Thursday, 6 May 2010

Twitter lagger

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t develop a romance with Twitter. We were supposed to open an account on Twitter for this module and…use it. So I did open an account. And everything looked so…empty :)) And it still is. Until now I only have 15 followers. Is not surprising, as I tweeted only about my new posts on the blog.

Hmm…so I said…Twitter let’s give us another chance, because apparently people are crazy about you. I just went on twitter and started finding people, looking at followers of followed people, etc. And I found out something interesting wrote by someone…that starting this month the life insurances protect you against thermo-nuclear cataclysm or an asteroid attack. I don’t know if it’s only in Romania, as the post was written by a Romanian. I’m a little paranoid usually and the first think that came in my mind was…do they know something? :)))) But then I thought again…aahhmm, and how is this insurance supposed to protect you from these? Ok, so the money goes to the people on the other side of the Earth, which was not affected by the asteroid? And what money? I believe in such case the whole economic stability joins the people hit by the asteroid go…in death! So all these thoughts intrigued me and I told myself…hmm, maybe I have no idea what it is about after all. So I wanted to send a direct message to that person to ask where he found out from about this. But what I realized is that I cannot send him a message because apparently, he’s not following me. So, Twitter disappointed me. I couldn’t get in touch with someone of whom post I wanted to find out more about. Well, I could, but only if I wrote @user and tweet. But what if I don’t want my followers to see what I want to write to that someone?

And the fact that you can write only up to 140 characters…in this case, for me the information was incomplete. Maybe he didn’t tweet ‘right’, as he didn’t add any links. Ok, I know people have links to blogs, websites, bla bla. But I’m just saying that if I used only Twitter, I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with that person. On Facebook you can send a message to someone, even if you are not friends with them.

So, what I can say is that twitter is just a channel to share your links to other sources of information, and in public relations is the same case. But for example, I personally use Google reader to get updated information from sites, blogs etc.

At a personal level, I prefer Facebook. Maybe because it is more interactive. On Facebook I can share more with my friends, like photos, which I believe are more important taking into consideration the fact that I am abroad. I can join groups of different interests; see a video directly on Facebook, which is not possible on Twitter. Every link opens a new window or tab. On Google Reader I can see everything in one place and go on the source website only if I really want to.

So I couldn’t find major advantages of Twitter for me…at the moment. What can I say…I am a Twitter lagger.

Photo source:

Stirling through my eyes

We all know by now that social media means sharing, User Generated Content etc.

So I thought to use social media to share a bit of my wanderings in Stirling and combine them with some facts to promote this small, yet a city with such a rich history.

All of the photos were taken by me, though I have to mention that the picture of the football was downloaded from the museum's website, as the ball was exhibited in other place at the moment of my visit.

I hope you enjoy...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Wiki...not only pedia

We all know what Wikipedia is. I guess a lot of us know that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, mostly…because it has some privacy policies. But did you know what a wiki is? Because Wikipedia is the largest wiki. I personally didn’t know what wiki was before I had to do a presentation related to this subject.

I found a definition, on Wikipedia, which says that wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. I have no idea what the last part means, so I thought of embedding this explanation in plain English…


The first Wiki was developed by Ward Cunninghan in 1995, as he wanted to build a software for collective work where you can track changes.

Nowadays, wiki is a spread tool for internal communication. Companies are using wikis for project management, as a replacement of emails, phones, case in which you can easily forget where you took the information from and it takes you ages to find it again. There are a lot of advantages. A wiki can be adapted to suit your project, it reduces meetings time, you can track the changes made to the wiki by ‘watching’ – receiving email notifications when someone changes something, you can upload documents, photos, videos etc. Me and my classmate used a wiki to do our presentation. The only thing we couldn’t do online was the Powerpoint presentation. But who knows…there’s always room for improvement in ICTs.

Ok, so the use of wikis internally is huge, and from a public relations perspective, we can say that it contributes to the relationship with internal publics. But what happens when you want to go externally with your wiki…that is where the debate begins.

