Friday, December 29, 2006

Blogging Policies - first thoughts

Even if we decide that it’s not in our best interest to actively foray into the world of social media with a blog, podcasts or what have you, I strongly suggest we work on a set of blogging and social media policies.

The NewPR Wiki, a group-edited set of links and resources on communications, PR and social media, has two great pages of information on this topic. One contains a list of links to corporate blogging policies, and the other is a collection of articles and blog posts on some legal troubles faced by blogging employees and employers, as well as tips for both groups.

We don’t need to have an external corporate blog to have a blogging policy, or to at least address social media in some of our existing Internet and technology policies. Even if we aren’t officially blogging, we ought to have a set of governing principles in place – this technology is not going to go away!

With an organization as large as ours, it's safe to assume a large number of our employees are blogging unofficially - I can think of half a dozen employees on this floor of this building alone who have personal blogs. Can or should we encourage people to feel free to identify themselves as members of this department when they blog? Or the other end of the spectrum - what about situations like the recent information leak of a prominent Canadian? We should have clear policies in place to deal with this kind of problem.

Blog policies don't have to be punative or restrictive. IBM's blogging policy contains a section on how to blog and suggests points like respect your audience, avoid inflamatory comments, find out who else is blogging and cite them, and be the first to admit and correct your own mistakes.

We can also use a blogging policy to clarify whether employees can blog on company time, whether employees should have a disclaimer if they blog as employees of the Agency, and clarify what topics might be off limits.

In the new year, I hope to do more research on whether other departments have blogging policies (I have heard that DND has one).

Links for December 28-29, 2006

  • Politicians parading into social media
    From Shel Isreal, co-author of Naked Conversations: “My hope is that government and elected officials will come en masse to the blogosphere. I'm sure they will come in awkwardly at first, using much of the same rhetoric they use everywhere else. But over time, some of them might learn the real power of social media is not just talking, but listening. In fact, blogging and social media, may be the most blatantly democratic format we've seen come along since the New England-style town meeting.”
  • Founder of Wikipedia plans search engine to rival Google
    "Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, is set to launch an internet search engine with that he hopes will become a rival to Google and Yahoo! 'Essentially, if you consider one of the basic tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: ‘this page is good, this page sucks’,' Mr Wales said. 'Computers are notoriously bad at making such judgments, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way. But we have a really great method for doing that ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that.'"
  • Social Media is No Mo
    Micropersuation’s Steve Rubel opines that there is no longer a need to distinguish “social” media from all other media: “In 2006 all media went social. Pretty much every newspaper, TV network and publication has wholeheartedly embraced these technologies. Newspapers have comments, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis and other forms of two-way communications… The changes in communications go deeper, however. The media formerly called mainstream also communicates in a far more conversational tone that it did before -- one we use. Meanwhile, the barriers to becoming a member of the fourth estate have been obliterated by these very same technologies.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Links for December 27, 2006

  • The Queen of England’s annual Christmas address is also available for the first time via podcast.
  • The Power 50: one blogger’s take on “50 brilliantly crazy & enlightened marketing / media bloggers.”
  • Also from BuzzCanuck, the top 11 word-of-mouth stories of 2006.
  • You Deserve More Than Time’s Person of the Year. MediaShift’s Mark Glaser gives eight tips to “give people more power in Time’s own editorial space.”
  • Via Micropersuation, Newsweek predicts 2007 will be the Year of the Widget: “If 2006 was all about social networks, user-generated content and YouTube, then it’s a fair bet that 2007 will be about further personalizing life online. Already, portals like Google and Yahoo! offer customizable pages. Want to see a calendar, learn a new word-of-the-day and check local windsurfing conditions all from your homepage? No problem, you have thousands of widgets to choose from. And the fact that they’re so intuitive has made the features very popular.”
  • Also via Micropersuation, America’s New Digital Divide. “…you will find that the majority of the broadband connected population is passive, not active. Despite all of the wonderful advances in technology, publishing and aggregation tools have been adopted only by only a small minority of users. It's this tiny community, more than any other, that is shaping the technology, media, business and even the geopolitical agenda. Our voices, not always the broader populous, is what rings loudest.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Links for December 21 and 22

  1. CEO Blogging Guide, a concise list of dos and don’ts on CEO blogging; and
  2. 5 Social Media Trends that Will Impact PR, including a discussion on the future of the press release: “The press release turned 100 this year, and the public relations and marketing community started to really talk about how to make it better and improve its usefulness.”

That's it for this week... Happy holidays to our legions of reader(s)!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Links for 19-12-2006

  • Global Neighborhoods: the Overview
    Shel Israel is the co-author, with Microsoft’s Robert Scobles, of the seminal corporate blogging book Naked Conversations. He’s just posted the overview of his new book, Global Neighborhoods and is asking for feedback. He says, “Global Neighborhoods looks at the habits of young people to predict the future of business and government. It paints a picture of business and government when a generation that is immersed in social media and immune to traditional marketing and media comes of age.” I suspect this will be a book worth watching out for.
  • Canadians love blogs
    iMedia Connections released data showing Canadians with the highest level of 'blog visit penetration' (i.e. the highest percentage of people who visited a blog) worldwide in October. Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians visited a blog, followed by 51% of Spaniards and 45% of the French. The US ranked sixth with 36% of the population visiting a blog in October.
  • Book of lists 2006
    PR Week provides a year-end round-up that includes top 10 PR blunders, 5 brands that rocked, and 5 best-in-class communicators (and some of the worst in each category, too.)
  • The Social Media Toolbox for PR people
    Via (see the original post for a nice compilation of social media 'goodies'), a handy list of social media monitoring, analysis and blogging tools.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Links for 18-12-2006

Why we need to adopt RSS

RSS (really simple syndication, among other definitions) is a tool that aggregates information from Web sites of your choosing and packages it for delivery to a specific subscriber. Rather than visiting Web sites looking for updates, an RSS reader bundles the information for you and delivers it to your desktop as new information becomes available. By visiting a single Web page, you can check your feeds as seldom or often as you wish, and you can see at a glance how much new information is available since the last time you checked.

RSS is particularly popular for monitoring news sites and blogs. Popular RSS feed aggregators include Bloglines, Feedburner, Google Reader and NewsGator, to name a few.

From the Web site SnapTech, seven good reasons why you should offer your content in feeds:
• RSS feeds syndicate your content and make it available to other news outlets, websites and blogs.
• By syndicating your content you can reach a much wider audience.
• Feeds are the perfect solution for time-sensitive information - like special travel packages, meeting notices or tech updates.
• RSS is a secure channel that can't be spammed.
• RSS feeds allow your subscribers to control the flow of information they receive. According to a recent study users trust marketers more when they can control the information they receive.
• RSS feeds are compiled according to the user's choices.
• RSS does not involve you in privacy issues- subscription is anonymous.

Wired magazine recently ran a feature about how the US Government is slowly adopting RSS technology on some of its Web sites. “RSS feeds are offered by agencies such as the U.S. State Department, NASA, the state of Delaware, the National Hurricane Center, a number of state legislatures, local governments and more. However, many foreign governments, including England, France and New Zealand, are way ahead of those in the United States when it comes to RSS.”

The article also observes, "In fact, a small but steadily growing stream of government agencies at the local, state and national levels are also implementing RSS as a natural way to disseminate information to their constituencies. And since almost all government information is useful to somebody, those responsible for informing the public see RSS as a perfect, and inexpensive, method for ensuring that people can get the knowledge they need without a lot of work."

An excellent site called RSS in Government provides a comprehensive list of government RSS feeds not only from the US but all over the world. You can tell at a glance that the Canadian government is painfully behind in adopting this technology.

It is my opinion that RSS is so easy to implement and so key to the new way that people are using the Internet to communicate that this should be one of the first areas that we delve into social media as an Agency. Currently, there are more than a hundred disappointed people subscribing to the empty RSS feed for our department, as offered on the official Government of Canada listing of departmental feeds. At the very least, we should be using RSS to push our newsroom products, but that's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg on the ways we can use RSS to get our information out to the public.

