How Emerging Digital Media Are Changing Our World: A Conversation for PR Educators

 

For public relations educators, social media platforms are presenting new and exciting challenges. How do we teach our students the new skills required? How can we gain a better understanding of the problems facing organizations today? How can we develop a curriculum to support these areas?

During this webinar, participants learned about the challenges and issues facing the profession from Jeff Beringer, Senior Vice President, Dialogue/GolinHarris; Robert French, Instructor, public relations and digital media, Auburn University; and Toby Ward, President, Prescient Digital Media.

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

KEITH BURTON: We are now actually beginning, as you just heard, recording our conference. We’re doing that so that for those who can’t be with us today who may be in your college or university or within your organization who you’d like to [INAUDIBLE] back and have a listen to this will be able to do that.

So, let me introduce myself again. And I’m going to introduce our colleagues here in just a moment. I’m Keith Burton. I’m a member of the board of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. And our board has worked together over the last six months to begin what is a series of webinars for both students and for educators as a part of our mission to help further knowledge in certain areas.

And this area, which is how emerging digital media and the Web 2.0, are really helping to evolve our world as communicators and educators. And so, I’m pleased to be able to present this today with certain colleagues who are going to be with us.

Joining me today are three esteemed professionals. Let me first introduce Robert French, who is an ,instructor of public relations and digital media at Auburn University. I had the pleasure of learning about Robert and his work. Robert also has interacted with one of our firms in the PR industry, Edelman, and doing work with Edelman down in the classroom there. And has really been on the forefront, from an education standpoint and teaching in this area. And Robert, we’re very pleased to have you with us for this conference.

ROBERT FRENCH: Thank you. Glad to be here.

KEITH BURTON: In addition to Robert my own colleague from GolinHarris, Jeff Barringer, who I’ve known through 10 years here at the agency. Jeff leads a group known as Dialogue, which is our traditional and new social and digital media group globally and is a real thought leader in this area. We’re very pleased to have you on as well, Jeff.

JEFF BARRINGER: Thank you, Keith.

KEITH BURTON: And then finally Toby Ward, who is the founder and the innovator and the president of a company known as Prescient Digital Media, who I’ve also had the pleasure of working with. Toby is truly one of the great voices and leading voices for Net 2.0 and the emerging Web 3. and has been as well the innovator, in my mind, around the world now in the area of corporate intranets. His blog is one of the leading thought leadership pieces in the world now [INAUDIBLE], and, so we’re happy to have Toby with us, too.

TOBY WARD: Good morning from Canada.

KEITH BURTON: So, with that we’ll move quickly into our presentation outline. My colleagues here with me, Dharma Subramanian, as well as Helen [INAUDIBLE] are going to support us as we go through this. And Dharma will help to facilitate questions that come up at the end of this session. I would ask you to be prepared to provide questions that may come up. You can do that online. You can also raise your hand and let us know that you may have a specific question through that meeting.

And then at the end of our conversation, if this group is fine with this, we’ll actually take questions and cover them all for you to make sure that you have information. You’ll also see at the end information on all three presenters so you can also contact directly if you have questions on things that they may bring up.

We’re going to cover all the key questions that educators we know are asking today. The role of these new media as well as 3.0 as it evolves, and what best practices, frankly, are available now that you should be thinking about as educators. And then we’ll have an open conversation around these areas.

[SIDE CONVERSATION]

Hello? We have somebody in the background. If you can just– I’d just ask those who are on with us to be on mute, if you wouldn’t mind, until we actually open up in the Q&A period.

As far as some of the questions that we’ve talked about, there are a number of these including, how do I equip a student today to develop important skills in these new media? I’m sure you’ve asked that question if you’re thinking about this area. How do we help to lead and interpret research in our own area of the agency front with our corporate clients? They’re always looking for what academic leaders are thinking about in these areas and how they can help them to do this interpretation.

What are some of the new models that can contribute to the growth of emerging digital media? How do we, in fact, teach students that have prior knowledge and skills and may even surpass our own in this? [INAUDIBLE] very common question, how can we gain a better real-world understanding of the problems and needs that are faced by client organizations in which these students that we’re preparing for the world may ultimately go into?

A good question– how do we make use of the men and women like Toby and Jeff and others who are themselves operating in these areas, and bloggers who can help come into the classroom and provide some of their knowledge, and then finally develop curriculum to support these areas in the future?

And with that I’d like to turn to Toby, who’s going to join us and talk a little bit about the role of these emerging media. Toby?

TOBY WARD: Yes. Thanks very much, Keith. So, when we’re talking about emerging digital media we’re talking about– as far as this conversation webinar goes– the new, emerging social media, which actually isn’t all that new. Some of it’s actually been around for 10 years but have really hit what we’d call the “tipping point” or the “critical mass” in the last couple of years, particularly last year with the emergence of Facebook and over the last six months with the almost crazed adoption of Twitter and other social media tools as well.

We’re talking Web 2.0 and the next step, Web 3.0– which we’re, of course, not at yet. And some would argue it’s not fully defined yet. But when we speak to this medium and we speak to us as individuals, we’re talking about coming together as individuals in new ways that we weren’t previously able to do online. As we used to gather around the campfire or the water cooler or at the office or all around the radio or the television, we’re now able to do so online. But in new, meaningful ways as we tag content and tweet and blog and podcast and do all the wonderful things that we’re doing with some of these tools, which we’ll introduce to you in a second.

But we’re also transforming ourselves into publishers, into citizen journalists, whereby the old model of one-to-many, a media outlet, a newspaper communicating to the world or to their target audience, has now been turned on its head. In some cases, shut down altogether, as is the case with the Seattle Post Intelligencer now ceasing print operations and moving completely online. We’re now turning into journalists ourselves through our blogs, through our podcasts, through Twitter, et cetera.

Just to give you a few examples and how we are evolving on the next slide. A couple of years ago we had the bombings in London in the subway station and it caused the BBC to look hard at their position in the world of journalism. And they went so far as to say, we don’t own the news anymore. The prominent use of video and other material contributed by ordinary citizens signaled that the BBC was evolving from being a broadcaster to a facilitator of news.

And we’ve seen this extended and accentuated recently with the US Airways crash into the Potomac. We saw it with the bombings in India and other breaking stories where the news is being broken, and the details– we’re getting more and more relevant information from citizen journalists and average Joes like ourselves through platforms like Twitter and Facebook and others before the media, before the CNNs, the BBCs can get out to it.

In the next slide,web sites we’re seeing the evolution of standard websites evolve from the one-to-many publishing format, to us taking over the publishing, or adding to it and communing with others through it. For example, old photos. We could upload those photos and share it with our friends and family. Now on Flickr we’re not only uploading photos, we’re sharing them with the world. We’re appending comments. We’re rating them. We’re tagging them with keywords. We’re sharing them with the world. And others can go and find those photos based on content tags and comments and other mechanisms.

In the old world, we had Britannica– the Encyclopedia Britannica. Then it went online, but it was still Britannica controlling the information that we read and shared. With Wikipedia, we are now contributing to the entries. We are determining what the makeup of a file is on the United States, on a country, on a rock band, on the latest social media tool. Whatever the subject matter may be, we’re determining how that reads.

And with the traditional content management system, whereby an organization is publishing news or information to their website or to employees on the corporate intranet, now employees can contribute their own information with wikis, like on Wikipedia, and collaborate a single document or file or multiple, in some organizations, or do so externally on the external website.

So, some examples of these on the next slide, you know all too well by now. The conversation-enabled platforms, the blogging platforms like Blogger and Technorati and WordPress, the social networks like Myspace and Facebook and LinkedIn, social bookmarking– whereby in the old world we saved our bookmarks in our browser. Now we’re sharing them with the rest of the world on a website and tagging information to it, and people are rating those tags and those bookmarks as well.

There’s the more traditional [AUDIO OUT] which has been around for a while, discussion forums that we get on Yahoo, and in extension of that, Wikipedia, the new presence networks, which is all the rage with Twitter in particular– to content-sharing like YouTube and Flickr, and virtual networking platforms like second [INAUDIBLE].

And just to give you a very specific example, I think the Red Cross is a superlative example of an organization– albeit non-profit– a corporate organization that has really dived deep into emerging media and is using it highly-effectively for their own means for awareness and education, but also fund-raising. If you go to AmericanRedCross.org– RedCross.org is the URL– and go to the About Us section you see there’s an entire section dedicated to social media as we see here.

They’ve got blogs. They’ve got discussion forums. They’ve got podcasts. They’ve got Flickr photo streams. They’ve got several Twitter accounts that you can subscribe to, a Facebook group, even a YouTube channel where they are sharing videos. Not only PSAs and fund-raising appeals from celebrities, but also footage and documentaries from risk areas and those areas that have particular campaigns where they’re trying to generate awareness about, for example, the cyclone that struck Myanmar, undertaking fund-raising, trying to get aid in there.

You can go and view these videos. You can tag them with keywords. You can post comments. You can donate. All of this using the new, emerging social media.

KEITH BURTON: Thanks, Toby. Jeff, that jumps over to you as we kind of transition into what’s next and where we’re moving to.

JEFF BARRINGER: Great. So, Toby did a great job describing where we’ve been and where we are today with Web 2.0. But I think all of you, as educators who are training the next generation of communicators, you may be asking, what’s next? And certainly, as all of us have seen, the internet and connective technologies do not sit still. And we’re really at the beginning of another evolution of the internet. And, as Toby said, there are lots of things undefined about Web 3.0. But let me describe, essentially, what the promise of it is.

Tim Berners-Lee, who is really the true inventor of the modern-day world wide web that we have today– contrary to popular belief, it’s not Al Gore. It’s Tim Berners-Lee– is really behind an effort, along with a number of media companies like Reuters and others, to take all this great information that is available online that is increasingly developed by the end citizens who are consuming it, and to take that information and remove some of the boundaries that allows it to flow back and forth across properties.

And if you think about Web 2.0 today, it’s all about collaboration and creating content and sharing content. The problem with Web 2.0 is that so many of these properties live in their own world. And you think about the social networks that you or your students may belong to. You have different sign-in IDs for Facebook and Myspace and LinkedIn. And these things don’t always work together.

And part of the promise of Web 3.0 is to begin to start to tie some of these properties together, but also free the information that’s inside of them so it can move back and forth to where it’s most needed. And we’re starting to see some interesting applications of Web 3.0 already appearing. And I think one of the examples that we can use, that all of us are probably familiar with but maybe didn’t know it was Web 3.0, is Google.

And quietly, over the past month or two, Google has made some changes to the way it actually looks for and displays search results. And so today if you went in to Google and you typed in “principles of physics,” you won’t only find great content specific to that search-term, “principles of physics,” but you’re also going to find related content to it, subjects that may not contain those exact terms, but that are related.

And so, the relationship between information online are better defined. And Web 3.0 tools and technology will allow information that relates to one another to find people. And, you know, for all of us in communications I think what this kind of means is, the things that you’re teaching students in your classrooms now– the basics of communication, being excellent writers, being direct and having terrific news hooks to the stories they’re writing– all of those things have a very tangible role in how well information is seen, especially in the Web 3.0 world when the information that’s out there is essentially all democratic. And it all has an equal opportunity to reach the end viewer, but it’s the relationship of that information and the quality of it that will define who sees it in ways that we haven’t yet seen.

And a few examples beyond Google– TripIt is a terrific Web 3.0-powered travel planning tool where you can take travel itineraries from multiple sources, send an email in to your TripIt account and essentially it creates these living and breathing itineraries that you can easily share with friends. So, if Keith Burton and I are traveling to the same airport, tools like TripIt might be able to understand that we both have similar itineraries and put us together.

KEITH BURTON: I use TripIt every week.

JEFF BARRINGER: So, these are just a couple examples of Web 3.0. And I think– as Toby said, this is still a space that is very much evolving. But there are some practical tools now that– if any of you are blogging, for example, you can take a very simple plug-in for your blog, like Tagaroo, and begin to create Web 3.0-friendly tags that can take some of the content on your blogs and make it available to other Web 3.0 search properties like Google and some of the other major search tools out there.

So, as we look at other, essentially, evolutions in communication– I think the move to mobile is an important one that’s just beginning to happen. And because of, finally, terrific cellular networks in the United States, we finally caught up with different locations around the world as far as the quality and speed of our network, and really terrific, easy-to-use, mobile internet devices like the iPhone or the Google Android platform.

What you’re starting to see is people who would traditionally experience web content on a larger screen are now moving to mobile devices. And iPhones and the like are beginning to replace PCs as internet devices and, essentially, portals for that information. So, there are certainly challenges for communicators as we think about how we create content on behalf of the organizations we might represent.

Creating content for these mobile screens presents itself with challenges. And obviously the need to be brief and concise and to really hit on messages very quickly, I think, you start to see in mobile. And the best real-world example of this today is Twitter. And we’re already seeing journalists who are asking PR professionals to send in story pitches in 140 characters or less. It’s really beginning to force communicators to really get to the point and get to the meat of the topic. And I think we’re going to see a bigger move to mobile as we continue in the year ahead.

KEITH BURTON: Well, Toby and Jeff have set a context for where we are. We’ve moved from Web 1.0 to 2.0, and obviously moving forward, as Toby once said [INAUDIBLE] Web 3.0, and so we got to get Web 2.0 first right. I think that takes us to a good point now with Robert and the conversation that we can have about how, as educators, those who are educators can really take these learnings and continue to adopt them now in the cloud [INAUDIBLE]. Robert, I’ll turn to you.

ROBERT FRENCH: All right. Thank you. I’ll begin by just pointing to the very obvious. You’ve got to do it if you’re going to engage your students. You need to engage at the beginning. And by engaging at the beginning, that means doing a lot of listening, reading, and research, the kind of thing that you’re familiar with doing already.

I’ll just run through some examples. I’ve started a notes page on propenmic.org. You can go look. I’ll give you a link later. But for educators, there’s lots of content and [INAUDIBLE] moments to mine out there. Everything from the recent Domino’s videos to the Barack Obama review of the Air Force One fly-over and so on. I asked on Twitter recently– another place– a great resource. You can ask people a lot of questions. They’ll answer. What were the most important job skills people are looking for?

And those jobs skills ranged from the Google Apps that were discussed earlier down through being able to create conversations and develop relationships online. That’s where participating and sharing goes on. And you’ve got the listening that happens in a search. There are so many different tools out there you can use and mine.

I asked some faculty members that are now doing research. Dr. [INAUDIBLE] Excuse me if I got that name wrong. She’s working on Twitter content analysis projects. Don Gilpin at Arizona State, Walter Cronkite’s School, is doing a large research survey on Twitter. Lou Variette from Australia is doing her dissertation on social networks.

And it goes on. So, there are opportunities there for research for you and also for your students to be involved in them. Also, being relevant, why not do something in a social network? Start your own. We started a hyper-local news network called theloveliestvillage.org. And we also have propenmic.org where we’re offering this freely to faculty members. If you want your students to run the site and learn what it’s like to be a community manager, you can do that.

Then you’ve got to evaluate. Go back through it. And there are some examples here of how people [INAUDIBLE]. Recently Bill Handy at Oklahoma State University– his classes ran the site, did an evaluation. We can point you to that then you rinse and repeat. And you can have this as a project all semester for your students. It really is the way to engage them. And that’s my two minutes.

KEITH BURTON: That’s great, Robert. Thank you very much. And we’ll come back to you, obviously, with questions that we know are coming in in just a little bit.

Again, for those who do have questions, please let us know what they are. You can go ahead and type them out online if you’re online there, and we’ll come back at the end and have a longer Q&A period. Someone, by the way, has asked, “will we have access to these materials after the call?” And you will. We’ll put them up on the Plank Center website so you can pull them down from there.

No presentation like this would be complete if we didn’t talk about best practices today and some tips. And we’ve asked Jeff and Toby and Robert to give us their thinking in this area, and Jeff’s going to cover all of that for us.

JEFF BARRINGER: OK. So, I wanted to share just a few thoughts on– as students move out of the academic setting, and as we’re seeing recent graduates coming into firms like ours, what are some of the skill sets that are really desirable today, that maybe didn’t exist five or 10 years ago, or they’ve evolved? And what we’ve done here is outlined a few of them that we look for in new candidates that are coming into our firms.

And I think one of the first things that students that are coming into our firms that they really need to understand is how to take some of these tools– to Robert’s earlier point, things like Twitter and Facebook and blogs, and to be able to use these tools to critically understand and extract insights about an audience. That can really serve as an input to create an entire communications campaign. Not one that just lives online, but literally is based on insights we see based on communication and conversations that are happening online.

We also think it’s really important for some of the communicators today to demonstrate the ability to be able to cultivate and foster relationships that may live in the digital world. And for years and years and years many a PR person was judged on their Rolodex and in their real-world, physical relationships with potentially, or especially, mainstream journalists.

But today it’s changing a little bit, and that influencers come in lots of different stripes, and that we need to have, as communicators, the ability to create relationships that sometimes live solely in the digital world. And those things have very different dynamics, in some cases, to them. And they require some different skill sets. And so, the ability to create those relationships, I think, is important.

One thing– and this is an amazing thing, I think, that we look at often– is the ability for folks to manage their online reputation carefully. And it’s something that’s been sort of a longstanding joke, as students develop Facebook pages and then move into the workplace that, for example, some of the content that may have been proper in communications with their friends, in their close personal networks, may not be appropriate for their employer.

And what we like to do is to remind folks that are coming into our workplace that, as they represent our clients and their brands, they really need to also very carefully manage their own. Because the same sort of online reputation they have personally is the same reputation they’re going to be using in the workplace.

And I’ll use the example of Facebook [INAUDIBLE]. And that one of the folks in our Dallas office has a very close relationship with an AP reporter. And that AP reporter is friends with her on Facebook, and they’re connected that way. And the last time that she called him up and was pitching a story, the first question out of his mouth was how was your vacation to Mexico? And she manages her reputation online very carefully, and the content she’s producing is very professional. And it’s helped her in her communication from a professional perspective. And so, I think, that’s an important point to hit on with students as they’re moving into the workplace.

Maintaining high ethical standards. There are lots of opportunities to take shortcuts when you’re applying some of these new media tools within communications programs. And we’ve seen lots of brands make missteps over the past few years, and there will certainly be more. And I think one of the key elements of training, as communications students, as they come into the workforce they really need to understand what some of these ethical boundaries are. And I think one of the organizations that’s done that very well is the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And if you go to WOMMA.org/ethics, they have a terrific, very useful guide. It’s been written by in-the-field practitioners who are dealing with some of these topics day-in and day-out to really give you some guidance on how to operate ethically within some of these emerging channels.

Measurement is increasingly important. And the reason I think why it’s more important today than ever before is that we’re looking at channels that cannot solely be measured by eyeballs. And the way that we’re measuring the success of a communications initiative isn’t just the number of people we’ve reached, but literally in many cases it’s how well we’ve engaged an audience, how much they’re participating.

And so, we need to look at new ways to measure the value of some of these contributions. It may not just be eyeballs, but it may be the number of entries in a contest or the amount of people who have rated something or forwarded something along to a friend. But there are many different ways to measure the impact that some of the efforts with an online communications program.

One, I think, of the most interesting measurement models that’s coming as of late is an idea called Net Promoter Score. We don’t have a lot of time to talk about it on the call today, but I think it’s a really great methodology for starting to quantify the impact of conversational marketing and new media marketing in particular.

And then the final point I would make is to really impress upon your students as much as you can to be lifelong learners. And I can say this with an example of our company. Our CEO, who’s been at our firm for years and years and years, is also one of the biggest readers of blogs in our company. And he’s out every day. And he and others, at very high-level positions inside the company, have a very personal interest in how media is changing and how we can start to apply some of these things to our craft. And so, students as well– I think that, as they’re beginning their careers, it’s really important to stay curious and really do continue to be lifelong learners.

And the last point I’d make, as far as skill sets for communicators today I think that we look for, at least from our vantage point, is the ability to make very strategic choices about the communications mix for a particular program. And you think of a role such as a media planner, and that’s something that traditionally you’ve always thought of as an advertising role. Advertising agencies have lots and lots of these folks who are also good at making decisions on where programs will focus.

Today, I think, more than ever before in public relations that same kind of role is becoming important in that there are so many choices. For us to tell our clients’ and our organizations’ stories, we have to make some decisions about the emphasis and the mix. And there are a number of tools out there that can help folks do that.

What you’re seeing on the screen now is an example of something we’ve developed inside of our own firm called the Trust in Media Index. And the idea behind it is that it is a planning tool for our teams as they’re planning communications programs on behalf of clients to get in and really understand what are the media sources that are trusted for a particular topic by a very specific audience.

So, if we’re marketing baby foods to moms over 35, we can look at their trust profile and understand the dynamics of how they trust word of mouth versus something they might read in the newspaper or within consumer-generated media or on the radio. And we can compare and contrast those things. And not only determine the right mix of channels, but also understand what makes each of these information sources palatable and attractive to individuals so that we can really make sure our stories are told right and that we’re leveraging each channel to its fullest potential.

Within the Trust in Media Index– this is just a couple examples of data points I wanted to share with you. And if you start to look at the channels that people trust, across the board word of mouth has always been historically among the most trusted of information sources by consumers. And that’s still true today.

But what you begin to see, as you look at the research over time, is that traditional forms of word of mouth– trust in those channels are starting to dissolve. And if you go to the next slide what you’ll see is that word of mouth, as we’ve traditionally thought about it, is starting to deteriorate and trust is beginning to move into collaborative forms of media, social media forms. And social media is really emerging as kind of the new, next generation of word of mouth.

The other point I would make, that we see in the research today, is that if you look at trust across all of the different channels that people use to get their information, it tends to decline overall. And people today are more skeptical about what they read in one channel versus another than they ever have been in the past.

