Tag Archives: Twitter

Will SOPA curtail creativity?

by Megan Reichenbach

The Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as the Protect IP Act in the Senate) is a new initiative copyright owners are taking to “isolate and shut down websites or online services found with infringing content.”

Should we be worried?

SOPA’s primary goals seem to be legitimate, giving those artists the money they deserve for work that is being displayed online by others. The problem is that this bill has been reworked and now includes a requirement for pre-screening all user-contributed content.

In essence, we are looking at a future of broad Internet censorship . . . aka, changing the entire nature of what the Internet has become. Some even believe this act to be the “Great Firewall of America.”

The beginning

In late October 2011, the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would extend our federal government’s ability to stop foreign sites from using pirated content developed by U.S. businesses. This includes websites that steal music, videos and software from U.S. corporations.

As I noted, the initial purpose of the bill seemed reasonable. Many people illegally download music, films and television series rather than paying the 99 cents to download from iTunes. In reality, such stinginess is leaving those music producers and filmmakers with empty pockets.

It’s estimated that Hollywood studios and record labels are losing up to a $135 billion a year from piracy alone.

But, eradicating domain names all together may “disrupt the way the Internet is designed to work today and put too much of a burden on search engines and Internet service providers in blocking suspected sites.”

The SOPA buzz

It’s no secret that SOPA has been the ongoing gossip in the cyber world. The bill suggests that those individuals and companies that publish about or link to others’ works may be accused of piracy.

This would include all of us who retweet, post or even write about another person’s publication. According to an infographic on Mashable.com, “sites you visit may be blocked, email providers may be forced to censor certain links you send or receive” and “the links and content you share on social networks will be carefully monitored and possibly censored.”

I just have one question . . . where are my privacy rights?

A threat to our future?

SOPA also threatens the future of job searching and innovation through online techniques. Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have recently been job searchers’ platforms for getting their names into the industry market.

Unlike traditional resume builders, LinkedIn, a professional social media site, allows individuals to offer links to personal sites such as Twitter and Facebook accounts, upload professional résumés and add photos to your profile.

Are we all going to have to resort back to the simple résumés built on Microsoft Word? This limit on creativity could be the catalyst for never getting that dream job.

Those of us searching for a job in this ever-so-difficult market need to have the ability to put our names out there in ways that show off our individuality. The sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us that opportunity.

In retaliation to the serious risk the bill is imposing, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga sent a letter to the U.S. Congress voicing their concerns.

These companies respect the goal of enforcing additional tactics to combat illegitimate copyright and counterfeit sites. But, they urge the legislators to “preserv[e] the innovation and dynamism that [have] made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”

Instead of tweeting about Kourtney Kardashian’s recent pregnancy announcement or who will play in the national college football championship, maybe we should all be concerned with the direction the Internet is going. Are all of our posts, tweets and blog postings going to be accused of counterfeit?


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Honesty in PR: #admitwhenYoumakemistakes

by Sarah Shea, editor

Nearly every conversation about public relations ethics comes back to one crucial idea. For insider trading scandals—honesty is crucial. For crisis communications—honesty is crucial. And for reputation management? Honesty.

The Penn State scandal came with several opportunities for honesty in communication. While the university itself arguably took a little too long to disseminate information, the entire crisis presented opportunities for PR.

In situations like this, social media often rears its head. Reactions to Joe Paterno’s dismissal went viral. Avid tweeters quickly tweeted their responses when the news broke.

For the average user, hastily typed tweets are inconsequential and soon forgotten. But for celebrities, a single thoughtless tweet can spur harsh commentary from the cyber world.

Just minutes after Paterno’s firing was announced on Nov. 9, Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), tweeted, “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste.”

Clearly, Kutcher hadn’t gotten the full story explaining why Paterno was fired. The tweet, which has since been deleted, immediately erupted when it showed up on the timelines of more than 8.2 million of Kutcher’s followers.

His Twitter handle, aplusk, was completely managed by the actor himself at the time. I was astounded by Kutcher’s response to his follwers’ outrage. He was bombarded by a multitude of hateful replies, including:

“Who is more ignorant? @Aplusk, or the EIGHT MILLION idiots who follow him?”

“@aplusk with 8 million followers, you MAY want to reserve your opinions until you know the whole story.”
“@aplusk superrrrFAIL.”

And how did Kutcher respond? He replied, tweeted and retweeted nearly immediately. He did the honest thing — admitted fault. Even for the harshest of tweets, Kutcher replied “agreed” and “had no idea.”

