Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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July 28, 2009

Blackmail 2.0: A challenge and potential risk for PR professionals to address with social media

It is interesting to see how people are using social media these days – from connecting with friends back in high school and having a virtual high school reunion to conducting business transations and networking with other professionals to sharing information with other people that they know.  However, there are other not so nice activities that peopel are deciding to participate in.  For example, it appears that one blogger was threatening to write a bad post about another person at BlogHer if they would not give her a free pair of Croc shoes.  So in other words, what we are seeing here is Blackmail 2.0 – people are making threats to others and saying that they will post or write something bad about another if they do not get what they want.  Or how about ex-employees that are angry that they were fired and want payback, so they go online to these social media sites (ex. YouTube) and post something negative?

These are all issues that public relations professionals now have to deal with.  Blackmail and these negative publicity antics have been around for years – and the only thing that has changed is that they are now being conducted through this form of technology.  However, I do believe that these activities are really reflecting bad on the reputation of the person that is doing this.  I am just amazed that people would actually try to do this unethical behavior and activities.

Plus, what happens in the person or PR professional they are dealing with has their own media outlet to discuss what happened to them – so in a sense, it backfires on the person that is doing the blackmailing first.  It seems to me that these individuals that are participating in Blackmail 2.0 want to keep their identity hidden to some degree and get what they want in the first place.  So, the best thing that a PR professional can do in this situation is to manage their reputation proactively and strategically by not giving into the blackmail, have their own social media outlet (ex. through their web site, blog, social networking sites, etc) and identify these individuals and share their story with their key stakeholders.  Those that are transparent, open, and upfront to their audiences about the situation in a professional manner will be successful in overcoming Blackmail 2.0.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


July 26, 2009

Challenges that PR professionals face w/ social media: Is this new form of technology encouraging group think in the online community?

Whenever you look at the news today, it appears that people are speaking to social media’s praise with how it has transformed and evolutionized the business community with its social media networks, fabulous mobile applications (ex. iPhone), and reinvented how corporations and PR agencies implement their campaigns and strategies.  Yes – social media has been a very fun and exciting technology that has been wonderful to be part of – but with all of the benefits of social media, public relations professionals also have to be honest and look at social media realistically and admit that there are some negatives that come with the territory.

There are several challenges that public relations professionals have to deal with.  Jeremiah Owyang on his blog mentions the different issues that might arise for businesses though social media, such as addressing rumors, corporate and personal brandjacking, and how it is difficult to measure the ROI on social media.  I do agree that these are challenges that have to be recognized and addressed, but I also believe that there are some that have to be considered especially in crisis communications.

One in particular that I think that is crucial to address is group think.  Group think first was defined by Irving Janis in 1972, and can be defined as being a phenomenon in which each person in the respected group agrees with what the group says, even though it may be different from their own individual opinion.  Even though group think has been studied heavily especially in the psychology fields, in many ways – we as public relations professionals need to also look at these issues as well since it relates how individuals are forming attitudes and impressions on certain issues, individuals, and corporations that they are invested in their daily lives.

In relation to social media, understanding group think among online stakeholders could be an interesting issue to focus in on.  Whether it is what people are writing about on Twitter and to their followers or appoint themselves as a “leader” and speak for the group on discussion boards (definitely saw this a lot when I was a track and field athlete on various discussion boards and web sites) and to only providing people with an online persona that they “ideally” want to have and present to their friends / target stakeholders – these are all elements that public relations professionals have to consider in their role as a PR professional for their client, and how they manage their own personal reputation online.

Even though I believe that there is a lot of groupthink present on social media, there are a lot more individual comments and outlets out there than ever before.  People are taking the opportunity to create their own web site, social networks, write their own blogs, and bypass some of the gatekeepers in their respective industries.  This will be an issue that I think will evolve in the next couple of years, but I believe that public relations professionals need to look at this issue in more detail and see if groupthink is occuring among their key stakeholders.

