And It’s a Wrap!

OC 152, which gave birth to this blog, has ended yesterday (with the 5pm deadline of all blog entries). I just want to use this opportunity to thank all those who visited this blog, especially those who gave their comments. I know I sucked at commenting (I commented at around the first or so blogs, and then faded into oblivion), but people still commented on my blog.

I hope that this journey will not stop in this course, and that I get to have a longer conversation with everyone.

Knowing me, I might not even continue this blog. Still, it’s nice to hope, right?

Thanks anyway.

The horizons of communication is ever expanding, and we must keep up. Still, let us not lose our focus on the most important things. See you guys around! ­čśë

-Leah

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Some Points On Corporate Blogging

Blogging is quite the familiar term nowadays, and a lot of people either read blogs or post blogs, even in the Philippines (check out my previous entry at ). However, most blogs are usually personal or about a certain niche, and not really corporate blogs. Why is this so? Maybe because a lot of organizations are still traditional, but organizations must adapt to these developments if they don’t want to fade into oblivion.

The problem, however, with corporate blogs is that it’s just not appealing, in other words, plain boring. And since last Aug. 29, 2009 we had a lecture regarding corporate blogging and microblogging, I’m going to share a few points that I remember in order to make a corporate blog more interesting.

It’s all about the conversation. A lot of things fall under this simple sentence. Firstly, a conversation is all about people. Organizational charts do not talk; it’s the people in that chart who talk to each other. Therefore, the blog should be something that actually has personality, unlike the organizational chart which does not have any. Also, a conversation is never one-sided; there’s always another person who talks. Therefore, the blog should always be open to what the people has to say. You cannot just spout off whatever information; it has to matter, and it has to create a response from them. One way of ensuring this happens is to comment on other blogs, and to reply to comments on your blog. Another is to make sure that the content of the blog is something that is relevant to the people, even if it’s not explicitly talking about your company.

It’s all about the community. This is something that we know already. Organizations never exist in a vacuum. What more in the internet? The internet, is a whole world in itself, filled with different communities. Communities that should be talked to, and listened to. As a part of a community, one must be aware and listen to what your community has to say. One must also converse with other members of the community in order to ensure a lively conversation and to build lasting relationships.

As I have already mentioned before, new social media tools are not the strategy. Therefore, there must always be an encompassing communication plan to which the blog belongs. Remember: people are not just statistics on a market research, they are people who now have the means to reach you, or talk about you, whether you like it or not. Best to use it to your advantage.

Ako Mismo: A Case Documentation

Last August 22, 2009 we presented a case documentation in our Orcom 152 class regarding actual campaigns that utilized new social media. Growing up with the development of new social media tools, we are quite knowledgeable in using Web 2.0 for personal and leisure purposes, like for academics. However, as future organizational communication professionals we have to know how these tools go beyond fun and games, and are actually used for an end goal in a campaign.

We chose the Ako Mismo campaign for our subject (www.akomismo.org), and interviewed the people behind it, DDB Cares. In our case study, we found that this campaign was backed by intensive research, as the organization utilized their capabilities in order to ensure that they will be able to reach their target audience, the youth. We also saw that traditional media really isn’t dead yet, as tv commercials and other traditional means were also used. These means were used to draw the attention of the people and direct them to the site. Lastly, the campaign did not stop in cyberspace. They had ground activities, from events like Dog Tag Day to sociocivic activities which were avenues for the people to fulfil their pledges.

AkoMismoLogo

At the end of the day, the campaign did not utilize the internet and new social media just because. They made sure that it was backed by research because it’s not about using elaborate methods, the important thing is that you reach your target audience. And of course, you must be very dynamic and responsive, because there always innovations and problems that can happen every step of the way. And through it all, it is up to the users to find a way to utilize new social media tools–after all, they’re just the platforms, and not the strategy.

PRSP with a Touch of Springnote

´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐The most stressful non-academic activity that I had this semester was the Public Relations Society of the Philippines Grand Prix. In this kind of competition we were tasked to create a PR campaign regarding encouraging people to register and vote, and voter’s education. This is a response to the upcoming elections next year. In thinking of a nationwide campaign for the upcoming elections, one has to utilize both traditional and new social media, depending on whatever is more applicable.

 

Since this is a nationwide campaign we’re talking about, I thought there wasn’t that much reason for us to go into new social media yet, since people in the provinces are not heavy Internet users, if ever they do have the access. Shoot. But apparently, Web 2.0 was not going to make an appearance in the campaign itself, but in our conception of the campaign.

 

We have a lot of things to do in order to create a good and solid campaign that will cater to our audience. Research, brainstorming of ideas, writing the actual paper, the collaterals, and that is just for this extra project that will not even be included in our grade for the semester, since it’s a competition by the PRSP. Thus, in this project, we rely heavily on computers and the Internet for us to be able to keep up with each other and still be able to do our different tasks. The question is, how did we do it? And where on earth is the Web 2.0 appearance that I mentioned earlier?

 

The answer to both questions is a wiki. Yes, it’s a four-letter word that spelled a lot of difference in our group. We used Springnote for our platform. How exactly did we use it? Well, I mentioned that we needed to do research, and of course since we are a group of seven members, we have to share and explain what we find with the rest of the group. This is where the wiki was useful, because we just post the links or whatever information we have in the wiki, share the gist of the information with the group, and just direct them to the wiki so they can refer to it during the discussion or get back to it in the future.

Springnote-logo

It was very useful because it also served as data storage for our group. When we got to writing the paper, we just look for the relevant research or notes that were posted in the wiki and so we don’t have to spend unnecessary time looking for it again or asking another groupmate who is assigned to a different task, thus making our work more efficient.

 

There is, of course a disadvantage to our use of the wiki, or in our case, Springnote. Springnote is an online notebook, like your online version of Microsoft OneNote, that you can access using your account. Therefore, one of the basic prerequisites in using Springnote is having an internet connection. Thus, our work is greatly hindered whenever the internet connection becomes problematic, or whenever we want to go somewhere to work on our entry, we have to consider internet access, which greatly narrows down our choices. And boo for us if there is no available table in the place that we finally decide to go to.

 

At the end of the day, Springnote is simply a tool. Springnote in itself is not the reason that we won in our internal competition for the PRSP. The way we utilized Springnote is the reason why we were able to get results out of it. But there’s a lesson: Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially if you think it would help you. That’s very old, but it still applies.

Thoughts On SEO

This is quite the late post (well a lot of my posts are) about Ms. Ingrid Cudia’s lecture on Search Engine Optimization. She talked about how important the content is in terms of the quality of the content itself and the way the content is delivered in order to make the website or blog go up in the Google rankings.

For example as an Organizational Communication student, we are bound to be exposed and immersed in a plethora of different communication channels, some of which will be new social media ones. For example in our OrCom course Communication Trends and Styles, we are tasked to regularly update our blogs in order to get the feel of conversing through new social media. This lesson on Search Engine Optimization is a way for us to be able to express ourselves, but to do it effectively, in order to reach a large audience, especially those relevant to us.

In fact, this blog entry is supposed to be an application of our lecture in Search Engine Optimization, like putting words in bold like this: Organizational Communication, or maybe to put it in the title or the header of the blog if that is the term that I want to optimize in my blog. A strikethrough however, is something that might earn my post some negative points. Also, just randomly typing Organizational Communication will not do, because the crawlers will recognize it as something that is spam and utterly useless and will give it negative points, and thus lower rankings.

Amidst all the technicalities and the intricacies of SEO, the most important thing is to really create valuable content. SEO is something that will help to attract traffic to a certain website, but at the heart of it all is always content. In writing content that is really of high quality and something that is relevant to the niche of that certain websites, there is a very high chance that the website will get a high following. Even an unknown topic in the Philippines such as my course, BA Organizational Communication of UP Manila can move up the ranks in Google, through SEO efforts and through utilizing the heart of new social media-creating conversations and giving avenue for collaboration. SEO is just one step in raising awareness for things such as these.

I didn’t say much about SEO exactly in this post, so if you want to know more, you can go visit this website : www.siegwebsolutions.com

Oh, and since this post is already about Organizational Communication, I would just like to note that the program recently held its 25th year anniversary which was held in CSB Hotel. I was part of the program committee, and man, my heels that night just killed me. Good thing the event was done successfully. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of the program in the coming years!

