Category Archives: Features

PROpenMic.org Traffic :: One Year Anniversary

Our PR social network has been in action for one year, as of April 1st.  I thought you might like to know how we’re doing.  I’d also appreciate your feedback on the network.  We can’t get better without hearing from your members (and those that haven’t joined, yet, too).

Here’s an update on PROpenMic‘s traffic over the first year. Only April ’08 through February ’09 (11 months) are available.

I’ve used publicly available information from Compete.com and Alexa.com.  They are services used by media buyers to determine rates for ad buys, for instance. Continue reading

Update of PROpenMic’s Activity and Membership

PROpenMic will have been in existence for nine months at the end of January. We launched on, of all days, April 1, 2008.

Previously, I’ve shared two updates on PROpenMic’s activity. The first was after six months, PROpenMic celebrates six months online :: How are we doing compared to other sites? More recently, I posted a mini-update Update of PROpenMic’s Activity and Membership.

Today I’m sharing the latest news.

First, I want to offer up some caveats. If you don’t want the caveats, then go ahead to the numbers.

These stats come from the available online resources Alexa.com and Compete.com. Both sites are used by advertisers to determine site popularity and traffic with regard to ad buys. That said, the sites do not collect exact information. They even recognize this and provide good explanations of the positives and negatives related to their reports. Further, both sites tend to focus on their paid clients and those sites that are in the top 100,000 rankings for their best statistics.

So, the information offered below is food for thought. It does show some compelling evidence that, at the very least, our free community driven social network is engaging our audience as well as, if not better than, other sites are engaging their audiences.

There really isn’t any other site / social network like PROpenMic. The sites I’ve selected to compare us with are similar in that they are (for the most part) focused on communication and public relations. They are (with the exception of ODwyerPR.com & HolmesReport.com) social networks.

Some require a subscription to participate. Others use the site to promote their other fee-based offerings. All of the other sites have a business model that includes either a subscription price or promotions/ads and offers for their paid conferences, seminars and other resources.

PROpenMic, on the other hand, is all free and does not carry ads. Finally, all but HigherEdExperts.com, have paid staffs and paid promotional activities or resources (in varying degrees). PROpenMic essentially relies upon word of mouth.

HigherEdExperts.com, by the way, is focused on much more than just PR. They have a great deal of information on Web design and other aspects of university communication practice. Karine Joly does a great job with that site and she also participates here from time to time.

I offer all of that to both explain the difficulty of fairly comparing the sites, yet still making an argument that PROpenMic performs quite well for an unfunded community based social network.

With that, I offer the latest numbers.

The first set of traffic ranks and pageviews below are the three month averages for each site. This is the standard statistic reported for each site by Alexa.com.

Alexa Traffic Ranks and Pageview Per Visit

Note: For Traffic Rank, the lower the number, the better the performance.

Propenmic.org has a traffic rank of: 275,773 (Source)

Page Views per user for Propenmic.org: 11.8

Myragan.com has a traffic rank of: 491,984 (Source)

Page Views per user for Myragan.com: 2.5

Communitelligence.com has a traffic rank of: 704,022 (Source)

Page Views per user for Communitelligence.com: 2.2

Higheredexperts.com has a traffic rank of: 952,463 (Source)

Page Views per user for Higheredexperts.com: 2.5

Holmesreport.com has a traffic rank of: 1,007,734 (Source)

Page Views per user for Holmesreport.com: 2

Odwyerpr.com has a traffic rank of: 258,697 (Source) (A PR news site.)

Page Views per user for Odwyerpr.com: 2.3

Unique Visitors (stats from Compete.com):

Note: For Unique Visitors, the higher the number, the better the performance.

“The Unique Visitors metric only counts a person once no matter how many times they visit a site in a given month. Unique Visitors are typically used to determine how popular a site is. Recommendation: To best understand the popularity of a site, you should consider additional metrics beyond Unique Visitors.” (Source)

propenmic.org – 4,028

myragan.com – 2,616

communitelligence.com – 2,620

higheredexperts.com – 2,187

holmesreport.com – 2,769

odwyerpr.com – 6,505 (A PR news site.)

Monthly Rank (stats from Compete.com): Compete ranks the top one million websites in the U.S. based on the number of People the domain attracts each month. Note: For Monthly Rank, the lower the number, the better the performance.

propenmic.org – 320,921

holmesreport.com – 433,734

communitelligence.com – 453,272

myragan.com – 453,862

higheredexperts.com – 522,866

odwyerpr.com – 217,845 (A PR news site.)

Monthly Visits (stats from Compete.com): The number of visits made to a site. A person can only be counted as one person in a month, but can make multiple site visits. Note: For Monthly Visits, the higher the number, the better the performance.

propenmic.org – 21,434

myragan.com – 13,704

holmesreport.com – 2,933

communitelligence.com – 2,909

higheredexperts.com – 2,547

odwyerpr.com – 9,503

Page Visits Monthly (stats from Compete.com): The number of pages an average person views on each visit to a domain. Note: For Page Visits Monthly, the higher the number, the better the performance.

propenmic.org – 9.7

myragan.com – 15.0

communitelligence.com – 3.5

higheredexperts.com – 1.6

holmesreport.com 8.1

odwyerpr.com 7.9

As you can see below, all sites fluctuate in their traffic over time. PROpenMic’s seems to follow academic terms, to some degree.

There are other statistics. PROpenMic’s average time on site for the 30 day period of Dec. 30 through Jan. 29: 5:05 Avg. Time on Site (Google Analytics) I reported the other stats from Google Analytics in the previous post.

What I take from these findings are that a social network targeted to the right audience, even without significant funding, can be a viable community organizing force. Further, despite all of the additional resources one might have to focus on their social network, some audiences may be engaged by the simplest of means.

Of the above sites I’ve compared PROpenMic to, some of them have remarkable resources and staffs devoted to their online endeavors. Some are million dollar businesses. Some survive quite well with advertising on their sites and subscriptions – enough so as to support those staff writers and IT professionals.

My point is that you, the PROpenMic community, have built something quite remarkable. You make it all happen, after all. I, and the volunteer administrators, just try to welcome you and make you feel comfortable in what is really your site. Sure, there is some management involved, but without your contributions … the site wouldn’t exist and thrive the way it has.

No, PROpenMic isn’t blowing the doors of site rankings and traffic compared to others …. but, that’s not the point, is it. The site is doing what it is supposed to for you the community. And, you’re the ones making it all happen.

I believe this is a good time for a case study. I’m particularly speaking to students here. You know, we’ve been told along the way that PR agencies have built such social networks / sites for clients and billed them out for significant fees. If PROpenMic can succeed for the right audience, imagine what you could do for a client in the future if you have the right audience targeted and the right offering. Could you start a social network like this? I think maybe you could. ;o)

Numbers aren’t really all that important, are they? We have 3,400+ members now and our traffic is equal to or exceeding those that are really reaching out to audiences of 100,000 or 200,000 people. I just find that interesting.

Thank you for all you do to make PROpenMic successful.

TechCrunch Squirrels Have Blogasm Counting Tweets

More ranting. Step back so no one gets hurt. I realize that this is useless for those at TechCrunch. They won’t listen. They’re confident they know everything. But, it is at the very least therapeutic for me. I’ll also be able to use this as just one more case study example of the cluelessness my students should avoid in sites like TechCrunch.

Does anyone else get really turned off by these lame attempts of people trying so desperately to assign rankings of authority to all things blog, Twitter, etc.? I do. And, I’m fed up.

First, let’s consider the term authority, please.

An authority is “a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested” and/or the authority is an “accepted source of information, advice, etc.” (Source, and isn’t it sad that we have to share a definition for something like this?)

Techorati has been touting authority in their indexing of sites for some time. They still put the technorati-authority image in their results. You have to click the lil’ “?” to see that it is only Technorati’s version of authority. Translation? They need to have a good word to try and make their results look legitimate – even when they are not legitimate. And Technorati’s claims of legitimate authority is ridiculous.

At least they have now decided to label it “Technorati Authority” in their definition, but they don’t use the “Technorati Authority” label throughout their site. This makes Technorati continue to be a laughing stock with regard to rankings and research.

What’s the problem with these uses of the term authority? Technorati, for instance, does not actually vet the sites and links they are using to assign these labels of authority and ranking. Gee, come to think of it … even Google doesn’t vet incoming links/clicks either. Hmmm? They are, quite simply, just counting things. Is counting enough? No. “In counting tests, an African Grey Parrot, Magpies, Ravens, and squirrels can ‘count’ up to 6.” (Source) Maybe the parrots, magpies, ravens, and squirrels are running some of these sites.

Yes, I’m sorry to tell you this but … squirrels are in charge of TechCrunch. Meet the co-editor squirrel at TechCrunch. Squirrel #2 put paws to keyboard and tapped out this little gem: It’s Not How Many Followers You Have That Counts, It’s How Many Times You Get Retweeted.

Squirrel boy is all excited. I think he had a blogasm. Seriously.

blogasm
[blawg az-uhm] –noun

the physical and emotional sensation experienced at the peak of blog comment excitation, usually resulting from stimulation of the social media link-bait blego (blog ego) and usually accompanied by (mostly males) commenting, tweeting and blogging with idiotic glee. Synonym: ignorance (is bliss)

Some people have created a few little toys that count things. Woo Hoo!. This has sent squirrel boy (and his friends; the parrots, magpies and ravens) into an apoplectic frenzy of sycophant reach-around joy. See Full Metal Jacket, if you’re not familiar with the phrase.

You see, they’ve found a new link bait post topic that will likely carry them through a few days of the startup downturn and holiday “we can’t find any real news” vacuum that exists today.

What these tools are doing (yes, the scripts & the people) is counting what is sort of an exponential shell game. Certainly the Twitter users with the most followers have a greater potential to be retweeted. That doesn’t mean they are influential. It doesn’t mean they are writing interesting content, either.

Has anyone followed back to see who the retweeters are? Has anyone followed back to see if the retweeters are making fun of the post? These are just a few of the possibilities. You see, the most influential and/or interesting retweets might well be taking place between a group of just three or four people. Has anyone looked into that? No. So, we now have just the simplest examples of why these simple counting scripts are pretty much worthless as a research tool.

One person is making some ridiculous claims with his lil’ toy, too.

My comment, which I chose to post here instead, is as follows:

Well, it is an interesting script that counts stuff. However, it really has very little meaning, now does it. In research, we tend to compare similar variables. When you write, “They are the once (sic) producing most interesting content across the twittersphere” you’re stating a falsehood. No, they are (at best) posting content of interest to their audience. That’s all. You have not vetted the content in each retweet instance. Therefore, you don’t know if they are making fun of the person or retweeting it because it is interesting or any number of other possibilities. You are, quite simply, counting RT. That’s it. This is nothing more than an exponential shell game and/or fetish with assigning ranks.

We won’t waste time by discussing independent, status and/or dependent variables here. The squirrels may be able to count, but they sure won’t understand the concepts behind research.

Folks, when you see people all excited about their new abacus (that’s a compliment, by the way … these guys probably couldn’t work an abacus) run the other way. They are clueless. It is more TechCrunch self-absorbed nonsense.

Would a more powerful and useful version of search for Twitter be welcomed? Yes. Do these new tools do that? No.

Yes, I realize this is perhaps the beginning of development of useful tools. But, don’t get all hyped up with terms like authority and rank when your current toys don’t accomplish the feat. Please, stop the insanity. I beg you.

Fake University Facebook Groups :: Marketers Further Dirty the Waters

I found a very interesting series of posts, thanks to Facebookgate from Andrew Carreaga.

Andrew writes about a very interesting sort of scandal uncovered in the post – There’s something going down on Facebook. Pay attention. by Brad J. Ward. That post actually led to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Company Created Official-Looking ‘Class of 2013’ Facebook Groups for Hundreds of Colleges.

It is all about fake Facebook groups like Auburn Class of 2013 and many other Class of 2013 groups. Look at this Google Document / spreadsheet that shows over 400 such fake groups. That may not be a complete list, too. Something to consider. There could be more!

These marketers, seemingly immature and unfamiliar with best practices, are preying upon students seeking to decide upon their college of choice. It may seem innocuous to some, but this is really a bad precedent for all social network marketing practice.

Marketers, hiding their identity, are using the groups for marketing research. One would guess this will lead to pushing sales information to the members. And, those members are likely unaware of what they are getting into.

How sad that marketers just cannot seem to clue in.

I joined and posted in the group for Auburn:

I just posted three links with stories about this group and hundreds of others with “Class of 2013” in their title. They trace back to the same companies … marketing companies. These are not groups that are interested in attending any of these schools. Instead, they are marketers trying to obtain research. That research could lead to them friending you and perhaps sending you information in the future. The information they could send to you might well be spam. They are in the business of selling. I hope this post and the three links will remain. People joining a group should be allowed to have information that allows them know the true intention of the group.

I later added links to real Auburn people that are happy to help students considering attending Auburn.

By the way, there really are good Auburn people on Facebook willing to help you with questions. Friend them. If you want to find true Auburn people, search for “Auburn – Admissions” on Facebook … or use this link to see the search: http://is.gd/cGIX You’ll find 80+ people truly interested in helping you.

The same will likely be true for other schools. Just trying to keep the marketers honest and giving you the real links to trustworthy information.

I did this on my own, of course. I’m not involved with Admissions. But, it seemed like there should be some information in the group that (a) warns the members of the true intentions of the group’s creator and (b) shares links to real Auburn people that are willing to help the potential students.

I am considering posting the following to the forums within the group.

A person claiming to be Justin Gaither, the creator of this group, posted his explanation here: http://is.gd/cs4C

He is “in charge of marketing for Match U.” Match U has no connection to any of these schools.

In response to a controversy about false intentions of this and other groups for marketing’s sake, Jason admits that “Any use of fake accounts is being vacated.”

So, there were fake accounts here and/or elsewhere, Justin?

The full story is at Brad Ward’s blog, SquarePeg.

I add this new topic in hopes of discovering if the members of this group realize that it was created as much for a 3rd party marketer to gain research information (your names & contact information) as much as, if not moreso, the sake of sharing information about colleges you might be interested in attending.

This group does not comply with the ethics policy of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. http://womma.org/ethics/ and http://womma.org/ethics/code/

That code requires that marketers, like Justin, follow these simple principles:

Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

If you friend Justin, you’ll see that he does not identify himself as a marketer, nor does he identify his relationship to Match U.

He has violated those two principles of the code of ethics. He has not posted to the group, so I cannot tell you if he is writing what he believes. However, as a graduate of Miami, he is not likely interested in being a member of the Class of 2013. He is likely interested in gaining your contact information or anything else that will help him develop a large network of contacts for future marketing campaigns.

Is this really what Facebook is all about? Would you have joined this group had you known his true relationships and marketing purposes?

I’m thinking the answer to both questions is no.

In my opinion, Justin has two choices. Close all the groups or go into each and fully disclose his purpose for creating the groups. To not do this is to condone unethical practice.

I will note that I have my own problems with WOMMA and their practices, but the three principles stated above are still a sound basis for honest marketing.

I’m thinking that too many marketers still don’t get it and I also worry that many schools are not protecting their brand by failing to monitor Facebook and other social networks.

In response to Andrew’s post, I commented:

Interesting post, as always, Andrew.

I posted the three links to posts in the Auburn group they created – your post, Brad’s and the one from The Chronicle. I also wrote on the wall suggesting that they leave the posts so members may learn about the true intentions of the creators.

It will be interesting to see if they last. I even friended the creator, Justin Gaither.

Monitoring is the key. I fear that still, with all the attention, many PR people are not paying attention to what’s being said about their schools, organizations and businesses online.

This will be a great case study for classes in January.

I will use this as a case study for students. In fact, we’re likely going to go out in search of other such attempts to capitalize on unsuspecting potential students.

When (Fans Hope) A Southern University Will Do The Right Thing :: And They Don’t

I’ve been following this story from the beginning. I saw this coming. I hoped it would not happen, but given the timing of certain events, and my knowledge and/or perceptions of Auburn culture, I’m not surprised it has happened. I wish this had not happened. But, here it is. This is, for all practical purposes, the perfect storm – in a PR sense. All the elements of the environment were just right for all that follows to have happened. Why the leadership didn’t see it coming, who knows.

Yesterday.

Charles Barkley states on ESPN that race was the number one reason why Auburn did not hire a black head football coach. See the video below.

Today.

Mark Schlabach states on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program:

ESPN.com football writer Mark Schlabach told “Outside The Lines” today that two other SEC coaches told him, straight up, that Gill would never get the Auburn job, because he’s married to a white woman. Charming. (Source and see the video below)

Sure, I didn’t know exactly what would happen (Charles Barkley’s statements or Mark Schlabach’s interview), but I knew there would be a backlash by someone if the hire didn’t happen. I never imagined the full scope of the disaster we’re experiencing now, however.

Regardless of whether or not you believe Tommy Tuberville was fired or chose to resign, that happened at the same time that a heretofore unknown coach at the University of Buffalo was making a big splash. Turner Gill took a cellar dweller of a football team and beat the undefeated Ball State program to win the MAC conference title. It was the dream public relations move, if nothing else. It was the way for Auburn to step up and cross the race barrier, too. But, to make it better, on paper – Gill actually does look as good as (if not better than) the coach we’ve now hired. Opinions vary on that, of course.

Since Mississippi State broke the color barrier for black coaches in the SEC (and no big name coaches were interested in coming to Auburn) this made the situation ripe for Auburn to make a bold move. Hire Turner Gill as our next head football coach.

Since Auburn did not do what some call “the right thing”, we are now experiencing the following public relations disaster. Check it all out. There is a lot to digest. Never before, not even in Auburn’s Eric Ramsey or Petrino/Jet-gate scandals, has Auburn’s name been so fully dragged through the mud.

The sad thing is, this is really about the athletic department, but it actually has caused numerous references to the school at-large.

My questions, “What would you do? How can Auburn successfully deal with this fiasco? Or can they?”

Track the fallout yourself: Twitter | Web | News | Blogs

Just a sampling of two stories: Auburn was cool with Turner Gill being black, but not his wife being white. | Was Turner Gill Denied The Auburn Job Because Of His White Wife? Those two sites alone are perfect examples of how social media has changed the game for everyone. The first site has about 3,000 average readers. The second site, Deadspin? It is one of the top 4,000 sites on the Web. It has over 360,000 average readers. Oh, and of course – there is ESPN – the TV network and their site … the 16th most popular site on the Web. Social media spreads the story with more reach than traditional media in many instances. This is one of them.

The original story follows these two three updates:

Note: ESPN is covering this so much, for two days they’ve had an Auburn category tab on the front page of the College Football section.

Charles Barkley
ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption
Barkley Elaborates on his claims against Auburn

It Gets Worse
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines
“Turner Gill will never get that job”
When asked why, the coaches responded,
“He’s married to a white woman.”

Mark Schlabach stated on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that two SEC coaches told him Turner Gill would not get the Auburn head coaching job because “He is married to a white woman.” (Quote comes at about 3:16 in the video below.)

This is the type of public relations fiasco that no one wants to have happen. How can Auburn address these issues? What should the NCAA do? What would you do if you were advising Auburn University on a PR plan for this crisis?

