Monday, December 8, 2008

Twitterrific (Blog 10)

When compared to my Grandparents, or even my Mother, I am the most technologically savvy person ever. However, when compared to the average student my age, I'm probably not even up to par. I have owned an iPhone for over a year now, and as of four or five days ago I finally started utilizing it to its full potential. Class last Monday over Twitter, combined with the guest lecturer we had a few weeks before, made me realize that it's time to spread my wings. I started looking into what the iPhone calls "applications". These (often free) downloadable programs come in all different forms, from games - to news feeds - to applications for Facebook and Myspace. Coincidentally, there is also an application for Twitter called "Twitterrific".

This program places an icon on the desktop of my iPhone, with one touch easy access it pulls up a mobile version of the Twitter program with all of the same functions that you would find on a desktop pc or laptop. I have been "tweeting" from it for days, and like the guest lecturer said - it's addicting. In fact, according to Apple's online website "Twitterrific" won the Apple Design Award in 2008 for "Best iPhone Social Networking Application". A link to other awards for iPhone applications, information for those other iPhone users who want to know more about this application, and information on iPhone applications in general can be found here:

Throughout the semester we have all become aware of the YouTube videos "in Plain English". The following link ( ) is to "Twitter in Plain English" for those of you who are wanting a very quick and informative crash course to the world of tweeting. If nothing else, the video will brush you up on your knowledge of Twitter and I find the videos are always entertaining to watch.

Instead of speaking broadly about PR implications for Twitter, I have decided to briefly discuss how the iPhone application "Twitterrific" can be utilized by different organizations for effective PR. I know that personally, I am on the computer surfing the Internet quite a bit. However, I can tell you for a fact that I spend a lot more time on my iPhone because I carry it around with me wherever I go - and it simply might look wierd, creepy, and uncomfortable carrying a desktop pc to and from the store while I'm shopping for groceries... and I know that I'm not the only one with an iPhone, or even with the iPhone application "Twitterrific". In fact, as of July, 2007, Apple has sold over 1 million iphones. More information can be found in this interesting article: That was almost six months ago. You also have to figure that since this article was posted that the new iPhone 3G has been released, so you can bet that number has and is growing at an exponential rate.

What does this mean for PR professionals? It's simple. You now have the ability to reach your target public(s) on the move, anywhere they are, as long as they have cell phone reception. In fact, currently AT&T has exclusive rights to the iPhone and are also the single largest cellular network in the country; so the chance of cell phone reception is extremely high. Take advantage of mobile technology to perform more efficient and effective PR!!! Understand the different applications that iPhone offers and use them to your organizations advantage. "Twitterrific" is a great place to start. Add me as your friend, I'll tweet with you. There's your start.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Social Media: University Applications (Blog 9)

It was extremely interesting the other night to hear about how Missouri State was utilizing social media applications. The guest speaker explained that he was soley in charge of implementing, updating, and maintaing all of these tools. This presents some very serious and intriguing issues from a PR standpoint.

First, a lot of what we have learned in this class through our readings and other activites has implied that using social media tools requires full-time attention. The guest speaker explained that he devotes less than half of his time to these applications, as his job description requires him to do much more. This means that the university is not properly utilizing social media applications like they should be. Although the website currently has a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blog space, etc. they are not all updated or even functioning at their full potential. The university should hire someone else to solely focus on these tools, or at the very least hire some assistants to aid the guest speaker in his job. Second, the guest speaker said the he did not know exactly what the PR implications were for these social media tools. That is because he isn't a PR professional. This means that the university should hire someone who does understand how to use these different applications to achieve better public relations.

Universities such as Missouri State are using social media applications to gain a competitive edge in an online world. These tools allow universities to perform a number of functions. It allows them to recruit more students, create a more interactive culture for current students, increases their ability to disseminate information, and allows them to create a more efficient means of two-way communication with different publics. It is important, however, that universities recognize the importance of these applications and how to properly utilize them. Their social media tools should be created, updated, and maintained by a skilled and trained professional. Also, they should be that person's sole responsibility.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Podcasts: iPod to iCommerce (Blog 8)

Another social media application that is a valuable tool on the PR professional's belt are podcasts. Although traditionally, these were simply audio files that were uploaded and downloaded on ipods they have evolved into much more. Podcasts now are not restricted to just audio, but incorporate numerous video and other media aspects as well. Although their use is not as critical as an online media/press release, they are still regarded as being very useful for organizations to utilize.

Podcasts are like blogs, but instead of text they are an audio and/or video file that are released on the Internet. Often times, you can find podcasts incorporated with other types of social media applications like blogs and they are prevalent on YouTube. Although they require more time and production value than blogs, I believe that they are more effective for a PR professional to use than blogs. It all comes down to image. Podcasts have a more "personal feel". Although blogs are customizable, target public(s) can actually see the PR practitioner talking to them - or at the very least hear their voice. I have heard it said numerous times that it is hard to read emotion over text, and I believe that this is true. Podcasts add a more realistic value that blogs simply can't do. This doesn't mean that blogs don't have a place in social media, rather, that podcasts offer a niche that they simply do not.

I found an excellent explanation as to the uses and application of podcasts for an organization at This is a great source of information provided by Apple. PR professional would do well to understand how podcasts work, their uses, and the benefits that they provide.

Integrated Marketing Communications; Organizational Synergy (Blog 7)

Since I was a child, the idea of "working as a team" has always been a staple of my upbringing. In school, I was encouraged to work in group projects. In sports, I was encouraged to be a team player. Even when I got into trouble, it was usually in a group situation. Why then in the last century has this same concept not been practiced throughout every aspect of an organization? Instead, a lot of work cultures empower individualism and reward those who who are better than their fellow employee. To me, this runs counter-productive to our teachings as a society about the value of teamwork. However, numerous organizations have realized this fundamental flaw of individualism at numerous levels within their organization and adopted the concept of integrated marketing communications (IMC) accordingly.

IMC as defined by Laura Lake, a nine year marketing veteran, as "a management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation" ( ). This allows organizations to work more effectively and efficiently. Traditionally, in marketing you always hear about the "four p's" - product, price, place, and promotion. In a global market where online commerce and constant communication runs rampant this outdated concept simply does not cut it anymore. IMC, on the other hand, can be seen as the "four c's" - consumer, cost, convenience, and communiation ( ). No longer can organizations allow their departments to work individually, but rather they need to make them work concurrently.

What does this mean specifically for the PR professional? That's simple. It means that your job may have become more complex, but I believe that it is now made more rewarding. That's because instead of "stepping on the marketing team's toes" you are now part of that marketing team. You are an extension of their eyes, ears, and mouth. There is no more competition - your success is their own and vice versa. However, this does mean that the role of the PR practitioner is expanded. Being a part of an integrated team, there are more ropes to learn but less hoops to jump through. IMC provides a way for the PR professional to engage their public(s) in ways that before were never possible. IMC is synonymous with organizational synergy and a well tuned machine that runs runs more efficiently is more likely to succeed.

That's Business 101.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Press Releases for a Digital Age (Blog 6)

During my PR undergrad I was taught that the most important tool for a PR professional was a press release. As information dissimination and retrieval becomes more popular and mainstream on the Internet, older methods of traditional practice have declined. However, the use and effectiveness of a press release has remained just as effective. The most significant and obvious difference is that the press release is now predominantly digital.

The transition to the new digital medium offers numerous benefits that greatly enhances a press release. First and foremost, press releases can be released at a much quicker rate. Digital press releases simultaneously allow for a much wider disbursement to multiple outlets at the same time. Although an organization may be tempted to cut out the traditional media outlets and distribute a press release themselves, that it is ill advised to do so. However, it is possible to do both. By distributing a press release through both traditional and digital means it ensures that an organization's target public(s) will be easier to reach. This also allows PR professionals to possess greater control over the information they release.

Finally, a press release is still the main component of an organization's media kit. Organization's can fully utilize media kits by posting the information on their websites, providing it through rss feeds, and using other forms of online social media. It is possible to use media kits, with press releases at the helm, to navigate the stormy oceans of the media and arrive safely in the information port that an organization so chooses.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Marketing (Blog 5)

"My mom thinks I am cool" has officially been replaced by "I know I'm cool I have over 500 friends on Facebook". Virtual popularity is but one of many facets that social networking websites have to offer. But how do these applications apply to organizations and the PR practitioner? The answer is simple; like most new social media tools it can be beneficial, harmful, or in some situations - both.

Social networking websites, such as Facebook or Myspace, have become an Internet phenomenon over the last four years. Their uses have expanded and organizations are starting to realize that it is possible to use them in order to contact , maintain, and target potential or existing customers. In fact, professionals have even begun to understand the virutal social networking possibilities and new websites such as Linkedin have been created for more specific purposes such as "professional networking".

These websites allow PR practitioners to establish and maintain better relationships with their organization's public(s). However, there are certain precautions that must be taken. It is important that organizations don't solely rely on social networking websites as a main form of communication. Not all members of their public(s) may use social networking websites, and those that do may not check them frequently. They do, however, allow an organization access to a more "personal" side both of their own image and of their customer's likes and dislikes. Subsequently, it is possible for PR professionals to identify with the public(s) of the organizations they represent more accurately and efficiently.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

RSS (Blog 4)

This week we discussed RSS, or "really simple syndication" as a new form of social media. This tool, part of the new frontier of "web 2.0", enables organizations to deliver information directly to their public(s). Typically, this information consists of text updates from blogs, current news, and other facets of information directly sent as a "feed" to users. Conveniently, individuals are able to pick and choose from their favorite websites to recieve this feed. This new tool opens numerous doors for PR practitioners to walk through.

First, upon searching different websites I noticed that although many do, not all contained a RSS feed. It is important that PR professionals encourage their organizations to embrace this new form of social media as a way to better communicate with their public(s). Granted, this may not be a direct form of communication that allows instantaneous feedback, it does allow feedback in different ways. For example, if an individual recieves information about an updated blog, they may read it and then go immediately post in response.

Second, much like YouTube or blogs, RSS allows organizations to shape and mold the information that they choose to be released to their public(s). PR professionals no longer need to wait to be reactive, instead, it enables the ability to be more proactive with communication which can enhance the organization's image.

Finally, RSS can help organizations "cut out the middle man". Although it is important to keep the press in the know, no longer must press releases be filtered through the media. Now, PR practitioners can send information instantly to their public(s) rather than waiting for a gatekeeper to read it, decide if they want to even release it, and if they even choose to release it then make adaptations to it.

All-in-all, RSS is perhaps one of the most important new tools that a PR practitioner can learn to utilize. They can help organizations dissiminate information instantly to their public(s), in the form that they choose, focusing on their own message. Also, it is possible to recieve feedback that can better enhance two-way communication, even if it isn't instantaneous.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blogs or 'Blah'gs? (Blog 3)

This week in class we discussed the importance of not only monitoring but also publishing blogs for our organization. I find this topic to be extremely fascinating for several reasons; mainly, because I graduated with a Bachelors in Public Relations in May of 2007. Yet in all of my PR courses not once did we discuss the importance of blogging. In fact, online PR itself was rarely covered. I don't attribute this to a lack of experience or planning on behalf of our professors, rather it is because at that time - online PR and blogs just weren't prevelant yet. So in less than two years, what I learned in my PR undergrad has changed drastically. This is a testament to the changing world of public relations - especially online social media. As our professor has been saying all semester, as soon as we learn these types of social media there will be completely new ones for us to master as well. However, this doesn't diminish the fact that blogs are extremely important to an organization's image and relationship with their pubic(s).

Blogs are a powerful tool for online PR; a tool which can either greatly enhance an organization if done correctly, or greatly hinder it if done incorrectly. Monitoring what an organization's public(s) are saying about them, their product, or even their employees is prudent in reactive PR. A practitioner must constantly monitor blogs as a means of not only evaluating current views of their organization, but also as a way of opening up indirect communication in response. This is an important facet of online PR. Not only is monitoring what these blogs say critical, but posting and giving feedback is as well. Ethically, a PR practitioner must remember to say that they represent or at least belong to the organization. This increases both the credibility of the practitioner as well as the image of the organization.

Blogs are also a tool for proactive PR. We looked at numerous blogs by PR professionals who post information about their companies, about products and services, or even about themselves that seem very effective. Posting blogs with new information is a great way for an organization to be able to control and shape messages to their public(s) about their organizations, but also makes it easier to monitor responses and provide feedback.

Blogs, however, are considered expensive, time consuming, and potentially harmful by some. It takes dedication and time for a PR practitioner to constantly post, update, and monitor blogs across the Internet. There are different tools that have been developed to help aid in this cause, but despite them it is still a full-time job. This means that an organization would need a PR professional dedicated directly for this purpose, which could become expensive. Having a single employee in your organization in charge of all the PR means that if they spend a lot of time with blogs then other areas will lack, or vice versa and the proper time won't be spent on blogs and other forms of online social media.

