Blog Action Day – Stand Up, Take Action

A few topics came to mind as I reflect on this year’s Blog Action Day topic – Poverty. I had wanted to write a post personal experience and I thought of writing something relevant to this blog and my job – looking at how mobile phones could help with poverty in some emerging markets. (And some day, I might just post on that two topics).

But i figured, for now, I should highlight some initiatives/ organisations out there, supporting and fighting to end poverty and the opportunities for each of us to reach out and support/ do our part.

For a start, let’s look at what my own country, Singapore is doing? To support the Stand up 2008, a global initiative by the UN Millenium campaign in collaboration with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Singaporeans are organising a series of activities to “Stand Up, Take Action” together from 17 – 19 October. Check them out!

Thanks to my colleagues (Ray and Gavin) who brought Worldvision to our attention, Jon and I had recently decided to sponsor a child with the help of the organisation. It is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tacking the cause of poverty and injustice. We are extremely excited and very blessed to be in a position where we can afford to give and bless. I will probably share more once we finalise details.

Again, thanks to Jeremy, my colleague who knew of my obsession with books – brought to my attention the Room to Read organisation. They are doing things that are very close to my heart. The organisation partners with local communities throughout developing world to provide quality educational opportunities for children in the countries, striving to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.

And there are many other initiatives, organisations and resources out there. Mashable.com has put together a good list.

Annual Blog Action Day – Proverty

It’s that time of the year again – the Blog Action Day this year is looking to discuss the topic of proverty. For folks new to the Blog Action Day, it is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. On 15 October this month, all registered bloggers will post a post, video, podcast etc on the topic of “proverty”. Find out more by clicking on the banner on the right hand column of this blog or click here.

Last year, I posted on saving the environment

Using the power of the blogging community globally, discussing one single topic and raise different issues and perspectives on that topic – that is powerful! As of today, there are already 7643 bloggers registered, pledging to write a post on 15 October.

For those who are keen to join in, register your blog here and put up the cool banners on your blog to help spread the word.

Does celebrity still sell? Part 1

A few months back, I attended a conference in the Philippines and one of the speakers presented on the power of word of mouth marketing. I am a big fan of that but the speaker went on to share how he believed that “celebrity endorsement does not work!”.

This is a question a lot of marketers ask. There are also many thoughts around this question.

In a New York Times article, the journalist wrote about “How nothing sells like celebrity

Using celebrities for promotion is hardly new. Film stars in the 1940s posed for cigarette companies, and Bob Hope pitched American Express in the late 1950s. Joe Namath slipped into Hanes pantyhose in the 1970s, and Bill Cosby jiggled for Jell-O for three decades. Sports icons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods elevated the practice, often scoring more in endorsement and licensing dollars than from their actual sports earnings.

The speaker at the event showed a bus ad of Rain (a popular korean singer) endorsing a hair product and he went on to ask the audience, “how many of you believe that Rain actually use this product?” It is a valid question. I am not sure if I believed Rain does.

I asked my girlfriends (who are in marcomm and PR) what they think over coffee, and as usual, we all have very different views. The thoughts ranged from “depending on who the celebrity is” to “depending on whether the celebrity and the product are ‘believable’. My ex-colleague believes in celebrity slimming campaigns if she can see the before and after results. And interestingly enough, my best friend, Yen who is currently doing her Master degree in Marketing Communications also thinks that celebrity slimming endorsement works for her.

Jonathan, my other half thinks that celebrity endorsement works only for certain brands, mostly for awareness building, for example Maria Sharapova endorsing the the Canon Powershot cameras caught his attention.

GeekSugar.com posted the top 10 celebrity gadget endorsements that works and created awareness but not necessary resulted in purchase.

For me, while I agree with the speaker at the conference about the lack of credibility of Rain using the cheap hair care product he endorses, I disagree that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. I think it does. It depends on the objectives. Objectives of the campaign, the image and message the brand or product needs to communicate and what exactly does the celebrity has to do

My good friend, Walter Lim blogged about similar topic some while back – on VISA’s celebrity ad for the Olympic. Walter’s post was looking at effective ads and the celebrity they used. The ad was effective for VISA because it is a good ad or was it because it has Jackie Chan’s endorsement? Maybe both.

