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Archive for December 2008

In 2009 communicators will face big changes

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As another year clicks over, communication faces unprecedented change.

The trend away from traditional media is continuing – and is reaching beyond the big city audiences into regional and even rural areas. A latest global opinion poll showed that while 70% of people still relied on TV for their news and information, the web had now moved into second place, surpassing newspapers.

At the same time, another poll showed that, in a bid to survive the changing environment, newspapers were quickly adopting user-generated content and other traits described as ‘social media’.  Big newspapers are rapidly finding ways to make money from their Internet activities – and even small rural papers are focusing more and more activities on their online pages.

Business and government are moving quickly to adapt this these changes. See my earlier posts about local councils who are using the popular micro-blogging service, Twitter, to quickly and easily get information to traditional media – both online or offline.

However, the ‘social media’ world is increasingly divided. Twitter and friendfeed are seen as the best bets for making money amid the communication changes – and Twitter and blogs are increasingly  the service of choice for government bodies and individual politicians establishing new online communities and audiences – some of which are traditional media bodies themselves. Barack Obama has shown how effective Twitter can be, while the likes of Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and his Opposition counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, have followed suit.

Other ‘social media’ services such as LinkedIn are specifically for networking among professionals, swapping industry information and finding jobs, especially for consultancy  work. 

And then, there is the ‘social’ aspect of the web, which is firmly locked into services such as facebook and myspace, which allow people to talk electronically and share photographs etc they way they once did with email.  As I recently saw it described rather crudely ..”facebook is for getting laid, while Twitter and LinkedIn are for getting paid”.

So what does 2009 hold in store for communicators?  Despite the gloomy economic outlook worldwide, I’m excited about some of the wonderful uses of social media among government in the UK – and I believe that Obama will greatly accelerate the integration of the Internet into everyday life in the US.  In Australia, we will probably continue to wrestle with inadequate broadband service, but trying to prevent social media conversations from becoming the cornerstone of communications will, I feel, be akin to attempting to hold back the tide.  This, I believe, will be a silver lining to the dark clouds that hang over our heads.

Have an enjoyable and safe New Year’s Eve and watch this space in 2009.



Written by ianandsue

December 30, 2008 at 1:24 pm

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Businesses starting to get the benefits of Twitter

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Small businesses are starting to get the benefits of Twitter

This comment for freelance writers recently caught my eye:

Written by ianandsue

December 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Visionary councils finally getting it

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They took a long while to catch on, but some communication visionaries in Australian local government are finally ‘getting’ social media.

Here in New South Wales, there are at least three local councils that have introduced Twitter feeds and a few that have struck their toe into the pond with blogs or Facebook etc.  It’s encouraging that this is happening while local council ‘communication’ staff generally seem to shun social media; ploughing ahead instead with traditional media statements, all-things-for-all-people template websites and often artistic but totally outdated newsletters.  Meanwhile, the real community conversation moves on around them.

Media statements that ‘push’ information “on message”, without web links, background information etc  to traditional media outlets only, are rapidly becoming next to useless. Even  small country newspapers now have websites, yet government has generally ignored this development and continued to ‘communicate’ largely the way it has for the past 25 years …… aim it at the local journo; give em ‘positive’ information that you want them to know, and e-mail a release that looks like every other one you have ever pushed out in hope.   And all this while the social media conversation goes on around them, over them and past them. 

For a sector of government that is quick to claim a particular “closeness” to the people, local councils generally are disappointingly backward in this changing world of communication.   As I have said before, take a close look at ‘Fix My Street’ and see how it can be done.  And, to be fair, take a bow Mosman, Wyong and Hurstville councils. Great stuff …. and an encouraging start.


Written by ianandsue

December 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

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Twitter played valuable role in Mumbai aftermath

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The role played by social media in the aftermath of the recent Mumbai violence was significant.

As traditional media struggled to keep pace, residents using micro-blogger, Twitter, poured forth a stream of information – almost as the violence unfolded.

One of those at the heart of this social media coverage was Mumbai student, Aditya Sengupta.  This is some of what he had to say later:

“While chaotic, disorganised and unverified, Twitter provided fast and helpful updates to the carnage that was underway in the heart of the city.

“Updates started appearing on Twitter several minutes before those on local news channels and roughly an hour before they did on CNN and BBC, with Twitter users speculating about loud blasts emanating from various places in and around Colaba, South Mumbai.

“Reports of gunshots at several places soon followed, sparking speculation of a clash between gangs and police. Subsequent updates about grenade attacks, fires and hostage situations at other locations made it clear that this was no gang war.

“Because of the nature of Twitter, updates were passed on by “retweeting” them – reposting someone else’s update and, ideally, giving credit to the original author. Because of this the information was spread far and wide very fast indeed.

“After the initial incredulity and shock, and after the news channels had well and truly caught on, a lot of speculation and guesswork gave way to more accurate updates, largely sourced from various local news channels.

“Several constructive actions and initiatives were taken by Twitter users, such as publicising the descriptions of one of the terrorists, the cars that they were said to have carjacked and the fact that they had even carjacked a police vehicle.

“Other useful information such as links to video streams of local news channels and lists of important phone numbers (helplines, embassies and consulates) were quickly posted and disseminated.

“The human face of Twitter took on another dimension when local users offered to try and call the friends and family of foreigners. What started on Twitter eventually grew into the Mumbai Help blog. I remember trying to call the phone numbers that a commenter on the blog said belonged to Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. They were eventually found dead at Nariman House (Mumbai Chabad House).

“Scans of the lists of dead and injured obtained by a blogger were sent to and posted on the Mumbai Help blog. A request for help on Twitter resulted in the images being transcribed into searchable text and republished. Calls for donations of specific types of blood were also posted and widely retweeted”.

Written by ianandsue

December 3, 2008 at 11:59 pm

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