Internet lives on long after it isn't news any longer. Here's a timeline of what happened (as I understand it):
2002: The Chicago Tribune publishes an article announcing that United Airlines will be filing for bankruptcy.

Sept. 06, 2008: 
  1. The 2002 story reappears on the Florida's Sun-Sentinel's website. According to Gawker, the page also contained a map of hurricane Ike giving the impression that this was a new story
  2. According to Google's blog: Google crawler discovered a new link on the Florida Sun-Sentinel website in a section of the most viewed stories labeled "Popular Stories: Business" and followed it to an article on United Airlines filing for bankruptcy. It concluded that the article date was Sept. 7th, 2008, indexed the page and made it available through Google News search
Sept. 8, 2008:
  1. A reporter googling bankruptcies on Google's News search picks up the story from the Florida Sun Sentinel and supplies it to the Bloomberg news service
  2. Bloomberg sends out the story
  3. Within minutes United Airlines' shares sink 75% 
  4. Oops!
This should go to show that even 6-year-old information can still come to hurt you...

Ps: Steve Rubel just published an interesting post discussing the role of news aggregators in this debacle.

Monday, September 8, 2008

As social media adoption increases, do ethics get left at the doorstep?

I've been fascinated with social media for a while now and for a number of reasons. What has fascinated me the most about these technologies with regards to public relations practice is the promise they hold to topple old one-way models of communication and to increase transparency. I figured these changes would be good for the PR profession - I figured they would help the profession regain some of its credibility. That's one of the reasons I wanted to teach a class on this topic and support the push for the corporate adoption of social media. However, my optimism about the power of social media to change our field took a little hit last week when I was reminded not once, but twice, that there are an increasing number of people out there who "don't play by the rules".

Earlier last week one of my former students contacted me to tell me about her (and I quote) "horrible internship experience". I won't identify who she worked for here, but in essence she was asked to violate basic rules of social media transparency in order to publicize companies and events. Fortunately, she decided to stand by her ethics and quit her internship!

Just a few days later, my husband received a package of nutritional supplements he had ordered online along with an interesting offer: "Want a $10 rebate in this order? Write about your Vitabase experience on your website, blog or somewhere else on the Internet." In order to receive the rebate, a customer has to complete the following steps:
  1. Write a short testimonial about Vitabase or our products and put it on your personal website or blog or any public place on the web. Include a link to any page on 
  2. Send an email to telling us the page that you posted your information
Vitabase does offer some blogging tips, such as "avoid sounding like a commercial or like you are biased toward Vitabase", but nowhere does the company even suggest mentioning that the blogger is receiving financial compensation for his/her "unbiased" Vitabase review. Adding insult to injury is the requirement that bloggers link back to the company website - in essence paying people to add inbound links to their site and thereby increase the site's Google ranking. 

I know we are only talking about $10 here, but to me such initiatives seem to be violating basic ethics guidelines, such as the Social Media Guidelines set forth by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR):
Members' use of social media must be transparent, and they must make extra effort to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. They should, if writing or contributing to a blog which recommends a service supplier, make clear any financial interest they or their client might have in doing so.
or the PRSA Member Code of Ethics which calls for the disclosure of information and conflicts of interest in its code provisions and reminds its members that "avoiding real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest builds the trust of clients, employers, and the publics." 

Also worth mentioning in this regard is the PRSA Professional standards advisory PS-6 (April 2005) on disclosure by expert commentators and professional spokespersons of payment or financial interests. Although that advisory was mostly geared towards media commentators, it nonetheless provides important guidelines for disclosing financial interest when promoting a product or cause that could be easily applied to bloggers - especially when considering that social media empowers us all to become a sort of media commentator.

What really bothered me about both these examples is that I believe that there are many more of these out there. Is it possible that paying customers to write positive reviews is becoming the norm? Are companies leaving their ethics at the doorstep as they are embarking on their social media endeavors?

We just covered the findings from Edelman's Trust Barometer survey in my campaigns class the other day. I wonder how long peers will remain the number one trusted source of information with ethically questionable promotions such as these on the rise...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Guide to blogging, commenting & managing your personal brand

Since we will start setting up blogs in class next week, it's time to address blogging etiquette, reputation management and personal branding. That's why I've put together a slideshow on the topic. Take a look:
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: blogging reputation)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Class Participation in Blog Action Day 08

Last year, the students in my fall social media class participated in Blog Action Day, an "event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day." The goal is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion on critical issues facing society. This year's Blog Action Day will focus on the issue of poverty and will take place on October 15th. I plan on getting my class involved again this year. So stop by again later this semester to check out their October 15th posts!

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo

Monday, August 25, 2008

Resources on blogging etiquette, personal branding, and online identity management

Today was the first day of the fall semester and soon the students in my social media class will begin blogging. For a lot of them, it will be their first time to do so. To help them get ready to enter the blogosphere, I have compiled a number of resources which I thought would be worth sharing here:
Blogging & Blogging Etiquette:
Guidelines for PR student blogs -- Richard Bailey
Etiquette in the Age of Social Media -- Chris Brogan
Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct -- O'Reilly Radar
Bloggers' FAQ: legal issues arising from student blogging -- Electronic Frontier Foundation
Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit -- The Blog Council

Commenting on a Blog:
Comments about comments -- Karen Russell
Geek to Live: Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments -- Lifehacker

Managing your Online Reputation:

Update 9/11: Chris Brogan just published a free e-book on personal branding that is worth checking out

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Facebook to give social ads another try

There's an interesting post on Wired's blog today which looks at some of the new social advertising schemes Facebook plans to roll out in the near future. 
I covered Facebook's previous attempts at social advertising in an earlier post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Video on the digital footprint we leave behind on the web

I seem to be having a footprint theme going on on this blog lately: Here's a great new video from the digital native on the digital footprints we leave behind on the Internet. Interesting to think that we start leaving those footprints long before we are born and that they may follow us even after our death.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Step towards the Adoption of Social Media Releases?

The Swiss blog "das Wortgefecht" today reported that PR firm Burson-Marsteller just launched a Social Media Release (SMR) distribution service named Although the site currently only houses a few examples, it shows that the PR industry is getting serious about SMRs. 

I took a closer look at the only publicly available English language SMR on the site (yes - there's a password protected Social Media Release on the site - not very social if you ask me...). The publicly accessible SMR announces fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld's decision to design 80 limited edition homes on an island in Dubai. 
The layout of the page is simple and clean (especially when compared to some of the early SMRs), but the site itself seems to be lacking some elements that would make it a truly interactive and social site. SHIFT Communications' latest SMR template called for the integration of a commenting feature and pointed out the importance of offering an easy way to embed multimedia files. Neither of these features seem to be present in the Lagerfeld SMR however. Add those features to the site and I think you'd have a really nice example of a news release worthy of the 21st century.

Update (8/19): Turns out the service does allow you to grab the embed code by using the video contained in the body of the release instead of the one listed on the sidebar.

Update (8/19): The CNW group, a Canadian news and information distribution provider, also just launched a very nice SMR distribution tool. Their service allows for user comments and displays the video embed code right under the video.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Web 2.0 Course Resource for the Upcoming Semester

Here's a great resource on Web 2.0 created by David Wiley, a professor at Utah State University. Contains lots of links to resources on blogging, tagging, podcasting, wikis, RSS feeds, etc. Check it out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

PR Crisis brewing online for the National Communication Association

There's an old joke floating around the communication discipline which implies that the people who are attracted to the study of communication tend to be the worst communicators. Judging by the National Communication Association's (NCA) latest actions (or inactions), this may very well be the case.
Here's a case study in PR crisis management courtesy of our own disciplinary organization: NCA is "the oldest and largest national organization to promote communication scholarship and education" and counts roughly 7,700 members. Last year, the NCA Executive Committee approved a new registration policy for its annual convention, which is usually held at the end of November. The new policy requires all designated presenters, panelists, chairs, and responders to pre-register for the conference by August 6, 2008 or be removed from both the printed and online convention program. This new policy and the way NCA has attempted to enforce it, have unleashed a backlash of angry comments and calls for a boycott of the convention on CRTNET, a daily e-mail listserv managed by NCA.

The anger seems to stem not only from the policy itself, but also from the harassing tone and the exaggerated number of reminder emails and announcements NCA has been sending out during the last few weeks. Below are just a few sample messages sent out to members:
1. If you are a solo author, chair, or respondent and are not registered for the convention by August, 6, your paper/panel will be removed from the printed and online program.
2. Are you a listed participant in the 2008 Convention Program?
Program Participant Registration Deadline: Wed., August 6, 2008
Hurry Register Today! Don't Wait Until the Last Day!
3. There are two ways to register.
4. Dear NCA member,
Q: What do the following books have in common?
- Cat in the Hat
- Guinness Book of World Records
- War and Peace

A: No one will find your name in these books.

Please don't let this happen with the NCA Annual Convention Program Book. Register by August 6!"
When you consider that most of NCA's members are communication professors who examine messages and their effects on an audience for a living, it goes without saying that these nagging reminders received a thorough critical review. As one professor put in on CRNET:
Note to the NCA office: You people may want to start reading some of the research published in your journals. Generating reactance and animosity from condescending, pushy, and annoying email messages---high in controlling language and low in positive and negative politeness---may gain you a short burst in compliance, but it will likely result in source derogation and a serious loss of referent power.
What is amazing is that although NCA manages the CRNET listserv and should therefore be well aware of the storm that's brewing online, it has yet to respond to the growing criticism and animosity. Could it be that NCA isn't listening and monitoring online conversations? Surely, they would have to. They're the National Communication Association after all! Why they haven't joined the conversation is beyond me. From a PR perspective this seems rather foolish. Why not respond to NCA members who've vented on CRNET, or at least explain their side of the story? Seems like there might be some truth to that old communication joke after all...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another good Example of the Risks of Guerilla Marketing in a Post-9/11 World

KENS-TV station in San Antonio was evacuated Tuesday morning after receiving a suspicious looking cake with wires and a cell phone charger sticking out of it. As it turns out, the cake was part of a viral marketing campaign designed by a local theater chain to get anchors and DJs excited about the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight". See the KSAT report for more details. Although the cake campaign wasn't all that new, this seems to be the first time the bomb squad was called in on a cake delivery.
We've already discussed the Aqua Teen Hungerforce guerilla marketing campaign that let to a partial shut-down of the city of Boston in  January 2007 and the ING promo that triggered a similar scare and traffic chaos in Luxembourg city just a week later.

This latest example serves as just another reminder that you have to carefully implement guerilla marketing campaigns in this post-9/11 world - unless of course you want the bomb squad to come blow up your promotional materials. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PRSA to launch monthly podcast on diversity

I just received an email from the Public Relations Society of America announcing the launch of a new monthly podcast series that will feature in-depth and frank discussions on the role diversity plays in our profession.
PRSA Diversity Today,” which launches on July 21, 2008, will delve into diversity theory and practice and will feature best practices and interviews with PRSA and diversity professionals that can help prepare PRSSA members for a rapidly changing business environment.
This would be a good series to add to your feed reader/aggregator!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lively: Google's answer to Second Life

Yesterday Google officially launched Lively - a Google version of Second Life. I just checked it out. Had to switch to a PC to do it though since Lively currently only supports Windows XP or Vista.The avatars remind me a bit of a mixture of Bratz dolls and Pet Shop animals... Anyways, here's the office I created:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Drupal troubleshooting tutorial

This post is a little out of the ordinary since I don't normally focus on the technical aspects of web 2.0 technologies on this blog or in class. Our class really focuses more on the practical applications of these new technologies and their impact on the PR industry. We're currently on summer break though, and that has given me an opportunity to catch up with research and to finally get around to playing with some new social media technologies and web 2.0 applications.

Since I've been needing to revamp an old webpage for a while, figuring out Drupal was on top of my summer to-do list. I won't lie and say that getting to know Drupal was a breeze, but I do believe that the initial frustration is well worth the effort. Most of the problems I encountered while installing Drupal and setting up the website seem to be fairly common, so I've decided to list them all here together with their solutions.

Installing Drupal 6:
This Lullabot video is the best installation tutorial I found. Pay special attention to the discussion of the invisible .htaccess file. That file has come to haunt me several times!

Making the invisible .htaccess file visible:
I use Fugu as my FTP program and it allows you to view hidden files by selecting "show hidden files" from the SFTP menu. You'll also need a way to edit the invisible file - I downloaded the free trial version of BBEdit.

Fixing the Register_Globals error (on 1and1):
After following the installation instructions, I received the following error:
"The following error must be resolved before you can continue the installation process: register_globals is enabled. Drupal requires this configuration directive to be disabled. Your site may not be secure when register_globals is enabled."

My web host is 1and1, and in order to fix this problem, you need to pull up that invisible .htaccess file and place the following line AddType x-mapp-php5 .php in it. I put it on the top of the page. Now upload the corrected .htacess file.

Enabling Clean URLs (on 1and1):
Clean URLs eliminate the "?q=" in internal URLs. This is important for search engines and SEO. I kept getting the message: "Your system configuration does not currently support this feature"

This doesn't necessarily mean you can't enable them. In some cases, you just need to tweak the code a little. To enable clean URLs on 1and1 it's back to the .htaccess file. You need to uncomment the following line:

# RewriteBase /
should become
RewriteBase /

In other words, remove the # symbol.

Configuring the cron so you don't have to run it manually:

For an explanation of what it is and why you need it, check this Drupal page.
  1. You'll need a way to get "shell access", which means that you need to be able to connect to your web host using telnet or SSH. I switched to my husband's PC and downloaded Putty (Windows only). There's a way to do it on the Mac terminal but I couldn't figure out how.
  2. Launch Putty and log in. For screenshots, check this tutorial.
  3. Type "whereis lynx" or "whereis wget" (without the quotation marks) to see where lynx or wget is located. This should return something like: /usr/bin/lynx or /usr/bin/wget. Check this tutorial for why you need to know this.
  4. Type "crontab -e" (without the quotation marks)
  5. If the "whereis wget" command returned "/usr/bin/wget", enter the following line:
    45 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -O - -q
    to have a wget browser pull up your cron page 45 minutes after every hour. Replace with your domain name. You can of course customize the schedule for your crontab (check this tutorial). Note that you need to enter the letter O in the above example and not a zero. (I've learned that lesson the hard way).
  6. To save, hit ESCAPE and type ":wq" (without quotation marks), then hit ENTER
To see if the crontab was saved correctly enter "crontab -l" to see a list of schedules. Your schedule should now be displayed.

If you don't want to deal with all this, try the poormanscron module. It basically simulates a cron job.

Hiding the link to the homepage on nodes:
This is relatively easy to do, but it took me a while to find the solution. Simply download the Menu Breadcrumb module. It allows you to hide the breadcrumb if all it contains is a link to the front page.

Warning: Cannot modify header information error:
This error was caused by a line of white space I accidentally left after the opening and closing PHP tags in the template.php file in my theme's directory. So, don't leave any extra spaces!

Hiding the authoring information on some pages/content types:
Go to Administer >> Themes >> Configure to configure the global settings. Check or uncheck which content types should display the authoring information (see also).

Turning the Statistics module on in Drupal 6:
Go to Administer >> reports >> access logs settings

Creating a sitemap for your Drupal site to submit to Google:
I used the XML Sitemaps Generator and submitted it to Google.

Setting up a file sharing application:
I needed a way for users to be able to upload and download a particular file type. I used the Web File Manager module to do so. It's easy to set up and seems to work well (needs Javascript to run though).

Monday, June 9, 2008

PRSA refutes CBS' derogatory remarks about the PR industry on YouTube

Last Sunday, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen challenged the integrity of the public relations profession while commenting on former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's controversial new book about his work as part of the Bush Administration. The CBS story, entitled, The Flak Over Flacks: In The Wake Of Scott McClellan's New Book, Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen Says PR People Are Aghast At The Truth charges that the very essence of the PR industry is based on lies. Cohen also pokes fun at the PRSA code of ethics, claiming that the PRSA principle to adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth was akin to the Burglars Association of America adopting the rule "Thou Shalt Not Steal" as its creed.

It goes without saying that PRSA was less than amused by Cohen's comments and that the organization has launched a series of responses to Cohen's attack. The first response came in form of a a letter to CBS submitted by Julin on behalf of PRSA and its Board of Directors. Three days after issuing its intial response, PRSA took the fight to Youtube by releasing a video response to Cohen.

Interesting to note that PRSA did not have a YouTube channel prior to this incident. The PRSA channel was created on June 2nd - a day after Cohen made his derogatory remarks about the PR industry. Seems like sometimes it takes a crisis to get businesses and organizations to adopt social media as a communication vehicle.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A little social media humor at the end of the semester

In case you're wondering why you took this class:

Thanks to Geek and Poke for providing a bit of comic relief from the stress of finals.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Greenpeace remixes Dove's Onslaught video to raise awareness of deforestation

Just in time for Earth Day, check out this new social media campaign from Greenpeace directed at Dove:

According to Greenpeace, Unilever, the makers of Dove, "are buying palm oil from suppliers who destroy Indonesia's rainforests". This video is supposed to raise awareness of this practice.

Update (05/15): Unilever has conceded to Greenpeace's demands to only buy the key ingredient in its Dove soaps from suppliers who can demonstrate they haven't cut down forests.

Greenpeace Multimedia Producer, Daniel Bird, who made the video, gave a presentation on what makes a video viral and posted his notes on the Greenpeace blog. You can read them here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Virtual Guest Lecture: Valerie Jennings, CEO and president of Jennings PR & Advertising

I am happy to announce that Valerie Jennings, CEO and president of Jennings Public Relations & Advertising, Inc. (JPRA) will be joining us over iChat on Tuesday for our last guest lecture of the semester. Valerie founded JPRA, formerly known as Pure Eloquence, Inc., in 2003 after locating to Overland Park, Kan. from Minneapolis, Minn. Valerie started out providing public relations services to political candidates, but now the firm predominately represents companies and individuals in the private, government and non-profit sectors.

JPRA is a public relations and social media relations firm, specializing in local, national and international publicity campaigns for elite corporate, sports and entertainment clients. The agency has been very active in the social media arena and has taken a major interest in the art of storytelling and the science of generating quantitative results for their clients through the use of Web 2.0 technology, traditional public relations and dynamic Web site design.

To find out more about the agency's latest endeavors, check out the JPRA blog and news section

NY Times Multimedia Report Dissects the Pentagon Propaganda Machine

The New York Times today published a really interesting story on how the Pentagon orchestrated an elaborate propaganda campaign aimed at dismissing calls for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in 2006. RollingStone called it a story destined for a Pulitzer. I like this story for a number of reasons: 
  • First, it's a good example of why so many people think poorly of public relations. When the media talks about ethically questionable Pentagon propaganda and refers to it as a "PR" campaign, that certainly doesn't help paint a favorable picture of the profession. Of course, the fact that the government is involved in this type of unethical behavior doesn't help either.
  • Second, it's a great piece of investigative as well as interactive journalism and does a wonderful job illustrating the promises of online reporting. The NY Times article is accompanied by a multi-media feature which examines primary source documents related to the story and gives the reader a chance to examine those documents more closely. In other words, the reader gets to review the documents the journalist used to put together the story. Think about how different from traditional forms of journalism this is, where all the reader gets to see is the edited end-product. Think about how this is empowering readers to formulate more informed opinions about news stories. Case in point: After reading this story, I downloaded a 30 page transcript of a meeting between Rumsfeld and his military advisors, a 6 page analysis of the media coverage received by the propaganda campaign, and a series of memos - much more info than the media could convey in an 11 minute interactive video or a traditional feature story.
Although this Pentagon-sponsored propaganda campaign seems to have primarily relied on traditional media to gets its message across, the Pentagon has long noted the power of the Internet and social media technologies as a dissemination tool for its propaganda efforts. As Rumsfeld noted in the meeting with his military advisors: 

"This is the first war that's ever been run in the 21st Century in a time of 24 hour news and bloggers and internets and e-mails and digital cameras and Sony cams and God knows all this stuff, and wire transfers, all the electronic things that are going on, and it's a different world. We're not very skillful at it in terms of the media part of the new realities that we're living with. Every time we try to do something someone says it's illegal or immoral, there's nothing the press would rather write about then the press, we all know that. They fall in love with it. So every time someone tries to do some information operations for some public diplomacy or something, they say oh my goodness, it's multiple audiences and if you're talking to them, they're hearing you here as well and therefore that's propagandizing or something or it's not fair or it's not right. We don't have the right rules or the right understandings yet for this century."

