CDPR-105: Fall 2013

It has been quite awhile since my last post which was last winter. I am back in school however, this is my last week in this course called: Research and Program Evaluation at Ryerson University

I enjoyed this course and all the reading associated with research and evaluation. I  now catch bits of conversation association with qualitative research every day. There is so much to say  about the benefits to learning which I will leave up to your experience. This blog is to share some of my learning experiences this fall. For example, a free app from Google to track visitors on your website or blog, read on:

The Value of Google Analytics to Public Relations

Google Analytics is a useful, one might argue indispensable tool for the twenty first century public relations professional. Google Analytics has the potential to help you deeply analyze who is visiting your site, how deep and long they spend on your site, where they come from, both geographically and in an electronic social media sense. Google Analytics has the capacity to measure the extent that a particular campaign or advertisement in a particular publication whether in print or electronic is having the desired impact. You can also measure trends and when people are most likely to visit your site. Since one of the cardinal goals of public relations is to know your audience, Google Analytics is an essential tool to use and deeply understand.

With Google Analytics you can measure whether people are visiting your site through basic Google searches, social media such as Twitter or Facebook or if they are visiting primarily through other websites that provide links to your site. Since it is very important to keep your ROI (Return on Investment) in mind it is extremely useful to know if you are spending time and resources trying to attract customers in ways and sources that are not providing expected traffic. Google Analytics can also be used to analyze your own website by tracking which pages people tend to spend the most time or the pages that are most visited. If there was a particular tab on your website that you want people to go to and you find that there is not much traffic there, then it is important to identify this gap and address the issue so that customers will go as easily as possible to where you want them to go.

It is also possible to segment the data so you can isolate people who are visiting your site from only one referring website. This could prove very useful if there was a new partner’s website that was providing a link to your website. You might be interested in determining how valuable this association was in attracting those who you were aiming for. It would also be possible to see if a particular article or campaign launched through some specific electronic media site was providing the intended readership and interest in the good or service that your organization was offering.

Another valuable feature of Google Analytics from a public relations perspective is the real time monitoring feature. In the case of some positive news or a crisis it is important to measure the impact as soon as possible so an appropriate plan can be devised to address the news or crisis. With the real time reports you can get a count of the active users on your website, where they came from (geographically), what brought them to the site (traffic sources) and what they’re looking at (content). This is once again an invaluable tool to get up to the minute data of how your audience or a particular segment of your audience are reacting and how they feel about your organization.

Alicia Lawrence recently identified in Ragan’s PR Daily 4 Google Analytics features for refining a PR campaign. The recently unveiled feature that particularly struck me was the Demographics menu that allows you to identify the demographic information of your audience, their interests and which users are buying your products. As she points out “Knowing the demographics and interests of your core customers can help you determine whom to target with your PR efforts and what angles to take.” She also pointed out that Google Analytics can also help you discover the languages and locations of your buyers which can help when deciding where a particular event or launch should take place and in what languages the promotional materials should be published in. Finally being able to track what are the top referrals to your site and how the largest number of conversions come about can greatly help focus public relations campaigns to best align to the company’s goals.

Clearly this report has done little more than outline the enormous possibilities of Google Analytics for the public relations professional. Like any such tool, regular use for a specific purpose and to meet specific goals is the key to optimum use. It is clear that any research that a public relations professional might need or want to do that relates to the ever growing use of electronic and social media will be greatly facilitated by gaining a strong working knowledge of the features offered by Google Analytics.

Have a very enjoy festive holiday season.


Legal Ease

Breaking down legal barriers

The major thrust of my storify for this week is how much there is to learn on a daily basis in this internet age; the interoperability between what we are learning and the daily news. As I work to produce a video, an application and webpage, I am struck by how much I have to learn and the legal requirements that I am supposed to agree to when I download and use the ‘free’ programs or try to post my creations to the web. The fact that the chapter from my text book Interop this week deals with Legal Interop also forced me to connect with what I was trying to accomplish in the course assignments. Let me break this down a bit.

