Goodbye WordPress.com

Today marks a bitter-sweet day: It is the day I make the jump from WordPress.com over to Blogger.

I tried to make it work, but the free/hosted version of WordPress was just too constricting and I needed my (customizable) space.

Thank you to those who have hung around here for a while and checked out a few of my posts. I especially want to thank the handful of people who were interested enough to comment on some items I have posted.

To WordPress.com: Thank you for your time and space. I will be taking my posts with me when I go and eventually this space will go away.

It’s time to move on. Goodbye WordPress. Hello Next Communications n Blogger.

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Musical Inspiration for Social Media


Rent Signage

Originally uploaded by m_halminen

“Why are you so in to this social media stuff?” I get questions like this from family, friends, colleagues and I haven’t really been able to nail down a good explanation that suits me…until now.

I have found some social media inspiration in a song that helps explain why I am so fascinated in social media. It comes from one of my favorite musicals, Rent by Jonathan Larson.

La Vie Boheme

To days of inspiration,
Playing hooky, making something
Out of nothing, the need
To express-
To communicate,
To going against the grain,
Going insane,
Going mad

Now, I will probably not immediately start singing when I am asked again, but I may hit the high points of why social media resonates with me.

Days of inspiration…making something out of nothing…the need to express, to communicate…

These are things that make social media so interesting to me. What makes social media interesting to you?

Side notes: Rent is leaving Broadway on September 7. The Rent Web site and other related sites have some interesting examples of social media in action: Rent Countdown Blog, EverythingIsRENT You Tube Channel, Goodbye, Love Message Board, Speak Your Heart Forum, and others. While I did not get to see the show on Broadway, I did get to see touring casts in Dallas and Fort Worth and they lived up to expectations.

Blocking Social Networks


blockedsite

Originally uploaded by vedo’s pics

Many organizations choose to use internet filters to help stem the tide of unwanted and/or inappropriate content for its users. Education, specifically school districts are no different. I can understand and appreciate the necessity of keeping young internet users away from highly inappropriate Web sites in an academic setting.

However, I have a problem with the reasoning behind some of the filtering. For example, in our district, LinkedIn is blocked because it falls under the social networking category. My response is: SO WHAT!? Shouldn’t we be encouraging professional sites that could help with connections for internal and external communications.

I don’t appreciate “social networking” as a category being blocked for users. I think it implies that an organization does not value the concept of professional/personal communication experiences.

Don’t be mad, be good

On Sunday, June 1, 2008 legal analyst Andrew Cohen of CBS spoke out on former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellen’s new tell-all book. In his report, “The Flak on Flacks,” Cohen accuses PR professionals of making a living on untruths. He even calls out PRSA’s ethics. National PRSA responded. Cohen responds. And the arguing rages on, and on, and on.

First off, I disagree with Cohen’s sweeping generalization of PR people as liars. I was pleased to see a quick response by PRSA through the letter plus e-mails to membership keeping us updated. But it is hard to argue with the perception of public relations as a profession in society.

I’ve read where maybe the public relations profession should have a PR campaign. I don’t think this is possible. I don’t see how anyone could change societal views of public relations any more than I think people will start thinking highly of politicians, lawyers, used-car salesmen or journalists. We are viewed in a negative light. There is no denying this. People see us using “spin” to cover up problems.

I fall under the broker paradigm of public relations: An intermediary between an organization and its stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions. (Tip of the hat to Kami Huyse on her insightful post.)

What I do know is this: I can only control what I do as a communications/PR professional to influence how my sphere of influence sees my profession. I hope when people look at me and the work I do, they see a credible and honest professional who keeps in mind the best interests of my organization or client.

I should not/will not apologize for trying to make my organization or client look good for stakeholders. It is up to me to accomplish this task with integrity and not lie. We would better serve our profession by striving to be better at our profession including an adherence to its ethical standards.

Photo Credit: nouQraz

A universal language

International space stationOver the holiday weekend I watched a few things that solidified my appreciation for mathematics and science.

For two nights in a row the international space station “flew” over North Texas at a rate of about 27,700 km/hr (or 17,210 mi/hr). It looked like a star shining across the night sky. I watched in amazement that this man-made machine was orbiting the Earth with people inside. We’ve forgotten how cool space exploration can be.

I also watched as a control room of rocket scientists (seriously) cheered as the Phoenix Mars Lander made it safely to the red planet. For fun I started to follow the Mars lander on Twitter to get updates from the mission. (Note: This is a clever use of the micro-blogging platform.)

Lastly, I enjoyed some Mythbusters on the Discovery channel. They do some very cool, fun, and dangerous stuff on the show.

All three of these led me to a common theme: We would be lost without mathematics and science.

Consider what Thomas Friedman says in The World is Flat in the section called The Quiet Crisis where he explains the areas in which he believes the United States is deficient:

Today, we should be concerned about the gaps in our education, infrastructure, and ambitions that threaten to weaken us from within…

We simply are not educating, or even interesting, enough of our own young people in advanced math, science, and engineering…

It takes fifteen years to train a scientist or advanced engineer, starting from when that young man or woman first gets hooked on science and math in elementary school. Therefore, we should be embarking immediately on an all-hands-on-deck, no-holds-barred, no-budget-too-large crash program for science and engineering education.

I want to encourage young parents to consider working through fears of math (especially word problems) or science confusion. Seek out the answers to your kids’ questions to light that intellectual spark early in life.

Of course, we keep in mind the right-brain tools as well, but consider what Jodi Foster’s character, Ellie Arroway, in the 1997 movie Contact had to say: “Mathematics is the only true universal language.”

I’ll be encouraging my kids to appreciate math and science. I want them to know It will be ok to be smart. And who knows, maybe my kids or grandkids will be blogging from the moon.

Efficient or lazy?


DSCN3795

Originally uploaded by vedo’s pics

Saw this sign and it made me think about the differences between being efficient and being lazy. Sometimes we take our communication tools for granted and communicate the wrong thing. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are being efficient by using the latest and greatest technology. Sometimes we just run out of letters. Either way our intended message may not be the message we send.

Communication 101: You cannot not communicate.

Even the unintentional can send a bad message.

The changing landscape of Public Relations

I am proud to be a public relations professional. Some outside people might scoff at the idea of being in PR. They (like many people I would guess) have an antiquated idea of public relations.

There is a great song by Jimmy Buffet, Public Relations off of the Don’t Stop The Carnival album about Norman Paperman, a Broadway press agent who is in need of an awakening:

Up every morning, out every evening
Hustling for headlines, that’s what I do
Table at Sardi’s, grappling for gossip
Working the press for a mention or two
I never acted like some nervous rookie
Right form the start I was hot as a cookie
I was a numero uno
What a debut

Chorus:
Public Relations, Public Relations
Boozing and schmoozing, that’s what I do
PR’s my vocation
And I’m a sensation
Public relations

Such hullabaloo

Chorus:
Public Relations, Public Relations
Ego inflation, that’s what I do
Isn’t it wonderful, isn’t it fabulou
Public Relations, such hullabaloo

While humorous, the song’s lyrics say what many people may think about PR.

We should not forget the bread and butter of our craft (especially in media relations). However, with the changing communication landscape PR professionals need to be better equipped at integrating social media.

So what does it mean to practice PR? According to the “bible” of public relations, Cutlip, Center and Broom’s definition:

Public relations is a management function that seeks to identify, build, and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and all of the publics on whom its success or failure depends.”

Mutually beneficial relationships

Relationships should be nurtured and grown over time. As a PR professional, I need to seek out and adapt to ways of reaching my organization’s community.

I like the idea of getting rid of the word “users” and replacing it with “guests”.

I agree that we need to be more efficient.

I think Jason Falls is on to something when he asks “Can Advertising Truly Be Social?”

And even though he specifically targets agencies, Todd Defren’s post Five Thoughts on the Future of Public Relations should get the rest of us thinking.

I once read the following:

Don’t confuse revolutionary change with evolutionary change.

In this case, the evolutionary change must come from the PR practitioner. Keep up or get left behind.