Monday, December 8, 2008

All That Is Gold May Possibly Twitter


Launched in 2006, Twitter is the newly popular web service that allows users to connect through short messages.

Users can sign up for accounts at Twitter to keep a record of their own ideas and actions.

Users can also choose to ‘follow’ other users and will automatically be updated whenever those individuals update their Twitter status.

Twitter makes it easy for users to follow multiple accounts by sending all updates to their personal dashboard.

Twitter can be synched up with various services such as RSS, SMS (cell phone TXTs), Facebook, and blog sites.

Twitter allows companies to release information about upcoming products or services.

People interested can follow these companies to get the latest news or release information for the products they love.

Companies can also communicate directly with their customers to ensure the highest level of quality.

Additionally, users can send messages directly to companies to let them know of any problems they see.

Let’s look at any example now.

Here is the actual dialogue between a customer and major airline, Jet Blue.

Timestamps precede the comments to let you know the rate of the conversation.

“Twitter User” has been used to replace the actual name of the customer.
Twitter User:
1:42P > NIGHTMARE FLIGHT last night. Thank you for the 5 hour delay ; the additional 1&1/2 hour delay on the tarmac; and
1:44P > & the return trip to the gate because you allowed passengers to board that weren't suppose to be on the plane & the broken TV
1:45P > NIGHTMARE ; Finally, all my love was lost for you when your WIFI absolutly suks in the T5 terminal. :(

From Jet Blue:
1:56 > We try to keep everyone comfortable, and informed during weather delays. Sorry for the inconvenience. WiFi at T5 is fixed.

Twitter User:
1:57 > NIGHTMARE "All Mighty "Sugar-Coater " of an ugly experience.
2:02 > It seriously is NOT a weather delay when you load passengers going to Ft. Lauderdale on a Phoenix flight & taxi around for an hour
2:04 > &then return 2the gate and then return to that tarmac. How could that even happen w/yr barcode system? It was an incompetence delay
2:14 > T5 WIFI was overloaded by the amount of people delayed in the terminal.. NOT broken. &never works near any of the gates. Planning?

2:25 > T5 WiFi degradation was caused partially by load (681 high water mark) partially by tech issues we addressed overnight.

Twitter User:
2:36 > Thank you for your honesty in regards to the WIFI situation
As you can see, the customer was upset about the service they received from the airliner.

However, by the end of the dialogue, the customer understood the situation and thanked the airliner for their honesty.

Quick and efficient communication was made possible by Twitter.

Kudos to Jet Blue for providing speedy and useful information.

Don’t you wish all company communications could be this humanistic?

(PS: I kinda wish the message limit was more than just 140 characters per post ;-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008: The iTunes University Race!!

Check it out. The year is 2001. Apple launches a little application known as iTunes. Cool. Competition for Windows Media Player. iTunes offers a simple way to catalog all of your media into an easily browse-able library. More than that, iTunes doubles as a media player itself offering versatility and playback for a plethora of media formats.

Fast-forward 2 years later: 2003 sees version 4 of iTunes which adds the iTunes store. iTunes now provides an opportunity for users to purchase music and other media directly off the internet using an account through iTunes. At this point, iTunes becomes a perpetual money-making machine, allowing users to purchase whatever media they like directly from home. No CDs. No DVDs. No hassle. Plus, it’s all legit. Awesome.

Fast-forward two more years: 2005 sees version 6 of iTunes which adds podcasting. For those unfamiliar with podcasting see my last post (11/17/08). Cool? Cool.

Okay – great – so iTunes can categorize, player-ize, purchase-ize, and pod-ize your media. Can it do anything else?

You bet.

Enter 2008. The year iTunes U becomes popular. iTunes U is the expansion of iTunes to encompass the growing world of universities, colleges and higher-education institutions. iTunes U provides an opportunity for universities to share everything that’s great about them with the world. Lectures, special events, homecoming or athletic highlights – it’s whatever you can think of. If it can be filmed, recorded, produced or imagined. Anything goes. iTunes is the ultimate experience for universities to open the door to let the world outside know exactly what it’s like to be a Tiger, Bear, Saluki, Sooner, Husky, Gator- whatever.

