Archive | September 2008

There’s no reason in 2008 not to do what you love

If you’re offended by a couple of dirty words, don’t watch this. Nah, watch it anyway. It’s Gary Vaynerchuk‘s keynote speech at Web 2.0 Expo (via Tod Defren), it’s about entrepreneurship and doing what you love, but it’s really about how to live your life (and enjoy it).

The video is highly motivational, inspirational, and entertaining. Runs about 15 minutes.

The PR takeaway:

“Listening is not enough. You have to give a shit. Do something about it. You have to care.”

J. Grunig didn’t phrase it quite like this in the excellence model of PR (aka 2-way symmetrical), but that’s what Gary V. is talking about πŸ™‚

What are your takeaways from this video? What ideas stuck with you?

“Utter bullocks”

I’m amused by this expression used in a comment on a RWW post titled: Study: 93% of Americans Want Companies to Have Presence on Social Media Sites.

I also believe it’s the perfect response to the report of this study, as presented in the RWW post. I don’t know, the study might be brilliant. But that’s the problem, they don’t provide enough information so I can decide if it’s brilliant or not.

Two issues here:

1) understand the data before you make decisions based on it

2) even if the data is good & valid, don’t jump in and make decisions based only on statistics & demographics

1) understand the data before you make decisions based on it

Some questions to ask about these particular results:

  • who are the 93% of Americans? There aren’t that many Americans online in the first place!!! (P.S.: cultural sensitivity issue: “America” includes Canda, and South American countries. Do you mean U.S. residents?)
  • they probably mean 93% of survey respondents, I guess (guessing = bad sign in research)
  • who are the survey respondents? Provide information about the sample:

These are just a few things I’d like to know before I’d spend a dime on a “social media presence”. And, as RWW writer Frederic L. points out, which social media sites? Twitter and Facebook are so different they might as well be two foreign countries!

2) even if the data is good & valid, don’t jump in and make decisions based only on statistics & demographics

My social media mantra is: It’s not about technology, it’s about culture.

Culture (social norms, etiquette, communication practices) emerges quickly around a social medium, and is specific not only to that medium, but also to sub-groups of users. So you can assume there are hundreds if not thousands sub-cultures on Facebook alone (about 100 million users worldwide).

An example: Befriending someone you haven’t met before is perfectly acceptable on Twitter, but creepy on Facebook.

So think about social media as a continent with many different countries and cultures. If you were to go to Romania (my native country), would you start doing PR & marketing armed with just some demographics produced by a poorly designed research study? I certainly hope not! I hope you’d take some time (a couple of years, say) to begin to get a grasp of Romanian culture before you dive in.

Same goes with social media. Start with your surveys, and make sure you understand what a good survey is. But do some ethnographic research, too (focus groups will do) before you spend that dime on your “social media presence.”

P.S.

Since I’m ranting, let me point out that the phrase “social media presence” is also … (see post’s title). It’s not about presence, it’s about engagement & conversation.

My job is to kill creativity

University professors… are curious forms of life. …They think of their bodies as transport for their heads.

We educate children only from the waist up, focusing on their brain, and that too, only one side of it.

Jillian isn’t sick: She’s a dancer.

If all insects were to disappear from the planet, life on Earth would vanish in 50 years. If all humans were to disappear from the planet, all forms of life would flourish.

These are a few quotes that stood out to me in this brilliant TED talk about education, given by Sir Ken Robinson. If you’re an educator, you owe it to yourself and your students to spend 15 minutes to watch it:

Hello, my name is Mihaela. My job IS to kill creativity.

Here’s how I try to try not to:

I’m very, very cautious, I try to treat it like a fragile and precious rare flower.:

  • I try, as much as I can, knowing I will always fail, to remove fear out of the classroom. But I still have to give grades, so it’s impossible to do away with fear. If you read my blog before, you know fear in education is one important theme on PR Connections.
  • I try to encourage students. I ask them to give themselves a break, not be harsh on themselves. I compliment them a lot. Yesterday I taught strategy. I asked students to create strategies for some case studies. They were hesitant to share, afraid they were wrong. I kept telling them it’s the first ever time they’re doing it, and they only had 20 seconds to think about it. It’s OK if your strategies suck. Guess what, they didn’t. But how many times do we grade students on their first attempt at something? 90%, I’m guessing.
  • I remove students, as much as possible, from modes of writing (research papers) that have conditioned their minds to be numb. I ask them to email or blog assignments instead of writing APA style papers. I ask them to create videos, dance, or perform, their final project. I will be (and I am) a persona non grata in my department for stating this publicly (we live for APA papers, and we do exactly what Sir Ken Robinson says: try to make them all university professors).

But here’s what I think: If you change the medium, you change the way they think. Ask them to write in a new medium, one that they haven’t been conditioned to fear and be constipated about and write like a mindless robot (see Richard Landham on the need to un-teach students how to write) – and guess what: Students’ writing comes to life, you all of a sudden see ideas, thoughtfulness, soul!But many times they choose to write APA style papers. Because it’s too late, because they’re scared to do otherwise, because they can’t think of anything else. So sad.

So, if you’re a teacher or a professor, what do you do to (not) kill creativity?

If you’re a subject of education (and we all were students at some point), teach me: What can I do to protect your creativity, or maybe even encourage it to grow?

[Found video via PROpenMic, thanks to Paul Loop. This post is inspired by the comments I posted on Paul’s post.]

Profs on twitter

I just thought of creating a list of academics with twitter accounts, so, if you are one and would like to be on the list, post a comment here including your twitter user name and your area (i.e.: Communication, Public Relations) as well as any other information you’d like to list.

Here, I’ll start:

@prprof_mv
Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu
Communication Studies: Public Relations, Emerging communication technologies
Clemson University, Department of Communication Studies
http://www.prconnections.net
http://prprofmv.wordpress.com

I’ll disseminate the list on PROpenMic and here.

WHY? So we can learn together about twitter in higher education.

[update: Barbara Nixon has already started a list of PR profs on twitter. Might as well put your name in both places if you teach PR. This list is for all subjects, from PR & Communication to… Mechanical Engineering.]

UGA Connect – live blogging

Too early for me to blog the first session from the UGA Connect conference: Lionel Menchaca from Dell. But Constantin Basturea is covering it live.

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