Archive for August, 2010
August 27th, 2010
Iâ€™ve been following the series of video conversations between Brian Solis and Chris Beck, which are extraordinary in their breadth and depth. They are â€˜must seeâ€™ for anyone involved with social media PR and indeed for anyone who is interested in the future of online communication.
What strikes me is the clarity of thought, the strategic minds at work here. These guys inhabit â€˜socialâ€™ but also understand the commercial imperatives that underlie many online conversations. My favourite is the discussion on privacy and what constitutes the â€˜online selfâ€™.
At a time when some commentators are questioning the existence and value of social networks, Brian and Chris offer a positive, inspiring view of the possibilities. Is social media dead? No. Does it present problems? Yes. Can we rise to the challenge? Take a look at these videos and make up your own mind. Personally, Iâ€™d say that with people like Brian and Chris leading the discussion, weâ€™re in very safe hands.
You can see the complete series on Brian’s website
August 26th, 2010
Here’s a treat – David McCandless explaining the power of visual information design/infographics at the recent TED Global conference in Oxford. There’s plenty of good for thought in his lively talk and he shows some wonderful examples of how complex data from different sources can be presented in a way that makes it more graspable. He also shows how new understanding can come from the process – and so change the ways we think.
My only concern is that the adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies even more to the production of infographics. There has to be a way of assessing the quality of the research data – and as Ben Goldacre proves every week in his Bad Science Guardian column, there is no shortage of questionable data online.
August 25th, 2010
One of the more visible social media professionals has decided to disengage, citing the pointlessness of the platforms. Is this the beginning of the end of â€˜social mediaâ€™?
The agent of change was his discovery that a glitch with Google Buzz â€“ a social platform he has championed – meant that everything he had posted there for over two weeks hadnâ€™t been seen by anyone. Worse still, no-one noticed.
Is Leo right? Are we all, effectively, talking to nobody when we engage online?
It often feels like that â€“ but we have no real idea about who we have connected with through our ideas, unless we have engaged directly.
The power of social networks really lies in their universality and commonness. If you wanted an analogy, you could say that social networks allow millions of people to â€˜overhearâ€™ conversations in the way that we listen and learn from people talking on the train, the Tube, in cafes, restaurants and pubs.
This information is often of no immediate use, might be flippant, irritating or noisome but itâ€™s also often very beneficial. It might colour our days, make something more understandable, or simply give us pause for thought.
More than that, the sharing of information, directly or indirectly, informs and celebrates the way we live. We like to share because it is a benefit. If no-one is listening, if the chatter machine has broken down temporarily (ie the pub had to shut its doors for a while) then definitely we lose an outlet for our egos.
But it does not mean that being social has no purpose and I think maybe itâ€™s the reverse. It reminds us that weâ€™re not special, individual or separate and we need to share together.
August 23rd, 2010
There has been plenty of conversation surrounding Facebook places over the last week. So, to help you access the discussion around Facebook’s latest launch, The Liberate Media team have put together a collection of their favourite posts in this single “round-up” style blog post.
First off here is the official Facebook Places Check in video.
Do you know of any more fascinating Facebook Places blog posts worth checking out? please let us know in the comments section.
August 19th, 2010
As you’ve all no doubt seen, A-Level results have been announced today in England, so conversation around qualifications and careers are rife.
On a day like this it certainly takes me back to my own experiences of education, and the path I took to reach my current career. Today though, things are tougher than ever. According to today’s Guardian A-Level students are facing one of the most intense battles ever seen to get into university, simply due to a higher number of students looking for a decreasing number of places. In fact, the total number of places at English universities this year is 365,000, and each University will face fines of Â£3,700 per student if they exceed their limit.
This means that knowing what you want to do, and getting the correct advice on how to get there, is perhaps more essential than ever.
That got me thinking, how would I advise a student looking to get into the PR sector? To be fair this is a question I have been asked many times, and to be honest I always struggle to answer it with clear and straight-forward advice. Fundamentally, that’s because there is no single, clear and straight-forward route to success.
In my case, I started out in PR 12 years ago, and crossed the divide into social media around 2006. My degree is in Business, but to be honest I had no idea what I wanted to be when I applied or left University, in fact I stayed on at University to add an honours to my degree just to get another year of student life. However, the day finally came when I had to start my career proper, and again, if I’m honest I only took a role as an account executive at a PR agency because I thought PR sounded interesting, not much in the way of career planning there!
Back to the current situation, if graduates or students ask me how to get into PR or social media or hopefully even both, the simple truth is there is no guaranteed method. Having taken my own straw poll of colleagues throughout my career, I would estimate that less than 20% did a degree relevant to PR, now of course you could argue many degrees are relevant to PR, and you would be right, but I’m talking marketing, PR courses, etc.
Why is this the case? Well I would argue it’s simply because in the PR industry everybody starts at the bottom, you learn your trade from the ground up. It used to be the case that a degree was just a pass to get an interview, from that point on it was down to you, your qualifications counted for nothing.
In the past, and in my experience being an interviewer for various agencies, the issue with PR degrees is that the course doesn’t keep pace with the industry, although I’m now assured this is improving. I also realise this is a common complaint with many industries. Therefore, when I am recruiting, I don’t particularly give any advantage to those that have done a PR degree over those that have done History, Geography or English, for example.
