Unlimited One Drive – The Sky Has No Limit

published on December 15, 2014

To Infinity and Beyond

Christmas is early for Microsoft Office 365 subscribers as Microsoft announced that Office 365 customers can now get unlimited cloud storage space on OneDrive at no additional cost. Forget about storage in gigabytes or terrabytes – this one just went through the roof. Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management gave this announcement on the Office blog.

Today, storage limits just became a thing of the past with Office 365. OneDrive and OneDrive for Business will now offer unlimited storage—at no additional cost—to our Office 365 consumer and business customers.

With unlimited OneDrive storage coming to Office 365 subscribers across consumer, commercial and education plans you can get more done on the devices you love—the possibilities are, well, unlimited.

Chris Jones, Microsoft’s OneDrive corporate VP, also said in a blog post,

While unlimited storage is another important milestone for OneDrive we believe the true value of cloud storage is only realized when it is tightly integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create, and collaborate, both personally and professionally. That is why unlimited storage is just one small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them, all while meeting the security and compliance needs of even the most stringent organizations.

We’re thrilled to continue our quest of making OneDrive the world’s cloud storage leader – and, always a key part of the best productivity service with Office 365.

The Sky Wars

Having enough storage or disk space has always been a problem because we accumulate so much stuff on our hard drives. Accessing data can be difficult to manage especially if you have so many backups on external hard drives to maintain. Some of the reasons why cloud storage services are becoming more and more acceptable is because of the simplicity, accessibility, ease of use, and cross-platform support they provide users. This means that these services allow you to easily upload your files and use it anytime, anywhere, using almost any device.

The more popularly known cloud storage service providers aside from OneDrive include: Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, iCloud Drive, and a few others. Storage-wise, here’s what you get for free:

  • Microsoft OneDrive – 15 GB (+ 3 GB extra storage when you activate camera roll backup)
  • Dropbox – 2 GB (+ up to 1.5 GB extra storage as bonus)
  • Google Drive – 15 GB
  • Amazon Cloud Drive – 5 GB
  • iCloud Drive – 5 GB

But, Microsoft has something else to give aside from the unlimited storage space. Microsoft calls it – Office Everywhere! This was announced Nov. 6 bringing Office to everyone and on every device with the start of Office for Android tablet Preview, new Office for iPhone apps, updated Office for iPad apps and more.

John Case, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Office, in his announcement also said,

Today we’re taking the next major step to bring Office to everyone, on every device, and I’m excited to announce that Office apps customers love are coming to Android tablets with the start of our Office for AndroidTM tablet Preview. We’re also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone® and updates for the iPad apps–to ensure a consistently beautiful and productive Office experience on every device. Our vision of Office everywhere wouldn’t be complete without Windows, so I’m pleased to confirm that new, touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works and we’ll have more to share soon.

These changes will definitely change the way cyberscape works and will set the tone for others to match. How it will unfold we have yet to see. To infinity and beyond, indeed.

ETA: Interesting Gamechanger – Microsoft and Dropbox just announced a partnership that will see Dropbox better support Microsoft’s Office suite, and the latter better integrate into the product stack of the storage firm. The news comes after Box, another enterprise-facing storage firm, integrated with Office 365, Microsoft’s Office-as-a-service solution, and OneDrive improved its product mix with unlimited storage. Let’s see how all this unfolds.

Comment Management Solutions for WordPress

published on December 4, 2014

Who doesn’t love Spam? We’ve consumed cans and cans of this comfort food and we never get tired of it. Unfortunately, spam has become synonymous with what the internet hates the most – especially by bloggers. Too much of it is just pretty hard to ignore.

Comments – Love ’em. Hate ’em.

Admit it. When you started out blogging, you would check your blog everyday to see if someone left you a comment on your post. AND, you were absolutely thrilled when someone actually did. Never mind that it wasn’t from some popular blogger or someone famous. Someone left a comment. Hooray!

Soon after, someone left another comment. And another comment. And another comment. And another comment – this time with a link. More comments. More links. And pretty soon, your dashboard is exploding with millions of comments and links that have nothing to do with your blog post. “Hello world.” just turned into “Hello spam.” Now, you’ve probably realized that more doesn’t exactly mean great. What to do?

Approve. Reply. Delete. Trash.

