Creating our own History

November 19, 2009

Are we blogging or are we creating our own social history?  When we learned about history it was from our grandparents or in history books, the library was the number one place to find all this information and for the more recent generations, Google was a great way to find some broad ideas on a topic.  Our grandchildren will know it all.  Every single detail because we have been writing it for them.  Historians who have come and gone and done extensive research to get even big details are rolling over in their graves. 

Our generation is allowing years of people to come to see what our interests are, our dreams, our pictures, and our individual taste in music.  We are engraving ourselves in the World Wide Web.  Twitter allows us to let a huge audience know what we are accomplishing that day, while Facebook allows us to keep in touch with people we may not have even met.  Our day to day interactions are being permanently recorded and formatted in easily organizable segments of information. 

 Historians in the future will have every detail, no need to leave anything up for question or giving them reason to guess.  Every single detail has the opportunity and in most cases is actually recorded in full detail.  Most of our friends know who we are with and what we did last night. 

Reality T.V. has become a real hit the past few years and why not, we all love to know what is going on in everyone else’s lives.  We want to know because of a mere interest but even to use it to compare our own lives.  It is so easy to interact with people now while they are doing things.  I can join a friend at a baseball game via Facebook or wish my cousin overseas a happy birthday via Skype. 

 Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are giving us the opportunity to make friends with people we may necessarily not have the opportunity to. We are also to keep in touch with our friends from college who moved two continents away.  We are able to learn about each other’s cultures and each other’s actions.  This gives us such a great opportunity to relate and understand one another.  History is starting to have a whole new meaning!

By Kate Ksielka.  Follow me on Twitter

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Facebook: The Crimestopper Edition

November 13, 2009

In the last few years, Facebook has become an integral piece of our social fabric.  I remember being in high school, jealous of my friends who were already in college and eligible for membership to the then college-only network.  When I got my Facebook account, I instantly had a couple hundred new “friends” (the other freshman from my university were quick to start “friending” everyone in the class of 2009 and creating “09 is the best eva!” groups).  My mother was forced by her employer to create an account for business purposes.  My dad uses his to keep in touch with his aunts, uncles and cousins in Michigan.  Despite the ability to expand my social circle, I never found anything actually useful about Facebook (although I do check it quite frequently).  But now, Facebook has a new use – providing alibis and saving people from jail time.  Finally  – a legitimate excuse to use Facebook.

2 weeks ago, Facebook did much more than allow Rodney Bradford to keep in touch with his girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to him, it was also going to be a key factor in getting him out of jail.  After he was named as a suspect in a mugging, Rodney turned himself in – knowing that he hadn’t actually committed the crime and believing his name would immediately be cleared.  However, when the victim picked him out of a lineup, he spent 12 days in a New York jail.

Rodney’s alibi was that he was at his fathers house, and it was true.  However – once he was picked out of the lineup, the courts weren’t buying it. It wasn’t until Rodney’s father saw a message Rodney had posted to his girlfriend on Facebook, approximately 1 minute before the crime happened in another part of the city, that his name was cleared.  Using the timestamp provided in the Facebook post, and the location of the computer from which it was posted, authorities were able to determine that Rodney had, in fact, been at this father’s house in an entirely different part of the city 1 minute before the crime was committed.

Rodney’s home with his dad and stepmother now, cleared of any crimes.  And his family is probably thrilled with any time he decides to spend on Facebook.

Posted by Courtney || Follow me on Twitter


The Social Media Takeover – How Long Will the Empire Last?

November 2, 2009

In the past few months, popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter have been popping up everywhere – especially on your TV. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but in the past three weeks, I haven’t been able to go one show or broadcast that didn’t say something about Facebook or Twitter.

Popular shows such as “The Office” and “Accidentally on Purpose” are writing them into their story lines, newscasters are pitching their handles during every story, athletes are using them during competition, and the list goes on. The question is, will it cause a sensory overload for us “regular users” so much so that we step away for good because it has become too big?

Don’t laugh. It happened to MySpace. The site got so big that people began to walk away. Everything turned out alright for the company however as it focused in on its target market of musicians and is doing quite well. I wonder if the same type of phenomena will happen to other sites or are they here to stay for the long haul?

My guess is that they will continue to grow for a few years and then slowly start to dwindle, the way its predecessors have done over the years. I do believe Facebook and Twitter may have longer shelf lives, but I don’t think they are indestructible. Sooner or later another up-and-comer will develop a new platform that will have Tweeters jumping ship.

I don’t think the preface of social media is going to go anywhere however. Platforms and mediums will change, but the basic thought process behind it all will remain the same.

Posted by: Lauren


The Science of the #TwitPitch

October 30, 2009

There are those of us (not me) who are excellent artists – like those people on cop shows that can draw a perfect rendition of the face of someone they have never met based on a description given by someone who was standing 100 yards away (“he had a nose… hair, it might have been brown – or black – maybe dark blonde.  Glasses, I think – but definitely eyes”).   There are those that are great writers – Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Perez Hilton (ok – maybe not so much with Perez – but he’s funny… usually).  And now, there is a new breed of greatness developing.   Those who are social-media mavens.  They can use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to do ridiculously amazing things, whereas I can only use them for what they were initially designed for – a way to keep in touch with friends and family.  There are those among us who are making a huge impact on the world we live in with 140 characters and the click of a button… comparatively, by the end of this sentence it will have taken me 196 words to get to the main point of this blog – and so, without further ado – I bring to you… the #TWITPITCH!

Kind of.  But first – a history lesson.

About a year ago, a journalist named Stowe Boyd decided that he no longer wanted to be pitched stories through the traditional means of e-mail and phone calls.  He preferred the 140 character method of Twitter.  By being able to pitch an idea in 140 characters (or less!) a PR professional should, ideally, be able to convey their entire message quickly and concisely.  According to the article from PR Daily, at least 2  other journalists have picked up on the trend, and encourage PR professionals to pitch them only via Twitter.

Taking a different approach – many companies are now turning to social-media to promote their brands; many companies are posting YouTube demonstrations of their products, almost every company has a Facebook “fan” page ( apparently I am a “fan” of a lot of things – including some things that have no relevance to my life what-so-ever), and lots of companies are taking up residence in the Twitterverse (which I tried to link to a definition, but apparently it doesn’t have an official one).  By using Twitter, companies are essentially able to pitch their new products and announcements directly to consumers, rather than just to reporters and editors.

And now, some real life application.

I had already started writing this blog when I was assigned the task of creating “10-15” twitpitches for one of our clients.  This particular client has one of their products in use in a very public place,  the plan is to blast a couple tweets out to the Twitterverse saying basically “hey if you’re here, check it out!”.   Perfect, I thought.  I am already “researching” twitpitches –  I’ll use this for my blog!  I figured that the assignment couldn’t be too hard – a couple quick short announcements of a fact.  EASY! Orrr not.

Here is what I have found (… well, decided).

Coming up with 140 characters of information is hard.  140 characters of “Hey I bought new shoes” is simple – see, I just did it!  But actually getting a message across takes some skill.  It took me about an hour to come up with 8 very different, but still informative and (hopefully) attention-grabbing tweets all focused around the same thing.  When you’re limited to 140 characters and you have to use the same basic words at least once in each tweet (obviously I had to mention the product and location each time, so those took up at least 20 of my characters) being creative is tough.

In theory, the twitpitch is great.  In practice – it’s astounding.  It costs nothing and assuming you’ve got a lot of followers, which a lot of companies do, you’re able to get your message out to lots of people.  Efficiency is key, however.  Telling the Twitterverse you’ve got a new product is cool, but linking to it is essential – and those links take up characters.  Making sure people know where they can find a product is important, but don’t forget to include the hashtags (ex: “#caster” – hashtags make words easily searchable through twitter).  Being able to tweet your product in 140 characters or less and have it be memorable and informative is practically an art form.  Do not take twitpitching lightly.  If you’re doing a great job of it, and using it sparingly – they could prove to be invaluable to your company.  If you are just bombarding your followers with links and “buy this now!” types of messages, you may find that you’re “unfollowed” pretty quickly.

Just for reference, below is an example of how long a 140 character tweet it.

DogWiggles has just released their most innovative dog leash yet and its only $40.  Buy it now at http://bit.ly/3jhP30 and have a happy pup.

(The link is fake – I made up a webaddress [I think] to show a shortened Twitter link, which people tend to use, rather than lengthy URLs.)

Notice that I didn’t include any hashtags, and it isnt exactly interesting.  But it’s all I could come up with in 140 characters and a fake product/company.

Posted by Courtney | Follow me on Twitter


FTC Guidelines: How They Relate To Your Blog

October 7, 2009

Earlier today, I was asked a question that threw me off guard a bit, vaguely formulated as follows:  “what do you know about social media as it relates to PR?”  I muttered a joke about seeing people create PR nightmares for themselves via Twitter and Facebook and then got down to business, stating that “it’s a cheap and effective way to get your message out to tons of people” – pretty standard, ay?  

I decided to do some digging and find out what the industry pros have to say about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media/networking sites that exist around the web and instead found an interesting article (10 Simple Things to Know About the FTC’s Rules for Blogs and Brands, by Augie Ray) about a document released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today outlining guidelines for advertising and branding via social media.  These guidelines are not laws, but rather suggestions for companies as to how to best situate themselves so that they are abiding by the existing laws in place regarding advertising.

 For the most part, these guidelines address whether or not it should be considered advertising if a blogger writes a positive review of a product.  It seems that the general idea of the guidelines is as follows:  if you are a blogger on the receiving end of a benefit from a company for favorably reviewing or using their product, then you are – in fact – an advertisement.  If I were to run out to the corner store and buy myself a pack of gum that I truly enjoyed, and I came home to blog about it – that would not be considered advertising.  However, if the gum company were sending me free packs of gum on a regular basis – or any other product that their company manufactures – and I took to my blog to spout the wonders of this product, then that would in fact be considered a sponsored endorsement, since I am regularly receiving treats. 

Most relevant to the PR world is the fact that many workplaces are now looking into adopting Social Media policies, and if they are not – according to the FTC and Augie Ray – they should be.  It is important that in a time where it seems everyone has a Twitter account, which could lead to easy and free advertising for your company for 140 characters or less, you are monitoring and managing these networks.  If an employee of a company logs into their personal Facebook account and reveals to the public their employer’s product is their all-time favorite, without disclosing that they are an employee of that company, they are opening the company up to legal ramifications and they may not even realize it.

Courtney Danielson (candidate for a Caster job)


Become a Fan of Paradigm on Facebook, Win a Cinema CT System

September 29, 2009

Paradigm Electronics, an international leader in speaker design wants YOU to be their friend on Facebook.

If you are on Facebook click here to find Paradigm’s page. Sign up as a friend of Paradigm and every thirty days, starting October 15th, they will choose a random “Friend” to win one of 6 Paradigm Cinema CT systems. If you are already a friend of Paradigm, you’re already in the draw!  You have six chances to win – and all you have to do is become a fan.

The Cinema CT systems are Paradigm’s most affordable complete and compact speaker systems to date and feature the company’s award-winning Monitor Series technology (the company’s affordable high-end line of speakers). With the Cinema™ CT line, Paradigm delivers real audiophile quality sound – at modest prices.

Cinema110CTWhile you’re there, why not become a fan of Caster Communications on Facebook as well?  We have less than 30 fans people.  This is a sad state.  Help us!


PR Can Help Utilities Build Community and Support for Smart Grid Roll Out

September 21, 2009

I believe the Smart Grid is an eventuality. It may come with or without fanfare, it may be accepted begrudgingly or met with whole hearted resistance, it may even be greeted with open arms by some, but of this I am sure, for it succeed as utilities want, the utilities have to step up and educate their communities about what it is, what it means and what it does and doesn’t do.

I’ve talked to a number of homeowners and I’d like to offer three very different perspectives on what they think the Smart Grid is and what it means to them and offer my view on why utilites need a PR firm.

Laura, John and Family

With three kids, this affluent family runs a lot of electricity. TV, lights, video games, hot water and appliances not to mention the array of mobile devices and laptops are always being charged. When I asked them if they had heard of the Smart Grid they said they had not, when I explained what it was and what it could do and how it could even help them manage their electricity consumption to save money, they thought it sounded great that they could be “green”. LOL

My Parents

This is a tough one. My parents are die-hard Rhode Islanders, and they’re republicans. My dad is a blue collar guys who feels the sun sets based on what Rush Limbaugh says. My mom is an MBA with a high profile job. They simply do not get that there is a problem and a need for energy conservation; my dad thinks he’ll be dead by the time it matters. Either way there is no way he is going to let the government control how much electricity he can and can’t use. No way no how, not going to happen. SIGH

Craig and Kelli

An engaged couple living in their first house, they are trying to save enough money to pay for half their wedding and honeymoon. Constantly worried about their monthly bills, the economy has taken a toll on both their incomes. They realize that spending less means doing without or cutting back. Neither had heard of the Smart Grid, but knows about the local wind power project. When I asked if they use a device that helped that understand how they could save money by reducing their electricity they loved the idea.

So of all three homeowners, none of them had heard of the Smart Grid. None of them know about the efforts and grant money National Grid has applied for to bring two-way meters to New England. If National Grid wants this deployment to succeed, they and utilities like them, have to look to driving awareness around this project. If people in neighborhoods think that this about government control, people will not cooperate and the project will fail. If homeowners are not excited about using energy management devices then they simply won’t use them. And if they don’t use them than this was for nothing.

Utilities should look at three approaches to building community support for Smart Grid roll outs:

Social Media: Using Twitter and Facebook, utilities should look to top utility heavyweights like Duke and Nashville Electric Service both of whom have active grassroots campaigns designed to build followers, engage their customers and communicate everything from outages to demand response events.
Town Hall Events: Just like the Presidential campaign, utilities can invite key stakeholders like government officials, industry experts and community members to question and answer events designed to educate and enthuse the public for the coming Smart Grid deployment.
Demo Center: National Grid (and others) should create a demo center where the public is invited to come see what the meters will look like, how they will work and again, educate the users on how this will function in their home when a conservation event occurs or if they want to reduce their energy bills.
These are just some early suggestion, there are obviously other options such as trade shows, literature, a solid grassroots PR campaign and of course advertising, but education will be the key to public awareness and acceptance of the Smart grid and must be done at a local level not by the federal government.

Hmmm, I wonder if Caster can help National Grid with its PR plan?

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster