Social Media’s USP: Its Novelty!

Everyone has a lot to say about social media nowadays, so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

I for one am a keen advocate of the use of social media because of its ability to connect anyone to everyone. Sites such as Twitter have enabled me to network with industry professionals and peers instantly for free.

Facebook allows me to keep in touch with my close friends and acquaintances. LinkedIn has enabled me to display my CV online which can be accessed by potential future employers.

Youtube users can upload unlimited videos which can be viewed instantly (most of the time!) by anyone with a computer or smart phone. I use it all the time to listen to new music and can share these tracks with my Facebook friends at the click of a mouse (or tap of an iProduct).

This blog has allowed me vent my thoughts and opinions and open a dialogue with others. I guess what I’m trying to say is that social media empowers people. It’s a natural territory for PR by definition – its allows anyone and everyone to relate to their publics (or stakeholders).

I wrote a blog on anti-social media outlining my opinions on the negatives of usage of social media. But on balance, social media has far more positives.

For me, the unique selling point of social media is its novelty. It conveniently connects us to the people in our lives as well as allowing us to meet new friends and handy contacts.

Social media isn’t just the future, it’s the present.

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One comment on “Social Media’s USP: Its Novelty!

  1. chris
    February 10, 2011

    You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.

    “The United States has only one party – the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican.”

    “Television is altering the meaning of “being informed” by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation… Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.”

    “We live in a nation hated abroad and frightened at home. A place in which we can reasonably refer to the American Republic in the past tense. A country that has moved into a post-constitutional era, no longer a nation of laws but an autocracy run by law breakers, law evaders and law ignorers. A nation governed by a culture of impunity … a culture in which corruption is no longer a form of deviance but the norm. We all live in a Mafia neighborhood now.”

    “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture, just get the people to stop reading them.”

    “The point of public relations slogans like “Support our troops” is that they don’t mean anything… That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.”

    “Media manipulation in the U.S. today is more efficient than it was in Nazi Germany, because here we have the pretense that we are getting all the information we want. That misconception prevents people from even looking for the truth.”

    “While free markets tend to democratize a society, unfettered capitalism leads invariably to corporate control of government.”

    “To oppose the policies of a government does not mean you are against the country or the people that the government supposedly represents. Such opposition should be called what it really is: democracy, or democratic dissent, or having a critical perspective about what your leaders are doing. Either we have the right to democratic dissent and criticism of these policies or we all lie down and let the leader, the Fuhrer, do what is best, while we follow uncritically, and obey whatever he commands. That’s just what the Germans did with Hitler, and look where it got them.”

    “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” (A Few Good Men, 1992)

    These huge global media giants aren’t friendly guests in our home, but hydra-headed monsters. Our corporate government controls the mass media, and the mass media controls what we see and hear on television, radio, and traditional newspapers. We are spoon-fed fantasies, and the more we swallow the propaganda, the easier we are to manipulate. These fantasies are created using logical fallacies

    The Doors Of Perception: Why Americans Will
    Believe Almost Anything

    We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being subtly and inexorably erased.

    The doors of our perception are carefully and precisely regulated. Who cares, right?

    If everybody believes something, it’s probably wrong.
    We call that Conventional Wisdom.

    In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. Examples:

    Pharmaceuticals restore health

    Vaccination brings immunity

    The cure for cancer is just around the corner

    When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics

    When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol

    Hospitals are safe and clean.

    America has the best health care in the world.

    And many many more
    This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions and billions to conjure up. Did you ever wonder why you never see the President speaking publicly unless he is reading? Or why most people in this country think generally the same about most of the above issues?

    In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”

    Here Comes The Money

    Once the possibilities of applying Freudian psychology to mass media were glimpsed, soon had more corporate clients than he could handle. Global corporations fell all over themselves courting the new Image Makers. There were dozens of goods and services and ideas to be sold to a susceptible public. Over the years, these players have had the money to make their images happen. A few examples:

    Philip Morris Pfizer Union Carbide
    Allstate Monsanto Eli Lilly
    tobacco industry Ciba Geigy lead industry
    Coors DuPont Chlorox
    Shell Oil Standard Oil Procter & Gamble
    Boeing General Motors Dow Chemical
    General Mills Goodyear

    The Players

    Though world-famous within the PR industry, the companies have names we don’t know, and for good reason.

    The best PR goes unnoticed.

    For decades they have created the opinions that most of us were raised with, on virtually any issue which has the remotest commercial value, including:

    pharmaceutical drugs vaccines
    medicine as a profession alternative medicine
    fluoridation of city water chlorine
    household cleaning products tobacco
    dioxin global warming
    leaded gasoline cancer research and treatment
    pollution of the oceans forests and lumber
    images of celebrities, including damage control crisis and disaster management
    genetically modified foods aspartame
    food additives; processed foods dental amalgams

    Lesson #1

    Bernays learned early on that the most effective way to create credibility for a product or an image was by “independent third-party” endorsement.

    For example, if General Motors were to come out and say that global warming is a hoax thought up by some liberal tree-huggers, people would suspect GM’s motives, since GM’s fortune is made by selling automobiles.

    If however some independent research institute with a very credible sounding name like the Global Climate Coalition comes out with a scientific report that says global warming is really a fiction, people begin to get confused and to have doubts about the original issue.

    So that’s exactly what Bernays did. With a policy inspired by genius, he set up “more institutes and foundations than Rockefeller and Carnegie combined.” (Stauber p 45)

    Quietly financed by the industries whose products were being evaluated, these “independent” research agencies would churn out “scientific” studies and press materials that could create any image their handlers wanted. Such front groups are given high-sounding names like:

    Temperature Research Foundation Manhattan Institute
    International Food Information Council Center for Produce Quality
    Consumer Alert Tobacco Institute Research Council
    The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition Cato Institute
    Air Hygiene Foundation
    American Council on Science and Health
    Industrial Health Federation Global Climate Coalition
    International Food Information Council Alliance for Better Foods

    Sound pretty legit don’t they?

    Canned News Releases

    As Stauber explains, these organizations and hundreds of others like them are front groups whose sole mission is to advance the image of the global corporations who fund them, like those listed above.

    This is accomplished in part by an endless stream of ‘press releases’ announcing “breakthrough” research to every radio station and newspaper in the country. (Robbins) Many of these canned reports read like straight news, and indeed are purposely molded in the news format.

    This saves journalists the trouble of researching the subjects on their own, especially on topics about which they know very little. Entire sections of the release or in the case of video news releases, the whole thing can be just lifted intact, with no editing, given the byline of the reporter or newspaper or TV station – and voilá! Instant news – copy and paste. Written by corporate PR firms.

    Does this really happen? Every single day, since the 1920s when the idea of the News Release was first invented by Ivy Lee. (Stauber, p 22) Sometimes as many as half the stories appearing in an issue of the Wall St. Journal are based solely on such PR press releases.. (22)

    These types of stories are mixed right in with legitimately researched stories. Unless you have done the research yourself, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

    The Language Of Spin

    As 1920s spin pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays gained more experience, they began to formulate rules and guidelines for creating public opinion. They learned quickly that mob psychology must focus on emotion, not facts. Since the mob is incapable of rational thought, motivation must be based not on logic but on presentation. Here are some of the axioms of the new science of PR:

    technology is a religion unto itself

    if people are incapable of rational thought, real democracy is dangerous

    important decisions should be left to experts

    when reframing issues, stay away from substance; create images

    never state a clearly demonstrable lie
    Words are very carefully chosen for their emotional impact. Here’s an example. A front group called the International Food Information Council handles the public’s natural aversion to genetically modified foods.

    Trigger words are repeated all through the text. Now in the case of GM foods, the public is instinctively afraid of these experimental new creations which have suddenly popped up on our grocery shelves which are said to have DNA alterations. The IFIC wants to reassure the public of the safety of GM foods, so it avoids words like:

    Frankenfoods Hitler biotech
    chemical DNA experiments
    manipulate money safety
    scientists radiation roulette
    gene-splicing gene gun random

    Instead, good PR for GM foods contains words like:

    hybrids natural order beauty
    choice bounty cross-breeding
    diversity earth farmer
    organic wholesome

    It’s basic Freudian/Tony Robbins word association. The fact that GM foods are not hybrids that have been subjected to the slow and careful scientific methods of real crossbreeding doesn’t really matter. This is pseudoscience, not science. Form is everything and substance just a passing myth. (Trevanian)

    Who do you think funds the International Food Information Council? Take a wild guess. Right – Monsanto, DuPont, Frito-Lay, Coca Cola, Nutrasweet – those in a position to make fortunes from GM foods. (Stauber p 20)

    Characteristics Of Good Propaganda

    As the science of mass control evolved, PR firms developed further guidelines for effective copy. Here are some of the gems:

    dehumanize the attacked party by labeling and name calling

    speak in glittering generalities using emotionally positive words

    when covering something up, don’t use plain English; stall for time; distract

    get endorsements from celebrities, churches, sports figures, street people – anyone who has no expertise in the subject at hand

    the ‘plain folks’ ruse: us billionaires are just like you

    when minimizing outrage, don’t say anything memorable, point out the benefits of what just happened, and avoid moral issues

    Keep this list. Start watching for these techniques. Not hard to find – look at today’s paper or tonight’s TV news. See what they’re doing; these guys are good!

    There is a very dangerous phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the United States of America; something that I refer to as “the dumbing-down of the American mind,” a nearly willful tendency for Americans to forgo reality in favor of believing what they want to believe…

    …This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

    …There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.

    But today other voices are heard in the land–voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

    …Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.

    …I have spoken of strength largely in terms of the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But, in today’s world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets. The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles–on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.

    …Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.

    …That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions–it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations–it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

    We in this country, in this generation, are–by destiny rather than choice–the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

    Who Controls the Media?


    Parent Company General Electric
    $100.5 billion
    1998 revenues
    Time Warner
    $26.8 billion
    1998 revenues
    The Walt Disney Co.
    $23 billion
    1998 revenues
    $18.9 billion
    1998 revenues
    News Corporation
    $13 billion
    1998 revenues

    Background GE/NBC’s ranks No. 1 on the Forbes 500. Prior to its merger with NBC and an alliance with Microsoft, GE specialized in electronics. The peacock owns many New York sports team. It also owns or has equity stakes in many popular websites, including and iVillage. The largest media corporation in the world, Time Warner owns film and music production companies, theme parks, sports teams, magazines, websites and book publishers as well as Turner Broadcasting With its 1995 merger with Capital Cities/ABC, Disney has become a fully-integrated media giant. In addition to its theme parks, the company profits from retail outlets, magazines, book publishers, websites, motion pictures, sports teams, TV, cable, radio, music and newspapers. Viacom’s purchase of Paramount, CBS and Blockbuster Video enables them to use cable, television, movies, comic books, theme parks, music publishing and book publishing to cross-market their products. Broadcasting alone brings in over $6 billion in revenues. CEO Rupert Murdoch’s style has inspired respect and fear, and it has also made his multinational ventures in publishing, television and satellite services very successful. The company owns 20th Century Fox, the New York Post, the London Times, TV Guide, many stadiums, the LA Dodgers and five New York sports teams.
    Networks Owned NBC
    includes programming, news and more than 13 TV and radio stations
    includes sports teams, programming, production, retail, book publishing and multimedia
    Television Network
    includes ABC Radio, ABC Video and ABC Network News
    includes stations, CBS Radio, CBS Telenoticias and CBS Network News
    includes programming and TV stations (50%)
    includes programming and stations

    Cable Interests Owns 25-50% of the following:

