Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Block Facebook Beacon using Mozilla Firefox

Last week our class discussed the privacy concerns surrounding Facebook Beacon, which was launched November 6th.

Here's a link from WikiHow on how to use Firefox to completely disable Beacon.

Eventually, like the News Feed, Facebook is going to come up with their own way to permenantly opt-out (or how about even an option to opt-in??). In the meantime, Firefox users can make sure their data isn't being mined and sent out using BlockSite.

Has anyone tried this? Let me know how it went for you!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Talented Communications Student Seeks to Use Social Media and Technological Skills in her New Career


Megan Garza
St. Edward's University
Communications Student
Email: meganlgarza [at] gmail [dot] com

Talented Communications Student Seeks to Use Social Media and Technological Skills in her New Career

Joining a successful technology organization is anticipated after upcoming college graduation.

Austin, TX -- November 29, 2007

  • Megan LeeAnne Garza - graduating with a Bachelor's of Arts in Communication from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX on December 15, 2007 - seeks a challenging career that will merge her interest in communication and technology.

  • Megan plans to utilize her talents in presentational speaking, writing, customer service, and proficient computer knowledge in an online marketing position.

  • She is often described by co-workers and supervisors as a self-starter who is patient, diligent, organized who thrives in a fast-paced work environment.

  • Computer Skills include proficiency in: PC and Mac use, Microsoft Office, Windows Vista OS, Audacity, Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. She also has blogging experience and is social media literate.

  • Megan is "Web Essentials" Certified by St. Edward's University, which includes classes in HTML, CSS, graphics and web accessibility. She also created a web site to be graded for certification in Summer 2007.

  • Since August 2004, Megan has worked at the St. Edward's University IT Helpdesk, where she assists students, faculty and staff in-person and via telephone to analyze computer troubleshooting issues (internet connectivity, software support, virus/spyware issues). As a senior student worker, she is also responsible for training new employees.

  • In Fall 2007, Megan was granted a Marketing internship at the Austin-based non-profit Knowbility, Inc. Duties included contacting donators, non-profits and affiliated companies via email, making calls to media outlets, writing articles for Knowbility's newsletter, photography and photo-editing, proofreading grant proposals and outgoing emails, and working all events.

  • Honors and Awards include: Dean's List since Fall 2004, St. Edward's Trustee's Scholarship, two-time winner of the Dean's Scholarship, and being featured in a 2-page spread of St. Edward's University Viewbook, a booklet mailed to prospective freshmen about her work experience in IT (nominated for the article by her supervisor) in Summer 2006.



Feedback written by Megan's Helpdesk Customers:

  • "Megan [was] very helpful and knowledgeable. The time frame was very quick. Going with out a computer is hard, so its good to have it back! Thank you for your help!" - a student, 2007

  • "Megan was great in assisting in the matter. You at IT have a great dedicated worker and willing to help someone like me that is limited to computer knowledge. Thanks Megan." - a staff member, 2007

  • "Hats off to the Help Desk once again! You all are great to help work through to the resolution of a problem. Even when the first call didn't succeed with what we were trying to do, subsequent calls were able to find a workable solution. A+++++ for effort, determination, and helpfulness. Thanks so much! :)" - a staff member, 2007

About Megan:

Megan LeeAnne Garza has attended St. Edward's University for 3 1/2 years pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Communication at St. Edward's University in Austin, TX. Before attending St. Edward's, she attended Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, TX where she won the Faculty Scholarship and was named "Best Senior Communicator" in 2004 by the CAHS faculty. When she's not catching up on her RSS feeds, Megan enjoys reading, drawing (she recently illustrated a storybook for a friend's wedding proposal) and making homemade organic bath products for her friends and family. She lives in Austin, TX with her puppy.


Media Maven: The Social Media PR Blog

Megan's blog for her "Internet and Social Media for PR" class

Megan's Technorati Profile

Megan's LinkedIn Profile

Technorati Tags:
| | | | | | | | | | | |

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blogging like a Human in a crowded 'sphere

So you're ready to shake up the social medias. You're ready to have some authentic conversations. You dream of becoming a Technorati star, an influencer.

But how will you separate yourself as a blogger from the rest of the sphere? Why read you and not one of the other kazillion blogs out there?

In the end, it comes down to substance of course, but just as equally... s t y l e. How you write is probably what will distinguish you immediately from the pack, especially when you're discussing topics a lot of people are covering. This gets back to the Cluetrain we were just talking about: sounding like a thinking human, not like an echo.

Here are ProBlogger's 5 tips to help you stand out. Some good advice there - I especially like #5.

Building on those, here's my suggestions from a person who follows a variety of blogs spanning various topics:

  1. Have a sense of humor. I think even a formal blog could do with a little humor. To me, humor is also memorable, which will make me remember you/your post.
  2. Brevity. I'd rather write a shorter, more concise post (depending on the topic) than a dissertation. Unless I'm really interested in the topic of the post I'm more likely to skim a longer-than-your-usual post.
  3. Break it up. I love lists. When it comes to blogs, I like short paragraphs because breaking down the text makes it easier to digest. A big block of text is a turn-off - my eyes don't like it and I'm much more likely to lose interest faster.
  4. Pictures with Purpose. Pictures rule, but only if it actually has something to do with what you're talking about. Pictures are a great way to grab attention, break up the flow of text and visually demonstrate an idea. However, pictures are annoying when 1) there are too many in a post and I have to keep scrolling past them and 2) they are random stock photos that don't really add anything to my understanding of your topic. If you don't often have pictures, try popping one in when applicable, but don't feel pressured to spam your posts with unimportant pics.
  5. Bold is Beautiful. I like when bloggers do this, but like any suggestion, it can be abused and misused. I like the idea of bolding your key ideas/main idea. Think in this way: "if the reader only looks at my post for 5 seconds - what do they absolutely need to read?" But bold with caution, don't go crazy. Perhaps even try color, but that can be misleading because people might think it's a link.

What annoys you about the way bloggers write/format posts? What do you really like that you try to emulate?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cluetrain's 95 Theses Response

Not long after the Internet begins to go mainstream, the writers of the Cluetrain Manifesto post their 95 Theses in 1999 about how information and communication accessible to anyone with an internet connection will change the future of how people and companies interact. 8 years later, we can we still learn something by getting back to basics.

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

I think this is the crux of what web 2.0 should mean for PR and marketing professionals. No matter how you're trying to engage with customers, sounding like an actual person counts for a lot. Aren't blogs more interesting when the writer is easy to understand with a bit of humor and personality? In practice, it might be more advisable to have a group of employees blogging rather than a CEO - multiple, down-to-earth voices are going to be more interesting and provide more frequently-updated content.

