#pclo09 / Podcamp London ’09

Thank you – to @billdeys and @titusferguson and everyone else that worked on this fantastic event!  About 120 people packed three presentation rooms all day Saturday, despite the fact that it was one of the nicest sun days so far this year.  This past week has been incredible for me – first the IABC panel on social media and then Podcamp – two major social media events, and another coming up next Tuesday, right here in London, Ontario.  A year ago, I gave a social media talk at a broader event downtown at the Hilton, and was approached afterwards for referrals for a new PR 2.0 instructor position at McMaster – and I have no one to give.  I had my higher ed contacts across the country and the US, but for the life of me I could not put my finger on anyone in Southwestern Ontario – after this weekend, its clear that the community of social web and new media professionals has bloomed into an incredibly healthy community.

The two presentations with the most take-home for me were …

Improving Your Photography (for less than you paid to be here).

by Jason Fredin

This was a great presentation – Jason is a clear speaker and gave a lot of advice that I’ve already been playing around with.  He teaches photography courses at henry’s on Thursdays and Fridays that I might check out 🙂

  • While he didn’t quite say “Megapixels, more like Mega-smixels,” he prooved a similar point with photos taken on cell phones, video cameras, 4.0MP point and shoots and a 12MP SLR.  Unless you are doing print design, megapixels really aren’t going to hurt your work there is almost no visible difference between 4 and 12 megapixels. Check out flickr’s index of photos taken on a Morotola Razr.
  • “Better cameras don’t make better photographers”
  • Take the time to know your camera
  • Exposure compensation: Use to bring out whites (+), or to see through dim lighting (-).
  • White balance: Most cameras have automatic white balance but they do not always get it right – explore the different settings such as Indoors, Flourescent.
  • Try turning off your flash
  • In harsh light, force the flash to get into shadows (under eyes, under nose, under a hat)
  • Use a tripod – buy one that is light enough to take with you
  • String monopod – put screw into camera with string attached. Drop other end of string (weighted), then step on it to pull tight.  Resistance will brace your camera when no tripod is available.
  • Fill the frame
  • Buy a tripod that is large enough for your camera.

Ten Tips for eBay:

  • Turn off flash
  • Use a tripod
  • Turn the product on – show it working
  • Simplify i.e. use white posterboard as backdrop
  • Get a better angle – use double sided tape and small props
  • Ghetto lightbox – make your own lightbox with a cardboard box, white paper
  • Adjust exposure and white balance

Ethics in Social Media

Presented by Dave Fleet.

Description: Ghost blogging. Astroturfing. Sock puppets. Wikipedia pages. Each of these new areas brings new ethical concerns and dilemmas. We’ll take a spin through these quandries to try to find an answer to them.

Dave was a fantastic speaker and has amazing passion for the topic (and the provoking discussion that came out of it between PR and journalism).

Some of his points:

  • Use common sense – if you would not want it on the front page of the newspaper, don’t do it
  • You are what google says you are, everything you do online lives on on other peoples sites
  • Nothing you do online is anonymous – ip address.
  • We have to change the image of pr, from the shady guy in a fedora [to a credible information source.]
  • Wikiscanner.virgil.gr -Lists organizations that have edited their own stuff don’t change your own wikipedia – but what if it is wrong?

Seriously, what if it’s wrong? How to you fix misinformation on your brand’s wikipedia entry?

  • Suggest changes via discussion page
  • Maintain neutral pointt of view when contributing
  • Follow the established process for getting your organization on wikipedia, if it is not already there
  • Don’t attack others

Ghost blogging

Dave pointed out that ghosting has been done in Public Relations for years – it’s no new thing.  Speeches, letters to the editor, even email, are often written by PR staff.  When reading online content, users have a higher expectation for it to be written by the named author – not a PR screen.  No one is forcing them to blog – it’s a choice.

Kanye West caught by the police and the blogosphere in the same day:

Kanye has a very prolific blog with a huge readership.  It becomes suggested that he doesn’t have time for the amount of content being produced and perhaps he has ghost writers – which he violently denies. Later, he is arrested at 8am but then a blog post goes live at 8:10am.  Was his mistake getting caught? Was it denying ghost writers from the start? The fact that Kanye West does not write his own blog may not matter to me or Dave or anyone at the conference, however, it mattered to the Kanye fans that thought they were reading the artists original thoughts.  If you don’t have time to write your own blogs – why are you blogging? Choose a tool that fits you – possibly twitter (shorter, less formal).

What if we find out that @Oprah is ghostwritten? 40 million middle aged women would be sad – because they joined to get close to her. Twitter is about personal thoughts.
It’s not just the emotional crush but also breaking unspoken rules of authenticity and transparency – but Kanye fans don’t know about these ethics – they are just ‘betrayed’

Dave pointed that out that if the editor/dean does not have time to blog – why does it have to be the editor – why not the guy that has time? Why not a group of people. Kanye was an issue of narcissism – he wants to be the blogger even though he is not.

Social/online media show that betrayal does happen – people will start to wonder if traditional media are credible either?

Guest blogger vs ghost blogger – Guest bloggers are fine – as long as it is labelled.  Even advertorials would be ok if it was done transparently.

Group blogs are a great tool for orgs, share the load across several writers.


Fake grassroots/Faking a grassroots community – i.e. wal-marting across the country. “Walmart enthusiasts” set out on a cross-country roadtrip, sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots at each stop.  They were outed as journalists. These mistakes are what leads to the sleazy spin doctor image that hurts all of us.

Isn’t the nature of pr to be deceptive? Present your product positively.

A PR instructor from Fanshawe College piped up: Writing, ethics are two key components of Public Relations. Tell the right truth to the right as many ppl as possible. Sometimes PR professionals have to say no to a client that wants something unethical – decision between money and ethics. Same as a journalist covering paris hilton in jail.  Is this a little white lie to a small number of ppl, or is it something that will lose you your other clients.

This talk reminded me of some thought I’ve been giving to the different approaches to social web and new media – the same way there are two rough approaches to public relations.  PR professionals can genuinely care about ethics – reaching as many people as possible with the right content at the right time.  There are others (mostly sleazy guys in a fedoras), who will spin anything in order to get coverage – potentially at the loss of other clients.

Again it was a great weekend – I will be posting the slides from my talk “Hitch a Ride: Mobile Marketing” soon – I just have to add some voice as the slides themselves are mostly screenshots rather than points.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *