Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reflection on Social Media for PR

For my first semester in UOP pursuing my master degree, I took “Social Media for Public Relations” class, which is a good start for my study in communication and public relations. In this class, we examined social media technologies and study their applications in contemporary public relation practice.
In this class, I have chances to examine social media technologies and strategies from a theoretical perspective by reading some useful books and materials. Groundswell is the most useful book I read this semester, from which I formed the concept of “POST” planning process, observed how companies listening, talking, energizing, embracing and supporting the Groundswell with positive gains; mastered the characteristics of various social media tools. Until now, I still clearly remembered some classic cases in this book. In the future, when I asked to do a social media proposal for an organization, the spirit of “Groundswell” will immediately come to my mind.
The most practical part for this class is that I engage first-hand with all kinds of social media tools. This is the first year I came to United States, although I am an active social media participant in China, I am not familiar with social media tools in the U.S. This class offered me a golden opportunity to know all kinds of social media as well as develope a strategic understanding of these tools. I posted blogs on blogger every week; I kept my own Facebook and Twitter profile; I signed up for photo sharing platforms such as Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest; I utilized content curation tools such as Google and storify; I located myself through check-in application Foursquare, etc. Thanks to the class, I quickly assimilated into the social media community in the U.S.
In addition, the exciting part of the class is that I tried to build my own image on social media platform. Through the assignment “personal branding”, I examined and established my own personal brand through social media network. I absolutely embrace personal brand, through which I was able to figure out what exactly differentiate me from others. For me, personal branding is not only a strategy of self-promotion, but also valuable spiritual experience. I will spare no effort to build a unique brand for myself in the future.
Besides in-class learning, this class also provided me some extra-curricular experience. For example, I attended a Social Media Panel about “Creating Online Communities to Build Brand Enthusiasm and Loyalty”, hosted by PRSSA. This is a remarkable experience, for I was inspired by what the guest speakers said and I was able to connect the panel to what I have learned in class, to see how social media can actually work for a company. I am excited to hear some items I have learned in class such as “content curation” and “strategy & tactics” repeated by these PR practitioners like Corin Imai, the marketing operations manager for Hewlett-Packard; Josh Morgan, the vice president of Edelman Digital is a passionate speaker, and Jeremy Neisser, the marketing director of Stockton ports. This panel also made me to realize the importance of integrating theory with practice.
Overall, “social media for PR” is a fresh start for me to start my exploration in the field of public relations. Our generation is coming of age in an amazing time. We live in an information age of communication that social media is extending men in a global embrace. Social media tools provided a different way for individuals to communicate digitally, reshaping patterns of social interaction, politics, and economic activity. By developing a strategic understanding of social media for the purpose of building relationships and creating conversations with key publics, I held a deep insight into the powerful of social media and the essence of PR. Ultimately, technologies will come and go, but an understanding of how to use social media strategically enables practitioners to adapt to changing environment. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crisis Communication

    Crisis Communication is a challenging and dynamic topic. I clearly remembered that for my “Principles of Public Relations” class, when Dr. Hether asked us which part of Public Relations attracts us the most, nobody chose “Crisis Communication”. I think the reason is that no one wants to face crisis, let alone dealing with crisis. However, as a PR practitioner, crisis communication is not only a “compulsory course”, but also ubiquitous in an era of social media.
    According to Brian and Solis, Crisis Communication is a branch of PR that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization, usually from a reactive response, facing a swelling public challenge to its reputation, brand, and community. In Web 2.0 era, the crisis has a broader definition. Conversations, reviews, comments, interactions related to a brand, company, or products, whatever with control or without knowledge, could both help to promote a brand and trigger a crisis.
    The greatest difference between traditional crisis communication and social media crisis lies in that traditional crisis communications was relegated as a reactive response, while for social media crisis communication is proactive. As Brian and Solis put it, in the Social Web, a majority of potential crises are avoidable through proactive listening, engagement, response, conversation, humbleness, and transparency, so that they introduced a dynamic process of crisis management, that is
- Active

- Listening
- Observation

- Conversation

- Learning

- Planning

- Continued Adaptation and Engagement

   I found that learning crisis communication for social media is an integrated application for what we have learned from Groundswell this semester. By listening to the Groundswell, a company could keep an eye on how their existing and potential customers talking about them, and targeting their audience on social media platforms, and thus, prevent possible crisis. Even when crisis comes, they could figure out the most appropriate solution according to the demographics of their audience. By talking with the Groundswell, a company could establish their unique brand personality and promote their products or services. By doing this, they could collect feedbacks from their customers efficiently so that they could proactively see possible crisis, and utilized the most appropriate social media tools to deal with the crisis. By energizing and embracing the Groundswell, a company will be able to let their enthusiastic customers help them to deal with crisis, and these customers will be the key factor in crisis communication. They could not only help to discover the premonition of an online crisis, but also be the intercessor of the crisis, because what they said is more credible than what a company itself said. Overall, whatever objective and strategy a company will use for crisis communication, “Protention”is the most important characteristic for crisis communication for social media.
    I am excited to find that crisis communication is a combination of what we have learned, and it is an integrated application of various social media strategies. To this extend, crisis communication is both challenging and significant for a company. We could actually gain funs and sense of satisfactory through crisis communication. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Unlock Our World with Foursquare

    Foursquare is a location-based check-ins application that launched in 2009. As a location-based application, the platform has evolved since its debut, incorporating restaurant menus, reviews, promoted specials and deals. Foursquare makes it easy for people to post physical location on the Web. But it seems that not everyone is willing to do so.
    I find some people may against such check-in application because of personal privacy. While, I feel comfortable with it, since in Foursquare, we can check-in whenever and wherever we like. If I want to protect my privacy, I won’t check-in in places that I don’t want others know. And I could easily and readily share my experience and locations when I feel I want to let others know. It’s flexible and personal. I newly applied for my Foursquare account, and I checked-in for several times and posted some pictures. This is an interesting experience. Following are some of my posts:

    After having a Foursquare account by myself, I begin to think that what makes people want to use Foursquare for check-in? What's the motivation for users to register where they are in the offline world online? From my own using experience, I would like to say it’s for Serendipity and Connection.
    Firstly, check-in applications such as Foursquare well catered human’s nature of share. When we go to a perfect restaurant or bar; when we have fun with our friends in some interesting place; when we go traveling to some places of historic interest and scenic beauty, we will be eager to share these experiences with others. Foursquare offered people a platform to share their serendipity and their sense of satisfactory. Secondly, as a location-based check-ins application, Foursquare is also integrated with Twitter and Facebook, so if we also publish our check-in to those services. By connecting people with their friends and connecting various forms of social media platforms, Foursquare undoubtedly became many people's favorite social media tool.

    Overall, Foursquare is an online platform and a mobile app that allows us to check in to any location; to share experience and fun with our friends; and to connect with other online platforms. And we ourselves have control over this tool. I will continue to use Foursquare to unlock my world and record my pathway.