Pinoy Power Web 2.0 version

Last August 1, 2009 we were able to see the results of the McCann online study. The study spanned different countries and surveyed a large number of people who use the internet. The surprising thing is that online Filipinos, who just comprise a very small percentage of the whole population, are very heavy internet users. This has been supported by the fact that even though other countries have bigger populations and therefore more internet users, the Philippines still ranked no. 1 in different categories. These categories include social networking and uploading photos, just to name a few. Generally the Philippines also rank high in other categories, such as in uploading videos and blog readership.

Blogging is also something that is entrenching deep roots in the Philippines. A lot of the respondents of McCann’s survey read and write blogs ( at 90.3% and 65.8% respectively), and I myself know some bloggers and saw that indeed there is a growing community of bloggers.

These are all statistics that I heard in that lesson, and I wondered what its relevance to me was. I thought about it, and I realized some things. One is that the Filipinos are very heavy internet users, despite the fact that the internet reach is not that high in the country. It really shows how Filipinos really love socializing and what not, and how they really utilize the available channels online in order to reach their loved ones and friends, and to make new connections. For example, I think that one reason why the Filipinos ranked highest in uploading photos is the fact that there are Filipinos all over the world, like OFWs, and one way of connecting with your loved ones is to share with them pictures of different events and people that they know. That’s one thing that we do in our family, since my father is in the Middle East.

At the end of the day, Web 2.0 is just a plethora of channels that can be utilized by people in order to go about their daily business. What I saw in this lesson is that the Filipinos truly utilize the social media available at their fingertips. The sad thing about it is that this could be better if there will be greater internet access for the rest of the Filipinos. Until that day comes, internet-savvy Filipinos  will continue to grow and use the technology that they have to improve their lives, and ultimately, their country.

Finding Alice in a Message Board

Online forums and other social networking sites are appealing to people because it gives them an avenue to meet new people, make new friends, and so on. There are even people who think that they are alone in a certain place and yet find that they actually have someone similar┬á to them through online means. This is why online interaction is fun, and the reason why people have to be careful in managing their accounts, as it is also a reflection of their personality. Online impressions can very well spill over to the real world, such that even if you think that this certain account is an alter ego of sorts, or maybe someone that isn’t really you, the people who see you online, and maybe in turn, in the real world, will still consider how you act online, and this may affect any relationships you make, whether online or offline.

I know of a person who made an account in an online forum, where she met many friends. She started in her high school days, because her best friend during that time is a member of that forum. She continued interacting with fellow anime enthusiasts in that forum and got to meet new friends. As she entered her college days as a member of the said forum, she noticed that people sometimes bank on their commonalities to further their friendships. This includes the place they live in, the schools they go to, etc. . Thus, this girl also wanted to have fellow forum members that she can actually meet up with (since her best friend already migrated to the West), but it was very difficult.

Suddenly, one day she saw a post about an admin of the forum talking about the same school she goes to, and she was ecstatic to have finally found a kindred spirit. She replied, and Kshatriya, the admin person, replied too with pleasantries, as it was quite rare to find someone who also goes to that particular university. However, they did not get the chance to meet up in their school. Time passed, and the interaction was forgotten, as the girl continued to have fun and even meet up with her newfound friends in the forum. At one time, she saw a post that Kshatriya has finally shifted into her same course, but they still weren’t able to meet up.

Then, another surprise came, and it was in the form of a private message. The girl was surprised, thinking that maybe Kshatriya already saw her or something. But then, it turned out that she was mistaken for somebody else by Kshatriya. It was, in fact a somewhat confused and confusing PM conversation. Still, they didn’t meet.

The girl finally asked around, knowing that her program was a tightly-knit community and people pretty much know each other. It turned out, that Kshatriya, was, in fact, just in the other section of her major subject. Darn for that, but at least she’s very close to finally founding out who this elusive Kshatriya is. Finally, she asked her blockmate, who was Kshatriya’s classmate, who Kshatriya is. Her blockmate pointed Kshatriya out to her, and finally, she saw Kshatriya. But that was just a blur of hi’s and hello’s, as it was a bit awkward and shy for both of them.

