The Bold and the… OK, I’m a Little Overwhelmed

19 02 2009

Normally, I would never admit to having anything less than nerves of steel.

After all, I presented a PR campaign to an international client this summer with no fear and he bought it. Before I was 22. Before I had finished my senior year of PR.

But now, now… I’m a little bit timid and my nerves are pulsing with more malleability than that board room meeting over the summer in N.C.

Why?

Because now I am telling fellow professionals in my field what to do. Not an authoritative thing, mind you. I’m not their boss. Technically, I haven’t even entered the workforce yet – I interact with it on a daily basis, but I am still a senior who is not FULLy in the workforce yet.

Confused?

Meet PR(evolution): the pet project of me and Jessica Ayers.

PR(evolution)

PR(evolution) is a new idea here at the University of Alabama – students teaching students (I know, this has happened before… wait for it) AND staff (even more) AND practitioners. One might say:

“But Platform Online Magazine does this already.”

To which I would have to say that Platform, an online publication targeting students, teachers and practioners in the field of PR does in fact do this. But what does it teach them? PR? Sure… we do that, too.  But  we also teach Social Media. Think of us as the brainchild of Platform. Continue to read them. They’re great. Betsy Plank even recommends the publication and its blog and Twitter. But if you want to understand how Platform and other PR professionals use Social Media, you might want to take a peek at PR(evolution).

Now past its first and second sessions, PR(evolution) is well on its way to being succesful – we now have commitments to speak at public institutions and to present to the local libraries.

We have high-ranking professional coming in to tell us that our program is being used to help evaluate what SM they should use. (See DCH – The Hospital)

And all this has me wondering – is it all about to fall out the bottom? Because this could really lead places. Recently, in private talk, Damien Basile, a man who knows his way around PR, social media and brilliant dialogue, asked why I was afraid to embrace the success. After long thought… its because I am afraid it will fall out all at once and I will be left holding pieces.

After all, in order to embrace this, I have to make it my whole focus… I can have other background focuses, but they will only serve as a minor support net.

So my question to you (as I love to encourage dialogue) is: when you began to hit your own brand of success, what continue to motivate you and keep you from being scared to death that it would all fall through?

This blog, of course, falls more into my “Taking What’s Mine” mantra and less of “Giving Something New” because this time, I need some assurance.

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The Rules of the Game: Cyber Ethics, Part I

17 02 2009

Get online and post a profile picture. I dare you.

No, really, go ahead.

Just make sure I’d like it…

We all know that what we put online stays online. It can never really be deleted. But what if you knew that the sites sponsoring said info were not only not protecting the raw data, but were also actively selling it to others?

It has come to my attention over and over again that this is the case – I even interviewed for a company last spring that was able to put a mini bio together about me from information they had “collected.” Now, as a company, I don’t blame them. If they have a way of buying info about me… so be it. Do what you need to. But I do blame the company leaking my info in the first place. Employers should have to work to get my information – either in form of interview, resume, application and/or actually setting up a profile on social networking sites in order to talk with me.

After all, do I get to know about the secret lives of my immediate boss (I would use CEO… but I am sure I would get comments telling me that I do in fact read news stories about their scandals)? No. I don’t get to know the secret inner workings. And they do post things online – I would just have to know where to look.

Facebook disagrees.

This especially bothers me, since, as part of my PR Campaigns class my last semester… we are working for a client that teaches cyber ethics. I didn’t take it seriously at first – the idea, not the project. I didn’t take it seriously, because most of the time my mantra is that if you haven’t protected your information, it wasn’t important enough to copyright.

But now, after reading this article, this breaks even my rules.

Basically, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, has said that he can change the Terms of Service  (TOS) at any given time without alerting users. See, here, users believe they have protected their information… but to no avail. In fact, Zuckerberg has gone on to say:

We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change or delete portions of these terms at any time without further notice. Your continued use of the Facebook service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new terms.

Does this annoy you? I am sure it does. And I don’t mind my information being out there. But I do mind a contractual evil.

