Social Media: How dependent are we?

Social Media is said to be the “father of blogging.” Blogging is, well as you probably know a rapidly growing form of communication not only among the publics but professional as well. There are many different forms of Social Media. The main types I researched were Podcasting, Wikis, and Social Networks.

Social Media is “rewriting the rules of communication.” Social Media has revolutionized how we communicate with one another and how we are able tom communicate with one another. In terms of content distribution alone, it is having a huge impact economically. You used to need many more people for producing media. For example TV stations need to hire a lot of skilled people to write, edit and broadcast content to give out information to the public. Newspapers also had to hire reporters and writers just to produce as well as sell their product or news to the audience. With how popular and financially reasonable computers and other digital technology is becoming and simple it is becoming to acquire technological knowledge; it is much easier for people to produce their own information by means of video, words, images or audio.

It has not only changed the production but the distribution of content as well. After production comes distribution, once you have content you need to be able to distribute it to your audience. A technology called RSS (really simple syndication) has made it much easier for people to access means of social media such as Blogs, Podcasts and Community Content. RSS allows people to subscribe to a means of social media. Once the people subscribe to a Social Media means RSS also makes it possible to notify a “newsreader” of new content available and makes it possible to acquire the information without having to go directly to the site. Another popular and over-looked means of distribution is search engines. Try and have your content (whether it be Blogging, or Podcasting) linked to a popular site. For example if you have been Blogging about the environment and the affects global warming is having on it, then CNN does a documentary on Global Warming, searches for that documentary will be connected to your Blogging site.

I came to the conclusion that Social Media has a great impact in our society in both our social and professional lives. It affects our personal lives with how connect we are globally now. With blogging alone it is possible to know what is going on the other side of the world, and with community content and social networks it is possible for people on opposite ends of the world to give feedback on their topic of interest to one another. It is only going to go forward. Social Media is only going to expand and become used by more and more people, technology is advancing and at the same time becoming more easy to use. It is going to affect us professionally, especially those in Communications and PR gravely as well, with how we advertise and communicate. It is no longer necessary for a business professional to fly across the globe to attend a meeting with clients or audiences, that can all be done through technology now whether it be community content, videoblogging and podcasting. We are becoming a very technological dependent world and it is only going to grow. The only thing I wonder if what could possibly be next?


December 4, 2006 at 12:09 am 4 comments

Podcasting: Get ahead of the game, before the wave hits hard!

By: Alison Geraghty

For those who are not sure what podcasting is, you may be categorized as a blinking 12.  Blinking 12, as I have learned from is someone who is technologically challenged.  They are those who can not figure out how to program their VCR after a power shortage and when you walk into their living room you notice the clock blinking 12:00.  These people are not exactly technologically savvy and so explaining something such as podcasting could prove to be a challenge.

For all of those Blinking 12’s, podcasting is something like a radio show that plays off of your computer, or if desired your MP3 Player. To receive a podcast you must subscribe to a show, which usually costs nothing.  After you are registered as a subscriber, the podcast is automatically downloaded onto your computer when it becomes available. After the podcast is downloaded onto your computer you have a few options.  First, you may listen to it immediately by pressing play, or secondly, you can transfer it to your MP3 player and listen to it while tackling other tasks such as, taking your dog for a walk or hitting the gym.  In a society where we have so much to accomplish with so little time, podcasts are great for multi-tasking.

Podcasts are one of the greatest tools that a public relations representative can make available to them self. As a public relations and communication representative we are expected to stay ahead of the trends and technologies. Subscribing to podcasts will help us to stay on top of current events and help us better understand our target audiences.  We can listen to our podcasts while in the car driving to the next meeting, or whenever it is convenient!

One of the easiest ways for a public relations practitioner to get a message out to their target audience is through podcasting. People are able to search the web for podcasts relevant to them. Once they have searched for a topic that interests them, they can download it onto their computer.  All a public relations person needs to do is write and produce a podcast. “If you build it, they will come” is a line from a great movie called Field of Dreams.  Listeners love podcasts because it works around their own individualized schedules.

