The Silver Lining to PR Defined

Senor Chang sums it up

It’s amazing what a little thing like a definition can do.

How often do you get into an argument with someone over how they defined a term differently than you?

Leave it to the PR professionals to get into a tizzy over a definition of the term “public relations.”

It’s kind of funny if you think about it—a whole profession of people who specialize in communications cannot agree on how to communicate about their profession.

I’m not making light of this situation at all—defining PR is a huge undertaking and the PRSA took up said unfavorable task and has had to address the subsequent backlash.

And I fully understand the irony with my not working in PR or corporate communications, yet I maintaining a blog called “PR in Pink.”

I’ve made no secret of my new career path and still think that my previous experiences working in public relations warrants a few more helpful posts before I transition to a new blog about alumni relations (working in the pink theme, of course!)

So as not to add to the fire, I’m not going to propose my own take on what the definition should or should not be. I’ve already shared my thoughts on the diversity of PR definitions before, so I shall not digress any further.

Much like the perpetual optimist that I am, I’d rather share what I have observed is the “good” of this whole PR defined situation.

PR professionals are passionate about their work

In reading the many posts out there and the subsequent comments (some of which I have contributed) I realize that people in PR are really passionate about their work.

How passionate, you ask? So much so that they will not let three definitions that they do not subscribe to go by unnoticed.

They are writing columns in favor of or against the PRSA’s options. They are proposing their own personal PR definitions. There’s so much chatter going on that it’s hard to keep up with.

All this points to a profession of sharp and (for lack of a better word) engaged people, all contributing to the discussion.

PR professionals are smart people

There’s an underlying big picture to what it means to define public relations—how that will or will not solve all that is wrong with the profession’s perception and reputation.

Some folks expressing their opinions about PR defined project and the problems associated with such an exercise are drawing attention to this larger picture.

It goes to show that PR folks are not just bitching and moaning about that with which they do not agree—there are some real well thought out and logical arguments being made.

PR professionals are fearless

Jayme Soulati stuck by her crowd-sourced definition; David Rickey from PRSA stuck by his organization’s process and definition options. Is either individual more right than the other?

That’s not a question to answer, really, but more an indication that people in PR are used to criticism, often plan for it, and develop a thick skin to weather the storm.

I don’t know if the PRSA will be swayed to make any changes as a result of this discourse, but it’s still an illustration that you need to be a little fearless to take chances in this profession.

The Silver Lining?

The world of public relations will not stop if one of the PRSA terms is selected.

More than likely, folks who have been challenged to define what PR is to them will stick to their personal definitions.

And that’s okay; in fact, that’s a good thing, since they will hold their work up to a personalized definition that they have had a part of creating.

So, I applaud all sides on this issue and choose to see the silver lining in it all.

Plus, thanks to my light-hearted exchange last Friday with Jayme Soulati, Frank Strong, and Paul Roberts, I think I figured out that my truck-driving handle would be “Sweet Potato.”

Now, who wants to help me define “alumni relations”?  Any takers?  Bueller?….

February 22, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . public relations. 24 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 2/13/12

Happy Friday, everyone! I feel badly that I was not able to participate in any festivities for Social Media Week, but there is always next year. But thanks to the wonder that is social media (especially Twitter), I was able to find out about conference hashtags and catch up on some interesting conversations. If you find you need to unwind from your social media conference this weekend, here are a few links and posts of interest to share– enjoy!

Losing Business But Gaining Customer Loyalty by @wordsdonewrite:

This was supposed to go on last week’s Little Birdy post, but I got sidetracked and didn’t find time to get it ready on time.

Amber Avines restored my faith in humankind with her personal story of having to go through the dreaded customer service process and finding a kindred spirit in the process. It’s a simple story that resonated with me because I often do the same thing—we anticipate the negative only to be surprised by the positive.

And I love Hernan’s words of wisdom to live by when we think things are that bad—“it’s a great day and we’re lucky to be alive.”

Communications Strategic Framework by @vedo:

I’ve recently accepted that I am a goal-orientated individual who likes to plan things and think of the larger picture. And of course, that mindset was piqued by this post from Richie Escovedo who describes the RPIE framework for strategic communications planning.

It’s a framework I’ve worked with before ever knowing it had a nifty acronym and one that has applications to any sort of strategic planning besides communications. So, I might have to consider putting a picture of pie next to my PowerPoint slides with my strategic steps set in the military tone….

How to Grow Your Blogging Audience by @heidicohen:

With this week being Social Media Week, I was catching tweets with various hashtags assigned to the occasion at various conferences. When Heidi Cohen started posting to the #smwblogcommunity hashtag, I got interested in what she was sharing.

This post came from her discussion in that stream, which is worth checking out because folks were sharing a lot of great blogging advice. And Ms. Cohen’s post here demonstrates her knowledge of how to grow your audience in several easy steps.

Inspiring Alumni Interviews by @karakane via @AlumniTrending:

Yes, you will start to see an increasing amount of alumni and higher ed content on my blog. It’s the nature of the beast as I learn more about this field of communications and relationship building.

This post was serendipitous because I am actively engaged in a project where we are designing an alumni profile interview form and looking for innovative ways to shake things up. Ms. Kane’s advice for interesting and creative questions is a great way for alumni to demonstrate what makes them unique as individuals, and not just as graduates of an institution.

But think about how this might also apply to your clients or company leaders—what profile creative questions could you ask to showcase their personalities to your stakeholders?

And I have to conclude this week’s edition with what you may be surprised to learn is on my list of most anticipated summer movies, brought to my attention by @john_schu:

Please feel free to share any articles or links you found interesting as well– or share what’s on your list of anticipated summer movie blockbusters :)

February 17, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, blogging, social media. Leave a comment.

Love and Clear Communications

I opted not to run this post yesterday because I figured there would be plenty of better Valentine-related posts. (And I agree with Gini DietrichShonali Burke really blew it out of the water with her Valentine post!)

Although I am not a fan of the candy, I can’t help but think about the simplicity and directness of those peppermint candy hearts.

Maybe it’s the size and shape, but they all carry succinct messages in such a way that there is no mistaking what it means when one says “Be Mine” or “Love You.”

It got me thinking, since participating in a communications workshop last week, about effective interpersonal communications.

The course was a great refresher for any communications pro about what affects our communications in everyday life.  Things like:

  • How personal attitudes toward the sender, receiver or the subject being discussed can act as a communication barrier.
  • Cultural, social, or behavioral contexts may affect our ability to communicate and listen to others.
  • How emotions can (and do) affect how we communicate or react to others.
  • Nonverbal communications may counter-act our communication intention and affect the communication impact.

You get the picture.

But what I found most interesting from the workshop was a discussion on how the contextual setting affects our interpersonal communications.

Let’s go back to those seasonal candy hearts…

If I give my husband a candy heart with the phrase “Love You” imprinted on it, I’m sure he’ll get the picture that I am clearly communicating that him I love him.

Now, if instead I say “love you” to my husband, with no candy aid, he may have a different interpretation.

What was my body language communicating when I said that phrase? Did I make eye contact with him? What was going on in the background when I said it? Was he even listening to me in the first place?

If all conditions were not perfect when I utter those words, it can easily lead to a communication breakdown.

We all know where communications breakdowns can occur. Even if you’re not in the communications profession, it’s pretty easy to spot them.

Remember in high school when you analyzed every single verbal and non-verbal cue from your crush?

Or perhaps you couldn’t understand your professor’s feedback to your papers in college.

It all goes to the heart of the matter (no pun intended) that communications are highly complex and there is no one way to go about approaching what is and isn’t effective about communications.

To that end, I would highly recommend taking a periodic course or seminar on communications from time to time, even if you are immersed in communications work.

We could always use some time to step back and remind ourselves of how complex communications can be.

What do you think can help or hinder effective interpersonal communications? Any personal or professional stories you can share?

And with that, I shall close my somewhat Valentine-inspired post with a musical conclusion:

February 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . communications. Leave a comment.

Puppies, Unicorns, and Crisis Communications

Quick disclaimer for loyal and first-time readers: this is a reflective post based mostly on my personal opinion. I will try to steer clear of a full-out rant…

A lot has been said about the Susan G. Komen public relations and social media spiral that occurred last week.

If you are knee-deep in the PR biz, or just a social media junkie like me, then you know what I’m talking about when I say that.

If not, there have been several analytic posts about this particular case and what it means for crisis communications.

Gini Dietrich, as always, had a good take on it. So did Shonali Burke and Mike Shaffer. And a former colleague who’s back in the blogging business Michael Parks had a great recap of the whole series of events before suggesting key takeaways.

But this all got me thinking that of that old expression “hindsight is 20/20.”

Of course, it’s easy for all of us to sit back, fold our arms, and talk about what we would or wouldn’t do in the Komen case.

But that’s just our opinion based in our own experiences.

We were not in that room with the Komen leaders when the decisions were made. We didn’t have to write their announcement, and we didn’t have to respond to the horror show as it unfolded on social media.

For me, this whole situation reminds me that, especially in PR, but in communications work in general, it’s not always about puppies and unicorns.

As much as we want to do good work and do well by our companies and clients, there is that underlying possibility that things aren’t going to be as rosy as we want them to be.

It’s going to happen that leadership makes a poor decision about funding like Komen did.

And it might happen that your company does something horrible to the environment.

Or it might go down that your company runs a poorly advised ad that angers an influential population.

In the worst-case scenario, your client/company ends up a textbook case study in crisis communications for the future PR and communications students to study.

What a crappy legacy, right?

So what do we do as communicators, with no puppies or unicorns? Do we cry ourselves into a corner?

Heck no—we need to be stronger and smarter than that.

Another expression that always sticks in my mind is how Vince McMahon explains how professional wrestling really is as rough and tumble as it looks, much to critics who claim it is fake.

He always says, “it (wrestling) ain’t ballet,” which I’ve always interpreted to mean that as polished and practiced as those huge wrestlers are, they’re going to take hits and get hurt no matter what.

And that’s not to put down ballet dancers, who clearly put their bodies through just as much duress as a professional wrestler. But I digress…

Communications is not an easy profession all of the time.

Not every company or client we represent is going to have a clean slate and not be vulnerable to mistakes.

I’ve even learned in alumni relations that as much as I want the warm and fuzzy feel of good alumni programs (read: puppies and unicorns), that doesn’t help when the governor of Pennsylvania cuts education funding, which will have a direct effect on my institution.

The key is to go through these experiences, take a few bumps, roll with the punches but always, always be learning how to do better and to never make the same mistake twice.

What’s your take on the Komen case? Any silver lining to crisis communications situations you’ve been in?

And just to prove that I still have a soul, here for your viewing pleasure is a cute puppy falling asleep (sorry, there were no “cute unicorns falling asleep” videos)

February 8, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . communications, public relations. 9 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 1/30/12

It’s Friday–yay! And if you follow the advice of a certain groundhog, it looks like we’re in for six more weeks of Winter. But look on the bright side. It could be a lot worse–we could be trapped in the same day over and over again, with no end in sight. February is a short month at that, so we’re already in for an end to the season. If you need a break from your weekend routine, here are a few articles of interest to share–enjoy!

Making Social Media Work by @jessicadonlon via @PR2020:

Here’s a helpful post for anyone looking to present a social media strategy for C-Suite approval. Ms. Donlon lays out different options for social media use, and how to prioritze the different social networking outlets. If there’s one argument I’ve heard repeatedly is that social media is a time drain—Ms. Donlon’s calculations on time associated with each network demonstrate it’s not!

And also, what’s not to like about using the Tim Gunn approach to social media. You gotta stick with it and make it work.

Hitting a Blogging Milestone by @vedo:

It’s encouraging to hear when bloggers hit significant milestones—I know I did the happy dance when I hit my 100th post!

