**BoNuS**

Just a little twitter humor to lighten things up first!

1july1

Ok, Bonus question:

Who do I think is the most successful PR person in Canada?

That’s a tough question, so I’m going to narrow it down to the past year or so, and not just focus on the use of social media.

I think Lynda Kuhn, Senior Vice-President, Communications & Consumer Affairs, at Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and all of her team deserve some credit.

When the listeriosis  crisis hit, they took an appropriate, classy, well-thought out, serious approach to a horrific issue.

They didn’t try to minimize or brush aside the seriousness of the issue, but they still did their job and salvaged what was left of Maple Leafs reputation. I think PR gets a bad rep for trying to ‘spin’ information and Maple Leaf could have gone this route, but they didn’t. They were as straight up as they could be, admitted their mistake, and reminded the public of the reputation Maple Leaf was known for.

The team has continued to position Maple Leaf as caring about the community. They have continued to respond to consumer concern as well as starting various other initiatives, including a state of the art food innovation centre, the first of its kind in Ontario.

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**BoNuS**

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Question #3

Q: McLuhan used a model with four elements surrounding the term MEDIUM. Touching on the four elements, describe how this model can help us in interpreting social media.

A:  McLuhan famously said: “the medium is the message.”

So, if social media is our message, how does it enhance our lives and what does it retrieve, reverse or make obsolete?

First, social media enhances our communication tools, gives us more platforms and lets us be a part of more communities.

What does it make obsolete? There is a worry that human communication will becomes less and less. And this has happened. Board meetings have become skype meeting and it’s rare to  get a real letter in the mail.

I think our patience and our ability to read have faded as well. We want everything to be instantaneous and we skim instead of reading in-depth.

The top down communication format that we’ve come to know so well has been reversed. Instead of the people getting information from the top, the top is looking to get information from the people.

We have retrieved our individual voices. We’re all reporters, editors, communicators. The gatekeepers still exist, but we have the ability to get around them on various platforms.

MCLUHAN

Question #4

Q: Who is Jamie Zawinski? How is the role he played & are design principals he helped spread important to you?

A:  Jamie is a former professional American computer programmer responsible for significant contributions to  free software projects like Mozilla.

Zawinski believed that software should have a function and do that function really, really well (kinda like Steamwhistle?) Zawinski also believed in open source programming, sharing and collaborating.

His tailored design principle looked at applications that start off doing one thing really well and then try and grow and in doing this, they lose their expertise and begin to really, really suck.

This design principle is important because there are millions of social media applications out there all trying to be the next big thing. I think Zawinski has the right idea though, each app should focus on their main principle and work hard at that. As PR professionals we need to accept that we can outsource and pick  different social media apps for different reasons.

Zawinski’s collaborative design principle also applies to us as PR professionals. His open source programming for netscape is how we should approach our projects. Our approach to PR needs to be collaborative, we need to be listen to other people and create a conversation. This will be the best way to problem solve and tap into multiple creative sources.

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Question #5

Q: What kind of conversational patterns can you expect to encounter using social media as a PR professional? What will consumers of your content expect? How can you level these expectations?

A:  Social media has and will continue to change our conversational patterns. Instead of having linear back and forth conversations, there will be a lot more non-linear communication. People can be continuously editing and updating a conversation while it’s happening.

linear

VS.

non-linear

The conversation will be flowing all around us.

Consumers will expect instant feedback because they will be able to access us 24/7 via different applications. It’s a lot easier to twitter your feedback than it is to pick up the phone and talk to a customer service expert. People aren’t as afraid to say what they feel when they’re behind a computer screen.

Don’t believe me? Just search for Pepsi Fail on Twitter.

To keep up and level with this we’re going to have to be on top of our game. We’ll have to use RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook searches. We’ll need to know at all times what our target markets are saying.

Social media is the new thermometer for  gauging the temperature of how we’re doing and what people are saying about us and our companies.

thermometer

Question #2

Q: In Wikipedia: The Truth in Numbers the message seems to be: no longer do the victors write the history books, we do: you, me, and everyone else. How is social media (twitter, blogs) forwarding this idea? What gives someone authority to “write history” and why should we listen to them? Is there a hierarchy of authorities? ie. is what someone like Seth Godin says more important? What should be taken as canon?

A: First of all, why should the victors always be allowed to write the history books? The losers and the underdogs are always the ones with the interesting stories.

While it’s true we can all contribute to history, we can’t all be considered legitimate. Much as I love getting my news from online sites like thestar.com (and even sometimes from twitter) I don’t always buy into it upon first read, everything has to be taken with a grain (or in some cases a ton) of salt.

Clip Art Graphic of a Salt Shaker Cartoon Character

The instantaneous nature of twitter, blogs and facebook has meant people make mistakes and things are posted without any facts being checked. That being said…a lot of people love Wikipedia for its quick and dirty approach to information.

But (and this may be coming from years of journalism profs pounding this into my head) I don’t think we should just listen to anyone. Just because everyone has a platform to express themselves on doesn’t mean they have legitimate things to say. Bloggers work hard to earn their followers, they have to be putting out something that is worthwhile for them to gain readership because the vastness of the web means there can always be something that’s more appealing. As PR professionals, we’ll have to follow the blogger’s lead and build trust and relationships.

You can follow anyone on twitter, but you don’t always know who’s hiding behind the screen.

As for canon. I hope we all have a bit of common sense left. Personally I just love reading all about Kim Jongil’s daily activities……

Question #1

Q: In Deirdre Breakenridge’s article PR 2.0, Brian Cross discusses how changes in technology will change the function of PR practitioners. In what ways do you think public relations will change and what role will PR professional’s play in these changes?

A: More direct conversations.  More and less control at the same time. Relationship building.

This is how PR is changing with the advent of social media and new technology.

PR people have to listen more than ever. We can’t expect to be doing all the talking. Direct conversations have to be two-way. In order for a PR professional to understand their target audience, they have to engage in social dialogue with them. Example? The Food Network on facebook. Their page asks fans who the next Iron Chef should be. 155 comments later, they have their interaction and feedback.

Control is gained and lost. PR professionals have more control in the sense that they can give out information on a variety of platforms and also respond on these multiple platforms when a crisis or issue arises.

They lose control though, because everyone else also has access to these platforms and the general public can also disseminate any thoughts and opinions they have on your company. It makes damage control easier and harder at the same time.

Relationship building. We can’t just observe from the outside—we need to be on the inside. “Blogger relations is the new media relations.” Cross hits the nail on the head here.  You cannot simply reach out to bloggers and pitch them about something cool that you want them to write about if you haven’t done your homework. You now have to build relationships with journalists and keep up an ongoing relationship with bloggers.

Essentially, with social media, PR has become all about building a community.