Auburn Choses Gene Chizik over Turner Gill
Southern University Misses Opportunity
Deals with Backlash

Earlier, we shared how Auburn University was pursuing a new football coach. The story bode well for Auburn, had they chosen Turner Gill. Instead, they went with Gene Chizik. The backlash started on the day of the announcment. Today, it got bumped up a notch.

Charles Barkley, former Auburn basketball great – and outspoken gadlfy, told ESPN today that “You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume.” (Watch Video)

“You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume.”

— Charles Barkley

There are some (perhaps many) that feel Auburn missed an opportunity and, by not hiring Gill, set themselves up for this criticism.

Auburn has chosen to not respond to this criticism – so far. Making matters worse, two coaches wives’ actually called into a local radio talk show with their opinions about how Auburn handled the firing (resignation) of 10 year coach Tommy Tubberville.

Listen to Amy & Donna’s calls on Eagle 93.9 Sports Call radio program.


Auburn Coaches’ Wives Audio

The school says that Tuberville resigned, yet they choose to still pay his 5 million dollar plus buyout. Many observers suggest that you don’t pay a buyout if someone chooses to quit.

To Chizik’s credit, he’s not responsible for the firing/resignation – or for the hire. He just took the job. Still, Chizik’s record (5-19) as a head coach is questionable. Gill turned around a perennial cellar dweller, Buffalo, and took them to a MAC conference title.

What do you think about this public relations problem, given Barkley’s public comments? Post your thoughts below.

Auburn Pursues Turner Gill
University of Buffalo Coach Sought by Auburn Tigers

Auburn University, one of the traditional powers in NCAA college football, is pursuing a new coach. Auburn is often considered one of the top 25 college coaching jobs. So, what makes this news?

Race. Ethnicity. PR.

Auburn is also the land grant institution for the State of Alabama. Land grant colleges were created, in part, to provide education for minorities – primarily blacks. (Source)

According to Auburn, the university’s Fall 2008 black / african-american enrollment is 1,642 students. Given that the school’s caucasian / white enrollment is 17,225, black students represent 0.087 of that enrollment, less than nine percent. (Source) The total caucasian & african-american enrollment for Fall 2008 at Auburn is 18,867. This is in a state where over 26% of the population is black / african-american. (Source)

Mississippi State won the honor of breaking the diversity / race barrier by hiring Sylvester Croom, five years ago. Croom recently resigned. There are some, perhaps many, that wish Auburn had been the leader in this regard.

The number of black coaches in the major NCAA programs is still lacking. The number dropped from six to three this year.

Already, two Facebook groups have sprung up calling on Auburn to hire Turner Gill. See Turner Gill for the Auburn Tigers Head Football Coach and Turner Gill to Auburn

An Auburn favorite son, Robert Gibbs, helped send Barack Obama to The White House this year. (Note: Gibbs grew up in Auburn. His parents worked in the Auburn University Library for over two decades. Robert chose to attend school at NC State. Still, he holds a fondness for Auburn and has spoken about Auburn many times on national television.)

Another Auburn favorite son, Charles Barkley recently said Auburn should hire Turner Gill. Perhaps Barkley can do for Gill what Gibbs did for Obama.

Gill is reportedly meeting with Auburn today. Read Gill’s appeal heating up, Auburn is latest to come calling.

There are many people in sports forums expressing concerns about taking a chance on such an unproven coach.

It will be interesting to see if Auburn will do the right thing and hire Turner Gill.

Auburn Student and Alumni Network :: WarEagle.me

Campaigns students worked very hard this summer.  They created a social network and pitched it to the faculty of the Department of Communication & Journalism, Auburn University.

Alana Wells, Sherry Namburi, Miles Duncan, Brett Pohlman, Lindsay McCormick and Whitney West were all members of the PR Campaigns class, Summer 2008. This site is their creation. Search for their resumes at PRProspects.com and hire them. ;o)

The mission?  Bring together students and alumni in an online community.

It launched last week.  In less than a week, members have looked at 2,673 pages on the site.  That’s 11.67 pageviews per visitor.  Members spend, on average, 9:49 on the site per visit.  We’re in the early stages of inviting members.  We have 141 signed up, as of Monday evening (six days into the site’s life).