This issue is now further complicated by the digital skills required to perform the roll of a PR. Or if you want to go into a specific career focusing on social media, you need to choose how you approach it, i.e. from the comms side, the technology side, web development side or creative side, and ideally with elements of all of the above.
In terms of choosing PR as a career, the number one issue in my opinion is the false reputation PR has developed among graduates, and in fact the general public, as this piece in the Independent proves, and I quote: “Why PR? Because PR is glamorous. You get to go to launch parties and meet interesting people and talk to celebrities.”
Anyone coming into PR with that opinion soon gets hit square in the face with a 2×4 of reality. But then I guess the reality for anyone starting out in PR is a little off putting – terrible pay, long hours, hard and demanding work. However, you will learn a whole host of new skills including many that will set you up for life, and your value, both of self and as an employee, will rocket.
So, to get into PR do you need to do a PR, or PR relevant, course? I would still argue no, but it should help to give you a more realistic picture of the career you have chosen.
Should you try to get work experience before leaving University? Yes, this is something that employers look for, and again it will give you a more realistic picture of the job at hand.
Do you need digital/social media skills? (there are plenty of social media-type courses around ) Yes, I probably would value this, as an introduction, because I’m part of an integrated agency.
I’m certainly not envious of those starting out at University today, well, okay I am envious of the 3-4 years of student life and all the fun that comes with it, but the jobs market and eventual value of the qualification, plus the debt we all come out with, are not attractive at all.
Those that invest time to develop a real picture of the careers options open to them will in my opinion succeed. Again when I was at Uni, careers advice basically came down to â€˜what do you want to do when you leave?’ but today there are better options.
Many students take the opportunity to embrace the social web and ask advice from those in the industry, do their research and try to get involved while still studying. This is a smart move; most of us in the industry remember how difficult it was and will help out where we can.
There are also new careers services and guidance available, one of which we are involved in that will be launching soon called WYGU, (When You Grow Up), which is a social careers guidance and mentoring platform that aims to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together to get real information about careers from real people who are in those careers. Take advantage of these services as they offer invaluable advice that you just don’t find elsewhere or through official channels.
In summary, the PR industry is changing, which means the skills required are also evolving. The opportunities to get involved, if you can offer some of the skills mentioned above, are probably better than ever, but be warned if you thought a PR had to be an all-rounder before, it’s stepped up another level, there’s much more to learn.
August 16th, 2010
Two stories caught my eye today.
The first one was featured on Mashable, titled: Facebook Dislike Button Is Fake [WARNING] which is about an unofficial Facebook button. After installing the button you are sent through to a survey, similar to others that Mashable has seen recently. Thanks Mashable for the heads up!
The second was a post on Techcrunch titled: If It’s On The Internet, It Must BeÂ True which refers to the media preventing hoaxes from going public and being hoaxed themselves.
After a quick bit of research I was led to further examples, including:
How to spot the Twitter fakes – A post by the Sun newspaper which goes on to say “there’s one man who spends his time policing the web to make sure that celebs are who they say they are” The man in question has created http://valebrity.com/ which ensures that celebrities and well-known people on social networks such as Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc are really who they say they are.
65 Fake Twitter Profiles With Hilarious Tweets looks at the people that have seized the opportunity to register their funny profile pictures, bio’s, Tweets, and background pictures.
Basically, many breaking news stories will now have a fake account attached to it in some shape or form, just look at the BP disaster for example. From The Wall blog: ” A Twitter user has passed themselves off as the communications department of beleaguered oil giant BP, with a series of tongue-in-cheek tweets about the current oil crisis and racked up more than 35,000 in the process – many more than oil giant’s official voice.
Astoundingly, the fake PR department, which tweets under the moniker BPGlobalPR, has loads more followers (35,384) while BP America’s actual account only has 5,409.”
Putting this into context, it’s quite impressive that so few of these hoaxes make it through to the mainstream press, as it must be difficult for journalists to quickly differentiate between the real story and so many fakes, when they are under pressure to break their stories quickly, and often in competition with online outlets that can move faster.
August 10th, 2010
With the recent Social Media Monopoly Board Game doing the online rounds I wanted to find out if any other examples existed.
Back in December, the Liberate Media team created Social Media Snakes and Ladders, the Board Game. The game consists of an interactive downloadable pdf including the snakes and ladders board, and the counters (players) who we referred to as social media tutors. Pick your tutor and let him/her lead you around the board climbing up the well known social media platforms (ladders) or falling down the slippery snakes to become the winner. The board and its contents are A4 in size and can be easily cut out via the guideline.
Other examples include the Social Network Board Game by AIM Product Design Group, which claims to “bring on-line understanding off-line”
According to a recent survey conducted by Blockdot, a firm specialised at Interactive Entertainment and Advergaming technologies, it was revealed that Traditional board games are still one of the most popular gaming genres, with 88 percent of females and 80 percent of males confirming they had a positive intent to play these games.
Which begs the question, what next?
Social Media Scrabble?
Social Media Game of Life?
Social Media Cluedo?
Do you know of any other social media games? Let us know in the comments.