Your Blog Your Brand at Wordcamp Sydney 2012 #wcsyd

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I’ll be discussing blogging and building your brand at Wordcamp Sydney 2012 – it’s on at University of Sydney 21-22 July 2012.

You can register here.

Some info about my session:

WordCamp Sydney July 21-22, 2012How personal blogs have revolutionised publishing.

This talk will demonstrate how a WordPress blog can provide a platform for individuals and small businesses to build profile and get noticed.

It will outline:

  • Key practices and principles for blogging success.
  • How to use social media integration to maximise distribution of your messages.
  • How to harness the power of WordPress and plugins for maximum benefit – the must-haves.
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Twitter, commonsense and journalism #groggate

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I’ve been observing the discourse in the mainstream and social media worlds about the ‘outing’ of the blogger Grog’s Gamut – the so-called #groggate. Craig Thomler has made an excellent aggregation of the various sources of comment.

There were two things that really irritated me recently:

These articles irritated me because they each conflated ideas that were not necessarily related – activism and social networks.  And, in the case of Elliott’s article, he disingenuously used Gladwell’s arguments to continue the justification of The Australian’s recently declared war on bloggers and Twitter.

In my opinion Gladwell does his usual trick of lightweight commentary without bothering to delve into any level of depth or subtlety. This seems to be his stock in trade (and he writes entertainingly) so I tend to let it pass by.

But the value of Twitter in respect of creating loose ties than enable the development of deep, real life, and personal relationships cannot be underestimated. Twitter provides the regular interaction – much like at the water cooler in the office – that let’s us understand who we might want to get to know on a deeper level.

The ambient knowledge about people in your network that Twitter affords is invaluable.  It assists us in transcending physical separation and allows us to stay in contact with friends without the need for physical co-location. Another great benefit with Twitter is the ease of making new connections with people who share common interests.  The recent Social Innovation BarCamp in Sydney is a good example of an event that brought together many people with common interests – it was organised and publicised mainly via Twitter.

But Elliott notes “Malcolm Gladwell writes that social media is really activism-lite and a tool that makes participation in a cause more efficient: that is, through the click of a mouse one can make a donation to a cause or send a supportive tweet”.  He then argues that because Greg Jericho (who we now know as the author of the blog Grog’s Gamut) was not entitled to privacy because he was merely a “commentator” and not a “whistleblower”.

Elliott then goes on to compare Jericho’s situation with that of famous activists like Martin Luther King or Steve Biko and to note that Jericho is “now even more popular, thanks to The Australian“.  This comparison of Jericho to famous activists is spurious.  He never claimed to be an activist.  Jericho’s only claims were:

I’m a guy interested in sport, literature and politics. I have in turn wanted to be captain of the Australian cricket team, Olympic gold medalist, PM and Booker prize winner. Now I’ll just settle for blogger.

Thus no claim by Jericho to special privilege or “whistleblower” status.  Just an ordinary citizen taking advantage of the freedom of speech afforded in Australia to share his opinions and insights.

And, as for action by the people in the Twitter-sphere in response to Jericho’s outing by The Australian, no physical action was meaningful or relevant to the situation.

What physical action was possible, reasonable or sensible in the recent #groggate case? No physical action would do anything for Jericho except to inflame the situation. There is no direct analogy between the Grog’s Gamut case and calls to action like those issued by Martin Luther King or Steve Biko. Twitter is not peopled entirely by complete idiots.

Using Twitter to organise a picket line at The Australian’s offices would have been foolhardy and would have made Jericho’s situation at work more difficult. No need to take up a collection for Jericho’s legal fund as The Australian did nothing illegal.

All we can do is express our dislike of the actions of the publication and the journalists involved and express our disapproval of their continued self-serving justifications. We can mourn the death of any notion of journalistic decency.  We can feel sad that Australian mainstream news media is becoming as polarised and polemical as that in the US.  And we can note that by their actions James Massola and his colleagues have done a huge disservice to freedom of speech in Australia, especially for public servants. The use of pseudonyms has been an important part of free speech for a very long time. Pseudonyms proliferate in the mainstream news media – so why are they unacceptable from a blogger?

This whole affair does make me seriously question the journalists – what are their positions on political, social and religious matters. I want to know more about their backgrounds. What are their political and religious affiliations? And what about these mysterious people called Editors? Who are they, what do they stand for? Perhaps they’ve unwittingly raised the issue? But we need transparency from journalists as well as bloggers. It’s time for journalists to come clean about their personal viewpoints and perspectives, no more pretending to present facts in an objective and disinterested way. We need to admit that there is no such as as unbiased reporting and embrace transparency for journalists too.

As for activism, we are seeing real action happen as the result of social networks.  GetUp! is a good local example of this. Say what you like, but  raising enough money to put ads up on prime time TV via social media channels counts as real action, as does winning a High Court action regarding the enrolment of voters.

Many other NGOs are also working out how they can embrace the new media. It’s a pity the old media folks are so busy fighting a rearguard action to save the past that it seems they cannot consider the future in a positive way.

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Does your company have a “message gap” problem?

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Burson-Marsteller has just realased a study on Message Gap Analysis where they investigate the cut through of corporate messaging to mainstream media.

Their research indicates some scary results:

“… a 48% gap between the messages a company communicates and the message conveyed by the media. The study also found that the gap is even bigger between a company’s message and bloggers’ messages (69%). ”
Source: Burson-Marsteller

Some other key insights from the study include:

1. “Aspirational” branding language needs to be supported by concrete facts and messages or it will be ignored. Messages that tied back to the company’s core values and identity were more successful.

2. Tell the whole story or the media will tell it for you. While this is age-old advice, companies that focused only on their own message paid the price by having their message become relatively more diluted in the broader story.

3. Avoid using jargon, as the mainstream media and bloggers either ignore it or must create their own explanation of the potentially confusing company message. Make communications as accessible as possible.

4. Press releases are being reprinted extensively, which affects the strategy for the communications professional. Communicators should realise that the audience for press releases is no longer just the media, and their language should be adapted for consumers, financial analysts, and other stakeholders, as well as media.

5. Bloggers are more likely to make comparisons to competitors and to speculate about an organisations intentions and strategy. Because bloggers are more likely to incorporate their opinions and include messages from multiple sources, companies should consider developing messaging that is more targeted for a blogger’s needs.

via News – Public Relations Institute of Australia.

It is interesting to ask how we can apply these insights into our corporate messaging on an everyday basis. How much of our corporate messaging is actually getting through? How much of it is jargon ridden waste?

Time to start looking seriously at our language and the way we present our organisations to the world. It’s time to fight corporate gobbledegook and jargon and to start putting a human face on our organisations.

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Blogtalk Downunder part 2

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Reviewing the pictures on the Blogtalk Downunder site and it occurred to me just now that I have not seen so many Mac notebooks in one place ever before. Then I went to check out one of the tools that was recommended Tinderbox – which only works on Macs. This subculture is one that I’ve not had much contact with. Generally, people I know seem to use either Windows or Linux – cannot think of one person I know who uses a Mac as their primary device. Anyone out there who uses a Mac – I’d be interested to know why.

PS: Must confess I used to have a Mac a few years ago but replaced it with Wintel due to incompatibility issues with family, friends and university.

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Blogtalk Downunder

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Just back from the Blogtalk Downunder conference that was held here in Sydney over the past few days. The conference was organised by the education department from the University of Technology Sydney, and the attendees were largely academics and teachers. There were a few industry people there, notably Trevor Cook from Corporate Engagement. Senator Andrew Bartlett from the Democrats was also there – he did admit his ignorance about blogging but continued on to make some comments.

The conference was interesting for me on several levels – firstly as a blogger, secondly as a practicing technologist, and thirdly as a student of communication. There was a lot of information presented and I’m still digesting it all.

One issue that came out very clearly is that a lot of people – especially academics who write or theorise about blogging – are not necessarily bloggers. Instead they read about blogging in the media rather than reading & writing blogs. Also the level of comfort with technology varied, from uber geek to technophobe.

There was very little to be heard from practitioners of blogging.  Perhaps that is because there are not many in Australia?  In any case it was a little disappointing.

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A Bloggers’ Code of Ethics?

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Update 2016: This link is no longer available but you can find a handy how-to guide to setting up a blog here – thanks to Chris for the link.

An interesting idea from http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php, reproduced in full as it is good food for thought. Not sure I agree with all of the points tho’ (especially about good taste – for some blogs bad taste is their raison d’etre). Thanks to Belinda Weaver of journoz for the link.


A Bloggers’ Code of Ethics
Some bloggers recently have been debating what, if any, ethics the Weblog community should follow. Since not all bloggers are journalists and the Weblog form is more casual, they argue they shouldn’t be expected to follow the same ethics codes journalists are. But responsible bloggers should recognize that they are publishing words publicly, and therefore have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general. CyberJournalist.net has created a model Bloggers’ Code of Ethics, by modifying the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics for the Weblog world. CyberJournalist.net follows this code and urges other Weblogs to as well. Integrity is the cornerstone of credibility. Bloggers who adopt this code of principles and standards of practice not only practice ethical publishing, but convey to their readers that they can be trusted.
——————————————————————–
A BLOGGERS’ CODE OF ETHICS
Be Honest and Fair Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Bloggers should:

• Never plagiarize.
• Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
• Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
• Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
• Never publish information they know is inaccurate — and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it’s in doubt.
• Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
• Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Minimize Harm Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.

Bloggers should:
• Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
• Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
• Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
• Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
• Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges. Be

Accountable Bloggers should:
• Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
• Explain each Weblog’s mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers’ conduct.
• Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
• Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
• Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
• Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
• Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others. What do you think? Is there anything you think should be added, changed or removed?

April 15, 2003

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