Wednesday, November 19, 2008


So I came across a new social media website today called Mixx. com. According to its website, is

Your link to the web content that really matters. There's a lot of information out there and, let's face it, you don't have all day to find the good stuff (if you do, we're totally jealous). And who knows better than you what informs you, what makes you think, what makes you laugh? So why should some faceless editor get to decide what's important?

But now you're in charge. You find it; we'll Mixx it. Use YourMixx to tailor the content categories, tags, specific users and groups, and we'll deliver the top-rated content as chosen by you and people who share your passions. So go ahead and whip up your own version of the web. Just tell us how you like it Mixxed and we'll deliver the best the web has to offer—morning, noon and night.

To me, the site seems a lot like where content is presented based on popularity (and votes). Stories are sorted based on broad categories like entertainment and sports. I'll be interested to see if the site catches on.

Sites like Digg and Mixx are interesting ways that PR professionals can get involved more. Using these sites, certain topics and products/companies can be highlighted. I hope to see an increased use in these type of sites, as I think they're a really good way to connect with the average internet user.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Facebook Update and Videos

Okay, so many of you have read about my Facebook woes at work. The good news is -- it appears to be getting better. The bad news? It also appears to be pointless.

Though I have yet to venture out into the world of Facebook Ads, I've been playing around with a ton of the Facebook Fan Page features. For starters, I've been using Animoto to create videos that feature some of our work and posting them on the fan page. The day after posting the videos we had 173 video views and 83 unique viewers (people who hadn't previously visited the fan page). However, we only added 3 or 4 new fans. The following day, we still had a significant number of video views (80) but only 1 new fan. I was a little disappointed.

I also tried to use the Update feature, where I could send updates to all fans at once... needless to say I don't think anyone really notices these updates (please, correct me if I'm wrong). They don't show up on your main page, they aren't in your message inbox, but instead on a separate tag under your inbox. How are people supposed to notice this?

I'm still working on the whole Facebook thing, but my excitement is dwindling. Although people are obviously visiting the page, I don't see any real signs that its improving business or even just improving customer relationships. Maybe I'm cynical, maybe I haven't given it enough time... all I know is if I were you, I wouldn't rely on Facebook for too much pr/marketing!!

Here is one of our sample videos, just for kicks:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Viral Videos - Do they work?

After making the social issues video for class, I thought it would be interesting to do my next blog post on viral videos. So, I was looking around for something to write about when I came across an apparently popular video I must have missed!

The video, which came out sometime this past summer, features a girl who apparently can out catch a pro baseball player. The video -- which was actually an ad for Gatorade -- was so popular it was even picked up on NPR. Click here to listen to a segment done on the video.

I was surprised to learn that the video was part of a marketing/advertising campaign, as the mention of Gatorade was so subtle I hardly even noticed it!! I suppose that is the best type of advertising (because no body likes in your face ads). However, it leaves you wondering if it really made the desired impact.

Then again, Gatorade sure was talked about following the videos release... I'd be interested to see what the impact of the video was. Did anyone else see this and think it was real? Anyone see the ad and actually purchase Gatorade as a result?

Poverty Web Video

For class this week we had to create a video on a social issue of importance to us. My topic was poverty.

For so long I've heard people talk about how awful it is that children in other countries are starving and suffering. The same people who go on and on about poverty in other countries and how they wish they could help, scoff as they pass up a homeless man on the street.

Within the next ten years 40% of the population is estimated as falling below the poverty line in the US, and 58.5% will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. These numbers are appalling. By creating this video, I hope to bring more people's attention to the large population in the US of those who are unable to afford food, clothes, and homes.

I used JayCut to produce the video.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Optimizing PR with Social Media

I recently stumbled upon a document that I think sums up the uses of social media for public relations really well. Called Optimizing Your Public Relations with Social Media, the six page document highlights the important things we've been covering this semester including:
  • The beginnings and evolution of social media
  • Traits of social media (i.e. user-driven, community-oriented, etc.)
  • Tools of social media (i.e. blogs, podcasts, etc.)
  • Discusses the advantages to using social media
  • And most importantly, how to use social media in public relations practices
I think the document is a great place to start for someone just getting out and exploring the social media field. The document is provided by Vocus -- a "web-based software suite that helps organizations in an Internet-enabled world to fundamentally change the way they communicate with both the media and the public, optimizing their public relations and increasing their ability to measure its impact."

Other helpful documents provided by Vocus include rules for working with bloggers and the new role of the PR professional. You can request free copies of these documents here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Best Social Media Tools

Mashable -- a blog focused on social networking -- recently posted a list of the top 10 best social media tools:
  1. Help a Report Out
  2. PitchEngine (which I blogged about recently)
  3. ReportingOn
  4. Journalisted
  5. Wikis
  6. Media People Using Twitter
  7. Twellow
  10. Your Pitch Sucks
I really liked the idea behind Your Pitch Sucks... granted, public relations professionals should be able to write quality pitches on their own, but it must be nice to have someplace to go to just in case. YPS allows you to submit your pitch for critical review. I also like Twellow, but it seems like a bit of a rip off of Twitter. And Media People Using Twitter is a really cool resource for trying to track down useful people on Twitter.

I was surprised that Journalisted was placed so high on the list, because its restricted to reporters in the UK. It must be really powerful to beat out so many different networking tools that are global.

Most of the tools listed are ways that PR professionals can improve their relationship with the media versus how to better connect with publics. I'd be interested to see what tools were listed if it was consumer focused (Facebook maybe?) Overall, its a good list and a lot of the resources seem pretty useful!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Zombies in Plain English

I'm a few days too late for a Halloween themed post but I came across this video today and I thought it was too cute to pass up...

I've decided I'm a huge fan of the Common Craft Show videos. When we first started watching them in class I thought they were so-so, but after trying to explain what a wiki was to my dad (not an easy task) I realized just how helpful the videos are. You can see more common craft videos on the website or visit Lee LeFever's YouTube site for more!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Podcast - Growing Up Online

This week we had an assignment due in our Social Media for Public Relations class where we had to design and record a podcast, editing and all. My group, which included Ceci Garcia, Christine Pegg, and Wiltson Bramson, did our podcast on growing up online and differences in internet/social media use between generation y and generation z. We based a lot of our discussion off of the PBS program Growing Up Online which we watched as a class last week.

Although our discussion was kept quite brief -- the length of the podcast was supposed to be 5-10 minutes -- we each took the opportunity to touch on several different aspects of social media such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. I have included the show notes below so that you can get a better idea of what the podcast covers:

:05 – Intro

:26 – Shannon introduces the show and welcomes the guests.

:41 – The panel introduces themselves.

1:23 – The Hot Topic is introduced for discussion: growing up online.

1:33 – Shannon discusses generation definitions for better understanding of discussion. Concept of "Gen C" is introduced.

1:58 – Shannon asks panel to comment on the differences they feel exist between Gen Y and Gen Z/C in regards to internet usage

2:09 – Ceci discusses YouTube and its impact on users

3:42 – Wiltson discusses Facebook usage

5:21 – Christine discusses MySpace and its effects

6:04 – Shannon and Wiltson weigh in on Facebook and MySpace

6:46 – Shannon discusses cell phones and SMS (text) messaging and how it has affected the generations

8:16 – Wiltson weighs in on texting

8:49 – Ceci discusses Second Life in regards to the generations

10:35 – Shannon and Wiltson respond with commentary on Second Life

12:09 – Closing

12:20 – Outro

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Media Press Release Generator!

In today's society it seems like we're getting a little bit lazy. Everyone is looking for the easy way out because there is so much to do and not enough time in the day to do it all. Public relations professionals are not exempt from this mentality.

Introducing Pitch Engine! Using this website, professionals can now easily upload all their clients information (logos, contact info, boilerplates, etc.) and create a customized press release with videos and all! The release is then tagged with keywords and made shareable through RSS and links to Twitter, Facebook, and other social bookmarking sites. This bookmarking and sharing capability of the pitch engine releases is one of their primary selling points -- their unique offer to PR professionals.

An account with Pitch Engine is free. When you set up your brand initially you have several options for categorizing your brand, as well as providing links to all the social media sites used by the brand/company. This makes it easy to position your brand/company in the eyes of those who will be receiving the releases.

The site is currently in its 2.2 beta version, so there are likely still some kinks to be worked out. However, it appears to be a really useful tool and I'll be interested to see how it works out and whether or not people pick up on it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Today is October 15th and as most of you reading this blog entry know, today is also Blog Action Day 2008! For those of you who don't know, Blog Action Day is an annual event aimed at raising awareness and facilitating global discussion. What better way to get people involved and talking about something important than through social media tools like blogs and podcasts! Each year a different topic is picked and this year poverty is the issue of choice.

Poverty is such a far fetching problem its hard to imagine a world without it (as depressing as that is). However, that does not mean we should consider it a lost cause and give up on trying. I believe that if there is a chance at ridding the world of poverty (or decreasing it at the very least) we have to start at home.

I was looking online for local Austin organizations that focus on helping those in need and the homeless and came across the nonprofit organization House the Homeless. While the website is basic and albeit some of the links do not work, I was impressed with all the site and the organization have to offer.

Not only do they provide a forum for discussion and surveys regarding poverty and homelessness but they also provide information regarding event opportunities in the area. Some of them are pretty interesting reads and they make for great educational and conversational pieces.

Other organizations I found in my search include the Basic Needs Coalition of Central Texas, Habitat for Humanity, and Mobile Loaves and Fishes. I encourage those who are serious about helping those in need to volunteer at organizations like these in your own town and do what you can to help the less fortunate. If we all put in a little bit more effort to get the word out and help, together we can make a difference.