Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Forrester Report on Blogging & Trust

Forrester today released a new report on corporate blogging and trust (registration required, but free). I'm glad to see they ask, "Is a corporate blog worth doing?" Rather than just assuming that everyone should be blogging, Josh Bernoff and his co-authors actually acknowledge that some blogs are not worth the effort. Of course, that's a hard point to ignore when they report that only 16% in the survey said they trusted company blogs.

Among the tips offered:
"Honest and transparent blogs will get noticed. Those who write in a corporate voice will be ignored and ineffective. What types of blogs will consumers trust? Those that reveal tidbits about what’s going on inside the company, those that comment intelligently on customer problems and competitor products, and those that speak like people. Robert Scoble pioneered this technique at Microsoft years ago, but it’s still hard for companies to figure out."
Thanks to Steve Rubel <@steverubel> for tweeting this and Mihaela Vorvoreanu<@prprof_mv> for re-tweeting.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

ZDNet series on how Fortune 500's use social media

Jennifer Leggio at ZDNet is doing a series on how Fortune 500s are using social media. Her latest entry on Newell Rubbermaid features an interview with Bert DuMars, VP of of e-business and interactive marketing.
Our strategy is to listen to our consumers first, understand how they would like to engage with us and/or how they would like us to engage with them... This has led us to start small, experiment and see what works. We then expand the particular tactic based on consumer feedback that they are receptive and that we have developed a level of trust with them in the conversation.
Applied theory: two-way conversation leads to trust as a relational outcome, which leads to more conversation. It's also analogue to social penetration theory.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NYT on corporate blogging, bad news and PR

In an article from this morning's NYT:
"Unlike more traditional firms, many of today’s Web companies were built on the mission of creating transparency for users. Executives have lived that mission, blogging about company successes. Now that bad times are coming, some of them feel the need to make that public, too. A blog post also comes across as more heartfelt than a press release with canned quotations."
This reminds me to mention that my article in queue for Journal of Communication won't be out until next year's first edition. In the meantime, I believe I can send a copy of the 'in-press' manuscript if anyone's interested (this was the larger-scale follow-up to the JCMC study).

Here's the abstract:
Organizations face unique challenges in communicating interactively online with publics that comprise dauntingly large numbers of individuals. This online survey examined the perceptions of people who had experienced interactive communication with a large consumer-tech-industry company via organizational blogs. Those reporting the greatest exposure to the blogs in this study were more likely to perceive the organization as communicating with a conversational voice. Conversational human voice and communicated relational commitment (relational maintenance strategies) correlated positively with trust, satisfaction, commitment, and control mutuality (relational outcomes). Building on prior research, this survey supports a model of distributed public relations – one in which key outcomes of public relations are fostered by a wide range of people communicating interactively while representing an organization.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

UH PR Tactics Class Samples SMPRs, Yogurt

We've been working on our social media press releases (SMPRs) in COM 459, Public Relations Tactics. This is part of what has turned into a multi-week assignment. For the first part, we wrote traditional news releases for a local yogurt store that just opened across the street from campus. (News releases for class use only, not for real distribution.) Then we discussed the difference between social media releases and traditional releases. We decided we needed to take a field trip over to Yogurtland to collect some multimedia resources and sample the product. Being the conscientious teacher that I am, I made sure to pretest the product before proceeding (yum!).

We did run into some obstacles:
  1. the computers in the class lab only run Safari browsers, which did not work well with PRX Builder, and
  2. even with other browsers, students (and their professor) had trouble loading multimedia elements.

For those of you on PROpenMic, you might want to check the site for another SMPR builder in the works that might be worth a look.

Anyhow, I modified the assignment to allow students to hand in mock-ups of the SMPRs in MS Word that illustrated how the writing, feeds and multimedia components would work together.

This week, we'll continue to discuss:
  • technical issues, and lessons learned from these issues,
  • pros and cons of SMPRs vis-a-vis traditional press releases, and
  • the broader function of social media tactics in public relations strategy.
For more details on this, check out the SMPR I did on the SMPR assignment (a meta-SMPR?). See also Kaye Sweetser's SMPR assignment at UGA.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Issue tracking via Twittter

Got a call and e-mail last week from a reporter at one of the local dailies who was working on a story about the very public debate over building a rail transit system in Honolulu. (Just Google "rail transit system Honolulu" if you're wondering.) She was particularly interested in how pro- and anti-rail groups are using online media.

This sets us up well for a discussion of our title topic for our summer class, COM 459, Special Topics: Public Relations Tactics. The idea is to learn about traditional public relations tactics as well as their online offshoots.

Anyhow here's class activity #1:
Issue Tracking via Twitter

Primary Objectives
  • Practice using social media technology (in this case, twitter)
  • Identify traditional public relations tactics used in a locally contested issue
  • Identify online public relations tactics in a locally contested issue
  • Use social media to track issues in real time from disperse locations
  • Discuss ethics and effects of tactics identified
  • Discuss use of social media for issue tracking
  1. Discuss social media in class (perhaps with trade publication reading for intro; i.e., To Tweet or not to tweet)
  2. Demonstrate twitter online with on-screen example
  3. Students sign up for twitter accounts as necessary
  4. Students find and follow each other's tweets online (see Karen Russell's 48 hours of Twitter assignment for one method of doing this)
  5. Students tweet at least once every 12 hours before next class when they find an example of a public relations tactic related to the issue.
  6. Follow up with in-class discussion of:
    1. Public relations tactics related to issue
      • range of tactics
      • efficacy of tactics
      • ethics of tactics
    2. Class social media use
      • reactions to twitter in general
      • assessment of technology for issue tracking
      • benefits/downsides of working as a dispersed group
    3. Implications for public relations practice
  • Success in setting up accounts/following others?
  • Met "tweeting" criteria?
  • Identified appropriate examples?
  • Quality of follow-up discussion
Mahalo to Kaye Sweetser and Karen Miller Russell for sharing their ideas on how to use twitter in PR classes. See Kaye's teaching tweets and Karen's Teaching PR: "48 Hours of Twitter" class assignment for more.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"More journalists moving to PR"

It's sad to hear my hometown paper (The Palm Beach Post) is cutting back, but I'm not surprised at the other angle mentioned by Sarah Schewe of Editors Weblog - more journalists switching over to public relations.

With Web 2.0, the skill sets of journalism and public relations may overlap even more than they used to. The values, however, are still different (i.e., public relations people do value advocacy). And there's no shortage of advocacy online. Fairness and balance may be the first casualties of shrinking newsrooms.

For what it's worth to those outside academe, we're still trying to teach those values and an understanding of the differences between reporting and advocacy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

ICA paper presentation on Slideshare

Kelleher ICA 2008

From: tkell, 1 minute ago

Tom Kelleher's ICA presentation on experiment with organizational blogs and public relations contingencies (for ICA on May 25, 2008) Key finding: Not all PR people are hyped on social media.

SlideShare Link

Thursday, May 15, 2008

School's out

Just posted my out-of-office reply. Kenny Chesney lyrics ringing in my ear:

School's out and the night's roll in

Man, just like a long lost friend

You ain't seen in a while

You can't help but smile

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Speaking of the diffusion of social media....

...Kaye Sweetser invited me to join PROpenMic on Friday. I signed up on Monday. Robert French welcomed me to the group about 11 minutes later, telling me that I was #209 to join the group in 7 days.

Diffusion of Social Media

Working in small groups, students in my Building COM Theory class last week went out and surveyed 10 people each. Although the sampling is unscientific and the data was only collected to set up a class discussion, we found something worth mentioning. The gap between awareness and adoption appears to be much narrower with social media adopters than it is with adopters of other innovations.

Below are two of the students' graphs. One is for HDTV. The other is for YouTube.

In general, the gap between awareness and adoption of HDTV looks to be about 3 or 4 years. You get HDTV in 2008, you probably heard about it in 2004 or so (if not much earlier). But for YouTube, the awareness and adoption curves are almost identical -- you hear about YouTube and you might very well be watching a YouTube video, or even uploading your own clip, that same hour.

The "innovation-decision process" as Rogers called it, moves very fast.

In our follow-up, I suggested that this is because of the nature of the innovation. Accepting an invitation to join a social media group (even one as large as YouTube), often means becoming aware and adopting almost simultaneously. "Trialability" is high. Students came up with some other good explanations:

1. Cost -- YouTube is pretty much free if you have computer access. HDTV is a different story! (Rogers' trialability)

2. Ease -- The investment of time and energy is also minimal. If someone sends you a link on e-mail, all you have to do is click. (compatibility, observability?)

Rogers also said that the innovation-decision process is faster with early adopters. This could well be the case with a sample that consisted mostly of friends of COM majors at UH.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The UH PRSSA students have a blog now, which is pretty cool considering their faculty advisor hasn't posted to his in about two years!