WordPress has a built-in system that can handle all the basic comment management requirements necessary like approving, replying, deleting, or trashing comments. However, the native WordPress system, albeit simple and easy to use, has its limitations and the more savvy users need more than just the basics. Features like social media integration, media support, public user profiles, or better spam filtering options cause people to turn their heads to third-party solutions especially when comments flood the back end and become challenging to monitor and manage.

Ban-The-Spam Solutions

Why ban the spam? Spam is a global problem and often WordPress comments are the place when bots try to enter bogus content full of links to their sites. Here are some of the blog comment systems and/or plugins you can use on your websites to help you manage those annoying spam comments.

  • WordPress Default Comment System – built-in comment management system that’s simple and easy to use but needs supplemental plugins to ban spam effectively.
    Cost: FREE
  • Akismet – It is an external service for battling spam with a database of known emails, IP addresses, and usernames used for sending spam. This advanced hosted anti-spam service efficiently processes and analyzes masses of data from millions of sites and communities in real time. When a visitor submits a comment, it is checked by Akismet and put in a special Spam folder to be managed by the website admin later on.
    Cost: FREE (Personal, Non-commercial sites/blogs)
    • $5-$50 (For commercial, business, and professional sites / For publishing networks, agencies, hosts, and universities)
  • Disqus – Disqus, Inc. is a blog comment hosting service for web sites and online communities that uses a networked platform. The company’s platform includes various features, such as social integration, social networking, user profiles, spam and moderation tools, analytics, email notifications, and mobile commenting. Features a powerful moderation dashboard and all the filters you’d expect: blacklists, whitelists, spam controls, and word filters.
    Cost: FREE (core version)
  • Livefyre – Livefyre Comments 3 is a comment platform for real-time conversations. Important features include real-time user generated content-publishing, mobile device-friendly, real-time profanity filters that administrators can moderate and flag comments from directly within the stream, or block by IP address and Web Browser, social media and multi media support.
    Cost: FREE (basic version)

Other practical tips to manage spam:

  • Control which comments are automatically published and which ones need to be moderated. WordPress has a built-in provision for this.
  • Tag comments that have more than one link to be manually approved.
  • Create a blacklist and/or white list of frequent commenters.
  • Disable comments on older posts and pages.
  • Install tried and tested WordPress plugins or 3rd-party plugins to beef up your comment management system.
  • Wipe out your spam folder regularly.

SOW 2014 – The State of the Word According to Matt

published on November 17, 2014

Straight from the Founder

Exciting times are up ahead for WordPress. Here are some of the highlights of the 2014 State of the Word Matt Mullenweg shared during the 9th Word Camp San Francisco event held last Oct. 24.:

The Year That Was

  • By year end, there will have been 81 WordCamps all across the globe.
  • WordCamp San Francisco ends this 2014 and will be replaced by WordCamp US – name, location, date to be determined
  • 2014 is a Milestone year for WordPress. It is the first year where non-English downloads surpassed English downloads of WordPress.
  • WordPress used as a CMS or for blogs has been declining every year. However, WordPress used as an app framework is slowly on the rise.
  • Out of 33k who took the WordPress survey: 7,539 (25%) of survey participants make their living from WordPress. Over 90% of people build more than one site, and spend less than 200 hours building one.
  • There have been five major and seven minor releases of WordPress since the last WCSF in July with 785 contributors across them. (Oscar, Basie, Parker, Smith, and Benny) One more is expected to be released (v. 4.1) this December.
  • WordPress releases from 3.6 to 4.0 include the ff. improvements: Revisions UI, Post Locking, Auto Updates, Password Recommendations, Better Global support, Color Scheme, New Theme Browser, MP6 Redesign, Responsive, Drag and Drop Images, Better Previews, WYSIWYG Image Editor, New Media Library, Rich Embeds, New Plugin Browser, and Improved Editor.
  • WordPress has risen from 19% and now powers 23% of websites.
  • There are now 34k plugins and 2.7k themes — including plugins passing 1,000,000 commits.
  • 16 releases of our mobile apps, Android and iOS.
  • Code Reference was launched.

What’s Next?

  • There are approximately 105 active meetup groups representing 21 countries, with over 100 meetup and WordCamp organizers who were present at the event. Internationalization will be a big focus of the coming year.
  • Wider concept of “Locale” to include – language, time zone, date formats
  • Language Packs coming to more plugins and themes in 2015
  • Fully-localized plugin and Fully-localized theme directories on language sites and embedded on dashboard in version 4.1, coming out December 10th 2014.
  • Better stats coming for plugin and theme authors.
  • Version fragmentation is a big challenge for WordPress. Only a 25% of users are currently on the latest release which creates a problem for PHP. WordPress will be working with hosts to help with version fragmentation, as well as to get as many WordPress sites as possible running PHP 5.5 or better.
  • 2015 default theme to be released. Theme design shows a “book-like” typography and feel.
  • WordPress now accepting GitHub Pull requests.
  • WordPress is switching away from IRC as its primary communication method and is moving to Slack. Teams can use this to communicate with each other. Slack will be available to every single user of WordPress.org. Slack works on every device.
  • Five for the Future, with Gravity Forms and WPMU Dev committing to donate, and Automattic now at 14 full-time contributors to core and community.
  • There is a need to work hard to harmonize the REST API plugin and the WordPress.com REST API.

The Final Word

The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing, which means access for everyone regardless of language, geography, gender, wealth, ability, religion, creed, or anything else people might be born with. To do that we need our community to be inclusive and welcoming. There is a sublime beauty in our differences, and they’re as important as the principles that bring us together, like the GPL. – Matt Mullenweg

WordPress and Cloud Storage Apps – How Safe is Your Data?

published on November 7, 2014

Up, Up, and Away!

We somehow have this picture in our minds that all the stuff we upload online is somehow floating over our heads, whisked way, way up into cyberspace. But what do we know about Cloud Storage and what really happens to all the files we upload? Maybe some people can probably relate to this old song about clouds by Joni Mitchell.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Is Cloud Storage all that it promises to be? Convenience, accessibility, tons of file space. Is it possible that this nice, fluffy, feel good Cloud could go wrong and cause seemingly irreparable damage to its users? Case in point, the recent celebrity photo hacks, Dropbox, iCloud, Snapchat, etc. Is Cloud Storage really safe to use?

Of Dropbox, Copy, Box, and other Cloud Storage Apps

Cloud storage service is an amazing innovation, which allows you to upload, store and share images, videos, and other type of content online. How does it work?

Cloud storage is a model of data storage where the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data available and accessible, and the physical environment protected and running. People and organizations buy or lease storage capacity from the providers to store end user, organization, or application data.

Cloud storage services may be accessed through a co-located cloud compute service, a web service application programming interface (API) or by applications that utilize the API, such as cloud desktop storage, a cloud storage gateway or Web-based content management systems. (source: Wikipedia)

Ok. That’s a mouthful. In other words, Cloud Storage “refers to saving data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. Instead of storing information to your computer’s hard drive or other local storage device, you save it to a remote database. The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database.”

Hacker Proof Cloud Storage

Does it exist? Probably not. Just like secrets, keeping digital information from getting into mischievous hands is like pinky swearing. There is no fool-proof way. Ever tried to format, erase or delete photos from your memory card or your hard drive? Guess what. They still live there, way below the recesses of your storage device and can still be extracted using recovery software. Yup, even after you’ve formatted or reformatted (quick reformat and not full format) And that’s just local storage. Still very much within the scope of your control. But what about cyber storage? Does this mean that you shouldn’t use Cloud Storage at all?

Secure Your Online Data

People are paranoid about large-scale theft of personal information. Unknowingly, they post more than just the usual profile information required when joining a social or public website. (Check out this amazing mind reader.) Their entire lives are posted blow by blow on social media – voluntarily. But the operative word here is – voluntarily. Quite the opposite of theft, where someone takes away from someone against his or her will or permission.

There will always be risks. Whether online or offline. Once anything is uploaded and publicly shared, the risks should have been supposedly counted already. It can be stolen, shared without permission, downloaded, altered, wrongfully claimed, disputed, etc. It’s a reality. Of course, the expectations change when information is shared with restrictions.

People need to be fully aware of what they are sharing, to whom they are sharing it with, and where (websites, online storage, etc.) they share, post, or upload. Make sure to read and understand (someone said this is the biggest lie online) the terms of use of websites and note if there are any third party clauses that allow these websites to share, sell, or pool personal information to their suppliers or sponsors.

Use a strong password and don’t repeat the same password in different places. Consider a password manager. Use the two-step verification or two factor verification option if a website provides one. Do manual backup instead of automated backups. It doesn’t hurt to create your own self-policing practices to ensure that your rights to privacy or ownership rights are not violated.

Adaptive Design – The New Responsive?

published on November 3, 2014

What is Adaptive Design

Adaptive web design is another term for progressive enhancement of a web site. The term was first coined by Steve Champeon and was adopted by Aaron Gustafson, founder and principal consultant of web development boutique -Easy! Designs, in his book “Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences with Progressive Enhancement” in May 2011. It is a high level design philosophy that can be achieved through a variety of execution tactics including server side user agent detection, or client side responsive web design. (source: Wikipedia)

At the 2003 SXSW Conference, Steve Champeon and Nick Finck unveiled a blueprint for a new way of approaching web development. Steve coined this as progressive enhancement.

Gustafson takes Progressive Enhancement a bit further by saying,

The Progressive Enhancement perspective focuses on the content (not browser capabilities). Content is the reason we create websites to begin with. Some sites disseminate it, some collect it, some request it, some manipulate it, and some even do all of the above, but they all require it. That’s what makes progressive enhancement a more appropriate paradigm. – Aaron Gustafson, A List Apart.

“Adaptive web design,” as I use it, is about creating interfaces that adapt to the user’s capabilities (in terms of both form and function). Aaron Gustafson

Brad Frost also shared his thoughts about adaptive design at the 2013 SXSWi Conference,

While creating flexible layouts is important, there’s a whole lot more that goes into truly exceptional adaptive web experiences.

Adaptive design is essentially progressive enhancement at its core, but it’s being applied to a much larger, more diverse landscape than when the term progressive enhancement was first coined.

AWD vs RWD – Where lies the difference?

The common misconception people have is that Adaptive Design is synonymous with Responsive Design. In an article written by Ethan Marcotte about Responsive Design, he writes,

Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries are the three technical ingredients for responsive web design, but it also requires a different way of thinking. Rather than quarantining our content into disparate, device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts.

Brad Frost presents a different way of looking at it,

Responsive design is one technique in an adaptive web design strategy.

Creating flexible layouts is extremely important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to consider a whole host of other factors as well: ergonomics, touch capability, geolocation, SVG support, and the myriad other features that can be detected.

Here’s a simple way for you to tell which one is which:

  • Adaptive: Sites show up on different devices on the similar set of URLs but each URL uses different HTML and CSS based on the type of device (desktop or mobile).
    Responsive: Sites show up on various devices on the same set of URLs and every URL uses the same HTML and CSS for all devices.
  • Adaptive: Easier and more convenient to install features that mobile and desktop users prefer. Better loading speed of the site which translates to better user experience.
    Responsive: No need to maintain two different code bases (one for desktop and another for mobile viewing). No requirement to establish server-side redirects to guide desktop and mobile users to view the appropriate site.
  • Adaptive: Uses a range of static formats depending on breakpoints. As a result of which, this particular design fails to respond when one changes a browser window. It first identifies the type of display and then resorts to the format sized appropriately for viewing on a certain display type.
    Responsive: demands detailed front-end coding so that users can have great viewing experience irrespective of any browser and OS.

At the recently concluded HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference held last Feb 2014 in New York, a panel of distinguished industry leaders concluded that:

  • Responsive website design is here to stay in this three-screen world we now live in (desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • If you want to do responsive design right, Adaptive Web Design/Responsive Design on Server Side (RESS) is the better approach.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong as to which one is the better web design approach. Every website has a specific user base that has different needs. These users access the internet on various devices at any given moment. Some like it squishy. Others like it static. The ultimate goal is to know what majority of your website users prefer and provide the most delightful experiences possible for these users regardless of the type of device they use.

An Easy Way To Find Free WordPress Themes

published on October 27, 2014

Did you every go through hundreds of google page results in the search for a fitting WordPress theme and got frustrated that there is no place where you can find hundreds of themes at one glimpse and just find what you’re looking for without wasting time?


We’ve come across a site that is exactly filling this niche and makes it easy to filter and browse through themes and download them with one click.

Themes Town is a project that basically is providing you with an overview of hundreds of free WordPress themes you can demo and if you like them download all on one single site. If you want to narrow your results down you can use the multi select filter to find exactly what you need. If you only want to find responsive themes no problem! Simply filter by “Responsive” or if you would like to know which ones are the most popular themes you can see a list of how many times a certain theme got downloaded.

Download 177 WordPress Themes For Free Now!

Social Media Optimization – The New SEO Frontier?

published on October 23, 2014

Social Media Optimization (SMO) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Abbreviated as SMO, Social Media Optimization is the process of increasing the awareness of a product, brand or event by using a number of social media outlets and communities to generate viral publicity.

Social Media Optimization includes using RSS feeds, social news and bookmarking sites, as well as social media sites and video and blogging sites. SMO is similar to SEO (search engine optimization) in that the goal is to drive traffic to your Web site. (source: Webopedia)

In contrast to SEO, Search Engine Optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine. (source: Webopedia)

Here are some of the goals aimed for when individuals or businesses post on social media:

  • Build brand recognition
  • Build thought leadership
  • Drive website traffic
  • Drive social signals for SEO
  • Gain followers
  • Generate leads
  • Nurture relationships
  • Drive customer loyalty
  • Increase customer engagement

On the other hand, according to MOZ, a well-known authority on SEO, the value producing objectives of SEO are as follows:

  • for Raw Traffic
  • for E-Commerce Sales
  • for Mindshare/Branding
  • for Lead Acquisition & Direct Marketing
  • for Reputation Management
  • for Ideological Influence

Should SMO and SEO be treated and managed separately within the enterprise? Notice the goals overlapping both. The truth is, businesses today can no longer achieve maximum yield without SEO and SMO. You need both. One coin – two sides. Website popularity is no longer achieved by traditional SEO efforts alone. Social media plays a powerful and critical role in the rise and fall of a website. Scary but true. It is a double-edged sword that can wield both ways.

SMO operates exactly like SEO, except that in the latter, “likes”, “shares” and votes of confidence were a result of link building and other traditional SEO techniques and tactics. SEO then was easy to mechanize, easy to manipulate. Social Media is a whole other animal. With SMO, real people like, share, and visit your site. Real eyeballs. Real conversions. However, managing Social Media can be tricky but when done right, in tandem with good SEO, it can fast-track success like no other.

The pitfall of traditional SEO is that the focus was only on link building. Engagement and participation were not so important as long as there were enough keywords and inbound links that propelled the website to the top of the SERPs. The potential pitfall of SMO is essentially the same. Having huge numbers of links to your website scattered across social networks is not optimization. Joining every Facebook industry page, Google+ Community, and LinkedIn group just to seed links does not equate to optimization.

From Renee Warren (co-founder of Onboardly),

“People log in to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to discover content, connect with people, and build community. They don’t necessarily know what they are looking for but hope to find something worthwhile when they do arrive. Content marketing is excellent for SEO and social media, but it must be done correctly.

Social media is most powerful when you take the time to build the right relationships. When people find your site through search engines, are they converting into registered users and leads? Is your Facebook page creating a community of dedicated, loyal repeat visitors?

Social media and SEO are more about people than they are about key terms. Social media and content marketing are about creating communities for like-minded people to gather. It’s not about cross-selling and pushing sales onto unsuspecting individuals or groups.”

Bottomline, the new SEO is SMO. Real people build networks. People share voluntarily when they find something worth sharing. The more social shares you get, the more Google attributes quality, authority, and shareability to your website which in the end means – better search rankings.

Key Web and Marketing Conferences for Q4-2014 and 2015

published on October 15, 2014

Equip yourself with the latest information on trends and technology by participating in any of these events and conferences. Mark your calendars!

Date: 17 – 19 Nov 2014
Venue: Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Topic(s): The HOW Interactive Design Conference, now in its fourth year, offers a design perspective that allows the entire creative team—designers, programmers and developers—to work together for a cohesive, effective and elegant design solution.

Event: SMX Social Media Marketing
Date: 19 – 20 Nov 2014
Venue: The ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Topic(s): This tactic-rich conference covers the key aspects of social marketing, whether you’re tasked with driving organic traffic, managing paid campaigns, or stewarding your company’s brand with online reputation management and customer service.

Event: VELOCITY EU 2014
Date: 17 – 19 Nov 2014
Venue: Barcelona, Spain
Topic(s): The Velocity Europe 2014 event will focus on the core issues and opportunities that are specific to the European performance and ops community, as well as the most significant worldwide themes and players. The Velocity Conference provides you with real-world best practices for optimizing your site’s web pages, specifically the performance of Ajax, CSS, JavaScript, and images.

Event: PHPBenelux Conference 2015
Date: 23 – 24 Jan 2015
Venue: Hotel Ter Elst, Kattenbroek 1,2650 Edegem, Antwerp, Belgium
Topic(s): PHPBenelux Conference is not limited to just PHP-related talks. There have been sessions covering a wide range of topics supporting PHP developers and DevOps

Event: SES London
Date: 9 – 11 Feb 2015
Venue: Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, 239 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 1EQ United Kingdom
Topic(s): Get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in PAID, OWNED, EARNED, INTEGRATED MEDIA and BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. SES is designed to help search specialists, digital marketers, brand advertisers, agencies and business leaders drive their businesses forward.

Event: SearchFest 2015
Date: 27 Feb 2015
Venue: The Sentinel Hotel [Formerly The Governor Hotel] – Portland, Oregon
Topic(s): SearchFest presents multiple informative learning tracks, workshops, and panel sessions designed to provide direct insight into the most up-to-date strategies and technological advancements in online search marketing and social marketing. Industry experts and thought leaders from around the country deliver in-depth presentations ranging from basic SEM and social media fundamentals to specific advanced techniques.

Event: Apps World North America
Date: 13 – 14 May 2015
Venue: Moscone Center, 747 Howard Street, corner of Third & Howard streets, San Francisco CA 94103
Topic(s): Includes over 12,000 developers, mobile marketers, mobile operators, device manufacturers, platform owners and industry professionals expected for 11 different targeted workshop tracks, speed meeting, 1-1 meetings, parties, tackling a spectrum of issues across the app ecosystem.

Event: WEBIST 2015
Date: 20 – 22 May 2015
Venue: Lisbon, Portugal
Topic(s): 11th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies (WEBIST). The conference has five main tracks, covering different aspects of Web Information Systems, including Internet Technology, Web Interfaces and Applications, Society, e-Communities, e-Business, Web Intelligence and Mobile Information Systems.

Event: SMX Advanced 2015
Date: 2 – 3 June 2015
Venue: Seattle, Washington
Topic(s): SMX Advanced is the only search marketing conference designed exclusively for experienced internet marketers. The most accomplished search marketers in the world will present cutting edge tips for driving traffic and increasing conversions from paid search advertising, SEO, social media marketing, and more.

Rethinking Public Relations (PR) in the Age of Social Media

published on October 7, 2014

Public Relations and Social Media

Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. source:Wikipedia

In 2011/12, PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) led an international effort to modernize the definition of public relations and replace a definition adopted in 1982 by the PRSA National Assembly. The current definition of Public Relations is:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Social Media, on the other hand, is the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. Social media do not just include social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but also blogs, forums, message boards, photo sharing, podcasts, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), search engine marketing, video sharing, Wikis, social networks, professional networks, and micro?blogging sites (Wright and Hinson, 2009).

Traditional PR or Digital “PR” thru Social Media- Where Shall the ‘Twain Meet?

As more and more traditional media like newspapers, magazines, etc. go digital, does this mean that Public Relations thru traditional channels has now become a thing of the past? Not. In fact, it is expanding rapidly. The goal of Public Relations is to communicate key information. The vehicle from which it is delivered may be evolving but the goal remains the same – no matter what type of media is used.

At one of the panel sessions conducted at the Council of PR Firms’ Critical Issues Forum, executives of several leading firms noted a few interesting points in relation to social media:

Social media has many unique attributes, but it is really just another channel through which information is delivered. The newness of social media is going away as it becomes the new mainstream.

This means that Social Media is now one of the integral channels of communication that Public Relations practitioners use, alongside with newspaper, trade publications and broadcast media, to disseminate key messages to key audiences. The integration of social media into PR brings new tactics, new expectations and new outcomes. Both digital Public Relations and traditional Public Relations share the same goal, that is to enhance a clients’ reputations and increase visibility among targeted audiences.

In a paper written by James L. Horton on PR and Social Media, he concludes with this thought:

In a broader perspective, there is little difference between traditional media relations and social media relations. In traditional media relations, practitioners identify reporters and editors and build relationships with them in order to get client news disseminated. In social media, practitioners identify influential participants and build relationships with them in order to get client news disseminated. It is more difficult in social media because there are more participants and there is less clarity in determining who key players are.

If history is a guide, over time, influentials will coalesce within social media, and practitioners will have a clear perspective on where to go. That is happening, bu there are still large areas of social media open to investigation.