As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

This is something I've learned particularly from this class - once you start particpating in discussions, reading blogs and listening to podcasts, it's hard to stop! Suddenly the Internet becomes more than Google and Facebook and it becomes a way to learn, stay on top of your industry and your interests and even get involved.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

This reflects the idea about how non-CEO company bloggers may be a better solution because they'll get updates posted more timely and frequently. I'd rather read a blog that's contributed to by multiple employees for this reason - unless your CEO is really good about posting in a reliable time-frame. What could be worse than a CEO blog only updated rarely and randomly? Most would say they shouldn't even bother.

40. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

Again, what a great resource employees can be- they are knowledgeable about their company and industry, and those who can write will come off more humane and real should they become bloggers or podcasters. Employees have ideas and recommendations, and they need to be tuned into.

64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

If I'm going to read a company blog, it should be a bit more substantial than posts of press releases. Let's talk about hot topics, innovations, events, etc. Ever seen an amazing website with sparse content? What's the point of dazzling me with your website if it isn't substantial? That's the key to the Cluetrain, I think: say something, and make it substantial.

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

This one I don't know about. Advertising still fascinates us - especially when it's memorable, like being unique or really funny. How often have I gone into dorms and seen the student's favorite magazine ads, movie posters, etc used as decor? I don't think we're immune completely, but rather extremely tolerant to what's been done to death. For advertising to work, it's going to need to be innovative to grab our attention.

You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

Cluetrain in a nutshell. I'm not going to invest in some expensive product if I don't respect the company that made it. Dell is a good example of a company trying to turn their image around. Apple learned how to turn a new, greener leaf. They listened: the company is better for it and their customers made a difference using the internet as their vehicle for change.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Future of Blogging: Market your Blog

There's been discussion of my fellow classmates looking to take what they've learned from this social media/internet for PR class and using it after the semester ends by launching their own blogs. I sincerely hope that there are some great new blogs coming out of this class as we pair our interests with our new web 2.0-ness. Today, I'd like to offer a great page of resources from ProBlogger that lists all of the great articles that resulted from their "31 Days to Building a Better Blog" project.

This page, and ProBlogger in general, is a great one-stop shop for blogging resources - especially for those interested in gaining more readers and publicity for your blog (and who isn't?).

If you think you'd like to take this a step further and turn blogging into a job, then check out ProBlogger's Job Board, which lists companies who are looking for bloggers to write about a specific topic or industry.

Who out there is starting their own blog after this semester? I know Aisa is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Web Video Class Project: Religious Tolerance

For our final group project of the semester, each group had to make a video about a social issue they were passionate about. We used Flickr images to make a video collage about religious tolerance by showing different religions' takes on "the golden rule". Even though each religion practices differently - the message of respect is the same.

The song is "Wisdom" by Delerium.

Religions in order of appearance: Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Native American Spirituality, Islam, Wicca, and Christianity.

Monday, November 12, 2007

And speaking of getting caught by your "social" life...

Check out this article from Valleywag about an intern who said he had a "family emergency" but then submits his Halloween party pics on Facebook from the night he was supposed to work.

This article features his original email, the reply, then the office-wide email sent with his lovely Halloween picture.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Super Cool: User-Generated Greatness = Suzi Blu + To-Do List blog

Most of you know about the run-away success of blogs like PostSecret, which just won the 2007 Weblog Award for Best Blog, but I wanted to share two of my favorite user-generated successes that are under the radar that exemplify the humanness of web 2.0 - isn't that what this is all about?

Suzi Blu's How To Keep an Art Journal (YouTube Series)

My rejuvenated artistic side and my love for Moleskine notebooks has brought me to Suzi Blu's endearing web series. Along with keeping a weekly vlog video, she has a little mini-series called "How to Keep an Art Journal" that was inspiring and charming. Suzi is sweet and very encouraging, and I found her own artwork and mentality about art and life inspiring. Check out her website (where she links to her eBay auctions of her original works) and her blog.

To-Do List (Blog)

Similar to PostSecret in that viewers can submit their own work, this blog features scanned hand-written to-do lists about anything and everything from groceries to "should I ask her out?" pros and cons. The submitted works are addicting to read (usually a marker of a web success) and now the creator of the blog (hosted by Blogger and featured in their "Blogs of Note"), Sasha Cagen, has published a collection of these lists in a book a-la-PostSecret. Sasha has also been featured on NBC as a result of her work.

Who are the web 2.0 stars in your eyes?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Case Study Update: Whole Foods Top Exec Banned from Forums

Remember the case study we discussed about the Whole Foods incident? I found the latest update from Social TNT: the top exec has been banned from participating in forums.

According to the Wall Street Journal article "Whole Foods Bars Executives From Web Forums":

Whole Foods Market Inc.'s board, reacting to Internet postings by its chief executive, amended the company's code of business conduct last week to sharply restrict online activities by the grocer's officials.

The new code bars top executives and directors from posting messages about Whole Foods, its competitors or vendors on Internet forums that aren't sponsored by the natural-foods chain.

This seems a bit of a delayed reaction, and a pretty obvious one at this point. Whole Foods had to make some sort of announcement about a policy change, but you'd think they would've done this earlier.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Social Media Resume: show off your mad 2.0 skillz

I had starred this post from Marcom Blog as a favorite last month, but now it's particularly pertinent since our next assignment is a social media press release about ourselves - a social media resume.

Classmates, check out the post link above for some examples of other's social media resumes and maybe they can inspire you for your own assignment.

Check out the source of Marcom's entry: a post entitled Die, resume! Die! Die! Die! by Bryan Person, where Bryan details his reasoning in support of the SMR and goes over a list of what you should include in your own.

another example (if a bit too much for our needs, but definitely the right idea): Rohit Bhargava's Social Media Bio

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Lil' Bit of LinkLove

Though these sorts of posts aren't the most exciting reads, at least I can point my readers in the direction of some interesting articles I've harvested from my prolific RSS feed that I just can't keep up with. Here's some of the articles I actually stopped to read:


Microsoft happy with Vista, despite adoption
- (Ars Technica) Seems that Vista is proving profitable in that sales are up (because XP is no longer an option) and the corporate world is starting to slowly adopt it. Personally, I don't think there should be any rush for businesses to adopt Vista unless they're already planning on upgrading their computers as well.

RSPlug.A Mac OS X trojan: a new threat, but the sky is not falling- (Ars Technica) You will cry too when it happens to you. Just because getting a virus on a Mac is very unlikely doesn't mean you shouldn't be wary. At least wear protection and get an anti-virus program on.

Public Relations:

PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: Blogger Relations- (PR Squared) Todd puts out another public service. This one is in the form of a bookmark about blogger relations.

No need for media relations — not when you make the blacklist!
- (Tough Sledding) Bloggers are quickly coming up with their own "Do not spam" lists concerning poorly distributed press releases and pitches. A wrong move, an agency blacklisted. Get out those bookmarks!

Everything I Needed to Know about PR I learned from Office Space- (Technosailor) Just for fun. Movie clips that exemplify PR 101.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How to Talk like a PR Blogger

Cruising the PR blogosphere has not only taught me so much about social media and the PR industry, but also some PR 2.0 lingo. Next time you're catching up on your PR industry RSS feeds, you may come across some words and phrases unfamiliar to the noob PR student.

snarky - I've seen this word used a lot and had no real idea what it meant beyond what I could gather from context clues. luckily one of our texts, The New Influencers, provides a definition in the glossary! Paul Gillin defines "snarky" as "Early twentieth century British slang for 'to nag' or 'to find fault with.' In the blogosphere, it is frequently used as an adjective for cynical or sarcastic" (pg. 222)

snake oil - a term I've seen tossed around by those who hate the idea that PR is using social media as a cure-all for the industry's woes or to discount those entrepreneurs who think their Web 2.0 startup is going to be the next MySpace. This one I had to look up on Wikipedia: "The expression is also applied metaphorically to any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable or unverifiable quality."

"drinking the Kool-Aid" - seen this one in multiple places as well. Urban Dictionary gives us this definition: "A reference to the 1978 cult mass-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. Jim Jones, the leader of the group, convinced his followers to move to Jonestown. Late in the year he then ordered his flock to commit suicide by drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide. In what is now commonly called "the Jonestown Massacre", 913 of the 1100 Jonestown residents drank the Kool-Aid and died. One lasting legacy of the Jonestown tragedy is the saying, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” This has come to mean, "Don’t trust any group you find to be a little on the kooky side." or "Whatever they tell you, don't believe it too strongly". The phrase can also be used in the opposite sense to indicate that one has embraced a particular philosophy or perspective."

Urban Dictionary example:
Chris: I'm thinking about attending a PETA rally
Donna: Whatever you do, don't drink the Kool-Aid!

Want some examples of this lingo in action? Type in any of these words into your RSS search and I'm sure you'll come up with multiple blog posts including these phrases. Try it yourself! As always, if you have more to add then please comment and submit your definition!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Group Podcast: Social Media for Non-Profits

The JenKasMeg Show – Social Media for Non-Profits

:28 sec – Jennifer: Social Networking

3:44 min – Megan: Blogging

My Sources: RB Digital Rodeo and NetSquared

7:08 min – Kassie: Twitter

This podcast is the result of a class project for our "social media and internet for PR" class. This podcast was made in Audacity. The song we used is called "Move Your Body" by miyoshimasato.

Listen to our Podcast here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

PC vs. Mac: It's a tie you both lose

PC vs. Mac - South Park Mashup

No one's perfect. I've shaken my fist at both in the past. This cute video points out the deficiencies each like to point out about the other.

The "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" advertisements (which are great) just scream to be parodied - perhaps intentionally? :P

New Influencers: Tools of the Trade

At the risk of being redundant (Shane beat me to it :P ), I thought Chapter 9 of The New Influencers was the chapter the reader was waiting for the whole time: the chapter about making all of the aforementioned tools work for you and what steps a marketer/PR pro could take to get started integrating social media into their practice.

Lemme break it down for you, based on the chapter, because lists are beautiful:

  1. Keeping track of the buzz: check out Nielsen BuzzMetrics to see who's talking about you and your product. Set up some Google Alerts to monitor what the media is saying.
  2. Read up on the Big Boys (and Girls!) of Blogging: Search for the influencers in your market by searching your company and products on sites like Technorati and BlogPulse. Technorati has a mysterious way of calculating the "authority" of a blog, which apparently "is determined by a proprietary formula that factors in inbound links and the activity level of a blog" (pg. 165). The chapter also highlighted Opinmind, where you can do a search and it will come up with two lists: those who spoke favorably and those who didn't - I searched "Mac" on there and got some stark results.
  3. Keep tabs with RSS and social bookmarking: Now that you've found a slew of influencers (bloggers, podcasters and the like), you can keep up with them by bookmarking articles, etc. using tags on a site like where you can tag everything pertaining to your company and products, as well as add your own commentary as to why you saved that link. A cool feature is seeing how many other people have saved that link and what their comments were. Check out how others are tagging pages that reference you: "they're a small window on how others see you. They can help you spot opportunity" (pg. 170). Tag the good and the bad news. This can help you organize the points of contention people have with your company. For following blog and podcasting discussions, set up an RSS feed for those sites and get all of your reading done in one place - but don't get carried away!
So now you know a little bit on finding and keeping track of what's being said about you, and now you're in on it? So how can you reach out and get involved? That's for another day/post, but in the meantime, here's some good advice about starting with the right perspective and how to not pitch to bloggers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Student Beware: Entry-Level PR and Marketing Job Scams

In researching job prospects here in Austin, I've come across several suspicious companies looking to hire for entry level PR/marketing positions. This post is to warn you of the biggest scam artists preying on the recently graduated here in town.

But Megan, what are the signs of a scam employer? Here are the warning signs I've caught onto:

