Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ethics in Social Media

One important policy issue concerning the Internet is the broad, delicate and controversial issue of blogger ethics and the more specific offshoot of disclosure. Should online writers have to disclose that they are endorsing a product or a celebrity for compensation? The blogosphere is an area of dynamic communication and of vast value for PR practitioners, bloggers and even everyday consumers. For example, brands are showering bloggers & online "influencers" with money, access and products etc.

But as of yet, there are no hard and fast standards for communicating and sharing information on the Internet. Authors and PR 2.0 advocates Solis and Breakenridge posit that this is a difficult topic because "the fuel that powers the continued evolution of Social Media is the raw and untamed voices of the people." But these virtual voices can cross over into the real world with real consequences, and the Federal Trade Commission may be doing something about it.

According to The Daily Beast , The FTCs new guidelines concerning disclosure will go online December 1st and breaking any of the new rules concerning the disclosure of who bloggers etc. work for, can result in fines of up to $11,000. Can the Internet be regulated you may ask? Good question. But some good information and relevant discussions concerning this topic can be found at TechCrunch. This will continue to be a heated discussion for time to come, as Social Media becomes even more widespread.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Effective & Ineffective PR Online

For our recent assignment I found a very effective and progressive use of public relations online. Traditional press releases are narrowly focused and offer little coherence or genuine value to the people they are trying to reach . Its important to have a release that grabs your attention, is news-worthy and tells an effective story writers can use, and influencers can identify with. Most traditional releases don't exhibit these qualities. A good remedy for this and an example of PR utilizing Web 2.0 tools is the PR Newswire website and especially their multimedia section. I recently saw a PR video on their site for a new product that locates wanderers - The beauty of the site and the subsequent video is that it actually has relevant quotes given by consumers (mother with autistic child,) and authority figures who have experience with wanderers - (police) and experts (on Alzheimer's) that you can actually see and then use your objective judgment if your a consumer. It contains the "because" of marketing. Which brings me to the point - consumers can find these product releases etc. online, at their fingertips. This type of site is also good for practitioners because of its search engine marketing abilities and the convenient ability to reach target audiences transparently.

An ineffective use of PR online is organizations putting press releases on their websites. For example, I went to Starbucks' site and found a news release and video promoting their new ready-brew VIA coffee. Don't get me wrong, this can be effective, I had never heard of this VIA self-brewing coffee before going to their site. But its ineffective PR for a couple of reasons.

1. I would rather hear raving about a product from an independent source (3rd party advocates -key to PR).

2. Too much hype for the most part. Not enough substance. For example, "Beginning November 17th, and just in time for the holiday entertaining season, U.S. customers will have access to a rich, bold cup...." -from Starbucks.com (*Although, I do think the mentioning of "entertaining" & "the holiday season" is effective messaging and illustrates the brand knows it self well)

3. No originality.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 Ineffective Websites-

With the multitude of websites out there, there are bound to be a few that fail to capture their intended audiences or maybe they scare away the viewer who stumbled upon the site by accident after a Google search. I began my morning by searching for some of these ineffective websites to see what was out there.

I first Googled 'sports websites' and after searching through a few on the list I found a pretty bad one in my humble opinion - http://www.sportingnews.com/
This sports website is ineffective for a few different reasons. First, its way too cluttered. The actual content is overwhelming and gives me a headache just trying to search around the site. Also, there is just too many ads. The whole backdrop of the site is an ad for razor blades. Next, the navigation bar with a vertical drop-down menu interferes with clicking around. Its too sensitive. Every time I came even relatively close to the long horizontal navigation bar the menu would drop down. The site also has too many pic's and ads which cause it to constantly reload!
This is very annoying and prompts me to immediately go to another site

I next searched for 'civil war websites' and found another ineffective website that doesn't accomplish what the creator intended - http://www.civilwar.com/
This site's main problem is the choice of color for the content and links. Its hard for me to read and someone with minor eye problems probably wouldn't be able to read it at all. They use a very light brown color for the links etc. The Civil War site also strangely includes a user poll that asks a question about health care reform, not a military or war question.

I found a third ineffective website while searching for 'car websites.' The site I found was for Edmunds, which is a site for people looking for used cars, prices of cars, and new car reviews, info etc. - http://www.edmunds.com/
The reason I choose this as an ineffective site is because the home page is way too cluttered. Granted, the site does offer a vast amount of information and tools to answer any of your car-related queries - but most all of this is offered on the home page. Also, the review section was difficult to search through to find the specific car reviews you were looking for.