Saturday, October 20, 2007

Session Four Summary

Lots of interesting stuff going on with the influence of social media. A range of topics were covered in the live blogging, but here is a little summary of what else was said.

Heyl mentioned that the learning curve for social media is very large and she as a businesswoman in the communications realm decided to offer only social media as a means of communication, not traditional communications. She said if she offered the traditional form everyone would choose it over social media because they aren't familiar with social media.

So does that mean traditional media or journalism is dead? Most of the speakers said no that it is not, and journalism is still an important means of communication. Journalism and public relations do have different agendas in the form of their message and means of communicating that message, although now some of those lines are being blurred.

Heyl mentioned she has to remind her client to "throw control out the window." We don't need to control the message, just manage it.

The best way to becoming a great communicator is to get in the game early. Become a blogger, she said, "make friends before you have to, then when something happens your blogger friends will tell you about it and be there to support you."

McGinty covered the Athens political scene, where bloggers were doing their part to be involved in the online world, like blogs and youtube, and in effect gave some sway to local political candidates or movements.

The conversation turned to on- and off-the-record comments in the online world and offline world and how they are different or if they are at all. Neumeier offered some great advice in relation to those journalist bloggers saying, " if you don't want it read or blogged about, just don't say it!"

Bloggers and journalists seem to have a competitive relationship, even though many times they are after different audiences or objectives. McGinty thinks that mainstream media will always exist because of the commitment to remain unbiased. Blogs, however, will serve as an echo chamber for people to respond to those unbiased reports. Hollander stated that blogging is often "reactive" and that is a fine. People need a way to voice opinions, questions, concerns and this is just a new means of doing that. As he mentioned people have been talking to neighbors over backyard fences for ages, now that fence may just be a comment box on your "neighbor's" blog.

There were a few fears voiced from an audience member about how to gain some of these new skills. In an environment where it seems you can't gain experience through an internship unless you already have some experience, how do you learn those initial steps to separate you from the rest of the pool? The moderator mentioned he is not always looking for a good writer, as most employees demand, but a good communicator. You can learn to be a good communicator through being involved in the social media world.

LinkedIn was brought up as another business alternative to Facebook. But many people questioned the usefulness and helpfulness of this social networking site. There was general agreement that it may be lacking something, but it is also filled with older generation of workers who may not be as savvy as the younger Facebook-crazy generation on other social networking sites.

Finally, the real purpose of social media was discussed. Neumeier offered that some people just immerse themselves in one line of thinking. One channel is all you need. Heyl disagreed, citing relationships with people whom she has very little in common with as a driving force behind being involved in these tools.

Overall a very interesting and informative session. I hope everyone else learned as much about what is happening in Georgia right now as I did!

Session Four Podcast

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