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Mack the Flack

Our blog, Mack the Flack, explores PR, journalism, and communications trends in the digital age

Archive for the 'Social Networking' Category

Six Reasons You Need to Take Time Off

Friday, August 12th, 2011

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” – so wrote Ira Gershwin. It’s that time of the year and Mack is taking some time off. Here’s why you should too:

  1. Loved ones will love to see you more
  2. Everyone needs time to do something silly like swing on a rope and jump into a crisp, cool lake
  3. Your mind needs at least one week away from tweets, status updates, emails, texts, calls, voice messages and other modern forms of communications
  4. Time away makes your boss, clients, co-workers appreciate you more
  5. Escaping to a place that makes you smile – be it a winding road in Tuscany, a restaurant in Paris, or your deck chair in the sun – is healthy
  6. Work life will go on without you – no one is irreplaceable, so you may as well enjoy your time away

Forget about the PR Program for a week and learn just how good Gershwin’s song sounds. Go to YouTube to search “Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime”. It’s footage of the great lady in concert in Berlin a time ago. It is sublime.  Now take some time off.

Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime

“Old” Media Still Trusted More than Social Medias

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Nine out of 10 Canadians still trust traditional news media but only 1 in four think social media is a reliable source of information, according to the Canadian Media Research Consortium (www.mediaresearch.com).

Seems we like social media for “news alerts and alternative perspectives” but we still turn to newspapers, radio and TV (and their websites) for verification of news. The Consortium survey of the 1,682 randomly surveyed adults found 90% of respondents think traditional media should continue to expose “abuses of power by government and other powerful institutions”.

As an old print reporter Mack the Flack couldn’t agree more but he cautions the distrust of social media will decrease as a younger generation, raised on social media, begin to take over our traditional media.

The survey sort of backs up the old hack, uh, flack’s gut feeling.

“Young adults have more confidence in social networking sites and blogs than average, but they still rank them far behind established news sources,” says the report.

Learn how PR embraces both the traditional and social media as a communications one-two punch in the SFU PR Certificate program. wppcert@sfu.ca

Twitter is Five! – Twitter Celebrates Its Big Five with Nearly 200 Million

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Mack the Flack got grabbed on the way to work the other day. A self-important movie crew dude in a baseball cap and headset grabbed Mack’s arm. “Hey! You’re in the shot!”

Mack was about to apologize when movie guy’s phone pinged and he turned his attention to his screen. Someone was tweeting him.

Mack left the twit with his tweet and headed for work. He reflected on the fact that Twitter, invented five years ago by three guys at a then-struggling San Francisco podcasting company now occupies the attention of nearly 200 million users worldwide.

Every week one billion tweets or “short bursts of inconsequential information” (140 characters maximum) are sent. Communications and spelling as we know it has changed forever (4evr).

But Twitter makes it just as easy to spread the word about important things – a tsunami, a Middle Eastern revolution – as it is to talk about your favourite colour. Tweets have changed the way the news media works. Now anyone anywhere can report the news.

It has also revolutionized the way the PR operates. Communications is now direct to the public, without the media filter and it’s a two-way conversation. And it’s instant.

Learn about PR social media and microblogging like Twitter in the SFU PR Certificate program. 778.782.5093 or pr-staff@sfu.ca

The Slow Death of Email

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Mack the Flack knows he’s out of date because he sometimes shoots photos on film, watches the odd movie on VCR and has been known to listen to music on a vinyl “album”. But what really dates him is his use of email.

You see, social network chatting, instant messaging (IM), texting and tweeting have already surpassed phone calls as the communication methods of choice in our new media world and these methods will soon supersede email as well.

Facebook currently handles four billion messages daily and the number is growing. Meanwhile unique visits to email sites such as Yahoo and Hotmail are in steady decline.

Under 25 year olds prefer the informal, fast communications of texts, tweets and IMs to the slower, more formal email that requires an account sign in, a subject line and the use of “sincerely”, “thanks” or “best wishes” at the end of messages. To them email is slow and lame.

As Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s director of engineering puts it: “The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.”

But Mack the Flack knows young people will have to keep checking their email because their teachers, bosses and parents still use it. At least for now.

Learn about PR, social networking and email in the SFU PR Certificate program. 778.782.5093 or pr-staff@sfu.ca

Digital Multitasking Makes You Dumber Robs Your Brain of Important Downtime

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Mack the Flack knew it was going to be a busy day when his cell announced the first received text just before 7 am – something about a meeting change.

By the end of the day he had tapped out dozens of texts, check his email constantly, spend hours in front of his laptop, watched the latest news on HD TVs mounted in the café where he had lunch, made calls to friends and text family as he walked home.

Our digital devices make the tiniest windows of time productive. But according to a study by the University of California, San Francisco (http://keck.ucsf.edu/neurograd/faculty/frank.html#research), there is an unanticipated side effect: keeping our brains constantly stimulated with digital input robs us of important downtime, which we need for learning, remember information and coming up with new ideas.

Another study by the University of Michigan (http://ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6892) found we learn better after a stroll in nature than after a walk in a dense urban environment full of information. Seems too much of digital information leaves us tired and dumber.

So Mack the Flack, leaving the cell and the laptop behind, has gone for a walk along the Stanley Park seawall. It’s a nice day and who knows, maybe he might learn, or remember, something.

Learn lots about PR in the SFU PR Certificate program. 778.782.5093 or pr-staff@sfu.ca

Social Web PR Trends in 2011

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

By Natasha Netschay Davies, Instructor of Media Relations and Social Networking

Although 2010 saw an increase in companies using social technologies, most posts on Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts were merely announcements or redirects to a corporate website. As firms become more familiar with the etiquette and overall landscape of the Social Web, 2011 will see a truer form of engagement between organizations and their stakeholders.

Businesses open up… finally

Brands will move past monitoring social chatter and repurposing corporate snippets for social profiles. They’ll ask for questions and feedback on their services, acknowledge negative issues and moderate discussion groups. Managing healthy crowd-sourcing campaigns will build a company’s social confidence and a tougher digital skin.

Commercialization of the Social Web

As social platforms have gained a solid user audience, some will begin to charge for extra-value features. From SlideShare’s lead generator to PitchEngine’s newsroom for Facebook, some businesses will pay for features to set them apart from their competitors. At the end of the day, will these features help brands to better engage with the public anymore than the free versions of social technologies? Balance is key: an over-customized, over-featured social presence risks alienating the stakeholder with too many choices.

Social connections harder to earn

Users will get choosy. A savvier social crowd means it will take more to convince someone to follow, connect or like a company. What will attract the social public is useful and interesting content in all shapes and forms, which will result in viral social actions, such as sharing.

Bloggers are Male, Educated, Lazy

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

According to www.mediabistro.com a study shows that bloggers are predominately male (2/3), university educated (75%) and lazy, most spending less than three hours a week actually blogging.

Mack the Flack feels it’s only fair to point out that, although guilty as charged, he does have a full time job, family, friends and dog-walking duties that keep him pretty busy.

Learn how hard you have to work in your PR career at SFU’s Public Relations Certificate Program.  www.sfu.ca/cstudies/pr or call 778-782-5093 or email pr-staff@sfu.ca

Advice for PR Students from PR Students

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Students from Temple University’s PR program prowlpublicrelations.blogspot.com have this advice for students new to the PR field. Mack the Flack agrees the advice is worth sharing.

Public Relations students Fall 2010

Public Relations students Fall 2010

1. Keep a lookout for blog posts and articles that discuss how people view public relations professionals and what our role is in the new media landscape. The question I keep in the back of my head when looking for this sort of information is: What does the ever-changing industry landscape mean for current college students as we enter the workforce?

2. Instead of controlling all information you give out, serve as a connector for your client as well as your media contacts. Being a connector means that you make connections that help people in ways that do not necessarily benefit your client.

3. Press releases aren’t dead but you need to specifically target the channels that will effectively reach your publics. Sending press releases to thousands of media contacts without a specific target is like sending a beauty industry client’s information to a men’s lifestyle magazine – not productive.

4. Stay in contact with the people you have formed relationships with. Correspond with them about things happening in your area of expertise over lunch or through a quick email or phone call. These conversations may have little to do with your client, but as mentioned before it is all about your connections.

Learn powerful PR career tips in SFU’s Public Relations Certificate Program 3 week practicum.  www.sfu.ca/cstudies/pr or call 778-782-5093 or email pr-staff@sfu.ca

Words We Can Do Without in 2011

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Lake Superior State University’s (LSSU) annual “List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness” (www.lssu.edu/banished) include some of Mack the Flack’s most hated:

1. Viral – anything popular, even for a microsecond, is “viral”. We’re sick of it.

2. Fail – LSSU flunks the word that describes anything and everything.

3. BFF – a friendship that lasts 10 minutes.

4. Wow Factor – leaves us unimpressed.

5. Man Up – verbing a noun doesn’t make you stronger.

6. Refudiate – time to repudiate Sarah Palin’s phoney word.

Learn useful, powerful and real words in Fundamentals of Public Relations.  www.sfu.ca/cstudies/pr or call 778-782-5093 or email pr-staff@sfu.ca

Seven Technologies Headed for the Scrap Heap

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

A New Year and time for a look at the latest “Dead Tech Walking” from CTV.ca

1. Camcorders and compact cameras – smartphones and BlackBerrys are taking their place. You can’t beat a slim device you can slip into your pocket that allows you to call, text, search for and photograph friends.

2. iPods and other portable music players just like cameras and camcorders smartphones are killing off the MP3 business.

3. Discs of all kinds –Downloaded music has killed off CD sales and downloadable movies and programs will do the same to the DVD business. Not a good time for HMV or Blockbuster.

4. GPS devices – if you didn’t get one for Christmas don’t worry. Smartphones are about to make them obsolete.

5. Answering machines voicemail is too slow. Texting, Facebook, Twitter and email are faster.

6. eBook readers The writing is on the tablet. eBook readers doomed to just reading books, will be replaced by tablets.

7. Watches, alarm clocks and wall calendars Ask anyone for the time, an appointment or a wake up call and you’ll know the cellphone has done in these old time tools.

Learn more about the latest Media Relations and Social Networking technology from our PR experts.  www.sfu.ca/cstudies/pr or call 778-782-5093 or email pr-staff@sfu.ca (more…)