As I was creating my video, and as I tried to post it publicly on the internet I began to recognize the potential of posting it on YouTube. I wondered if all my images from Creative Commons were in fact public domain. That lead me to have concern for the music I chose to use as background because I pulled it from my personal music library. I wanted to acknowledge the artists but not having received permission to use it, I know that I have no right to use it.  And for the sake of this assignment and all that I have learned in this fabulous course “Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy” at Ryerson University, there is always the potential that what is posted to the internet can go far beyond our intended audience of instructor and classmates. So, needless to say, I pulled the song out and used one that was licensed as free to use found on Creative Commons, thanks Creative Commons!! A very clear YouTube video on what Creative Commons is all about.

And, licensing can be so confusing, but this YouTube video explains it pretty well:

The currency of the European Union examples and the Cyprus news this week as yet another example that by creating any sort of economic union with its legal implications, the whole will consistently be only as strong as its weakest link and the dangers of allowing the weaknesses of one nation to have an impact on the economic well-being of its partners and the global economy. Here is a video on YouTube entitled Could tiny Cyprus take down the world? It provides a very good understanding of the state of Cyprus.

And, the currency of cyber terrorism described on page 188 with the situation that South Korea faced in this past week at the hands of what many observers suspect was the work of North Korea.

One can choose to feel overwhelmed by the learning that is required by anyone whose goal it is to fully participate in the internet age and for that matter keep up with this course content and all its recommended readings, and applications. And, yes it is all very exciting, stimulating and valuable. This course moves as fast as the information it serves to provide us as it changes and develops over the internet.

How are we as student learners assured that what we do for this course online through our learning processes does not come back to haunt us in the future?

Compliance: Institutional and Human Interoperability

The key message this week from Interop by Palfrey and Gasser was the challenge presented is the issue of compliance by all institutions in Ontario to accommodate the needs of disabled and vulnerable members of society. The United Nations states “Internet Access is a Human Right.” The following article and embedded video provide more insight.

When you get right down to it the planning and training necessary to be able to provide accommodations to information, internet and websites in Ontario have nothing to do with technologies and data. They have everything to do with human and institutional interoperability. The next YouTube video explains to a larger degree.

As I reviewed the Accessibility Wizard, I realized that it emphasized that not all institutions were the same but rather that the goal was for all institutions and humans who work in those institutions to work together to accomplish shared goals. In this case, to make accommodations in whatever way individuals require to access information, maintain their safety and acquire employment. Take the Accessibility Wizard to see how your organization can be more accessible.

The question becomes what can the Ontario government do to increase institutional and human interoperability in an accessibility program that aims to bring so many diverse institutions into a common goal?

Interoperability in Consumer Empowerment

Or the road to disaster.

This is my third week in the Ryerson Communications program in Digital Skills and Innovation for a Global Economy and I have learned so much. So much that through my excitement I felt compelled to share the pivotal points to you by tweeting the YouTube videos and other views that I felt you would benefit from. There is so much out there as you already know, but to a novice that I feel I am, I have been enjoying this learning and hope you enjoy my adventure. The following YouTube video has the authors of my text Messrs Urs Gasser and John Palfrey on Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems speaking on this subject.

In this week, while I have learned that consumers, companies, and governments should work together for higher levels of interoperability, I learned that what is good for consumers is not necessarily in the best profit interests of companies. This was made clear in the case of chargers for all of our electronic devices. I certainly have a drawer of them and often frustrated in not being able to find the one I need. The fact that the European Union as a result of pressure from consumers and environmentalists finally had the top ten cell phone chargers interoperable by “introducing a shared micro-USB standard” was very encouraging. This “legislation by threat” example pointed out the power of humans if an institution such as the government steps in to apply pressure on companies for greater interoperability. (Palfrey and Gasser, Pg 58-59). This next article explains in more detail the advance technology and why some companies are not so quick to be interoperable.