He followed up and fully exposed his blunder, tweeting, “Heard Joe was fired, fully recant previous tweet! Didn’t have full story. #admitwhenYoumakemistakes.”

Even his brutal honesty couldn’t undo the crisis. So Kutcher moved forward. In a Nov. 10 blog post, he wrote a detailed account of his side of the story.

The actor said, “I quickly retracted and deleted my previous post; however, that didn’t seem enough to satisfy people’s outrage at my misinformed post. I am truly sorry. And moreover [I] am going to take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Through this post, Kutcher formally announced that his production company, Katalyst Media, would now manage his account.

Though Kutcher’s response has been widely criticized, I’d argue for him — and not just because he’s my middle school heartthrob.

I’d say most humans can relate to the pain of speaking before they think. Whether it comes out in a brash remark, a misinformed opinion or a tweet at large, most of us have experienced some sort of regret over a few cursory words.

For me, Kutcher’s Twitter blunder seems honest. It seems human.

Furthermore, the ability to admit mistakes gives even one of the most followed faces of Twitter a friendly touch.


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The New and Improved PR Practitioner

by: Alex Reichenbach

PR practitioners have always been expected to have impressive writing and communication skills to show on their résumés. Although these skills are important, they are only the beginning of what is expected of PR practitioners during these technologically savvy days.

Recent changes in the World Wide Web have forced a new professional standard — healthy online presence. For some of you, the first thing that comes to mind is social media. While social media has become an essential component in creating online presence, it is a very small part.

There are certain criteria PR practitioners should follow that go beyond the simplicity of creating a Facebook or Twitter page. Following these steps will ultimately change you from the average PR practitioner to a professional who has mastered the new standards of public relations.

LinkedIn: Claiming Your Professional Name

LinkedIn can be considered the professional spin off from Facebook. Instead of using this social media outlet to converse with friends and family, LinkedIn is used to establish connections with thousands of companies and to find potential clients or jobs.

In the article, “The Anti-Social Enterprise” by Gary Steele, CEO of Proofpoint, provider of cloud-based security software, the rising popularity of LinkedIn is proven through statistics:

Sixty-nine percent of Fortune 100 companies have company profiles on LinkedIn, compared to 54 percent with Facebook fan pages and 65 percent with Twitter accounts.

Many believe Twitter serves as a great way to become familiar with various PR practitioners, but this statistic shows that the rise of LinkedIn may make it more essential in the professional world. Although Twitter is still used, LinkedIn gives PR practitioners more opportunities than simply following other professionals; it establishes your professional status through a detailed explanation of your experiences, as well as a brief professional summary about yourself.

Taking advantage of this professional database as a PR practitioner is a vital part of becoming involved in the online “networking” that is ultimately finding thousands of people jobs.

Electronic Résumé: Show Off

A few years ago, simply having a written résumé was enough to qualify for a job. With the recent boom of technology, however, the résumé qualifications have changed. PR practitioners need to upload their résumés online to allow easy access to their credentials. This may seem like a fairly minor task, but the results are huge.

According to the article “The Top Ten Things You Need To Know About E-resumes and Posting Your Resume Online,” 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post jobs on their websites and expect potential employees to respond electronically. This statistic alone reveals the benefits that come from this simple download.

Your résumé is your chance to show off your skills and qualifications. What better way to do this than having it online for thousands of professionals to see?  This simple uploading process can be done through a résumé builder such as Résumé Improved or through a process offered at job sites like Monster.

Blogging: Voice Your Opinion

There are a variety of ways PR practitioners can become involved in the blogging aspect of personal online presence. The most effective way is for PR practitioners to express their own opinions through their personal blogs.

Peter Shankman, social media entrepreneur, has utilized this form of communication to effectively voice his opinion on a wide range of issues. PR practitioners worldwide refer to his blog, “P.S. Peter Shankman” to keep up with the current trends in public relations.

If the idea of creating a personal blog does not seem appealing, your online presence can improve simply by following and commenting on other PR practitioners’ blogs. Blogs were created to establish an informal two-way conversation between individuals. Therefore, anyone can publish a comment on a blog at any time they choose, according to the article, “Website Traffic Series Part 3: Leaving Comments on Other Blogs.”

PR practitioners need to take advantage of this free publishing to voice their opinions on current public relations issues. This is what sets blogging apart from the other criteria for online presence. Unlike LinkedIn and online résumés where professional status is key, blogging is a PR practitioner’s chance to express how they feel.

Wrap up: Establishing Your Official Online Title

PR practitioners who have successfully completed the above criteria have achieved the new standard of online presence. But there is one last step for those who wish to go above and beyond to set themselves apart from others – create an online portfolio.

Take all that you have accomplished and turn it into an online personal showcase that includes previous work collateral, blogs and professional experience.

By creating this portfolio alongside your LinkedIn profile and personal blog, you are showing the world that you are ahead in the PR field, and that you can make a difference.

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More than a Moonman

by Bailey Carpenter

In 1984, Madonna — clad in a see-through wedding gown over lingerie — rolled around the stage at the first annual MTV Video Music Awards. This performance simultaneously jump-started her career and the tradition of the VMAs to be the wildest, most stunt-packed annual TV awards show.

Madonna is the first of many celebrities whose careers sky rocketed from VMA stunts, proving that the VMAs are about more than winning a Moonman. In an August 25 article, Aphrodite Manousos highlights some of the VMAs’ most remembered stunts before this year’s show, asking, “Will all this planning live up to the wildest moments in VMAs history?”

Manousos’ article mentions the famous 1999 Diana Ross/Lil’ Kim breast fondle; the Madonna/Britney Spears kiss in 2003; Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech in 2009 (“Ima letchu finish”); and Lady Gaga’s frightening meat dress last year.

These stunts resulted in the celebrities’ names buzzing all over news programs and sites. Even a stunt like Kanye West’s led to a huge sales increase for Taylor Swift.

In fact, it seems that with progressing years, the VMAs is a career starter or booster for many celebrities, a phenomenon that has led to celebrities trying to one-up each other or themselves each year in an attempt to gain the spotlight.

This year, the VMAs, which aired August 28, shattered records with 12.4 million viewers. Bill Gorman said in a press release,“the VMAs is the #1 cable telecast of 2011 with P12-34 [viewers ages 12 to 34] and the #1 non-sports cable telecast of 2011 with total viewers.”

This year’s show also reflects the growing social media craze, as millions of viewers live-tweeted their reactions throughout the show. Us Magazine reported that tweets mentioning Beyonce broke the Twitter record for most tweets per second following the reveal of her “baby bump” during her live performance.

@TwitterGlobalPR tweeted August 29, “Beyonce’s big MTV #VMA moment gave Twitter a record bump: 8,868 Tweets per second.”

Musical performances at the VMAs have also led to tremendous growth in celebrities’ careers. This year, Adele’s single “Someone Like You” went from number 19 to number one the Billboard charts after she performed the song live at the VMAs.

On billboard.com, Keith Caulfield said, “the singer achieve[d] the biggest jump to No. 1 in the chart’s 53-year history that wasn’t spurred by the release of a single.”

The buzz surrounding this year’s VMAs leaves us with one question: what will they think of next?

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Twitter to the Rescue!

By Jaclyn McNeil

On April 27th, a massive tornado sent horror throughout Tuscaloosa within minutes and left many without power for weeks. At one time, a citywide power outage would mean no communication with anyone who was not within arm distance. Now, the lack of power due to a natural disaster shines light on the power of social media. Within minutes of the tornado destruction, with conventional telephone lines down or overwhelmed in Tuscaloosa, Twitter feeds were flooded with citizen reporting — often, false and exaggerated reporting, which fueled fears of the unknown.

In a TIME Magazine article, Amanda Ripley, a TIME contributor and author of the book The Unthinkable: Who Survives in Disasters and Why, points out that as with anything on the Web, social media can breed rumors and inaccuracies that could hurt recovery efforts.

“Anything that exacerbates that tendency — texting, taking pictures, tweeting — can be dangerous,” said Ripley.

But in the wake of the storm, Twitter and Facebook communication has done more good than harm in the correspondence of disaster relief. Twitter accounts and Facebook pages were created to give up-to-date volunteer directions, clothing and food donation drop-off sites and shelter needs.

“I followed @UA_Greek_Relief  as soon as I got home from Birmingham after leaving Tuscaloosa,” said Leah Middlebrook, a senior at The University of Alabama. “Their tweets informed me of exactly what I needed to bring back with me to help volunteer and gave directions for drop-off.”

According to UA Greek Relief, the group has raised $180,000 and at times was responsible for over 1/3 of the total relief hot meals prepared and distributed throughout Tuscaloosa.

Social media has allowed people to communicate efficiently in order to organize disaster relief unlike any other communication platform before. Real-time Twitter updates allow for immediate action, as opposed to the conventional news outlets.

In March, Twitter and Facebook were vital after the Japan earthquake. Via these sites, people all around the world were informed and updated on the earthquake’s damage and able to check in on their friends and family in Japan. The Japan earthquake was the first major disaster of a developed nation in this powerful age of social media.

Beat Communication Co., Ltd., the largest provider of social networking packages in Japan, conducted research on social media usage before and after the March 11th earthquake in Japan.

Not surprisingly, the research showed that the use of mobile phones and email increased in the aftermath of the earthquake. Surpassing the use of more conventional modes of communication was the use of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, U-Stream, YouTube and mixi (a Japanese social networking site).

According to the research by Beat Communication Co., Ltd., 70 percent of respondents used Twitter, 38 percent used Facebook, 22 percent used U-Stream, 16 percent used YouTube, 16 percent used intra-corporate social networking sites (such as enterprise 2.0 or Intranet) and 12 percent used mixi.

The research also shows that the use of social media changed due to the earthquake: the percentage of respondents who use Twitter in order to gain information faster increased from 56 percent to 71 percent. According to Mashable, less than an hour after the earthquake, the number of tweets coming from Tokyo were topping 1,200 per minute.

This research shows that Twitter’s real-time news feeds surpass all other social networking sites.

“The biggest part of using social media during a disaster is that it’s not about the government helping the public; it’s about the public helping themselves,” said Kim Stephens, a senior associate at Abt Associates and an emergency-management expert. “Before, you were left trying to find out how to get what you need, and now the desire and need is matched quickly and easily. It’s peer-to-peer aid.”

Broadcast media gives global audiences an understanding of what is taking place during a natural disaster and social media provides the underlying picture.

Jesse Green, executive director of the Tokyo office for PR firm Hill & Knowlton, used Twitter to connect with his family, friends and co-workers after the quake.

“Many of my friends, my wife included, joined Twitter just to keep up with all the breaking news and to be a part of the conversation where possible,” said Green.

With telephone lines out or overwhelmed during most natural disasters, Internet connections often remain usable, making texts and tweets the easiest mode of communication.

In April, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it is revising its terrorism-advisory system to include alerts that would be sent over social networking sites.

Social media has played an integral role in the Now Generation. With natural disasters requiring real-time updates, social media enables peer-to-peer communication and rallies together relief efforts like nothing we’ve seen before.

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Google+: The New Facebook?

By Jaclyn McNeil

If you’re like me, you’ve had your Facebook profile for a while. I created my Facebook profile sophomore year of high school; I have way more friends than is humanly possible to call actual friends. That reminds me: I’ve been meaning to “trim the fat” on my friend list.

Through the years I’ve upped my privacy controls but I still feel as though I have over-shared and overstayed my welcome on Facebook. Then along came Twitter. I was skeptical at first, but the more I used it the less I found myself on Facebook. It may be because I am pickier about whom I follow and who follows me. In a sense, I have under-shared on Twitter. Now Google+ has come along—could it be the perfect marriage between Facebook and Twitter?

Let’s go into what makes Google+ different than Facebook and Twitter. Google+ has created the concept of virtual social circles. When you befriend someone, you place them in the social circle to which they belong. There are circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and custom groups. When you create a post, you select which circle of friends you’d like to see it. No more worrying about offending your mom.

The Google+ Hangout creates rooms for your social circles to meet up and video chat. Once the hangout goes live, it will prompt in your friends’ stream. Then your friends can join the hangout until the maximum 10 people have joined.

One of the more interesting features of Google+ is its engine used for finding content that you are interested in called Sparks. Google+ Sparks is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other interests. Your “sparks” will show up in the stream, which is similar to Facebook’s news feed—a flow of information that is shared by your friends.

“Sparks is essentially the stuff that flows to you through the interest graph and the stream is the stuff that flows to you through the social graph,” said Andrew Tomkins, a top search engineer for Google.

If Google uses its expertise in search quality, it will be able to streamline its feeds to be more relevant and interesting to users than the Facebook news feed. If this possibility transpires, then businesses could use Google+ to target users in a more direct manner than Facebook.

But businesses need to hold out before creating a Google+ profile. In a post by Google+, Product Manager Christian Oestlien asks businesses to be patient while the Google+ team creates a unique experience for businesses.

“How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both,” said Oestlien.

The Google+ team plans to run a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands on Google+.

Can Google capture the social media and business world? It’s not the first time the search giant has given social media a whirl. In 2007, Google spearheaded a project called OpenSocial to create a standard for social networking. The project fell short of goals mainly because Facebook withheld its cooperation.

In 2009, Google released its next attempt at the social world with Buzz, which integrated Facebook and Twitter into Gmail. Buzz created a social network from users’ Gmail contacts, which fueled fears that Google was sharing too much information about its users. This glitch, mixed with a lack of buzz about Buzz, sent Google back to the drawing boards and Facebook reined king.

That brings us to Google’s newest social media venture, and don’t think Facebook is going to take this lying down. Earlier this summer Facebook hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to run a smear campaign against Google. USA Today reports that Burson-Marsteller, a top-five public relations firm, contacted a variety of media outlets to run stories and editorials about how the Google Gmail feature Social Circle tramples the privacy of millions of Americans and violates federal fair trade rules.

Chris Gaither, Google’s senior manager of global communications and public affairs, deflected the PR firm’s attack of Gmail privacy.

“We have seen this e-mail reportedly sent by a representative of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller. We’re not going to comment further. Our focus is on delighting people with great products,” said Gaither.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it is no coincidence Facebook’s smear campaign against Google took place just two months before the release of Google+. I think the battle between the two will continue to get ugly.

Only time will tell if Google+ can successfully combine the features of Facebook and Twitter. If it can do both and create a solid platform for businesses, Google+ may rein king.


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Social media v. Casey Anthony

By Jaclyn McNeil

Casey Anthony was found #notguilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in the trial that became this summer’s most watched reality TV show. The verdict was tweeted, retweeted, facebooked and blogged, mostly with outrage and disbelief. The media and public had already reached a verdict in the case long before the trial even began: guilty.

The social media world was captivated by the case and trial. Twitter accounts were created to give live feed of the trial throughout the day including OSCaseyAnthony, managed by the Orlando Sentinel, and NinthCircuitFL, managed by the 9th Judicial Circuit Court.

News coverage of the case by reporters Greta Van Susteran, Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly, Shep Smith and Geraldo Rivera aired around the clock with almost all bias toward the guilt of the accused, Casey Anthony. The lack of evidence did not seem to sway the media or the public’s opinion. Although the trial is over, the social media trial of Casey is not. TIME magazine  has coined the trial as “The Social Media Trial of the Century.” The day the verdict was announced 325,283 Twitter posts about the case were made with “not guilty” appearing 20,000 times.

In the courthouse of Twitter and Facebook Casey Anthony is guilty. And that is what makes this case and trial so unique: the public has followed the case and trial through media outlets and announced their verdict in a public platform through social media.

Eric Dunning, a communication and justice theory instructor for the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Alabama, believes that social media has revolutionized the way people respond to criminal cases.

“The media creates a virtual town square, and the general public becomes an extension of the media as citizen journalists on social media,” said Dunning.

Social media allows people to gain rapid information and rapid response. The public’s disbelief of the verdict was likely a result of the misleading information from the media.

“The media made the prosecution seem better than it was, so naturally viewers were shocked by the result,” said Dunning. “Shows stir up controversy; the media needs a convenient villian and a great storyline.”

So what is the next step for Casey Anthony? Crisis management public relations expert Glenn Selig, founder of the PR firm The Publicity Agency, represented lead defense attorney Jose Baez. In an article for PR NewsChannel Selig comments on the Casey Anthony case, the potential money that may be made and defending clients to the public.

“If big money comes from anywhere, it will be from the entertainment world–movies and books–where payment is commonplace. And the less of the story that is told now, the more valuable a book or movie deal will be,” said Selig.

If the public finds out that Casey Anthony is making money off of an interview, what is the potential backlash a network may receive? Is it worth the risk?

One thing can be certain: book deals and interviews will be made and there are many candidates. Juror number 6 has hired PR firm French/West/Vaughn. According to the New York Times a network executive said the fee to talk to juror number 6 was $50,000.

“That could be a book by itself and you could make the argument that because they arrived at the verdict they did, their story is now worth more than it would have been had they found her guilty,” said Selig.

The public is fascinated by this case, and a book deal or interview with juror members would attract a lot of attention. The public backlash may be minimal for jurors since they have no direct association with the Anthony family.

However, as Selig points out, “Whoever is looking to make money on this needs to be very careful because just talking about capitalizing on the death of a child feels dirty.”

Casey will likely make some sort of formal appearance or book deal in spite of Selig’s warning. When she gets out of jail she will probably be shunned by most of the public and will run into the arms of the media. We have made Casey Anthony a celebrity, whether we like it or not.

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