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Tag Archives: PR

No magic eraser on the Internet. UC Davis learns the hard way

There’s a corollary to that old saw, “On the Internet, information lives forever,” and it’s this: “There’s no such thing as a magic eraser.”

But that doesn’t stop people from trying. Like this case of University of California, Davis and the ‘image scrubbing’ scandal. There are still companies offering services to clean up bad information by some dubious SEO work. But most experts say this isn’t possible. Search engines crawl, index and place information in so many places it’s not possible to delete a bad story once it gets out. Especially something has covered by the media, shared, and posted to several media channels. UC Davis reportedly paid two PR firms $175,000 for this magic eraser.

Is this a good thing that we cannot turn back the clock? It has given rise to a privacy right case known as the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ right that the European Union fled against Google in 2012. It states that : “Individuals have the right – under certain conditions – to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them.” A good Fact Sheet is available here. There’s a longer discussion in Stanford Law Review, here.

I feel sorry for US Davis, because the story they tried to bury has given rise to hundreds more – giving the original piece that much more links. SEO companies often advice as much: Instead of trying to delete a story try to generate enough good information that will push down (not take down) the bad.

Oddly enough, while Google has complied, it accidentally revealed data about these requests.

Which brings me to social media literacy and privacy. We ought to be telling young people the ramifications of over sharing, being in pictures –group shots or selfies –that they might regret later.

 

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When “Off-the-Record” is suddenly not

The ‘microphone is always on’ rule has always applied, whether you worked for the media, with the media, or anything in between.

The story unraveling the uber-weird story of ride-share company Uber and an off-the-record meeting, gives us something to chew on. It is a gray area, with journalist Michael Wolff observing (or at least respecting) the rules of engagement in off-the-record agreements, while one of his colleagues Ben Smith does not.

The PR industry makes a better distinction of not just off- and on-the record, but ‘attribution.’ This is worth a read in case you are speaking to anyone, and are tempted to say “don’t quote me on this.”

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Disruptive, Social Media

 

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Update on my book: “Chat Republic”

It’s official, and I’m now ready to announce the title of my book, which is in its final stages.

It’s called Chat Republic.

Angelo Fernando, Chat RepublicI’ve been covering the intersection of technology and business; technology and culture for more than 18 years. More recently, I’ve focused on digital media and our social media-centric lives, and I wanted to put my ideas into perspective.

Chat Republic is more than a fictional country. It’s about the spaces you inhabit.  Those online and offline communities you move in and out of: conference rooms, Google Circles, IM lists, Facebook, online forums. I think of it as a ‘country’ whose fluid borders take the shape of a giant, invisible speech bubble.

The conversations and opinions pouring in and out of our republic, in real-time, are what make our communities more civil, more vibrant. Our chats are certainly not friction-free! But absent these conversations we would be one dimensional citizens, won’t we?

As of today, I am planning to launch the book in two time zones, in June.

Some specs:

  • 25 Chapters – Divided into 3 sections
  • Case Studies from the U.S. and Asia
  • Interviews with non-profits, tech companies, activists, chief execs, editors, citizen journalists, PR consultants, podcasters, government officials

More information here at ChatRepublic.net

 

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Wanted: A new formula for PR!

FT Online, Angelo Fernando writes a Bi-weekly column

FT Online | Bi-weekly column

I don’t think there’s a single waterer-proof formula for PR.

No matter how much we love the Social media Press Release, (basically an enhanced press release, with some great links and embedded media to create a richer story), it seems like too much work for companies to build these.

Then there is the quest for that secret sauce of Public Relations that might involve a more integrated strategy. Translated: the PR agency works with the ad agency which works with the promotions company. Good luck with that!

So in a bid to stir up things I came up with my own formula for PR. Here it is in a nutshell. C + C + E = Tn.

Got it?

You need a decoder ring for this one, so here it is. Context plus Content plus Engagement equals Trust to the nth degree.

Continue reading…

This was the subject of a newspaper column, in a series I have been writing on, published in FT Online. Until the web site has been updated, this is a link to a PDF.

 
 

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Could PR industry do some crisis PR in post-BP mess?

Now that the BP oil leak has been stopped —or so we hear today — has anyone considered that it may be time to create some good juju for PR, after what BP has successfully done in maiming the industry?

Many of us PR and non PR types have railed against the dark stain that BP’s oil spill is leaving. I have tremendous respect for those who handle corporate PR whether they are consultants or internal PR folk. It’s a tough job getting the organization to say it as it is, and to stop publishing mindless statements just for the sound-byte effect.

So I was hoping to see a coalition of PR agencies coming together, perhaps under the umbrella of PRSA, and the CIPR (British PR association), to bring in some of the largest booms (thought leaders) and heavy equipment (smart technologies) to stop polluting our pristine beaches (er, reputation).

PRSA’s mantra is “Advancing the Profession and the Professional.” Looks like the industry has been mugged by flaks who are effectively planting land mines along this path. Search for BP at PRSA’s web site and you see articles such as “Can the BP brand survive Tony Hayward?” I was hoping to see some folks come out say why “BP’s PR has been toxic for their business.”

Meanwhile BP continues to write about its wonderful response about how it is “Flying higher to get closer to spill response,” and its sea bird rescues.

And nobody in the PR industry seems to mind.

 

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Oil, tweets, and the gushing blogosphere will drown BP

There is no such thing as a ‘top kill’ procedure (the attempt BP made to put a huge concrete dome on the leak in the Gulf of Mexico) to cap off the gushing anger at BP  in the blogosphere.

Each day brings a new wave of voices –comments, creativity, social media channels –to shame the company that has caused the worst environmental disaster here in the US. Like this logo attack.

This one, a blog called Apologize To BP taps into the collective wisdom of anyone who has a twitter account, or some time to add some content to the site.

A post contributed by one David Diehl, alongside this picture, is titled ‘Sea Of Contrition.’ He apologizes to the captain of BP this way:

“Thanks again for inviting me to the yachting excursion this last weekend. I’m so very sorry I ate up all of your delicious shrimp during the preliminary revelry on Friday. The staff did indicate it was the last of the Gulf shrimp…”

Apologize, is acerbic and funny, obviously, but content like this (and there are hundreds of tweets being fed into the web site every minute) create a virtual gusher that intentionally or not contaminates anything that BP tries to do by way of PR.

I know, most PR people tend to say that it’s inappropriate to even use ‘ BP’ and ‘PR’  in the same sentence; the company has made so many PR blunders it’s not even funny.

The site urges readers to submit  “videos, photos, quotes, whatever you want, as long as you apologize…”

The feed of tweets into the site is a smart way to keep content flowing through the pages, even while it feeds the tweet-hungry searchers who only see it on the micro-blogging platform. The hashtag #ImSorryBP

At the time of writing, this Twitter account has had just 213 followers. I’s one more way that people will channel their frustration.

There are more. Check these hash tags that are being used to aggregate the comments and conversations:

#BP (of course, usurping the brand initials)

#oilspill

#gulfoilspill

So, despite the news that BP is trying to clean up its online rankings using SEO tactics such as buying keywords, it’s quite apparent that the groundswell is not going to be more powerful.

 

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Should BP spin its wheels on its pesky little PR problem?

I bet this will be question that many presenters on crisis communications and PR turn to –at the IABC World Conference in Toronto this week, and many other events.

Variations of this question could come range from “can social media rescue a company’s reputation,” to “Is this a warning shot for corporations dabbling in social media?”

You could say BP which has the  nation’s largest environmental crisis on its hands should ignore the PR disaster they have inherited (as Len Gutman at ValleyPRBlog noted, “There are some things PR can’t fix”) and stick to fixing what it has wrought. It’s near impossible for them to address the ‘wisdom’ of the passionate crowd leveraging new media.

Take these responses to the oil spill:

BP Logo

  • The BP Logo Redesign Contest. I’ll don’t need to tell you what this means in a Web 2.0 world where images are shared, commented on and archived forever.
  • Wikipedia edits. Lots of activity on the discussion pages of BP’s Wikipedia page, where editors this week seem to be dredging up –still unpublished– unsavory details of cancer etc.

In the face of all this, what in the name of crisis communications is the value of the full page ad in the New York Times, and some of those TV spots? Is there any value in using old media Tylenol-type tactics to fix the situation BP is in? I recall BP used to run a great series of ads, when it was re-branding, that said things like “It’s time to go on a low carbon diet.”

I think its time for BP to go on a low PR diet!

 

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