The Friendly Ghost Social Media Resource

EDIT: I since had another stab at this. Please feel free to continue reading this posting, but really, you’re better off following this link to read about the better solution I came up with. Honestly.

How, at a glance, could you relate PR to social media? All PR. All social media. 

Then again, take the other tack: relate social media to PR. All social media. All PR.

Does such a resource exist?

Well it does now because I’ve created one, and, in keeping with the collaborative nature of new media, everyone can contribute to it. It’s called the Friendly Ghost Social Media Resource, and you can see it here.  You can even subscribe to see when changes are made by subscribing to this URL, or view it as a HTML page here, or as an XLS file here or CSV here.

Take a look, let me know what you think. If you think it sucks, let me know. If you want to be a part of this, let me know. I’d be delighted to welcome you.


But why, FG?

I did this because I’ve been thinking recently about how, prescriptively, PR and new media can work together. I keep seeing theoretical discussions about how, for example, Twitter could work for PR, as well as examples given of how it does work. There are also sprawling wikis which are a great resource but which don’t give you that immediate overview. And I’ve reviewed quite a lot of software recently in which I’ve tried to bring out the potential for PR, for example the Easy Bee, enhancements to Google Reader, PandoraiTunes Agent, Similpedia and the Online Report Creator Tool.  

However, I haven’t come across any resource that lists new, social media – social networks, forums, video sites – against potential and actual PR uses for it, whether externally for clients, or even internally for PR firms themselves. I haven’t seen anything that brings this all together so I’ve tried to start something off.

The ‘theory’ entries will help with sparking off ideas but it’s the ‘practice’ entries that are really useful. If you add something that you know worked, try to give an idea of how well it worked. You can even add stuff that didn’t work. But generally you can use it for inspiration, or out of idle curiosity, or as a useful tool when planning a campaign.

But why now, FG?

I’ve populated it as much as I can over the past month and I knew that sooner or later I would make this public, as was the original intention. But two articles came my way over the past week that spurred me to do it:

  • At PR Conversations, Heather Yaxley makes a compelling case for the type of PR person of the future: armed with new principles and practices. She asks ‘What should we be doing in PR to prepare for this unpredictable future?’ Well, for a start perhaps we should be working together on resources that give us the means to cope with the unpredictability.
  • Meanwhile Don Tapscott puts forward an eye-opening observation on the collaborative model: that professionals in all walks of life can benefit from the combined efforts of sufficiently talented amateurs, and that by opening up resources rather than guarding them, everyone benefits. Now, given that the PR bloggers I’ve come across are all talented professionals, then just imagine what we could achieve with this resource.

How does it work then?

If you take a look you’ll immediately see that it’s based on Google Spreadsheets. I did this on purpose. The first candidate for a collaborative effort would have been a wiki but I realised this wouldn’t give that immediate ‘search for this and read across or down’ dynamic. This isn’t for expounding on uses into any great depth: it’s just an immediate reckoner for what can be done. Also I feel wikis can quickly lose their structure whereas the structure of reading across/down is integral to this effort.

The spreadsheet is as simple as I just described: new media resources down the left axis, potential and actual uses across the top. So, if you want to see potential and actual uses for, say, Google Earth, then look for it down the left and read across. Alternatively, if you want to see how you could utilise new media apps for, say, crisis management, then find that across the top and read down.

It needs improving, doesn’t it?

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m not really immersed in PR, having only come to it around 18 months ago. So, some of my categories for PR activities may seem a little strange or off the wall, or I may have missed some out. If so, either tell me or even better still, let me know if you want to edit it, and I’ll make it so. This is key: I want this to be something everyone can refer to, as well as update.

Alternatively there may be some more resources you know about. Same applies. Add them to the y-axis, and simply go across the PR activities and add whatever comes to mind or examples that you know have worked.

If as many people as possible do this, from their own experience, from bright ideas they suddenly have or from examples they come across, then this will become a very useful online resource. I can make anyone a collaborator, and in fact collaborators can themselves invite collaborators, so very quickly we could get this populated, and then some. So not only is this new media, it’s viral. I’m sure we could get plenty of collaborators with just a few iterations. Heck, we might even get Kevin Bacon involved within six.

Isn’t this a bit too friendly, Friendly Ghost? 

I realise some people might think this is the kind of thing most companies would jealously guard. I’m sure a lot of you already have your own little secrets, won through hard work, trial and error and clever lateral thinking. That’s fine: you don’t have to contribute them. Or, contribute them anonymously. Or, if you would like to contribute but don’t want people to borrow the ideas wholesale, then simply add them as theoretical, unproven cases.

The point is that, in the best traditions of new media, everyone can refer to it. It levels the playing field. It ups the ante for everyone who wants to make the most of PR with social media. In other words, everyone wins.

I’m certainly going to be continuing to populate it whenever I think of something or come across an innovative use. I’ve already been through quite a few searches to add material so far, and I’ve still got pages such as this one to sift through for inspiration. So if nothing else you can just look at what I put as I slowly add to it.


I’ll repeat the mantra: take a look, let me know what you think. If you think it sucks, let me know. If you want to be a part of this, let me know. I’d be delighted to welcome you.

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5 thoughts on “The Friendly Ghost Social Media Resource

  1. Fair enough. I wouldn’t want to push anyone into anything. Thing is though does it really matter? I’ve invited several people to collaborate on this, so anyone can see it. And I’m strictly not ‘hosting’ it, I just set it up. I don’t see a difference between this and contributing to Constantin Basturea’s wiki. But if that’s a reservation other people have then, as I said, let me know. I’ve already had comments that this could work as a wiki by using tags to get the ‘cross-reference’ idea across so I’m open to suggestion. And, in fact, if someone else such as Constantin wants to take this idea up, then that’s fine too if people are happier with it.

  2. I just looked into wikis, and I don’t think they would work.

    I could tag a page, say, ‘twitter,theory,promotion’, ie it discusses the theory of how Twitter could be used in promotion. But what do I call that page? ‘Twitter’? It’s not just about Twitter. It’s about how Twitter can be used, in theory and in practice, for PR. I could split this page into two, have ‘theory’ and ‘practice’, but then how would I reference it by PR activity? Set up another page, entitled ‘Promotion’, and list the exact same content but in a different order?

    Following from that, what if people use non-standard tags when they’re creating a page? Suddenly you end up with loads of tags that could mean the same.

    And what if people don’t update the navbar?

    I still think the spreadsheet approach works best. The logic and the structure are interlinked, and by adding one vertical/horizontal category you automatically add to the other axis. And the cell size also forces quick, short entries rather than sprawling explanations. I want this to be a look-up, not an encyclopedia.

    But I’m still prepared to be proven wrong.

  3. I’m not sure about the spreadsheet FG. Seems a bit unwieldy when you start scrolling across and looking for the piece of information that may be helpful.

    I’m not familiar with Wikis so wouldn’t be able to comment on that side. Would a blog work? You can include update content via postings (contributions), control the tags and then go from there. Eventually, if you really want to be ambitious, publish an ebook with the top information.

    I would love to help – so let me know if you want to continue discussions offline.

  4. Good feedback, thanks.

    There’s a lot going for the spreadhsheet approach but I do see what you’re saying. I think that, if I could freeze the columns as well as the rows, it would work better.

    I’ve tried setting up a page on the wiki I created some time ago. The Twitter entry would look like this:

    It’s easier to read, and probably easier for people to edit too, but you might see the problem I see: I would have to create a separate page entitled, say, ‘Press announcements’ if I wanted to enable people to do it by activity then listing the resources within that.

    The use of tags – along the bottom of that page – goes some way to fixing this but not all the way.

    I’m not sure a blog would do it either.

    Hmmm. There must be another way. Any ideas anyone?

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