And so they became acquaintances; a few semesters later, they became classmates. And then they became friends. As the semesters rolled, and they died and lived again through their projects, they became close friends.

Yeah, I know I was trying to pretend it wasn’t me, but failed, so yes the girl was me. LOL. And as for Kshatriya? Well, you can check her out here: http://imthatnicegirl.wordpress.com.

So, even if the forum is now down, and we’re both inactive members, at least we got to meet each other. Never underestimate the power of Web 2.0 to bring people together. Happy adventures, friends!

Through the Conversation Prism

It’s so easy to think that new social media has made communication easier and simpler. Well, let’s take a look at this pretty picture:


Conversation Prism

(click the image for a larger view)


As pretty as this picture may be, if you look closely at it, it’s actually overwhelming. New social media, the Internet 2.0, is not that simple. It is a plethora of different channels of communication that caters to a lot of kinds and interests of people. Nevertheless, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that it is just a simple channel. This is because a person is usually only exposed to the sites or platforms that he or she wants or to those that is relevant to him or her. That is why I, as an organizational communication student, interested in reading and writing material online, may be very exposed to and knowledgeable in blogging, microblogging, and other similar platforms, while not knowing that there are platforms that cater to customer service and tracking locations, simply because I am not interested in searching such sites out.


At the end of the day, new social media really is a big help in making it easier to connect with other people, especially those who share the same interests as us. But then we can’t expect it to come without challenges. Thus, we can’t just say let’s use new social media to further a communication program or campaign and just do it without thinking it through.


This is where the other parts of the conversation prism comes in. Those words near the core of the prism serve to remind us that we have to be mindful of what platforms the target audience wants or actually uses. It would be a shame to create a fabulous campaign on Facebook, only to find out that a large base of the target audience actually resides in forums. Also, it has to connect to the real world. Face-to-face communication still remains important in engaging people.


For me, the conversation prism is daunting. There’s just so much platforms out there, I feel as if I’ll get lost in the sea of different new social media sites. But, as I have said before, this can be the start of a new adventure, exploring the different platforms, and eventually choosing those that work best for me. The next level would be to apply this approach once I enter the corporate world. That is something to look forward to.


Growing Up In Transition

As a child, I have imagined myself entering different professions. I imagined myself as a scientist (an astronomer, to be exact), among other things. Growing up, I was so into studying and playing that I stopped thinking about the profession I wanted to enter. Come high school, I ended up confused and unsure about what I want to be, that at one point in time I told my mother in frustration and despair that I’d just be a librarian (not that I look down on the profession). However, during the latter part of those happy yet confusing years, there was a vision solidifying in my mind. I was already leaning towards┬á communication, although I still had the performing arts on the side. The vision was of me in an office, in front of a computer, on a managerial level or something cooler. That was actually one of the things that led me to my present college course. I know it’s a boring vision, since it’s practically a desk job I wanted, but that was me.

Apparently, though, that vision is about to be shaken up. My vision of a workplace, a room full of cubicles, with desks full of computers, is changing in reality. The workplace, apparently, is turning into a wiki workplace. In this wiki workplace, one can actually work outside the office. This also entails mass collaboration, bottom-up communications, and listening. A lot of listening, especially by those in higher positions. Still, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. At least not in the immediate future, especially here in the Philippines.

Why do I think so? I take a look at myself, and already I am an example. Even though I am a part of the so-called Net Gen, who grew up with the rise of chatting, blogging and what not, I also grew up with the traditional forms of organization. So much so that I actually envisioned myself in one, no matter how much of a loser that makes me. I was drawn to the idea that it seemed so stable, unchanging. And now it IS changing. That’s a bit scary for me, because I don’t know if I can keep up with such a change, and I don’t know if I’m really that ready for a drastically different work environment. And that’s saying something, because as I have already mentioned, I AM part of the Net Gen, and a UP Manila OrCom student at that. If I have these, concerns, how much more those who are already in these traditional organizations? Especially here in the Philippines, where new social media is just beginning to dig deeper roots, and where poverty is still limiting access to these new social media applications?

Nevertheless, the wiki workplace is an exciting thing to look forward to. It promises a job that is not boring, maybe even fun, and more flexible working hours. As I am writing this, I suddenly think about how my┬á (and others of the Net Gen’s) attention span can be quite short (I am doing A LOT of things besides just working on this post. Facebook, Plurk, Twitter, and a whole lot more.) In a wiki workplace, this can actually be accepted. And not that I’m encouraging slacking in the workplace, it’s just that sometimes you have to drift a little before you find that one spark that will actually boost your output. That’s what I’m doing. And that’s what Google is ALREADY doing, and is actually succeeding in. They let their employees have 20 percent of their working hours to themselves, and it actually helps their employees innovate. In a traditional workplace, this will never happen. The employee might┬á probably even get fired for “slacking off,” when in fact, there might just be some great ideas percolating in that employee’s brain, just biding its time before getting its act together, ready for exposure.

Therefore, at the end of the day, though I may have concerns for these drastic changes that are happening regarding the nature of the workplace, I think I’m quite ready to explore the possibilities. How about you?

Confessions Of A Wannabe Blogger

When we were told that part of our class requirements would be a mandatory blog post for every week, I foolishly thought that it would be easy.  After all, I had the internet connection, and well, blogging is just the outpouring of your thoughts through an online channel, right? Oh, the bliss of ignorance. Apparently, I was so very naive (And maybe I still am).

Level 1: I have already tried blogging in the past, for personal purposes. I was fascinated by the way bloggers are so unique in expressing themselves, and I wanted that, too. However, it was not as easy as I thought it would be.  For a personal blog, I had a difficult time in determining what is an appropriate topic to blog, and the extent that I would blog about my life. I am a very talkative person, and sometimes I do not filter what I share to other people, but when your thoughts are going to be saved online for pretty much everyone to see, that kind of brings out personal barriers.

And what are these personal barriers? First, there are the trivial ones, like I’m too lazy, or I’m so tired after an event that I don’t get to blog about it right after, and when I do get the time to blog, I’ve already missed out on what I want to say, or I’ve already forgotten some details, or, again, I just become lazy. Secondly, I’m not that comfortable with revealing too much about myself. On one hand, I can be quite shy (no objections, please), and on the other, there are things that I do not want to reveal because of certain pressures. In fact, that can be my third reason. Social pressures. Sometimes, I can imagine myself as going around in different spheres, different circles, of people. I debate, I love to watch anime, Japanese stuff, I am Baptist, and a lot more. And there are things that are not accepted by some circles that are accepted by others. For example, it’s very annoying to have to turn defensive when talking about cosplaying to a classmate. I mean, I like it, or at least I get it, so what’s the problem? That is why sometimes I feel there are things I shouldn’t be saying or revealing to people from other circles. It’s like creating lots of Leahs – Leah the debater, Leah the OrCom student, Leah the otaku, and so on. I know blogging is about just being yourself, but there is still the fear of rejection, and the fear of not being accepted, the fear of not being good enough.

Level 2: If I already have barriers when it comes to personal blogging, what more in terms of more professional blogging? Blogging for class, for example? In this respect, however, the worry about getting too personal is quite different. Here, the challenge is to be able to work the more serious topics while giving it a personal touch. And since it should be done on a regular basis, you are somewhat forced to do it. I’m being generous there. You can’t just stop blogging if you don’t feel like it, because there will be repercussions. So my personal barrier no. 1 which is laziness is quite the problem here. Also, writing in itself is a very difficult task, as I have learned from a professor. I am familiar with this fact. Sometimes, a blank page (or screen) can be very daunting. There are also pressures. The pressure of being witty, of standing out, of living up to expectations, can be difficult. Just being in my degree program already brings up a lot of expectations. And of course, these expectations should be lived up to, and even exceeded. But sometimes, thinking about these expectations are a hindrance rather than a help. As another professor said, and I do not quote, because I forget the exact words, the more you try to impress, the more you fail. I think it was somewhere along those lines. At least, that was how I understood it. Okay, that’s enough disclaimers.

Level 3: So, at the end of the day, I guess it all boils down to: CONFIDENCE. Who would’ve thought that I have confidence issues? But I am just human, and I do have human issues. And maybe I will find a way in order to work through this online experience, without losing myself, and finding the confidence (and the wit) to weave my personality into topics that would seem mundane, but are actually exciting and important. This is going to be fun. I think. Right?

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