Without this pressure it seems that achieving horizontal interoperability where all the big companies make their various gadgets or in the case of China, instant messaging tools compatible, is a long term struggle. Companies such as Apple would be inclined to work toward vertical interoperability instead where all the consumers texting, viewing and listening desires are interoperable within the range of “I” products but not beyond. Even here, I learned that strides are being made to expand rather than contract the degree of interoperability (even if in some cases a premium has to be paid) as a result of consumer demands.

Finally as I explored the various instant messaging tools this week, it was interesting to read the case of the Tencent and Qihoo in the “Chinese Internet wars” in my text Interop, pg 67 cited how “consumer demand has played a role in driving interoperability horizontally across platforms.” It was interesting as well that it was computer programmers or the technology layer who were primarily responsible for the successes in this area. There is no doubt that interoperability empowers us in our role as active users of digital technology.

The YouTube video that follows shares more detail about these two internet giants in China.

”Most important from a society perspective, interoperability empowers us in our role as active users of digital technology. The powerful role that interoperability plays in this respect becomes clear when we look at the ways in which millions of computer and smartphone users now can create and share digital content.” (pg 72)

This YouTube video is an example of working together to make improvements to technology that is affordable for all.

The big question is, to what extent in the shrinking number of major players in the global economy, will demands for interoperability make the biggest players more competitive and therefore responsive to consumer demand? And, to what extent might we be setting the stage where one or a few giant companies control the thoughts and communications of all consumers?


The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems
by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser

I began a new course last week at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. Although it is not towards my degree program in Public Relations, upon seeing it advertised I instantly thought I would be very interested in it. This course is callled Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy. The link that follows is the information that gained my attention.

The course textbook is called Interop, written by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser they are “both law professors and researchers, interested in the way the ongoing explosion of information technologies affect societies around the world.” (Pg. 4) Interop stands for “interoperability” which is the exchange of information between the four layers being technology, data, human and institutional. “The main purpose of the theory of interoperability is to help define the optimal level of interconnectedness and to lay out a path for achieving it.” (Pg 3) I walked into my local Chapters and purchased the last text book on the shelf the weekend before the course started, it was confirmed in my mind that this is the course for me at this time. This is the text I am reading through-out the next twelve weeks. This blog will serve as my platform share what I am learning from week to week until the end of this course on April 13th. After that, we shall see where this leads.

I found that the Introduction and first chapter of Interop helped me understand the digital age in which we live and heighten my awareness of the potential benefits and pitfalls to social media. I was first struck by the layers of interoperability (page 6) and particularly the human and institutional layers which helped me understand that my difficulty in understanding their potential was the extent that they were the most abstract. If indeed greater connectivity and interoperability can help humans and institutions more collaborative (page 7) while maintaining unique characters the sky seems to be the limit. This is best summarized on page 11 where Palfrey and Gasser say “One of the primary benefits of interoperability is that it can preserve key elements of diversity while ensuring that systems work together in the ways that matter most.” The following YouTube Video helps to support my point:

The major thing that struck me in the chapter on the Technology and Data Layers was the extent that humans increasingly expect that the various systems and platforms in which they work and play and socialize are easily transferable; the challenge in an age where technology is advancing so quickly.
I like this YouTube video in that it is AODA compliant and recaps the major developments in technology within the last 10 years.

The concept of geolocation (page 29 in Interop) also resonated with me to the extent that producers and services that we have an interest in can keep track of us and provide us with benefits such as giving us coupons and by allowing us to read the menu as we walk by the restaurant but also can at the same time invade our privacy. It was at this point that I connected the text with the YouTube video that identified the extent that peoples likes on social media can be translated into advertising that makes them $millions$ and users marketing fodder.

Will the pictures we take today on one platform be available to us when we want to show these pictures to our grandchildren even 10 years from now?