|February 11, 2010|
|IT Specialists Move in for the Kill|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Redwood Collaborative Media, whose founder is Andrew Muns, publisher of Software Test & Performance magazine, is promoting the NewComm Forum on social media April 20-23 at the San Mateo Marriott. Full registration is $1,495.|
Muns is not personally involved in the conference, which is offering a $200 discount for registrations received by March 12. A $100 discount on pre-conference workshops is available until that date.
NewComm alumni receive a $100 discount and NewComm Collaborative members receive a $200 members-only discount. Charter membership rate is $195.
NewComm Forum co-founder and conference chair of the NewComm Forum is Jennifer McClure, founder, executive director and president, Society for New Media Communications Research.
According to the NewComm flyers, SM is going to “change the way business is done” and you’d better get on this bandwagon.
PR pros and others are being asked to take charter memberships in the NewComm Collaborative at $195 each.
SM is a small part of the internet and is not going to replace the main job the internet does—making an immense body of facts, knowledge and history available to the masses that cannot be controlled by any organization.
Coke, Pepsi Are Examples
Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo are examples of companies putting lots of effort into social media, touting themselves as public servants and do-gooders.
Coke is helping the Boys and Girls Clubs and PepsiCo will donate to favorite charities picked by users. But the public is also going to search out the two parent companies on the web.
What will they find? That the main products of both companies contribute heavily to obesity, a condition afflicting an estimated two-thirds of Americans.
Adam Bordes, nutritionist author of "Lighten Up! Daily Reminders to Having a Lighter, Happier, Healthier Life", says the high fructose corn syrup in sodas doesn't increase blood sugar like "real" food and results in people staying hungry and eating more.
Coke is being excoriated on the web for allegedly blocking a Canadian TV segment on its activities in Colombia. Activists in that nation refer to "Killer Coke" for its alleged union-busting. They demonstrated at Coke h.q. in Atlanta in November.
Hewlett-Packard, a featured company at the Business Development Institute's SM seminar Jan. 13, is slammed on the web for the astronomical cost of its ink.
Almost all of what we read about SM is about process and techniques—almost nothing about subject matter. Difficult subjects are simply avoided, as though that is the solution to the problem.
SM Is Fake Socializing
SM occupies many of the new generation in rapping with each other electronically during the day.
Real socializing, the previous norm in PR, involved PR and press couples socializing at evening events or even weekends. PR pros were among the most gracious and entertaining of hosts and hostesses.
Washington, D.C.'s Bob Gray typified the socially skilled PR pro.
Crimping PR pros' style in recent years has been the removal of their expense accounts.
Instead of rapping with reporters in person and sharing knowledge while building social skills, PR pros today are turned into customer service reps who handle consumer complaints one-on-one in SM.
Quality of National Dialogue Is Issue
At issue is the quality of national dialogue. Organizations need to present themselves for questioning on a public stage.
A lot of PR brainpower is being expended on measurement and SM rather than on fostering open discussion, which PR prof Tim Penning has described as the heart and soul of PR (link, sub req'd). Significantly, this essay is not on the NANA (PR Society) website although his other essays are.
The ad world used to accept that "half of our ads are wasted but we don't know which half." They knew that exact measurement was impossible but that at least they were supporting the media which would be there not only for their ads but for their PR releases.
Marketers Like Direct Response Ads
The marketers who hold the reins now do not have such a benevolent attitude. If they put ads somewhere, they want sales or traffic or something. They’re into measurement.
They impose exacting tests on media and not unexpectedly, most media fail them. This is one reason for the collapse of so many newspapers and the troubles national media are having like Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes, etc.
Many individuals and companies have cut back on subscribing to trade publications. In PR, this has resulted in eight PR publications folding, morphing into websites or reducing frequency in the past few years—PR Reporter and PR Quarterly each folding in their 50th year of publication; Reputation Management magazine of Paul Holmes folding and his weekly Inside PR NL converting to web distribution; Ragan Communications dropping PR Intelligence Report and PR Journal and converting the weekly Ragan Report to web, and PR Week/U.S., a publication of Haymarket, the U.K.'s biggest private publisher, converting to monthly last June (paid/requested circulation 6,100 after ten years).
NANA Shuns Public Discussion
A example of refusal to take part in public discussion is the National Assn. of Not Availables (nee PRSA). We don’t use its claimed name because of its information withholding practices.
NANA says it has a "Business Case for PR" but how can it promote something it doesn't practice?
Its Assembly Nov. 7, 2009 was a travesty because a large part of what was said by the delegates could not be heard by other delegates. Leaders refused to audiocast the Assembly live which would have been both cheap and easy.
Instead of being given the stage, where leaders spoke, nearly 100 delegates had to use mikes in the aisles and often did not speak "on the mike." Forced to "address the chair," they presented the backs of their heads to about half the room of some 280 people.
Leaders have misinterpreted Robert’s Rules of Orders (RONR) on this. Delegates must “address” the chair but they do not have to physically "face" it. They have the right, under RONR, to mount the stage and use the same mikes as the leaders, addressing fellow delegates "through the chair."
NANA has an audiotape of the 5.5 hours spent on the bylaws but won't supply it to delegates or the press. This year, for the first time in memory, it won’t even make a transcript of the tape.
Gary McCormick, 2010 chair, is refusing to answer any of our questions on this and other matters and we’re not surprised.
HGTV Blew Up Housing Balloon
We’d also like to question him on the role that his employer, HGTV (House/Garden), played in the housing boom and bust.
HGTV is one of the favorite programs of our spouse and we have watched it dozens of times as people shopped for, sold or redecorated houses.
Time mag accused HGTV of “pumping air into the real estate froth by teaching us how to extract value from our homes.” (link, sub req'd)
HGTV programs include "Designed to Sell," "House Hunters," and "My House is Worth What?" Even worse were TV shows called "Flip That House" (TLC) and "Flip This House" (A&E).
Never once did HGTV tell us what buyers were putting down on these houses or details of the financing.
With the number of homes "under water" heading towards 5.5 million and higher, it's no wonder McCormick does not want to talk to us either about HGTV or NANA.
We want assurances from McCormick that NANA will obey the law and provide us with a suitable device so we can hear everything said at the 2010 Assembly. He should also insure that delegates and all members can hear every word (via a live audiocast).
The 2010 "Leadership Rally" set for June 4-5 at a cost about $100K should instead be a spring Assembly that could right the numerous wrongs done at the 2009 Assembly.
McCormick and the Knoxville Center of the Deaf, of which he is a director, should be fighting for the availability of low-cost hearing aids.
Instead, they are silent.
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