Crisis Communication

Chevron being blamed for dumping waste water, McDonald’s response to Super Size Me and Vodafone’s trouble with a Sydney employee who touted customers as idiots on Facebook and Twitter for their lack of technical knowledge (Courtenay, 2013). These are the problems that many public relations practitioners would deem crises. Yet, in comparison to the true disasters the world is enduring at this very moment, like political turmoil in Egypt and Gaza and an etho-geographical dispute in Eastern Europe, the fact that Vodafone’s Arthur Kotsopoulos said some customers needed a “pimp slap backhand” (Courtenay, 2013) seems like more of a drop in the ocean.

Although it is feared in many public relations circles for the speed at which sensationalist reports can spread, in essence social media can be a force for good in the crisis communications sphere (Schwartzman, 2013). The reach and speed of social media makes it an ideal platform on which to communicate with the masses in times of trouble. Journalists and PR practitioners are fast learning how to maximise the effectiveness of such means to disseminate information with modern police reporting – where journalists are required to live tweet and post details as a story progresses proving popular with audiences.

Courtenay, A. (2013). Australia’s biggest PR disasters. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/finance/australias-biggest-pr-disasters-20130926-2ugli.html

Schwartzman, E. (2013). Crisis Communications in the Network Age. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/crisis-communications-network-age

Social media management

AS the mix between advertising and editorial content is ever blurred there remains the constant threat the audiences will be alienated if they sense an agenda in their entertainment. This same disparity threatens to take a toll on the effectiveness of social media in business as new figures show editorial is more important than ever in cracking the ever elusive market of prolific social media users.

Facebook banner advertising is redundant and statistically is ever more useless, the younger the customer in question may be (Temin & Anderson, 2013). Thus, advertorials are now more important than they ever have been particularly in the digital realm and advertisers and PR practitioners alike are finding new ways of sponsoring or masking content to trick social media users (Himler, 2013).

However, with the prevalence of the advertorial phenomenon comes new risks and pitfalls. Namely, the propensity for media organisations to go overboard with such campaigns, thus alienating an audience who smell a brand sponsored rat (Pownall, 2009). A major concern is that audiences too often become disenchanted with brands and business because they are overselling in their campaigns with figures showing in some instances almost three quarters of potential customers indicate they tend to believe objective information (Speers, 2014). As a result, it is important for social media to be used in the way it was intended – it is an interactive medium that works best when businesses engage with their audiences – something many consumers believe is not happening in the market as it currently stands (Speers, 2014). 

References 

Himler, P. (2013). Content Is King, Distribution is Queen. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhimler/2013/07/09/content-is-king-distribution-is-queen/?&_suid=1405329966623014413950173184276

Pownall, C. (2009). Advertorial 2.0: Handle with care. Retrieved from http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/22814.imc

Speers, J. (2014). How to Avoid Alienating Your Audience. Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/communications/avoid-alienating-audience-0932214#!be3nBO

Temin, D. & Anderson, I. (2013). Don’t Waste Money – Make Your Social Media Advertising Smarter, More Original, More effective. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviatemin/2013/12/03/dont-waste-money-make-your-social-media-advertising-smarter-more-original-more-effective/?&_suid=14053294496480899832661729306

LinkedIn

For months I have been in the throes of an ethical dilemma on LinkedIn as one of my best mates repeatedly endorses me for skills I would never dare put on my own resume – “Press releases, word processing, PowerPoint.” Problem being, I am reluctant to endorse him in return for the fact that he is a dubiously underqualified personal trainer, sporting a suspicious-looking beer gut. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great bloke and a killer opening batsman but I just don’t feel comfortable endorsing him for skills I’m not sure he possesses. Nevertheless, as he digs me in the ribs, jokingly chastising me about never endorsing him in return my only response is “Oh that old thing, nobody uses LinkedIn anymore”, when I know for a fact that is blatantly untrue.

Such is my problem with LinkedIn – it is so easy to lie and users in certain circumstances even feel obligated to to lie out of loyalty to their friends. These untruths are becoming more prevalent and are in fact inhibiting the success and integrity of the platform in the business world (Hanson, 2014). It is through this practice that LinkedIn is being devalued as a platform – so much so as to raise the question of whether ethical guidelines are being broken in the process of frivolously endorsing people for skills they don’t have (Ambrogi, 2014). I have decided to monitor my LinkedIn less often now so I have an excuse for my mate when next he asks me why I am not reciprocating his endorsements – in essence a lose – lose situation when it comes to networking on the platform that hit 200 million users early last year (Pozin, 2013).

References

Ambrogi, R. (2014). Do LinkedIn’ Endorsements Violate Legal Ethics? Retrieved from http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2013/05/do-linkedin-endorsements-violate-legal-ethics.html

Hanson, A. (2014). The lie of the LinkedIn endorsement and recommendation. Retrieved fromhttp://www.arikhanson.com/2013/07/17/the-lie-of-the-linkedin-endorsement-and-recommendation/

Pozin, I. (2013). 200 Million Users? LinkedIn is Just Getting Started. Retrieved fromhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/ilyapozin/2013/04/18/200-million-users-linkedin-is-just-getting-started/?&_suid=140478288972607242027928587049

 

Pinterest

If the old adage that a picture tells a thousand words is in fact true, spending a few minutes on Pinterest a day could be just as enlightening as reading a classic. For a budding journalist like myself, the thought of people sharing and consuming content at such a staggering rate is exciting – yet another way to communicate with a new audience of potential customers.
 
Late last year a study showed that Pinterest had overtaken Twitter in its popularity with American adults (Chan, 2013). This in essence, gives a different sort of power to marketers. Pinterest users tend to be more “engaged” with the site than do users of other sites like Facebook and Twitter and for this reason has been adopted as a powerful tool for prospective social media marketers (Dillon, 2014). 
 
Slowly, it is nice to see that many companies have seen the possibilities that Pinterest provides (Wishpond, 2014). Yet, for me, Pinterest is more about inspiration. Gradually I am finding I use the platform for ideas. I am more likely to search for a certain topic (usually something I am writing or photographing myself) in an attempt to get my own creative juices flowing.
 
This in itself, highlights the marketing potential on social media sites like Pinterest, however, I think search engine optimisation (SEO) will be a major factor of improvement in coming years.
 
References

Chan, E. (2013). LinkedIn, Pinterest more popular than Twiter: study. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/30/us-twitter-study-idUSBRE9BT0QO20131230
 
Dillon, J. (2014). Pinterest Marketing Tips & Strategies – How to Get Twice More Traffic Than Facebook On One Of The Most Underrated Social Networks. Retrieved from http://www.authorityhacker.com/pinterest-marketing-tips/
 
Wishpond. (2014). 15 Facts you Need to Know about Pinterest. Retrieved from http://corp.wishpond.com/pinterest-marketing-resources-for-business/15-facts-you-need-to-know-about-pinterest/
 

YouTube

When ads started appearing at the start of YouTube clips I felt a little part of me died inside.  Just as I would be if the ABC became a soap box for the highest bidder I was palpably disheartened when YouTube inevitably succumbed to its corporate priority. Although I complain about having to wait the extra 13 seconds for my ‘cats doing stupid things’ videos, the phenomenon does provide good prospects for content creators.

 

One of the biggest conundrums facing modern media outlets is the fact that few, if any, have a clear strategy (or much knowledge) of how to best use online platforms to make money (Chan-Olmsted, 2014). Even the most successful of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram rely on the content creator but in each instance, aside from the gratification of getting involved there are very few ways to be personally rewarded for sharing content with value. Even in the blogging world it is more difficult to make money than many columnists would have us believe (Trunk, 2009).

 

YouTube however, through advertising has found an effective way to make money itself while not short changing the vital content creators that add value to the site. By accepting ads on your videos, successful contributors can, with relative ease monetise their association with YouTube (Youtube, 2014). This is a better way of attracting revenue for the content creator than the average blogger who has monetised their site – nobody need engage in shady ethical practices to endorse products in editorial pieces, instead relying on honest, advertising content thus continuing the vital distinction between PR and editorial.

 

As such, there is hope yet for me if I want to get rich quick by becoming a YouTube sensation – although I think a cosmetic how-to guide video blog is probably out of the question.

 

 

References

 

 

Chan-Olmsted, S. (2014). Introduction: Traditional Media and the Internet: The Search for Viable Business Models. Retrieved from http://www.mediajournal.org/ojs/index.php/jmm/article/viewFile/284/179

 

Trunk, P. (2009). Reality check: You’re not going to make money from your blog. Retrieved from http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/04/21/8-reasons-why-you-wont-make-money-from-your-blog/

 

YouTube (2014). Thanks for creating with YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/yt/creators/creator-benefits.html

Facebook

Sometimes I have to force myself to look past the Farmville requests, the ʻfeeling hungryʼ status updates and half-baked 9/11 conspiracy theories to seethe real value of Facebook. There are so many ways to waste time on the worldʼs largest social networking site that it is easy to get carried away playing Facebook Scrabble rather than learning to use Facebook as it was intended – a way to keep in contact with those friends closest to you (Zuckerberg, 2011).

That being said, never did I embrace Facebook as much as when I started working. The famous ʻfacestalkʼ (Urban Dictionary, 2007) became invaluable in the newsroom when I needed to find out information about someone quickly, or for that matter, contact them for a story. The ʻFacebook for Journalistsʼ function has made my life even easier giving me the option to “Search for people, places and things” who are part of other networks or associated with other organisations. Although the site is perfect for basic, personal research on a subject, it is a direct manipulation of the concept first developed by Zuckerberg – a medium that would allow a degree of privacy to its users not afforded by a personal web page (Zuckerberg, 2011). Regardless, the great thing for desperate young cadets like myself is Facebook is indeed embracing the use of the site by reporters, creating pages and engaging with organisations (Facebook, 2011).

The biggest pitfall however, is the vast amounts of time that can be wasted on the site. My devastation when Facebook Scrabble was offline for a matter of months was the kick in the pants I needed to realise that my obsession had in fact crossed the line from being a healthy quirk to something more sinister. The Huffington Postʼs Susie Neilson calculated that for all the time she has spent on Facebook she could have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro eight times or taken six round trips to the moon (Neilson, 2014). This to me, embodies the risk of utilising a site for work that was intended for recreation.

The days when one can wake-up and spend the best part of the day, chatting, updating statuses and selecting the best selfie that epitomises #yoloswag are all too real. I forever live in fear while searching the subjects of my stories on Facebook that I will find myself hours later with a high Candy Crush Saga score and no articles written at the end of the day.

Facebook. (2011). Facebook & social journalism. Retrieved from https:// http://www.facebook.com/notes/journalists-on-facebook/facebook-social-journalism/ 210530275625661

Neilson, S. (2014). Forty Days and Forty Nights: What Iʼve Learned From Wasting Time on Facebook. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susie-neilson/forty-days-and- forty-nights-what-ive-learned-from-wasting-time-on-facebook_b_4768953.html

Urban Dictionary. (2007). Facestalking. Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com/ define.php?term=facestalkingZuckerberg, M. (2011). Our commitment to the Facebook Communit

Wikipedia

“Conan O’Brien assaults sea turtles while canoeing” and “Tony Blair worships Hitler”. These are two in a list of some of the biggest Wikipedia Blunders ever recorded and are probably a decent rationale for the decreasing number of online contributors (Raphael, 2009) and possibly the death of the world’s largest wiki.

 

It has been widely reported over the past few years that Wikipedia is losing its valuable contributors. Since 2007 the site’s number of contributors has decreased by more than one third (Simonite, 2013). Unfortunately, it’s a catch 22 for the ‘Wikipedians’. Those most eager to avoid such blunders as highlighted at the start of this blog, in so doing, were the makers of the site’s undoing. By making it more difficult for users to contribute, less posts got through and the site consequently lost contributors (Halfaker, 2014). 

 

The loss of contributors has undoubtedly compounded the one problem stringent restrictions on posts were aimed to combat. Less contributors means less people involved in the conversation that adds to the likelihood that inaccurate information is picked up and altered quickly. Wikipedia is now a contributor to the “information overload” (Blair, 2010) as inaccuracies make readers more skeptical of content and less likely to participate in the wiki exchange, crucial to the site’s success.

 

I love the idea of a “Free Encyclopedia” as much as the next desperate student but unfortunately it seems evident to me that there will always be a trade-off for ‘free’ information. As Judge Judy says, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is…

 

Hyperlinks

 

Blair, A. (2010). Information Overload, Then and Now. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Information-Overload-Then-and/125479/

 

Halfaker, A. (2014). The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community: How Wikipedia’s reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline. Retrieved from http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/The_Rise_and_Decline/

 

Raphael, JR (2009). The 15 Biggest Wikipedia Blunders. Retrieved from
http://www.pcworld.com/article/170874/The_15_Biggest_Wikipedia_Blunders.html

 

Simonite, T. (2013). The Decline of Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/520446/the-decline-of-wikipedia/

Image reference

Wikia. (2010). Conan O’Brien. Retrieved from http://wikiality.wikia.com/Conan_O’Brien