Richie Escovedo reflected this week on what it meant to him on hitting the 200-post mark. He offers some great words of encouragement for all bloggers: keep on writing. It’s kind of like that Matthew McConaughey line from Dazed and Confused, “keep on living,” but in a blogger/writer sense. Either way, I found Richie’s post to be very inspiring for bloggers who are dedicated to creating and sharing content.

Bad Journalism and the Perception of Pharma by @richmeyer:

I really like it when Rich Meyer takes people to task—often, it’s toward pharma companies or PR agencies that can’t implement social media strategies. This guy is smart and you don’t want to be on his bad side.

So, I perked up when I saw him tweet about bad journalism harming pharma’s reputation. Rich readily admits he’s usually the first to criticize pharma companies, but the article he deconstructs in his post was going too far. This is just one example of a particular article that had a particular slant. And in most cases, these articles don’t have a Rich Meyer on the other side pointing out the obvious inaccuracies and misperceptions.

How to Know Where Alumni Hang Out by Kelly McDonald via @ever_true:

Okay, so this headline uses the one word that Jackson Wightman despises. Still, it shows the best way to get information about your alumni community—ask them! Ever True featured a recent graduate of Babson College in Boston who describes where she knows other young alumni like to congregate to socialize. It’s good background information for planning alumni events because it only takes a few minutes to ask area alumni where the best place to meet them is at.  That way, your meeting or event is set up for success.

Hope you enjoyed these articles–feel free to share anything you found interesting as well :)

February 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, blogging, journalism, social media. Leave a comment.

What Is Your Plan of Attack?

Have you ever noticed how the daily corporate vernacular takes on war-like characteristics?

“Let’s divide and conquer this project.”

“It’s time to take a deep dive into this story for better content.”

 “Be ready to hit the ground running when the corporate announcement goes out.”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to complain about corporate speak again.

(But seriously, I could do a “part two” of that post in a millisecond…)

No, this post is about a little piece of paper I have kept taped to my cubicle or attached to a bulletin board for more than five years now.

What is this little piece of paper, you ask?

It’s a photocopy of a Power Point presentation handout from a “Lunch and Learn” by one of the partners of a communications agency where I worked previously.

He presented about how a pharmaceutical product comes to market, from research and development to marketing and launch. But the part that stuck with me during his presentation was his explanation of objectives, strategies and tactics.

He explained the objective-strategy-tactic relationship like going to war in one slide and then in more real-life healthcare marketing terms in the next.

And sometimes, creating a strategy document to a challenge or an opportunity is a lot like creating a plan of attack.

Here are the combined examples with the partner’s definitions of objectives, strategies and tactics:

Objective: Goal with a measurable endpoint

Ex 1: Take the bridge over the river from the enemy by noon tomorrow.

Ex 2: Convince 75% of opinion leaders to participate in product trials within 12 months.

Strategy: Means used to achieve the objective

Ex 1: Persuade the enemy they will die if they don’t surrender.

Ex 2: Use peer influence to persuade opinion leaders they will not be on the “cutting edge” unless they participate.

Tactics: Tools used to execute the strategy

Ex 1: Parachute in elite troops beyond the bridge overnight; constant sniping; frontal assault in the early morning; rear assault by elite troops once the frontal assault has the enemy’s full attention.

Ex 2: Invitational advisory boards chaired by regional authorities; white papers; direct requests by known experts; solicitation by patient advocacy groups.

See how the battle escalates through the stages from objectives to tactics?

A lot of myadjustment to working in alumni relations has been about thinking about this new line of work with the same mindset I developed working in PR and corporate communications for many years.

The first step I learned when approaching a project has always been with asking myself—what are the objectives? What is the strategy? How will we reach those goals?

Then, I consult my little piece of paper with the two slides from that partner’s presentation that I have memorized over the years.

It’s like my corporate “baby blankie”— I usually review the slides a few times before starting a document, and often, check my drafts against the explanations for verification.

But whether we’re writing a new product launch proposal or an outline for an alumni speaker series, the guiding principles of these three pillars remains the same.

We should always have a goal in mind and determine what we want to accomplish from the start.

Then, we can build a plan of attack (or simply a plan, if you’re not partial to the military jargon) to achieve those goals.

That’s not to say strategies or tactics may be off in reaching our goals. And that’s okay. You can look at your objectives again and design new strategies and tactics around it.

The idea here is to keep challenging ourselves to build better plans and to keep challenging ourselves not only as communicators, but as strategic thinkers.

Sometimes, just knowing we are capable of reaching real, tangible goals is what it is all about.

And knowing is half the battle….sorry, I just couldn’t resist throwing that in at the end here!

What do you think of this presentation of planning? How do you approach a project and set your objectives, strategies, or tactics?

February 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . communications. 13 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 1/23/12

Happy Friday, all! Well, the warm “winter” weather has not stopped in the City of Brotherly Love. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I needed an umbrella and rain boots in January! Coming from the Midwest, I appreciate the cold winter season, so it’s a little bit of a bummer that it’s been so warm. There are still a few months left to hope for snow and chilly temps, as much as some of you may hate me for wishing so… But here’s something to not hate me for– this week’s links and posts of interest to share. Enjoy!

Alumni, Networking, and Career Services by @lizallen:

Here is a great discussion about the value of career services and one’s alma mater. I’ve found that when working in alumni relations, it’s helpful to think of value-add programs for the alumni—what’s in it for them? Liz Allen poses an interesting question to spur a discussion on her blog to that effect and how career services may be one of those valuable outcomes to keep alumni connected to their colleges/schools.

It’s also something to keep in mind for any graduate out there—see if your institution has any job/career related services next time you’re in the market for a new job!

Looking for and Securing Teaching Opportunities by @mitchellfriedmn via @worob:

Mitchell Friedman lays out a helpful post for anyone looking for PR teaching opportunities, but it’s relevant to anyone looking for teaching opportunities in general. Having the experience of teaching before (and being an adult student myself), I can attest to the value of teaching as a form of learning for the instructor.

Even if you think you have nothing to offer, you’d be surprised about how much you learn that you already know through teaching others.

Social Media, Journalism, and Breaking News by @kmueller62:

We all know social media can be a breeding ground for false death rumors, and what happened with Joe Paterno’s initially false-reported death is just sad.

Ken Mueller puts it all together in this thorough post about the relationship between journalism and social media, and how that has contributed to the breakdown of basic journalistic practices. As a former reporter turned PR pro, I appreciate that Ken (who also worked as a journalist and then in PR) sees the relationships, acknowledges the pace of new information, but still holds to the tenets of integrity in journalism and mass communication.

When It’s Time to Fire the Client by @ginidietrich via @spinsucks:

Okay all you agency folks out there—how many times in your darkest moments, working late hours, or doing some crazy project, did you ask yourself, “why can’t we just fire this client!?”

Gini Dietrich knows a thing or two about working with clients, so she tells an interesting story about her personal experience with a difficult client. I can only imagine how difficult it is to decide to fire a client and to walk away from a funding source, especially if you are a small practice or a solo practitioner. But Gini’s story highlights how she felt the experience made her team feel and how that affects the holistic picture when it comes to the agency-client relationship.

Hope you enjoyed these posts– feel free to share any articles you found interesting as well!

January 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Alumni Relations, journalism, social media. 1 comment.

PR in Pink Chat with Andrew Worob

Welcome back to PR in Pink Chats! This is an informal series where I chat with interesting folks in the PR/social media/communications world. This edition features Andrew Worob.

Andrew is a Managing Associate in the digital practice of Finn Partners, a top PR firm specializing in public relations services, including digital and social media. At Finn Partners, he works with leading B2B and consumer brands on developing and executing social media programs. He is also a blogger on PR at Sunrise and the new Finn Partners blog, Inspired. Follow him on Twitter via @Worob.

Here is what Andrew shared with regard to his experience working in PR agencies and advice for other PR pro’s and bloggers:

What is your public relations background? Have you always worked in an agency setting?

I’ve been working in PR since 2006 and have always been in an agency setting. I’m currently at one of the largest PR agencies in New York.

What was your first agency job? Were there any aspects you liked or didn’t like when starting out in an agency? 

I started off as an account coordinator at G.S. Schwartz (GSS) and Co., a midsize firm in New York. Having never taken a PR class in college and only spent a month at a non-paid internship at a boutique firm, I was really nervous about whether or not I would succeed in this industry.

Luckily, I had some great mentors at GSS and was able to make a name for myself very quickly. I soaked in everything I could: how to best write a pitch, what to say on client calls, how to present in new business presentations, etc. I enjoyed everything and have continued to try and learn as much as possible wherever I’ve worked.

How would you describe the agency-client dynamic to someone outside of the agency world?

It’s like any relationship. At the end of the day, you are both partners and need to work closely in order to get the objectives accomplished.

There is sometimes a stereotype that there is an “agency type” – someone who is like a “Peter Campbell” Account Executive, always calculating their next move and stepping on others to get ahead. What do you think is the reality for folks who work in agencies, regardless of their position?

You are always going to have different personalities at a job, regardless of what industry you are in and what the workplace setting may be. Focus on your responsibilities, be a good team player, and you will be rewarded. Don’t get caught up in other things that you cannot control.

Do you think agency experience is a valuable component in a PR career? What advice do you have for someone interested in seeking agency employment?

It all depends on what you want to do with your career. Certainly an agency has its benefits in that you get to work on a variety of accounts, but that doesn’t mean working in-house doesn’t allow you similar, but diverse experiences – you could work with the sales team, the marketing team, the customer service team, etc.

If you are looking to get a full-time agency job, internships are a MUST. Get your foot in the door right away. That’s the best way to getting hired.

Can you describe the kinds of project work you enjoy doing the most, and how you can make a learning experience out of each new project?

Every project I work on is different. Each project may have similarities to other things you’ve worked on in the past, but there is no one-size-fits-all in social media, and that allows you to learn something new each time you work on a project. Every client is different, every project goal is different, and you need to develop your strategy accordingly.

That’s the fun part. Figuring out what is going to work best to meet your overall objectives, executing the plan, and then watching what happens. Nothing is better than watching your hard work pay off in the end.

You also manage a prolific blog and Twitterfeed—any advice on how to manage a full-time job and social media presence?

It’s all about effort and managing your time wisely. Your job always comes first, and it’s your responsibility to do that job well and not just do enough to get by.

During my free time at home is often when I write my blog posts – sometimes late at night, which is never fun, but it’s important to me to stay committed to my blog and not give up on it.

In terms of tweeting, it’s become easier thanks to many useful tools out there (Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc.) to stay on top of trends and jump into conversations – it’s important to understand various social media channels, not just by watching what is being said, but by actually getting involved in them.

What is your favorite color?

Royal Blue

Bonus question—what is your favorite WWE finishing move?

Starship Pain – John Morrison (before he was released late last year)

January 25, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . public relations. 3 comments.

A Little Birdy Told Me…Week of 1/16/12

Happy Friday, all! It’s been a mild month so far in Philadelphia, and I’m a bit jealous when I see that Washington State is getting dumped with so much snow. It’s strange to be so far into the Winter Season and not see any of the white stuff. But alas, I’m sure there will be plenty of time to wear the snow boots and sport the heavy wool coat, as it’s only January. If you’re stuck indoors due to the weather, or are taking a break from shoveling this weekend, here are this week’s links of interest to share—enjoy!    

2012 PR33 Top PR/Communications Blogs by @PaulRobertsPAR:

I’m not above a little self-promotion, but this list of top PR and communications blogs from Paul Roberts (who writes a nifty blog himself) is a great resource for folks looking for relevant industry online content.