Let’s take a quick look at the University of Washington’s podcast site:

(University of Washington iTunes U homepage - all rights reserved.)

As you can see, the University of Washington has broken their media into various categories including Husky Life, What’s Hot, It Happened at the UW and Endless Campus. Each of these categories hosts various videos about the university.

So, video on the internet- that’s nothing new, right? Well, yeah, video has been on the internet since the 1990’s. But, here’s the thing – never has it been so well organized and efficient. When you get on iTunes you can synch directly up with the University of Washington home page to find all of their media. Or if you prefer to switch it up – go check out the University of Oklahoma site.

Think about it this way – let’s assume you’re a senior in high school. For kicks, let’s say you’re attending Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio. Cool, right? Alright, let’s say you’re interested in attending the University of Denver, University of Southern California or Fort Hays State University. Okay, so plug university in each into iTunes U and you’re instantly greeted by a variety of videos highlighting student life. Awesome! But you can usually find a lot of this on the actual website. Okay. Let’s say you’re really interested in sociology. Furthermore, let’s assume each site has hosted a few videos of recent lectures by sociology professors. You can literally watch the classroom sessions and see which school best suites your interests. Classroom lectures of your major from your top choices. That’s iTunes U.

So who’s on board? A quick Google search shows that UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Penn State, Texas A&M and the University of Washington, for starters. Who’s going to lead the race? Whomever updates with the most interesting and relevant information. Who’s watching? Oh, only about 50 million current iTunes users =) (

So let’s follow the universities trekking into new territory. Support ‘em. Show ‘em some love. Go Eagles, go Wildcats, go Cyclones, or Go Huskies- whatever- Just go iTunes U!

(Harry the Husky/Spirit is property of the University of Washington - all rights reserved)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Podcasting Jim Henson Style: Rockin’ Out the Fraggle Rock!

Coined in 2004 – the term ‘podcasting’ has been used to describe the idea of audio and video blogging. The technology simply allows a user to upload a media clip to the internet to be streamed to the masses. The benefits of podcasting allow a receiver to catch the media at anytime as opposed to a specific time slot (as in the case of traditional media). The receiver can also store the podcast on their computer or portable media device to watch whenever and however many times they like. What’s more – a person with an internet connection can actually subscribe to a podcast channel or organization and receive the latest and greatest podcasts whenever they become available.

Okay – so that’s great – but – how does this apply to the realm of public relations? It’s simple. By creating podcasts companies and organizations can tailor media messages to specific audiences and publics. Too theoretical? Alright – let’s take a look at an organization which almost everyone should be able to instantly relate to – the Jim Henson Company.

(all Fraggle Rock characters property of the Jim Henson Company)

That’s right – the same Jim Henson which brought us the Muppets, Fraggle Rock, and a whole slew of unforgettable characters and moments in television history currently utilizes podcasting technology. Rock on. A quick Google search for ‘Henson Podcast’ should lead you in the right direction – if not – just check out and search for ‘podcasts’.

The Henson podcasts provide an excellent example of public relations relevant media. For example, I listened to two podcasts prior to writing this post – one from Comic Con 2008 and the most recent from November 17.

Let’s start with the Comic Con one… This one was all about Fraggle Rock – it starts with information about the (then) upcoming DVD releases of the show – leads into a sing-a-long (oh yeah, you read that right) with the red Fraggle – and concludes with an interview with a cast member of the Henson Company. We end up with information, entertainment and an interview – awesome. The podcast for November 17 describes an upcoming show called “Pajanimals”. Roughly following the same protocol – it also offers information and a few interviews from Henson cast members.

What I love about podcasting is how non-intrusive it is. Like, you can get all the information you want while continuing to do whatever the heck it is – you do on the computer. For example, I worked on an illustration in Adobe while listening to the two mentioned podcasts – I got all the information and didn’t slow down. That’s great – obviously this is a technique to provide for information to those who simply don’t have time to read through an entire article or press release. Think about it.

What’s more, is in the podcasts they urge listeners to send any questions they may have (to to be answered on the next podcast – sweet! So, should glance a typical press release or be totally entertained by the media -enriched podcast… Sorry, typical press release!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

IMC: Consistency

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is the concept for a company or organization to send a consistent message to the masses. Sounds simple. I mean, you just make sure all your ads match your product and website, right? Well, kinda… but technically, that’s not even the half of it…

In order to truly utilize the concept of IMC – an organization must pay attention to the messages sent by ALL divisions of the company (even those which may not be specifically geared at sending messages - I’m looking at you transportation and logistics). You see, it works like this: let’s say you’re working with a food company that claims to have ‘the most authentic southwestern flavor’ of something – be it chips, dips, drinks – doesn’t matter – but let’s also assume that the company is based out of Toronto, Ontario. Okay, totally inconsistent, right? So, this company claims to have ‘the most authentic southwestern flavor’ of food – and maybe it even tastes good – but the fact is that it’s not even based in the American Southwest. Nothing against Canada (I love you) but the location of the company inherently becomes a message which remains inconsistent with the rest (assuming the ads, promos, website, and PR messages all work in juncture) of the organization.

Too theoretical? Okay, let’s take a look at – a website which offers environmentally friendly products ranging from clothes to office supplies (including an awesome staple-less stapler – go figure). Anyway, the website offers a full range of eco-friendly products and they take this message across the board. Not only do they sell eco-friendly - they do business eco-friendly. What do I mean by that? For starters, the company doesn’t ship to anywhere except the continental 48. Why? Because shipping anywhere else (Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Canary Islands, etc…) would create too large of an impact on the environment due to the energy to transport goods. So, even if receives an order from Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic – it’s a no go. And not that doesn’t appreciate the efforts to go green… it’s just contradictory to ship eco-friendly product when it’s eco-harmful to do so.

In fact, looking around the website – it’s obvious that does a great job at sending a consistent message. For example, check out their press release page for information about the company and suggestions on green shopping lists (See 2005’s 'Top 12 List of Greenest Holiday Gifts') or their support for the ‘Biodegradable Bay Campaign’ which urges the restaurants of San Francisco metro to ditch all Styrofoam products. Not that had to do that, but rather, it just seemed to fit. May I say, that from one bloggers’ point of view, I’m totally on the same page with you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Wii(!) of Social Media Releases

Press releases are the car manuals of the information world: while boring to read, may contain important information (Note: This is merely the opinion of the author who does, in fact, enjoy reading car manuals).

Consider the quickly expanding use of media within the realm of the internet. That statement alone already sounds dates even though I wrote it but a few seconds ago – perhaps a testament to the dynamic social construct of the world wide web. But I digress, the use of media on the internet has elevated from a nice surprise to an outright expectation. News sites, company profiles, seminar recaps – regardless of the subject, we expect media. Media in the form of photo, video, audio, and controllable elements such as live-feed. Considering the expectation of media on the internet – shouldn’t our lowly press release also be held to the same standard?

Indeed. Enter RealWire from WebitPR an organization which specializes in just that: Press releases which truly acknowledge the expectations from the current web users. WebitPR ( creates press releases designed to be noticed. Coming pre-packaged with the typical media components, the press releases are short, interesting, and actually kind of fun to read (which is saying a lot compared to my car manual which hasn’t changed in the last 13 years). Designed with these elements at the forefront, these press releases are the perfect package to send out to the media, news, investors, and possibly the most important audience: bloggers. That’s right. I said it. Bloggers (at least the popular ones) are quickly becoming the opinion leaders of the 21st century. We subscribe and while we may not fall on their every word – it’s safe to say we definitely stumble on a few. By packaging these press releases with all of the exclusive media components, it (nearly) ensures that bloggers will not only acknowledge the release, but use it to its’ fullest capacity. Still too theoretical for you? Let’s take a look at one packaged by WebitPR regarding the Nintendo Wii...
Notice the use of the Reevoo advertisement highlighting an important consideration for holiday shopping. Quick, interesting, and again – fun. That’s not just how it should. That’s what we expect.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

American Apparel and Facebook - What Could Happen?

Let’s talk social networking-

Online social networking is the idea that an online medium allows for connections to be made that would otherwise not be possible. What makes the internet so special that it allows these connections to be made? It’s easy and rooted in the infrastructure of the mediums themselves. For example, let’s look at Facebook. By this point, most people have heard of the social networking site, but what does it really do that makes it so popular and unique? Well, it’s like this – let’s say that you’re really good friends with Person McPerson. You’ve known Person for a long time now and you know some of his friends. But – do you know all of his friends? Doubtful. So, let’s say you friend Person on Facebook and discover he has an entire network of friends you had no clue about. Bingo. At this point, you can find an entire network of friends that would otherwise be unknown. Some of these friends may provide huge benefits to you that would otherwise be unobtainable (say, for example Person is friends with the hiring director for Pixar…) – at any rate, online social networking allows for these connections through established friends to be made.

Okay, so we’ve got social networking down. Great. Now, let’s take a look at the world of advertising and see if it applies (Can you figure it out yet?)

Advertising has long been defined as the mass communication of an idea, organization, product, or service. Through various attempts, advertising attempts to connect with a specific audience to achieve desired results (no duh, right?) Sounds easy. But here has been the long uphill climb for the world of advertising – establishing credibility. It’s kind of like this, imagine walking across campus and having each person you walk past try to sell you the shirt your back. You would be so bombarded by offers you wouldn’t even have a clue where to start. And if that’s a little bit too theoretical – just think back to how many ads you see each day. Each one begging for your time, attention, and most importantly, your money. So who gets it? Who gets your dollar? Probably the one you can closest associate with or have the most trust in. (Have you figured out where this is going?)

So, we’ve got social networking and the basic premise for advertising – what next? Okay, let’s go back to the popular social networking site, Facebook. Let’s say that you’re on Facebook and you’re looking over your buddy Person McPerson’s profile. Now, keep in mind, you’ve got a relatively high respect for Mr. McPerson and suddenly, you realize, Person is a member of the “I Love American Apparel” group. You may say, ‘Oh wait, what?’ As you look closer, you realize a lot of people you know are in the group. In fact, most of the people in the group are people you know or would like to know. Okay, so great. Here’s the hook – you realize what they all have in common is that they all enjoy American Apparel clothing. You visit the site, browse around, and before you know it, have spent $20.00 on a brand new AA Helvetica Alphabet T-Shirt. Game- set- and match.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ridiculously (Really) Simple Syndication

(Come on guys, let's keep things simple.)

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) allows users to generate a personalized homepage which will automatically receive updates and feedback from a list of subscribed websites. Put another way, RSS allows a one-stop locale for an individuals’ favorite sites and news. For example, let’s assume that Jack (a MOSTLY hypothetical individual) really likes grunge music- like, more than any of us or anyone else you can possibly imagine. Jack can then set up a ‘reader site’ at a location such as Google and subscribe to various websites who continuously discuss music or other band-related information. By doing so, Jack no longer has to visit 20 different sites every time he gets on the internet to find out if anyone has posted new information about his early 90’s musical taste. Instead, Jack merely logs into his RSS reader site and quickly scans through all the newest updates from his favorite websites. There it is: in one site. Simple. Really simple. And it also allows Jack to spend more time doing… whatever Jack does (visiting Seattle? I don’t know. Whatever.)

Enter Public Relations. Ah yes, the art of sending mass communications to targeted audiences. Now how does RSS play into this? Figured it out yet? It’s simple, really. Really simple.

From a business aspect, let’s assume you are the manager at a major state university bookstore. Furthermore, let’s assume you would like to stay on top of the latest technological breakthroughs from companies with whom you purchase products from. Okay, so, the obvious players in this category may include Adobe, Microsoft, and Apple. Perfect. Next, let’s assume you are trying to watch the horizon for what new products are coming out and how many to order for your store. A simple (really simple) way to accomplish this task would be to set up an RSS reader site which would automatically give you updates on the progress of specific products. Therefore, it’s possible spend less time watching the various news on these products, and more time doing whatever else you need to.

But let’s say that’s “too business” in nature. Okay, fine. Then let’s assume you work at local news-station and you would like to keep up to date on the latest deals and decisions from local businesses. Simple. Set up an RSS reader to watch all the latest RSS feeds from local businesses and the deals/decisions that they come to which may affect the community. Just like that, any news worth reporting will come to your RSS reader site, automatically.

As you can see, the world of RSS is not only simple (ridiculously so) but also incredible effective at reporting the latest news relevant to your audience. Even more so, the news you deliver only needs to be sent once as RSS will automatically send it out to all audiences who have identified with your organization. So there you go, a simple solution to otherwise, not-so-simple (in the past) problem.

(Let the feeding frenzy begin!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Can I get a blog-blog! (Say what?!)

Blogging. You’ve heard the term. You maybe know a little bit about it. What’s the deal. And more importantly – how is this relevant to the realm of PR / Professional Business?

Blogging (short for web-logging) is the idea of posting stories, articles, or other news about a specific topic relating to an individual or organization. In other words – it’s the online version of a journal. People start blogs to write about random things varying from personal hobbies to their vacations to whatever-else-makes them tick. Blogging became popular in the late 90’s and has been adapted to a myriad of uses.

The professional side of blogging has appeared in many instances. Everything from news reporting to corporate news-letters has been available on blogs. However, sometimes other organizations adopt the format to convey a larger variety of messages and services. For example, Wired provides an entire section of their website dedicated to blogs (available at This allows them to reach a multitude of audiences and provide continuous updates and feedback of material.

Some other notable features of blogging include the use of comments and blog rolls. Comments allow readers to post feedback on the stories – which allows for continuous feedback for the author of the stories. Blog rolls allow the readers to see what other blog sites that the author pays attention to or considers. The idea of blog-rolling allows for a huge amount of networking to occur based on similar interests. Furthermore, blog rolling can potentially reduce the redundancy of information by eliminating replication of information. Previously, it may have been seen as productive to regurgitate or reword work on a new platform – but by simply providing the links to the masses – you can avoid replication and go straight to discussing new ideas.

Okay! So we got that covered. Now, how the heck is this relevant to the business world? Blogging is relevant because it allows a running index of updates and news to your audiences. By providing a single location for information, your audiences can track information that you publish. Say you’re Nickelodeon and you’re running a promotion involving a national tour. Next, let’s say you post continuous information and updates about the tour on your blog (including the use of pictures, video, and text). This allows your audiences to continuously monitor the progress of your promotion. Furthermore, it allows for the delivered message to come in a media-rich environment which may better communicate your goals (assuming you’re running a promotion).

Let’s take this same example and apply the other benefits to blogging. For example, let’s examine the use of comments. By allowing comments on your blog you (the author) can continuously monitor the perceptions of your promotion. Do people hate it? Do they love it? Do they even care? If so- why? By monitoring these perceptions, you can (nearly instantaneously) change the direction of the promotion to be more consistent with your audience (also the idea of symmetrical communications applies here). Even the lack of comments on a blog can communicate a huge amount of information: do they know, do they care, or are they just unmotivated?

Next, let’s examine the idea of a blog roll and the relevance to PR / pro business. Blog rolling can easily show your audiences the blogs that you’re interested in. This alone allows for your audience to build a strong perception of you. For example, let’s still assume your Nickelodeon; as Nickelodeon, it may be wise to blog other kid-friendly sources such as PBS or educational organizations. By doing this, you may further affirm your audiences’ perception of how genuine your organization is. Bottom line – nearly everything in and on your blog conveys a message about your organization. Huzzah!

Monday, September 29, 2008

YouTube as Promotional Vehicle

(Top YouTube hit: The Evolution of Dance)

I believe that YouTube can be used to supplement an existing promotion for a campaign / idea / or organization. While YouTube can be a powerful element – it seems that it may be difficult to promote an idea using YouTube as the single vehicle. In other words, YouTube would make an excellent secondary promotional device. Despite its possible limitations, I do believe that YouTube is an excellent vehicle to reaching to specific audiences.

One of the main strengths of YouTube is the fact that it is easily transferrable to virtually anyone on the internet. In other words, by there not being a requirement to download anything – YouTube is a simple tool to connect to various publics. Furthermore, YouTube is one of the top media outlets for many individuals within Generation X and Y. What this means is that people within these generations frequent YouTube looking for various content which reflects their hobbies and interests.

Even though YouTube is popular among certain generations, I believe it could be perceived as intrusive or unprofessional by others. Some individuals may perceive YouTube as an unprofessional platform based on news stories, statistics, specific videos (which may or may not be representative of the entirety of YouTube), or unfamiliarity. Individuals who perceive YouTube as unprofessional may also connect that perception to their perception of the organization hosting a video on YouTube.

For example, let’s assume that Proctor and Gamble will run a grassroots viral-marketing campaign on YouTube. Within this hypothetical campaign, let’s assume that Proctor and Gamble prompts their viewers to make their own videos on how they use certain products (I.e. Tide detergent). At this point, any viewer on YouTube could upload their own video to YouTube as a response to this prompt. Sounds good. But, at this point any viewer could post virtually whatever they want- including things which may damage the reputation or image of our friends at P&G. For a real-time example of this situation see the latest post by Discovery Channel which highlights a prompt from the show, Mythbusters

Along with video responses – a company may also be weary of the posts and comments which are available on the YouTube. While the random vulgar or ridiculous comments may surface – the main concern with the comments section is to remain true to your audience. In other words – keep a consistent message to your public. Don’t contradict yourself. Don’t send mixed signals. Don’t lie. And don’t cover things up. Reason being (besides the ethical aspect) is that if the truth surfaces (which it most likely will) it will be communicated across the board in a matter of moments. So to a company I say this: there is no reason for concern unless you create one.

The primary audience on YouTube is aged 18-34 – with this in mind, it’s important to consider the proper way to construct a video message. The most popular vides on YouTube are those which implement a specific (yet dynamic over time) style of video editing and topic. Videos which include humor or an otherwise unique message usually surface at the top. In other words – those which inspire, entertain, or include an undeniable element of novelty will receive the multi-million clicks. Videos such as “The Evolution of Dance” (which, by the time of posting this, will most likely reach 100 million hits) include music and otherwise ridiculous elements favorable by an audience looking for an escape from the ordinary. YouTubers will reward the novel videos through permalinks and online discussion. Those which don’t appeal will simply fade out of the spotlight to become part of Youtube’s growing video archive. Simply put – in order to reach this audience, your video needs to be new. It needs to be fresh and exciting. Elements of music, funky editing, or groundbreaking ideas will separate it from the pack. But be prepared, as videos in the past have shown, hits may escalate from 1 to 1 million in a matter of hours. Make sure your message is ready for the masses. Even with how much we know today, it’s impossible to tell what “Evolution of Dance” will be tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dreams / Aspirations


Creatives. We all know one or two. The kind of person that will ask random open-ended questions just to see how other people see things. Or the kind that will continuously annoy their friends by critiquing clever advertising- even when it’s completely unprovoked… yeah

My dream is to one day graduate from being the “critiquer” to the creative creator. I would like to one day work in an advertising agency- figuring out how to communicate the message of a given client to the masses. Whether it’s Mini, Sony, Adidas, or Pepsi- every company has something to say and I would like to be the one in charge (or at least have a strong presence in the decision). However, for now, my immediate goal is to simply land a gig at one these agencies.

Hopefully, my master’s degree will apply to this goal by allowing me to come into the field with a solid base of research- and even more hopefully- practice. And if all goes according to plan, maybe I'll be the one putting the message out there for others to critique. (It could happen! =)