Posts Tagged ‘power’


Big Media, Mass Media, New Media – Oh My!

Friday, September 10th, 2010

A few days ago, I read NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen’s inaugural lecture to the fresh crop of future journalists at Sciences Pos School of Journalism in Paris. I’m not going to recap the historically rich (and lengthy) address, but will borrow a piece or two for the purpose of discussion here. (Note: his post can be found here if you’d like to read it in its entirety.)  This address was directed to future journalists, but I think public relations practitioners that deal in media relations, can learn from it just as well.

Rosen began with a clip from the 1976 movie Network, which is about a TV news anchor who begins to act out on the air. I realize this was before many of you were born, but please take a few minutes to watch what is probably the most well-known scene in the film.

Rosen believes the filmmakers are “showing us what the mass audience was: a particular way of arranging and connecting people in space. Viewers are connected ‘up’ to the big spectacle, but they are disconnected from one another.” He explains, “But Howard Beale does what no television person ever does: he uses television to tell its viewers to stop watching television. When they disconnect from TV and go to their windows, they are turning away from Big Media and turning toward one another. And as their shouts echo across an empty public square they discover just how many other people had been ‘out there,’ watching television” – concurrently yet disconnectedly. 

I agree with Rosen’s belief that this clip clearly demonstrates the great event we are living through today: the breakup of the mass audience and the shift in power that goes with it. What if today’s TV personality acted like Howard Beale? Rosen answers: “Immediately people who happened to be watching would alert their followers on Twitter. Someone would post a clip the same day on YouTube. The social networks would light up before the incident was over.  Bloggers would be commenting on it well before professional critics had their chance.” 

Cases of where citizens beat journalists to the punch are numerous but a few off the top of my head are: the Mumbai attacks, the Hudson River plane landing, or more recently the Discovery Channel hostage situation.

Rosen goes on to explain, “The media world today is a shifted space. People are connected horizontally to one another as effectively as they are connected up to Big Media; and they have the powers of production in their hands.”

The digital revolution changes the equation, according to Rosen. “It brings forward a new balance of forces, putting the tools of production and the powers of distribution in the hands of the people…”.

From my media relations standpoint, this means the days of blasting out a press release to every big (or small) media outlet are rapidly coming to an end. NO, I’m not saying big media is dead, nor is the press release (sheez, don’t get me started!)

What I am saying is that PR agencies, public relations practitioners, branding/marketing folks, small business owners, etc. now, more than ever, have additional opportunities to reach out to their publics in multiple ways – connecting with their individual audience(s) – and each other wherever they hang out.  Big media and small media alike are still very much part of that equation, but now there are even more possibilities.

That’s my takeaway from Rosen’s speech and the clip. What is yours?

Social Media: The New Solitaire?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Lately I’ve been struggling with the social media paradox – is it good or is it bad? I use social media because it encourages me to be, well, social. You can keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country, you can check out photos of your recently married ex-boyfriend (ah-hem), you can stay on top of current news stories, and you can even rant or rave about practically anything and cyberspace is forced to “listen.” Networking is also another plus for social media. One of my friends recently told me how he actually used Facebook to help out a friend who was laid off. The news came up in his Facebook feed, he contacted his friend for a resume and emailed it to a PR firm he knew was hiring. His friend was rewarded with an interview and an opportunity that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

All of this sounds good, so what’s the bad? Well, there is a lot of question and doubt regarding social media in the professional world. For one, some companies are hesitant to learn about these tools and apply them to their strategies. Instead, they are blocked, strictly forbidden, and grounds to send you packing in the event that you’re caught sneaking a peek at your Twitter feed.   

I recently attended a BDI conference called “Social Convergence and The Enterprise” and my mind is overflowing with all these thoughts on social media. Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer from Definition 6, boggled my mind with his perspective on social media in the workplace. He advised that we “stop blocking things internally.” Whoa! Wait, there’s more. Hernacki pointed out that while public relations, marketing, and communications departments should guide your company as your “official voice” this alone won’t be as successful as getting your organization involved as a whole.

This, my friends, is genius. Case and point: I tried to explain to my dad, who isn’t familiar with social media, what “liking” something is on Facebook. You should have seen the blank stare on his face.  My point is, how can you expect your employees to understand the power and impact of social media if they are not allowed to be actively involved?

At the same conference I also had the pleasure of listening to Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways. When speaking of social media, her words “you are being watched” hovered over the conference room. After all, the conference was being broadcast live over the web and we were all watching a live Twitter feed (#BDI) of our comments.  Dervin went on to further explain JetBlue’s use of YouTube and their blog “Blue Tales” as part of their strategy for taking a crisis situation head on. How much more authentic can you get than having the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, deliver an apology over YouTube? Kudos to JetBlue for picking up on the fact that consumers are involved in social media and for using this medium as a way to interact.

When your employees know what is being said on social media sites or how this medium is being used to promote a product, service, or idea it can only help your company. For example, if I worked at a major automobile manufacturer I might find it interesting to know that Ford is promoting the 2011 Explorer by unveiling it first on Facebook. In fact, the Ford Explorer fan page reached their goal of 30,000 “likes” so Ford will now give away a brand new Explorer! Clearly, Ford understands Facebook and the users who frequently use it.

I’m not suggesting that your employees should do nothing but surf the web all day, but there should be a balance. Encouraging your employees to understand social media and to use it wisely is an important tactic for any business plan. There are a lot of studies discussing whether or not social media decreases productivity at work. In my opinion, before social media it was Solitaire, before Solitaire it was “the water cooler.” There are always going to be distractions. If an employee is consistently not doing their job they shouldn’t be an employee of yours.  Not doing your work is a choice you make, regardless of how easily accessible any distractions are.

Social media gets people talking. If you want to be a part of the chatter, don’t block social media, incorporate it.  I’m sure you have many thoughts on this controversial topic and we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. How does your company feel about using social media internally? What ways have you utilized this social media phenomenon? How do you monitor social media?

***

*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce