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Childhoods on film

Gen Z is developing maturing perspectives on lives in which the highlights of birthdays, holidays and random events aplenty have been relentlessly captured, captioned and shared on social media. Images of the innocent things kids do which seem innocent enough at the time, to the doer can become sources of embarrassment best destroyed once adolescence kicks in. Yesteryear’s photo album, pulled out and shared sparingly with visiting friends and extended families has been replaced by fully labeled and ‘liked’ mini-encyclopedias of youth, day in and day out, available for the world to see 24/7, compiled by those who didn’t grow up that way but often featuring subjects that have little say in their having ‘gone public’.

 

Epic fails, memorialized

 

From literal run-ins with walls or dogs as toddlers to off-key versions of evergreen songs bravely performed in school concerts to sport days that may not have gone well or, worse, ended in goofy victory dances, the normal growing pains of the earliest years are there for the gawking. Generational Kinetics, a Gen Z-focused company, has through polls deduced that the world’s latest generation shows a heightened awareness of privacy rights, because fighting for them – often with their parents and friends – is the new normal.

 

Image control

 

Millions of people barely on the threshold of adulthood are being forced to enter negotiations to control elements of their public persona. Actors once came to such agreements with their agents, and companies still do with their PR representatives. But today it is the norm for everyone to be, at least potentially, known far and wide. Lives are lived in the public domain, or something close to it, monitored by CCTV. Young people today have grown up instant experts in cultivating their image – and coping with posts that spun out of their control long ago, and if even if taken down, leave behind archival memories and the stuff of myths.

 

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Ads surviving and thriving

Some 90% of smaller businesses plan on increasing their budgets for this year, according to a new study. While the widespread and increasingly effective role of semi-autonomous influencers focused on special media platforms continues growing apace, and more and more customers get their information on products and services from peer reviews, the direct messaging of ad campaigns remains very relevant for spearheading and reinforcing the key messages streaming in from a dizzying variety of sources.

 

Making a name for yourself

 

Over half of the firms surveyed reported allocating less than $US50,000 on ads. Industry experts aware of new trends maintain that the benefits of advertising remains high in order to stand up and be noticed in an era marked by diminishing consumer loyalty. In terms of age differentiation, while both Millennials and Baby Boomers stated support of ads, Baby Boomers, who were less saturated with ads as children, were somewhat less likely to find them necessary.

 

Social media is where it’s at

 

In terms of placement, preference was by far strongest for placing ads in social media, with buying ad space on Google search pages, banners and retargeted advertisements also being popular. The dramatic growth of online shopping helps fuel the trend for the increasing relevance of traditional ads placed in new places, via the Internet. At the same time, traditional – and expensive – means of advertising such as on billboards and at bus stands shows only modest usefulness in terms of the much greater dividends paid for ads placed online. Despite the growth of big data and potential for specific sales and cashback pledges, ads online and everywhere remain based around the fundamental concept of generating greater brand awareness.

 

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PR ethics for competition and communication

In this final edition in a short series of blogs on how the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics relates to online-based PR today, the concepts of furthering communication and competition are looked at. On the face of it, the nature of digital realities today make ‘competition’ and ‘communication’ rather synonymous and symbiotic, seemingly forever feeding each other in an endless round of healthy if at times barbed exchanges online, with no communication-inhibiting monopolization in sight thanks to the competitive nature of posts and counter-posts on Facebook, Trip Advisor and the like…

 

Beyond tit for tat

 

…Only that these social media platforms can become self-serving pedestals and alter the nature and purpose of communication carried out on them. The PRSA’s stated commitment to a free flow of information, are checked by societal forces that have always worked to crush competitive forces, for better or worse, which often links with the idea of limited or at least dramatically curtailed communication. Worse, the go-to biggies of the digital age like Google, Facebook and Mircosoft, while officially espousing free expression, have all come up into trouble for hindering the freedoms they claim they stand for. These three titans have faced, and fought, for example, enormous fines from the European Union, and have become accustomed to operating with few to no rivals. The democratizing forces of the Internet have come up against firewalls protecting multinational institutions, which are often the ones setting the new standards.

 

Is there still room for privacy?

 

While Facebook’s CEO famously derided the idea of privacy in the future, and censorship, facial recognition technology and other digital forces coalesce to serve the consolidation of power, signs of counterbalance are found in new messy norms which champion the peer reviews of the little guy and the growth of the next big-time Gen Z influencer. But as long the Information Age police are the information providers themselves, the whole point of digitalupgrades’ are called into question.

 

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Welcome to your home away from home

Accepting new employees into the work culture of your office is a test of if a company to apply core beliefs fairly to everyone. Does the mission statement really reflect the higher reality or do cliques and corruption have more clout? The answer can be found in instances like when new employees are onboarded. Here are a few ways to show how welcoming newcomers can help enhance commitment to the right kind of corporate values.

 

Keep it stylish

 

A sense of fun can do wonders, as offices become more homes and coworkers like family members, in ways where overlapping is possible, depending on the organization. Examples of infusing casual rhythms of relaxation can come, for example, through encouraging freedom of expression through allowing employees to decorate and personalize their office space as they like. Making the home away from home closer to home itself can boost morale and productivity.

 

Bond with me

 

Company evenings and outings allow members from different departments to mingle and engage in ways based on light-hearted conversation and entertainment in memorable points of connection that create deeper relations and a sense of trust.

 

Hear my voice

 

In meetings and in consultations with work teams, and clients too whenever possible, ask new employees for their feedback and opinions. Encourage them to speak out and share what they think and have personal sessions to further prove the point.

 

Meet the family

 

Bosses who make the effort to go over and meet new employees at their homes or invite them to theirs show in dramatic ways that newcomers are very much a part of the family. This attention to detail and high level of personalization of course also can pay dividends in cases where the personal touch can go far in impressing clients as well.

 

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Marketing, automated

When you’re curious about what chance there is of rain, snow or something even more dramatic falling down on you, it’s good to know weather reports are reasonably reliable. While the forecasts for marketing trends may not yet be as accurate, they are getting better at indicating stormy conditions best avoided. Still in its infancy, this technology is called predictive analytics, and uses AI to help marketers forge ahead more confidently with strategy based largely on future customer behavior, in ways that would have looked risky just a few years ago.

 

PR, scientifically

 

The science takes a variety of statistics and facts about current trends to build models that are getting better at giving a good indication of how consumers will spend their money, based on analysis of past behavioral patterns. The big idea is that this will help save a ton of money on splash-out marketing campaigns and help PR agencies and their clients improve ROI numbers. Six out of 10 entrepreneurs questioned in a recent study said that think predictive analytics is an extremely significant trend, while nearly three-fourths of them said it would more definitely be so within two years.

 

Why predictions matter

 

Beyond lucrative applications for predicting the wants and needs of buyers of all kinds of products and services, the technology will be useful for prioritizing and qualifying leads, focusing publicity and campaigns on more targeted audiences, and more efficient introduction and testing of new items in the market. Predictive analytics is one more indicator of how big data is changing and enriching the information landscape in countless ways.

 

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Singapore considers a war on fake news

Singapore’s new draft legislation targeting fake news, while sounding promising on the surface, opens up a range of significant issues and grey areas. “False statements of fact” would be illegal under the proposed law. Anti-censorship critics and supporters of freedom of speech worry that nobler conspiracy theories and strong opinions might be censured along with more blatant mistruths and hate speech, and that at any rate it shouldn’t government being the one with ultimate authority on deciding what gets a pass and what’s deemed unfit to be shared. The differences between misinformation, libel and things best not shared at all are open to question.

 

Who should judge?

 

Whether the likes of Google or national governments are better institutions for making tough judgment calls on what constitutes fake news or false advertising is a legitimate question. Whether news articles, social media posts and advertisements should come under the scrutiny of best practices, more stringent rules and regulations or actual laws is the question at hand. Current regulations in Singapore, as elsewhere, are already used to target certain forms of expression. Under the proposed legislation, additional stiff penalties a fine up to S$100,000 or, up to 10 years behind bars, or both, could be applied.

 

Digital mistruths to be targeted

 

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill certainly gives pause for thought on exactly what might or might not be info which is considered to be “prejudicial”, against “public tranquility”, against the spirit of “friendly relations” with other countries, or “an inauthentic online account or controlled by a bot”. Free speech, with effects on digital marketers’ spicier statements on the products and services they promote, could be muffled out of concern of not wanting to come anywhere close to being on the wrong side of the law. If the proposed law becomes official, digital marketers will likely have to find out for themselves exactly what will be allowed under the law.

 

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Brilliant content! But is it effective?

Communications professionals are losing confidence in their own messaging. Less than 10 percent of digital marketers view their own content as effective, according to a new study. In order for clients’ aspirations to be realized, a more efficient delivery on key goals is desperately needed. But given the disruptive uncertainties in terms of what actual audiences are and what they want, confidence in the tracking and effectiveness of the messages reaching them is likely to remain low.

 

How influential are today’s influencers?

 

Although PR industry professionals, companies and customers all see the value of content marketing, and all the more in the age of digital information, the problem is making and tracking effective messaging.

 

Even in an era where big data is beginning to yield a stunning array of numbers, much remains a mystery. How successful was that clever campaign in driving a company’s impressive profits? What’s the correlation between lower ROI and another campaign from another company that looked cool but is still ultimately hard to track? Would profits have been even lower without that campaign’s messaging, or did it in fact drive profits? Marketers simply cannot clearly differentiate successful campaigns from less effective digital messaging, and rely too much on circumstantial evidence like customer perceptions. The percentage of marketers lacking confidence in the effectiveness of their content has nearly doubled from around one third just two years ago to nearly two thirds today.

 

From e-disruption to a world of innovation

 

As always though, opportunity knocks. To the integrated online marketing teams that can track and broadcast the effectiveness of their messages in reaching the right audiences and delivering desired results, great long-term rewards await.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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News designed to confuse and mislead

Misinformation has always been with us, but has never before had so many many real chances for liftoff.

 

Skeptical thinking and critical reasoning have taken a hit in an era when trust is just as important as ever, yet taken for granted when so much information is presented authoritatively. We’ve become lazy at fact checking – not that it was ever easy. Truth and lies mingle on digital platforms brimming with immediacy and confidence, working to state with authority that the information they help get across is accurate. Although we know this is not always the case, seeing is often believing. Over 60% of respondents in a recent survey expressed difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction in the news that they are consuming. Another report finds that seven out of 10 times, fake news ends up being retweeted than verifiable stories. Even when we try to distinguish what’s real, fiction ends up being more entertaining and worthy of sharing.

 

Freedom of expression and censoring where needed

 

YouTube is widely appreciated for its usefulness in providing free entertainment, though often raises concerns related to intellectual property and profit. The video-sharing site is also awash in conspiracy theories that can get users thinking at best, and believing in mistruths and engaging in dangerous activities at worst. Misinformation is everywhere, and it takes a lot of effort to get to the truth sometimes. Facebook’s iffy algorithms may end up isolating posts when they are found to be based on inaccuracy, but ignore posts more deserving to be taken down. Then, of course, there are grey areas.

 

Even though censorship was anathema to many of the founders of social media platforms, these modern venues for exchanging ideas need more guidance and regulation if their more dangerous roots are to be weeded out.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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Why marketing and PR needs data science?

Regular LinkedIn users who often check the classified job ads may have noticed an increasingly common trend among marketing recruiters – jobs requiring some expertise in data science (or “Big Data scientists”). Big Data and digitally applied skills jointly provide better analysis of business/ consumer results (or any shortfalls in this area); and, such skills also help to extrapolate and zone in on those who are likely to be interested in the client’s products and service offering. Several tech magazines have identified this type of job role as being “better paying than medicine” as a career path, with a future focus in app creation to look for pattern-seeking and data crunching knowledge: “This trend for data scientists mimics the trend for digital specialists that happened earlier at the turn of the millennium.” (Wired US).

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