    A & E (with Disney and Hearst)
    American Movie Classics (25%)
    Biography Channel (with Disney and Hearst)
    Bravo (50%)
    Bravo International
    Court TV (with Time Warner)
    Fox Sports Net
    History Channel (with Disney and Hearst)
    Independent Film Channel
    MSG Network
    MSNBC (50%)
    National Geographic Worldwide
    News Sport
    Prism (with Rainbow, a subsidiary of Cablevision, and Liberty Media, a subsidiary of TCI)
    Romance Classics
    Sports Channel Cincinnati, Chicago, Florida, New England, Pacific, Ohio, Philadelphia
    HBO (75%)
    HBO Direct Broadcast
    Court TV (33% with GE)
    TBS Superstation
    Turner Classic Movies
    Cartoon Network
    Comedy Central (37.5% with Viacom)
    Sega Channel
    OVATION (50%)
    Women’s Information Television (WIN) (partial)
    TVKO (75%)
    4 regional all-news channels
    CNN/SI (with Sports Illustrated)
    CNNfn (financial network)
    Headline News
    CNN International
    CNN Airport Network
    Disney Channel
    Disney Television (58 hours/week syndicated programming)
    Toon Disney
    Touchstone Television
    A&E (37.5% with Hearst and GE)
    Lifetime Network (50%)
    ESPN (80% with Hearst)
    ESPN2 (80% with Hearst)
    ESPN Classic (80% with Hearst)
    ESPN West (80% with Hearst)
    ESPNews (80% with Hearst)
    Buena Vista Television
    Biography Channel (with GE and Hearst)
    History Channel (37.5% with Hearst and GE)
    Classic Sports Network
    E! (35%)
    M2: Music Television
    Nick at Nite’s TVLand
    Paramount Networks Comedy Central (50% with Time Warner)
    TNN: The Nashville Network
    Movie Channel
    All News Channel (50%)
    Sundance Channel (45%)
    Midwest Sports Channel
    CBS Telenoticias (30%)
    Home Team Sports (66% with News Corporation)
    Fox Family Channel (50%)
    Fox News Channel
    fx (50% with TCI’s Liberty Media)
    fxM (50% with TCI’s Liberty Media)
    Fox Sports Net (25% with TCI, GE and Cablevision)
    The National Geographic Channel (50%)
    FIT TV Partnership
    Regional networks, including TV Guide Channel and Fox Sports New York

    Americans Don’t Know They are Eating Genetically Modified Food

    Only 43% of people in the US know that some of the food they are purchasing and eating is genetically modified (GM), according to a new survey. Additionally nearly one of four people incorrectly believes that such food is not being sold in the US.

    The survey was conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), an industry group funded by food, beverage and agricultural industries.

    Currently, the use of genetically modified food is a subject of enormous global controversy. Consumer and environmental groups have demanded that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follow the lead of the European Union, Japan and other nations by requiring labels on GM foods so consumers know what they are buying. The US government claims that such mandatory food labels are unnecessary because genetically modified food “poses no inherent safety risk”.

    Conductors of the industry sponsored phone survey never used the term “genetically modified”, preferring the nicer sounding “foods produced through biotechnology”.

    Additionally, “87% of consumers agreed that education through toll-free numbers, brochures, and Web sites would provide better sources of information than food labels,” one of the surveyors noted.

    ‘Ben Bagdikian has written the first great media book of the twenty-first century. The New Media Monopoly will provide a roadmap to understanding how we got here and where we need to go to make matters better.’ -Robert McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy “No book on the media has proved as influential to our understanding of the dangers of corporate consolidation to democracy and the marketplace of ideas; this new edition builds on those works and surpasses them.” -Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media? Praise for the First Edition of The Media Monopoly: “A groundbreaking work that charts a historical shift in the orientation of the majority of America’s communications media-further away from the needs of the individual and closer to those of big business.” -Bruce Manuel, Christian Science Monitor Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ben H. Bagdikian is dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. His other books include Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession.

    Book Description
    When the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian’s warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation’s news “alarmist.” Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America’s daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies has dwindled from fifty to ten to five.

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This entry was posted on February 3, 2011 by in PR & Media, Social Media and tagged , , , .

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