  • Stupid headlines like "Entry Level PR!!" and "Entry Level Marketing - New Firm - WILL TRAIN!!!" should be your first red flag. Most of these are obviously scams, but some are cleverly disguised. My favorite dumb headline, courtesy Horizion Promotions: "Promo & Mkting Reps Needed! MUST Work Well With The Opposite Sex" sounds fun to me! :P
  • Poor job descriptions that don't tell you anything about the position. Either that or they make it sound too good to be true, which it obviously is. They also will probably not include contact information except maybe a link to their website. Which brings us to:
  • They have an ugly,crappy website. Some may be really jazzy, but you can tell the difference between a professionally-made website designed for a serious PR or marketing agency vs. those putting up the front. You'll also notice that there is a lot of homepage space dedicated to "careers" and "apply online now".
So who's promising careers as PR and marketing professionals but are just really wanting door-to-door salespeople to sell their discount cards? I'm naming names:
They only money you make is a small commission off of the cards you sell. That equals is about $15 bucks in your pocket for each $50-$40 card you sell. You will spend your own money on gas to drive your own car around town, lunch everyday, permits for solicitation($10-$75 a piece depending on neighborhood), and all other expenses needed to do your job. It all comes from your own pocket and the girl I shadowed sold 2 cards (so she only made $30) for the day despite the fact that we knocked on about 80 doors and hassled about 30-40 people at strip malls and office parks.
  • McLemore Advance Concepts, Inc.: "All in all, you end up working 6 days a week from 7:30am-6:30pm for what equates to about $1.00 per hour or less.... This company is not a scam, nor is it in any way illegal. However, unless you want to build your career in a business with absolutely no honesty or ethics, I would steer clear from them."
  • Competitive Consulting: This business came up with a long list of complaints. Apparently this company is also known to change their name frequently. They actually sell office supplies out of a catalog, when on their job posting they say they want "sports-minded" marketers.
  • Eventive Promotions
  • Premier HQ
Any other examples I missed? I'm sure this post could be a mile long just in Austin alone. A common theme in these stories is that they interview in a shady place, where the manager will say "we're in the process of moving," etc. Then for the second interview you are sent "in the field" to shadow another seller. At that point, it can't be any clearer.

If you're unsure about the honesty of a company's employment claims and suspect a pyramid scheme, look them up on Rip-off Report, where I found these testimonies. Also check with the Better Business Bureau if you'd like to file a complaint.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tech News: Mac OS X Leopard is why I waited to get a Mac this semester

I've had it with you, Vista. I see enough of of your "better security features" at work.

For my colleauges and my boyfriend, they've heard nothing but "I want a Mac" from me for the past few months; I've even dubbed my change jar "Megan's Laptop Fund". As I'm graduating soon, I want to hook myself up with a new laptop - preferably a MacBook. :) I wanted to get one this summer but my mom suggested I wait and wait and wait.....

And then the Universe tells me why:

The Flack (with good analysis about this release vs. previous Apple release extravaganzas) reports on the newest Mac OS X version: Leopard - which will replace Tiger this month . Check out the link to take a tour of the newest changes. Overall it's nothing crazy new but there's a few smaller cool features: it seems that they sought to tweak the desktop appearance and re-work the search functions. Time Machine is perfect for creating a backup drive on an external hard drive. For those who use Mac Mail, if you're nerdy or girly or both you'll surely enjoy the new stationary features - I like the dragging and dropping of images.

I think the two new features I will use the most will be Spaces, because it's annoying to have a lot of desktop clutter with a bunch of crap open and running. But even better, I like the idea of Stacking, since I often find my desktop cluttered with files I've downloaded which makes me have to organize them all eventually.

The Bottom Line: yay! I'm sure my mother will now feel vindicated. Honestly, I probably would've kicked myself had I just bought a Mac only to see Leopard coming out within the month. However, the Apple site (as far as I've checked today) has not announced when their computers will be shipped with Leopard, so I will hold tight until then (no press release yet). Expect a review when I finally make my PC to Mac conversion.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day: "Greening Your Workplace"'s Greatest Hits

This post is in honor of Blog Action Day.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

But there really is a point in making even the smallest of changes. For example, if 20 employees turned off their PC during a lunch hour, your company would save over 3700 watts of electricity in just 60 minutes; that’s enough power to keep an energy efficient lightbulb burning for over eight and a half solid days! -"Green-up your workplace," Big Green Switch
Google "green workplace" and you'll get a lot of hits about ways you can do your part to think of the Earth at work. In a discussion with some techies from SEU and Dell about recycling, everyone agreed that while we were awesome recyclers at home, we were ashamedly not so at work.

Why? While we dutifully recycle our paper, plastics and glass at home, at work it can be more difficult and admittedly a bit inconvenient. Here at work we recycle paper, but to put your water bottle in a bin on another floor - and it's the only one in the building.

Without further ado, my favorite green workplace ideas inspired by Treehugger:
  1. At the end of the day, shut down computers - don't let it sit overnight or hibernate.
  2. Unplug what you can. Even when you have electronics turned off, they are still using energy so that they can come right back on when you tell them to. If this is a pain, at least unplug things you don't use often, like appliances.
  3. Purchase recycled printer/copier paper. Try to print on both sides of the page and always preview your prints to avoid accidental prints that waste paper and ink.
  4. If possible, consider alternate ways to get to work: carpooling, public transit, biking or walking! Executives: consider giving perks to employees who use alternate transportation.
  5. Try to organize a recycling initiative if there isn't one in place and encourage it's use. Make bins easily accessible to avoid the laziness factor, like bins in the break room and small paper recycling bins in offices.
I think the best list of the most useful and realistic ideas came from Suite101's "The Green Workplace" article, so definitely check this one out.

With a few changes, I think most businesses shouldn't have a hard time coming up with a feasible environmental policy that will contribute to smart usage and employee awareness. Even looking up these different tips has already given me ideas about making efforts here at work, and I'm sure I'll be further inspired by the thousands of blog posts that will be posted today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The New Digital Divide: MySpace vs. Facebook

A "blog essay" written this June got tech bloggers talking, and I just wanted throw in my two cents as a participant since 2004 in both. The essay, entitled "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace" by danah boyd, contends that Facebook is for the kids who are going to college with the money to do so and MySpace is for the kids who are lower-class outcasts:

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

This may be an extreme interpretation by boyd, but then again she's trying to make her point. Though she's looking at high school users, these differences may be more pronounced than for those a few years older like me who actually used both even at a time when Facebook was only for college kids.

I think most would agree such differences are inherent in the way the two sites started in the beginning. Facebook was geared for college kids, so it makes sense that Facebook still has a strong college-y connotation. This clean, more professional-ish image was also encouraged by the fact that you can't go graphically vomit on your Facebook page in the way that you can with Myspace (but that's changing do to all of those crazy apps).

On the other side, MySpace was geared toward Joe Anyuser so they could get as many people as possible on the site. Who else remembers a time when we were waiting to get our university added to Facebook ?! So already there was a sense of exclusivity with Facebook because back in the day you needed a valid college email to even create an account.

But not so anymore - I can see where there could be petty Facebook vs. MySpace issues in high schools where someone asks about a kid's MySpace profile and they say "Ugh yeah right - MySpace sucks. I'm on Facebook" (or even vice versa). I can see where social networking could be picked up as another way to make it us vs. them in terms of the cool vs. the outsiders like anything else, right next to what you wear, what music you listen to, etc.