It sounds like his frustration is referring to Pentagon infop initiatives such as the project - a Pentagon-sponsored Internet news website aimed at the Maghreb region of North Africa, which was investigated for breaking a U.S. law that prohibits the government from exposing its citizens to propaganda. The problem was that although the site was aimed at the Maghreb region, it was a public website open to U.S. readers - readers who could therefore be exposed to government propaganda.

Another indication of the Pentagon's interest in new media technologies can be found in a report published in 2006 by the the Strategic Studies Department of the Joint Special Operations University. The report, entitled "Blogs and Military Information Strategy" suggests the military should clandestinely recruit or hire prominent bloggers (click here to download the report).

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Template for Social Media Releases

Since we just covered social media releases a few class periods ago and "attended" a webinar on The Evolving Social Media Release, I thought you might be interested to hear that SHIFT Communications just released an updated version of the SMR template we discussed. You can read about the template's new features on the PR Squared blog.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Social Network Site Usage Stats from the U.K.

I just came across some interesting government statistics on the use of social networking sites in Britain (via the Textdepot). The report was released by the British Office of Communications and "seeks to understand how people are using social networking sites as well as their attitudes to this form of communication". I encourage you to take a look at the report.

Speaking of social networking sites, Facebook just announced a new chat feature that allows users to communicate in real time.

Social Media Resume Assignment

The semester is quickly coming to an end, which means that it is time to start working on your last project - the social media resume! The point of the social media resume is to demonstrate your social media skills to prospective employers in a creative manner. It is also designed to tie together all the different technologies we have explored in this class (such as blogs, podcasts, webvideo & social bookmarks).

For this assignment you will create a social media resume which will “announce” your qualifications, goals, job expectations and anything else you deem necessary. Since the social media resume will be published on your blog (and therefore available online), please don’t include any personal information such as phone number, address, DOB, GPA, etc. If you want to list your email, spell out the @, so spam engines won't be able to pick it up (i.e. userid at stedwards dot edu).

Your social media resume should include the podcast and video you created as part of your class assignments. The finished resume should be published to your blog. Please proofread your resume carefully. There's nothing worse than a resume full of typos.

Required elements:
1. Contact info - again, don’t give out personal info here. Listing your blog, or other online ID will be enough
2. A brief introductory paragraph
3. Your qualifications, desired position (the typical resume items)
4. Multimedia files
  • Photo (optional): Please note that you are not required to add one. Only add it if you are comfortable having your picture on the Internet
  • Podcast: Embed or link to the podcast you created earlier this semester (and any additional ones if applicable). If you will be linking to it, add a podcasting icon to your link.
  • Video: Embed or link to the webvideo you created earlier this year (and any additional ones if applicable). If you will be linking to it, add a video icon to your link.
  • Graphics (optional): Consider this an online portfolio. If you have created a print ad for an advertising class for instance, add it to show off your skills.
5. Links (optional) – if you have authored other pages on the web, or have other web presences (LinkedIn, Facebook), link to them here.
6. RSS, social bookmarking, & Technorati buttons – add these buttons on the bottom of your resume.