I can’t let you in, as we’ve made this a totally private site.  I can, however, share a look at a screenshot. (Sorry, big file. 800kb)

Colleges and universities have their own alumni departments & programs, to be sure.  But, when you want to bring your niche group together in their sites, it isn’t always possible.  This site will help us connect with our best resources: alumni and students.

We aren’t trying to replace Alumni’s efforts, or thwart them, but we needed a way to engage your students and alumni directly.  I actually believe that our efforts will supplement Alumni’s work.  We can keep our alumni more engaged with the department.  That way, when Alumni contacts them … they still have a relationship with the university.  Cool idea, huh?

More universities should consider this.  Why not?  You have a built in workforce … students.  They can run the site and keep it active.  The site could even be worked in a course’s activities and exercise requirements.  If not that way, you could use your in-house ambassadors (if you have them) or the PRCA / PRSSA chapter could run it.  Hey, it’s good experience for the students.

The Department of Communication & Journalism at Auburn University is often the largest department on campus.  We’ve often had over 1,000 students.  And, in case you’re wondering, our PR program has a higher minimum GPA (than most any program on campus) to even be considered for enrollment.

We want to keep in touch with our alumni.  They are successful and so valuable to our current students.

I see this site as sort of a mini-PROpenMic.  It is a a Ning.com Web site.  Our site is, I believe, more dynamic than any other department social network I’ve heard of at any university.  But, I’m not familiar with all.  Surely, there must be more out there.  Does your program have such a site?

I believe these sites are the wave of the future for college and university programs that wish to keep in touch with their students in a way previously impossible for most departments to launch.  Ning makes that possible.  (Yes, I’m a big fan of Ning.com.)

Students will actually run the site.  Each semester, classes will be responsible for creating the content published on a weekly basis.  From videos to interviews with students & alumni, we will be able to keep the site fresh.

Ning’s various features help us keep the site rich with content, too.  Events and music players allow us to share podcasts and post upcoming events around the area, not just department events.  Groups allow us to share job and internship listings.  Alumni may contribute content, too.

Finally, the key to this type of site being successful is to have faculty buy-in.  That commitment of time assures that students will hear from the faculty.  Communication becomes open and more frequent.  Sure, I’ve heard some faculty (not necessarily at Auburn, either) say that they really don’t want more communication.  So, I’m happy that Auburn’s PR faculty bought into the project.

Other potential pitfalls?  The site will allow students to share their ‘issues’ with the program.  Well, OK.  Hey, if they aren’t complaining here … you can be sure they’re complaining somewhere.  Why not be aware of their feelings and opinions?  I don’t get those that want to avoid student input.  Sure, I understand why they feel that way, but the rationale just doesn’t sit well.

OK, that’s our new student network.  Your thoughts?  I was wary of posting about this, but the students worked hard on it.  We may have some people attempt to sign up (that dont’ belong) but I’ll just have to deal with that.  If nothing else, I love the domain name.  Thanks to Barbara Nixon (on Twitter) for letting me bounce ideas off her, too.  :o)

Students: The Council of PR Firms asks, “What is the most dangerous idea in PR today?”

Cross-posted from PROpenMic.

Reformed PR practitioner B. L. Ochman writes a review of the recent Council of PR firms (CPR) critical issues forum in her blog, What’s Next.

Read the Council’s take on the event in Dangers Equal Opportunity for Smart Marketers, PR Firms, Lively Annual Public Relations Council Critical Issues Forum Addresses “Most Dangerous Ideas” for Future of PR.

The conversation has actually already become an old one. The paradigm shift caused by the advent of social media software (both free open source and paid platforms) has given voice to the masses in a way never seen before. Word of mouth (WOM) is now digital and spreads like wildfire, or creeps along where no one can see it – then achieves a Groundswell of reach people in PR only dreamed of just 10 years ago.  Continue reading