November 8, 2011
The fourth of the CIPR Autumn Guest Lecture Series at Leeds Met was hosted by Managing Director of the northern arm of Euro RSCG, Brian Beech, accompanied by Jenni Bamford, a recent Leeds Met graduate now working as an Account Executive at Euro RSCG.
Brian began with an entertaining metaphor: “PR practitioners are like rhinos – thick skinned and charge a lot!” He then stressed the importance of the utilization of the news agenda and topical word of mouth, citing the death of Schmeichel (a dog from Coronation Street) and Pets at Home’s information campaign to advise pet owners on how to deal with a death of a family pet.
Brian then identified the key issues surrounding the future of the PR industry:
- Significant growth in online media
- Less journalists covering more areas
- Explosion of social media
- Development of consumer-generated content
Nonetheless, he was quick to outline that British people remain the most avid newspaper readers in the world, with 33 million print readers a week, this is unlikely to change anytime soon. Moreover 71% of people read regional papers in contrast with 57% of people who read nationals and the percentage increases the further north you go due to a growing perception that nationals are too London-centric. This outlines the redundancy of ‘mass’ comms and the need to target micro, rather than macro-environments when communicating a message.
“The growth in new media is the biggest paradigm shift since the industrial revolution. It’s not a fad, it’s here to stay,”
Brian quoted the fact that 96% of people have used social media at some point, and the new phenomenon has overtaken pornography as the number one activity on the web. 1 in 5 couples met online. However as Brian ironically pointed out 1 in 5 marriages that end in divorce are because of Facebook.
“ 50% of pensioners in the UK use Facebook and a third use Youtube, every minute 24 hours of video is uploaded to Youtube; there are even babies in Egypt named ‘Facebook!’”
These statistics illustrated the need for PR students to transcend beyond mere enthusiastic amateurs to experts in digital media. Social media is instant, mobile and permanent and professional communicators will need to respond rather than deny – to quote Brian “What happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook!”
Brian concluded a rather entertaining lecture by emphasising the need for students to be doing work experience throughout their studies, otherwise how will you know what you like and you are good at? Brian was also keen to outline the need for PRs to specialise, or be negatively regarded as generalists. Ending with on a comical note, when asked what he specializes in, Brian replied “Bullshit!”
March 14, 2011
Recently valued at $65 billion, Facebook has transcended beyond a social network, or a business: it’s become a global contagion – the 5th estate.
According to Facebook’s statistics, users install 20 million applications a day, 250 million people engage with Facebook on external sites 2.5 million websites are integrated with Facebook.
It seems having a Facebook account has become compulsory nowadays. If you ask most users why they use Facebook, the usual response is ‘because all my friends use it.’ Facebook is the monopoly of social media.
But is this right?
Most users are unaware that once they upload a picture onto their profile, they forfeit ownership of that image to Facebook (this may pose a dilemma for aspiring photographers!).
Facebook also provides a qualitative market research goldmine. Users are encouraged to disclose as much information about themselves, even what languages they know. The check-in feature adapted from Foursquare now means users can share virtually every move they make!
Not a day goes by when I don’t check my Facebook account at least once and I imagine most users are the same. Perhaps Facebook’s widespread success is down to its game dynamics: the more users interact with the website, the more rewards they get i.e. more friends/likes, more comments and engagement from other users and a bigger online presence or branding.
Zuckerberg (probably) isn’t a super villain on an evil conquest to take over the world, he just managed to innovate a service that people all over the world are attracted, and in some cases addicted too.
Once a Facebooker, always a Facebooker.
February 28, 2011
No-one could have anticipated the avalanche of protestation we have seen in the Middle East and North Africa since the new year, which has been aptly dubbed The Arab Spring
Ben Ali and Mubarak have been ousted from their positions of power in response to prevalent protests which were organized, co-ordinated and shared via the use of social media platforms, predominately Facebook & Twitter.
The most effective weapon in the protesters’ arsenal was the smart phone, which allowed demonstrators to capture and record the transpiring events and publish them on their various networks for the entire world to see.
The popularity of social media has effectively destroyed any notion of censorship (a fact that Gaddafi struggles to come to terms with). In this sense, social media can be regarded as a force for democracy as it has empowered the people of North Africa to receive, consume and broadcast their discrepancies directly, as well as organise and mobilize demonstrations and protests without state intervention and propaganda.
I for one find it exhilarating; yet alarming that social media has the potential to topple governments. Wikileaks savvy decision to publish cables involving Egypt & Tunisia during the protests has had influence over the outcomes as well, although the world has seen firsthand how social media can sway the future of a nation.
Revolution does not require a smart phone – the European Revolutions of 1848 needed no such technology to overthrow their regimes. However there is undeniably an inherent pro-democracy nature of social media, and dictators and despots across the globe fear its power.
February 3, 2011
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.
January 18, 2011
In my first semester at Leeds Met, it became increasingly evident that social media was the future of PR (and Advertising, Journalism, Marketing & Networking for that matter). I realized the magnitude of social media when Richard Bailey not only allowed, but encouraged live tweeting throughout his lecture, with the hash tag #prlecsm.
Social media allows PROs to communicate and coverse with their publics instantly from the comfort of their office. It bypasses the traditional journalistic ‘middle men’ and puts power in the hands of of anybody and everybody. Communication has never been easier, with awesome smartphones and super-fast broadband, the power of social media is constantly growing, ushering in a ‘Golden Age’ for the PR industry.
However the revolution in social media, could lead to devolution in the real world. The most popular social media platform is without a doubt Facebook, which is currently valued at $50 billion. Over 500 million people worldwide have a Facebook account (including my nana!). However what can be a vibrant and entertaining platform can be abused and turn into anti-social media.
People seem to be so engrossed with their Facebook account that they neglect their offline lives. I actually overheard two girls the other day bickering over who had more friends on Facebook, as if it’s an accolade to have more friends added than someone else.
Some of my Facebook ‘friends’ post some insulting, childish, pointless and baffling status updates. I have actually starting removing people from my friends, because of their annoying updates on my so-called ‘news feed.’ I noticed that I didn’t even know some of the people on my friend list!
Without ranting too much, seemingly innocent things, such as uploading and tagging photos of people in a drunken mess can have disastrous consequences. Many employers have been deterred from hiring candidates because of embarrassing and unsavoury photos
It’s not just Facebook, Paul Chambers’s tweet in November last year read “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” This tweet may have been a joke, but Chambers was still sentenced to a £3,000 fine!
The Liverpool footballer Ryan Babel was fine £10,000 this week by the Football Association Regulatory Commission because he tweeted a picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Man Utd shirt following their 1-0 defeat. It’s worrying how social media has the power to become anti-social.
Although, social media is predominantly useful and entertaining. It allows friends, family and colleagues to communicate and network instantly across vast distances. Social media can and does empower people.
Just look at Linkedin, which allows people to connect with past and present colleagues as well as advertise themselves to prospective employers in a fair and objective way.Other social sites such as Foursquare allows you to tell your friends where you’ve been, where you’re going and the quality of that experience. Path is the opposite to Facebook, limiting you to 50 friends so you stay connected with the people that really matter in your life.
Moreover, after reading ‘Social media lessons from the year I spent in bed’ by Jennifer Kane, you realize the amount of benefits social media bring.