Anyway, these are just a few of my thoughts on the subject.  Hope you all are having a great day. :)

Best Wishes,


July 24, 2009

Social media & its impact on higher education: Reputation and credible program is key for successful online programs

In the last couple of blog posts, I have discussed how social media is changing the public relations field both in practice and in research.  Social media has also been changing how we as PR professionals are teaching and interacting with our students in our education programs.  But – what will be the impact of social media on educational institutions?  Well, there was a recent article that appeared on Mashable that discusses how social media could possibly make the cost of education at zero.   Sure, social media in many ways is changing how education is being taught and marketed – from sharing information to other professors, students, and even alumni, to teaching in the classroom.

New “universities” are coming up that are completely online, but there is an important element that we all have to consider – what is the reputation of these institutions.  These social media “universities” are not in the same class and prestige as colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or USC to name a few.  What are future employers going to say if they look at a resume and it says that you got a degree from the University of the People, when others applying for the same job have degrees from other established and credible institutions?  Hmm – yes, it makes you think.

So, how do we make these institutions credible and have a good reputation?  Well, it is going to take some time.  Social media is rapidly changing, and it is very hard for academic professionals and institutions to keep up with the technology.  Universities that already have an established reputation (ex. USC, Harvard, etc.) are already having classes online and through social media (ex. Second Life and Harvard) – so these institutions can see what these universities are doing and adapt their programs.

In other words – social media has indeed made an impact on education, and if colleges that are established take the opportunity to develop classes that use social media in the classroom and have online classes – they would definitely be adapting to the changing information and education environment that we are finding ourselves in.

Hope you all are having a great day! :)

Best Wishes,


July 23, 2009

A new social network community to discuss social media in education: Social Media Club Education

I believe that social media is going to be the medium in which not only other disciplines will be working and researching together (such as Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, and others) – but it will also be the medium in which will bridge together academics and professionals in Public Relations through education.  A new social network community has been established called Social Media Club Education, where professors and academics can come together and discuss issues involving social media and education.

The purpose of Social Media Club Education is to identify the professionals and professors that are currently teaching social media at their universities, determine what needs to be in a social media curriculum, and what ways professors and other teaching professionals can do research involving social media in conjunction with the Social Media Club. The social network community is gaining new members by the minute, and I believe that academics, especially in the public relations field, need to be part of this new online community to network and discuss social media issues among other professionals.

I think that this is a wonderful idea – social media is definitely developing and continues to evolve in practice, but academic professionals also need to be aware on the latest forms of technologies and practices so they are up-to-date for their research, consulting practices, and to give their students the tools and skills that they will need in the workplace.  So, in summary – if you are going to be teaching social media classes or incorporate social media in your classes – come and join the Social Media Club Education social network community! :)

Hope you all are having a great day! :)

Best Wishes,


July 21, 2009

Social Media Club – Knoxville Launch Party: Huge turnout, great discussion on social media, and wonderful networking opportunity w/ professionals

This evening, I had the chance to go to the Social Media Club – Knoxville Launch Party that was sponsored by Pyxl and Mashable.  It was held in one of the hip and trendy restaurants in Knoxville – Oodles – and it was such a great turnout! There were so many professionals there networking and discussing issues that they are working with in terms of social media.  What was really exciting was to see how interdisciplinary the event was.  For example, there were people that were working in Public Relations and others that were in Marketing, and a couple of advertising executives were also present.

The event started off where you signed in and your name tag had your name, and then your Twitter username so everyone in the club would know to follow you.  Very neat!  Trey Pennington,  founder of SMC Greenville, was the guest speaker at the launch party.  He provided some great insights into social media and where it is going for public relations and in marketing.  Some of the issues that was discussed during the gathering was how many opportunities there are in social media for public relations professionals, how to evaluate financial success with social media, and the differences between b2b and b2c relations with social media.

I would have to say that the Social Media Club – Knoxville Launch Party was a huge success – great event, wonderful opportunity to meet other professionals, and fabulous discussion!  I am looking forward to attending future events and functions! :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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