Then again, whoever said that building and maintaining a positive image of an organization would be cheap?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

YouTube: The New Frontier in Social Media? (Blog 2)

Last Monday in my Online Public Relations course we watched a fascinating video about how YouTube is (as my professor put it) 'changing the social landscape of communication'. At first, I was skeptical. Usually, I use YouTube for a variety of reasons; like to watch commercials that I heard are funny, to watch skits from stand-up comedy, or to see clips of presidential candidate debates that I may have missed. Never before did I really consider the impact of an online social media such as YouTube on communication until this course, or even more so specifically the video. I wish I had a link to it, and as soon as I find one I will edit it in, but it is worth the watch believe me.

For this weeks blog, my professor has asked us to elaborate on how we believe that a public relations practitioner could use YouTube to promote an organization and how it could potentially affect their image.

Before I can directly confront this question, it is important to briefly discuss YouTube's intended public(s) - or as many think of it, YouTube's audience. The video I watched said that the majority of YouTube's videos are not of professional quality, rather, that they were done on home video cameras and uploaded by people like you and I. Who then would the intended public be for such a video? Perhaps someone uploads a video with the intention to send out a link of it with their Christmas cards to family so that they can see how much older their children have become, or maybe it was a complaint about the new Facebook format, or maybe even a personal date ad. Many of the videos posted on YouTube may not even have a specific audience in mind - perhaps they were simply uploaded in hopes of fame, fortune, or their 20 seconds in the spotlight.

For a PR professional, however, having an intended public is imperative. Now, there are the examples of how sometimes not having an intended audience may actually be successful still; like the gentleman who did the experiments with mentos and diet coke. At first, Coca-Cola was against their videos, but once they evolved into an online phenomenon they quickly realized that there was a potential gold mine to be discovered and quickly hopped on board. Soon, Coca-Cola's marketing and PR team was signing and promoting the video's creators. The majority of videos posted on YouTube aren't going to gain this type of popularity.

That doesn't mean YouTube isn't a valuabe communication tool to connect with the public(s) though. For example, it could be used in a crisis situation. Perhaps one of the many banks that are failing in our economy right now want to 'reassure' their stockholders or potential investors they could develop a video and have it posted on YouTube. Another example of how a PR practitioner may use YouTube is as a form of feedback. On one hand you may be able to upload videos to send out information, it is also just as easy to watch videos to gather information. What are people posting about your organization? What types of videos are out there? Are they good or bad? Who is posting them? YouTube is an indirect way for organizations to communicate with their public(s).

By creating this indirect channel of communication, an organization can have a very proactive approach to assessing and renegotiating their image. By uploading videos and releasing information before the press does, they can help shape and control the way that their public(s) might view a particular person, event, or the organization in general. Retroactively they can evaluate other videos, or user feedback about their videos, and determine what they are doing correct or incorrect. YouTube has the ability to greatly enhance or hinder the image of an organization, and it is very important that PR professionals utilize it for the betterment of their company and increased communication with their public(s).

From the Depths of Dreams (Blog 1)

At this very moment I feel like a hypocrite. I had told myself for the last three or four years that I would never post a blog. Yes, I may have a Facebook account and a Myspace account but a blog is much more than that. It reaches deeper into your personal privacy, into the very fabric of who you are, much more than saying what your favorite bands, television shows, or movies are. However, in one of my Masters courses (Online Public Relations) we have been assignend to post at least one blog a week. The current trend in PR has evolved and social networking websites have become an effective tool to communicate with the public(s). This assignment is designed to familiarize us with these tools - and it makes perfect sense. So here I am, making my first blog post that I told myself I never would.

My professor has asked that this week we post about our dreams, our goals, and our aspirations over the next five years. Fortunately, for me, this is a easy post.

Last night I was out with my friends enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation. A couple of my buddies, who are a little older than me were discussing how they are facing a "mid-20s crisis". Basically, they didn't know where they were going with their lives and it scared them. I listened quietly (which is surprising if you know me, because usually I'm not quiet) and thought to myself about how lucky I was that I know exactly where I am going and am on the road to achieving it. Hell, I have accomplished part of that goal, and now I'm in the final home stretch. By this time next year, I plan to have completed my Masters in Communication at Missouri State University and have landed a full-time salary position at a "local" college or university. I have come to the conclusion that I rather teach somewhere that focuses on teaching, rather than research. I want to do this for four or five years, and gain some great experience, and make some money so that I can pay off my student loans. After that, I plan on going back to recieve my PhD. Just the thought of being "Dr. James Ackerman" sounds amazing. It is a ton of work, though. Most importantly, however, after four or five years I hope to be married and thinking about (at the very least) having children. I'm not in a rush, per say, but it's the most important dream I have.

On a side note, I also hope to still have a full head of hair, chiseled features, and devilishly handsome good looks.