Friday, 10 December 2010

The impact of student violence

I’m deeply troubled by yesterday’s vote on tuition fees. I had the benefit of a free university education, bar £300 in my final term - the year that Thatcher introduced student loans. And so, I understand and support the students who want to protest against the vote and do so peacefully.

I absolutely do not condone violence in the protests. But it's no great surprise that what starts as a peaceful protest turns nasty. A toxic combination of various groups with an eye for trouble, high tension and emotions, and a student body that has been sold out by the Lib Dems they supported, makes it inevitable. This is a generation of young voters who are - at an age where they should be full of hope and political expectation - disillusioned with and already betrayed by our political system.

But today’s headlines make me incredibly sad. Ministers who voted for the bill are able to take the moral high ground by focusing not on the appalling implications for studentsand for a fair education, but on the violence from yesterday’s protests.

The effect of the violence has been to undermine the student’s message: that this coalition government has saddled them with a lifetime of debt, in an era when we’re told what matters above all else is to be rid of debt. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Who creates social media strategy?

There’s a piece of ‘who owns social media’ research reported yesterday on PR Week, the results of which are, apparently, ‘relatively staggering’ (no, I’m not sure, either). The research, conducted by Wildfire PR, looks at who in-house marketers think should be responsible for their social media strategy.

Now I should say here that I think the report itself looks really interesting, and good on Wildfire for doing it - we all need to understand more about how in-house marketers approach (or don’t) social media strategy. It looks at the confusion over who should determine the role social media should play within the business, and the reasons marketers are adopting social media tactics (mostly because other people are, rather than for any strategic reason).  I really like the approach taken by the agency of ‘sustainable social media’, and its report that gives some sensible advice to in-house marketers on how to develop a social media strategy.

But, as ever, the response from other PROs (according to PR Week) is to ‘express shock’ at the fact that social media responsibility is spread across a number of different divisions of the company, and not all outsourced to PR agencies.

Of course it isn’t. More often than not, these days, social media strategies include sales, customer service, marketing, HR and any other bit of the business that thrives from human contact. None of these business strategies are outsourced in their entirety to PR agencies. The bits that are outsourced to PR agencies are, er, the PR strategies. And I mean PR in its widest, proper, ‘today’ sense of social communications: building relationships and conversations with an organisation’s public.

The research, I think, reflect this. In-house PR teams come out on top for creating social media (as part of marketing) strategies. About right, probably. Presumably the customer service team is responsible for social media as part of customer service, and sales for sales, etc.

As for the 20 per cent of those who think responsibility for social media lies with the IT team - well, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and hope they mis-heard the question.