Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry x-mas

Happy Holidays everyone.

May your wishes come true.

-- Robin Low

Monday, December 21, 2009

Astroturfing: Effects on Social Media

Wiki: Astroturfing is a form of propaganda whose techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause. In the UK this technique is better known as "rent-a-crowd" after the successful "rent-a-crate" business.

Online: The practice of astroturfing is faking support for a product or cause.

I feel that it is okay to promote your company's products and service using Social Media but Social Media does not condone astroturfing, and the effects may be severe.

These attempts to manipulate the media and public opinion seem to be on the rise. An article on Guardian cites that such practice is commonly found, but for Social Media, when you are blogging or tweeting to build relationship and trust, one simple mistake can be very severe.

This constantly happens in countries with controlled press. When someone wants to prove a point, but no one ever replies, in controlled media, there will be perfect, planned responses to the news article even before it is posted, and when it is up, the perfect responses will soon follow. Fake comments are prevalent when you do not see the responses, but when you are on Social Media, savvy Internet users can usually see through this, and it will cause a loss of trust and even affect branding.

There are a few good articles on Astroturfing, and it is commonly known as a Social Media "Don't". Capturetheconversation has a great article on this.

Astroturfing can be seen in Facebook Games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille, where you are encouraged to say you are a fan of it, just to get some "rewards" I feel that it cheapens the real fans who truely love the game, and you cannot tell whether people are fans because of the rewards or they just love it.

Health Insurers Caught Paying Facebook Gamers Virtual Currency To Oppose Reform Bill <_ This article shows how devious some of the lobbyist are using this technique to garner support. Health insurance industry trade groups opposed to President Obama's health care reform bill are paying Facebook users fake money -- called "virtual currency" -- to send letters to Congress protesting the bill.

A Belkin employee was caught red-handed looking for people to write positive reviews of one of their products. This article shows us how sad some of these practices are, and when you are caught, it reflects badly on the company.

In short, in social media, you need to build long term relationship and trust. Astroturfing is a great way to lose that trust. Use Social Media to promote your products, but be true to yourself and your followers, do not Astroturf.

-- Robin Low

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Education

Social Media has spawned off many great knowledge sharing on the Internet. Today, we can find all sorts of free information, including numerous recipes, How to Guides, reviews and other useful tips.

Many things that we know about in the past like encyclopedias, travel guides, and other information books we used to get may be going extinct as faster and more updated information are available online.

As Blogs and Wikis are becoming more main stream, vast knowledge can be found and searched online. With the progress of Web 2.0, the technology is ripe to share experiences, knowledge and information freely, and I feel getting valuable feedback and comments is very important as it furthers the learning process.

I do put up a lot of information I learn or come across on the Internet on this blog, and I share my presentations as I feel learning too is a 2 way process. No matter how expert you think you are on a particular subject, (Even if you have a PHD) there may be other good opinions you can learn from.

I read this article on today and was inspired by the great ideas of sharing lecture notes online and forming study groups and sharing knowledge and information.

Why does education need to be expensive and exclusive?

There is a saying that the rich want to stay rich and powerful, and by making knowledge exclusive, they can prevent others from moving up the social ladder. I agree that Educational resources should be as free as possible, and all with the capacity to learn should not be excluded.

In Singapore, there seem to be an economy for selling "Past Exam Papers" from the different schools, and most of these are not very cheap. I find this process and system rather opportunistic as something like past years exam papers can essentially be free information on the Internet, but the opportunistic companies decide to waste paper and print these past exam papers and sell them for a profit.

Though many may argue that in Social Media, much of the information is unmonitored and there are tons of spam and junk, I still feel that there is a good chance, through twitter and other form of Social Media, a blog with good informational value will still be easily found as people recommend it to their friends.

Thanks to technology, one of the core functions of a university - distributing information through its professors - is no longer entirely in its control. It’s a potentially unsettling development for universities and professors, and it has found its way into court, as professors take on commercial note services and grapple with how much to limit the recording and even filming of their lectures. And as it grows easier to publish online and as more and more people gain ready access to the Web, the issue seems likely to only grow.

Some may say, “it’s very hard to keep control of material that finds its way onto the Web.”

I feel however, a good and strong university, when they provide free lecture notes, will actually enhance their brand image as they show thought leadership. The experience you get and the knowledge you learn when you interact with fellow students and lecturers is much more enriching that the simple lecture notes you receive.

As with a free recipe for cocktails, the best way to taste it is to go to a bar with an experienced bartender, even when you have the exact recipe.

-- Robin Low

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boston Police Twitter makes Department look "Human"

Many companies started to use twitter, and so did Government Agencies. Many fail to use Social Media Properly, and often use it as "Just another broadcast Channel".

Though it can be set up that way, companies and agencies who set up Social Media as a form of broadcast channel, I feel, are missing the main point of Social Media -- It is a 2 way communication channel.

I've sent questions and tried to communicate with many companies and Government Departments, and often, I just get a complete silence. From reporting a broken link they have tweeted or asking a question about some vague policies they have, many of these companies hide behind a "cold veil" of silence and just fail to communicate.

However for Boston Police, this was not the case.

The Boston Police use Twitter (@boston_police) to keep the public informed and also respond to questions and replies. They use it to post breaking police-type information that's useful to the public, such as roads closed due to car accidents, crime data, big arrests, etc.

I felt that this response on Twitter is Great. It was professional, and handled very well. Boston Police being on Twitter, gives the department a human angle when such a response is received, reminding us that the police after all, are human beings too.

-- Robin Low

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I slept with Tiger Woods

This is the first of my series of videos to show how ridiculous tabloids are, and how people are willing to be in front of the camera to say things that my hurt others, just for fame.

I'm not talking about the people in my video, but the people to volunteer to be interviewed by Tabloids to say that they slept with Celebrities. Some want money, but most are just about the 2 minute fame!

I managed to put together this video in about 4 hours, and thanks to the people on the street, I managed to get them to say that they are "celebrities" and they sleep with Tiger Woods.

I would like to use Social Media to show how ridiculous some of these claims are, and hope by starting a "I slept with Tiger Woods" Campaign, people will slowly forget about the rumors that is circulating and just leave Tiger Alone!

So if you support the Champ, please join in and do a video of yourself or your friends, or just people on the street, and tell them to pretend to be a celebrity and say the following: "Hi, I'm (insert name here), and I slept with Tiger Woods."

Simply reply to the video and hopefully, we can have enough videos out there that the other rumors and tabloid junk become less fun and interesting and the world can leave him alone!

Besides, its great fun making this video and everyone on the video enjoyed it.

Have a great time watching this video.

Please use the above link to comment and post your video in reply as well!!

-- Robin Low

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods Accident - Case Study (cont)

The following are the rumors gathered:

1) Rachel Uchitel is having an affair with Tiger Woods.

2) Elin Nordegren hit Tiger Woods with a golf club in a domestic dispute and chased Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods had to drive barefooted and as Elin Nordegren smashed the rear windows of his Escalade, and as he turned around, he hit a tree and a hydrant.

3) Tiger Woods and his wife argued before the accident about the National Enquirer publishing a story alleging that Woods had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess, and that they recently were together in Melbourne, where Woods competed in the Australian Masters.

4) Jaimee Grubbs, 24, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, tells this week’s edition of Us Weekly magazine that she had a 31-month affair with Woods, starting in April 2007, and that she has more than 300 text messages — some of them described as “racy” — to prove it.

Tiger Woods Accident - Case Study

The following are the facts gathered:

Facts Gathering.

1) Tiger Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree on Nov 27 at 2:25 am.

2) Tiger Woods suffered facial injuries. (Not confirmed if it is from the crash)

3) Tiger Woods got a $164 fine and four points being added to his driver's license.

4) Tiger Woods withdrew from his own tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, explaining that he would not play again until 2010 as a result of the injuries he suffered.

5) The back windows of the SUV Tiger Woods drove was smashed.

6) Jaimee Grubbs, 24, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, tells Us Weekly magazine that she had a 31-month affair with Woods, starting in April 2007, and that she has more than 300 text messages — some of them described as “racy” — to prove it. Kalika Moquin, ia another woman who allegedly hooked up with Tiger Woods.

7) Photos of Tiger Woods and Rachel Uchitel surfaced.

8) Tiger Woods was found without shoes.

9) Elin Nordegren Tiger Wood's Supermodel Wife was wielding a golf club when the police and ambulance arrived.

10) The story's longevity endures because of Tigers denial. If Tiger came out with the truth, the story would have ended.

11) Tiger Woods hired Mark NeJame a well known lawyer who practiced criminal defence, even though for Tiger Wood's case, the "minor accident" did not require him to have a lawyer.