So my questions to users are as follows:

  • Does this bother you?
  • Where do you draw the line?
  • Why?

Based on that, I will introduce Part II of this.

–JMS–





Social Media is Not for Everyone

16 01 2009

Yes, I said it. Social media is not for:

  • The incompetents.
  • The slow.
  • Those who don’t understand basic subtlety.

Therefore, many previous MySpace users might just be disqualified.

Robert Scoble, in a recent blog post, made the point to focus on what you do well, so I am focusing on talking on my favorite subject: using Social Media well.

Therefore, I stick true to my statement for many reasons. Some may say it’s elitist. I would have to agree with him. I don’t want anyone on SM platforms with me who can’t spell or understand the world around them. Call me selfish, but I like to be productive, and if I was expected to turn myself around and reach my true potential before broadcasting myself, I think others should, too.

Here is my basic reasoning.

Social Media is revolutionary. Drastic adjective? Sure. But look at it – interactive communication is at a high. People can talk across continents, pay grades and age levels. The previously handicapped are now much more productive. Some people have even come out of their shell and don’t mind letting the world know who they are.

Do you realize how many people there are in the world?

Now think about the max number of people you can visualize on this planet then having a blog, several social networks, instant messaging clients and the ability to comment on anything.

Are you not scared? That’s a lot of people from the general population who don’t have training it what it means to speak candidly or tactfully. Go read the comments on any YouTube video if you don’t believe me.

And then imagine that in addition to all the people you have to worry about on an individual basis now numbering in the millions online, you now have to deal with CEOs and VPs who apparently didn’t learn this lesson either.

Yes, I am talking about the recent Ketchum bit.

Without calling out names or being rude, its scary that we have the masses to worry about and then our leaders not being tactful.

So, what I say, is that if you’re going to start using Social Media:

  • Think first. Do you need it? Don’t pollute the web with endless applications you have signed up for and never gone back to.
  • Observe. When you first sign up and start using said client, application or site, please sit back and observe how the best users in that network operate. Don’t mimic all users, just the best ones. And pay attention to the classless users, in order to understand where my frustrations and the frustrations of others come from.
  • Post with tact. Don’t start a flame war just because you disagree with someone. There are millions online and they come from everywhere. Its a gift. Don’t start a crusade over differences. Talk to the person. You might just find out why you act the way you do and come to peace with a facet of discontent you had not previously considered.
  • Post with me in mind. Think about, before you post something, how someone like myself would see it. Are you really going to post 30+ items that may or may not carry any significance… or are you going to post several key links and ideas that really hit home?

In closing, please be smart. This is a new medium. Don’t pollute it.

UPDATE: Some are actually defending this Ketchum VP for “telling the truth.” Its not that he had an opinion. Its that it was not tactful, respectful or responsible.

–JMS–





Michelle Obama for the Fail

13 01 2009

Attention, Michelle Obama:

I DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA.

I have no problem with people who did, and I support our new President Elect, soon to be officially in. Congrats to the voters and the man himself.

But FYI, I did not sign up for alerts and I am getting them constantly… and I do NOT want them. I am not buying into this mob mentality of sensationalizing the role of Commander in Chief, and when language in these e-mails says “support America” and be proud of America once again, it only ticks me off.

When did I stop being proud of our country… or more imporantly: when did you or when did Michelle?

That was one thing that bugged me during campaigning was that Michelle would say things like “I’m finally proud of America again,” after she benefited from America for years.

Why NOT be proud of America?

We’re in the middle of war. Update: so are a lot of countries. Additionally, we went for the right reasons, but have just overstayed our welcome.
AIDS Support in Africa. Nuff said.
The economy? Bound to happen at some point. Haven’t had something this dramatic since the Great Depression and while I don’t think its 100% inevitable, we will bounce back from this in full force.

So, Mr. PR/Publicity/Advertising Manager of Obama’s e-mail Alerts… this is NOT a wise tactic. Remove me now. You might as well have texted Bill O’Reilly.

–JMS–