Will companies stay in control of their PR? This is what academics say at Oxford today

Parallel Session I: The growth of the corporate blog – ‘Letting go’ of information control or maintaining the official line?


Simon Hampton, Google

Kara Swisher, Wall Street Journal

Mark Rogers, Market Sentinel

Chair: Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb

Blogs, Twitter feeds and even Facebook pages are increasingly featuring in the arsenal of PR strategies employed by large corporations and public institutions. This is not an idle choice: corporate blogs at both Google and Apple have at times, been the locus of intense media attention at times when new products have been announced or controversial decisions defended. Yet the use of such modes of communication raise peculiar challenges for companies willing to embrace new media, relating to the tensions between maintaining central control of information flows and the desire to react quickly when criticism arises in online networks or discussion groups. What do companies expect to gain from maintaining this sort of online presence and what are the implications of these trends for both the development of traditional PR strategy and business journalism?

Future of social media from Social Media Convention

Blogging at 20? The future and potential of social media


Kara Swisher,Wall Street Journal

Dave Sifry, Technocrati

Richard Allan, Facebook

Nigel Shadbolt, University of Southampton

Chair: William Dutton, Oxford University

If social media are the defining advance of Web 2.0, whereby the network-as-platform enabled users not just to download content but to create it, tag it and share it, what will the next decade hold? Many of the social media businesses whose tools we rely on have yet to make a profit, whilst concerns about privacy, security and possibly even dignity suggest that our online habits may have to change. The technology press has for some time been heralding the oncoming arrival of Web 3.0, as an era where the web gets ’smart’, and research on the developing semantic web suggests that this is no idle prediction. But what will happen to social media in the interim? Will the next ten years see our fascination with blogging, wikis and social networks replaced by a re-focusing on the enhanced informational capacity of the Web or will we continue to Tweet?

Richard Allan. Increasing pressure to regulate. EU took broadcasting rules and applied to internet. When video hs TV like power – it will attract attn of regulators. We want to tak our identity with us – crunch area. Can we let ppl let us develop identities – regulation of identity is an attractive issue for governments. Increasing power of audience.

Daily reach Facebook in UK 9m by 0.5 hr.

Bill Dutton. In US, want anonymity.

Richard Allan. Germany, like pseudonyms. Some sites might want identity cards.

Nigel Shadbolt. Public data should public. Delighted Facebook is promoting portability. Somebody at Google -Data Liberator.

What can be predicted – space and place will be more exquisitely defined. Will be revealed by digital behaviour.

Social norms. Do we need regulation. Let’s have some very clear info about where our info is and we must held ppl accountable or misuisng it.


?? Strategy for governments. Need data. Lisbon – top-down.

Richard Allan. Next few years. What mashups could you build? Find a loo – Satlav. Get data out of local authorities. Make data freely data – at every local govt.

Kara . .. find Starbucks.

David. Urinary Liberation Front.

Nigel Shadbolt. Need to be able access data. Some inadevertently handed over. Rail timetables.

David. Legal proceedings.

Nigel Shadbolt. Each jurisdiction will have different view of what is a public good.


?? Who controls, for example, our language preferences. Who will control this in future?

Kara . .. Google.

Dave. .. easily fixable. Geo search. Area of enormous innovatin. Who tracks all that. Commonly available. Genie out of bottle.

Kara. .Google holds back results in China, by requiremetn.

Richard Allan. Geo location is covered by law in Eu.

Kara.. .. computer driven body parts.

Floor/Kara animals / kids – 2 blocks off.

Bill Dutton. Privacy and surveillance. Also issue of quality. Are social networks going to enhance quality or not in your area? Or sideshow.

Nigel Shadbolt. Purposive social networks. What can you keep private? Challenge to build networks with scientists. Interesting engineering to share data. Quality? Next year – most papers in chem.eng will be in Chinese. Data is published with paper.

Kara….. no downside. Scientists collaborative and competitive. Silos. New media is of quality and getting better – take quality and ethics and embrace speed. Do excellent work online and still of high quality.

Dave…. better and be worse. Think through consequences of speed.

Richard Allan. Comparing apples and pears. Comparing content and conversation. Framing doesn’t tell us about quality anymore. We can make wrong assumptions about what we are looking at.

Nigel Shadbolt. Internet . . didn’t persuade Americans to believe in natual selection.


?? Business model scalable to univeral access. Richer, younger, better educated are on line. Will we increase real life differentials?

Kara . .. distribution of technology in States. Universal access. Facebook has turned profitable. Google more profitable than Oprah – did I get that right.

Bill Dutton. Social accountability for small groups of users.


x hours of YouTube – people becoming illiterate. . ..

Kara . . think video, screens.

Touch it, move it.

Richard Allan. Video will distribute President Palin.

Nigel Shadbolt. Empowers illiterate.

Dave…. Had videos for years…. won’t replace multi-modal

Kara . . 4 year olds expect screens to be touch screens

Dave . . . What will be on top today, will not be on top then.

Nigel Shadbolt – silicon will be meat…. lifestyle data …. big

Richard Allan – serious movement of refuseniks


3 British social media specialists actively involved in politics

Parallel Session II: Parties, campaigns and representation: the political impact of blogs and social media


Iain Dale, Ian Dale’s Diary

Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Forum

Matthew McGregor, Blue State Digital

Chair: Helen Margetts, Oxford University

The outcome of political careers and even campaigns is increasingly dependent on the successful mastery of new communication tools including social media. Many MPs and members of Congress are embracing the use of social networking tools to keep in touch with their constituents, whilst Facebook, YouTube and even Twitter have potentially changed the nature of election campaigns in reaching out directly to grass-roots supporters, with the recent US presidential campaign also showing how effective these tools might be in raising funds. At the same time, it is not clear whether these tools are likely to prove effective in engaging any voters except those who are already interested in politics, or whether their apparent ‘democratisation’ of traditional party structures is to be believed.

Andrew Rasiej

Talking about how the Democratic Party learned about ‘sociable’ media (before YouTube etc.)  Now 9/10 political videos are generated by voters not politicians.  Ecology of politics has changed.

Matthew McGregor

Develop a strategy before launching into tools.  British vs American politics.  No rock star politician.  Engagement – real relationship – two way, transparent, authentic.   Forward movement  – transparent [interesting definition].   Use of Bo.com to protest against BO.  Hope not hate – giving a say, things to do, resources to use  Did I hear 125K to 800K.  Putting people to work.    Online tools on bo.com allowing us to call from home.  Comm Worker Union – helped them engage with TNT ees directly to protest takeover of Royal Mail.  Be part of the process.  No ghost writers.  Timely.  Action oriented.  Ppl don’t want to be passive recipients.   Boring on TV is boring on YouTube.  Social media is not a panacea for  problems faced by politicians.

Iain Dale

Politicians don’t know their RSS from their elbow.

A politician has a blog [!] [hopefully not the one I read!].  All 3 parties do not understand – they transmit.  The B N P do it seems.

News might originate created on internet and are likely to be negative.  Fail to understand they can bypass mainstream internet.

Conservative Party now requires campaigning and exposure to open caucuses.  Existing blogs are useful.  Likely to be the difference between being selected or not.  [But would it be enough?].  Email still the most important.  Ppl easily contactable by email now.  16000 constituents important.

Parties may try to get bloggers to do negative campaining -do dirty work for them.  Quoting the Cons Speech against Brown in EU parliament [gee, that made me think Conservatives don’t have a clue]

All large public purchases will be put on internet.


City Uni.  : Commenting BO campaign up-down or down-up.  Matthew McGregor – autonomy to organize own events.  And marked with red (staff) blue (volunteers).  Most people don’t see red pins <5%.  In Britain, worried whether all sorts of people would turn out.  But not direct democracy – BO listens but doesn’t take direction.

Helen Magretts: ?

AR. Bottom up and top down not exclusive.  Material spread because ppl want to spread it.   Flood the zone -he with most links wins.  Empower supporters to run campaigns on his behalf.

Iain Dale.

Political parties exist because  they want to dominate.  But opinion on internet cannot be dominated.

… McCarthy ..  new media chief … 2000 followers on Twitter.

?? Life after death for Howard Dean .  .. has read the 1200 page health bill.  Any resurrection  .  .

Andrew R.   Hasn’t really embraced the internet. Internet is a reflection of what happens in  real life.

Matthew McGregor.  Howard Dean didn’t spend a lot of time on internet himself but got resources to put tools in hands in the “states”.  Got ppl engaged online and gave them the tools to go offline.

Iain Dale.

John Redgwood -blog on world economic crisis. Several posts a aday.  Blog is a platform.

Andrew R.

Howard Dean would be a leader if he demanded the health bill was put on line.


?? Negative politics.

Iain Dale.  Somebody trying to use bloggers to spread rumours.  Exercised [moral imagination] and comment/debates was positive.

Matthew McGregor.  Try to help people find information they need.  Direct people to the right site and have tools to use.

Help people get to the right information.

Lib Dem tried to use these tactics negatively.


??  Media studies in Unis approached sociologically and psychologically.   Only 50% voted last time.   Politicians tried to by pass media.  What’s new?

Andrew R.  Political parties must become media organizations.   Moderate turnout is a function of education as much as politics. Politicians target just those who will vote.

Iain Dale.  61% last time.  People also knew who would win.  Higher turnout expected. 450 people turned up to an open caucus.  [ Seems to be big for Bedford and were mobilized by  a candiate of a ‘minority’ candidate.]  If big donations will be banned, where will money come from?  BO’s great success was raising money.  Hard to donate to political parties in UK.

Andrew.  BO also raised a lot of money traditionally. Must build community first.

Iain.  Sponsored diet by blog readers.  5K.

Chair: Blog isn’t formal.

Matthew : just because parties are bad at it, doesn’t mean that it won’t be successful.

Andrew.  Ron Paul. Made donations public in real time.


Disadvantaged consumers.  Third sector -what can it learn from polticians.

Burlesconi [sp?] – must continue to campaign.  2 universes – campaigning mode –

Andrew -govt must be present where we are – on the internet [and elsewhere] BO is using scarcity media.  Needs to build dialogue as he did during the campaign.   only thing that needs to change is must change email address.

Iain Dale.  NGO’s -directors don’t have blogs.

Matthew – charities – don’t just ask for money -should then ask for story – emotional investment – emotional attachment.  Don’t see peopelas ATM’s.