February 29, 2008 by Colin
I had a chance to speak to a passel of Canadian government communicators about social media yesterday, and I promised them I would post a number of useful links to help them work around implementing social media in their workplaces.
So here goes:
- How the Social Web Came to Be, Part 1 and Part 2 and a linear time line in pdf
- Social Media Marketing vs. Social Marketing, via the Church of the Customer blog
- Network of Public Sector Communicators – a New Zealand blog written by a govt type
- 26 free tools to monitor buzz and online conversation. This is a must read, folks!
- Blog search tools: Google, Technorati, Blogpulse, IceRocket, Bloglines,
- E-government and Web 2.0, from Cisco.
- Introduction to Twitter (via KDPaine and Jeremiah)
- Big Brands and Facebook, a Forrester presentation
- the Three Types of Government Blogger, by me
- Four Tenets of the Community Manager, by Jeremiah, and even more detail and advice from Jake McKee
I’ve obviously missed a lot of resources, and I encourage my readers to mention more in the comments, so I can pass them along to the more disadvantaged.
December 29, 2007 by Colin
I admit it. Scientists and communicators often don’t mix well. They certainly don’t share a love for numbers, or even for precision. After all, it is hard to communicate science to the public.
James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, has provided his colleagues with something of a guidebook to making your way as a scientist.*
As reviewed in Harvard Magazine, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science does dwell on his past as a Harvard professor and wunderkind, but also identifies some basic traits to help battle it out in academia and the world of science:
- Manners Needed for Important Science
- Manners Required for Academic Civility
- Manners Deployed for Academic Zing
- Manners Maintained When Reluctantly Leaving Harvard
- Science works better when the winners don’t take all
- Share valuable research tools
- Never be the brightest person in the room
- Science is highly social
As the review points out, Watson often broke these rules or didn’t demonstrate these traits. As communicators, however, we know that highly social systems are effective at creating “weak links” and helping transmit information and understanding.
*Watson isn’t without his oversize controversies, either.
November 14, 2007 by Colin
It’s that time again. The Third Tuesday extravaganza, where you get to meet and mingle with the public relations, marketing, digital design and web marketing.
Next week, November 19, I’ll be under the spotlight. I’ll be talking about encouraging the adoption of social media and new technologies as a government communicator.
Judging from the reception I received at a CPRS session today, I may try to build on my “social media is like a water slide” analogy as well.
It’s sure to be a fun, informative and imaginative time.
You can find the details on Meetup.
And thanks to Joe for the kind words.
[tags] Third Tuesday, government communications, government blogging [/tags]
November 1, 2007 by Colin
The premise, as posited by Jeremiah, Kami, Kevin and others: content generators need to develop materials and vehicles that communicate effectively with “media snackers,” those new economy animals who bounce from medium to medium picking up information and filtering it.
That means short blog posts, interactive web tools, podcasts of varying lengths, videos, Twitter streams and anything else that two guys withs seed capital can think up.
I see a strategic weakness in this premise, however: just because people want their media quick, easily digestible and interactive doesn’t mean we should abandon context and overlook longer term tactics.
That’s because I’m an old school media snacker. Not as old enough to be a Reader’s Digest subscriber, let’s get that out of the way.* But old enough to know how to follow Usenet threads. Old enough to have thought PointCast was going to revolutionize our world.
I think we run the risk of over-simplifying our tactics and under-estimating our readers/listeners/viewers: they don’t come to the dim sum buffet for the individual dish, they see ach piece as part of a larger meal.
You see, I’m not a media snacker, I’m a media aggregator. I may bounce from source to source and from one format to another, but I have one (or several) topics that I’m tracking.
I am picking up tidbits, thoughts and observations, and integrating them into internal narratives, or adding them to databases on issues I am following, or marking them as useful for work I am doing at the office.
The danger with the “snacker” meme is that we may see our readers in too simplistic a manner: as someone dropping by for a visit, or someone not really engaged in the process.
We have to make sure, as communicators, marketers, public relations hacks or community builders, that we integrate our “snack media” into a more comprehensive communications and marketing plan.
And that doesn’t mean a cool splashpage made in flash.
It means some sort of community hub, where all these snacks can be displayed on a big buffet table (or, given that most “media snacks” are ephemeral in time and place, a warming table). A touchstone for your “lifestream,” so to speak.
And then our reader, community member, stakeholder – whatever – can pick and choose the tactic that most suits them.
*You realise, of course, that Reader’s Digest was the original media snacker’s resource.
[Tags] media snacker, twitter, meme, community, interstitial, lifestream [/tags]
October 25, 2007 by Colin
“…“Second Life, as a global community with residents from more than 100 countries, is an ideal venue to host a virtual launch of a report that compares how easy it is for people to start and operate a business in 178 economies,” Dahlia Khalifa said.
“Second Life is on the frontier of collaboration and technology. It brings people from around the world together by removing boundaries,” she added. …(news release)
It’s a noble effort and an example that the World Bank and its’ partners are looking for new ways to communicate their ideas – but Second Life has not proven its worth as a communication tool.
Earlier this year, Eric Kintz at HP argued why he still needed convincing about Second Life. Bandwidth and computing power were among the factors he identified for his reluctance to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak.
Those are very big issues for most government departments. Even OECD members have to evaluate the capacity of their network to deliver content over a service like Second Life – but also their network’s capacity to deliver that content back to their own employees.
I suspect that many organizations with outposts in Second Life (like Sweden) have set up separate networks and better equipment for their in-world representatives.
More on the event:
“…The event will be an open forum where policy makers and the public from around the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, can ask questions, challenge the findings, and contribute to a global business dialogue aimed at stimulating reforms that improve the business environment, and ultimately create more business startups, job opportunities, and economic growth.
Digital copies of the report’s overview, as well as World Bank–IFC virtual apparel and products, will be available to Second Life residents who attend the event.”
How are the clients of the World Bank – many of them living in remote corners of the internet – supposed to sign on for this report launch?
[tags] Second Life, World Bank, Doing Business, third world, international organizations, multilateral [/tags]
October 24, 2007 by Colin
Depending upon the topic, it seems that people define the role of public relations practitioner, corporate communicator, and marketing fairly loosely. What exactly is the difference between the three distinct professions?
This graphic tries to separate them by indicating specific “benefits” of working in marketing communications (like travelling on business, having access to Super Bowl tickets) and then presenting the proportional odds of that benefit being available to one or all of the professions.
[tags] marketing, communicator, corporate communications, public relations, schwag [/tags]
August 13, 2007 by Colin
Thanks to Google News, your spokesperson or technical expert may have another opportunity to present their case in the news – AFTER the journalist has filed.
Google’s about to add a comment feature to Google News – but with a twist. Only people directly involved with the story, like those quoted in it, can submit a comment to be moderated by the Google News staff.
“We’ll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we’ll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as “comments” so readers know it’s the individual’s perspective, rather than part of a journalist’s report.”(Google News Blog)
This signals another shift toward the corporate interpretation of how social media should be managed.
For those of you following on the home game, the comments appended to a Google News story will have gone through TWO filters – the original reporter’s judgement of who should participate in the story, and Google’s own test of authenticity.
How about that? You can just throw the egalitarian nature of comments under the bus now. Traditional media, as interpreted and annotated by the gatekeepers.
For public relations specialists, this opens up a whole new channel of communication: pointing readers to your evidence and your record of the interview.
Especially for you paranoid and obsessive types that make it a habit of recording every moment your senior executive comes within a restraining order of a journalist.
And, judging from the FAQ on the new comments policy, your comments may have greater longevity than the story itself:
“However, we’ll try to be in touch with you and possibly include your comments in future stories that mention you. “
Communicators and media relations experts now have another channel to consider when evaluating the impact of their media coverage.
Why not respond to how your interview, fact sheet or news release were interpreted in the article?
[tags] Google News, comment policy, retaliation [/tags]
July 13, 2007 by Colin
Often, our approach to preparing a questionnaire or a piece of public opinion research is to send an email around asking about corporate priorities, convening a brainstorming session, changing the date on last year’s moderator’s guide, or simply revising the questions from last year’s omnibus survey.
Andrew at Northern Planner offers some advice on preparing some useful quantitative research:
“… We mentioned before that quant is the bit that REALLY speaks the client’s language. So make sure it does what they want it to do. For the questionnaire, that means:
- Prove your answers to their brief.
- Have new ideas they can use in the future.
- Meet approval from their clients (the board).
- Fit their own style and standards.
- Prove something they (and you) suspect.
But they’re not the only ones the questionnaire needs to accommodate. Some poor bugger has to analyse these things, so lay it out and code it as well as you can.
The interviewer needs it to be easy to follow, written in conversational tone, short, with no difficult questions and avoid embarrassing or intimate ones.
And the respondent wants it to be easy to follow, they need to see WHY a question has been asked. And for them most of all, make it short easy to follow and never difficult or embarrassing….” (Northern Planner)
It’s that last point that’s the most important.
Even after hours of wordsmithing, consultation, learned disagreement among communicators and quants, our questions frequently speak to internal priorities and rely upon largely similar terms differentiated only by their inherited symbolism inside our organization.
And then you have to spend another 12 hours deconstructing the responses to your questionnaire.
Realizing, in the meantime, that your respondents didn’t really understand your questions or your intent.
Now, that’s money and time well spent.
[tags] quantitative research, media planning, strategy [/tags]
July 11, 2007 by Colin
Over the years, I have published a number of papers, presentations and booklets on public relations, marketing, social media and government communications.
Basic Principles for Crisis Communications – prepared for Global PR Blog Week 1.0, October 2004
The complexities of government blogging in a dynamic policy environment – prepared for Global PR Blog Week 2.0, September 2005
Incorporating Blogs into the Marketing Mix – an e-guide prepared in December 2005
I spoke to a Third Tuesday Ottawa meetup about government communications and the implementation of a social media strategy at my government department. (MP3 audio available)
Secret Underground Guide to Social Media for Organizations – prepared in March 2008, this is meant to help communicators within large organizations to build the support for social media tactics and campaigns within their organization. It was very well received.
And, for old school cred, Canuckflack was Marketing Sherpa’s best PR Blog of 2004.
Category | Tags:
July 3, 2007 by Colin
Aaargh. Jimmy Leach, Tony Blair’s head of digital communications, wins an award for his work. He’s taken home the New Media Age award for “The Greatest Individual Contribution to New Media.” Why? Epetitions. Podcasts. A YouTube channel for a Prime Minister. All put in place in less than a year.
Simon Dickson underlines the importance of Leach’s work: it helped establish a precedent for British government communicators.
“…So Jimmy is free to do all sorts of radical things which most Ministries … would typically strangle at birth.
Standard Whitehall mentality is that it’s only acceptable to do something innovative if someone else has already done it. (Which, of course, is a contradiction in terms, but anyway…) And if the ’someone else’ happens to be the almighty Downing Street, all reticence disappears.
Suddenly there’s no need to fear a call from the most powerful office in the land, asking what the hell you thought you were doing. If you post your Minister’s stuff on YouTube, in the same way that No10 posted theirs, what can go wrong? (And if it does go wrong, at least No10 will probably be stuffed too.)”
June 27, 2007 by Colin
Stolen directly from Dave Gray’s blog, Communication Nation:
“…A blog is a way of getting support and affirmation from the outside, for the things you are trying to do on the inside.
A blog is a way to keep your faith alive.”
I know blogs, podcasts, general and specialist social networks and plain old Yahoo newsgroups have helped me explore new ideas as a:
- public relations specialist
- government communicator
- blogger, and;
- all around know-it-all
[tags] evangelism, xplane, Dave Gray [/tags]
June 9, 2007 by Colin
As communicators, public relations types, flacks, marketers … do you remember the moment in your youth when you realized that the wonderful smörgåsbord of media did not just fall into your lap for your consumption and enjoyment?
I mean, when did the fourth wall fall down for you? When did you realize that vast armies of writers, composers, directors, producers and broadcasters were manipulating every moment of the music, film and cartoons you were sucking through your greedy little eyes and ears?
This was it for me:
Bob: “This is where the D.J. talks. Don’t say anything!”
