PR man flies into town to lecture large client on social media. When he touches down he twitters about the nastiness of the town he's visiting and proceeds to clients office to give big presentation and surprise surprise.... people from big client company get a bit upset.
However, what caught my attention was the tone of the rebuke that the IC team delivered. The fact was that the expensive PR guy was presenting to a bunch of people who have just taken a pay cut to help the company through tough times. The IC guys asked how they could justify paying a fee for a bloke who insulted the home town when people were hurting in their wage packets.
I went to an interesting event last week about Leadership Communication and one of the main points of discussion was from a comms executive that works for a well-known UK financial organisation that has been getting a lot of press attention recently. They've found that some employees have been posting sensitive information about the company on its group Facebook page - things that the company don't necessarily want to be in the public domain.
They are not the only organisation to have this happen. Last year there were several high-profile cases of the press picking up employees being indiscreet with social media (Virgin and BA to name just two). The signs are that this is a growing problem and something that will be a recurring theme in 2009. The question that is on a lot of organisations lips is how or if they should respond to these type of blog/social network postings.
The United States Air Force recently released a blog assessment chart (copied below) to evaluate communication responses to mentions of the organisation in social media. These rules of engagement are a good starter for ten when it comes to comms teams management of social media and could be a source of inspiration for a lot of corporate communication teams wondering how to react to their company's mention on blogs or social networking sites.
Went to an interesting networking event last night in New York geared toward freelance media and communications professionals.
Of course, there was the usual amount of wine and beer flowing and people grasping for the one or two appetizers that came by...but what really struck me was just how crowded it was. I guess I shouldn't be surprised really - these are unsettling economic times and judging by the number of attendees last night (easily 100+), people really are struggling and hungry for work.
While most networking events tend to thin out after two hours, this one was still going strong, showing the value of community-building and establishing new relationships during these troubling times. People want to feel that they are not alone; staying connected for morale building and potential financial opportunities is more important than ever.
Feeling a bit shy or put off by cliques? No worries - try breaking the ice by going up to people and reading their name tags. Where else can you get away with looking at women's chests?
So whether you're freelance of if you're working in a company and about to go freelance (by choice or maybe not!), stay in motion and keep those networks open (whether it's via a Meetup group or an IABC event, for example). And be sure to carry an ample amount of business cards. It never ceases to amaze me how many people run out of cards; if you do run low, try to be selective with your distribution. You don't want to give out your card to someone who winds up chewing your ear off about whale-watching in Maine.
If you really want to get the attention of a potential business contact, transport your cards in a swish little carrying case. It'll keep you organized and stylish...and best of all, it will help them remember you among the array of other names and faces they've encountered.
Yet the main thing that concerns me is trying to work out how robust the research is.
A look around the website tells me that "The 2009 Edelman
Trust Barometer survey sampled 4,475 informed publics in two age groups (25-34
and 35-64). All informed publics met the following criteria: college-educated;
household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or
watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy
issues in the news at least several times a week. "
I am not sure what an 'Informed public" is - I wonder if it is an individual person? Elsewhere they say that they approached 'Opinion Leaders". So if we are talking about individuals, 4,475 seems quite a small number of people world-wide on which to draw strong conclusions. Over 20 countries, we may be drawing conclusions based on the views of 200 people.
Of itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. If it's the right 200 people, then its an interesting set of results. So it would be nice to know what proportion of the total universe '4,475 informed publics' is? If there are only 5,000 of these people out there it's a pretty telling and robust sample. If it's 5 billion, the figures are much less impressive.
Last year's report has a much more helpful breakdown on methodology and seems to imply that the sample is about 18% bigger this year. It would be interesting to see what else has changed before relying too much on the messages about change.
Maybe I'm becoming more cynical in my old age but I do get a bit concerned about these big news stories citing amazing trends. I've recently become a fan of the BBC Radio Show More Or Less which examines the basis on which figures get quoted in the media (the podcast is really excellent) which might be why I've started to think about this sort of stuff.
Perhaps most alarming is the thought that people might change their behaviour or how they work because of what they read into these things. I think there is no substitute for doing your own research into your own audiences - relying on the PR survey from a PR agency selling its services as an advisor may not be a smart move by a communications professional.
Just came across this interesting blog The Content Economy which got me thinking.
If web 2.0 technologies are seen as low cost there will always be a perceived high return on investment - after all if it cost you next to nothing to build then any value you get from it has to represent a splendid return... doesn't it?
Which could well mean that if you're not careful you get caught in the content trap. These new media need content - there has to be a reason for coming back regularly. Normally IC's would do it though producing lots of stuff themselves or by spending ages getting users or other stakeholders to contribute.
But what happens if feeding the beast becomes the sole or dominant concern of the IC function? Is that a good place to be?
Understandably there's lots in the news about Barack Obama, particularly his inauguration speech. The Daily Telegraph had a novel way of analysing it by creating a tag cloud of it.
For those that don't know, a tag cloud sizes the words in a body of text (e.g. a website or a speech) based on the number of times they were used. Interestingly enough, Obama only mentioned 'Change' once in his speech on Tuesday. The Telegraph says the cloud displays an inclusive tone from the new US President.
The tag cloud above of Obama's speech is fromwww.wordle.net. It's worth going to there or to www.tagcrowd.com and entering in your own company's website or the latest communication from the CEO next time you want to get a snapshot of what's getting the most airtime.
One of the chunkier presents in the Xmas stocking was Richard Dawkins The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. One of the extracts he includes in this rewarding anthology is to do with the power of n. This is a mathematical constant that sets the relationship between gravity in large objects like planets and stars and the power of electrical field in sub-atomic particles that make up all matter including you and me. The point of n is that it explains why the Universe is so large and the distances so huge between solar systems. (If n were smaller gravity would make our planet a thousand times smaller and would crush anything but insects with very strong legs; also stars would be forever colliding with each other). Which got me to thinking why it is that we have not found life elsewhere? After all - our planet is the equivalent of just one millionth of a grain of sand in a whole world of sea sand. With so many other planets in a Universe why has the n factor not created intelligent life on one of those other grains of sand?
So I have developed a new theory to explain this anomaly. I call it the Champagne Glass Theory.
Imagine a flute of champagne in which the bubbles are worlds that have evolved life. There are millions of them. But now consider the surface of the liquid. When one bubble rises through the surface tension and bursts - at that exact nanosecond of time - it is the only bubble bursting on the entire surface of the glass. I propose that intelligent life has been in the Universe before us and will appear afterwards. But during the nanosecond that we are around (just a few million years) we are the only bubble currently bursting. I am probably misrepresenting Martin Rees who describes the 6 numbers that govern our Universe, but it's a theory that works for me.