12) Tiger Woods is still silent but he is one of the top searched topics on Google and a trending topic on Twitter.

Tiger may be worried by the squeaky clean image he built up, he is a brand, and his image does worth more than most companies.

Tiger Woods was this year confirmed as the world's first athlete to make a billion dollars. Here is a rundown of the endorsement deals he has acquired over the years.

General Motors - worth $10.9 million (£6.6m) per year and ended in December 2008.
Titleist - five-year deal worth $20 million (£12.07m).
General Mills - financial arrangements not disclosed.
American Express - two five-year deals ended in 2007.
Accenture -financial arrangements not disclosed.
Nike - five-year deal worth $40 million (£24.14m).

Woods begins his involvement in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series of video games.

Nike contract extended for five years and worth $105 million (£63.3m).

Woods gets involved in the launch of Buick's Rendevous SUV.

Buick renew Woods's contract for another five years in a deal understood to be worth $40 million (£24.14m).

Woods collaborates with TAG Heuer to launch the world's first professional gold watch.

Woods signs a new six-year contract with EA Sports - the company behind his video game series.

Together with Thierry Henry and Roger Federer, Woods becomes an ambassador for the Gillette Champions marketing campaign. The deal is believed to be worth between $10-20 million.
Gatorade announce that Woods will have his own brand of sports drink. Over five years, experts predict the deal to be worth in excess of $100 million (£60.3m)

Crisis Management: Tiger Woods Accident

Crisis Management: Tiger Woods Accident

Case Study

Tiger Woods, a well known Professional Golf Player injured in an accident. According to a patrol accident report, Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree at 2:25 am in the early hours of Friday morning and suffered facial injuries as a result of the incident.

As a well known public figure and a highly endorsed athlete, the media started to speculate over what conditions inside the Woods home might have caused him to have an accident. And to satisfy the public's insatiable curiosity for the details of celebrities' lives, tabloid media started to dig deep and assigned unwarranted significance to the accident even when the police say that the accident on Friday was neither alcohol nor drug related. Woods was cited for careless driving, fined $164 and no criminal charges are being pursued, the Florida Highway Patrol said on Tuesday.

However, Woods remained silent and said, "This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way." Rumors started to circulate about Woods is having an affair and Elin Nordegren, Tiger Wood's Wife was also reported at the scene of his accident, brandishing a golf club she reportedly used to get in Woods' car and free him, which Woods called "courageous" in his statement, but there are rumors that the wounds on Wood's face is due to the golf club.

US Weekly did the interview with this newest woman claiming a 2 1/2 year affair with the married Woods.

Tiger Woods has carefully protected his image during his years atop the professional golf world, but in the wake of tabloid allegations of infidelity and a still unexplained early morning car accident after Thanksgiving, that image is now being scrutinized.

For every moment of silence, more questions are raised and rumors created about the Woods family. "Tiger Woods" is a trending topic on Twitter and a popular subject on YouTube. If silence is the strategy the corporate sponsors want to adopt, are there social media strategies that can be adopted on behalf of Tiger Woods to allow Tiger Woods to battle and put aside the rumors without Tiger actually coming out and making a statement?


As a public relations practitioner, I feel that the best solution is for Tiger to come out and tell the truth. Let all the rumors come to an end and just give the harsh truth. Of course, if the accusation of him having an affair is true, he should consult his wife, come to terms with his wife and perhaps break the truth together. Whether his wife forgives him or not, the truth should be out there to prevent other speculation, then an apology that his behavior is not acceptable as he is a role model would make him look human, and in time, his fans will forgive him as he is still the #1 Golf Player and he can get back to focus on his game.


However, if I was a Public Relations consultant hired for this crisis management and Tiger Woods was unavailable to comment on anything due to contractual agreements from his sponsors, I would do the following:

1) Gather the facts through investigating the scene and get what ever is avaialble.

2) Search the internet and social media for all the rumors on Tiger Woods.

3) Construct Blogs, Tweets, YouTube Videos, to do the following:

a) Show how some of these rumors are hilarious and so far from the truth. (Funny sells, and can go viral)
b) Shed more light on the facts, and share any available information. (Truths)
c) Create spin off content that is ridiculous about the incident, get laughs to ease the rumors.

4) Monitor the public opinion and social media for the new development in the crisis.

5) Participate and encourage the hilarious and ridiculous videos, hopefully creating a lighthearted side to the crisis, and laugh it off.