Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Detroit Day 3, 4 & 5 Photos

The final pictures from the 2008 PRSSA Convention:

It rode shot gun from the Hilton to the Airport! 

The project board had a wonderful trip to Detroit. Some how it gained a pound?

Well, it was fun until I had to bring it all back to Tuscaloosa.

After the awards ceremony at the Detroit Institute of Art. I had no idea Detroit had such great art by Monet, Van Gough, Cassat and Degas, just to name a few. 

Our project board!! Special thanks to Jacob and all the Platform team members, it went over so well!! 

Chevy Volt, which GM made available for us to check out at our opening night social. 

PR Legends Discussion L to R: John (Jack) Felton, Debra Miller, John Bailey, and Steven Harris

After the PRSA Legends panel, waiting on Craig Newmark of Craigslist.

More pictures can be viewed here.

Detroit Day 2-Photos

Sorry it has taken so long to get these up!

Comerica park-- home of the Detroit Tigers! 

We ended our night at the Fox Theater taking pictures! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Financial Crisis or Moral Crisis?

USA Today recently pointed out that corporate apologies are becoming more and more rare in the face of the current economic crisis. The article argues that CEOs see admitting blame as a sign of weakness, even though the article claims that “In 2004, professors from the University of Michigan and Stanford University found that companies that accepted blame for poor performance in annual reports were more likely to outperform the market the following year.”

The most recent public apology in my memory was when Jose Canseco expressed regret over the effects of his book, “Juiced,” an exposé on steroid use in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately for Canseco, his apology is too little too late. An investigation into steroid use in baseball has tainted the reputation of the sport and many of the players mentioned in his book as steroid users have had their reputations, careers and Hall of Fame chances destroyed by Canseco’s claims.

When will an apology be too little too late for the major firms involved in the financial crisis?

Linda Stomato of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution defines an apology simply in the Ivey Business Journal article “Should Business Leaders Apologize? Why, When and How an Apology Matters”:
“An apology can acknowledge that an injury or damage has occurred. It may include acceptance of responsibility for the mistake; express regret, humility or remorse in the language one chooses; explain the role he, she or they played; ask for forgiveness; and include a credible commitment to change or a promise that the act won’t occur again.”
Stomato also claims that “Apologizing by admitting a mistake—to co-workers, employees, customers, clients, the public at large—tends to gain credibility and generate confidence in one’s leadership. Acting defensively, on the other hand, undermines it.”

If an apology and a place to lay blame restores trust when made in a timely fashion, would that not restore the missing confidence that is tearing the economy apart?

The issue is, understandably, a legal one for the failed firms. Admitting a mistake may not bode well for the company if legal action is taken as a result of the ongoing investigation into the cause of this crisis. This is where a firm’s values come into play, leaving each one with two options:

1. Apologize, admit any mistakes, accept responsibility and outline a plan that will not allow it to happen again. This option risks future legal action, but holds promise of increased consumer confidence and a resulting upswing in the economy.
2. Don’t apologize, avoid litigation and ride out the disaster.

Should a firm work for the social good or for the avoidance of legal action?

Johnson & Johnson’s apology for the 1982 poisoning of Tylenol made the company a PR legend and gave it a socially responsible image. Steve Jobs’ apology to consumers who bought a higher-priced iPhone when the price was cut and his subsequent rectification of the situation proved that Apple is a consumer-oriented corporation. Apologies in the past have been good things.

When will we see an apology, anyone willing to accept responsibility, for the financial crisis? Maybe never. Maybe too little, too late.

Until then, consumers are left to conjure confidence in the economy from somewhere else, but I have yet to see anything that warrants it.

Jessica A.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Detroit Day Two

Hello everyone! This is a short summary of the Day Two activities that I attended at the 2008 PRSSA Convention. 

This morning started off with a continental breakfast followed by the key note address by Ofield Dukes. Dukes wears many hats, he taught at Howard University for 17 years, he has been a communication consultant for every presidential campaign since 1972, and he also started his own PR firm, Ofield and Associates. He delivered a timely and inspiring address about the state of the nation and public relations' role in the economic recession. He said that we all need to tighten our belts, but we will get through this recession like we have throughout American history. He also discussed the need for us, as students, to keep up with the social media revolution. 

