Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization

Archive for the ‘The Worldwide Connection’ Category

Social Media, For God’s Sake!

Posted by B2W on May 20, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

It seems the head of communications for the Vatican has embraced social media. In a news release issued yesterday by the Catholics Communications Network, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Holy See’s press office, encouraged communicators to meet the challenge of using the Internet to engage positively to further the Gospel message of the Church.

This followed Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the Church to speak to “the digital generation” – and from what we can tell, pretty much the only way to do that is through technology. Now, full disclosure – I am not Catholic and I am suspicious of large, organized religious groups. But in reading the release, it made me wonder whether the Church is interested in social media because it provides a real opportunity to have a conversation or they see it as a “marketing” channel.

The Vatican has a YouTube Channel, it has Vatican Radio, it even has Vatican Television. One of the things about what they are doing currently is that it is all  “information out”— it’s not a conversation.

It will be interesting to see how the Catholic Church joins the conversation. According to a USA Today story, on May 24th the Vatican is going to launch a new website (pope2you.net) developed to engage youth. They even have some iPhone Apps on the way.

Now – whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, think about the impact of the Catholic Church using social media. I mean, this is an organization that dealt with some very serious issues in the past, its reputation is not exactly about being open and transparent about these issues or even some its day-to-day operations. Using social media and saying you want to create interactivity is a big thing, and it isn’t just about getting out there, it’s culture changing. And I think that it will be interesting to see how they use social media – as a broadcast platform or as a true interactive, community building effort.

Anyone can say they are embracing social media and use the tools, but what is the strategy and how will you respond when your stakeholders or community starts to include you in the conversation – both good and bad. That’s where it matters.

Posted in Interesting, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Would You Like Some Cheese With That Nose Hair?

Posted by B2W on April 15, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There seems to be a new issue online every day. Over the weekend, there was the Amazon issue where it seemed the online bookseller had removed thousands of gay and lesbian themed books from their listings and search results. Social media guru B.L. Ochman has a very good post about this issue.

And then there is the Domino’s video that showed up on YouTube yesterday. The company quickly took it down. But you know that sneaky Internet…there is always another copy somewhere that gets put back up.

According to this piece in Advertising Age, Domino’s corporate headquarters was reacting cautiously to the kerfuffle about this disgusting video. It turns out the two Domino’s employees have several videos – check out what The Consumerist has managed to track down, if you can stomach it.

It’s always easy to be an armchair quarterback and say what should be or could be done about the situation. Without knowing what went on at Domino’s, it’s hard to say whether for their situation their strategy is sound. I just have one question – given these videos and the “cautious” response from Domino’s, how quick will you be to order from them? (Even knowing that your local Domino’s store isn’t the one in the video.)

 

Posted in Issues and Crisis, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm..., What Were They Thinking? | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Can Big Media Control Google Content?

Posted by B2W on April 7, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

TechCrunch has a very interesting article entitled “The Whining Sound You Hear Is The Death Wheeze Of Newspapers.” It’s well worth a read.

The article discusses how some large media organizations are accusing Google of “stealing” their copyrighted content. It also links to another TechCrunch post about the Associated Press declaring that it will now police the Web and “develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used.”

There is a huge challenge in trying to police the Internet and, while I am not a copyright expert, it seems to me that some of these large media conglomerates are spending an awful lot of time, energy and money on trying to control the Internet instead of focusing on creating a new, interactive and collaborative business model.

I read a lot of blogs, follow a lot of people (but not too many!) on Twitter, spend time on Facebook, use Google, and spend far too much time on Mashable. From my perspective, content creators online are quick to credit and to link to others – including media outlets. Doesn’t this drive traffic to the media sites? Isn’t that a good thing? And – according to the TechCrunch article – there is a way for these big media moguls to stop Google from listing their content and it’s just one line of programming. So why don’t they…because they WANT people to find the news and click that link. It seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too.

One of the few “grown ups” in journalism that I think really “gets it” and is investigating how journalism and the Internet can create a mutually beneficial relationship is Kirk LaPointe of The Vancouver Sun. His blog is also worth following.

I love journalism. I grew up at Maclean’s and I have a huge respect for how the mind of a journalist works. We, as a society, need journalists to ask the tough questions, to research and fact check, to make complex subjects more understandable to those of us who are not experts in the field, and to bring perspective and balance to an issue. In my opinion, journalists are an important part of the fabric of our society. It’s not the journalists doing this…it’s the big business that has been behind the media for all these years.

The Newspaper Association of America is meeting in San Diego this week and according to a blog post by Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, he says that Google CEO Eric Schmidt will speak to them.  That will be an interesting discussion.

This is an interesting time. I hope the business of the big media companies doesn’t get in the way of true journalism and that the big dog media conglomerates can find a way to see the value of the Internet, bloggers and Google and the fact that this wide open approach to information, sharing and a global conversation is a really good thing. And if they put half as much energy into finding a way to make money from it as they do trying to control it, their world would be much less stressful. 

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Interesting, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Changing Face of Media

Posted by B2W on March 2, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

I was watching the late news on Friday night and saw a story on the challenges that CTVglobemedia is facing. The Vancouver Sun has a good article on what the media giant is dealing with. Being a media junkie and a communicator, I have been watching the shift in the media for quite some time – but on Friday, it really hit me that the news business is in trouble and not just in Canada. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News closed its doors on Friday. According to many reports, including this one at Public Radio International, there are a lot of other print papers in economic trouble – including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

The recession has certainly hurt all of these media outlets. The big advertisers aren’t buying what they were and everyone is being affected by cut backs in spending.

For some of these media conglomerates, like CTVglobemedia, there are other issues that are facing, including the cost of doing business in the face of growing cable networks. These are big issues and ones that these companies and the CRTC need to find a way to solve to everyone’s satisfaction and benefit.

There is another point that I think isn’t being covered as much and I believe it has had a huge impact on mainstream media – it’s the online world. The Internet has changed everything. People want to be communicated with differently now and this is a challenge for some of the big news organizations. When we had Kirk LaPointe of The Vancouver Sun in as a guest speaker to one of our Conversation Over Coffee sessions earlier this year, he spoke quite candidly on the topic. I think Kirk really “gets it” and is focused on finding a new paradigm for media. But they aren’t there yet, in part because the audience is still evolving and discovering what and how we want it – when it comes to receiving and sharing information online.

While it has taken more than a decade, the majority of us turn to the Internet for news, information and connection. There are more opportunities now for an organization to share information. Your story might not make it onto the television broadcast or in the newspaper, but it might be covered online. And of course, it isn’t just mainstream media that puts out news and information now – bloggers, people on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube are all sources that people turn to. There are great opportunities to reach out and tell a story through other channels, often channels that provide an opportunity for feedback, conversation and an authentic connection.

I read a lot of blogs and I love them. But I can usually tell if a blog writer has a journalism background without reading their bio. There is a recognizable approach to reporting and writing that trained journalists bring to their work.

Journalists are an important part of how we hear about what is going on in the world and they are crucial in our society. A great journalist can bring clarity to a complex situation. Well researched articles that are thought out and provide an unbiased context are invaluable.

I worked at Maclean’s for a long time and while I still look forward to receiving the hard copy magazine each week, I don’t wait. I am online checking it out, along with about a dozen other mainstream media, a whole lot of blogs, and other online publications. My Twitter feed (I use Twitterpod) sits on my desktop and I watch information roll as I work. I think it is going to take people like Kirk to help lead mainstream media into a sustainable business model – and I hope it happens sooner than later. Good journalism is an important component of an informed society. And as a communicator, I am a big fan of a community that has access to a range of information from a variety of sources.

Posted in Interesting, Marketing Communications, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Twitter Brings The World Together For Charity

Posted by B2W on February 13, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

A Twestival took place yesterday in Vancouver. It is a strong example of the power of Twitter. More than 20,000 people from around the world came together to raise money for charity: water, a non-profit organization bringing clean drinking water to people in developing nations.

In one short month—with only volunteer effort—the global charity work is expected to raise $1 million for the 1.1 billion people in the world who cannot access clean drinking water. The event took place in more than 175 cities around the world.

This is a great example of using Twitter – the online world helped people to reach out and share the message on a global basis and then locally, people came together in person. In Vancouver, they met at the Opus Hotel. From all accounts, the event was well organized, fun and it raised money for a good cause.

It’s important to reiterate that the Twestival combined global and local, online and in person. One of the concerns that I hear quite often from clients is about losing the personal, face-to-face time that is so important. Great communication embraces many ways of outreach and, just like we tell clients, nothing can replace the in person component. Online communication is a piece of the communications puzzle, an important and growing piece, but it needs to blend into your overall communications strategy.

On another note, I am always looking for the inside scoop on how Twitter is going to make money. One of the challenges of recommending a free service to clients is that if it’s not making money, you have to wonder how long it can last. Not that I am saying I don’t think Twitter will last, I do think they need to find a way to make money so they can last a long time.  According to a TechCrunch article, Twitter is out raising additional money through the venture capital market. It looks like they have raised more funds, this time with a $250 million valuation.

Twitter is highly popular right now – and according to Robert Scoble on his blog – with this valuation and with about six million people on Twitter, each customer is worth about $40.  In looking at monetizing Twitter, it brings up interesting questions for the six million users. Would you pay for this service? If yes, how much? 

 

Posted in Marketing Communications, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection | Leave a Comment »

Air Canada Announces WiFi On Planes

Posted by B2W on November 6, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

An announcement just hit my inbox that Air Canada is the first Canadian carrier to offer inflight Internet access.

Check it out here. The news release was out in early Oct, but Air Canada just announced it in their newsletter.

I think this says something about our culture. We are truly a wireless, connected society now. Thanks to Air Canada, we can still bid on Ebay, blog, buy books from Amazon and send emails while flying the friendly skies.

I can remember back in the day when you could first place phone calls on an airplane – at an incredible cost per minute! The first thing you heard someone say (and I admit it, I said it too) when the person answered was: “Guess where I’m calling from!” …. now it might be guess where I’m blogging from!

As minor a thing as this might seem, it does change how we travel.

Posted in Interesting, The Worldwide Connection | 3 Comments »

Cops, Homeland Security and The City of Calgary

Posted by B2W on September 17, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There was a time, not so long ago, when almost everyone shook their heads and looked away when we brought up online or social media. Now, it is everywhere and people are engaged in discovering what it can do for their organization.

Locally, here in British Columbia, the Saanich Police Department has done something innovative and a little different. They have set up an ongoing series of podcasts (online audio) and vodcasts (online video) — and are the first police department in Canada to do this.

The City of Calgary is also using social media, and has been for over a year.

I was at a social media conference earlier this year in Las Vegas (it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to go to these things!) and I sat beside a communicator who worked with the U.S. Army, specializing in social media. His role is to work with the troops to make sure that information being uploaded by the men and women in uniform on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube doesn’t inadvertently share key points that might put campaigns or people in jeopardy. He worked on policy and procedure, but also was insightful enough to understand the human element of connection for the troops. He was at the conference looking for ways to better understand how social media could be used and, in his case, effectively managed.

Interestingly enough, one of the speakers at the conference was the head of communications for the U.S. government. The Pentagon is using social media, the White House is in the pool and even Homeland Security sees the value in it. There is an interesting blog post on what some of the government is using by Daya Baran that is worth a read.

These are all organizations that you wouldn’t expect to be using social media and giving up control of the message. However, they see the value in it. None of them took a leap off a cliff, they did their research, developed a strategy and they built out – and are still building out the social media component of their communications plan to support their overall strategy. They were smart about it. Taking that first step online doesn’t have to be a flying leap into the middle of the ocean, get your feet wet first. Develop a plan and then take small steps as you get used to the water.

Posted in Interesting, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Interesting Article In The Washington Post

Posted by B2W on September 9, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

The Washington Post ran an interesting article recently about companies and organizations that are blogging. It’s worth a read.

Posted in Interesting, Marketing Communications, Media Relations, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection | Leave a Comment »

Who is a Trust Agent?

Posted by B2W on September 9, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

I am a big fan of Chris Brogan and I read his blog post this morning with great interest.  I have to admit, Chris is one of my favourites and I always look forward to reading what he has to say.

Today, he talks about “Trust Agents” and what they mean in the online world. Chris is one of those people who really “gets” social media, I would call him an “A Lister” for certain. (I just realized that we didn’t have Chris listed on our blogroll… shame on us!! We’ve added him.) He has a real talent for opening up new ideas and guiding us through what that means as we shed the old paradigm. He’s a bright guy that sees the world through a social media lens and can clearly explain the value, opportunity and responsibility that we can find there.

Chris is working on a business book – co-writing it with Julien Smith (now also on our blogroll). In true interactive, collaborative fashion – Chris is looking to start a conversation on trust agents… which he says they have defined, for the moment, as “people who use the web in a very human way to build influence, reputation, awareness, and who can translate that into some kind of business value.” What does trust agent mean to you, who do you think fits that description?  

I can tell you for my part – one of the people that fits description is Chris. I look to his blog posts for information, for a new way of thinking and thought provoking ideas. I trust him (doesn’t mean I always agree with him, but I trust him), he has influence with me, through his blog posts I gain awareness of other bloggers, social media instigators and products and services. He has earned this positive reputation with me by being authentic, smart, funny and consistent — he is out there all the time, talking to us. 

Take a read of Chris’ blog and see what you think. It would be interesting to hear who you see as a trust agent online and in your organization  — and to hear if you think that a “real world” trust agent (I love Chris’s example of Oprah Winfrey) can translate to the online world. If you have an opinion or ideas, let Chris know — us too please!!

This is the magic of social media … we get to have these incredible and valuable conversations with people we might never have met otherwise. 

 

Posted in Interesting, Social Media, The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Leave a Comment »

Google Chrome

Posted by B2W on September 3, 2008

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

It’s always interesting to see what catches the interest of people. There is an article in today’s Vancouver Sun about the launch of Google Chrome, which is a new browser set to take on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

This follows the announcement earlier this year that Google had launched a suite of online office applications – which are free – and set to compete against Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

For those who are just getting a handle on the new names and definitions, check out Wikipedia’s definition of a browser. It is interesting to note that Google Chrome, although still in beta is already listed here. Those folks at Google are certainly nimble. 

Posted in The Worldwide Connection, Things That Make You Go hmmm... | Leave a Comment »