Doug: “Okay, eh!”
That, of course, is the opening line to Bob and Doug MacKenzie’s “Take Off!”
After that revelation, it was all downhill. You mean there’s a reason why most pop hits are less than two and a half minutes long? My favourite sitcom is only 22 minutes long? Radio tease? What’s that?
June 4, 2007 by Colin
Okay, people. I’ve got a job. I’ve got a family. I sometimes watch network television. Who is going to invent a Trillian-like app for all these damn social networks? Really.
Yes. I know. I’m mixing multi-purpose professional networks with more general apps.
Robin Crumby of Melcrum makes some good arguments why specialized networks may be more valuable to professionals.
Still, I don’t mean to seem like an old man, but I may not have the attention span to maintain all these networks!
Especially when the Senators are playing!
April 28, 2007 by Colin
Tag clouds. There’s your next content analysis tool. With Tagcrowd‘s “Alpha” service, you can easily analyze any text for recurring words and concepts. Obviously, tag clouds work best when applied to a large database: either a long speech or a quantity of smaller pieces.
It’s a useful tool to generate a first impression of a text or a presentation, but there are both advantages and drawbacks:
- favours messaging over content
- truly only measures repetition, not value, of words
- overlooks key phrases and themes
- doesn’t reflect logical or rhetorical progression of the text
- doesn’t provide clues about context or how the text was received
- shines a light on underlying tone (positive, negative, inspirational)
- helps you understand the emotion being communicated (strong, responsive, dedicated, things like that)
- provides a 50 word impression of the text and the intentions of its authors
- much cheaper than contracted media analysis, with a similar level of accuracy
Tag clouds are also helpful in comparing texts. Over at pollster.com, you can see an analysis of the speeches delivered by the Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday night.
The breakthrough of TagCrowd is the easy capability to develop a tag cloud from any text – online or off line. This is a practical application of 2.0 technology to our everyday work as communicators and marketers.
As more web apps and mashups can be applied to offline tasks, these forms of technology will be integrated into the everyday work of all communicators and marketers – not just by early adopters and the technically saavy.
[tags] tag could, textual analysis, media analysis, word association [/tags]
April 14, 2007 by Colin
“The most important phase of the communications survey is the evaluation phase.” Ever heard that? You have, at least from your boss during the annual performance review. Or from a media monitoring vendor making a pitch.
Of course, every communicator is painfully aware of the weaknesses of common evaluation methods.
- Focus Groups? Easily railroaded by dominant personalities. Undermined by poor moderators. Doomed to failure by moderator’s guides developed by committee.
- Telephone Surveys? Weakened by dwindling response rates. Limited by time. Stupid caller ID!
- Advertising Equivalency Value? Don’t get me started on this voodoo economics!
- Media Analysis? How often does the analysis relate your campaign to the paralell activities of your competitors? The analysis is also naturally coloured by the education and cultural upbringing of the analyst.
- Direct Response Cards? Favoured by the already disappointed and the optimistic freeloader. As one comedian once said “I have a business card. It says ‘Mitch Hedberg, Possible Lunch Winner’.”
Sure. I’m exaggerating. I’m overlooking the benefits that can be found in each approach.
But everyone can relate to MRad’s “Don’t Coach Me On How to Answer Your Stupid Survey.” His VW dealer suggested how MRad should fill out his customer satisfaction survey, so the dealership could keep their company’s high performance rating.
The problem with this approach? By suggesting how to undermine the survey process, the dealer is undermining the customer’s confidence in the “five star rating,” the “certified service,” the “top customer service award” – all the crap that convinced the customer (who’s sitting RIGHT THERE, let’s remember) that this particular dealership wasn’t out to screw him.
Naturally, the dealership wants to make sure you leave a happy customer. There’s even some value, given the emphasis put on quality service by dealer groups, manufacturers and ratings groups, to making sure customers don’t leave with hidden grudges or issues.
But when you influence survey results with customers by drawing the link between their ratings and your pay package, you render the survey nearly useless.
And you weaken their confidence in your actual commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
[tags] survey, survey technique, auto dealer, customer satisfaction [/tags]