For me? It is about association. If i can associate a brand with the celebrity, it works for me. Kiera Knightley as the face for Chanel caught my attention and i could associate the product, brand and the celebrity together.

I am going to leave other thoughts to next post. Anyone believes celebrity endorsement is completely a waste of marketing/ PR dollars?

Resume 2.0 – Who are you online?

Ok. Yes. I have been neglecting my blog. Being BUSY is totally understated lately.

Brendan’s recent post shows this blog declining in activities, (currently at spot 39, declining at -20… ) but an increase in “sociability” This just means, I still “socialised” online somewhere, just that I did not update my blog!

Two weeks ago, I was also reminded by a call from an event organiser about my neglected blog. The organiser was trying to invite someone from my company to speak at an event and he went to my colleague and then for some reason, did some search on me and found my blog. In our first conversation over the phone, he said, “ah! i did my research and read from your blog that you are a very busy girl….”

And I went … “erm….”

Although this blog is totally public and nothing scandalous to hide, it suddenly felt strange that people are searching for you online before doing business with you. It reminds me of the fact that people DO search and read up on you nowadays online. Employers do. Recruiters definitely do. Employees do too (I searched for my currently bosses before I met them for interviews), together with many known or unknown people who are online.

I was reading Daryl’s blog post on “Your Online Identity (Or Is It Okay To Have Party Pictures On Facebook) and Brian Solis’ posts on The socialization of your personal brand Part 1,2 and 3.

Brian wrote:

… Truth be told, any search engine, whether social or traditional, is the resume – it’s the Wikipedia entry for the rest of us. It’s no longer what we decide to curate onto a piece of paper or onto one traditional one-page digital resume. It really is moot in a world when anyone can practically piece together your story without the help of a document designed to shape and steer our perception.

In Daryl’s post, he highlighted that in a class of 459 people, 75% of them said yes to using Facebook to screen prospective employees if they were an employer.

That leads me to think, perhaps in the near future, there is no longer a need to submit formal and properly crafted resumes but to send over links of your social networks for employers’ reference. Better still, assume that the recruiters and employers have “done their homework” to have searched for you online and by the time they called you, they have a fairly good idea of you are

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Other very interesting read:

Your Brand vs. the Brands You Represent by Brian Soli

Learning to be a Mary

It’s one of those days where you just sit in front of the laptop and started musing…

I was reading Walter’s blog post on Bringing Creativity Back . It is interesting that I am having very similar thoughts recently as I was reading two very inspirational books - The Last Lecture and Letters to Sam

Walter wrote…

Perhaps it is time for a change in my routine. Perhaps I need to take on a hobby beyond my usual runs, something which engages more than just my quadriceps, calves and hamstrings. Perhaps I should do some social work, contributing my expertise in writing, publicising and blogging.

In the last many months, I have allocated almost all my waking hours to work, travel, work, travel, eat, sleep, work and more travel. When I get the chance to meet up with some friends, I spent those time worrying about what I need to do for work when I get home.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining about my work. I love my job and my bosses have been trying to get me to take a break. Sometimes, when you are not leading a balanced life, you quickly run out of steam. Your body starts to fall apart (of course it does, when all you do is sit in front of the comp and eat your food at your comp and talk to your brother and mum on instant messenger on the comp). Your mind starts to feel unhappy (of course it does, when all you do is work. It began to wonder when it can go for a holiday or just watch Sex and the City DVDs, without thinking about work).

I was reading a Bible story that many might know of:-

Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I am not into preaching but this story is very inspiring. I am learning to be a “MARY!”

Pastor said something very true some weeks ago. He said, “Don’t be a public success and a private failure.” Not that I am failing in any ways, I’ve been so blessed but I know I can do better in leading a healthier and balanced life.

While I was reading the story about Mary and Martha, i began to think, at times, we are just sweating over so many small things. It is always a challenge to slow down, to rest, to “feed”, “recharge”, “renew” the body, mind/ soul.

So, Walter was right, we should always review what we are doing exactly. If it’s time to find lost joy, fun and creativity in life, go find it back!  We only get to live this life, once, so making full use of it is so important.

I am glad I am making small changes. I took up Body Combat classes and have been challenging myself to get out of office to go for the classes on time (and trust me, this itself is a tougher challenge than actually doing the combat) and making it a point to go at least 3 times a week (huge challenge)!!

I have also been going back to my favourite hobby  – READ! Jon continues to buy interesting books (audio books too) for me and I have been piling them up on the shelves, collecting dust.

So, while Walter is finding his creativity, I am finding the balance to life.

… it’s very rarely I post thoughts about life and personal stuff on this blog.. it’s just one of those days… :)

P.R.I.S.C.I.L.L.A – that’s my name

I was flipping The Sunday Times earlier and came across an article about people having weird names such as “Pepper, Bright, Twelve” etc.  A few weeks back, a friend told me a funny name of another friend, (pronounced Ab-Ce-Did), spelt - ABCD. I thought that was quite erm.. creative. Another friend’s friend called herself “Christmas”.

My pastor had named me “priscilla”, a name found in the bible (in book of ACTS)  during baptism and sometimes, I wished he had given me a shorter name like EVE, EvA, ANNA. Names that people will not mis-pronounced or try to shorten because, they are too lazy to spell in full.  

Over the years, I have gotten used to friends (new or old) who try to pronounce, spell my name as “precelia, priscela, presillia …. “and many other variations. As much as I do not really like it shortened as “Pris”, I figured, that is an acceptable and easy to remember version.

However, recently some folks had even gone to an extend of just calling me P.T. I totally hated it and contemplated telling them off. I think it’s just rude to send an email addressing someone as “hi PT”, without even knowing if she even like being addressed that way. There are some friends who have long Chinese names and deliberately picked out either the middle or last name, ie: my best friend prefer us to call her “YEN” which is the last character of her chinese name.

I was complaining to a friend earlier about this and he said, “haha, imagine if your name is Lenny Lee. Shorten it, becomes “Hey L.L” (folks who understand Hokkien, will know what it means).” 

So, I told Jon that maybe i should just add a nice and short middle name like a “Priscilla EVE Tan” and call myself EVE.

When I got the chance to help my parents name my little brother when he was born. I named him KEN.

Food for thought… when you start naming your kids.

No Flaming. Just Good Old Intelligent Posts

Recently, the local blogosphere is acting up and started some entertaining “flames”.

Wikipedia: Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users.

I was “entertained” for a very short while and decided that, time will be better spent reading some good old intelligent posts. Going through my hundreds of RSS feeds had been something I did on a daily basis some months ago. Work has taken over those time and I can only scan briefly over some news blogs lately. Today, I managed to get home earlier than usual and spent some time in front of my netnewswire.

Something crossed my mind, I remembered how mummy used to say to me when I was young, “read good books. read the classics. leave out the junk and those with bad writing.” When I grew up, she said, “Some magazines are worth the time, others obviously not. Don’t waste your money.” I totally love trashy chick-lits and the gossip magazines. BUt I have been good, I have got piles of C.S Lewis and George Eliot on my shelves, together with many other great books (all thanks to Jon, spoiling me and filing the shelves with books). If only mummy is more tech savvy, she would be telling me now to “go to bed and not waste time reading silly blog posts.”

For some reasons, I find that this blog is read by mostly communications students, PR folks and lecturers (I know, because you guys are nice enough to comment and email me) – both locally and in other countries. So, I thought, perhaps it might be good to share a couple of great blogs that have great writing and unique views (that mummy would have approved) and that I have enjoyed reading:-

Here goes…

Jeremy Pepper’s POP! PR JOts. One of my favourite posts in his – What does the P in PR stand for?. It was a fairly old post but READ IT!

Brendan Cooper, the friendly social media planner. All time favourite is his monthly PR blog index. Imagine those great effort of analysing and pulling together 100 PR blogs every month and ranking them. (And yes, my blog has been slipping every month, heh.. can’t blame anyone except for my lack of posts and activities) but otherwise, this guy has got some real cool stuff (social, new media and PR) in the blog.

I enjoyed almost everything in Brian Solis’ PR 2.0. Enough said.

I found David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now after I read his great book and have been a big fan of his ever since. So, check out both the blog and the book, esp. if you are into communication, new media or marketing.

Next, a very good friend, Kevin Lim directed me to Paul Stamatiou’s blog last year. Paul’s blog is not exactly into PR or marketing but more on tech. If you are into web 2.0 and new technologies, this 22 year-old blogger is definitely worth checking out! My favourite post recently is his review on WALLLLLLL….EEEEEE. I love Wall.E

And not forgetting my dear friend, Kevin Lim. He covers almost – EVERYTHING. His blog covers mainly technology, but be surprised and find different interesting observations from kevin! BTW, my blog is set up with huge help from him! Theory.isthereason is probably one of those blogs that I spent most time reading and commenting on. A search in his blog for my name, finds previous posts and stuff we discussed and commented on. He is currently in Buffalo and many of us back in Singapore is looking forward to him coming home!

That’s all for now! Happy reading!

I Love Audio Books

Most of my friends know that I am a huge bookworm. Both Jon and I are regulars at Kinokuniya bookstore in Singapore and Amazon is our favourite online store. When Kindle was launched, I really wanted to get it but I held back. My handbag is currently filled with all kinds of little gadgets (I tend to carry two ipods and several mobile phones). I don’t think I’ll be able to carry one more device.

So, the last couple of months, I have started buying audio books. It all started with me being really busy with work and traveling a lot. Reading a book on the plane gives me headache. I can’t really read when I am in a cab too. I used to read 2-3 hours per night but lately, I am so tired after work, the moment my head hits the bed, I go into dreamland. Audio books became the “solution!” I convert all the tracks to MP3 and save them onto my iPods. Easy! No need to drag a pile of books with me when I travel or go for holiday and no need to bring additional “reading gadget.” I can now pack 10 “books” or more with me everyday and listen to them while I am commuting or when I wait for hours at airports.

In my last post on Social Media books, a lot of those books are also available in audio cds. I did a quick check on Wikinomics and The Cluetrain Manifesto and they have the audio version!

What I also like about audio books is, it reminds me of childhood – when Mum and Dad used to read to us (my younger brother and I) before bed time. And then, they tend to stop half way into the story and insisted that we should be sleeping. I love having people read to me. Oh! I have an audio version of the NKJV Bible too. Being a church-goer and a fan of a female preacher, Joyce Meyer, I have been stocking up her audio books recently, as well as C.S Lewis’s.

Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think audio books are really popular in Asia, specifically in Singapore (where I am based now). I can hardly find any audio books at the retail stores. The only few i found are from BORDERS and they are really expensive. The good thing is, iTunes has a really good selection and there is always the wonderful Amazon.

I am not saying I am giving up books (in print) or magazines (that are not available in cds), I am glad that I am enjoying the alternative to reading books!

Interesting read:-

Last year, New York Times reported on a budding author who recorded a short audiobook for her unfinished print. The audiobook climbed to the top of iTunes’ best-selling books after she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I think all new books from now on should have the unabridged audio version!

Bookshelf: Social and New Media

I was just looking at some of the searches that landed in one of the top posts in this blog – Social Networking Book Sites. I wrote that post quite a long while back and it constantly came up as top. Some of the common searches that ended at my blog includes “social media books, new media and social networking”


That post is not exactly about books on social networking but more of online cataloging sites (such as Shelfari and the Library Thing) that allow users to catalog their books, connecting with other book lovers and share reviews/book lists.

I did a quick Google search on the keywords “social networking books” and true enough, that blog post came up third in the first page of results. I have received a couple of emails from a few folks who surfed in and asked if i could recommend any books on social networking/ social media. I replied two of them and then I got really busy and didn’t manage to get to the rest. So, I thought, I might as well list down a couple of books that I personally thought are pretty cool. Walter Lim recommended a few too (via Facebook).

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the way businesses Talk with Customers - by Robert Scoble

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – by Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams

The New Influencers: A Marketer’s guide to the new social media – by Paul Gillin

Now is Gone: a primer on new media for executives and entrepreneurs - by Geoff Livingston and Brian Solis

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies - by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff

Join the Conversation: How to engage marketing -weary consumers … – by Joseph Jaffe

Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution - by Justin Kirby & Paul Marsde

I am sure there are alot of other good books out there. I am currently reading Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae that Walter gave quite a good review on.

The book that I am trying to get my hands on now is – Presentation Zen - by Garr Reynolds.

Book Description
FOREWORD BY GUY KAWASAKI — Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — presentationzen.com — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making “slide presentations” in today’s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

Bloggers: Quantity VS Quality

Blame it on work. I have been unable to do much outside of work. Now that I am taking a short break, I can start writing..

Several topics and thoughts went through my mind the last few days and I shall try to jot them down in this and next couple of posts.

One of my colleagues came to Singapore from Sunnyvale to work on a project with me and we had a chat about how different the bloggers are in Singapore VS those in the U.S . He was highly amused at the “type” of bloggers that show up at events and the things they blog about.

I was discussing the same topic with another friend who commented that, perhaps the blogosphere here is not as sophisticated and generally still revole around recreational writing rather than niche blog posting. For example, I have always been trying to find influential technology experts who blog and have a healthy traffic in Singapore. I can only think of, perhaps 2-3 right now. If i am a client, trying to reach out to tech bloggers here, i have extremely limited options and would probably end up raeching out to tier 2 (and slightly less tech-savvy) bloggers.

I guess, this post is also directed to the social media consultants who are constantly advising clients to include bloggers outreach in PR/ marketing campaigns. It is definitely more than relationship building with the bloggers, we need to also know what we want to tell and WHO we want to tell it to.

Why would I want a popular food blogger (who might have 20,000 readers) whose interest is in food, restaurant reviews and receipes to try force a new high-tech application launch to his face and get him/ her to write about it?

If i am announcing a business strategy, why would i get a 17-year-old blogger (regardless of how popular his blog is) who writes in broken English to review our announcement?

Reach is one thing, influence is another. Quality (as in targeted audience and type of blogs) is definitely key. As a client, if i were to hold a bloggers outreach event (ie: in the office), to launch a new product, I would probably love to read/ hear about what the bloggers think of the product, ask intelligent questions about it and even if the post is controversial/ negative, at least it helps the client /company understand what users are thinking. What a client probably doesn’t necessary need is the blogger’s thoughts about the furniture, the carpet, the toilet signboard or the noodles he/she ate during the event and no mention about the product. When this happen, I can’t help but wonder where the problem lies.

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Some interesting blog posts:-

Brendan Hodgson wrote about “There’s more to digital PR than social media

Brian Solis on “Making Mistakes and Amends in Blogger and Media Relations

Kevin Lim’s (non-social media post) but a hot topic on iPhone in Singapore

The Social Media Strategists – Do we need them?

Last week, I replied to a list of questions that Kevin posted on the topic of “would you hire a social media strategist?” . It’s an interesting question, – one that many of us in marketing, communications, PR, new media field are questioning.

I’ve given my replies to Kevin and looking forward to his next post on the compilation of thoughts from different people on the topic. (part 2 of his post was updated here) Meantime, I am gearing this post to a different direction. I am more interested to understand what the “social media strategists” themselves (and here, I mean, those who do it for living and not bloggers who blogs for fun or passion and charging people for attending event, calling themselves experts) think of their value to companies and the audiences.

Are they merely the connector between the clients/ companies they represent and the audiences? Will the role be a “stand-alone” or an integrated one , meaning this person will at the same time, manage other forms of communications ie: marketing/ traditional PR?

