Blogs – anyone can write them, anyone can read them.  Does having a blog make you a ‘blogmaster?’  Does being a ‘citizen journalist’ make you credible?  How much influence can a blog have? These are all questions that are circling in and around the blogosphere. Everyone is a publisher – is this good or bad for PR?

According to a recent study conducted by Brodeur in conjunction with Marketwire, blogs have quite the influence on media coverage.  Some key statistics include: 

–  over 75 per cent of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving the story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue
–  nearly 70 per cent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis
–  over 50 per cent of all reporters said that blogs were having a significant impact on the tone and editorial direction of news reporting

Blogs are now being read by more than just other bloggers. This study shows that attention is being given to social media.  

“Like any new social phenomenon, the blogosphere has become a resource for reporters, but reporters are still creating their stories by going out and developing their own ideas and talking to their sources,” says Jerry Johnson, head of strategic planning at Brodeur.  “The blogosphere’s tail is not wagging the media body – at least not yet.”

Although the blogosphere has not yet reached the point where it has complete influence over the media, it is quite possible that day will soon come.  Therefore, it is critical that we as PR practitioners engage in social media and join the conversation.  No matter how hard we try to resist this change from traditional communications, the change is here.  Social media becomes more important each and every day. 

Recently, Maggie Fox, CEO and founder of Social Media Group, an agency devoted exclusively to helping companies utilize Web 2.0,  came in to talk to our class about social media and corporate blogging.  An expert in her field, Fox stresses the importance of first listening to what people are saying about you, then join the online conversation, as blogs have the power to impact your brand and its success.  

The article, “How to make the most of a corporate blog,” by Sarah Campbell, gives a handful of useful and insightful tips about successful corporate blogging.  And, like Fox, Campbell’s first tip is to “start out by monitoring what people are saying about your company and products.” 

So why a corporate blog?  I can’t believe I’m about to do what I’m about to do, but here it goes.  Wikipedia states that “the business blog can provide additional value by adding a level of credibility that is often unobtainable from a standard corporate site.  The informality and increased timeliness of information posted to blogs assist with increasing transparency and accessibility in the corporate image.  Business blogs can interact with a target market on a more personal level while building link credibility that can ultimately be tied back to the corporate site.” 

In other words, blogs can provide your organization with credibility and a positive public image  – something that is so valuable, you couldn’t put a price-tag on it. 

Thanks wikipedia!

This month has seemed to d-r-a-g on forever.  I don’t feel like going out.  I don’t want to do my homework.  I don’t want to go to work.  I just want to do nothing.  I’ve got no motivation to do anything, ever.  I try to stay upbeat, positive and energized, but I just can’t shake the slump I’m in.

At first I thought it was just me who had somehow turned into a lazy bum, but apparently, and thankfully, I’m not the only one.  It seems that everyone I talk to feels the same way.  I ask how they are doing and the response I always get is, ‘BLAH.’ 

So, I’ve decided to look further and see what the heck is going on with everyone – and this is what I have found out:

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as winter depression is related to the shortage of light we encounter in the winter months.  This shortage of light causes a lack of energy to carry out daily activities.  To treat SAD, there are various light therapies you can undertake, however, are time consuming and expensive.

There is an actual medical condition for what we are all going through.  Who knew the amount of light you get can affect your mood so greatly?  Remind me never to move to the Arctic!

If light therapy isn’t your thing, here are a few helpful tips on fighting the winter blues:

  • Learn something new.  It should help take your mind off the blues.
  • Curl up in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book.
  • Get together with friends and have a night at home – veg out and have fun doing it (board games are always great).
  • Catch up on renting all those movies you’ve always wanted to see
  • Pamper yourself with a day at the spa – a massage is a must
  • Go shopping!  All stores are clearing out their winter stock and the deals are a steal!
  • Get outside and enjoy the snow – have a snowball fight with friends or go skiing – it’s a winter wonderland out there!
    1. Or you can take a page out of the bear book and hibernate for the winter, but

      somehow, in the city, I don’t think that will work out so well!

    Our latest assignment in presentation skills was to write and present a three-minute speech about our greatest achievement.  Topics ranged anywhere from excelling in sports to performing in front of a large crowd.  The speeches were great, yet my peers and I all said the same thing about the assignment – writing speeches about yourself is EXTREMELY difficult. 

    You would think that being in the business of PR, writing and talking is something that comes naturally to us.  For the most part, it does, but somehow, writing and talking about yourself is one of the hardest things to do.

    I think it has a lot to do with the voice – how can you best articulate yourself without sounding arrogant or incompetent?  What about the audience – do you find it harder when you are presenting to peers or to strangers? 

    What do you think it is that holds you back?  Why is talking about yourself so hard to do?

    A few weeks ago, I dined at the newly renovated Moxie’s Restaurant at Fairview Mall.  I won’t go through the entire ordeal but will tell you that it was such an experience that it drove me to writing my FIRST letter of complaint and to tell everyone that I knew about the horrible service.  I was basically starting a movement to boycott the Moxie’s at Fairview Mall (talk about bad PR). 

    bad service

    In my letter, I outlined the entire night from start to finish and sent it off to the manager of the restaurant.  I really didn’t know what kind of response to expect as it was my first letter of this kind.  The next day I received an email that not only addressed my concerns, but offered a form of reimbursement as well.

    I have yet to return back to use my certificate and give the restaurant another shot at satisfying and impressing me (and I will be sure to fill you in on the details when I do return), but what I was impressed with is the level of service the manager gave with his letter and his offering.  More importantly, looking at it from a PR point of view, the way in which he communicated his key messages as well as Moxie’s key messages.

    The very purpose of our company is to give our guests an experience that leaves them feeling better when they leave our restaurant than they felt when they first arrived.  We clearly missed the mark by a large degree last Friday evening.  We will apply the tough lessons from this series of inappropriate events to ensure we provide an excellent dining experience for all of our guests in the future.

    The letter was obviously longer than this bit I have provided, but this section was what got my attention. As a PR student, I am impressed as he has successfully reiterated key messages, but as a customer, the inclusion of the Moxie’s corporate speak irked me a tad. By wearing both hats, I see both the pros and cons to this, but as a budding PR professional, it makes me worry that what we do will irk when it is supposed to reassure.

    Perhaps I am crazy, or perhaps there are others who share the same feelings?

    CNW Group Tour & Tips

    Through the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), I had the opportunity of visiting the CNW Group (formerly known as Canada NewsWire) last Friday.  It was a great experience as we not only got to tour the office, but were given a very informative presentation on what the CNW Group does, as well as general tips and comments on developing a successful news release. 


    Here are some key tips courtesy of the CNW Group:

    Path of a News Release

    When writing a news release, there are two important questions you must ask yourself
    1.  Why are you sending out the release?
    2.  What do you want your exposure to do?

    Once you have answered these two questions, you need to start thinking of getting your message out to who, how, where and when.  You must remember that each medium wants it sent out differently (TV is visual, send out some b-roll with audio – make their jobs easier and there will be a better chance of getting picked up). 

    You will also have better chance of getting picked up if you can add a photo for not only TV but for print as well. 


    Here are the CNW Group’s

    TOP 10 TIPS TO GET YOUR PHOTO NOTICED

    1. be creative!
    2. tight and bright – big images in tight shots
    3. use lighting and colour
    4. people, yes – crowds, no
    5. interact with work environment
    6. a shot of “The Shop Floor” is more interesting than the “Grip and Grin”
    7. product shots are good but computer screen shots are not
    8. action and reaction is better than stagnant and still
    9. cutlines – who (from left to right), what, when, where & why
    10. let a professional photographer take your photos

    A few last tips:

    • always try and include more than one photo with your release for better pick-up
    • the business section is always hungry for photos
    • international news releases – make sure to have the contact person available for comment (keep the time difference in mind – make sure that person will be awake)
    • media monitoring – it is not enough to count how many times your story gets picked up (who picked it up, how was it used, was it an exclusive mention, etc.)

    A big thank you goes out to Michelle, Jeff and Laura of the CNW Group for their time and hospitality as well as CPRS Toronto and Kristen Marano of CPRS’s Student Steering Committee. We all had a blast and learned a great deal!And a personal tip to give out:  Sign up and attend everything!  These sessions are always informative and fun – and are GREAT places to network!  Check out the CPRS Toronto website for upcoming events.

    While searching the net this afternoon and looking at various blogs of PR professionals and friends of mine, I came across the term glog.  I am new to the blogosphere, and have just recently begun to really utilize my blog and come to an understanding of what they are for and what they can do.

    Also during my search, the term flog caught my eye as well.  Flogs, for those newbies like me, are, in essence,  fake blogs: a marketing tool used to promote a product by pretending to write a blog out of genuine interest and pure enjoyment for the product or company, when in reality, the whole thing is created and written by the company itself rather than a real blogger.  It is meant to inspire viral marketing and create traffic and interest online.  The ethics behind flogging have created quite a contentious debate in the online world.  A great case to look at is the Wal-Mart flog and all the controversy surrounding it.  OPEN (minds, finds, conversations) does a great job of giving you a sense of the whole ordeal. 

