Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who Says Facebook and Twitter are Distractions?

Recently, I was informed in Comm class at school that social media, like Facebook and Twitter can be affecting the way we right..i mean, write. I decided to look into this further because I think it is a valid statement, but is it for better or for worse? I remember a similar dilemma when I was much younger, with the new SpellCheck option for Word. Teachers and parents were frustrated that their student would not be learning an important skill, because a computer program would just automatically fix it instantly.
For a college student, social media is almost as required as a classroom textbook. We are constantly updating our Facebook status, uploading pictures, "Facebook stalking" our friends, tweeting, retweeting- the possibilities are endless. But some people seem to think this is cutting into our schoolwork and consequently making our academic papers less fluid and a series of broken paragraphs, rather than one smooth flowing essay.

At first glance, it appears to be reasonable that we are becoming too distracted with technology. If we are constantly interrupted with distractions, how can our thoughts be constructed coherently and logically into one essay? Well, there have been some conflicting reports with this issue. While some believe these distractions are hurting our writing skills, other believe these social media websites are actually helping us perform better. How? “People are more successful if we force them to move away from a problem or distract them temporarily,” observe the authors of Creativity and the Mind, a landmark text in the psychology and neuroscience of creativity.
Ok, i guess I can relate to this to some extent. It is sometimes difficult to sit at your computer continuously writing a research paper, little breaks do come handy in between. If anything, it makes me set certain goals to finish certain sections of my paper so I can reward myself with chatting and catching up with a few friends on Facebook. However, I can understand the statstic from Nucleus Research that states that an average of all company workers are on Facebook and lose approximately an hour and half of productivity throughout the workday. If you are using Facebook to avoid doing work at your job, I can see why this can be a problem. However, I think using it as an online breakroom for your 15 minutes does little to no harm.

One last thing. Many of the information we receive is relying less and less on news sources and more and more on social media. Many companies rely on getting their information for industry news, product launches, and information about competitors in one fashion or another, on the Internet. Social media, like Twitter, is exploding for providing this kind of information- you just have to follow the right people.

So is social media ruining our school papers and productivity? Yes and no. It all depends on how you use it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Podcasting for PR

This week, our PR for Social Media class discussed the dos and donts of making a podcast. To be honest, I have never subscribed, or even listened to a podcast before, I guess I just never understood what actually they were. After learning about how easy they are to listen and download, I'm wondering why I never knew this before...

Even after being introduced to podcasts, I was kind of wondering how something with limited visual cues could be useful in a PR profession. My brain was painting a picture that podcasts were just like talk shows with a few cute bells and whistles that were spliced in. But that was far from the truth. After listening to a few examples, you do not just have to interview people in can record professionals leading discussions or lectures, and use it as another learning tool in your area of study.

Podcasts are audio mp3 files that use RSS so you can subscribe to this podcasts (meaning every time you plug in and sync your iPod to iTunes, you will automatically receive new podcasts.) Because podcasts use RSS, the PR industry is benefitted because it keeps an audience up-to-date, sometimes even on-the-go. Not only is it effective with constant communication, it adds personality and edge to competition. Even though podcasts are popular, many people (like myself) have not yet experimenting with a podcasts, therefore it would be a great technique to make yourself stand out from competitors. It could also be a great addition to your blog. Instead of only conveying messages through words, it adds variety in a sea of text. Adding a podcast to a blog can provide a medium of communication for the audience to respond as well.

Podcasts are inexpensive and easy to make- I expect to see more and more podcasts emerging within the PR industry.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"People Do Business with People They Like"

In response to this week's readings, "Unveiling New Influences," discusses how engagement is the way for big brands to control their messages. Before with traditional methods, companies specifically handpicked their messages with regards to certain targets. However the personal side of these messages were not fully developed until the socialization of the web emerged, creating new dissemination to all web-users, not just direct demographics.

Creating a community based network is now more important than ever. It is important to build relationships with people, because now it is enforced. We have reached a point where telephone and newspaper is not the only desirable means of communication, we have emerged into Web 2.0, where you are able to email, blog, IM, Wave..all methods that mimic more and more real life communication (but still with limitations.) In order to build your community, you must engage with the people around you (both within your industry and your customers as well). Instead of just forming one way messages to inform your consumers, you now must LISTEN.

Listening is the key to building relationships. Without listening, you would not be able to hear your consumers and respond to their needs. This may mean completely reinventing your product or making minor adjustments, but either way, you will be eventually coming out ahead. This concept of engagements redefines the way consumers are able to instruct and critique the products we want to buy, which is extremely helpful to brand marketers. Their role is now not only to put out the messages, but be receptive to their own messages and to the others around them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Some of you might remember that awful YouTube video of two Domino's employees tampering with a customers food..Yes, I will spare you the details for those of you who do remember. At first, it seemed to take Domino's awhile to get onboard with their damage control tactics, but they eventually managed to install faith back within the customers. (with a LOT of help from Twitter)

After the pitfall with the two employees, Domino's built up customer relations through a Twitter account "dominos." Today, I am scrolling their twitter home page and I can see they are not only promoting their newest promotion "The Pizza Turnaround," but are working to respond to individual customer needs, which goes a step beyond a marketing tool, but sustainable PR relationship. I search at the official Domino's Twitter account and saw that their page was filled with replies to individuals, meaning their goals go far beyond selling a few pies...they care about their customer's satisfaction.

Not only did Domino's improve their customer relations with some social media, but their pizza too! The company's new campaign, "Pizza Turnaround," required Domino's to listen to some of its harshest critics and make a change to their needs. Domino's would browse through their tweets and print out negative feedback in order to address the needs of their customers. WOW. So I guess you could say this is not just Domino's Pizza, its the "People's Pizza." Still, Domino's has not pumped the breaks on its social media. The official "Pizza Turnaround" website includes a feed where tweets can be seen about the new pizza flavor using the hashtag #newpizza.

As for me, I'm pretty partial to a local pizza place, Conan's, here in Austin. Although, I'm definitely willing to give Domino's a shot, for social media's sake

Here is the YouTube video of "Pizza Turnaround.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota Can't Catch a Brake

You may of heard about the recent problems today has been facing lately. I have caught bits and pieces from overhearing the news and seeing a few headlines on the internet. Toyota has been doing 24/7 damage control on recent "brake breakings," that have caused alarm for many customers. For me, I have always known the Japanese to be reliable producers (they may not invent anything-but at least they know how to build something good) so I was rather surprised to see Toyota going through such a crisis. I am a proud owner of a Rav4 and love it.. I am wondering what has gone wrong, but more importantly I'm wondering how Toyota is handling their situation. If Toyota's PR team is managing it anything like the Domino's fiasco, well we have a problem.

Well, at least Toyota took the right steps in their crisis management...but it took them a few pushes and shoves just to get them out into the media. In the early part of 2010, Toyota began a series of recalls that were not paired with answering and consoling customers about their safety. Toyota now has several TV and radio ads announcing their recalls, but are trying to instill faith back into the people. To me, Toyota's only mishap was timing..but timing is everything right? Better now than never.

Milk and Cereal

"Citizen Marketers" has coined a great name for all of those ametures out there who are promoting a big name for a company or organization. One of the funniest things I read was how the creation of a simple idea of creating a silly video made a big hit for many cereal brands. One day, two boys uploaded a video on YouTube calling it "Milk and Cereal," that became viral. Many other teens had replicated the idea, but with other cereals besides the original (Apple Cinnamon Cheerios). With a few simple, corny lyrics, the videos all became a hit creating many smiles for many of the cereal brands.

Here is a snippet of the lyrics:

Milk and cereal (milk and cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Milk and cereal (cereal, cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)
Cereal and milk (x12)

I don't want my Wheaties, give ‘em to the needy
Feeelin' kinda greedy, I keep them for myself
I keep them for myself

No Grapenuts..
For Grandma....(Grandma eats a bran muffin)
Mom likes Special K.........
You can't pinch an inch
You can't pinch an inch (x5)
They're magically delicious...
Keep your hands off my Lucky Charms
(pink hearts, yellow moons, blue diamonds (blue diamonds), green clovers)

Milk and cereal (milk and cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Milk and cereal (milk and cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Milk and cereal (milk and cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Milk and cereal (milk and cereal)
Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Milk and stereo (stereo, stereo)
Milk and Cereal (cereal and milk) (x5)

Milk and Cheerio-eo-eo-eo)

In the morning at the table (milk and cereal milk and cereal)
Snap, crackle, pop
Snap, crackle, pop (x6)

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs
Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs (x7)
Trix are for kids
Trix are for kids (x10)

In the morning...
At your table....
Milk and Cereal.... (x2)
Cereal And Milk....
Milk and Cereal....
Cereal And Milk...

No Grapenuts..............

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wave Goodbye?

This week, the reading for my Social Media for PR class tackled the mysterious Google Wave. After reading about all of its useful features, like email, IM, WebChat, message boards, and wiki, I decided to take a stab at it.

I didn't slice very deep, barely did I even make it to correctly uploading a photo.. Wave is confusing to a new user. Well, that's to be expected, I remember feeling completely lost with the new concept of Twitter. Part of the problem is the "lonely experience" I felt because I had only two contacts. Once I dived into reading more about Google Wave, the more I realized it is not so different from the technologies I have already been exposed to, it just surprising to see it all wrapped up in one.

I decided the wiki-feature of Wave is something very different. If I make a "wave" (the equivalent to an email), my document can be edited by the people I send it to. Weird? In my opinion, I would see that as a huge problem because how could the document be trusted if it was sent to a large quantity of people. For instance, say Wave took part as an internal email system for a corporation and was used to communicate about business meetings, events, and other corporate business, one individual could alter a date or time- which could be annoying.

On the other hand, I look at this for class projects and assignments as a great tool. If you are in a group with Snobby Sally or Cranky Chris, you might have zero initiative or ambition to ever actually meet with them, but the project has to get done somehow. With Wave, you can upload a document and send it to the unfortunate group members and work collaboratively on it (you can even use the IM to chat about your ideas/suggestions while editing the document).

Is Google Wave a hit or miss? I'm not sure it's effect yet because not everyone has access to it. From reading a few articles from class, I see it MIGHT have some potential in the future.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SocialBowl Sunday

Whether or not our favorite team made it to play in the legendary Superbowl, we are more than likely to tune into the action for the quest for the ring or tune into to some of the best commercials of the year. As a Dallas Cowboy fan, I am not so much interested with either the Saints or Colts, but I will admit I am excited about the new buzz circling around that advertisers are taking a new approach to their commercials.

Think about it.. You and at least 10 of your close friends piled on the couch around the T.V., passing the chips and dip, and popping a few beers. It's an advertiser's dream to have this many pairs of eyes tuning into the network, so a boring commercial won't make the cut. And with commercial spots soaring well over into the few million dollar range for just 30 seconds, no pennies can be wasted with mediocrity. Advertisers again are now having to think outside of the box (literally) to get audiences interacting with their brand from the T.V. to your computer or cell phone.

Audi is taking a stab with social media advertising with it's new campaign to promote an earth friendly diesel fuel. For better or worse, the people are talking, well tweeting, about the series of videos posted on YouTube known as the "Green Police." Even though this seemingly controversial name may be making quite a stir, there is still no such thing as bad publicity..people are still talking.

Well, one of the biggest companies that will be MIA for the Superbowl is Pepsi. Pepsi is completely opting out this Sunday and taking its new campaign, "Pepsi Refresh," which is leaving competitors like Coca-Cola chuckling about their decision. Coca-Cola will be using BOTH Superbowl ads to promote their Facebook page to support Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Why not take advantage of T.V.'s most popular Sunday and connecting it to technology's latest buzz? Denny's, Doritos, Unilever, and VW seem to agree with the approach as well. Unilever will be connecting with Twitter to engage audiences having them tweet about their Dove ads.

Whatever team you will be rooting for this Sunday, the winning team will be in the limelight for maybe a day or so. I don't know about you, but the next day I'm not talking about the game, I'm talking about the commercials. We will just have to wait and see which social media snap will launch the "Hail Mary" hype and ultimately lead to a W.