For a novice blogger, it’s an honor to be among the Paul lists this year. And even if I wasn’t listed, I’d still add their blogs to my Reader– which was grown considerably this week as a result of this list. Paul does a fantastic job of identifying blogs that are creative, fun, and informative all at the same time. It goes to show there’s a lot of variety and different points of view on public relations and communications topics—what a diverse little blogosphere we are!

Skeptic’s Guide to Social Media by @jacksonwightman:

Here’s a great recommendation for anyone looking for a blog about social media and PR that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is at the same time entirely informative—Proper Propaganda. I’ll give you a minute to add it to your RSS or Reader feed…

This post from Jackson could only be written by someone who’s been living and breathing social media for many years. It’s dripping with sarcasm, but as I mention in my comment to Jackson, it’s probably because he does so out of love. Sometimes, even what we enjoy doing can drive us crazy—isn’t that what love is all about anyways?

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail by @jaydolan via @SpinSucks:

The headline of this post caught my eye because I can identify with the fear of failure. However, recently I have come to understand its relevance in developing yourself professionally. For anyone who’s read Jay Dolan’s blog, the Anti-Social Media, you know you’re in for a concise and straight-to-the-point post.

Mr. Dolan does not disappoint and rather takes an optimistic angle toward the constant circulation of social media failures and if such exercises are even constructive. I appreciate his encouragement that acting without fear should guide some of your social media efforts. Sometimes, it’s better to be fearless and learn from your mistakes than to cower from imaginary failures.

The Strangest Protest by @Shonali:

While I didn’t take part in the activities, I was keen to watch and listen about the partial Internet blackout on Wednesday, January 18 as part of the anti-SOPA/PIPA actions. Interestingly, I noticed a few of my regular bloggers had gone silent, including Shonali Burke and the Waxing Unlyrical Blog.

Shonali writes about her experiences with both physical and virtual protests, which illustrates how more and more social movements are harnessing the power of social media to make a statement. Who knows what the next virtual protest will be, but I can venture to guess it won’t stop with the #SOPAStrike.

Did you find any interesting articles or posts this week? Feel free to share them as well :)

January 20, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . blogging, communications, public relations, social media. Leave a comment.

Stuff We Say and What We Mean

There has been quite the Internet meme going around lately.

It’s all about stuff, or to put it into more colloquial terms, sh*t, people say to other people.

And with all the variations on the Internet, it’s quickly becoming the “New Haircut” of 2012.

I first caught a few of the “Sh*t Girls Say” episodes via Twitter.

A few weeks later, I caught sight of the “Sh*t Girls Say to Gay Guys” on Facebook.

Then, last week, a PR agency really hit it home with a video about “Stuff PR People Say”

I admit, of all the “Sh*t (insert category here) Say” videos, the PR one resonated the most with me. I watched it; I laughed; and I tweeted it. (Look, I even posted a copy of the video on my blog.)

But all these sh*t people say videos made me think —are we really just caricatures to other people? How does our communication and perpetuation of behaviors result in how others perceive us?

Perception as a result of our words or actions is important. As communications professionals, we are challenged to get to the point and be clear in what we want our target audiences to do.

The constant stream of information in short form via social media and mobile technology only adds to the necessity to be clear in our communications, in both the professional and casual setting.

But if we use sh*t when we communicate, such as buzzwords or corporate speak in press releases or talking points, then we might just as well perpetuating the party line.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that what I said when I worked in a PR agency reflects stuff said in that video.

I would watch, listen, and learn from others in my environment what was acceptable language. I would use the accepted lexicon within that world, but do I ever use those same phrases in another context?

Not likely. But it’s not like there’s anything wrong with that.

We’re all human and learn from our environments, so this is not a tirade against the sh*t people say to other people videos.

If anything, their popularity made me realize just how susceptible we are to our surroundings and cultural norms.

So, perhaps all this sh*t we say is not really helpful with regard to perpetuating cultural norms and professional in-jokes jokes. But it makes a pretty entertaining Internet meme.

What do you think—are we victims of our communications environments when we perpetuate this “stuff”? How can communications professionals avoid saying too much sh*t in the professional environment?

January 18, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . communications. Leave a comment.

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