Book Review -The Social Organism, David Luckett & Michael Casey

“We are all, in effect, algorithmically tied to each other by Google”

Oliver Luckett and Michael J, Casey bring us The Social Organism. The book is build upon the foundations of an insightful metaphor, visualising the digital world as if it was a living breathing creature. Luckett and Casey take us on a journey disassembling the online sphere but to what magnitude is this world taking over our lives’?

 

“Facebook, which manages 1.5 billion identities… Google (500million) and Twitter (320 million)”

As the book unfolds, troubling questions begin to emerge. How much trust and responsibility do we actually confide in these corporations? The authors impose Facebook and Google could continue to infiltrate our lives by an array of algorithms that continuously scrutinize our everyday news feeds. So much so that Facebook introduced ‘picture memories’ which are extremely insensitive to those users who have tragically lost a family member in the past.

The book claims to be a ‘A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life’. It also proves that social media can benefit the way in which public relations functions. During a Super Bowl XL match a stadium black out occurred, whereby biscuit brand Oreo ingeniously tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” resulting in 10,000 retweets and over 18,000 likes in just over an hour. A quick yet witty PR manoeuvre.

“The open petri dish of our noisy, uncensored world of social media”

Social media is a huge part of this book, reiterating the massive role it plays in our society. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, the list goes on. Since the release of this book, we’ve all kissed goodbye to the innovative social media platform Vine –  which was reluctantly closed by Twitter.

The social media phenomenon Vine, brought fame to stars like Andrew Bachelor, who were more popularly know as ‘King Bach’. He received a ground-breaking 15 million followers and weighed in with 5.6 billion Vine loops. The app increased his success to such an extent that he secured profitable acting roles in Black Jesus and The Mindy project. This just proves how people can make a living from the online world.

Before you choose to read on, there’s an essential lesson to take from this book. Social media and the internet have the ability to dismantle your life. One wrong move and that post could live to haunt you for the rest of your life.

We’ve all heard about Justine Sacco and her controversial tweet that ruined her life. Similarly, there was a man by the name of Tim Hunt – a molecular physiologist. He was notoriously sacked for declaring women “fall in love with you and when you criticise them they cry” A harmless ‘joke’ during a female talk in South Korea. Sadly, the damage was done, the journalist had already released the story to the media and his career was never the same again.

An all round sophisticated and inspiring read – with a fantastic wealth of knowledge to navigate you around the dense and fast pace environment of cyberspace.

 

 

Word count: 509

 

 

 

 

My Public Relations Journey 

I was first introduced to the exciting world of Public Relations last year during the ‘Introduction to Public Relations’ module. For a number of weeks, I struggled to distinguish the true understanding of this industry. Was it just a fancy name for marketing?

Our aim for the year was to pick and monitor an organisation over a scheduled period of time. Having worked for Waitrose for the past 5 years, I chose to see how renowned owners John Lewis communicated as a successful retailer. This involved the way in which the partnership reacted to various issues that the media broadcasted to the masses.

As the weeks progressed, I felt myself becoming more curious than ever and wanting to learn more about the subject. Christina Zaba and Richard Bailey quickly engaged us with vital information regarding greater chances of employment after graduation. Employers are looking for generation Y and Z which makes us quite valuable considering we’ve been brought up with the technological advances in social media and the web.

I found that Public Relations was far from marketing. It was an exhilarating industry with something for everyone. Surrounded by vast areas of information with new and exiting techniques growing by the day. This is what has given me the inspiration to pursue a career in this fast paced landscape.

Progressing into my second year, through studying digital communication management, I have continued to absorb as many techniques and information as possible. In terms of my progress outside of the UWE workshops, I have taken full advantage of the PRCA online webinars. Considering students get a phenomenal deal of £12.50 for a yearly membership, it is an offer you simply cannot refuse. Bearing in mind each webinar averages £95.00! I hope to complete the 18 webinars over the next few months to claim the reputable qualification from the PRCA.

Over the course of my degree, I feel my preferred style of learning has involved a mixed approach. I deal well with theory based work but benefit hugely from implementing practical based work in a professional environment. This is a great way of putting what you’ve learnt from the classroom to progressing toward a real life scenario – hugely useful in future careers.

My future work experience includes a four week placement at the Soil Association in Bristol – a non profit sustainable PR company that has established itself in organic farming in and around the UK. I’ve also lined up some experience at a tech PR company in Chepstow called Cohesive. I’ve always been interested in technology so I’m willing to fully immerse myself in the opportunity.This gives me a variety of experience in different areas of the public relations industry, to hopefully widen my employability for when I graduate next year.
cohesiveSA

 

I’ve also been given a chance to work on the Waitrose internal magazine: The Waitrose Chronicle. Considering I’ve been with the partnership for 5 years it puts me in a good position to progress internally – an opportunity I plan to pursue in the ongoing years.

word count: 499

 

Social Media Policies 

For my blog post this week, I got inspiration from Timmy Garrett’s intriguing book review, ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson.

It brings reference to a particular case involving Justine Sacco. She decided it would be a fantastic idea to post something rather unnecessary. Robson believes Sacco should be forgiven for her actions and that ‘She didn’t do anything wrong’ I personally think that is outrageous. Whether it’s a joke or not, you cannot be stupid enough to post something so insensitive for millions of people to see.

 

justine-sacco-tweet

Picture credit: realitywives.net

We see this a lot throughout social media, where people just do not think. That second of poor judgement could ruin your career and impact you for the rest of your life.

Enter Emily Thornberry. Back in 2014 during the Ed Miliband days, Thornberry was part of the Labour shadow cabinet until she was involved with some shenanigans on Twitter.

thornberrytweet-2

Picture credit: The Guardian.

 

In hindsight, I feel she was slightly hard done by considering  she didn’t criticise the house in the subject of the photograph. Many users felt she intended for the image to alienate the individual from the public domain, identifying this person as patriarchal and have a working class status. This could potentially tarnish Milliband’s chances of making it into parliament.

These two examples show clear evidence of how cautious you need to be on social media channels. Do not put anything out that could effect your online profile or company reputation.

 

Communicating via social media has become like second nature, but at what point should you restrict the type of content you post?

From a Public Relations stance, it has always been about how a company communicates with the public. Whether it’s a press release, a campaign broadcast or an event promotion. Reputation is a massive concept in Public Relations.

The CIPR published a Slideshare presentation on social media guidelines for people working in Public Relations. The listicle below explores the what not to do on social media:

Don’t

  • Forget that everything you put out on social media will represent your brand image. Content posted online cannot be undone, the digital world is unforgiving so one wrong post could spoil your reputation.
  • Make you audience feel uneasy. Develop a writing style that does not force your customers to do anything they don’t want to do. Creating a palaver on Twitter, such as an argument, could also scare your audience off and prevent them from following your campaign.
  • Publicise client or company information. It is an absolute must to ensure this information is not revealed to the wider public. It is ethically wrong and irresponsible to share client’s private information online or with people face to face.
  • Be false. It is massively unappealing to produce fake blogs and unauthorised material. These blogs are used to promote a specific product or service, the common term being known as ‘Astrosurfing’ or as the CIPR puts it “the practice of falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of orchestrated and disguised public relations activity”.

Word count: 510

References

Boffrey, D & Helm, T (2014) The Guardian. Available from:[https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/22/labour-war-emily-thornberry-tweet-rochester-strood].

CIPR, (2013) CIPR. Available from: [https://www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy-resources/toolkits-and-best-practice-guides/social-media].

Newman, J (2015) Rolling Stone. Available from: [http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/jon-ronson-why-we-should-forgive-infamous-tweeter-justine-sacco-20150331].

Walsh, J (2014) The Guardian. Available from: [https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/21/emily-thornberry-resignation-explain-outside-britain].

 

The Idiot Proof Guide To Snapchat 

Since the progression of ‘web 2.0’,  we have seen vast developments and changes in applications and various social media tools.

Two of the biggest and most prevalent social media applications are Snapchat and Instagram.

Snapchat

Since originally launching in 2011 as ‘Pictaboo’, the application began with a measily 127 users and after a year of the founders arguing over equity, the application was later renamed to ‘Snapchat’ in 2011. By the summer of 2012, Snapchat had finally found it’s calling with an exuberant 100,000 users – the app quickly spreading throughout cyberspace.

How does it work?

Snapchat’s intended usage was for participants to send ‘snaps’ from user to user, with a timed feature. This meant the user could select for the image or video to be seen for up to 10 seconds. Therefore, the content was unsalvageable and could only be seen on a one time basis.

However, the catch 22 was screenshots. The opposing user could screen shot a certain image or video to save the content permanently. As the app has continued to evolve, the opposing user is now notified if their content has been screen shot or viewed by followers.

The app enabled the user to send characterised text or other keyboard features such as emojis and other phone symbols.

Snapchat Stories

One of Snapchat’s unique selling points (USP) was the Snapchat story. This gives you the control to create your own story of events, using both pictures and video. It works like a running thread of content which lasts up to 24 hours from the posting date and time.

As an account holder, you are also able to save the story to your mobile phone and keep as a permanent copy. Which enables you to keep the content after the 24 hour time out has been exceeded.

Geofilters – otherwise known as Location filters

Another USP for Snapchat is the interactive filters which can be used on various smart phones. This makes any content produced in this manner Snapchat exclusive, which is easily recgonisable among other social media.

 

dog

 

These filters were initially introduced for humourous purposes and to help friends interact with each other in a comical and entertaining manor.

The filters worked via face recognition, transforming an individuals face, such as superimposing an animal’s face with an animated tongue integrated (see image). One of the many exciting filters added to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

The team at Snapchat have thought of even more ways to encourage cash flow into the company. According to TechCrunch Snapchat has 2 types of filter; the community Geofilter  and the sponsored filter. This can come at a cost if you choose to go down the marketing route.

Community filters are free but cannot include logos or any marketing content. For example, an ideal design for a community filter is the name of the town or city or popular location in the world. This is triggered via the location features enabled on smartphones to identify the exact location of an individual.  img_0437

The sponsored Geofilters enables big brands to cover large distances with marketable content which of course involves money- a clever tactic from Snapchat. The image below explores the marketing many companies used for Black Friday.

The minimum range parameters for these filters to be accessed is from 5000 square feet to an astonishing 5,000,000. There is also a minimum time frame of 30 minutes to a maximum of around 4 weeks. You can design your own filter here by directing yourself through to the Snapchat website or click here for more details.

snapchat-sponsored-geofilter-1-1img3-copy

So how much does it cost?

Considering how much flexibility the application gives you from a marketing perspective, the price is quite reasonable. I did a small grid reference around my house in Bristol and found it would cost roughly £16.00 to have the filter active for 1 hour. It was a basic PNG image with small icons inside it.

 

img2img1

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it would cost around £3000.00 to have the filter active till the end of the month (21 days) which seems a lot more expensive in the grand scheme of things.

How does this complement PR?

This is an absolute godsend for PR professionals, particularly for campaigns and promoting an up and coming event.

The Sponsored Geofilter would be extremely effective for a PR stunt or campaign. It would enable the public to engage with the event interactively and share the information on other media. This would work particularly well if a hashtag took off and as a result, began trending on Twitter and Instagram. Running the filter for just 1 hour (£16) seems like a feasible alternative to promoting your event.

The idea you can save stories gives you the accessibility in reposting to other social media  such as Facebook, Twitter and other popular platforms. The large advancement means you can create a social media loop whereby the user is directed around each of your social media channels.

If it is a PR campaign you can encourage consumers to ‘add us on Snapchat to see more behind the scences of the campaign and what else we are up to’. A fantastic way to consistently put out content for customers to view back to back. It should also encourage users to follow you on your other platforms, increasing awareness of your campaign.

It is obvious that Snapchat is a great tool for eager PR people but with the constant shift of activity in the digital age, Snapchat’s reign could soon come to an end. According to Owen Williams (2017), since Instagram coincidentely acquired their own ‘story feature’, more people are returning to Instagram to do the same thing they originally became obsessed with on Snapchat. Either way, both platforms give plenty of food for thought among practitioners in the public relations world.

This again reinforces how PR is adapting to the digital age, through the various advancements which are happening on a monthly basis. New applications and social media tools are always being launched and integrated with current successful media. This shows the versatility of PR and how it can be easily moulded to majority of new resources and materials in the ‘digisphere’.

Word count: 1030.

References

Crook, J (2016) Tech Crunch. Available from: [https://techcrunch.com/gallery/a-brief-history-of-snapchat/slide/15/]

Williams, O (2017) LinkedIn. Available from: [https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-leaving-snapchat-so-all-your-friends-owen-williams-1?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_search_srp_content%3B%2Fyk7XfR6Ucmms7UXwBsVwg%3D%3D].

How to enhance your PR strategy in the digital age

Social media and digital applications are always changing.  Familiarising yourself with these new digital platforms could help you take advantage during a social media campaign. Here are a few useful hints and tips to develop your brand and potential engagement with clients in the future.

Real time marketing

This is a technique that is being used more and more on Facebook and other forms of popular social media. It can be used in a variety of different ways and often run through advertisements on a page.

  • Identifying your location and advertising things in your area.
  • Selling products or services from websites you have recently visited.
  • Event/social media marketing. For example, internet sensation Salt Bae and his cooking technique that went viral.

Visual content

It might seem obvious but visual generated content is more appealing and will attract people to your website or Facebook page. Nobody wants to see a page full of hard coded text and no visual content to keep the reader engaged. With Google Analytics, you are able to pin point how long a user stays on your page for.

A man by the name of Jakob Nielsen came up with a theory on Eye tracking, shortly named the F-pattern. He discovered that often the user’s eye scanned in an F pattern when engaging with content. This means that you must ensure text is not bulked together in one paragraph. Companies like the BBC tend to do this very well, where the text is nicely organised and the most important information is at the start of the article. Keeping the reader engaged and successfully informed.

Do YouTube well

YouTube can be a great way of generating cash when you get enough views on your selected videos. You are able to adjust your settings to monetise your videos and therefore get paid by YouTube when your content reaches a specific stage. This is not only good because of the financial incentive, it is a great way to increase interest in your latest campaign or business idea. Therefore boosting engagement in your page as well as awareness of your brand.

On the other hand, people are likely to engage with video content better than static photographs. Since some of the most viewed videos on YouTube are of cats and animals. People are more interested in this content rather than someone trying to advertise their brand. This is why if you combat both areas it may lead to success for your company or PR stunt.

 

Pay attention to Analytics

Our favourite search engine Google, offers a variety of different analytical software for free of charge. These enable you to monitor your content and consider how high your organisation sits on the Google rankings.

You can observe how long customers spend on your website and monitor the amount of click throughs to certain pages. This can be hugely beneficial for pin pointing improvement in your work.

There are other paid for pieces of software such as Sprout Social, which can help improve content engagement to your website.

 

Word count: 505 words

How a London Furniture business did the most ingenious PR stunt

On the 25th November 2015, the Nill’s furniture shop in Edmonton North London was vandalised by three young men.

The over night break in disrupted the Turkish owners during the opening period of the new furniture store. Dispute this unwanted event, all but one piece of furniture was recovered from the spray paint.

Since visiting the area, I discovered that this piece of vandalism was completely staged by the Turkish owners, who thought it would be the best way to get publicity for the new store about to open.

What a fantastic way to get media exposure! Especially as most of the damaged furniture was recovered, making it even more of a stunt to pull off and salvage stock.

 

 

How A London Business Made £30k

Since the Christmas break I have taken the opportunity to do some work with my friend in London for a couple of weeks.

Based in Stoke Newington, London , the family run business named Coban, has been around for 25 years. Coban first started predominantly in photography, specilasing in weddings, where both video and photography elements are championed.

Looking more into the future, Coban has decided to branch off from photography into other areas of the market.

The newly launched website.

Yalcin Coban, had a passion for homeware and wanted to bring a product to the market that was unique and solved problems that he faced in the kitchen and at home.

He launched his campaign on kickstarter which is one of the most popular websites for crowdfunding and helping an individual fund a project. He set out by attempting to generate £9500.00 and successfully achieved this by raising an astonishing £33,580!

Check out the newly designed website.
Using the perks of Kickstarter, he issued many prizes and gifts which gave the audience more of an incentive to fund him.

This goes to show the power of crowdfunding and how it can make people’s goals a reality.

Younger brother Mahmut Coban decided he wanted to branch out the business even further. He set out by introducing his own clothing brand, specialising in British made products, mostly leather accessories initially. Having an keen interest in motorbikes, he also developed a unique skill in building bikes from scratch using spare parts found on other bikes. This is another service which he offers in the store and advertised online.

Check out the website here.

Unfortunately the Kickstarter campaign failed to make the £15,000 target, because of the campaign being launched before it was ready. Considering this bad start, Life In Paradigm has done well as a brand, with its inclusion in the ASOS online marketplace.

The store in Stoke Newington has been transformed into an actual retail store rather than just a wedding studio. Selling other British made products with a aim to produce more of their own branded clothing.
 

 

 

The world of 360

Digital media has been greatly influenced by latest revelations of technology. This includes filming in 360 and the development of virtual reality handsets. The world of VR is a new development and only time will tell in terms of the pros and cons drawn upon by consumers.

Today I attended the talk about filming in 360 from two companies: Chromatrope and Rock of Eye. They discussed 10 things they had learnt from filming in 360.

There were a few interesting things that I would like to reflect on. Glen from Rock Of Eye discussed the making of the drama ‘Echo Chamber’ which captures two people’s experience of dementia – quite a clever idea in itself. One of the biggest issues from a directing point of view is that the director cannot actually be on set. This is of course quite problematic as the director usually needs to be in the thick of it – helping to smooth things along.

This film involved shooting with a Go Pro camera. I believe Glen claimed they shot with 4-6 Go Pro cameras at a time. Must have been complicated to ensure everything was functioning correctly.

One of the biggest topics up for debate was the differentiation between 360 and VR. I can see where the confuse arises but the best way to think about it is the idea of VR solely forming from gaming. An interaction with a game and psychically engaging with a device or person. 360 is where video recordings are viewed in every direction and recorded at the same time, shot using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras.

Relating this to my own experiences, I have noticed this has been implemented by Facebook. Where a user is able to take an image and uploaded it through a ‘360 view’ where other occupants can move the camera to embark upon their own 360 journey. Other examples would include the ‘panorama’ option on mobile cameras, where you can perform a 360 image by slowly moving the camera.