Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MySpace practices CSR, too!

I was logging into MySpace (yes, I am a guilty user) and the home page was completely black in honor of Earth Day 2008. MySpace isn't the first Web site to do this. Google created the search engine Blackle for those who are uber-concerned about saving energy. I didn't even know Blackle existed until I saw someone using it in one of my classes. It never even crossed my mind that blacking out Web sites would save that much energy. I guess blacking out Web sites is the new "Save the Earth" trend.

Blacking out their Web site isn't the only thing they are doing for Earth Day. According to MySpace Impact, they hosted the Green Apple Festival over the weekend in which artists banded together to perform for a cause.

MySpace is also asking users to plant a tree on their profile and in return, MySpace will plant a tree in real life. This new application will spread quickly across the MySpace community. I mean, look at Facebook. In one of their thousands of applications, users can create their own virtual pets. This application started out with minimal use, but now, I see it on almost every profile I view. So, add a tree to your MySpace and chances are, all of your friends will too.

Some might be shocked to find out that MySpace isn't just a breeding ground for teenagers to post lewd photos of themselves. MySpace actually cares. Why wouldn't someone, such as Tom Anderson, MySpace's founder, take advantage of the millions of people who use his site and promote concerns of the general public? Just like Facebook, MySpace can influence millions in just minutes and with the simple click of a button.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ben & Jerry's Mission for Change

Today, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not an unfamiliar term. According to SourceWatch , CSR “is commonly described by its promoters as aligning a company's activities with the social, economic and environmental expectations of its "stakeholders."” Everyone from huge corporations to smaller firms have jumped on the bandwagon to avidly support one or more causes, whether it is the green campaign, poverty or funding the formation of education programs.

Would you feel better about eating a pint of ice cream if you knew the producer was passionate about a certain cause? I would. As of yesterday (April 07, 2008), Ben & Jerry’s announced their partnership with the ONE Campaign. This campaign, according the ONE Web site, “seeks to raise public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger, disease and efforts to fight such problems in developing countries.”
In order for Ben & Jerry’s to show their support of the campaign, they created a brand new flavor, ONE Cheesecake Brownie. I couldn’t think of a more fabulous combination of my three favorite sweets—cheesecake, brownies and ice cream! The container sports the logo of the ONE Campaign in hopes of educating loyal Ben & Jerry’s customers on the issue of poverty and the existence of the campaign.

However, this isn’t Ben & Jerry’s first mission with CSR. They currently support the Children’s Defense Fund and encourage ice cream lovers to “urge Congress to redirect spending priorities to invest more in America’s children.” They also avidly support the green campaign and created flavors such as Fossil Fuel (which targets global warming). Check out the video below:

Being an active supporter of cause that concerns the public can only help your image. Ben & Jerry's has taken a stance on many issues and shown their support through their products and Web site.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Brilliant PR Stunt?

April Fool's Day, which is celebrated on April 1, gives people a reason to play practical jokes on one another. I began the day completely oblivious to what it was... it was just any other day for me. That was until my mother made a fool of me when I believed her story about a two-headed bird.

While I was looking at news stories, I noticed one that said Pizza Hut had changed its name to Pasta Hut to welcome their new, amazing line of pastas. I thought to myself, "Why in the world would Pizza Hut do that? Everyone knows it is famous for its pizza." I, as a Pizza Hut fan (I prefer it over other brands), was kind of upset over the 'name change.' It just didn't fit for me.

I googled news stories on it and then found the answer I had been looking for. The article "Pizza Hut Renaming Itself Pasta Hut for April Fool's" came up. I was immediately intrigued. If this is the case, the PR department at Pizza Hut should be patting themselves on the back. This supposed name change of one of the largest pizza chains made me research it on the Web and made me visit their site.

The website looks the same except the 'old' Pizza Hut logo now reads Pasta Hut and the welcome screen has images and information about Pizza Hut's (Pasta Hut's) new line of Tuscan pastas.

In my opinion, this was a brilliant PR stunt. If other individuals were just as curious as I was, Pizza Hut could definitely celebrate a great launch of a new product. They scored news articles, blogger interest and the curiosity of customers. Over the next few days, I am curious to see what other articles and news stories appear on the new 'Pasta Hut' and if the name change is permanent.

Check out...

Pizza Hut(R) Remakes Itself As 'Pasta Hut' With Introduction Of New Tuscani Pastas

Pizza Hut(R) Participates in April First Foolery

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What is your stance on net neutrality?

Net neutrality was a concept completely foreign to me until a couple weeks ago. You might be asking yourself, “What is net neutrality?” According to Common Cause, it “is the principle that Internet users should be able to access any web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider.”

We, as users, are able to create profiles on Facebook and MySpace, create personal web pages and post blogs. With the openness of the Internet, we are able to access these pages. With new legislations against net neutrality—thanks to AT&T and Verizon—you probably would not be able to access these personal pages. In fact, these Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) could pick and choose what content comes up in your searches and at what speed you can access websites. Sound fair? Not really. “Net neutrality and the billion dollar question” says that “the phone companies are also eager to provide tiered services in which websites that paid them money would be more easily accessible to their Internet customers than ones which did not.” This would be a disaster for those who have created a name for themselves on the World Wide Web, such as bloggers and YouTube users.

From what research I have done on the topic, I think net neutrality is necessary in keeping the Internet alive. It doesn’t seem that ISP’s are out to eliminate illegal content, they are just out to simply filter what you see and get you to use their applications and favored pages. Some of those who hold an anti-net neutrality stance are definitely those who can afford to choke up a chunk of change in hopes that their site will continue to appear as the #1 result in searches.

I believe that virtual worlds, blogs and the ability to upload and share pictures and videos are a huge part of what makes the internet so unique. If corporate big-wigs continue in their quest to change net neutrality, the internet will lose much of why people love it so much.

For net neutrality?

The Death of The Internet?
Fighting for Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom
Stop Big Media
Open Internet Coalition

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bored? Get gossip on Wikileaks!

We’ve all heard about confidential information being leaked to the public. Most of the time, people just contacted journalists, now you can anonymously submit information on WikiLeaks . Whether it is the submission of a document or a story, they will gladly take your gossip piece!

While WikiLeaks focuses its attention on stories from the former Soviet Union, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, they will take information from anywhere. The founders of WikiLieaks “believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. All governments can benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people.”

WikiLeaks is a prime example of bad PR. This is every government and company’s worst nightmare. While I do think the internet is a breeding ground of false information, I do believe that the people deserve to be educated and informed.

For example, in February, the Julius Baer bank in Switzerland, sued WikiLeaks for posting many of the banks private documents containing confidential information online. According to a former employee, these documents showed that the bank was engaging in illegal practices. US Judge White of California ruled that the domain be removed and locked so it could not be restarted on another server. Weeks later, WikiLeaks was able to re-open the site.

The first ruling of Judge White brings a few questions to mind. Was the ruling a violation of the First Amendment? Yes. But do websites take advantage of the freedoms provided by the First Amendment? I THINK SO.

Any thoughts?

In the meantime... check out these links.

Wikileaks Case PR Disaster for Swiss Bank
Wikileaks Censored By Lawsuit
Judge Allows Wikileaks Site to Re-open
Gossip Sites Push Web 'Anonymity' to Fore

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are you in Dell hell? You are not alone!

Do blogs have any influence in the real world? Say it with me now—yes! Several case studies have shown that bloggers can strongly influence those around them.

Jeff Jarvis wrote a blog entitled “Dell lies. Dell sucks” where he complains about Dell’s inability to fix his laptop in his home. Soon, this particular thread had hundreds of hits and comments from other unsatisfied Dell customers searching for online help. I am sure many of you have reached equal frustration when attempting to fix a broken computer. Case in point: Last week, my computer completely crashed. I tried the online help option and the obnoxious woman on the other end named Gretchen proceeded to give me instructions on how to take my computer apart. Take my computer apart? Are you serious?

One might ask why bloggers are so influential. MarketSentinel conducted a case study on Jarvis’ blog and says, “part of the impact of blogs is to do with something which one might call: the “my story” phenomenon. If I am reporting on something that has happened to me I am the most authoritative source.” Jarvis’ blog became one of the top Google search results for certain search terms and other bloggers began citing “Dell lies. Dell sucks.” TechBlog even had a story dedicated to an update on Jarvis and his troubles with Dell. Jarvis’ supporters and other angry customers wanted to know if there was hope for them in “dell hell.”

In response to Jarvis’ blog and many more upset customers, Dell took steps to improve customer service (they even implemented a blog!) and to prevent this from happening again. To corporations—you should never underestimate the power of a blogger. They may hold the future of your company in their hands.
Check out these links on Jarvis' Dell rant.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Your information- for everyone to see.

I was just reading articles about Facebook and its attempt to make it easier for users to completely close their accounts, instead of just deactivating them. After much criticism, they are now allowing users to close accounts and not keep personal information stored on the server. I, for some reason, find this hard to believe. Your personal information is never fully erased from the internet and which is why, with tools such as Facebook and MySpace you are strongly encouraged to be mindful when creating your profiles. Computers should now come with a label saying: "Users beware- nothing you do is really private."

I use the computer for everything from online banking to social networking and it disturbs me to think how readily available our information is to anyone. Some tech-savvy person could come along and find out everything about me. Even though this is a FACT, I still continue to use the computer every single day. It's hard for me to think of what a day would be like without it. Sad I know.

This is simply a random thought of mine. It is scary to me to think about how much you can find out about a person by the simple click of a button. Any thoughts?