Helpful Resources:
You can create your social media resume in a number of ways:
  1. Create it as a regular blog post and edit/format it within your blog editor
  2. Use PRXBuilder to format and publish it to your blog
  3. Use VisualCV, a free online resume creation tool, and link to it from your blog
  4. Create your resume using GooglePages. It will create a page on "", which you can link to from your blog
Grading Criteria:
  • Contains all the required elements listed above
  • Is well written and free of grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • Is well formated
  • Contains relevant/substantive information

Sunday, March 30, 2008

YouTube Videos Question Authenticity of Unilever's Campaign for Real Beauty Message

We recently discussed Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and the viral videos generated as part of that campaign (i.e. the Evolution and Onslaught videos). What we haven't discussed yet is an interesting marketing dilemma facing Unilever, the multinational corporation which owns the Dove brand along with about 400 other brands, including personal care brands Axe, Sunsilk, and Lux. Obviously all of these product lines have different brand personalities. So what do you do when two of them clash? That's exactly the dilemma we are talking about here. While Dove's viral videos have been trying to redefine our perception of real beauty, Axe's marketing strategy has been reinforcing the exact stereotype of the woman as sex object that the Dove videos have been trying to dispel. So what's Unilever to do?

Can they reap the benefits of Dove's success in rebranding itself as a socially responsible brand while at the same time supporting Axe's message of female sex appeal? Should Unilever allow one of its own brands to undermine Dove's mission? Can the Dove message come across as authentic when other Unilever brands blatantly reject it? Is this hypocritical?

Here are a two YouTube videos that are calling Unilever on its apparent hypocrisy:

Also see this post from AdPulp.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Follow the British Prime Minister on Twitter, Flickr & YouTube

After the Queen started her own YouTube channel last Christmas, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown followed suit yesterday by creating a DowningStreet Twitter stream and Flickr account. He already has his own YouTube channel. All he needs now is a blog... 

Leave it to the Brits to pioneer social media uses for Heads of State!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

File hosting solution for your web video project

Since some of you will be using the computer lab computers to work on your web video project, you'll need to find a way to save your files (don't save them on the lab computers - they will be erased!!). If your file is too big to fit on your EdShare account or on your Flash drive, you can use File Dropper, a free file sharing/hosting service. Just browse for your file, upload it & use the automatically generated link to download it again later. Be sure to write down the link correctly!

File Dropper hosts files up to 5 GB.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Viral Marketing & Viral Video Slides

Here's the slideshow for our discussion of viral video. Click on each slide to navigate to the next. It's a big file, so it may take a second to load.

Web Video Assignment

Since we didn't have time to go over the upcoming web video assignment in class, I am posting it below. Please read over it and let me know if you need clarifications.

For this project, you will produce a 30 or 60 second YouTube video for The United Nations World Food Programme that strives to raise awareness about world hunger. 
According to the Hunger Bytes competition website: “This is your chance to be controversial, provocative and shocking - whatever it takes - to make a video that will grab the attention of the on-line community and get them thinking about world hunger. The goal is to make a top rated viral video that creates a real buzz and gets people thinking about hunger.”

The detailed call for entries can be found on the Hunger Bytes YouTube page. Your job will be to develop a creative idea, obtain footage (pics and/or video), edit the video, add sound and text, and format it for web distribution.

• Create a 30 or 60 second video entry for the Hunger Bytes Youtube competition
• Create a blog post about your video which embeds the video, describes your creative idea, and is tagged for effective search engine exposure

Grading Criteria:
1. Video is well edited (smooth & appropriate transitions, synchronized audio track & text)
2. Video quality is good (not too grainy)
3. Audio quality is good (edited correctly, proper volume)
4. Video is uploaded to Youtube and embedded on the blog with proper tags

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Election 08 and Social Media: Special Blogging Assigment

I know we're still on spring break and the last thing you want to hear about are assignments, but this is not a new assignment - just a twist on your regular weekly blogging assignment. :)

I just finished reading an excellent Rolling Stone article (entitled "The Machinery of Hope") on how the Obama campaign is using social media to build a grassroots movement and I got to thinking that we should maybe spend a little more time on the subject of social media and political campaigning than we have thus far. This is after all an election year and all these new technologies are changing political campaigns right in front of our eyes.

What I would like us to do the week after spring break, is blog about how you think these technologies are affecting the way political campaigns are run. You can pick any candidate you like, or compare and contrast what different candidates have done in the social media arena. Just to clarify, these blog posts will NOT be in addition to your 2 weekly blog posts, but will replace them.

Check out these resources for an overview of the issue: 

  • News story on the use of social networking in political campaigns: