Monthly Archives: November 2015

Influence in numbers

Like every other student in the country studying PR, I have an interest in it’s role within the changing media landscape. In order for Public Relations to evolve with it, practitioners need to consider influence as a dominant player when it comes to adapting.

As consumers become more media savvy, the media is becoming more fragmented. Consumers have the power to be smarter due to the internet. The Cluetrain Manifesto notes “there are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.” Meaning, people don’t talk to other people physically so much anymore because social media conversation has partially replaced the convention of physically conversing. Consumers now communicate via their online networks. Everything is stored online thus making it more powerful. It is fuelled by us and used heavily by us.

Due to this, public opinion matters more now than ever. In a world of TripAdvisor, instead of placing trust into the hands of corporations, people are now turning to their more intimate network circles for recommendations and advice.

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Perhaps as a direct result of this, Edelman have set up a Trust Barometer which informs us which businesses the public trust most which is useful when it comes to re-engineering trusting relationships.

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20 years ago, Edelman’s Trust Barometer wouldn’t have been necessary as there was just one major channel of influence within mass media. Now we have the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to name but a few in a world of instant gratification. This is likely to mean that as a result of media fragmentation, we could have hundreds of influencers instead of the traditional structure of a sole authoritative influencer.

Mass media has the potential to reach millions of people. However, just because something is seen on prime time TV, it doesn’t mean we will see a change in attitudes or behaviours.

This is where the key word ‘influence’ comes in. As PR practitioners, we should be targeting online communities for influencers. In order to rebuild customer relationships with businesses we need to first figure out who their influencers are. Within this process we will begin to understand the role of PR people as gatekeepers. 

“We are living through a radical transformation of our communications environment.” – John Naughton 2012.

According to David Manning White, everybody working within communications is classed as a gatekeeper. PR practitioners are gatekeepers, we have the duty to shape messages and pass them on to an audience or organisation. In the future, we may use influencers to pass on these messages in order to reach our media savvy consumers.

Conventional media is not dominant anymore, people are now desperate to find alternative potential influencers and these influencers will become a dominant player in the digital media landscape due to media fragmentation.

This year so far…

2015 has seen Queen Lizzy winning the title of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Madonna grew wings at the Brits and more recently, John Lewis reduced the country to tears.

This year, my Public Relations class at UWE have been lucky enough to be invited to talks held by established PR practitioners, review PR related books and create our own blogs.

Collectively, we have created a list of our own highlights from this academic year so far;

For me, this year has flown by… My most memorable moment of 2015 so far has to be making it onto Behindthespin’s #BestPRBlogs weekly contest.

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Rebecca Bateson “Learning new features for twitter has been a highlight because it has opened up a whole new world of social media. It has allowed me to have conversations with professionals I previously never would have been able to have. Putting me one step closer to future employers”

Oliver Miller: “For me, changing universities has been my highlight because it’s been great to meet new people and begin my journey learning about PR practices.”

Liam Bettinson: Liam has chosen blogging as his highlight from 2015. “Your watershed lecture ‘How to get on in PR’ assured me that PR was the career I wanted to follow. So, I became more focused on a PR’s greatest possession – their blog.”

 

Abi Bunce: “Sarah Pinch’s talk at the Watershed has inspired the next step of my career”

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Hugo Gerwat: “I chose this moment because it was a turning point for me and probably marked my first step as a PR practitioner. The journey’s not over and I’m learning more and more about new media everyday, and I now understand the importance of this media, which I didn’t before.”

We are all looking forward to continuing our blogging journeys throughout the Christmas period and creating new highlights in 2016.

#PrayForParis

On Friday the 13th we saw the horrific massacre in Paris orchestrated by ISIS. In any time of crisis, your last thought would be to think about how social media is used… During the last 48 hours, all social media outlets have come together in unity to support Parisians.

Olive branches were extended throughout Paris when Twitter’s ‘open door’ #porteouverte surfaced. The premise was that if you were in Paris and in need of shelter, you could use this hashtag and locals would invite you into their homes and provide you with a safe place to eat and sleep.

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Facebook introduced a feature on their site in 2014 named “Safety Check” which enables people around any area affected by disaster to check in as ‘safe’ on Facebook so their family and friends could be assured that their loved ones were okay. On Friday, the company turned on a Safety Check for Paris and it has since been used by 4.1 million people. As a result of this, 360 million Facebook users have been notified that their friends and/or family are safe. Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 20.21.29

Facebook has also given its users an option to filter their profile picture with the French flag, allowing them to show support of Parisians in this time of mourning.

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It should be noted that on Friday, social media became the most used platform to break news. Sky was reporting content far slower than Twitter. News was breaking on social media and there was no mention of it on news outlets such as the BBC and Sky up to 30 minutes later. Of course with ‘official’ news outlets, time needs to be given to check facts and confirm source credibility, but Twitter has an advantage over traditional outlets because information is distributed instantly which provides the consumer with immediate consumption.

Along with the humanitarian features we have seen, the trouble with social media taking a dominant role in this humanitarian disaster is that there was also a lot of false information being thrown around. Even though each tweet has a visible date attached to it, we saw an old Donald Trump Tweet from January being mistaken for a new one;

IMG_4832 After the explosions outside Stade de France, many people believed there to be an additional attack on the Louvre museum. It was reported that gunfire was heard at the Louvre museum. These reports were false, any unusual police activity around that area was due to the attacks going on in neighbouring districts. Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.35.50

After French President Francois Hollande announced that Paris will have three days of mourning, landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Disneyland will remain closed until the city’s state of mourning is over. 

Although there were several misconceptions created on social media, it has been reassuring to see the world use social media to protect and provide those in need with refuge. This is a prominent example showing that social media is evolving. It’s no longer used just to converse and communicate, and on Friday it was used as a humanitarian tool to provide shelter to hundreds.

What is happening to the police?

Last week my grandmother’s car was broken into and my handbag was stolen (see pic below of the little hole that was made).

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I was listening to the radio a few days ago to find Bedfordshire’s Police Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, making an appeal to open up police uniforms and cars as advertising space.

Police forces in England and Wales have been dealing with cuts since 2011 and as police numbers are declining, a new ideology of ‘self policing’ within society has had a steady incline. There has been a generational introduction of ‘self policing’ in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary whereby they have created a number of campaigns such as their ‘free road safety sessions’ which have been set up around various locations around the Avon and Somerset area to encourage the public to not rely on the police so much in areas where they are able to self-police themselves.

As it currently stands, the police are supposed to be politically neutral, holding no bias or hidden agendas. You have to beg the question that if police forces become reliant on funding from external sources in exchange for sponsorship, the idea of police neutrality will become abolished as it will become tainted by advertising and the agenda’s of whoever is paying their wages. Theoretically, an affluent area could pay for their own police force leaving the poorest areas with nothing.

From a PR perspective I can’t see this working. Communications expert James Hutchinson has highlighted a study, which found that when police officers look more militant, it changes the relationship between them and the public. If Attitudes are changed by police appearance then surely if we strip them of this stance and stick Care Bear adverts on their backs it’ll also be a threat on their authoritative role within society. 

In terms of reputation where businesses are concerned; If a police officer arrests somebody and their picture is taken by the press which is used on the front of a national newspaper, this could be harmful to the reputation of the company/business as there could be negative connotations to that subject specific incident.

It’s doubtful that commercial sponsorship could be the way for police forces to gain funding, but if there’s going to be such vast amounts of cuts within the police then there NEEDS to be a public awareness campaign signifying the dangers of theft and ‘petty crime,’ (much like the one my grandmother and I experienced), including the warning signs and what we can do within our smaller communities to act as a deterrent to criminals.

Essena O’Niell; Is ALL social media fake?

Celebrity blogger Essena O’Neill has sparked debate this week on the arguably “self-absorbed” ‘dark side’ of social media after re-editing Instagram captions revealing how much she was paid to promote products on her account.

O’Neill has now deleted all her superficially perfect social media accounts and has created her own website ‘letsbegamechangers.com‘ where she’ll be vlogging about social media, veganism concepts and interviewing change makers.

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Essena is arguing that we have become part of a society dominated by social media which turns online popularity into “validation from numbers,” “I want people to think about things… It’s freeing when you don’t let social approval define you”.

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Whether we want to admit it or not, we are always aiming to improve on and shape how others see us. Whether that be in an interview, on a date or on social media we cannot ignore the fact that it exists, and social media is the most efficient tool for this. It’s super easy to add a filter to your picture on Instagram in order to reduce the appearance of a blemish or add 2 or 202 connections on LinkedIn to give the impression that you’re well connected. If those connections or filters allow you to feel empowered then why not use them?

I don’t agree with this ideology that ALL social media is fake as it allows us to explore ideas and conclusions that we perhaps would never have come to on our own accord. If it wasn’t for these different platforms and communities of communications I fear many of us would be a lot less open-minded to alternative opinions.

I do think that there’s an issue particularly with the younger epidemic of serial social media users with editing their lives down to this crisp void of perfection and filtering out the ‘ugly’ aspects of reality that everyone has to go through whether you have 10 followers or 10 million. However I think that the people using social media to show their lives as an edited slice is in the minority. I’d like to think that the majority of us have found a healthy balance between using various platforms to our advantage when it comes to filtering a few selfies and understand that the amount of ‘likes’ that somebody else has doesn’t decrease or increase our own self worth.

Nobody has a perfect life, but there’s certainly no harm in sharing good (or not-so-good) moments of our lives with people who we’re connected to online. In a world where we are more connected by our attachment to technology than our attachments to one another, social media is used as a window which is often misinterpreted as a mirror. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to the rose-tinted glass windows of others, nor should we assume that the glass is rose-tinted. Haha.