You Can’t Build a Free Global PR Wiki Like This

MyPRGenie, a social-media focused PR firm, wants to create a “free global PR wiki” that will crowdsource contact information for “journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers”.

Free global PR wiki to crowdsource media contact details

A crowdsourced listing of media contacts is set to launch, providing the PR industry with a database of information on journalists and media professionals.

Launching out of New York in March, the wiki-style platform will be open to PR professionals who contribute to the community by sharing information they’ve collected on journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers. By sharing their contacts, users earn points which can then be spent to gain access to the global database.

Interesting concept. Probably won’t be successful, though.



The only free global wiki that’s ever managed to collect a large amount of quality information is Wikipedia – and Wikipedia is run by a non-profit foundation whose philosophy revolves around cataloguing and freely sharing information.

From the sounds of it MyPRGenie’s service will be “free” (i.e. available for you to use) only if you contribute to it yourself; and presumably even then there will be some additional restrictions to what you can access or do once you have that information. Which, of course, means that, unlike the Wikipedia style service they want to be associating themselves with, their service not actually free.


MyPRGenie say they already have a database of over half a million “journalists, bloggers, and content creators” which my guess is they’ll use to seed their wiki. While that number is large I’m not sure this endeavour is a pure numbers game.

When you hire a PR firm to work for you, you pick one based on their knowledge of your industry and the local media market, plus their relationships with various media people. You don’t pick them because they have the largest contacts database.

If I worked for a rival PR agency my argument against using this service would be: “Why would you want to use that? They’ll just send your press releases to a bunch of media and social media people. I’m on a first name basis with the influencers in your specific industry and in your specific market so when I send them something they know it’ll be worth their while.”

PR Wiki

Possibly the biggest problem they’ll face is that I don’t think many PR departments or agencies will want to participate – certainly not major companies with a large contacts databases. Why on earth would companies (or agencies) want to share their PR relationship IP with the rest of the world (which, of course, includes their competitors)?

Wrong Business Plan?

MyPRGenie’s business plan for this service seems to be “build it and they will come (to crowdsource)”. That doesn’t works unless you do things like offer fabulous incentives for sharing IP, have dedicated editors maintaining content quality, and don’t blatantly make money off the data you collect. Now they might actually do all these things and the resulting service might end up being useful to small and medium-sized companies with limited PR budgets and limited relationships with the media. But that’s probably about it.

Basically, I don’t think you can crowdsource this kind of information unless you make it completely free and open like Wikipedia or you run a freemium model like IMDb or LinkedIn in which you get both the demand and supply side to pay for the professional, fee-based version of that otherwise free service.

MyPRGenie seem to be trying a third approach to this information cataloguing problem – one that relies on a few assumptions that I don’t think are particularly valid. It’d be nice to be proven wrong but I don’t think I will be.

New Job: Social Media Manager at Jetstar

Yesterday was my first day as Social Media Manager at Jetstar. Yes, that means I have a new job :)

For those of you who might not know, the Jetstar Group (usually just referred to as Jetstar) consists of four low-cost airlines:

Jetstar was launched in 2004 and, with its 79 aircraft and over 7,000 employees, currently flies to 56 destinations in 17 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

My job is a Group role (i.e. it’s a corporate function that works across all four airlines) and is based at the Jetstar corporate headquarters in Melbourne, Australia.

Why did I change jobs?

For a number of reasons:

  • I love the airlines/aviation industry and working for an airline is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
  • Jetstar is a great brand that is run by good people who provide a valuable service. It’s a brand I respect and is a brand whose values I share (i.e. providing good value for money, making smart use of technology, and making travel to popular destinations accessible to lots of people).
  • I’m making a career path adjustment that sees me changing my focus from building and managing websites to helping companies and customers communicate better with each other using social media. And while this is a slight narrowing of focus (e.g. in my current role I won’t be looking after the Jetstar website) it is also an increase in overall responsibility (i.e. I get to work on more strategic corporate communications objectives).
  • My new role is more challenging because the scale and scope of customer engagement is greater (e.g. it’s across the entire Asia-Pacific region as opposed to just within the state of Victoria) and the aviation industry is more exciting, more innovative, and moves much faster than the water industry.
  • I have a greater opportunity for personal growth because I now get to employ my social media skills to their fullest. I had been wanting to increase my social media focus at Melbourne Water but, with all the other work I was doing there, this wasn’t something I was able to do.

I also get to work with one of my former managers who I really like and work really well with. And finally, as someone whose family is spread across multiple countries, the travel benefits of working for an airline are important to me personally.

What does the new job involve?

Broadly speaking, my overall objective is to improve the communication, engagement, and understanding between Jetstar and its customers. Specifically, I get to do this via social media. Though, practically speaking, this engagement will be integrated across multiple communication channels.

How exactly I go about doing all this is something I will share on this blog (and probably also on Twitter) over the coming weeks, months, and years so stay tuned.

Specht on Social Media in Recruitment

Michael Specht just completed a blog post series on ‘Social Media as Part of Background Checking’ during the recruitment process:

I personally think that social media checks – or, at the very least, Google searches – are an essential part of recruitment. And I think that goes both ways:

  • recruiters and companies learn all they can about candidates
  • candidates learn all they can about recruiters and the companies they’re applying to

This is important because:

While the last point is certainly vital for people working in Internet-related industries, it is also becoming increasingly relevant for people working in other industries (as more of their lives move online).

A Quick Intro to Twitter

I recently collected a list of resources for some colleagues at work who wanted an introduction to the Twitter microblogging service. I thought it might be useful to post those here as well.

There’s a lot of Twitter-related information out there, by the way. Most of it is crap or says what everyone else is saying, just in a slightly different way. Fortunately, a few social media heavyweights have made our lives a lot easier by compiling that information for us.

That said, Twitter is an evolving platform so you have to keep up with the way it’s being used in order to stay relevant.

Twitter in Plain English

Let’s start with the very basics. Here’s ‘Twitter in Plain English’ by the good folk at Common Craft:

Also check out their ‘Twitter Search in Plain English’ video.

Twitter Guides

There are a handful of good Twitter guides out there. My favourite are these two:

Twitter Tips

If you want something quicker to read, however, the TwiTip blog has lots of useful tips:

TwiTip is worth subscribing to because they’ll keep updating us on how Twitter is evolving and what we should, could, and can do with it next.

Also nice is the ‘Chris Pirillo’s 140 Twitter Tips’ e-book which you can buy for US$1.40.

Theory vs Practice

Ultimately, though, the best way to learn about Twitter is to use Twitter.

You can read all you like but, until you actually get in there are participate, you won’t know exactly how it works and just how awesome it can be.

Huffington on Journalism, Response to Murdoch

If you don't keep up with large traditional media's continued efforts to remain both large and traditional you might have missed Rupert Murdoch's latest thoughts on the topic. Here's what Mashable's Pete Cashmore had to say about them:
Microsoft and News Corp in Discussions to Remove Newspaper Content from Google

Yes, really. Rupert Murdoch’s crusade to blame Google for the failing newspaper business model continues today, as it emerges that News Corp has conducted talks with Microsoft about de-indexing the company’s sites from Google and (presumably) being paid to include them in Bing instead.

The concept makes sense only if you buy Murdoch’s claims that Google is "stealing" content rather than simply helping people find it.

A number of people have responded to Murdoch's proposed (threatened?) business model but Arianna Huffington really hit the nail on the head in a talk she gave at a recent journalism conference in the US.

In responding to Murdoch and traditional media, she said:
In most industries, if your customers were leaving in droves, you would try to figure out what to do to get them back. Not in the media. They'd rather accuse aggregators of stealing their content.


Thinking that removing your content from Google will somehow keep it "exclusive" shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the web and how it works.


In his speech this morning, Rupert Murdoch confused aggregation with wholesale misappropriation. Wholesale misappropriation is against the law -- and he has legal redress against that already. Aggregation, on the other hand, within the fair use exceptions to copyright law is part of the web's DNA. Period.

She then went on to talk about what the future of journalism will (and is starting to) look like:
We hear lots and lots of talk these days about saving newspapers -- Congressional anti-trust exemptions, perhaps? -- but we mustn't forget: the state of newspapers is not the same thing as the state of journalism. As much as I love newspapers -- and fully expect them to survive -- the future of journalism is not dependent on the future of newspapers.

Indeed, the future of journalism is to be found, at least partly, in the rapidly growing number of people who connect with the news in a whole new way.

News is no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, react to news and share news. It's become something around which we gather, connect and converse. We all are part of the evolution of a story now -- expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of view.

In short, the news has become social. And it will become even more community-powered: stories will be collaboratively produced by editors and the community. And conversations, opinion, and reader reactions will be seamlessly integrated into the news experience.

It's an excellent speech that's well worth the read.

Catching Up

I haven’t been blogging much these last few months. That’s because three months ago my wife and I moved into an apartment that has no land line and only a satellite cable TV connection. (We didn’t think to ask about the former before moving in here because, really, when was the last time you heard of a house that didn’t have a land line connection?) What this means is that, till just recently, we didn’t have Internet access at home; certainly not cable and ADSL, but not even dialup!

What Happened Then?

It took Telstra (the only phone company that services this area) about six weeks (yes, six weeks) to give us a connection from the telephone exchange to our apartment building. However, we don’t have an outlet in the wall for a phone jack so we can’t actually use that line. Even worse, the electrician who came in to install that outlet couldn’t find where in the wall our telephone wire was so he wasn’t able to connect us. That was about a month ago and, since then, we’ve been waiting for our real estate agent to do something about this – specifically, getting the building plans from the owners and giving them to the electrician – but nothing’s happened yet.

I finally got sick of the situation so, a couple of weeks ago, I went and got us a mobile broadband connection from 3 (specifically, a USB wireless modem) and that’s what’s letting me access the Internet now. We then went a step further and bought a wireless router for the modem so now both my wife and I can access the Internet at the same time. It’s slow, but at least it works.

What about blogging from work, you ask? Unfortunately, work has been really busy (though incredibly enjoyable) so I haven’t had the mental energy to do any writing in the evenings (whether at work or offline from home). The only blog posts I have managed to finish are the ones I wrote on a weekend and published from the office the following work week.

So, Catching Up…

What all this is leading up to is the fact that I have lots of catching up to do. The way I’m going to do that is by giving you a bulleted list of all the stories I’ve wanted to talk about these last few months but haven’t been able to discuss. The stories range from basic, on-the-ground advice (and lists) to more high level discussions on a particular topic. They’re all good to read, though.

Jobs, Careers, & MBA

Social Media

Online Design, UI

Online Marketing

General Life Advice

New MBS Blogger: Ed Cook

Ed Cook, who is both an MBA student and a Career Consultant at Melbourne Business School, has recently starting his own professional blog.

He’s only posted three entries so far but they’re all interesting and I’m sure that, over time, his blog will become a useful resource and place of discussion. It will be particularly useful for MBA students and graduates from Australian business schools.

I’ve also added Ed to my list of MBS Bloggers.

[Note: If you’re an MBS MBA student or alumnus, Ed’s entries are cross-posted on the internal Career Services blog as well so you can also choose to conduct your discussions – should you want to keep them semi-private – there instead.]

The MBS Deans’ Blog

Melbourne Business School continues to impress me with the way it is building its online presence because, last month, they started an internal Deans’ Blog.

The blog has three contributing authors:

  1. John Seybolt, Dean & Director
  2. Jennifer George, Associate Dean of Academic Programs
  3. Richard Speed, Associate Dean for Faculty Resources

And is hosted on the MBS intranet (so it’s not available to the public). The Deans write about things that MBS students, alumni, staff, and faculty are interested in, such as school-related news and events; commentary on current events; and discussions on things like school resources, exchange programs, alumni chapters, new faculty members, and so on.

Some of the posts are information dissemination type posts while others are more discussion oriented. Presumably, there is a communications strategy in place that will guide the blog’s growth over the next few months and, most likely, the intention is to continue publishing both kinds of posts: the kind that provide management-level information to the whole school (but don’t generate much of a discussion) and the kind that seed discussion among the blog’s readers (including the “what do you think?” type of posts that you see on many blogs).

All in all, this is an exciting new addition to MBS’ online presence. Hopefully, once this blog becomes a regular feature its authors will start itching to write an external blog as well – maybe even one like the long-running Dean Bruner’s Blog at the Darden School of Business – but that’ll probably take time. Writing an external blog is hard work and you really have to commit to the idea before getting into it. Which is why an internal blog such as this one is a great way to start.

Here’s hoping the blog grows really well and that both the authors and readers enjoy participating in it (I know I will).

Core Economics Becomes a Multi-Author Blog

Speaking of MBS blogs, Joshua Gans’ Core Economics blog has also gone multi-author with four of its nine authors hailing from Melbourne Business School. So, if you want to see what MBS professors are blogging about, take a look at that. They write on a lot of interesting topics and they have a really good readership as well.

Of course, no discussion of MBS professors who publish their work online would be complete without mentioning Paul Kerin who writes a regular business column for The Australian.

Two Social Media How-To Guides

I read two good social media how-to guides this week:

First, Toby Ward at the Intranet Blog linked to Bill Ives' recent post on a 'Sample Action Plan for Business Blogging'. Ives presents a good high-level plan that lists the steps you need to take in order to successfully launch (and, obviously, maintain) a business blog. This is assuming, of course, that you already have a blogging strategy that is aligned with both your business and marketing strategies. And note that by 'aligned' I also mean that it makes sense for you to actually start and maintain that blog!

Second, Laurel Papworth recently gave an excellent presentation on how to plan and run a social media marketing campaign. She's put her slides and a quick bullet-point list of those steps on her blog. This is a must-read for anyone involved in social media -- even if you don't plan to run a social campaign yourself -- because a stripped down version of this plan is what you execute when you launch a blog and, more generally, it's a good overview of how social media itself works. Besides, you'll inevitable be a part of such a campaign at some point in your life so it's good to know what's going on.

Meeting MBS Bloggers

It's happened twice now: I've gone to MBS for a presentation and someone's come up to me and said something like, "Hey, you're the blog guy!" -- referring to the list of MBS bloggers that I maintain and that they're one of the people on that list.

That specific quote is from Ronjon, who I met last week at an alumni event. A couple of weeks before that, I met Cynthia at a talk given by two of our professors. [Thanks for saying hello, both of you.]

It's fun when this happens and it's always great to meet current MBS students (who I met a lot of at the recent alumni event, by the way). Maybe one of these days I'll organize an MBS bloggers meet-up. Then again, if we keep bumping into each other at all these events, I might not have to.

Remember: If you know anyone who was or is at MBS -- whether student, staff, or faculty -- please let me know so I can add them to the list. Thanks.

Social Media in Management

CIO Magazine's Sue Bushell has written an interesting article, called 'Management 2.0? That'll Be The Day', on the challenges that CIOs -- and companies, in general -- are facing with the advent of social media technologies in the workplace.

In his book, The Future of Management, Gary Hamel suggests that organizations today face a new set of business challenges that the existing management model does not match. The drone worker of yesterday is giving way to the engaged and vocal employee of today who expects a company culture that replicates the collaborative nature of Web 2.0 — in other words Management 2.0

The name Gary Hamel will, of course, be very familiar to anyone who has done any MBA and has studied the (frequently incorrectly-used) Core Competency concept.

The article is long but useful as it gives managers a lot to think about and hopefully look into:

Managers have a general sense of what Web 2.0 tools are — especially when it comes to applications they’re familiar with like YouTube, Facebook, or Linkedin. But they still struggle to understand these technologies, discover their real business value, address the risks and figure out how to best use them.

This, by the way, is where someone like me would come in: I know both management (theory and practice) and technology (uses and implementations) and can help senior management come up with an implementation of social media that enhances project management, decision making, and internal communication and collaboration.

The trick is that social media integration in an enterprise needs to be a long-term project and not something you hire a consulting firm to do for you in a few weeks. It needs to grow experimentally, possibly slowly, and from the ground-up. And while it will probably change a number of times as it develops -- which means it's not something you can really plan for in advance -- you can start with a few basic governance rules (who does what and what everyone is in responsible for), some content guidelines (that cover privacy, security, and intellectual property), and a simple usage policy (like the two-word "be careful" policy that is often a good start).

Speaking of governance...

Challenges of the Multi-Generational Workforce

The discussion on how to manage a multi-generational workforce -- which is an issue for many managers these days -- reminds me of a blog post on banning Facebook that Toby Ward wrote on the Intranet Blog about a month ago:

Beware of Facebook! It will crush your productivity and hijack your employees!


Employees prefer to be treated as adults. Judge their performance and actions instead of counting their minutes spent doing "productive work."

Trust me, the threat and problems stemming from a ban far exceed the embrace option. Prescient Digital Media’s Julian Mills last week highlighted the findings of one recent survey that warned of the perils of banning Facebook:

  • 39% of 18 to 24 year-olds would consider leaving if they were not allowed to access sites like Facebook and YouTube
  • A further 21% indicated that they would feel ‘annoyed’ by such a ban
  • The problem is less acute with 25 to 65 year-olds, of whom just 16% would consider leaving and 13% would be annoyed

Of course "consider leaving" doesn't mean they actually will leave but it does mean that they probably won't join your company in the first place. Especially if they announce your blanket banning policy on the Facebook group about your company that you didn't know existed.

I know that I, for one, wouldn't want to join a company that bans sites like Facebook or doesn't let you blog, read blogs, pay your bills, read the news, check your e-mail, or basically have a life outside work while you're at work. Limiting YouTube usage makes a little more sense since there's a bandwidth cost associated with online video but, even then, it shouldn't be banned outright.

As Ward said in his article, companies shouldn't be taking the Taylorist approach to management. Of course you'll get employees who'll take 30 minutes to make themselves a cup of coffee or spend an hour on Facebook every now and then -- but that's okay as long as they (a) get their jobs done, (b) don't stop others from getting their jobs done, and (c) don't use-up too many freely-provided company resources (like bandwidth or, for that matter, coffee).

I guess all I can conclude with is that, with the advent of social media and the existence of a multi-generational workforce...well, the next five years are going to be really interesting

Chris Brogan on Social Media

Over the last couple of weeks, Chris Brogan has been writing a series of fantastic primer/best-advice blog posts about social media on his blog. Make sure you read them:

Oh, and here are a couple of more of his posts that are really good:

Awesome work, Chris! Thanks.

Mark Ritson: Prolific Blogger!

I've mentioned earlier on this blog that Mark Ritson, my Brand Management professor at Melbourne Business School, contributes to the Branding Strategy Insider blog. Of course, "contributing" is a mild word considering the number of blog posts he writes!

Here are some of my favourites:

Impressive, isn't he?

Links: Marketing, Web 2.0, Management Blogs

I don't usually do link posts but I've been so busy these last couple of weeks I haven't had time to write about the following useful links in any detail:

  1. Samuel Dean from Web Worker Daily wrote a post called 'VTC: Killer Online Tutorials, Mostly Free'

  2. HR World wrote about the 'The Top 100 Management and Leadership Blogs That All Managers Should Bookmark' [via Trevor Cook]

  3. Jeremiah Owyang presented 'A Complete List of the Many Forms of Web Marketing for 2008'

  4. Ross Dawson, writing in BRW Magazine, listed the 'Top 100 Australian Web 2.0 Applications'

One More MBS Blogger

Add another MBS blogger to the list:

Alanna's been blogging about her Melbourne Business School MBA since October last year but I came across her blog only recently. (Hmmm...maybe I should write a SEO primer for MBS bloggers).

Her blog is both informative and really fun to read so, for all those interested in what the MBS experience is like, hop on down and take a look.

Update: I've started to maintain a list of all MBS or MBS-related bloggers that I know of on a static page on this site. That way, people looking for MBS bloggers won't have to hunt through my old blog posts, they can just look at that one page. (Though I will continue to publish a blog post every time I find a new relevant blogger.)

New MBS Blogger

My Google Alerts tell me that we have a new Melbourne Business School MBA blogger to add to my previous list:

He's only just started blogging, with two posts so far, and is a part-time student (our only full-time intakes are in January and September). Let's hope he keeps it up and tells us the story of his entire MBA journey.

Of course, like the rest of us, he'll probably go silent during the last couple of weeks of each study term while he struggles to juggle work, study, home life, and (if possible) a social life...but that's to be expected :)

Enterprise 2.0 Still Mostly Misunderstood

Awesome (but very long) article by CIO magazine's Sue Bushell called Enterprise 2.0 - What is it good for?:

Canberra-based knowledge economy and social computing evangelist Stephen Collins heard a quote earlier this year that perfectly describes the Enterprise 2.0 dilemma: "If you want to find out what tools your staff are finding most useful at the moment, just go and see what your IT department is blocking."

Staffing for Social Computing

More and more companies are starting to understand the benefits of social computing. If not the benefits, at least they're starting to understand the risks of not getting serious about social computing because, increasingly, their customers are demanding a two-way discussion with them (and the companies that do offer this two-way discussion stand out).

However, the companies that want to get into social computing/media/networking [1] don't always know how to go about doing that. From my personal experience I've noticed that when companies have gone in to "the whole social media thing" without any real experience, expectations, or strategy around social computing, they've often made a mess of things.

What Mess?

One typical outcome is that they start by not doing the research on what their consumers want, how their consumers want and prefer to communicate, and what kinds of communication the company itself can and wants to support. Because of this, they end up doing something inadequate like installing a message board on their website and, well, leaving it at that. Then they wonder why it's not working.

At this point they either fix things -- usually by doing some research and getting an idea of what is and isn't working in their industry -- or they give up.

Why Does This Happen?

In my opinion, this mess-up happens because they haven't really thought through their objectives of getting into social computing or even what the point of social computing is. A major factor in this lack of planning -- or, worse still, a lack of awareness -- is that they haven't hired the right marketing and communications people (ultimately, all of this is a marketing exercise) and this is where the Forrester Research report called 'How to Staff for Social Computing' comes in.

Two Crucial Roles

As Jeremy Owyang, the report's author, mentions in his blog, staffing for social computing boils down to two crucial roles: (1) the Social Media Strategist who pushes for social computing internally (convinces management, gets resources, etc.) and (2) the Community Manager who actually runs the community itself (which he wrote more about in an earlier post).

Of course, all of this sounds pretty simple when put like that -- you have to pay $279 or be a Forrester client to get the full-detail version -- but, at one level, it really is that simple. You need the right people -- who will do the right planning, the much-needed internal advocating, and the crucial open and honest external communications -- to get the job done properly.

I'm glad Forrester has published this report because something like this is much needed and will be really helpful to people like me who advocate the use of social computing in organizations and, often, simply end up banging their heads against a wall.

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[1] Or, if you want to use the unfortunate buzz word, "Web 2.0".