He called the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie the "public relations bible". He said that he required his Howard University students to read the book as part of their introduction to public relations course. He talked about how it is easier to make friends if you are interested in them, rather than trying to make them interested in yourself. 

After Dukes finished speaking, the first lady of PR Ms. Betsy Plank spoke for a brief moment about the history of the public relations student society. She's a PR celebrity in that as soon as she stood and walked to the podium everyone started talking pictures of her. It was like the crowd suddenly woke up on this cold Detroit morning. 

After Plank spoke, the each national committee member spoke about the different projects that they had been working on. Then, we had roll call. A lot of universities made snippy comments about each others' football teams. It just so happened that we were sitting in front of Tennessee. We did a big Bama spell out followed by a resounding "Roll Tide Roll". 

After the long roll call, (there are 290 PRSSA chapters) we went to lunch before the first sessions started. 

The first session I attended was the "Motor City Metamorphosis", it featured a panelists of public relations professionals from each of the "big three" automotive manufacturers. The conference is sponsored by GM and is in the GM Renaissance Center. They are also allowing PRSSA members that are 21 or older to test drive the new GM hybrid vehicles in downtown Detroit. I didn't have time to make it by there today, but I will before the conference is over.  Anyway, I say all this to point out that during the discussion the "big three" panel was moderated by another GM public relations person. The person from Chrysler had only been in her position since July 1st. The gentleman from Ford had no background in public relations, prior to beginning his employment at Ford about a year and half ago. The GM person on the panel had been with GM for 22 years. At one point the GM moderator turned the audience and asked which of the "big three" advertising campaigns could be recalled. Not surprisingly, from inside the GM Renaissance Center, the students could only recall GM advertising campaigns. 

The next session I attended was the Health Care PR session. It was very interesting I throughly enjoyed the crisis communication aspect. One particularly interesting situation that she spoke about was a patient being shot inside their hospital room.  She said that she greeted this situation some what differently than most crisis situations. Typically, she said, you would send the CEO out to speak with the media, but in this case, the CEO went to each patient's room and reassured the patients of their safety during their hospital stays. She said that she set-up camp in the waiting room at the hospital and kept the media constantly updated. She said that because of this, not many of them attempted to interview hospital employees or other patients. 

Finally, I attended the Internal Communication session. While this session was also taught by a healthcare profession, it was about developing campaigns for the use of internal employees. internal communications is an interested aspect of public relations, as most of the professionals whom fall into that field report to human resources people. This field is big in healthcare public relations right now because of the nursing shortage. 

I am looking forward to an exciting third day of posting and light twittering!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Detroit Day One: Part Two

Finally, we rode the people mover back to the hotel. It was an interesting experience. Think the monorail at Disney World meets the extreme urban life. We meet another student who helped planned the conference from Eastern Michigan University. She gave us tips for places to eat. Apparently, there is a restaurant close to our hotel that serves "southern" food. There will be a PRSA/PRSSA impromptu twitters'(?) meet-up there tomorrow night. 

We sat with Tennessee at the Motown social.  We gave out our Bama stuff, including shoe laces, pins, pens, note pads and pencils. Everyone else had better stuff than us! I got tons of pens from schools like University of Northern Iowa and the University of Tennessee. I got a cup from Penn. State (those girls were very nice! They are the proud new owners of Bama shoe laces). I got a Frisbee and lots of candy. I think the stand out of the event was the University of Florida, they gave me a tee shirt and messenger bag!! The tee shirt has 10 things PR people are NOT. 
The view from the Renaissance Center. Notice the buildings on the opposite side of the river? They're actually in Canada. You can either walk to Canada from downtown, take a bridge over or go in a tunnel under the river.

The entrance to the conference rooms.

For more PRSSA/PRSA event coverage check us out on Twitter-- platformmag and also check out www.propenmic.org. 

Detroit Day One Photos

Casino in Greektown. We are staying in Greektown in the Hilton. Detroit has tons of casinos. We ate at the Pizza Palace and I got some yummy looking cake from the Astoria Bakery. More to come...

Downtown Detroit. The round tall building is where the convention will be taking place. The GM Renaissance Center.

Tunnel to baggage claim in the Airport. It's like one of those pianos from the movie Big, it makes random noises as you ride through on the moving walkways, it's really long, maybe the length of a football field.

Pounds of luggage and Promo stuff + Project board

Monday, October 20, 2008

Buzzword or Buzzkill

With the presidential election just days away and the final debate only a memory, we have seen numerous buzzwords and slogans thrown out there. Obama is begging for “change” at every campaign stop he makes and as the television show Saturday Night Live suggested, Palin and McCain’s references to the term “maverick” could be turned into a pretty successful drinking game. And who could forget from his frequent references to Scranton, Biden’s hometown?

We have also seen the emergence recently of a new player on the political field, Joe the Plumber. Replacing the Republican Party, and specifically Sarah Palin’s reliance on “Joe Six-pack,” Joe the Plumber is the new everyman the candidates are fighting over, or at least fighting for his vote.

But beyond all of this, there is yet another character that many may not even notice as he is being brought up in these same debates. ExxonMobil is taking a beating from both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. It has been mentioned at least six times during the debates as the enemy both parties can rally around. The company is one of the only things that they seem to agree on during these forums on disagreement.

While I have seen a commercial or two for the company and read a press release about their work in a hurricane stricken area of Texas, this is a time for ExxonMobil to really ramp up its PR efforts. With everyone against them, they must have some message positively portraying themselves to the American people. A few years ago, ExxonMobil was the only oil company to have its CEO appear for interviews when the three major stations were calling all oil companies to account, but this same company is now letting these candidates hurt their image without putting up a fight.

So where is the ExxonMobil of the past, responding to issues when the call was placed? But then again, with all the criticism they face now and have faced in the past, maybe two candidates in a 90 minute debate who occasionally express their dislike for ExxonMobil isn’t all that bad. And maybe the American people care more now about candidate’s buzzwords than when they call a company to task. Could it be possible that those paying attention to this race don’t even realize a company is being bashed when all we hear about on the news are mavericks asking Joes for change?

Martha G.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Celebrities Fight For A Cause

Celebrities define our culture. You buy a certain style of dress, brand of jeans, type of video game or cup of coffee because the celebrity you admire the most purchases that same kind. They serve not only as entertainers, but also as opinion leaders. Whether you agree with their views or not, chances are that you know what your favorite celebrities stand for and what they want to see accomplished. But their influence extends far past the realms of fashion, entertainment and politics.

In recent years, a new trend has emerged among celebrities: philanthropy. Celebrities have started using their wealth, influence and resources to fight for a cause. By channeling their energy toward a certain issue and supporting that cause, celebrities give the organization they stand for free publicity and PR. Their influence makes the cause they believe in popular within our culture, and thus they raise awareness and support just by joining the fight.

Over the past ten years, the following non-profit organizations and campaigns have emerged as some of the most popular among teenagers and young adults. And part of the reason for their popularity is celebrity endorsements and involvement.

TOMS shoes

This organization abides by the one for one idea. That is, for each pair of shoes that you purchase, TOMS will donate a pair to a child in need. Started by Blake Mycoskie in May 2006, TOMS has given 10,000 pairs of shoes to children in Argentina and 50,000 pairs of shoes to children in South Africa. And helping Mycoskie to spur on this cause and complete its mission is the band, Hanson. They realized that their music, vision and a willingness to get involved could help promote TOMS. Hanson informed their fans about TOMSshoes and encouraged them to get involved.

Other celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Tobey Maguire, Lindsay Lohan and Brittany Murphy have been spotted wearing TOMS. By wearing these shoes, celebrities raise awareness for the cause and drive up demand for the product. These shoes, made of rubber and canvas, look like the opposite of what our culture considers high fashion. But because celebrities sport these shoes, TOMS have become the new look.


In 1997 after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, Lance Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to equip cancer patients with the knowledge and confidence to become cancer survivors, not cancer victims. In 2005, Armstrong launched his famous LiveStrong wristband campaign to raise money and awareness for his foundation. The phrase “LiveStrong” is inscribed on a yellow wristband and sold all over the world. These wristbands have become widely-used for supporting other organizations and non-profits as well a new fashion trend among young adults. His innovation has encouraged cancer patients to keep on fighting and created new ways for other groups to promote their mission and raise money.

We All Have AIDS…If One of Us Does.

This slogan was coined to unite the plethora of HIV/AIDS organizations into a community with a single message. The We All Have AIDScampaign calls for an end to the HIV/AIDS stigma. “It is a powerful display of the unity and solidarity we all share with the 40 million men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS around the world.”

This campaign, launched on World AIDS Day in 2005 by Kenneth Cole, featured t-shirts (as worn by actor T.R. Knight) and advertisements appearing in over 200 magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. The campaign features celebrities such as Richard Gere, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, Alicia Keys, Will Smith and Rosie O’Donnell. Without Cole’s connections and influence, this campaign might not have been possible.

Celebrities have always provided our society with gossip, laughter, fashion, style, music, movies, television, speeches and award shows. And now we can add service to the list. Celebrities serve our culture by being a driving force behind non-profit organizations and campaigns. Celebrities first entertained our world, and now they are changing our world.

Kristin McDonald

Monday, October 13, 2008

Couture, Catwalks, Controversy & Counterfeits

In the world of public relations and fashion, image seems to be everything. Your reputation, who you know, and in some cases, what you’re wearing can make or break you. The all-important question seems to be: how important is image? In the world of fashion PR, designers, companies and customers are going to great lengths to not only enhance their image, but in some cases, to protect it, too.

In recent years, the desire for designer goods has reached epic proportions as consumers are constantly trying to re-create the latest runway looks. It certainly does not help that images of celebrities sporting these designer frocks surround us wherever we go. One can not hide from Hollywood stars, such as Cameron Diaz, gracing the covers and pages US magazine wearing those oh-so classic skinny jeans, but don’t forget the moss patent leather Gucci clutch in hand that retails for only $1,050. So what should one do when they crave the hottest fall trends straight from the fashion houses of Paris, the same looks they can not afford?

It’s quite easy, as consumers only have three options: find a realistic knockoff, go to a mass-market retailer that has teamed up with a world-renowned designer for low-cost looks (i.e. Vera Wang for Kohl’s), or refuse to pay rent for a few months all so you can rock the newest $945 Manolo Blahnik “Something Blue” satin pumps. Regardless of which option you choose, the current craze for haute couture has turned into a public relations nightmare for practitioners in the fashion world and it does not seem as if they will be waking up from this bad dream anytime soon.

As many shoppers crave clothes and accessories that are only in the price range of the wealthy and elite, they are finding alternatives that look the same, but are in no way made of authentic Italian leather or actual crocodile like the creations of top designers. Enter the counterfeiting industry. No one knows for sure, but the World Customs Organization estimates that the trade in counterfeit goods is valued at over $500 billion. Knockoffs resembling the creations from European fashion houses, such as those in Milan, are constantly in demand, and although Italy only contributes to 1.4 percent of the counterfeiting industry, the Italian Institute Against Counterfeit Goods estimates that Italy has lost more than 40,000 jobs in the past decade because of lost sales attributed to replica goods.

So aside from writing news releases and planning fashion week, public relations practitioners are now left with the daunting task of trying to fight crime and defend brand image for designer clients, as well.

Because many people are unaware of the disturbing effects associated with the counterfeiting industry, Harper’s Bazaar, the world renowned fashion magazine, has developed a public relations campaign to create awareness about the illegal activities associated with imitation designer goods by establishing the Harper’s Bazaar Anticounterfeiting Alliance. Its “Fakes Are Never in Fashion” campaign educates shoppers on the negative aspects associated with counterfeiting industry and teaches buyers how to determine fakes versus authentic luxury goods.

The French holding company Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton (LVMH), the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, has also stepped up to combat counterfeiters head-on. As stated on the LVMH web site, the counterfeiting industry “unlawfully takes advantage of the prestige of its (luxury) brands and harms their tradition, identity and image.” In June, LVMH took legal action against eBay, a web site known for selling replica goods, resulting in a Paris court order requiring eBay to pay approximately $26 million in damages to Louis Vuitton and $30 million to Christian Dior.

This may be considered only a small victory for LVMH, as Louis Vuitton spends millions of dollars annually on a zero tolerance policy against counterfeiting. In 2004 alone, Louis Vuitton’s actions resulted in 947 arrests, more than 6,000 raids, over 13,000 legal actions, and the seizure of many fake printing cylinders.

Not only has this been an ongoing PR fiasco for LVMH, this ruling put eBay’s PR department into over-drive, too. According to Nichola Sharpe, the US spokesperson at eBay, she said the company developed a global crisis communication plan months in advance and worked with global PR teams to prepare for the ruling.

In the fashion war to combat counterfeiting, one might consider buying low-cost goods created by top designers at mass retail chains a solution. Think again. It may appear to be the perfect world, one where shoppers can have access to the affordable designs of Karl Lagerfeld and Isaac Mizrahi at places such as H&M and Target. Wrong. While many are praising top designers’ inexpensive creations, many of the “fashion elite” consider this a fashion faux pas.

“I think when the designers continue to have collections at the lower-priced line, it can be a detriment,” Heather White of W magazine said. “Honestly, Isaac Mizrahi…would you pay $10,000 for a couture multicolored knit sweater? Not after you associate him with producing clothes at Target.”

White is a prime example of those who believe that the overexposure of designers’ creations at mass retail chains could tarnish a luxurious brand’s image and identity. Why would one want to spend over $2,800 for a Stella McCartney dress at Nieman Marcus when people actually have the option of purchasing her clothes at (gasp!) H&M?! The nightmare continues.

So if fighting the counterfeiting industry is almost comparable to declaring war on a small country, and if large retail chains can tarnish a name and image, what is the solution? Perhaps the solution lies in educating the world about the counterfeiting industry. Maybe people would reconsider visiting Canal Street in Manhattan for a knockoff handbag if they knew that these same counterfeiting rackets also deal with narcotics, weapons and child prostitution. I bet my boyfriend’s mom would have taken that into consideration before she bought me the little replica Chanel diamond earrings as a stocking stuffer this past Christmas. Sadly, no one ever mentioned to her that the sale of counterfeit goods has also helped support a Shiite terrorist group. I know I took that into consideration as I was chased down the alleyways of Venice this summer, refusing to let vendors sell me poorly made “Prada” bags.

So instead of investing millions of dollars into combating counterfeiters directly, perhaps PR practitioners should focus their campaigns upon educating their prime target audience: shoppers. Instead of spending time debating whether or not Mossimo Giannulli ruined his career by designing for Target, people should be spreading the world about the negative aspects associated with counterfeiting. The reality is this: everyone knows that knockoffs exist, but many people don’t know the disturbing details associated with the industry.

For the time being, we can only hope that more PR practices begin anti-counterfeiting educational campaigns like that of Harper’s Bazaar and in the meantime, I will personally enjoy wearing my Isaac Mizrahi dress from the Target collection and only wishing that I had $495 for the Giuseppe Zanotti leopard-print ballerina flats to match. I’ll keep wishing and watching as this fashion PR nightmare continues to unfold.

Other Sources:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Multicultural PR

Over the past few years, U.S. demographics have been constantly changing. Slowly, the minority is now becoming the majority. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in ten U.S. counties has more than 50 percent minority residents. With the change in demographics, PR professionals must realize that the generalized campaign message will no longer work. In order for your message to be truly effective, you must take a cultural approach and tailor your message for your target demographic using the concept of multicultural PR.

Since the U.S. population is so diverse, one generalized campaign could exclude groups because the campaign may not be consistent with the values or lifestyle of that group. Furthermore, a generalized campaign may not come across the same way for one demographic or culture as it would for another. In essence, your message could become lost in translation, completely missing people groups that could be important to your campaign.

Some companies are beginning to realize the importance of multicultural PR and understanding the changing demographics. Kimberly-Clark recently launched a campaign taking the cultural-targeting approach. Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies and Pull-Ups “Tren de Vida” (Train of Life) campaign aims at connecting with Hispanic mothers. Efforts include face-to-face meeting at events like the Mexican Independence Day Festival, radio broadcasts and the recent launch of HuggiesEnEspanol.com. According to Sergio López-Miró, president of Hispanic PR, the campaign is built on the cultural experience of many Latina mothers relying on extended networks of aunt, sisters and grandmothers to help raise their children.

There’s an article entitled “PR Technique: Multicultural campaigns: the sum of the parts” by Anita Chabria that offers some great tips about multicultural PR campaigns. It is a few years old, but still very relevant today.

Here are Chabrai’s tips:
  • “Do in-depth research on the target demographic to understand cultural nuances and preferences that could impact the message.” 
  • “Do reach out to smaller publications and institutions with clout in the community, such as neighborhood papers and churches.” 
  • “Do consider using a visual theme to tie together a campaign for various minority or ethnic groups.” 
  • “Don’t assume an outsider can understand the culture. Take the time to speak with members of the group you are targeting.” 
  • “Don’t limit your placements. Especially in the youth market, kids often cross demographic lines in areas such as music and pop culture.” 
  • “Don’t underestimate the power of language – reaching out in the target group’s native tongue is critical.”
As our country continues to grow, it is vital that PR professionals think beyond the general population, and develop more culturally and lifestyle-driven campaigns.


By Brandi

Monday, October 6, 2008

PR in the New Economy

In today’s world it’s getting harder to make ends meet. The economy is on everyone’s mind during this time of banking crises, foreclosures, high gas prices and the ever-declining value of the dollar. In this new economy, people are forced to prioritize and focus on the essentials. Corporations have to cut back to stay competitive and some would think that public relations would be one of the first to get the knife. But public relations is not a luxury in a corporation; in fact, there are many reasons why public relations is a necessity in the new economy.

Research: Public relations is vital to a company’s research. PR professionals help the company keep up with the pace of world trends. For instance, if the world becomes more involved with the green movement, the public relations department should report this to the business so they can be more alert to global trends.

Image: The public relations department is also focused on conducting research based upon the company’s image. Seeing how others view the company plays a key role in the mission and direction in which the company goes. Ultimately, it is public opinion that allows a firm to sink or swim, so businesses need every bit of help they can get on developing and maintaining a positive image with their publics.

Strategy: Along with conducting research on global trends and views of the company, public relations develops strategies. A communication plan makes a company think in the long-run. Having one-year, five-year and 10-year plans allows the overall company to project its direction, define its goals and finally achieve them. In today’s economy, having a long-range plan helps business stay on track while making changes in the present.

Crisis Management: This issue has been in the news a lot lately. As businesses have been undergoing transitions and downfalls, management has not known what or how much to say. During the recent banking crisis, some of the banks that ended up closing reported that they were doing fine until after they declared bankruptcy. Crisis management requires public relations because there is one person disseminating information, who knows how much to say, and gives a consistent message of what is actually happening.

Public relations is needed just as much today as it was in the old economy. As we progress into a new economy, we must not forget how necessary public relations is in forming our futures.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Google Numbers: Ethical?

Google Numbers

According to the Oct. 6 BusinessWeek (Google Numbers), you will soon know exactly how influential you are through Facebook. Patent pending software produced by Google would rank your Facebook profile through criteria such as how many friends you have, how many friends they have and how often your friends read a news story or view a video clip that you posted. Since Google would be tracking users more closely it would allow them to be able to better serve their advertisers. They would know exactly how influential a person was and what the interests of that person or their friends were, allowing them to target advertising more directly. Google declined to comment to BusinessWeek.

Public Domain

Is your Facebook profile public domain? Would it be ethical for Google to use your interests, activites or group memberships to tailor advertising?
Some would argue that privacy does not exist on the Internet, while others would say that you should be given a reasonable amount of privacy when sharing information with your family and friends on Facebook.

Facebook’s privacy policy has this to say about third-party advertisers, “Unlike most sites on the Web, Facebook limits access to site information by third party search engine 'crawlers' (e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask). Facebook takes action to block access by these engines to personal information beyond your name, profile picture, and limited aggregated data about your profile (e.g. number of wall postings).”

But goes on to say:
“We may provide information to service providers to help us bring you the services we offer. Specifically, we may use third parties to facilitate our business, such as to host the service at a co-location facility for servers, to send out email updates about Facebook, to remove repetitive information from our user lists, to process payments for products or services, to offer an online job application process, or to provide search results or links (including sponsored links). In connection with these offerings and business operations, our service providers may have access to your personal information for use for a limited time in connection with these business activities. Where we utilize third parties for the processing of any personal information, we implement reasonable contractual and technical protections limiting the use of that information to the Facebook-specified purposes.”

And finally, “This privacy policy covers the use of cookies by Facebook and does not cover the use of cookies or other tracking technologies by any of its advertisers.”
If Facebook allows Google to implement Google numbers, then they will have to re-write their privacy policy.

Facebook has been somewhat sneaky in the past on implementing new technology. Since their creation they have not needed too much of a communication plan. People joined Facebook because they wanted to connect friends. In light of new technology and the new interface recently introduced, Facebook will need to some serious campaigning in order to keep members from deleting their Facebook accounts.

I am curious to know why Google declined to comment on the BusinessWeek article. Does Facebook know about this proposed Google Number? Is it a stunt to get everyone’s mind off of “New Facebook”?

What do you think?

Another blog about how the logarithm of “Google Number” would work: http://johnbell.typepad.com/weblog/2008/09/a-google-number.html

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Juicy Campus: Too Hot for Comfort

WARNING: To those interested in visiting this Web site (http://www.juicycampus.com/posts/gossips/all-campuses/), be aware of the hateful speech and offensive language and material.

Look out Facebook, beware MySpace, there’s a new social media sheriff in town. Just last week, the Web site www.juicycampus.com was called to my attention. Juicy Campus is a social networking Web site for university students to post their latest gossip. After scanning the site, an important question popped into my thoughts. Just how much positive networking does this Web site produce? After a deeper look into Juicy Campus, I can confidently say the answer is zero. There is no benefit to Juicy Campus. Being in the public relations field, it is our duty to be aware of the most recent trends. That being said, I have chosen to explain this Web site and why it teeters on the line of dangerous.

Juicy Campus prides itself on 100 percent anonymity for its participants. This distinct trait allows anyone to post anything without comments being censored. This type of free range posting gives people remorseless confidence. Hateful language towards ethnicities, genders, organizations and sexual orientation make up the majority of the Web site.

One way advantage
There are various catches to Juicy Campus’s set up. Catch #1 is that it favors one-sided communication. The sender of a message can post whatever he or she chooses, yet the receivers cannot delete any of these messages. This, in no way, represents an equal communicative exchange. To render total control to the message sender leaves the receiver powerless and bitter. This is the reason for the harsh comments that follow certain messages. There is a reply option below each post allowing readers to write opinions. This sparks anonymous arguments rather than constructive criticism.

People, beware what you post
After reviewing Juicy Campus, I was concerned with the issues of slander, libel and the First Amendment. For information on media law, I looked toward Dr. Matt Bunker, a professor in journalism at The University of Alabama. When asked about these issues, Bunker provided ample explanation. He says libel occurs, “If someone writes false statements about another person that harms that person’s reputation.” Now, it’s time to unveil catch # 2. A Web site, such as www.juicycampus.com, is likely to avoid legal responsibility for harmful statements made on its Web site. Bunker said, “under federal law section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Web site owners are generally immune from lawsuits over statements made by their users.” The First Amendment protects free speech in order to maintain the open exchange of ideas. However, if you were to specifically name a person, the university he or she attends and a detailed description of the person, you could be held accountable. This means that if you cross the line, and someone feels defamed, it is you that he or she is coming after.

Future implications
In an era when people ages 8 to 80 are incorporating social media into their daily lives, a Web site like this could be dangerous to participants once they leave the comfort of their computer. We all remember the high school girl who was violently beaten by her peers over rumors she posted on www.myspace.com (Read more). Juicy Campus has the potential to lead to events such as this. Message posters may not be as protected under the blanket of ambiguity as they think, and violence may occur due to hateful rumors. Our society, both on and off line, is constantly changing. Though we do not know whether www.juicycampus.com is a mere fad or a steadfast addition to social media, it is up to us, as PR students, to remain informed. Now that you have my opinion, I encourage you to visit the Web site and form your own.

For additional information on Juicy Campus: