Universities Seeking to Tweak Wikipedia

wikipedia_logo_detailThe power of Wikipedia … often the first source that comes up in search … causing university PR departments to seek to tweak their pieces:

University press officers have been deleting negative information and finessing critical passages on their institutions’ Wikipedia pages, breaking the online encyclopedia’s guidelines in the process.

The revelations fuel debate over how far universities should go in burnishing their image in an era of higher tuition fees and greater competition for students.

In August, London Metropolitan University’s press office attempted to delete a section about comments made last year by vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies, who said he was considering an alcohol ban on parts of the campus because conservative Muslim students considered the substance “immoral”.

Using an account called LondonMetropolitanUniversityPR, the press office also tried to remove a section on London Met’s apology to China for giving the Dalai Lama an honorary doctorate in 2008.

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Digital Life(style)

Social Media for PR/Comms 2010 (#cmn10)

MY ROUGH NOTES TO ACCOMPANY THIS PRESENTATION, FIRST I’VE TRIED IN PREZI (Just thinking, if this is Flash based, won’t play on anyone’s iPhone…)! I should be giving this talk shortly to the ‘PR/Comms’ strand at #cmn10 (Church & Media Network Conference), before zooming off to join the New Media strand! It should be about 20 mins + Q&A, but I haven’t had time to test, and to be honest, I want to do it a bit off the hoof… I know the subject well enough, I just needed SOME  structure… I may also draw some of this information in!

What PURPOSE do you want to achieve with social media?

  • What relationships do you want to build?
  • What actions do you want people to take?
  • What buzz do you want to create around your product?
  • Do you want to humanise your company/charity?
  • Bring your brand up to date?
  • Do you want to LISTEN to what people want?
  • Do you want to raise awareness?
  • Do you want client leads/create sales?
  • Do you want to provide thought leadership?

These decisions are key before you can REALLY define your social media strategy… which will include allocating RESOURCE…

  • Strategy for organisation overall
  • Strategy for media, including social media, overall
  • Strategy for each tool within social media!
    • Remember that turnover can be fast for each style of media
    • Ensure that you have a plan for how you are going to engage DAILY and WHO IS RESPONSIBLE.

What is the purpose of a social media strategy?

  • Without a clear plan, you can end up diving into everything and scattering yourselves too thin, which is not helpful! Or end up not engaging at all..
  • A clear plan = avoids wasted time, effort, backlash from those who think you are ‘playing’ rather than working. Avoid social media fatigue (Twitter/3 months!), or missing opportunities (all the opps I’ve had via Twitter).
  • However, DO leave space for experimentation in the strategy.
  • Ensure that someone has OVERALL RESPONSIBILITY for it (otherwise no one does!)

What do you already have that you can build upon?

  • Print materials (my first website essentially translated my undergrad diss to web)
  • Video/Photo/Audio
  • Staff enthusiasm?
  • Easily accessible vox pops, etc.

Initial specialism – history/propaganda

  • Social media is but the latest form of ‘propaganda’, and uses similar techniques:
    • Word games: Name-calling; Glittering generalities ;Euphemisms
    • False connections: Transfer; Testimonial
    • Special Appeals: Plain Folks ; Bandwagon ; Fear

So many tools as possibilities (Prezi)

Hopefully you can start to be thinking of some uses for the tools for yourselves…  If you’re going to use it well, best to focus on ONE TOOL at a time, get one going, before moving onto the next (although I quite often ‘take’ my name @drbexl on any new site I come across and leave it).

  • Presentations
  • Social Networking (Facebook strategy) [Think about Ikea’s tagging strategy, Superbadger]
  • Bookmarking
  • Photo-Sharing [Give images CC (release for wider use), allow community to tag & comment on images]
  • Video-Sharing (Leveraging YouTube – the big software for all – on the ground type of videos, software such as ‘vimeo’ = more professional)
  • Microblogging (Twitter info) [NOW news, relationship building, sharing links, fun, e.g. #charitytuesday #followfriday]
  • Blogging  [More detailed news, personal stories, etc. – e.g. built Syzygy site in around 3 hours, handed over to friend with a few instructions, and he’s developed clear categories, maintaining simple blog entries]
  • Audio [On the spot reactions]
  • Smartphones
  • Geolocation [Sharing tips – usually consumer, but what about ‘good deed for the day’, identify ‘poor spots’, ‘spot the poster’, etc.
  • Augmented Reality
  • Tools

The tools WILL keep changing, so keep your overall strategy in mind, and REMAIN HUMAN. Think – what are you OFFERING? Remember we are NOT talking ‘real/virtual’ worlds here, we are talking offline/online worlds…  [Note, not talked about Second Life… total immersion is expected to come, but not yet… ]

What is your brand?

  • Are you hip & happening, or will that scare off your stable base of supporters?
  • Look to ensure consistency in your brand – can social media fit with pre-existing, or does it need to be developed differently?
  • Social media can help to ‘humanise’ an organisation – but think carefully about how much need to balance this with ‘professional’.  (examples of e.g. Twitter used as a customer service tool, or to crowd-source ideas).
  • Who is your target audience? (SEO audience)
    • MySpace = music (and diminishing)
    • Bebo = 16 year olds (and diminishing)
    • Facebook – the Daddy of them all! Another in the pipeline is : (received lots of funding, although is little more than ideas – all the fuss re: privacy – will own own data)
    • If work in South America – they use Orkut far more…
    • E..g The younger generation (Jake)
      • Internet savvy (some ‘digital natives, term contested, now talk residents/visitor = less age specific)
      • Attached to their mobile phone
      • Used to ‘free’/viral/interactive
      • Resents ‘marketing’
      • Jenkins, 2008, p16: “Media convergence impacts the way we consume media. A teenager… may juggle 4 or 5 windows, scan the web, listen to and download MP3 files, chat with friends, word-process a paper, and respond to email, shifting rapidly among tasks.”
      • What would say is different for older generation?
  • The average social media user spends around 22 hours a week online (around 6 of them at work)
  • Develop ‘personas’ for your typical audience (as you may have done for your website) to think what would appeal!
    • Develop a list of KEYWORDS to appeal (phrases count as keywords) – some you won’t be able to compete on (e.g.
    • Couple of brands want to show you
      • Socks for Happy People (following for last couple of years as in development, met Tom at coaching course as they went through the highs and lows of developing a social enterprise product = very strong on BRAND and leverage – everything is related either to socks, happiness, or the causes they are helping!)
      • Pixel Project  (noticed recently on Twitter – very strong identity, with an aim to bring to attention the global issues regarding women affected by violence – making it acceptable to TALK about and therefore help STAMP it out)
      • To grow ‘brand trust’ – it’s great to HUMANISE who is behind it – that’s one of the things social media is all about. I have a bit of a problem with e.g. Christian organisations that simply ‘broadcast’ prayer requests  – we want somewhere we can engage, interact, contribute (where appropriate!)  – can your brand do that?

Your website…

  • All your social media is anticipated to feed back into your website, so ensure that that is up-to-date (don’t let it stop you engaging with social media – e.g. my DFP blog needs a lot of work, planned for summer!), related to…
  • A blog
    • Conventional wisdom is that it takes 6 months to get your site up high on Google (believe me, I changed hosts in January and lost half my followers in losing long-term links, especially links from images!)
    • Blogs ensure that your content is relevant, up-to-date and provides lots of ‘Google Juice’. Lots of free platforms (use WordPress – WordPress info – can start off on their hosted platform, then move to self-hosted under your own domain name)
    • Have a strategy for how often you’ll write – generally believed steady even if further apart is better than overly-erratic (although I am fairly erratic).
    • Great advice from Tony Treacy on my blog: (that kind of event like going to, already know it all, but didn’t know I knew it!)
      • E.g. Every Tuesday #ThinkTuesday – something close to your cause. Every Friday – #Fun Friday – something humorous, etc.
      • Ensure that you are clear what the blog is FOCUSING on! Use categories and tags to classify information (into taxonomies)… [Categories = the BIG trees, Tags = the DETAIL leaves]
      • Look to GAIN information from your readers (citizen journalism, activism/campaigning, crowdsourcing) – as we saw with Jake, people are using technology to get things from each other, not from organisations – you need to encourage this AND be part of the conversation – prodding it as necessary…  PULL not PUSH.


  • My favourite tool – of the moment – as fits with what I believe social media is all about:
    • Human
    • Genuine
    • Transparent
    • Experimental – few rules, just etiquette
    • Convergent!
    • You can
      • Participate
      • Engage (engage image)
      • Relate
      • Make yourself INTERESTING to readers – justify their investment of TIME and give them a reason to ‘follow’/’continue following’
        • Insights
        • Sneak Peaks
        • Discounts
        • Fun/Humour (balance serious/casual)
        • Support
        • What’s new?
        • Most efficiently used when a clear human voice behind it (e.g. respond every day 10-11), and think carefully about the TONE that you use for this, keep it light-hearted, unless dealing with a serious complaint (and try to avoid shutting down comments/complaints or the conversation will go on without you – e.g. Dell/Amazon/Habitat, etc.)
          • Put someone who cares & sees the value in it behind it – it’s a GENUINE medium, and any falseness will soon become clear. Respond quickly (if only responds 9-5, think about putting in bio!)
          • Need to engage in regular monitor & reciprocation. 1 person, 1 connection, 1 conversation at a time – charities in particular should treat every tweeter as though they were a major donor!
          • I’m a historian by trade – for many years the voices of the elite were heard, and then in the 1960s we had the growth of ‘history from below’, of ‘the people’ – that’s what we can see & hear through social media today… allow your workers or your beneficiaries to speak (RT them)

How do you measure what you’re getting out of it?

  • In management speak – known as ‘Return on Investment’, measured by ‘Key Performance Indicators’, possibilities include DIAGRAM
    • No of Twitter followers
    • Number reading blog (page counter still seen as significant by some in the old school, although Google Analytics ( can give you access to more detailed statistics which are more helpful. Even the most basic stats although more detailed possible.
    • Number of blog hits
    • Number purchasing/donating, etc. (can measure with ‘funnels’ on Google Analytics – no I don’t know how to… yet!)
    • NEVER expect 100% engagement!
    • Use graphs, charts, etc. to show a ‘visual impact report’
    • Think about what you are offering people – what ACTION can you get them to take – neuro-scientists indicate that it’s better to get a small commitment (e.g. a comment on your blog) before there’s any interest in taking anything further – and tough sales pitches are largely ignored (in information overwhelm)

How do you bring it all together?

  • Check out ‘social media aggregators’ on Google – Friendfeed is one in which everyone can subscribe to what YOU are doing, whereas many allow you to see what others are doing. Sites such as Tumblr and Posterous also allow you to feed everything into one place…  Something I need to develop…

What do you do with your strategy?

  • Use it!
  • Revisit & update it regularly
  • Build momentum – but then need to be prepared to continue to invest & possibly expand = not a one off thing!
  • Risk Management – not really my field, but needs to be considered – what could go wrong – and particularly – who is on hand to deal with a PR crisis?!

2 words to remember: RELATIONSHIP and CONSISTENCY – should underlie everything you do with social media.


Facebook Bootcamp for PR

I came across this presentation last year, and I keep returning to it, so I thought I’d ensure that I’d shared it with the wider world!