Personally, I prefer Facebook for a variety of reasons, and I think most college kids would agree:
  • no ads on my page (yet!!) unless I put them there in the form of groups and apps I add
  • profiles that don't make my eyes bleed
  • there's no server lag where I'm waiting forever to do something because I'm on during peak hours
  • as of yet and as far as I know, phishers aren't stealing Facebook usernames and passwords. I've been burned twice by MySpace which ended up being embarrassing when everyone messaged me mad about the spam I had apparently been sending them through my account >.<
Note to Facebook: don't mess this up. You upset us when you let high schoolers join. You made it way worse with the stalker news feed. Admittedly, I'm a bit concerned about what will happen in terms of ads and corporate control when Facebook sells out. Will this be strike three?

Monday, October 8, 2007

BuzzDash: Snapshot of the American internet user?

This post recommended by Dustin Harris, fellow helpdesk co-worker.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend :)

Yesterday, Dustin showed me the website BuzzDash, which came about a little over a year ago in September 2006. Here's a bit more about them in their words:

BuzzDash is a site and tool for gauging popular opinion on a wide range of topics - from sports, movies and politics to relationships and philosophy. Built upon individual polling modules called buzzbites™, BuzzDash provides a real-time forum where people can solicit, measure and share opinions on nearly any issue. - "About" page
So for example, here's one that I made (you do have to register with the site to create polls - see the lengths that I go to for you guys?):

On the site, you do not need to register to vote in the polls, just get voting and you'll see the immediate percentage change on the poll that your vote had.

There are user-created polls for most topics, some are silly and some are serious. A fun feature is that every poll hosted on the site (when you create a poll and would like it to be on the site your have to submit it for approval) gets its own page where members can sound off and argue the question, including super-debatable questions from how much of college should parents pay for to whether Bush should be impeached.

From surfing the site, you can tell that users are definitely up on current events. What's more likely of interest to PR professionals are the polls regarding companies and products/services. This site is a good way to keep tabs on how products and brands are being received, such as the succinct depictions of Zune apathy as opposed to iTunes loyalty among those who voted.

I think that if my future job called on me to watch the responses among internet users for a certain company, one of the sites of the beaten Technorati track I'd check would be BuzzDash - visitors assume it's authentic and user-driven (we don't know if there are companies behind these polls in disguise, but the vast majority probably aren't I hope), and it's easy-to-use and addicting. I think this could be a site to watch in the future to see if it sticks around.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Target's still-unaccessible website results in class-action lawsuit a year later

Target, Target, Target... goodness knows I love you and give you much of my money, but this just doesn't look good.

Last October, Target got into trouble when Chris Danielsen (who is blind) tried to make a purchase on their site could not complete his transaction because their site was so inaccessible. The NFB sued Target on his behalf under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Target tried to refute it saying the Act did not apply to the internet.

"The blind have more access to information than they ever had in history _ but that's only true to the extent that Web accessibility is maintained," Danielsen said. "The technology is out there, and we don't need barriers to be put in our way. Give us a way in." - "Blind Web surfers sue Target" (Oct. 2006 MSN article).
So here we go again: This October, another similar lawsuit brought by a blind UC Berkeley student in February 2006 has now become a nation- wide class-action suit.
Public locations in the real world have long been required to abide by the ADA, but the law was written in the days before the Web, and it remains unclear how it should be applied to web sites. One of the lawyers from Disability Rights Advocates, which is handling the case, sees inaccessibility as a simple issue of discrimination, online or off. -Lawsuit over web site accessibility for the blind becomes class action (Ars Technica)
This case caught my attention because of my current work as an intern at Knowbility (an Austin-based non-profit that seeks to make the internet accessible for those with disabilities) because through my involvement with them I've become aware of these technological issues and how frustrating it can be for users with disabilities. I couldn't imagine having to navigate my computer with a screen reader, much less the internet. Eventually, no matter how much it hurts, Target is going to have to make steps towards an accessible website, especially when other companies have pro-actively done so: the MSN article from last October used Best Buy as an example of a company website that has made changes towards accessibility such as adding alt-tags to graphics. More updates to come as the case plays out in court.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Microsoft's 2nd Gen Zune: they're "nothing earth-shattering"

You've heard it before:

  • large shiny screen!
  • touch pad navigation!
  • slim design!
  • comes in multiple color options!
  • get it in 4GB or 8GB!
Are we talking about the newest sexy new iPods? No! It's the second generation Zune to be released in mid-November!

My favorite quote from the CNN Money article about these ready-for-the-holidays Zunes:
"There's nothing earth-shattering there," said Van Baker, an analyst at the research group Gartner, in an interview about the new Zunes.
A nice and concise way of summing it up, Mr. Van Baker.
"Maybe next year they can make an aggressive push against Apple," he said.
Yeah... maybe... ya know if they aren't busy or whatever, Microsoft can come up with something innovative for the Zune.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a complete Microsoft hater, but come on. Apparently they designed these 2nd genners "from scratch" and came up with an iPod.
Microsoft tweaked the look of the new Zunes' display and menus, and added the Zune Pad, a combination mouse-button and touch pad that lets users scroll down a long list of songs with a few flicks of the finger, then click the button to select tracks or change the volume.
I like the above quote - it makes the touch pad seem so cutting-edge.

Unfortunately, no plans for a Zune phone yet - but one of these new 2nd Gen Zunes can be yours for the same price as the equivalent iPod.

But Microsoft isn't worried about "beating" Apple when it comes to mp3 player magic - as their spokesman said: "Market share comes after." Like maybe after iPods become so not cool anymore?

If I were working PR for the Zune, I would try to play up what new stuff Microsoft is doing but not many people know about, like giving servicemen and women free special edition Zunes and starting up their new community website for Zune users.

Does anyone know anyone who has a Zune? I don't think I've ever seen one in person that wasn't a display.

10/4 Update: Ars Technica takes an in-depth look at the new Zune lineup by getting in some Q&A to the head marketer for the Zune. He argues that the zero-fanfare reveal of the new Zunes were purposeful, in opposition to the huge media blitzes Apple throws when they release a new toy. Well that's one way to argue it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Student Beware: is it time for you to do an internet audit before job searching?

While surfing Ars Technica, I found an article posted earlier this year called "Job Candidates Gone Wild: be careful what you post online," which I find extremely relevant as I draw closer to graduation. This is something all students should consider as they prepare to seek professional jobs and opportunities: if a hiring manager Googles you only to find your ridiculous Myspace page or your serial drinking binges and intoxicated escapades on Facebook, this is probably not going to help you (unless that's what your job calls for and in that case, good job!)

Be careful what you post online if you want to be able to get a job in the future. Your blog, web site, Facebook, MySpace, online dating profile, or even forum postings might "out" your salacious activities to a potential employer. According to a survey conducted by business social networking site Viadeo, one-fifth of hiring managers have used the Internet to find personal information about potential job candidates, and a quarter of those have rejected candidates based on what they found. - Jacqui Cheng, "Job Candidates Gone Wild"
So is this fair? This is an argument about public domain: if your crazy photos and epic rants are put out for all to see and read on a publicly accessible site, you should assume that this content is fair game when being considered for a job.

A good place to start would be to see what information you put out there on any social networking sites: if your Facebook page talks about your favorite books and movies that's probably not an issue (unless your employer HATES that movie :P ), but pictures and notes posted that detail your Friday night drunken debauchery may not be what they're looking for.

Another tip would also be to Google your name. Sure many people probably share your name (gosh, look at me - how many Megan Garzas are there!?), but see what comes up that may pertain to you. Example: Google "Megan Garza" and the first hit will be a link to my LinkedIn page that features resume-type facts and shows my list of connections of professionals that I know. This is definitely a preferable result when I think of a manager looking me up on the web.

I think that conducting an "internet audit" to see what pages feature you is an important step for those active on the internet. I took this to heart when I completely overhauled my former MySpace page. For years I had the typical layout but I realized over the summer that if someone searched for me on MySpace they would pull up my crappy page. I then found a clean, professional div-overlay to construct a simple yet very attractive page with minimal information - my page did not show my friends or the comments they left me. I was very proud of it until I recently found out that my account had been phished for the second time which finally convinced me to delete my account.

The moral of the story is that students should consider what they put on the internet in terms of how it will look to others who are considering you. If a resume and a nice suit for the interview is all a part of impression management, so are the pictures you post and the forums you participate in publicly on the web.

What about you all, my fellow classmates and readers? Any great examples?

10/4 Update: Hoi Polloi posted an entry today about investigations targeting employees who have posted ill-advised pictures on Facebook. A 20-year-old RA at OSU lost his job and had to move dorms because of some pictures that surfaced on Facebook featuring under-age drinking. Thanks for putting these examples together, Angelo.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Super Cool: "Citizen Marketers" co-author Jackie Huba talks to our class

Today in class we were lucky enough to have Jackie Huba, co-author of "Citizen Marketers: When People Are The Message," visit our class to talk to us about using social media in PR, marketing and in the corporate world. She showed us clips and examples from points brought up in the book then generously took several questions from us students.

We discussed the ethics of companies and bloggers working together, such as when companies send free gadgets to bloggers asking them to write about them - do they keep the gadget? Can the bloggers give an honest review? Will the blogger need to add a disclaimer to the post?
When asked about reasons why a company may be hesitant to have a public blog, she said the concerns she heard most frequently were that they were concerned about consumers using the blog as a soundboard to vent all of their grievances on, or that having a blog would take up to much human power to monitor it. Ms. Huba suggested that while it is true that readers may leave many negative comments on the blog, at least these issues are being told to the company's face. Consumers are already voicing their issues and concerns about products and services anyway, so you as the company might as well hear it straight from them so that you can decide what to do with all of the instant feedback you'll receive, for better or worse.

The hour with Ms. Huba passed quickly - she was engaging and had intelligent, insightful comments and answers for us. I really appreciated her coming to talk to us, as well as for signing a copy of my book. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Logging": Using the Interwebs to keep you organized

Juggling classes, a job, an internship and a life can get a little chaotic, right? Inspired by a Web Worker Daily blog post called "How to Develop the Logging Habit With Some Online Tools," I decided to give one of his recommended tools, Backpack, a try.

I think the best way I found to explain what Backpack is to think of it as a virtual "notebook," akin the the physical one that keeps all of your to-do lists, grocery lists, business cards, ideas, etc. in. When you register, you get your own URL and then you can change and add pages - it's a wiki - but with some some organizational tools, like making lists with check boxes that you can check when you're done. Fair warning: a free account will only let you make 5 pages and will not let you store any files.

Considering I spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of a computer (for personal use, school and at work), I think this is could be very handy. You can leave it open, then add and change it easily. It's also much more easy to organize and move bits of info around than it is in a bound notebook or planner.

Backpack's website also has many examples of what it can be used for, which might help you get some ideas of your own. For a personal example, check out a simple to-do list I made. It isn't as flashy as Backpack's examples, but as long as it keeps me organized then it works for me. The test is: will I keep up with it? Will I check it often enough? Give me a few months and I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tech News: Businesses get to "downgrade" to XP, but not individual consumers

The XP/Vista debate is a constant issue I have to deal with at work, especially over this past summer. When a new OS comes out, businesses usually wait a year or so before adopting the new one. According to the article "The XP alternative for Vista PCs," businesses who purchased PCs with Vista on them can now "downgrade" back to XP, but this offer only applies to Windows Vista Business and Ultimate versions. This is being offered via the computers manufacturers, who will ship the computers with Vista installed but include the XP installation CDs.

But there is demand for XP among businesses and consumers, due to "Vista's hefty graphics and memory needs," not to mention having to re-orient yourself to getting used to Vista (Why was it necessary to rename everything in the Control Panel? Why does it ask me if I'm sure I want to run an application every time?).

As far as the general public, there's no word about such an option and there probably won't be. But if you think you can buy a Vista PC and just install XP on it yourself, be warned: I mentioned the idea to an Office Max employee who told me doing so would void your manufacturer's warranty. I haven't check the validity of this, but it does seem likely. But for all you Vista users out there, a bit of relief may be on the distant horizon when Microsoft gets ready to launch Vista Service Pack 1 eventually.

Microsoft admitting that not all small-medium businesses are ready for Vista is good to hear:

  • Vista does demand higher RAM to run properly, which means more money to purchase better computers.
  • Some employees will need some help becoming comfortable enough with Vista to before fully upgrading.
  • This will also allow time for more software programs to become Vista-compatible, which has been an issue here at school (we were scrambling this past spring to find Vista-compatible equivalents to the software we usually distribute).
Microsoft's decision this past summer to make it easier for businesses to downgrade is a wise decision. This way, businesses can still get better computers without having to worry about supporting a new OS, at least for now. Look for more businesses to support Vista in mid-2008.

In the meantime, why haven't you upgraded yet? :P

Sunday, September 23, 2007

MUDs/Second Life + Web 2.0 + 3D = Metaplace

Just when you thought you've seen everything the Web 2.0 and social media has to offer, Metaplace scribbles all over that and writes their name over the sad remains, making MySpace look childish and old-fashioned.

What is Metaplace? I first heard about it when my boyfriend mentioned it from an interview he read. Let's see how well I can explain it.

If MySpace and Second Life had a lovechild, the next generation would be named Metaplace.
Take the personal website profile aspect of MySpace, but add the graphics and navigation of a videogame or MMO a-la-Second Life and you would have a 3D virtual world of your own creation that exists on your own personal Metaplace website.

Gah, it's difficult to really picture it without seeing it. So watch this:

The idea is that like other social media in that you don't need to know any code to use it. Designer Raph Koster describes it like a 3D graphical blog or profile page that you can make in minutes then alter and add at will.

Metaplace gaining substantial buzz, especially among gamers. For them, this will mean this type of online gaming and social interaction will not depend on downloaded software but directly on a webpage that can be accessed anywhere.

Metaplace is currently in alpha, being offered for previewing to programmers and developers. The goal is to make the different "templates" (do you want a game? a 3D chatspace?) to be created by anyone to be shared with the community (for free or at a price - it's up to the creator). Like a videogame, Metaplace will have it's own currency so you can "buy" new things for your page.

Of interest to businesses and PR professionals: Areae, the company producing Metaplace, is already in talks with undisclosed corporations about creating "sponsored" pages that users will be able to visit and play in, like Second Life.

Not expected to reach open beta until next Spring, this will be MMO gaming and Second Life interaction for the page-surfing MySpacer. Welcome to the future.

"...we've created a virtual world platform. We're trying to be open, so that anyone can write clients. It's designed to allow anyone to have a virtual world on any kind of website that they want. You can have a standalone client too. Our goal is to have virtual worlds for everyone. We have this motto, "Build anything, play anything, from everywhere." Eventually. Of course, we're not done yet." - Raph Koster, in the 1-Up interview.
9/25 Update: I mentioned it in the comments for this post, but Kassie (thank you, Kassie!) found me a link about Google trying this for themselves.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Social Networking is Born-Again

With the insane general appeal of MySpace and Facebook, it seems that the new growth in social networking sites is going to come from niche markets, appealing to specific types of people. Today I highlight the surprisingly longer-than-I-thought list of social networking sites that are appealing to specific religions.

Christian Social Network Holypal ( - Calling themselves the "Christian MySpace Alternative," Holypal features all of the typical social media genres we've come to expect - a personalized profile and blog and the ability to upload video and pictures. They also offer a discussion forum and a Christian singles dating service. The homepage highlights the current forum discussions like "once saved always saved," "why do we go to church?" and "defending our faith".

Xianz ( - I always thought saying "Xians" was meant to be a little offensive, but this site has embraced it. calls itself "The MySpace alternative for Christians! It's the Faith Based MySpace" and features live webcam recording and contest where they give away Nintendo Wiis.

MyChurch ( - This site had gotten a bit of blogger buzz recently for crossing the 10,000 mark for how many churches it features. Churches can register a church profile (featuring blogging, photos, video, audio clips and event postings) and members of congregations can be added to their church and to fellow church-goers. The profile pages are aesthetically pleasing; the layout is similar to Facebook with clean blue and white boxes. Very nice.

If you Google "Christian social networking," you'll get 13,300,000 results. But Christians aren't the only ones jumping on the social networking bandwagon.

I think it's exciting to see people of various faiths using social networking for religious support and questioning. Whether you're looking to find fellow followers and groups in your area or just explore what hot topics members of your faith are discussing, check out these sites and use the power of social media for bettering yourself and your community.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ikea's "America at Home" experiment in social media

We are the edglings and we’re experimenting with new forms of media, not to gain fame or fortune, but to change marketing from a business of bullying, bullshit, and deception, to a genuine form of respectable and valued sense of service and personalization. - Brian Solis, PR 2.0

As Ikea begins their more heartstring-pulling, emotional new ad campaign "Home is the most important place in the world," they are also experimenting with social media with their "America at Home" project. This week-long (September 17-23 with an additional 2-day grace period until the 25th) contest asks anyone to submit their photos of their home life (there are different catagories such as "morning rush" and "bedtime rituals") in an attempt to be featured in an upcoming book. Ikea wants to inspire Americans to bust out their digital cameras and capture the essence of "home" and submit them to the site, creating a digital "time capsule" of home and family life.

I think this is a good example of integrated social media by a company for a few reasons:
  • it's easy - just snap photos of your home and family engaging in everyday family activities and upload them to the America at Home website. Fun + simple = more likely participation.
  • there's an element of being rewarded for your contribution. There's the excitement at the potential to have your photos chosen for the book, but it's rewarding enough to be able to add your pictures and see them amongst others around the nation. I think it would be easy to get caught up looking at everyone else's submissions, even if I chose not to submit my own.
  • you're associating your brand with positive ideas: family, patriotism, the sanctity of home life. The more people submit and browse photos out of their own interest, the longer they are exposed to your brand. If your company can use social media to encourage the customer to associate your brand with valuing their input while making it fun and rewarding, then congrats - you win the web 2.0.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Keeping out the Social Networking Peasantry

The New York Times' tech article "The Gated Social Network" discusses the trend that new social networking sites are designed to keep the layperson out, and only allow certain applicants access to their network. The article features a modeling social site that accepts you based on appearance and the "Diamond Lounge," that will only accept celebrities and other such A-Listers.

I suppose that everyone likes belonging to an exclusive club, so it makes sense that you should be able to gloat about such a thing online. I guess that's how you know you're "in" with the cool kids, and it's a sign of the times to see such invites being extended to hard-working bloggers.

If anyone has any further examples, I would love to hear about them. We always talk about social media and web 2.0 as an open door for the average joe to start up and make a difference. But what if we're not invited?

9/20: Update:
Sign up on to get sent invitations to betas and invite-only sites! I received an invitation in a few hours to join the beta invite-only Yahoo! Mash, so look me up if you get an invite too. Fight the Power!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

University of Florida / John Kerry Incident: Is Seeing Believing?

Today's classic example of social media's rapid influence of public opinion:

I'm sure you all know the story already about the University of Florida senior student Andrew Meyer and what happened during a Q&A session with John Kerry at the school.

But whether or not you believe the police officers' reactions was warranted or not, what's interesting from a social media perspective is how fast this story has blazed across the interwebs via the YouTube video that shows what went down (there's many videos posted from different angles, check them out).

When you watch the video, his screams of pain and cries for help makes you immediately think "omg police brutality!!," but really - do these videos tell the whole story of what transpired before the tapes started rolling?? Apparently many students on the Facebook page calling for a protest believe that despite the sympathy the video creates, Mr. Mayer had broken the rules established about going over time and using profanity.

"What these videos leave out is that Meyer was going to be arrested BEFORE he even asked the question, it had nothing to do with freedom of speech. I was at the forum, and when he was informed that the time allotted for Senator Kerry to answer questions was over, he refused to leave the microphone and the UPD began to attempt to escort him out. He began screaming at Senator Kerry, who, trying to avoid a scene, said he would answer Meyer's question. Even if Meyer had behaved like a perfect gentleman when he asked his question, and not used profanity and raved like a lunatic, he STILL would have been arrested for his prior actions, which were not caught on tape.
Meyer's arrest was completely justified, as can be noted from the applause when he was being escorted out." -Kenny Maskell (UF), on the Facebook event protest page
On Andrew Meyer's personal website, his friends posted all the links to the media stories as well as link to the Facebook event to protest against police brutality.

So whether or not you think the actions taken by the police were justified, this is a strong reminder of the power of social media and the Internet to influence public opinion and spread stories and events in a matter of hours.

9/19: Update: Thank goodness the blogosphere is picking up on this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

PR 2.0: don't ignore bloggers, or they'll end you.

Perhaps it just seems so obvious.

After reading the first chapter of Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message, I couldn't believe that there are still some companies are ignoring bloggers. How can businesses not respond to the influential blogs that revolve around their products? For example:

"Coca-Cola does not engage in conversation with its fans or citizen tends to ignore or dismiss the work of everyday people." - page 13, Citizen Marketers
This just seems crazy.
Engaging with bloggers seems a critical part of PR today. Ignoring your bloggers can only hurt you; sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "LA LA LA" is not going to make the criticisms go away. Rather, not addressing a significant issue voiced by bloggers is only going to make it worse. I like the approach that the authors describe on pages 17-19, where HBO and BMW took the bloggers and bulletin-board posters into account (begrudgingly by HBO and pro-actively by BMW) and came out the better for it with increased revenues and customer satisfaction.

On a personal note, my career interests lie in bringing my internet and technology interests into my PR work, so this is right up my alley. Monitoring and interacting with today's social media movers-n-shakers would not only be fun but also rewarding for my clients.

"What does this means for crisis prevention and positive reputation management? It means that companies ignore blogs and other online commentary at their own peril." - Michael Sydner, "Ignoring Blogs: A Recipe For Reputation Disaster"

9/18 - Update: And speaking of Coca-Cola....
Today, PR Squared posted the blog entry "Red Tape Won't Stop Social Media From Changing Your Website (Eventually)," about companies (including Coca-Cola) that are continuing to resist getting social media involved on their websites.
"To ignore an opportunity to create a convenient spot for users to collaborate & discuss the brand is going to be akin to a criminal offense among tomorrow's web strategists." -Todd Defren, PR Squared
That's really all there is to it. Like his blog entry says, there's still time to be pro-active about integrating social media into their PR strategies. Companies here in the 21st century need to engage in a two-way discourse with consumers because the consumers are already talking.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Web comics affect ideas and purchases of their readership

Though not as easily created by the average internet user as blogs are, web comics are becoming more prevalent on the internet – with just as dedicated readerships. For the web comics whose subject matter deals with the realm of videogames and the latest techno-gadgets, featuring a daily or weekly comic strip on their site is only one of the services they provide.

Whether placed below the strip-of-the-day or elsewhere on the site, many of these gaming-themed web comics feature frequent commentary by the authors and artists. Often they’ll discuss the daily strip, but what is most important as a PR professional to be aware of is that these popular web cartoonists also love to rant or rave about the newest video game releases and the latest news of interest to gamers. These blog postings that are coupled with the newest strip (that most likely is a critique of a game or a company itself) ensures that daily readers will be exposed to the passionate opinions of the authors.

"Play it, and you'll know what I mean." - Tycho, of Penny Arcade

Videogame Web Comics of Interest (comic strips and gamer blogs):

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Five Commandments of Blogging

According to Paul Gillin's 2007 book The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media, he describes the "emerging standards" of blog maintenance that are a "kind of a Five Commandments of social media". Let's discuss:

1. "Thou shalt link" - couldn't agree more. Nothing gets my goat like reading an interesting blog entry that is sadly without any links. The importance of links are two-fold: (1) it hearkens back to "citing your source," and not linking to where you pulled your quotes or what other blogs you mention is unprofessional and could be considered stealing! and (2) links direct your reader to where they can learn more about the topic of your post that would be of interest while giving yourself some credibility.

2. "Thou shalt not diss" - disagreeing is expected, but disrespect is uncalled for and in the end will only hurt yourself. Be civil in your disagreement will lead to a much more productive debate on your part - set an example!

3. "Thou shalt be transparent" - this kind of honesty is what makes blogs so interesting to read. Posting with integrity and fairness will come through in your writing. Sure, bloggers are leaving themselves open to attack, but comments and emails about your post and addressing them will show that you value the feedback you receive.

4. "Thou shalt comment" - what's the point of the interactivity of blogs if no one comments? Join the conversation and give your opinion or offer further information about the topic. This is what creates a lively discussion and a more engaging blog to read!

5. "Thou shalt not blather" - like I'm doing right now. My high school English teacher had a saying that he would always say when a student asked how long a paper should be:
"Your paper should be like a woman's skirt: short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover the subject." Now that is a good simile.

In order to be taken seriously, I think you as the blogger must take your work seriously. These are some good guidelines for conducting yourself on the internet, which is relevant to this class since most students are new to blogging and don't know where to start or what's expected of a good blog post.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Press Release 2.0: The "Social Media Press Release"

And just when everyone was worried about the immanent death of the press release, it has instead been re-innovated to have a place in our 2.0 world as of May 23, 2006. The brainchild of Shift Communications, they have provided a downloadable PDF template for public use for writing a digital press release full of social media bells and whistles. Though it may not be aesthetically pleasing, it is a great way to tell PR professionals what features need to be included.
Read Shift Communication's press release about the template while also seeing it in action here.

As PR Squared puts it nice and concise: "Love it or hate it, what is important is that the banal, unhelpful, cookie-cutter press releases of yore have outlived their pre-Internet usefulness."

Personally, I am excited to see the revitalization of the press release that does its job while being technologically relevant. Since it's been over a year since Shift Communications' original release, it seems that creating such releases should be expected of PR professionals along with the good-ol' paper version. This actually makes me excited to do a press release. Can ya digg it?

Learn More:

Here's a news release about Edelman's new template software for making social media releases. Looks nice enough, but read the critiques in the comments for different views.