And so, for us, it’s not to say we should spend all our time in social media or print or television or radio, but it’s to say we really need to understand the dynamics of all of these and tell our stories consistently across all of them. So, as we look at the skill sets students need, I think this is an important one of them too, is to be able to understand and make choices about the media mix.

KEITH BURTON: And I think as we move from that very, very good review by Jeff of these areas, just to quickly cover off a few critical success factors. And the first one is integrating traditional media with emerging digital media. He did a lot of work in our organization with clients around the world. And as we talk with them the whole idea of the Trusted Media Index as an example is a perfect one because they want to really understand if I’m using the traditional print broadcast mix and I add in and compliment the additional mix, what value will I get from this? So, it is key.

We know that, for those of you who are educators, you’re teaching this traditional mix. You’re now integrating the new mix with it, and there’s a careful balance that has to be created in that process, as you well recognize. Building trust in a virtual world. Many of my days are spent around communicating with employee communities, and we know that trust is the number-one attribute that employees look for in their communication. How can we assure that when you’re using electronic communication, where it’s sight-unseen, where the messenger them self may not be seen, and where bloggers in many cases are more trusted than the men and women who run organizations, that we build trust among those messengers with those communities of employees and others. It’s a very key issue and I’m sure our colleagues who are on the phone can talk a little bit about this because of their deep experience in it.

Someone asked a question, and we’ll get into it at the end, about creating measurable models. How do you, in fact, demonstrate return on investment? And I like to use the example that the people who often are communicators, who I’ve grown up with, live in a world of words. They live in a world of images and ideas. And the people who run organizations today and who’ve run organizations through many years are those who live in a world of numbers, who look for process and plans and evaluative models that can show them a real return on investment. And I think that in helping to educate young men and women coming up, it’s very, very important for them to understand that if they can’t evaluate and measure what they do, then they will not be effective in leading a function like one of those either inside of an organization or with an agency as a communicator.

We have an individual who many of you know by reputation by the name of Al Golin, who is the founder of our organization, GolinHarris. And Al Golin has a very famous saying. It is, you know, you have to balance high-tech with high-touch.

And I think there’s a very true statement around that. While we use these new technologies today, I can tell you that one of the missing elements in communication often is the emotional appeal of the messenger and making sure that we make that connection.

So, you can’t go too heavy on the idea that technology replaces other forms, because face-to-face communication is an example still of the number-one means by which people like to receive information, if they can. And externally they like to also be able to make an emotional connection with that communication.

One of the questions that we posed in the beginning was, how do you teach young men and women who may be more facile with this technology than you may? And I think there’s a lesson in this issue. We find in our own organization, where the average age within a company of 600 around the world– the average age in an office like ours in Chicago maybe you know, 24 to 32 years of age. These men and women often are more able to use these technologies because they’ve grown up with them.

And we often find a day– and maybe Toby and Jeff and Robert find the same– that there’s a reverse mentoring role that young men and women can play coming out of their experience in college as young practitioners and being able to mentor others in their organization on technology. I think that’s a critical success factor for companies that are learning, who really want to take advantage of these new men and women, to take full advantage of their education, their knowledge in these areas. And that’s one of the key learnings that you certainly can and should pass along to them.

I would also point out that, as we had our conversation– Robert, Jeff, and Toby, and myself– we talked about other voices. That being, what text or books are out in the popular marketplace today that can tell help you as you think about curriculum and building your own knowledge in this area. And there a few that we’ve put on this one slide, now known as other voices.

The Cult of the Amateur is a great book that talks about, again, the emergence of Web 2.0 and what it’s done to some of the classic media as well as the way in which we think of traditions, such as the way we receive music and use music. Made to Stick is other good books by Chip Heath and Dan Heath that Jeff really believes is an important text as we think about the use of these new technologies. Jackie Huba is one of the co-authors of a book around citizen marketers which talks about the new age, again, of bloggers and others who are influencing consumers in this age of the new influentials.

And then The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Groundswell are two additional, very good books. And Robert pointed out– though you don’t see the text here– that he would also add the example of Explaining Communication, Contemporary Theories and Examplars by Bryan Whaley as well as Wendy Samter, as an example of a text that can be modified with exercises to help in this area of creativity and the way time can be applied.

Let me just share with you, as part of this presentation and the next one, as you look at this deck you’ll have the contact information for Toby, Robert, and Jeff. You’ll be able to reach out to them directly. And I know they’ll welcome hearing from you by email or otherwise to amplify on any the areas that we’ve covered off today. I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve done with what is a brief presentation on this topic.

We’re now going to open up on questions that you may have. We have some that have already been submitted and I’m going to ask my colleague, Dharma, cover some of these questions off. And then, if you don’t mind, I’ll direct them to our participants.

DHARMA SUBRAMANIAN: I know Keith already briefly addressed the first question about whether you can get a copy of this deck and, like Keith said, it should be on the Plank Center website after this presentation. You can get a copy of the deck as well as the audio. A second question that came in is from Terry Flynn. And the question is, “I teach in a business school and my students have asked about the business case of social media. With the investment in technology, time, and expertise, how can we demonstrate a strategic return?

KEITH BURTON: Yeah. And, Toby, let me ask you to address this for a minute. Jeff has already addressed it through some of the description he had around the Trust in Media Index, for example, which is more qualitative. And it also has a quantitative measure in being able to demonstrate where those media are placed. But how would you address this question, Toby?

TOBY WARD: It’s not as complex as some people might think. There’s multiple ways to measure return. You could do it in terms of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and engagement. There is a return on investments in terms of dollars and cents. There’s usability. There’s market penetration and reach. All of these are worthy metrics. It really depends on the organization.

Let me give you a concrete example, because when I say dollar and cents in return on investment in social media in the same breath some people roll their eyes and they just don’t believe it. I can tell you that we measured the value– certainly, I do– of one of my blogs– intranetblog.com– and its value to our organization.

Not only do we measure it in terms of its position in Google search rankings– for example on certain key terms which we track and I track on a monthly basis– but we also measure how much traffic that directs to our website, how many leads and prospects we get. And we can even carve out at the end of the day because we do so where our sales are coming from, from the website attributed to the blog.

And we now know that about 30% of our new business comes from a combination of the website and the blog. So, there is a dollar value to having that blog and what it means for the organization in terms of sales. That’s an important metric for us.

At your organization, you may not be in sales. You may, in fact, be working with a not-for-profit like a university or a college, or you may be striking out into the new world and the corporate world soon. Different metrics mean different things to different organizations. Some call them KPIs. It could be trust. It could be satisfaction. It could be return on investment.

Ask your executives, ask your chancellor, your dean, your executive directors what resonates for them, what is important to them, and plan accordingly.

KEITH BURTON: That’s great. Robert, let me ask you to amplify on this topic as you think about this as an educator with this group. What do you think about this topic and how are you communicating with students on measurement and evaluation in these new areas?

JEFF BARRINGER: [INAUDIBLE]

ROBERT FRENCH: We talk about evaluation and return on investment. But before I go there I want to mention the return on investment for the schools. I’m just looking at the meeting attendees list, and I think I see two of my former students, Brett and Jackie– who are employed, respectively, in Boston and New York– that had they not had this experience in their classrooms they would not have been hired for these jobs.

KEITH BURTON: There you go.

ROBERT FRENCH: And another one– another one they were hired to work in, of all places, the White House Office of Strategic Management to do conversation mining online. So those are returns on investment for the university, certainly.

What we look at is, especially, these exercises that we’re doing now with the [INAUDIBLE]. We look at the [INAUDIBLE] Google Analytics and the metrics there. We look at [INAUDIBLE] and all the different schools. I want to go into [AUDIO OUT] exploring these and then showing them to the potential employer later in school. When you leave school, either for an internship or a job, that you understand them, you can implement them for a client. That’s the true value in getting involved in these exercises to me, for universities.

KEITH BURTON: Yep. We’re going to go to the next question. I want to set a pretext for it before we do. There are certain areas today that have restrictions and legal limitations on them that we’re now using digital and social media to address. And one of those areas we’ve actually gotten a question on that we’re going to pose.

DHARMA SUBRAMANIAN: Jackie just submitted a question. She asks, “any information related specifically to the pharma industry and how to integrate social media under current legal and regulatory issues?”

KEITH BURTON: And I’m going to ask Jeff to talk about this. Jeff, on behalf of the Dialog group, does quite a bit of work with our health care [INAUDIBLE] group. Jeff, for you and your team globally this has been an issue that you’ve had to grapple with, have you not?

JEFF BARRINGER: It is. And certainly, pharmaceutical companies, because of the regulatory issues around adverse events reporting, have been slow compared to [INAUDIBLE], for example, in using social applications within their marketing mix.

And I think what you’re starting to see now, by lots of progressive companies and– full disclosure, we work with Johnson and Johnson, but I’ll use them as an example. I think what they have done very well with respect to trying to use social media are a couple things. One is they have involved their legal teams very early and often. They’ve embraced the lawyers. They haven’t been afraid of them.

When they’ve been able to do things, be it on Facebook or within other social channels that are traditionally kind of off-limits for pharmaceutical companies, they’ve worked with their legal teams to find a common ground that allows them to feel comfortable and not at risk, but still allowing customers to have a voice.

And I’ll give you an example right now of something that Johnson and Johnson is doing online. They have a community set up on Facebook for parents of kids with ADHD. There hadn’t really been a place where parents that have kids with this affliction could go, meet other parents. And J and J looked at it as an opportunity to create a space where these people could come, share their stories, their challenges, their areas of pride with others just like them.

And so, what they were able to do is to create this community online. And it’s not necessarily the brand talking to them about the things that they need to do, but rather the brand facilitating conversations between them and getting out of the way, in some cases. And that’s been very successful for them. And it’s been a sort of a middle road where I think the legal folks inside the company have said, yes, this is a place where we can be.

KEITH BURTON: OK.

JEFF BARRINGER: Does that help?

KEITH BURTON: Yes. Very much so. We had a member of our audience, Larry, who raised his hand. Larry, did you have a question, if you’re online, on the phone as well? Larry? If not, I have a question I want to ask. Robert, I want to ask you. It was one of the ones that we posed early on in starting about using bloggers and those who are adept in their use of digital and social media in the classroom to help in instruction. Just would love your point of view on this in terms of bringing in the external or the outside view into the classroom to join with you and with others who educate. Has that been a practice that you use in your model?

ROBERT FRENCH: Absolutely. Early on we started a place called Markon Blog and just asked [INAUDIBLE] from around the world to participate and to develop great relationships. It is online mentoring that’s going on. I don’t think ever before the opportunity for engaging your students, professionals, and thought leaders has ever been so easy.

We do Skyping on [INAUDIBLE] either audio or audio and video in class. Students interviewed William Murray at the– we were the first to interview William Murray, the president and CEO of PRSA. We’ve talked with Jack O’Dwyer, we’ve talked with Charlene Lee and David Meerman Scott. And the list goes on. Lots of different professionals that are willing, and eager even, to talk with you and your students. You can even do interviews and podcast with them.

The blogging aspect of it first started by reading then by commenting, and then the conversations happened. So many of my students afterwards wind up in email back-and-forths with [INAUDIBLE] even still today, where they’re interacting and they’ve made friends and connections by doing this. It really does work.

KEITH BURTON: Great. Again, if you’d like to submit a question online you can do so now. And then as we’re waiting for any that may come online let me just ask– we’ll open the floor up for those who are on the phone with us, for Robert or for Jeff or Toby– you can just direct your question to one of them if you’d like. Please feel free to do that. We’ve got about 15 minutes left in our call at this point. So please, whatever questions you have, don’t hesitate to ask them.

Questions? Sounds like we’ve got people who may be moving on to other things. But I have a few additional questions that I would like to ask while we’re on. And I guess one of the key questions that I would ask is, as students– and Robert, I’ll start with you and, Toby, I’d like to come back to you on this one, too. As students are educated in this area, as you teach them increasingly, are you finding, as you talk to those who may employ them, that those who can be their employer may feel that they are receiving the instruction they need in the classroom?

Are they equipped as they go out? Does it require a certain amount of internship work that they need to do as part of their education to equip them to deal with what is a very, very fast-changing area? We’ve seen just within years, literally, a short period of time, the movement from Web 1.0 to now toward this new 3.0 application. How do you get students ready to go into this world? And what do you find from those who are hiring them? We’ll start with you, Robert.

ROBERT FRENCH: Oh, OK. With me. Well, what I do is I talk to professionals and I asked them what they want. And one of the things I did recently was ask, what are the first new jobs that are you’re asked to do? We were talking long before in the lead-up to this call about how a lot of students are being hired to run the internets for corporations or be active on them and act as community managers.

So, learning that probably– most of the communicating online in business might be happening in intranets. And it’s a great experience for them. I think that, again, we go back to the experiential model. Which you can get your students involved in whatever your network of practitioners and intern-hirers are looking for. Today quite often the response is what are the things you’re looking for, and it’s online, understanding social networks.

KEITH BURTON: I think you’re right about that. And, point of fact, every meeting we go into in the business and clients today, major companies– I’m thinking of a global automaker recently I talked with who said, you know, we’re really wrestling with how do we help equip our company to do more in the area of social media? And you would think these large organizations are fairly adept at it. They’re not. They’re struggling in the same way that more entrepreneurial companies do because of the fast-changing nature of it.

Toby, you see a lot of young men and women. You talk to them. Your blogging brings you in contact with them as well. They’re asking questions about what do I need to do. How well equipped are they? What would you like to see from them as they come to see you, for example, at Prescient, to become a part of your organization? What are they missing and what would you like to see them more equipped to do?

TOBY WARD: Well, not only do I want to see them using it, but I would like to see them using it intelligently. I don’t think there’s too many young people that don’t have a Facebook and/or Myspace profile and/or Twitter account, et cetera. If they don’t, I would be curious as to why they don’t. I might even be suspicious, in fact. But you can better believe that over the last couple of hires that we’ve done at Prescient that we’ve checked out their blog, their profile on Facebook, et cetera, et cetera to learn a little bit about them.

And this is now standard practice at most organizations that are hiring, that they will go and they’ll look up their Facebook profile, their Myspace identity page, et cetera, et cetera. I want to see that they have been using it. And the more active and intelligent they are, the more likely I am going to be to hire them. Now, not all organizations are this progressive, but some are. Leading ones, the ones that folks and students today looking to join the workforce probably want to join, are more progressive.

So, the more active you are, the more intelligent you are– you know, for example, if your dissertation. Boil it down into some condensed blog posts and do some tweeting on it. Or just a paper from your finals. Take some of the salient pages or sections, boil it down into a little blog post or two or three or 10. Employers want to see that you have critical, rational, analytical thought abilities and can write as well. And they’d like to see it online.

KEITH BURTON: Thank you, Toby. We have an interesting question. We think often about young men and women who are in school who are being educated. But what about the older student? What about the returning student or the continuing student who may not be up-to-date on social media? Robert, what’s your experience? And Jeff, your experience with that?

ROBERT FRENCH: Well, we have what we call RAS, returning adult students, that come in just for this. And we actually get calls [AUDIO OUT] people who want us to come out and do training because

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

ROBERT FRENCH: Kids leave and become the teacher. And we say that over and over. So along the way we talk about being able to say that they [INAUDIBLE] help these people. See one, do one, teach one so that they can become comfortable with it. And again, I always go back to the experiential learning model. It works, young or old. Getting involved and doing it is what makes it happen.

DHARMA SUBRAMANIAN: We have another question from Rebecca [INAUDIBLE]. She says, “I’m curious to hear how the presenters stay up-to-date on new tools that come out online. Are there blogs or news sources that you read every day or week to stay up-to-date? One of the challenges I often have when I explain to students that they need to stay up on the new tools that come out– they ask, how do I do that?”

KEITH BURTON: Jeff, do you want to take that one?

JEFF BARRINGER: Sure. There are– I probably have in my RSS reader now probably a couple hundred blogs that I’ll scan through regularly. And having those things set up in a simple tool like Google Reader makes it really easy to get through lots and lots of content quickly.

I would say a must-read blog is Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research’s Web Strategy blog. It is probably among the best, in my opinion, as far as what’s happening, how people are applying social tools within particularly the public relations function. [INTERPOSING VOICES]

KEITH BURTON: That’s just behind Toby Ward’s blog though, right?

JEFF BARRINGER: Of course. Well, Toby’s is a very close second.

[CHUCKLES]

TOBY WARD: Thanks for the compliment.

JEFF BARRINGER: You’re welcome.

TOBY WARD: I might add– I’ll confess that I almost don’t use RSS anymore. I might go into my Google Reader– and I have an iGoogle account and used to use it, likewise with my Yahoo. I might go into it now once a month. One word for keeping up on trends, Twitter. Subscribe to the thought leaders.

Jeff Barringer’s got an account. I’ve got an account. Inside Edge has got an account. I think everyone on the call here probably has one.

ROBERT FRENCH: Robert French has one.

TOBY WARD: Yeah. Subscribe to these folks. And they’re going to share with you every day between two or three and a half dozen really good articles that they’ve read during the course of the day. They may have written the odd one them self in a post, in a formal article. Follow the links from Twitter and you’re going to learn a lot in a single day. But if you do it every day you’re going to become a genius in weeks. [LAUGHS]

JEFF BARRINGER: Yeah. And I would just add, find a tool that works right for you. You know, we have executives in our own company that are following these trends very closely. Some of them do use Twitter and they like it and it’s a good fit for kind of their personalities and the way they get information.

Others like to go with something that’s a little bit more of a traditional kind of format of information. It’s more linear. So, you know, find something that’s for you. I remember the days back when I was in journalism school. And one of my favorite professors– every day when we came into class we’d better have read all the daily newspapers because he was quizzing us on those sorts of headlines and what was in traditional media.

And I think today, well, wouldn’t it be great if students in journalism programs were getting quizzed on what’s happening online and, you know, what was Oprah doing on Twitter, and what did the Motrin moms have to say, and those sorts of things, so that they’re getting quizzed on those topics, too. I think it’d be great.

KEITH BURTON: Jeff, one thing that we did get a question on– we’re going to another question– was the blogger that you just mentioned, Jeremiah what? Can you say that again for someone who had a question about that?

JEFF BARRINGER: Jeremiah Owyang. O-W-Y-A-N-G. He’s from Forrester Research. And he has a blog. It’s web-strategist, I believe, .com. If you Google his name you’ll find it.

TOBY WARD: Yes.

JEFF BARRINGER: And it’s terrific.

KEITH BURTON: Good. And then we have– Dharma, we have another question.

DHARMA SUBRAMANIAN: Yep. Stacy Singer asks, “what is a good way to show social media skills on a resume?”

KEITH BURTON: Yeah. Toby, pick up on this one for us. How you actually, on your resume– and you see a lot of them. How do you suggest people cast that experience and what they do with social media so that it’s impactful to you?

TOBY WARD: Well, first and foremost, where you have your name and your address and phone number you should put your Facebook identity number, URL, your Twitter profile ID, anything that you have. If you’ve got a YouTube account, a Flickr account. Let’s see it up front.

And within your bio you might also, when you get down and into stuff like other interests, et cetera, you might want to cite recent or relevant articles that you may have written or posted to a blog so that– and give the URL so that the reader, the potential hirer, can follow the link and go and read what you’ve had to write.

KEITH BURTON: Yep. Robert, you made a point in a question here– you really posed this really as information probably more than a question about Spokeo. Do you want to just quickly talk about that?

ROBERT FRENCH: Sure. Spokeo– earlier, talking about people searching for student information online, Spokeo is a new search engine it’s actually being marketed to HR people. Spokeo actually allows you to search within these networks, like Facebook. And because it’s sort of tied in to everybody’s email account you can get– this search engine can get access through back doors.

Very important to watch your personal brand and reputation online if you’re a student to the resumes. I’ll tell you, when I leave here I go to my last class, final exams. Students turning in their projects. It is a digital portfolio. You can take all of your experiences there, and there are simple ways to do it with just a Google profile page. Or there are more complex ways. Put it online so you can send somebody a link and show them– you know, point them to all of these activities you’ve done.

KEITH BURTON: Robert, I want to thank you and also join in thanking Toby Ward and Jeff Barringer. This has been an outstanding presentation. And, you know, we could spend hours doing this, and I’m sure those who are on with us would enjoy it as a background session. But truly, based on my own experience with all of you, I know the depth of your knowledge and your experience, and we’re thrilled to do this as our very first Plank Center webinar for educators. And we’ll– for the benefit of those who are educators, please watch the various sites. We’ll post a notice for the future. We’ll be looking at other topics.

The Plank Center is a great organization. We have spent time over the past couple of years thinking about how we can further leadership in public relations for educators and students. And this webinar series is a new event. [INAUDIBLE] the first one we did was around the issue of should students pursue a job immediately in a school or would they benefit more by going back to graduate school early? And it was a great conversation with a wonderful audience just like the one we’ve had today.

I’m very pleased and proud to be a board member with some wonderful people. Betsy Plank, of course, who many of you know is the namesake of the Plank Center and is still quite active in her work with us in helping to lead what we do as an organization.

So, we’re pleased to be with you. I want to, again, thank my colleagues here, Dharma Subramanian, as well as Helen [INAUDIBLE] from Inside Edge and GolinHarris, and thank all of you for being great participants today. Wonderful questions.

Again, this will be placed on the Plank Center website in terms of the actual PowerPoint that you’ve seen today, so you can access it. And we’ll also have the recorded version of this up so that you can listen to it, download it, and have that available to you as you want to go back to it with other of your colleagues and others who may benefit from it.

So, thanks for spending your afternoon or morning with us, if you’re further on the west coast, and appreciate the time. And have a wonderful weekend.

Resources of Interest

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