Some people suggest that wiki can be a very useful tool for in public relations, as it fits into the Grunigian paradigm of two-way symmetrical communication. And that it has the advantage of being trustworthy, as it can be edited by the publics. But what happens when people take advantage of this, as we are not all people who believe constructive collaboration. An example like this is the Los Angeles Times Wikitorial, a feature related to the withdrawal of troupes in Iraq. After three days they took it off, as the content was becoming more like porn website.

There are some controversial issues on which people are keen to express their anger, extreme opinions etc. Let’s take Coca-Cola, for example, which is a symbol of capitalism, corporatism and all the derived concepts. If we look at Coca-Cola’s page on Wikipedia, we can notice that is secured. Imagine if all the people could edit their page.

In general, companies are not using wikis for external communication, as they are afraid of vandalism. Sure, one can argue that you can control to some extent the content, like Wikipedia does with its privacy policy. But when it comes to companies, where is the argument of trustworthiness if they are controlling the content?

So, personally, I think an organization should think very carefully about the issues they want to expose to public debate, and after analyzing all the channels they can use for reaching the audience and what they imply, they might as well choose wiki as an alternative.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Google does the statistics for you

Part of this whole blogging experience was to connect my blog to a Google Analytics Account and talk about what I learned by doing that.

Firstly, I have to set up the context of me starting to blog. Ok, so we were given the assignment somewhere at the beginning of March and we were supposed to set up the Google Analytics account and link it to the blog. I did that. And then I started spending my time on customizing the blog, finding the right widgets, searching for templates etcetera etcetera, apart from all the other things for other modules. So this took me approximately 3 weeks, as the work was more laborious than I thought. And I don’t know how, but I managed to screw up my blog with downloaded templates, as I did the huge mistake of not saving the basic template. Well done, student! And because my eyes are becoming suddenly smaller and somehow silly when looking at the Html code, of course I couldn't save anything and had to set up another blog. Don’t want to remember all the thoughts related to that…the analytics won’t have the same amount of time to analyze stuff, what will happen, how I am going to write about it; content analysis, organizational analysis…aahh it’s too much!! But anywayz…had to say ‘My bad!’ and get over it. Work with what you have…it’s like a 2008 advertising budget…no worries, we still have PR :)

So, my period of blog analysis was 4th of April – 4th of May. What I did it was that I started looking at all those numbers and try to understand what they say. And I actually came to the conclusion that Google Analytics is indeed, a very good tool to evaluate what’s happening with the online presence of the blog/website and you can follow-up to improve that presence. I will give some few examples, though they are not that encouraging for me personally, as the absolute numbers are very low…149 visits and 92 absolute unique visitors.

It seems that on 17th and 23rd of April I had two peaks of visitors, mainly because I had new posts and I promoted them on Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger. Also, if I look at the Map Overlay, almost half of the visits come from Romania, which are represented mostly by my friends on Messenger. But if we think about a website which is continuously promoted on a specific number of ways, we can relate this to the content of the website and see which information is more relevant. Furthermore, Analytics shows you the statistics on Content, making a top of pages most visited, top landing and exit pages.

Also, you can analyze visitor’s loyalty, by measuring visits repeated, recency of the visits, which means when was the last time the same visitor was tracked, length and depth of visits, last one showing how many pages they accessed on one visit.

Google Analytics shows the traffic sources, which I believe is very important, as it shows you exactly how good you are targeting your audience, might show you new audiences which you didn’t think about before, thus there is a need for exploring the communication with that audience.

All these are just some basic features of Google Analytics, but I’m sure there are a lot more to exploit in order to optimize the content and dissemination of the website.

PSD should use social media for rebranding

Recently, I had to visit the website of the Social Democratic Party in Romania for some information. And because I am studying Digital PR I told myself ‘Let’s have a look at the online presence of the party’. And I was disappointed to notice that this is a good example of bad social media.