It can not get much easier for communicators trying to get our messages out. Life just got that much easier! Let’s take advantage of this cost effective tool and get our messages out there. If you would like to do further research and see how podcasting has helped in the sales department for a small business, go to: It’s a great case study that shows how podcasting can prove to be beneficial to any business.

I strongly encourage all public relations practitioners and communicators to jump on the bandwagon before the wave hit’s hard. Start learning about podcasting and how you can use it to your advantage. It proves to be the next biggest thing in our industry!

November 12, 2006 at 5:28 pm 5 comments

FEMA – A Public Relations Embarassment

The United States’ Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA) has been a public relations (PR) embarrassment for most of its history. Recently, it was the scapegoat for everything Hurricane Katrina related. Headlines reagarding FEMA’s reaction to the disaster read: “Aid workers turned away at the Louisiana border”, “Housing Trailers sitting in empty warehouses”, “Hundreds of New Orleans stuck inside the Convention Centre”. What I uncovered in my research was that most of the accusations against the federal agency were in fact true, but that the agency had also done some good in the past. Unfortunately FEMA’s poor performance in the wake of hurricane Katrina left Americans and the US government wondering if FEMA is still an effective government body in its current form.

Since its inception in 1979, FEMA has been a flawed and heavily criticized government body. Originally formed as a one-stop shop for previous federal emergency response groups, the agency had a lot of ground to cover. Former groups such as the Federal Insurance Administration Program, the National Fire Prevention, and even Civil Defense from the Department of Defense and Civil Preparedness all merged together under the unified FEMA. For 27 years, the agency has endured continual restructuring of roles, reshuffling of management and changes to scopes of practice with each newly elected government.

The area of Civil Defense has proved to be FEMA’s downfall because it takes the agency’s focus away from natural disaster relief. This area was removed from FEMA’s jurisdiction in the 1990s. This resulted in positive representation in the media for FEMA because the agency was able to focus on natural disaster relief. There were constant pictures of aid workers providing relief to affected areas and large cheques were written out to communities in need. This period of good public relations lasted until the events of 9/11. In 2003, national security/terrorism was added once again to FEMA’s scope. The agency changed from a cabinet position within the government to one part of many federal organizations banded together under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

 In September 2003, Michael Brown, then FEMA’S director, worried about this shift of focus. He was concerned that FEMA’s motto of, “A nation prepared” would fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions. He also felt that it would, “shatter agency morale and break longstanding and effective relationships and first responder stakeholders”. He went on to say that all of the reorganization would, “be an ineffective and uncoordinated response to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster”. Take a look at all of the FEMA directed criticism following Hurricane Katrina and this theory has proven true.

Over the years FEMA has endured mostly negative public opinion despite the brief period of positive relief in the 1990s. In 1985, FEMA was criticized for developing crude plans for guarded camps during the Los Angeles riots in order to detain African Americans. As well in the late 1990s, the agency deemed homosexuals as security risks and tried to compile a list of all of the gay and lesbian workers within the agency. Incidences like these, along with Hurricane Katrina, should remind all PR practitioners and students studying public relations of the differences between crisis prevention and crisis management. All organizations, especially those dedicated to disaster relief need to have a crisis management plan in place as part of their communications plan.

Is FEMA still a relevant government body? I think in its current form, no probably not. Fortunately, for me it’s not something that I have to decide. Over a year after Hurricane Katrina, the United States government still hasn’t decided if it is or not. Despite this one thing is clear; one more public relations embarrassment will cause whatever shred of respect and clout the agency has left to disappear.

  Want to know more? Check out the sites that helped me in my research: 

FEMA’S Official Website 

The Department of Homeland Security 

FEMA – Wikipedia 

FEMA after Katrina, by Patrick S. Roberts  

 Submitted by Laura Kolstein

 Edited by Tara Wood

November 12, 2006 at 5:15 pm 1 comment

Offshore Labour- Edited Version

After researching for an assignment on Offshore Labour, there are many trends and themes, which are common to this topic. Today, I am going to post a blog on one of the trends relating to Offshore Labour.  A reason why businesses and companies rely on offshore labour is to reduce costs and to be more effective.

My research for this class assignment is mostly from journal articles and some internet articles from websites. To start, technological advancements are very important to area of Offshore Labour. In order for Offshore Labour to be effective and for companies to perform well, having a knowledge of the different technological tools is important. The host country relies on technology tools for communication purposes. Without these technological tools the host country would not have an efficient or profitable base to their profit. Hence, it is important companies research and know their labour force offshore.

The term “Outsourcing” is relavant to offshore labour. I performed a search on the definition of Outsourcing on, and it defines outsourching as taking the internal company functions and paying an outside firm to handle them. Outsourcing is done to save money, improve quality, or free company resources for other activities. In regard to Offshore Labour, all these are primary motives and reasons why companies offshore labour. Hence, it is apparent the theme of cost savings and effectiveness is relavent here.

In today’s global market, companies and businesses are primarily just interested in making money and or profit. With the research I have compiled for this class project, I strongly believe, Offshore Labour will continue to occur in the future. In regard to Public Relations, the practitioner must be able to communicate globally and know the language of the country where the labour is being offshored. Even though, offshore labour is done to save money and be more effectivess, research and culture are very important when considering offshore labour.

Here are some of the sources I used in my research:
Davison, D. (2003, December 9). Top 10 Risks of Offshore Outsourcing. Tech Update. Retrieved October 7, 2006 from search engine on the World Wide Web:

Kakumanu, P. & Portanova, A. (2006, September 1). Outsourcing: Its Benefits, Drawbacks and Other Related Issues. Journal of American Academy of Business,9 (2), 1-7. Retrieved September 21, 2006 from ProQuest Database on the World Wide Web:

. King, W. (2006 summer). Offshoring decision time is at hand. Information Systems Management,23 (3), 102-103. Retreived September 23, 2006 from ProQuest Database on the World Wide Web:

Jamie Gill, CC&PR Edited

November 12, 2006 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

Edit = Digital Copyright Trends – Laura Sykes

Digital copyright is an area where the technology has advanced a lot faster than the laws and social codes.  Both companies and consumers have been unsure how to proceed, with companies refusing to advance at the rate needed and consumers wanting more.  The emergences of companies, such as iTunes, who exist in the newer technological realm, have paved the way for a new type of consumption: digital media.

The fact that most companies did nothing to change the way we consume media or the laws surrounding media consumption, created a bit of chaos once digital media became popular.  People wanted to buy it, but had no legal way to do so.  By falling behind the new technologies, companies missed out on opportunities and alienated customers.  In my opinion, music was the first area to deal heavily with this problem, followed by movies and television.

                        Currently, companies are trying to play catch-up.  They are creating new ways for the consumers to buy and trying to adjust copyright laws to fit.  Since companies were behind in the technology, the process is slower and certain companies are still not embracing the technology as much as they could.

                        Nettwerk is an example of a music company that is embracing all of the new technology.  Terry McBride, the CEO of Nettwerk is a firm believer in following the technology.  Nettwerk has been releasing music in different formats, giving consumers the choice to listen the way they want.  One recent Nettwerk release has allowed fans to either buy the album normally on a cd, buy it digitally from a store like iTunes, buy it on a USB stick, as well as separating out guitar and vocal tracks, letting the fan mix their own version of a song.   Nettwerk, is helping consumers rather than suing them.  McBride has publicly opposed the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for suing the music fans and has even paid the legal fees of one of the defendants.  Being flexible and keeping up to date with technology has allowed Nettwerk to embrace the new instead of clinging to the old.  They are better equipped to serve the tech-savvy consumer and this will make them much more successful in the long run.

          It is an important lesson for public relations practitioners to stay up to date with technology.  It moves so fast and has become such an integral part of our lives that we cannot afford to fall behind.  Companies must listen to what the customers want and how they want it.  They must be versatile rather than clinging to the same old models.  Keeping up with technology and the consumer as well as being willing to try new things is what will allow companies to be successful in the long term.      

Laura – Very interesting topic.  This is such a good one for you.  Editting was pretty easy I just had one sentence I could not understand to correct.  – Mel

Links!  – Terry McBride talks about his beliefs and why music is not a commodity. – a brief overview of copyright and fair use laws. – recent article from the CEO of EMI record label stating that the CD is dead. – an old article from when iTunes was introduced.  This shows that there has been some progress.

November 12, 2006 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Etiquette in an Electronic Era

Saturday, November 11 2006

Bree Piccinin 


In business today, technology is seen as an ever present hindrance. When transmitting important information or data through e-mails, or by other technological means, a substantial amount of miscommunication can occur.  By removing face to face contact from business practices we often forget to address important issues, overlook facts or disregard and delete important emails..

It is common for businesses to have no policies in place regarding new and ever progressing technologies such as e-mail, fax or phone systems. There are business technology manners and etiquette that have been around for a while, but under a sort of “unwritten rules.” It is hard to govern the information being received, sent or neglected by anyone other than the recipient because of the supposed privacy of these different communication tools. A manager or boss is not able to see the work being sent out and therefore would not be able to enforce any implemented rules of etiquette.



A PR professional must be in constant contact with a numerous amount of people at all times, because the work is ongoing and fast paced.   With all the hustle and bustle of everyday activity, it could be easy to sacrifice some business etiquette in order to save time.  The PR professional must be aware of this and make strides to improve electronic etiquette in order to facilitate, manage and keep clients and their organization pleased with their performance.  Keeping up on your etiquette, in all venues of communication can boost your credibility, which is an indispensable asset in the PR profession.


Helpful Websites:

Edited by Laura K.

November 12, 2006 at 3:01 am 3 comments

The PR Agency

There are many areas of specializations within PR and various kinds of PR agencies. In recent years, PR agencies specialties have reflected an increased growth and emphasis in crisis communication PR, on-line PR, and technology/IT PR. Social media is transforming marketing, media, and public relations, and a new breed of PR specialists is emerging. The services PR agencies offer need to be able to tap into blogs, utilize the web on behalf of their clients, increase their clients visibility on the web, search-engine market, and strategize/ consult (Bounds 2006).

What PR agencies are seeing in corporations is a move towards integrated communications. With the changing nature of business in recent years, there has been an increased need for various divisions within companies (e.g. PR, marketing, advertising, and technology) to work together towards achieving the best results (Mayo Clinic 2006). So, while it is useful to have an area of specialty, the lines between related fields in the business sector are continuing to blur. The distinctions between what PR, marketing, advertising, and technology roles are, are becoming less and less clear. In fact, what are considered the new vital technology trends for PR agencies (such as blogs, search engines, online press releases, and online newsrooms) would have been considered areas for IT departments not that long ago. So, while integrated communications may be helpful to PR firms by opening more doors and creating more opportunities, it also has the potential to hinder them because less definitions means a need for more specialties under a broader scope. It is no longer enough to be very experienced in one area; an individual must be knowledgeable regarding many different areas. Wider horizons, also translates into more competition and overlap.

Also, with small businesses increasing access to “do-it-yourself” PR techniques available online, PR agencies need to ensure that they continue to adopt means of high-tech communication in order to continue to evolve and stay relevant, and to avoid becoming out-dated and obsolete. PR agencies need to be adaptable, embrace technology and change, and establish a means of measuring outcome (Fulford, 2006).

– Kim Resendes (edited by: Caitlin Yearwood)


Bounds, G. (2006, September 25). Small business (A special report): How to get attention in a new-media world: The rules of the publicity game are changing; Here are ways to claim the spotlight for your business. Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition), p. R1. New York, N.Y.

Fulford, L. (2006, May 19). Time to jump on the bandwagon or risk becoming obsolete.

Media, 14. Singapore, Hong Kong.

Mayo Clinic. (2006, October 2). It’s time for PR to take the lead in integrated

communications. PR News, 37(63), 1. Potomac.


  • MarketingFind – Shopping for a PR Agency

  • Wikipedia – Public Relations

November 11, 2006 at 10:19 pm 2 comments

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