    Although flogs are fascinating in themselves and I could probably talk at lengths about them and their ethical consequences, I wish to focus this post on this new (or at least new to me) phenomenon, THE GLOG! <insert dramatic music here> 

    So, what the heck is a glog, you ask? Well, from my oh-so in-depth research <insert sarcasm here>, I will attempt to clearly and concisely present my findings.

    What started out as CYBORG LOGS, a GLOG stems from the theory of Humanistic Intelligence (HI), wherein a cyborg, by way of synergy between human and machine, function as both human and machine simultaneously.  A glog is simply a walking, talking blog. 

    In comparison to blogs, which are usually created on a desktop, glogs can be created anywhere, while doing anything.  Glogs often use portable cameras and as a result, are easier and easier to develop and manipulate.  An interesting cyborg log, aka GLOG, to check out is Steve Mann’s wearcam.org as roving reporter where you can get a better sense of just exactly what a glog is, or can be.

    Steve Mann, in the early nineties wore what looked like a large bike helmet, ten pounds of cables and a visor with blinking boxes over his eyes.  This device functioned as a camera.  Mann would then take the images and put them on the internet.  This, as you could imagine, sparked debate and some felt that his undertaking was compromising people’s privacy.  Anders Hove, the executive editor of The Tech, MIT’s newspaper, wrote the article, Wearable Web Camera Goes Too Far, and in it, comments on Mann’s project.

    Mann, however, goes too far. I respect Mann’s right to experiment with the Web camera in his office, or at home, or in the rooms of consenting colleagues and friends. But must he continue to subject us to the ongoing culture of seeing him in his ugly apparatus roaming the street freely?

    I would place the Web camera phenomenon somewhere in between garish clothing and rollerblades. Garish clothing may be ugly and annoying, but it’s not so annoying to warrant collective action. Fashion violations are given out at Charm School, maybe, but otherwise we should be content to let the fashionally-challenged pass among us with minimal social sanction.

    Rollerblading, on the other hand, poses a danger to fellow humans. That’s why it’s not allowed in MIT buildings. In addition, however, the vast majority of people find rollerblading so annoying that it warrants additional social sanction. It would be impolite, for example, for someone to rollerblade in my room.

    The Web camera, then, falls between the two. It poses no danger to us, but it is so extraordinarily annoying and disconcerting to look at that every social pressure ought to be applied to get its (currently only one) wearer to come to his senses.

    Interestingly though, this doesn’t seem to be the only usage of the word. Upon further digging, I came across

    • Mark’s Glog, a blog on game design and game development – apparently, a glog is a games logabout designing and creating computer games
    • GLOG: A Genevan Log, the narrative of an Englishman, living and working in Geneva
    • Glog, the life in Blog of Gregory Alan Jeffery Clarke

    From the looks of it, these three examples of glogs which are really blogs.  The creators have reappropriated the term glog to fit in with a word that starts with G, which is clever and enjoyable, but does not meet the criteria of a traditional glog (if there is such a thing). 

    This whole idea of the glog has developed quite dramatically since its creation as it seems that Steve Mann’s research has now entered the mainstream.  You can read more about Mann’s latest project in the online article, Cyborg research hits mainstream.

    public relations n.pl. 1 the work of presenting a good image of an organization, person, etc., to the public

        So, I am a post-graduate student at Centennial College studying Corporate Communications and Public Relations.  Seeing as it is a post-grad program, my peers and I have all graduated from college or university.  We are all mature individuals who are soon to be entering the “real world,” or are we?

         I’ve included the definition to public relations from the Oxford Canadian Dictionary because it is the field we are all vying to enter.  Soon enough when we have graduated from Centennial, our job will be , as Alan Chumley of Hill & Knowlton stated, “to project and protect your client’s reputation.”  But what about our own reputations now?  

         Alan was a guest speaker this afternoon in one of our classes and was great.  Charismatic, informative, funny.  I think I can speak for the class when I say that we all walked away with a great impression of Alan Chumley.  But I wonder what Alan’s opinions of us were.  For the most part, I believe we came across as being mature, interested and well-mannered. 

         However, with that being said,  there seem to be a handful of people who fail to realize that when a guest presenter is speaking, you listen.  Do people really think that whispers can’t be heard or that the clicking of the laptop keyboard is silent???  It is not only a bad reflection on the individual but on our class, our teachers and our school. 

         I don’t mean to attack, but it is something that is quite bothersome.  I think a reality check is in order.  Think about your personal image and the type of PR you are putting out for yourself.  Your day-to-day attitude and etiquette is of the utmost importance, ESPECIALLY in our field.