Are social media strategists in our midst explaining their roles clearly to us (the employers or even the mass audience). They are another layer of (for the lack of better word) “barrier” between companies and the audiences now, and if so, what does this layer do?

Steve Rubel presented an interesting post on his views about “3 internet careers that soon won’t exist” and one of them is a social media manager/ strategist.

Jeremiah Owyang, responded in his post “The need for the social media manager” . However, he also agreed that “social media skills will eventually become a normal bullet point in nearly every marketing resume…”

As far as I know, most of the social/ new media experts are sitting in the same offices and integrated into public relations agenciess that runs a digital department.

So, back to Kevin’s question, what qualification does a social media strategist need? I believe, to answer that, we need to ask, “what is the exact role of a social media strategist?” and from there, we can see the skill sets required.

To me, right now, this person should be a voice for the people/ audiences and at the same time, an evangelist for the companies/ agencies they represent. This person, shouldn’t be just an expert in technology or the “new” media. How do you actually know what’s NEW when you have no experience in the “old”?  For a start, i have a strong urge to say, a bullet point in the social media strategist resume should be “communciations skill” and being a strategist will also require him/ her to have some business sense. Otherwise, why would a company hire you if it’s not making a difference to the business?

Heh, i can see my social media strategist friends sending me hate mails soon. :)

 

 

PR and Social Media in Asia

I stumbled upon this wiki on social media when I was doing random surfing this morning about PR in Asia. It is really quite interesting and I believed it is put together by some university students.

I’ve been invited to a couple of social media events/ gatherings and the discussion topics have always been focused on which tools/ networks/ channels/ methods are best to reach out to the audiences. I realised there is always a tendency to generalise too much and assume that what works in US will work in Asia when we discuss marketing communications, public relations and social media.

The last couple of months, I’ve been traveling to different parts of Asia and spending time, trying to understand the different markets that I am managing in Asia Pacific region. It’s interesting to note how diverse and unique each Asian market is when it comes to managing PR/ communications in each country. It is even tougher to come up with a regional campaign that works across several Asia countries. When we talk about Web 2.0, PR, communications in general, at times we forget that there is the cultural element. Communications in an emerging market versus communications in Latin America will obviously be very different. How consumers in different market consume information is also very different and that should affect the way we plan our communications campaigns. As much as we have all heard that in the Web 2.0 world, it is all about the people, the online communities gathering together, sharing information, contributing to conversations, everything is becoming  more globalised. However, as I’ve observed and agreed with the students who wrote in the wiki, i think we’ve missed several points.

So obviously despite the market’s globalization process, there are differences between countries …because of cultural factors…which are partly responsible for the marketing environment in that market. Asia is a region with many layers: different languages, different cultures, and different technology preferences….all in a region filled with different countries, laws, etc. It does pose a tough challenge, not only for inter but also for Intra-national communication.

These observations are quite accurate. There are a lot of so called “social media experts” out there who sometimes called me up and said, “hey, we can offer you help on regional campaigns using social media….”

My immediate thought is, do you really know how people in India consume information? Have you stepped into Bangalore and understand the language difference? Do you understand the technological great divide between different cities in India or do you know what’s really big in Vietnam right now? Do you know that, web/ PC penetration is so much lower than mobile phone penetration in many Asia countries? So, it makes me wonder at times how companies and agencies hire their “experts” who hardly step out of their own country and hardly understand communciations on the web, let alone the 2.0 or the ability to reach/ engage consumers out there in Asia. Sure, some of us may understand how the web2.0 and how PR works (in general) but to put together some really successful campaigns, it takes much, much, much more than that.

In HK for instance, there are three primary communities in Hong Kong. The expatriates, who favor English, the local Chinese whose first language is Cantonese and the increasing numbers of mainland Chinese immigrants who use Mandarin. These differences are important to businesses as based on their target audience; their medium of advertisement has to change.

While we raved and make a huge fuss about Facebook, nobody really bothers about it in countries in Asia. In China, Korea and Japan and other emerging markets, there are some really big and powerful social networks that are locally relevant to the people.

When it comes to PR, it doesn’t really matter if Techcrunch or New York Times are raving about a certain product or website, if i’s not locally relevant to ie: Thailand or Vietnam, (that are not even english speaking markets) or big markets like Korea, India and China, honestly, the key media there don’t really care.

I have always hoped to find more great bloggers, influencers and thought leaders in Asia who cover topics on social media and communications, especially those who have not only in-country knowledge but cross-cultural, cross countries expertise. If you are one of them, please do drop me a note. We’ve heard so much from the US and UK folks, I think it is time to hear from Asia’s point of view on the topics of Social Media and new media. (honestly, it’s really not about knowing how to set up a second life account and far more than using facebook to set up an event invite).

Are we really influencing our audiences?

My stack of new books from Amazon.com had arrived! I am now flipping through Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae and Brian Solis & Geoff Livingston’s Now is Gone.

Meatball Sundae

Both have some really interesting points about new media and new media marketing. Since I have not finished reading them, I shall reserve any comments for now. Both are definitely worth reading!Recently, I’ve observed that some PR folks have decided to completely ignore / not get involved with the new media, leaving them in the hands of the community managers. I am not saying that’s right or wrong, I am just considering what it means for us, as PR professionals, to only care about getting what our clients or companies want us to say to our “target media”. Do we, at some point consider what our CONSUMERS are thinking, saying, commenting, wanting, needing from our company?

A recent chat with a PR friend made me ponder more as she pointed out that, “UH! It’s so hard to CONTROL bloggers, sometimes, they get their facts all wrong and refused to hear us out..”

Another girlfriend commented, “Why pre-brief bloggers? Why even bother talking to XX business magazine? I just want to get this story out in 3 key dailies and i get my REACH! It’s just too much effort and trouble to talk to XX business magazine and YY trade media because their reach is so much lesser…” 

There are some truths in each comment but something tells me, we are moving backward rather than forward. I realised what happened to many PR people. We are extremely busy folks, sometimes we get so bogged down by work, we become very reactive and we just keep on doing doing doing the same things, hoping for different results. We forget about exploration, learning new tools, new communications strategies as we move on into a new technological era.

At times, we are so narrow-minded. We are given a set of “key communications statements” from our clients or our corporate communciations department and we follow them so strictly, we forgot that our consumers and the media are not stupid to believe a  set of statements that doesn’t make any sense to anyone else but us.

I realised I am trying to make several points here. I guess, what I am trying to think through is, as much as I believe and blogged quite extensively about how PR folks should always go back to basic and get our messaging/ foundation right before we move on to new media. On the other hand, there is frustration with PR people who are too afraid to move on and get too engrossed in trying to make sure that they have coverage in the 1 or 2 newspapers (that might have readership of 200,000) but is that enough?

Some XX company might have a full page coverage in The Sunday Times (Singapore’s most-read broadsheet) last week but I was on the plane, my boyfriend was sick and slept through the day and my brothers were out and not touched the papers. So, even though we might be the target audience of that XX company, we missed it.

So, explain to me… how is the excuse of targeting only 3 key media every time we have news announcements (because they have the most reach) ensure that most, if not all our target audience (consumers) read about our announcements? How is that making an influence? How is that moving the needle, making an impact for the business you are in?

My good friend and a fantastic blogger, Melvin Yuan recently stated in his blog post…

In the same way, PR professionals could never master the craft of Influence because our tools for the task were ineffective (think press releases, articles and events) and our measurement was flawed (think size of news coverage and the ad-dollar equivalent). Both never did translate to direct impact and measurable results that businesses really need.

But today we have the right tools (think blogs, micro-sites, e-mails, search engines etc.), the right knowledge (in search, digital storytelling and social media), and better ways to measure business (not communication) results (think click-throughs, readership and online decisions).

We have what it takes to communicate directly, track and measure results effectively, making Influence as much a science as it is an art.

My starting point @ Yahoo!

A friend asked me, “You must be feeling really sh**ty about your new job now…all those uncertainties and distractions… do you regret your decision to move to the new place?”

 

I have been avoiding speculations or engage in any form of discussions about some topics lately…

 

I also didn’t want to turn this blog into a “publicity channel” for whatever I am doing at work. I still would like to keep this blog as a platform for explorations on PR, new media, technology as well as my favourite topic – books!

 

However, I did think about my friend’s question and here’re my thoughts…. Hell no! No regrets at all. Although I admit, there are days that are tougher, what is really special about my new job is, people are extremely passionate about what they are doing at Yahoo! It is a very different experience. I had my fair share of bad clients and bad colleagues in the past jobs who made going to work feels like the end of the world.

 

Right now, I am busy. This is easily one of the busiest jobs I ever had but I am loving it! In my very short time (this is my 6th week) with the company, I can’t help but noticed a few things about the place – what I was told before I joined the company was true… it has a great culture. Beside the great view at my work desk (next to the full-length glass window, on the 37th floor of Suntec City Tower), I love working with alot of truly great, talented and extremely cool people.

 

Sure, it is sad to read some negative news coverage but what I find encouraging is, everyone works together and despite tough times, we are having fun and we work hard to achieve what we set out to do.

 

And this week, we see some great results as Yahoo! made various announcements at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. One of which is the new Yahoo! oneConnect (read more on TechCrunch) and read what many others wrote.. .

 

A few of the innovative features of oneConnect are its Pulse feature, which lets users see what their friends are up to, including their status, profile updates and recommendations based on their social network pages, and Status, which lets users see their contacts by their most recent status updates on social networks, as well as update their own status on their social networks and automatically broadcast it to their friends” – RCR WirelessNews

 

Yahoo continues firing on all cylinders in the mobile area despite the looming presence of Microsoft‘s aggressive moves to acquire the Web giant.” – InternetNews

“oneConnect is a very promising and I’m not surprised Yahoo is moving ahead,” Gartner analyst Mike McGuire told InternetNews.com. “Yahoo can’t be paralyzed by what Microsoft says it wants to do — it has these developments and deals in place and as [CEO] Jerry Yang has said to his employees, they have to focus on what they need to work on.”

“Has Yahoo beaten Google to the punch?” – TechWorld

 

“OneConnect is part of a strategy to open up Yahoo services to work side by side with those of rival services, thereby making itself a more relevant starting point for users seeking to find what’s going on the web.” ZDNet UK

On a side note, the coming Monday is my 30th birthday. To me, it is a brand new chapter of life – a new starting point to more great things. I have a lot of goals set for the next 5 years and I have been very blessed. I am surrounded by great friends, colleagues and family who have been so awfully wonderful. Thank you to all those who sent me all the lovely birthday wishes, gifts and stuff!

 

 

Flickring away

I was given free upgrade to Flickr pro account two weeks ago (one of the great perks of being staff). I am in the process of (still) downloading the images from the Vegas/ SF trip. Work has taken up quite a bit of time but no, I am not giving up this blog (yet).

I noticed that a lot of bloggers are spending less time blogging but continue to be “social” on other networks such as twitter, facebook and flickr. Sometimes, I find my flickr pictures receiving more comments and views than my blog posts. I guess, the good old saying of “a picture paints a thousand words” is the reason why many people (myself included) start spending a little more time putting up our favourite pictures that document our interests and life.

A quick look at my current flickr, you can almost tell Jon and my obsession with monkeys.

A couple of weeks back, I read in The New York Times:

As part of an effort to expand access to its photograph collections and tap the collective knowledge of user-generated content, the Library of Congress Wednesday launched a pilot project with photo-sharing site Flickr to publish some 3,000 photos.

The key goals of this pilot project named The Commons are to firstly give you a taste of the hidden treasures in the huge Library of Congress collection, and secondly to show how your input of a tag or two can make the collection even richer.

My friend, Ivan Chew wrote a fantastic post about it at his Rambling Librarian blog. (read more here, especially the part about whether community blogging will work).

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