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Monthly Archives: February 2013

There are two ways of getting a job, or at least a job interview. One is to check out recruitment adverts, or target organisations you would like to work for. The other is to get yourself noticed by employers who are always on the look for new talent.

Option A is easier, but it is not unusual for the most exciting opportunities never to be advertised. To be in with a chance, you have to get yourself noticed, and having a strong, professional, online presence can be a great advantage.

Also, when you do make a job application, the chances are the employer will Google your name before deciding whether to take their interest any further. Yes, they may be influenced by negative content -those ‘informal’ posts on Facebook – but unless you behave really badly this is unlikely to be a deal breaker (though remember you will be giving big clues as to if you are reliable, ambitious and creative).

More importantly, employers want to see evidence that you understand social media, and see evidence that you can create compelling content that carries a clear and persuasive message (in this case, “Employ me, I’m good”).

Here is what Stephen Waddington (Brand Anarchy, @wadds) told the Holmes Report recently (ignore the word “youngster”!):

For a youngster coming into the industry, who wants to progress in digital – what is the one thing they fall down?

@wadds: “We get people walking into the door, who say they are digital. We find they are not digital natives at all. They are not on Twitter, Pinterest…they are not blogging. At least create your own content so you understand the challenges brands face doing this. And be curious about it.”

Clearly, a well-presented, interesting and engaged blog can help in this process, not least if you have managed to ensure that it is high(top?) of the list of Google recommendations if someone were to try and find out more about you.

One of the tips that industry big hitters like Stephen Waddington regularly mention is to engage with people online, adding comments and responding to Tweets. Do this with great care, and make sure you are adding to the debate rather exposing your inexperience!

Recently @mediations was involved in an interesting exchange with @lisabryggare. A few clicks led to a strikingly presented blog, Lisa Louisa.

Here is what Louisa Brauer told SK Uncut. If you would like your blog to be featured here, leave a comment and a link and we will do the rest!

louisa b

When and why did you start blogging?
I registered the blog about 1.5 years ago but didn’t start blogging until I started the final year in school. A lot of different people told me that I’d better start blogging to get used to doing it, and that I would gain a lot from having a blog.

How did you start? What were to biggest challenges?
First of all I liked the thought of having a domain that was ”mine” online. It took a while to figure out the technical issues, I wanted a clean web address without the .blog.se or .wordpress.com in the end and it took a while to set up. The biggest challenge was to stop worrying about what my classmates would think about what I wrote, and stop being self-critical.

What is the purpose of your blog?
The purpose is to have a place online that I can refer to. As a student and future job seeker I wanted to have a resume available online so that others can get an idea of who I am before meeting me.

Does your blog have a clear theme? If so, do you think it is important to have a clear focus?
Well, I would call it ”hobbyweb”. Or online-communication focusing on technological solutions, things I find interesting related to my education and I want to try to keep it professional.
Sure it is good to have a clear focus, it will ease readers to know what they can find on your blog, but when you start blogging you shouldn´t keep back what you want to write about just because it doesn’t fit your theme.

How easy was it to find your online voice?
Not easy, I still have not found it. But the sooner you start the sooner you get there.
I teamed up with a friend and we had the blog together about a student way of life in Lund. We both had blogging apps on our phones so it was easy to update. We did it for a term but then came summer and it fizzled out. It was fun and got me the motivation to create my own website.

What has been the biggest challenge you faced… and how did you overcome it?
The absolutely hardest thing is to be to self critical. But as I´ve talked to others about self branding, I´ve realized that it is better to have something rather than nothing.
Also deciding the graphical outlook on the website, in the beginning I changed it every other week. I get inspired by websites like http://www.beautifully-webdesign.net and http://www.coolsitecollection.com.

Has it repaid the time and effort you put in so far? And what would be your best reward?
I’ve learned the technical aspects of WordPress, a knowledge I have been of great use in various projects. It is easy to learn basic html and css, with just a little knowledge you can do some major changes to make your blog more personal.
I hope that the work I´ve put in to it will give me an advantage when I apply for jobs.

What advice would you have for anyone else thinking of beginning a blog?
Don’t take yourself to seriously and give it some time J It is okay to not write perfect and insightful posts every time, if you only want to post ”tiptop” posts every time it will take very much of your time. Just start writing something and evolve from that. Or start a blog with a couple of friends just to get started.
What have you done to encourage people to visit your blog?
It is on my ”about” on Twitter and Facebook, and of course I mention it every time I apply for a job!

Thanks for this Louisa – very best of luck with your blog!

ripe orange with leaves on white background

It’s winter time, folks. And winter, that we know since the days we were kids, is the perfect time to enjoy tropical fruit. Especially the queen of tropical fruit: the orange. Recently, I was listening to a broadcast of the German public radio station Deutschlandfunk about these precious fruit, that bring some summer feeling into European winter darkness. And I’m sure all of you know how to distinguish good fruit from not so good: It’s the colour, stupid!

But is it really? Food chemist Udo Pollmer, a German columnist on diet issues, gave an interesting insight on how the orange becomes orange.For all of you who understand German, here’s the link to the broadcast: http://www.dradio.de/dkultur/sendungen/mahlzeit/1918105/

European customers would never buy green oranges, would they? From early childhood days on we learn that green oranges are as tasty as green tomatoes. They are unripe. But this is where we smart customers are wrong. Oranges grown in the tropics are green. It is the cooler climate of subtropical areas – such as Spain or Italy, where winter night temperatures do drop to near zero – that causes oranges to change colour.

In the 50s and 60s companies started to apply methods of social research for marketing purposes. The focus group for example, is a widely used technique for detailed discussions with consumers in order to gather information on the appeal of products. The story of degreening might well have begun in one of those focus groups. It then just takes a few customers to point out that they rather like orange than green fruit. With a “flap of a butterfly”, you can create a postharvest industry to further “enhance” products. But hey, whatever the customer wants!

So what’s the point? Why don’t we just wait until winter to enjoy orange oranges? Well, customers are used to having oranges all year round nowadays. Since they are smart enough to know that only an orange orange is a tasty one, something has to be done. Food industry has to come up with some trick. Here’s the trick: degreening. Think I’m kidding? Nope. Here’s some proof: http://www.catalyticgenerators.com/citrus1.html

By gassing with the hormone ethylene, the fruit are artificially aged. The green fruit are put into a process called “ethylene ripening” in order to colour them the right way. But, as Udo Pollmer points out, degreening not only changes the colour for good. It changes the quality for bad. The fruit become more fibrous and the flesh loses flavour. They are also more likely to rot or to attract funghi. You’ll find more information about this not-so-tasty-procedure – and the most weird obituary-like powerpoint template known to man – here: http://irrec.ifas.ufl.edu/postharvest/pdfs/past_events/2003_presentations/Ethylene_Treatments.pdf

The interesting lesson for us is: not everything that shines orange is golden in taste… er… or something similar.

And what the hell has this got to do with strategic communication? A lot. In the European Union ‘oranges’ were classified not by sweetness or ripeness but by colour. Weird EU-bureaucrats at work? No. Its Southern European fruit-producers who want to shut out competitors from the tropics. For producers from the tropics can compete on quality, no doubt – but not on colour. We, the customers, want oranges to be orange. If we want something green – helvete, we buy a f…. cucumber. So in order not to let us learn that green oranges can be great, too, a steady supply of perfectly orange oranges needs to be ensured. Especially at the beginning of the classical orange season, when winter has not set in yet, oranges from Spain and Italy need to be thoroughly degreened. It’s another example of the TINA-strategy: Don’t let people get a taste of the alternative.

For all of you who always wanted to know more about oranges but only dared to ask about sex, here are some quite interesting facts (about oranges):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/qi/8345477/QI-Quite-interesting-facts-about-orange.html

JohanHjort_1 Our friend and colleague Johan Jacobsen is currently visiting ISK. He is a PhD-student at the Department of Business Communication, Aarhus University, where he specializes in crisis communication. He held a highly interesting presentation at our department last week as part of ISK:s research seminar series. As a visiting scholar on ISK:s own turf, I figured it would be suitable to interview the fella. So here’s a very short interview with Johan.

So, who are you?

My name is Johan Hjorth Jacobsen and I am a PhD Fellow at the Department of Business Communication (BCOM) at Aarhus University in Denmark. I used to work as a practitioner in a corporate communication function, as well as teaching part-time at BCOM, before I became a PhD Fellow. My visit to ISK is a part of my three-year fellowship, as it is a tradition in Denmark. We are supposed to find inspiration and new networks in foreign research environments during our training to become researchers, so we go abroad in search of new knowledge. I chose to come to ISK because of the interesting research that takes place here, as well at the friendly relationship between several researchers from ISK and BCOM in Aarhus.

Tell us about your current research.

My current research is driven by the interest in creating knowledge about how organizational members perceive crises, and how these perceptions are influenced by, and influence, the crisis communication of the organization.

Why did you chose this particular subject?

I wrote my masters thesis in the field of crisis communication. And from my experience as a practitioner, as well as my knowledge of the crisis literature, I know that too much attention is given to what an organization should do in case of a crisis. I want to contribute to the growing literature in which the crisis understanding is processual and knowledge is also based on subjective perceptions.

What do you think of ISK as a research environment?

ISK and BCOM in Aarhus share many similarities, the most important of these for a visiting PhD Fellow is a good balance between widely published senior researchers and doctoral candidates. And while I came here because I know of your more published colleagues and their research, I have also
enjoyed the company and suggestions of the other doctoral candidates. I think that you enjoy an open communication climate here at ISK, where all colleagues are accessible and friendly, and I like to believe that this too is the case in Aarhus. And as most Danes do, I easily feel right at home here in Skåne.

What do you think of the future of crisis communication? Where is it headed?

I think that the interests of crisis communication researchers are so diverse that it is impossible to point out one stream of research as the most important. However, I think that the field will continue to grow at conferences and in journals, as more scholars are dedicated to doing crisis communication research. I also believe that the current interest in revisiting the assumptions in crisis communication for new inspiration, as well as getting inspiration from organizational theory and other developing fields of communication research, will continue. And I am sure that the researchers here at ISK will continue to be a strong voice in the field.

Thanks Johan!

mindsum_2475109b

Public Relations is about changing behaviours and one of the more interesting models for how this can be done is Nudge Theory.

Commonsense tells us that it easier to make small changes than big, and that creating the right conditions for change can be a powerful tool. Now, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, successes claimed by the UK Government’s Behavioural Insights team, seem to support the ideas developed in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein .

An example is loft insulation. Although insulation is a clearly good thing – it saves people money – despite huge subsidies, people were relucatant to take advantage of government grants. The Nudge Team quickly identified the problem: laziness. More specifically, the sheer hassle of clearing an attic before you can insulate it. And so, in a pilot trial in September 2011, they suggested a simple solution: that insulation firms offer to clear the lofts first, and dispose of our unwanted junk. In weeks, the uptake increased threefold, even though it cost the customer more.

Revelations that horsemeat is to be found in burgers and other convenience foods manufactured by some big name brands is providing an irresistible target for joke tweets… and a galloping reputational nightmare for PR teams representing Findus and others trying to rein in the damage.

As Charles Arthur explains in Findus and horsemeat: how social media keeps a story on the boil, “Readers like their stories like their ready meals: simply labelled, ready to reheat, easy to cook up, quick to consume.”

The problem for those in PR and communications is that once a topic takes flight, shifting public opinion is astonishingly hard. Journalists, and readers, like their stories like their ready meals: simply labelled, ready to reheat, easy to cook up, quick to consume. These days, a news titbit can leap off the pages to become a running joke and source of japery online, and won’t shift until it’s stopped being a trending topic. Even then, it will remain embedded in web pages’ DNA, where search engines will slurp it up and re-serve it to anyone who happens to do the appropriate search.

Conversation and engagement are put forward as the Holy Grail of social media campaigns, but as a thought-provoking examination of comments made on newspaper and magazine websites, It’s tough below the line, Martin Belam shows that the discussions can often be of little benefit and are often unpleasant, unproductive and unhelpful.

Not sure what is new in this, but Software that tracks people on social media created by defence firm:  Raytheon’s Riot program mines social network data like a ‘Google for spies‘, is quite a chilling demonstrations on what can be done with data each of us makes public without really thinking.


PC Pro magazine asks whether it is possible to eradicate your internet traces, and talks to Reputation.com, a firm that claims to be able to do just that.

Some days ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook the following:

Useless Knowledge

For those of you who do not understand German, the picture says: The emissions of the world’s 16 biggest ships, equals the combined emissions of all cars worldwide.

http://www.unnuetzes.com/wissen/4726/emissionsausstos/

It took not long for some buddies to notice the post and write some first reactions. Most people did not really believe the information to be true. But that is not so much the point. Even though many questioned the presented “fact”, only few really challenged it by digging for the information behind. In fact, they might not have believed it to be true, but they did not believe it to be wrong either.

Just a simple click on the original website offered a very interesting insight. Because in the explanation on the website, the presented “fact” was only true regarding the output of sulphur oxide, meaning that the world’s largest 16 ships combined produce more sulphur oxide than the entire car traffic worldwide. The most common forms of this gas are sulphur di- and trioxide, which are highly toxic and responsibly for acid rain. They usually result from the burning of coal or heavy oil, which is used to fuel cargo ships. But, and that is the crucial point, they are no greenhouse gases.

Given the frame we are looking at, this “useless knowledge” suggests, that ships are worse for global climate change than the entire planets car traffic. Even though this is not said in the information itself, we automatically come to this conclusion when we look at the picture. Because these days climate change is a major issue, and knowing that traffic is one of the prime causes for climate change, we might think: “Could be true.”, at first.

The repost of that story by another friend took only two hours, again without questioning the fact itself. The fact itself, given the present frame of climate change, seems to be, at least, credible enough to make people accept it without further checking.

The very first comment on the website, posted by a user from the ETH Zurich, pointed out very clearly, that the “fact” was presented in a highly misleading, even deceptive way. But the question is, how many users did take the time to check the information behind? How many did even start to ask themselves, if this fact could really be true? I guess only a few did. And that is the perfect setting for an urban legend to be born. I am curious to witness the event, when, one day, one of my “offline” friends is going to tell me: “Concerning global warming, did you know that ships cause more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars worldwide combined?! And you tell me it helps to take the tram instead of going by car? It’s the ships, stupid!”

If you’re interested in the debate about climate change and how it was massively influenced and shaped by strategic communication, read our mini-series The Climate Warriors.

Global Warming is Baloney

Die Zeit ripped

Climate Change

The Climate Warriors

How industry-financed PR managers trick the world into believing that global warming is a fake. Chronology of an organized lie.

By Anita Blasberg und Kerstin Kohlenberg (translated by endofthelesson)

(read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV, Part V here)

The Climate-Warriors, Part 6

In Europe only, climate sceptics are still on the defensive. Fred Singer, the by now 88 year old salesman of doubt, regularly flies over the Atlantic these days, especially to Germany. Here, most people still believe in the findings of science. Singer wants to change that.

In September 2010, he was guest of the German liberal party (FDP) at the Bundestag. The spokeswoman of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Mrs. Marie-Luise Dött, seemed to be impressed afterwards. According to several newspapers she said:  ‘I find your remarks very illuminating, Professor Singer.’ The question now would be how ‘we can bring politics onto a new course’. Sceptics need ‘majorities in society’.

Later CDU officials claim the spokeswoman was misquoted. But for Singer it could not have worked out better.

torchesoffreedom: The maneuver is a simple but forceful one. You invite a sceptic of questionable scientific reputation. He spreads the word that all is a hoax. A rank and file politician approves of what has been said and gives his prompt denial the following day. But the signal for all those who want to believe in the story of global warming baloney is clear: “Do not bow to the power of facts!” Morano and his warriors thereby stockpile the arsenal of deception, everywhere.

And it does not take long until the movement of climate sceptics gains momentum in Germany, too. Already in 2006, Germany’s 2nd biggest energy producer RWE, claimed in a lawsuit with Greenpeace that climate change was just an ‘individual perception of a hypothetical danger, which is not present nor palpable.’ Just one year before, an American PR-Counselor penned a strategy paper for RWE on how to fight the energy turn. His advice was to ‘forge coalitions with other corporations’ – and to learn from people like Marc Morano.

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