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PRogress not PRfection

Lara Kretler’s blog Columbus Ohio

A few tidbits

June 25th, 2008 · 13 Comments

It’s a hectic week so this will be a quick post. First, today’s Ragan.com e-newsletter featured an article about Twitter for PR pros with a quote or two from yours truly. I like the article overall, but I’m pretty sure I said that I follow local media and a Business Week reporter (not a local BW reporter). Also, I mentioned I was part of a group of people organizing a local Tweetup, but it came across like I was planning it solo. Oh well – these things happen. The general gist of the article is right on track. Thanks to everyone who forwarded it to me today! I felt like a rockstar.

Webinar Learnings

Next, I am going to start sharing insights here every time I participate in a social media webinar or teleseminar. Today I did a one hour webinar courtesy of BurrellesLuce and Ogilvy PR’s 360 Digital Influence group. The event was hosted on GoTo Meeting and I was extremely underwhelmed by the technology side of things – I felt bad for the presenters and organizers. The first ten minutes were seriously abysmal and awkward. Fortunately, once the presentation got underway, it was pretty solid if a bit entry-level. Several good resources were shared, including this list of great social media listening tools for tracking brand or company mentions online. Also, if you’re just starting out in social media, the presenters shared this “secret” link to a beginner’s guide. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can access Ogilvy PR’s essential 15 pack of PR and social media blogs in one aggregated RSS feed. Good stuff!

A Challenge

Last but not least, you may not know that my agency and I (among others) were challenged recently by a blogger from another central Ohio agency. In her blog, Advergirl wrote about a food drive her shop is doing for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank since they are really hurting and in need of food and donations right now. Great cause – and what a way to harness the power of social media for good, right? I immediately checked with a few folks at my agency and agreed to help out after our big move.

Here’s the thing though… I have a strong hunch that the food bank is a pro bono client for Advergirl’s agency – and if that’s true, then she was really enlisting the help of other agencies to support her client. Brilliant, right? But I would have appreciated that little bit of disclosure if it’s true.

Who knows. Maybe I’m just salty that she came up with a good idea before I did. Or maybe there’s something to this authenticity and transparency thing. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Edit: I got a really nice response from Advergirl. It’s a good reminder to me that things are not always black and white, either out in the “real world” or here in social media land. For the record, the food bank was a client of Advergirl’s agency at one time, but that was before she even worked there. The food drive idea is something a group of her coworkers cooked up for personal reasons. Advergirl passed it along in her blog simply because it’s a good cause. Not only that, she and her crew have done a great job raising a bunch of money for the food bank. Looks like I have my work cut out for me in holding up my end of her challenge! Thank you, Advergirl. Everyone please visit her awesome blog and give her love.

Also, in addition to the commenters below who make this blog a true community, I’d like to thank a couple of other folks who have given me great advice as I stumble and bumble my way around the blogworld: Joel Postman, David Griner, Ms. Single Mama, Chris Brogan and my beloved husband. Thanks all!

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Tags: Blogging · Ohio · PR · social media

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gary Moneysmith // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Hi Lara:

    DISCLAIMER: I *totally* understand the spirit of your post. That you (and I) are students of this social media movement; every “interaction” is another mini-case study. Hence your writing about this Food Bank issue and my following stream-of-consciousness.

    When I saw Leigh’s post, I *assumed* the MidOhio Foodbank was a client. No matter, its a good cause and was happy to rally the Paul Werth troops.

    I wonder if the confusion rests in the assumption that Social Media is virgin space without agenda. I sometimes feel that way as the people I follow on Twitter are AWESOME about sharing valuable links and insights. But at the same time, I assume every tasty morsel is somehow peppered with a commercial agenda.

    I enjoy watching TV commercials with my 7-year old who usually comments something to the effect, “That was funny, but they’re just trying sell you junk, Daddy.” She’s right. But I enjoyed the commercial nonetheless.

    The expectations of disclosure and transparency are evolving in social media. In TV/Radio, they’re obvious. When CNN covers a story with a tie to Time Warner, a disclosure statement is immediately issued. The have to — they’re legal representatives of the same company. And I expect they’d have to do the same if they’re working in an official capacity online: twitter, plurk, site du jour.

    So in traditional media, disclosure is either clear (mandatory) or readily understood (advertising). But in social media, the door is wide open; people will have to gauge relationships/conversations on a case-by-case basis. In PR, we have this pesky code of ethics so you know where the line is drawn for us. For everyone else, the line is going to be very blurry.

    Finally, I think of social media as being a telephone. It’s just a way to converse with a lot of people. I can use it for purely social reasons, to buy stuff, to survey customers, etc. I can also use it to recruit people to a special cause. The people on the receiving end of my call will determine my future success by being receptive to my calls or by ignoring me or filtering me out. I *think* that’s how social media will evolve. If I stay in good relationship status with my contacts and don’t abuse their trust, then I’ll have an open door to continue my conversations. If not, double whammy and I’m shut down.

    This stuff is so interesting. Thank God we were born @ the right time and the right place for a chance to participate in the social media movement.

    Off to get coffee. Thanks for instigating some good conversation, Lara.

    G$

  • 2 Leo Bottary // Jun 26, 2008 at 8:33 am

    If Advergirl’s agency is playing the role you suspect, a little disclosure would have been in order. And by the way, given the cause, would it have made people any less likely to step up to the challenge? I doubt it. I applaud her initiative, but she might be wise to include an addendum to her post if she hasn’t been completely forthcoming.

  • 3 larak // Jun 26, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Leo, thank you so much for weighing in. My #1 go to counsel and advice person (aka my husband!) had advised me to remove this from my blog entirely, as he felt it was too inflammatory and controversial. I didn’t, but I do want to add a disclaimer here. I did not mean to be combative as I respect Advergirl and her agency, and the food bank is a tremendous organization doing important work. I am just trying to share as I learn about social media and this blog challenge was something new for me. Again, Leo, thanks and I appreciate your counsel!

  • 4 Sameer Vasta // Jun 26, 2008 at 9:19 am

    A little disclosure? I’m all for complete disclosure. The core currency of the web these days is trust, and trust can not be obtained without transparency.

    If Advergirl really is working (even if it is pro-bono) with Mid-Ohio Food Bank, then it is an imperative that she declares that relationship. Anything less and she’s manipulating the trust of her audience.

  • 5 Catalysta // Jun 26, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I agree. She should let you know. It’s a great cause and people should/would want to help anyway. She could even say- I’m trying a new technique on how doing some pro bono work via social media. It’s pretty cool and people would applaud her effort, I think.

    I agree on the Webinar. Although- the people on the call, that couldn’t even mute their phones must have needed the “basic training” that came with the course. I’m definitely going to get that Top 15 and start following.

    I just posted a new blog on How to Get a Job After College- and anyone with any advice to those that are hitting the pavement this summer should come by and leave some comment advice! We newbies would greatly appreciate it!

  • 6 Advergirl / Leigh // Jun 26, 2008 at 11:41 am

    We talk about social media being the power of individuals talking about things they care about in their own networks, but – wow! Ok, here’s the story. I’ve been at Ologie for 6 months. Before I got here, this agency worked on some branding projects for them. Some people remained really passionate about the work and started a food drive here (employees to employees). We raised ~$2300 + 845 food items. Not at the request of MidOhio or our bosses or anyone else. And, I passed it on (as an individual) because I thought it was cool. The work relationship didn’t even enter my mind.

  • 7 larak // Jun 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Leigh, thank you so much for weighing in here, and I wish we knew each other well enough for you to know that I was not trying to slam you AT ALL, I promise. And my first response to your challenge was 100% positive – wow, yes, we want to help too. It was only after talking about it with a few people that I thought hmmm… is there an agenda here? Not a bad, evil agenda of course, but just an agency person wanting to further her agency’s work. I really like Gary’s post above, he sums it up well about how this is a bit of a gray area for all of us. I’m honestly a student of social media more than anything else right now, so I see this is a good lesson for me personally. Thanks again for the challenge and bringing a good cause to our attention, and for joining in the discussion here! Now, let me buy you lunch? :)

  • 8 larak // Jun 26, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Gary, thanks for your awesome comment, which I referred to in my comment back to Leigh above. There’s no comment to long to be approved, in fact I need to change that setting so nothing needs need be approved. I hate the delay time, it can hinder a good conversation! Thanks again for your insights.

  • 9 larak // Jun 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    @Sameer, thanks for your input here as well, much appreciated.

    @Catalysta, thank you for commenting on the less prickly parts of my post as well – glad we were on that webinar together as it was a bit humorous in the beginning!

  • 10 Vin // Jun 26, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    If you had not raised the question, this meaningful conversation wouldn’t have taken place. Thank you for bringing it up. It takes guts to raise questions when you feel it’s the right thing to do, even when you know the side effects.
    I do IT consulting work for few non-profit organizations with great causes. When I voluntarily choose to support them and seek my network’s help, it shows my integrity to disclose my work relationship. It’s a great cause, social network likes to help as much as possible, and it likes even more when it’s done with more openness and right credits. Sure, the ‘cause’ is bigger, but when there’s “something in it for the initiator”, people appreciate the disclosure.
    It’s the human nature, but not everyone has the courage to ask or they just ignore by getting busy with life.

  • 11 Ben Kunz // Jun 26, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    First, go Advergirl, there are worse things in life than food drives as clients. Second, Lara, don’t feel bad for raising the issue … because you are spot on about a deeper issue.

    There is a wild undercurrent in social media called self promotion. It goes way beyond pushing products or clients to pushing ourselves. I fall victim too — how many times do I communicate with another blogger hoping that they link to me, build my blog’s traffic, somehow help ME rise in the ranks? Do I check Google Analytics every morning? You bet.

    And thus perhaps we’re all missing something. The real cool thing about social media is not rising stats, or boosting clients, but connecting with new minds. I’ve met some amazing people, and found good writers like you. I recently debated cognitive dissonance with a wine marketer in Australia and compared media planning notes with another expert in Florida. I got called from a reporter who spoke to a leading economist, who in turn had referred the reporter because the economist read something he liked on my blog.

    I’ve connected with minds, and that’s what it’s all about.

    So let’s all agree — we’re all selfish, we all like to promote, but let’s move beyond that a wee bit to try to connect with other humans who can teach us something about ourselves.

    PS hope that food drive rocked!

  • 12 larak // Jun 26, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    @Vin and @Ben, thank you so much for your visits to my blog and your insightful and well balanced comments.

    I’ve definitely learned a lot today from this experience and all of you. I really appreciate your input and being part of this conversation with you!

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