The electorate of Social Democratic Party is mainly formed from old people, people from the countryside and they have always talked about how to attract young electorate, people from the cities, people with high education, electorate which is mainly liberal or undecided. And social media is a very good channel to reach these people. And now that they have a new president, of whom most striking feature is that he is very young, and from this all the other characteristics, I thought that one of the new approaches in communication would be starting using social media for the reasons aforementioned. It could be part of the rebranding of the party.

But unfortunately, the party is not using social media as they are supposed to. Instead, they are doing a lot of the DON’Ts.

Social media is not about having a Facebook and Twitter account. It’s about, among others, having a Facebook and Twitter account with RELEVANT and UPDATED information. It is about the CONTENT. PSD has a Facebook and a Twitter account. Let’s see how they are using them.


Last tweet was on 8th of June 2009, about the President Mircea Geoana. No wonder there are only 159 followers. Also, there is no link to the website.

Now let’s see the Twitter page of Labour Party in Great Britain.

It looks more updated. But a party which is using even better Twitter is the Lib Dem Party.


Last update on Facebook was a post of someone asking for some information, as he wanted to get involved as a militant. And he was young, living in Bucharest, the target we are talking about. answer.

I have tried to connect to RSS Feed of the PSD website, but it’s not working. National Liberal Party in Romania, for example, is using better this tool.
Another Web 2.0 tool which I found on the website is the blog of PSD, called ‘Electronic Communication Service’, with a nice motto ‘Join the online campaign of PSD. Show the people that the Internet can be red.’ Unfortunately, the Internet is still not red enough. I had to scroll down a lot to see a nice two-way communication tool, a question addressed to the visitors about what articles would they like to see on the blog. The only updates on the blog were posts related to the event on 1st of May, a post about a scholarship for young politicians and a Happy New Year post. So, in total, 2 updates since the start of 2010? Oh, and an RSS Feed of Carmen Moldovan, a former PSD deputy who is now INDEPENDENT! Update, update, update!

Also, I noticed a link to Technocrati search about the blog, called ‘Others about us’. Click.

No others. That should be a hint to them that they need to work a lot harder on their social media channel. And also, with the new President, it is the best opportunity for rebranding online and target the young electorate.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

CSR + PR = ?

I’m doing my dissertation on the topic of CSR, trying to understand the controversial aspects related to the relationship between CSR and PR. I don’t remember exactly how I first heard about CSR, but I’m almost sure that it came from the PR point of view. After reading more, I found out that there are extreme views on CSR and its purposes. Some people say that CSR activity is used only for PR purposes, like reputation building etc. Others are saying that it’s not about PR, it’s about a way of doing business, sustainability (more recently), it’s a necessity in the context of the current degradation of society and environment, it helps the company be competitive (hmm, is there no relationship between competitiveness and PR???). I even found an aggressive motto on the blog of a CSR international conference which took place in Romania in 2009: “to those of you that think CSR is a PR or marketing tool, I recommend not to come to the conference or read more”. Personally, I would have said: “to those of you that think CSR is ONLY a PR or marketing tool, I recommend not to come to the conference or read more”. Because I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. CSR in not only a PR tool, it has more purposes and determining factors, but it has a PR side also. Then why did they invite to the conference as speakers ‘Head of External Relations’ or ‘Corporate Communication Leader’ or even more striking, ‘Head of Corporate Communication & Sustainable Development’. I don’t know what those people talked about, as I wasn’t at the conference, but the fact that they have been invited raised some questions in my head on the apparent non-relationship between CSR and PR.

And as an argument, I will talk about the most appreciated CSR activity in UK, Marks&Spencer’s Plan A. It started in 2007, when they decided to set out 100 commitments to be achieved in 5 years. Looking at this, and how the plan is working until now, and the fact that they even extended the plan until 2015 with another 80 commitments, we can say that indeed, it is a way of doing business. It represents their core value, which is sustainability. Until now, they achieved 46 commitments.

I found some interesting ideas in an article written by Marks & Spencer's Mike Barry and Lucy Calver. They say that the era of CSR is over and sustainability is the new CSR.

The first lesson is not unique to M&S. Many global businesses, including Nike, Unilever and Google, have recognised that the days of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are over. CSR was all about managing a few sensitive areas that had the potential to generate positive or negative headlines. To be a credible player today, however, you have to understand all the social and environmental issues that are relevant to your business.

Ok, so what they say is that before, CSR was all about PR, generating headlines. But what does ‘credible player’ mean? It means that CSR or sustainability still has its PR side, more specifically, reputation management, even though it’s not only about this anymore. And talking about reputation, I found another interesting part in an article:

The new report puts the environment front and center. Retailers, according to recent research from Covalence, have entered a new age of corporate citizenship in which not only working conditions but environmental impacts of production and products are playing a large role on reputation. M&S ranked at number one as the most reputable company in the eyes of British consumers in the UK rankings of the Global Reputation Pulse Study 2009 published by the Reputation Institute.

I believe the word ‘reputation’ has been used enough times in this quote to make us see the PR purpose.

Another interesting aspect is the following statement of the Marks&Spencer representatives: ‘Moreover, we believe that communication, even more than technology, is the key to building a sustainable future.’ Isn’t that PR? Communicating with suppliers, consumers, stakeholders in general to produce sustainability means PR. It means, in terms of theory, the symmetrical communication of Grunig.

From what I wrote here, we can learn two things:

1. PR is a tool used in the production of CSR;
2. CSR, among others, has PR purposes.

These two represent my assumptions in my dissertation. August will bring out the truth.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Offline vs. Online Communities

I have seen a lot of articles discussing the revolutionary social media, what a great invention it is and how enthusiastic are people about it. Thus, I decided to write about the downsides of Facebook, focusing on the impact on our personal lives, because I think that social media, in general, is sometimes overrated.

I am not a hypocrite, as I myself am using Facebook. Of course, it has its advantages. For me, personally, it is an easy way to find out what my friends from home are doing, as I’m studying abroad. Still, I’m not sure about this, because I can see what they are doing, through pictures, statuses etc., but I can’t find about everything, personal experiences that don’t go on Facebook, and I still have to have personal discussions with them. And after all, that is what makes a friend, sharing good and bad experiences, advices etc. So, for the sake of facebook, let’s say that is a quick update of friends’ condition. In academic terms, it is maintenance of social capital created in my previous offline community. Here is an article discussing the relationship between social capital and Facebook.

But what happens when it is overused? What happens with the people that have problems with face-to-face communication? They start using this network and have the false impression that they are socializing. But then, I told myself that maybe I have a false impression of what socializing means. So I looked in the dictionary for the word 'socialize' – to mix socially with others in a friendly way. So far, it makes sense. But mixing socially means creating a society, in this case a virtual society. So, I looked in the dictionary for the word ‘society’ – a system in which people live together in organized communities. Ok, ‘communities’ is fine, we are creating online communities with shared ideas, values etc. But what are we doing with ‘live’? Is that how we want to LIVE, in front of a computer? Because another definition of society is ‘a community of people living in a PARTICULAR COUNTRY OR REGION and having shared customs, laws, organizations etc.’ What happens if I want to have a drink with my friend on Facebook? I know, I am sending him a round. And I know he will feel the taste just by clicking ‘Accept’. Here is an episode of South Park that I found very funny and interesting in explaining in an exaggerated way this downside.

In the end, we have to create a balance in our lives between being members of offline and online communities, and I am afraid that some people cannot manage that. Thinking about this, I remembered a friend telling me about someone owning a successful online business, making 10.000 euros a day. But his life meant being in front of a computer from the moment he woke up until he got back to sleep. He did have a wife and children, but he made them ‘happy’ by giving them money to do what they want. I wonder when he had time to make those children.