Can you think of any other ways we could or should be using RSS?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Links for 14-12-2006

  • Cognoscenti grab big business by the lapels: Shared passions of social networks are forcing advertisers to innovate from the bottom up
    A Globe and Mail article on social media's impact on marketing and traditional media. It's worth the read, and provides a good overview of why marketers need to be aware of how social media has inverted the traditional marketing model. Note the observations on the new role of branding and focus testing through social media, too.
  • Ottawa communicators meet to discuss social media
    A review of an October CRPS session on social media - good insight. Be sure to read the comments, too!
  • Open-Source Spying
    A long but interesting article in the NYT Sunday Magazine (free subscription req’d) on how the CIA and the FBI are finding ways to use blogs and wikis. Hey, if the spy agencies can adopt social media, surely we can too!
  • The CDC's Second Life
    The US Centre for Disease Control has opened an office to promote health information -- within the virtual world of the online game Second Life. “John [Anderton] first started exploring Second Life last March, and by July he had convinced the powers-that-be at the CDC to let him establish an agency outpost there, which he built with his own virtual hands. John seems to be the CDC's go-to guy for their health communications "Special Forces" missions, having been detailed to work on public health crises like the CDC's response to the anthrax scares, the flu vaccine shortage and setting up new communications offices in various parts of the agency. He currently (at least until next week) is working in the Office of the CDC Director with the charge of exploring how social media can be used to promote public health, and he plans to continue to serve as the CDC's virtual face in Second Life.” Fascinating stuff - can you imagine a virtual tax services office?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Links for 13-12-2006

  • Via BuzzCanuck, some good advice: 11 tips for managing a good blog entry.
  • MyCBC: Will this new media also get new rules? Interesting post about the new MyCBC, but noteworthy for this priceless advice, which belongs in the footer of every page of our proposal:

    "Despite well-intentioned talk about how we should all take more risks, like every other large public institution people spend too much of their day worrying about making sure they follow the right process, go through the proper channels, and cover both their rear ends plus their boss and their boss’s boss. We will have to be willing to, frankly, drop a lot of the rules and structure that was set up with the statement: “We need this extra layer of management/editing/approval just in case.” The “just in case” rules will kill us in this new world. We’ll have to take real risks — occasionally, those risks will lead to mistakes. But it’s the only way we’ll learn."


Flogging: a lesson from Sony and WalMart

Authenticity is gold in the blogosphere, a lesson both Sony and WalMart learned the hard way.

WalMarting Across America was a blog purportedly written by two 'average joe' Americans who drove an RV across the US, parking overnight in WalMart parking lots and blogging their adventure, complete with interviews with the friendly WalMart employees and customers they met along the way. WalMart and their PR firm Edelman got badly burned when it became apparent that the WalMarting Across America blog was in fact a flog, or fake blog. The saddest part of the story is that Edelman is considered one of the PR firms who really 'get' social media, and is employer to uber-blogger Steve Rubel. Follow the technorati tags to read the whole sordid story.

Now Sony has been busted by the blogosphere for flogging, too. Via Blogging4Business, this link to Sony's fake blog All I Want For Xmas is a PSP (Sony playstation), complete with bad grammar and hipster lingo. Check out this comments thread to see what happens when the blogosphere sniffs out a flog.

(Edited to add: the same day I posted this, Sony came clean and admitted on the blog that they had been busted. However, their mea culpa only demonstrates that they still don't 'get it', because they deleted all the original text and the comments.)

The moral of this story? The blogosphere demands authenticity, and can be vicious if they feel they are being duped or deceived.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Links for 13-12-06

Monday, December 11, 2006

Links for 11-12-2006

  • Government of Canada Web 2.0 session reveals that using the "C-word" is a ticket to hell
    Marcomm blogger and president of market2world communications opines "At present using the C-word, or Communications, is a ticket to hell for innovation on Web 2.0. That word attracts too much top-down authority. Best to get pilots going under the auspices of new technology and leave the C-word out of it." Be sure to read the comments!
  • Hello Home Office Blog Watchers
    Criticism of the UK's use of old-school media monitoring to monitor blogs.

    (both links above via

  • Social Media Metrics
    "Interest in moving into social media is high, but companies don't have a context yet in which to place social media alongside other costs they already understand, like PR and advertising--even if the effective measurement of those other costs remains somewhat tenuous. So they're going to ask a lot of questions about how to measure the value of what they're buying, and they're not going to be satisfied with the answer that measurements in social media are really no better than measurements in traditional media." Another perspective of the social media roundtable I mentioned last week.
  • Group mentality
    The Globe and Mail's Mathew Ingram on packaged social media tools for businesses.
  • Social media solutions for Santa Claus Enterprises, Inc.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Links for 08-12-2006

  • Marketing Literacy Desperately Needed
    One PR blogger's attempt to differentiate between Buzz marketing, Viral marketing, Influencer marketing, Social media marketing and other current lingo.
  • Web Strategy: measuring social media
    Results of a roundtable discussion including Social Media Practitioners, Bloggers, Corporate Program Managers, and PR consultants exploring how and why to measure social media.

Business 2.0 and Fortune talk about blogs

The October issues of Business 2.0 and Fortune magazine had three diverse articles on corporate blogging.

Corporate blogging: Big companies are blogging, for better (Sun CEO's geeky but candid blog) or worse ('Wal-Marting across America')
A review of the best and the worst of corporate blogs in the United States.

Blogging for Dollars: It's not just a hobby - some small sites are making big money. Here's how to turn your passion into an online empire.
This article is less on point for our discussions about corporate blogging, but traces an interesting history of some big-name blogs and how some bloggers have turned a hobby into a very lucrative business.

BlogWrite for CEOs

Debbie Weil is a veteran journalist, blogger and author of The Corporate Blogging Book, which I recently aquired but haven't had a chance to read yet. She also writes an interesting blog called BlogWrite for CEOs, a great source of corporate blogging and social media links and information.

From her November 30 post on why corporations should embrace social media:

  • "The top-down, command-and-control approach to communicating a company's news and daily doings is giving way to something messier and more human. Namely, blogged bits and pieces, either from employees or from the CEO or other top execs, that tell a company's story much more effectively than any press release or official pronouncement ever could."

Another post from Novmeber 3 on advanced PR technologies in New York, some social media ideas for PR practitioners:

  • "Off the top of his head, he said, some ideas for PR folks. Use blogs, podcasts, online video for:
    - behind the scenes glimpses of corporate life
    - focus groups at Microsoft showing users trying to click and navigate confusing user interfaces
    - design prototypes
    - videos of employee's cubicles (all the stuff they hang up)
    - customer submissions (videos, fan sites, etc.)"

The sidebar of her blog has a comprehensive list of blogging CEOs.

A big list of government blogs

Via Ian Ketcheson, this interesting list of blogs from "Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Secretaries of State, and from government departments and ministries." Notably, it does NOT include politicians' blogs.

What's a cybrarian?

Miriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 6, 2006 was "cybrarian":

cybrarian \sye-BRAIR-ee-un\ noun: a person whose job is to find, collect, and manage information that is available on the World Wide Web

Example sentence: The library provided an e-mail address to submit inquiries to the cybrarian.

Did you know? We've been using "librarian" for the people who manage libraries since at least the beginning of the 18th century, and the word was used for scribes and copyists even earlier than that. "Cybrarian," on the other hand, is much newer; its earliest documented use is from 1992. "Librarian" combines "library" (itself from "liber," the Latin word for book) and the noun suffix "-an," meaning "one specializing in." When people wanted a word for a person who performed duties similar to those of a librarian by using information from the Internet, they went a step further and combined "cyber-," meaning "of, relating to, or involving computers or a computer network," with "librarian" to produce the new "cybrarian."

Since this is exactly what we're trying to do with our social media project, it seemed like a perfect title for our blog.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Inside the CBC

I just found this link to "Inside the CBC", the official blog of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I wish I had stumbled across it before! It's a really nice example of how an offical blog doesn't have to be officious.

In particular, check out the "about this blog" page for a description of how blogger Tod Maffin remains independent from and yet respectful toward editorial control from the mothercorp, and how they addressed the issue of official bilingualism.

Project proposal

We hope to use this blog to share our findings as we explore the intersection of social media and government communication. None of the posts here should be seen as anything other than the observations of a small team of communicators and our attempts to find, analyze and share the information that's currently available.

Here's the gist of our project, taken from the project proposal:

Blogs, wikis, RSS, YouTube, podcasts… the world of communications is being turned inside out by the new communications technologies known as social media or Web 2.0. There is a growing interest across the government in harnessing the power of these new technologies.

To be able to communicate in today’s hot-linked environment, we as government communicators need to know more than just the basic tools and platforms of social media. We need to understand how to best leverage these tools to understand our audiences, and to reach out to them in the ways in which they want to interact with us.

We propose to draft a discussion paper on three tangents: researching the best practices on how governments and the public sector are currently using blogs and social media; whether the our department should be taking advantage of these technologies; and, if so, the steps the we need to take to integrate social media in general, and blogs in particular, into our communications practices.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Welcome to our new blog! We are government of Canada communications professionals exploring the potential of social media in general, and blogs in particular, as communication tools. As we research the blogosphere, we'll share our findings with you.

Please feel free to join the conversation!