PR articles – A wasted opportunity

101 articles to help your 2017 PR, monitoring, and measurement planning |  Media Bullseye

Have you flip through business magazines and news papers with dozens of PR articles, but never stop to check what’s in them ?
You are not alone. It is not just because they are boring, we all know they are lies biased.
1) The articles project organisations as places that did no wrong, not doing any wrong and will not do any wrong. We all know that is just fairy tale. ( Even fairy tales have demons to whack)
2) The leader of the organisation quotes lot of statistics to prove his point : ” my organisation is the best”. Numbers make people yawn.
3) Social media have dug up the dark side of organisations. People know. Shareholders know.

The opportunity in PR articles is to tell a honest story about what they are doing well against the challenges and competition. People love to hear a story.

Isn’t this manipulation ?
No. People will know a honest story when they hear it.

The Online Lives of Young Children in Sri Lanka

Sarvodaya-Fusion’s IT YahaMaga program at a school somewhere in Kuliyapitiya

Nicholas CarlisleFounder/President of Power of Zero and No Bully, has interviewed me few months back on ‘The Online Lives of Young Children in Sri Lanka’ as part of their series on the online lives of young children across the world.

Power of Zero is a global campaign to reshape early learning for a connected world. It focuses on children aged eight and under. Young children (8 and under) spend an average of two hours a day with screen media and the time increases every year. Technology has now become part of the landscape of childhood.

I talked about my experience of Sarvodaya-Fusion’s ‘IT YahaMaga’ program, where we have raised awareness about internet safety and ethics, for more than 50,000 school students in less than 5 years.  You can read the full interview here to see my answers to questions like below. I would like to see your comments and critique which I will report back to Power of Zero to update their case studies.

Are they using the kid friendly version of Facebook Messenger?

Mostly no, because they are using their parent’s phone and often their parent’s Facebook account. More educated parents create separate accounts that are child friendly, but that is a much smaller percentage. I talk to people in the rural sections, and I ask them “Are you on Facebook?” and they say yes, and I say “Are you on the Internet?” and they say no.  They get their mobile data enabled by a prepaid connection, but all they can see is that they are on the Facebook app. They don’t realise that they are on the Internet. I am not talking about the young people here, I am talking about the adults in rural sections. They are not asking the questions that they need to ask such as: “How do I enable my mobile data?” and “How do I set my privacy’” and “Do I have to be careful about sharing pictures?” Those conversations are only now starting to happen.

Mission of ‘Power of Zero’ is to build every child’s powers to connect well, by setting up the next generation to harness the positive power of the internet and end online hate, bullying, and violence.

I highly recommend their learning materials section. It has lot of useful material if you are a parent or a facilitator in building capacity of children to be safe online.

Age of quality digital content

Both mega budget movies from Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan at the end of 2018 have failed at box office. Usual thinking of big Khans pulling crowds have come to a grinding halt.

Because of social media. The early adopters ( first day viewers) posted negative comments on social media and the audience got thinner ever since.

Quality realistic movies like ‘Baadhai Ho’ have done surprisingly well at bollywood Box office. ‘Sacred Games’, the Indian Netflix series have done well. Internationally ‘Bird Box’ was a sensation.

Goes on to say, in social media driven age, our online opinions drive the demand up or down. Digital content is freaking transparent . No fake news can get you to go in to a cinema hall and make you pay.

Fake People

I am in the creative process of designing a community project that will help people to identify fake news. For the last 3 weeks, I have plunged in to the vast ocean of social media in Sri Lanka in the light of constitutional crisis, among other things.

What struck me most is, fake people are more easier to identify than fake news. When I digged into the sources of the news, I was able to judge more effectively.

Fake people are the ones who create a persona that is larger than life. They do not live by their broadcasted values. They jump on to any opportunity that come their way. They show that they care through words.

Do you wonder why these fake people are been venerated by masses?

Reason is, these fake people understand what the masses want. They give you something to believe in. They play with the imagination of the masses. The masses fuel that by giving them the attention and their power.

You may think I am talking about the politicians. Not just them. I am talking about fake people everywhere. Fake people in government, private sector, NGO’s,entertainment industry, clergy, academics, media institute owners, sports men and women, and the list is endless. I have encountered fake people in our families.

These fake people create messages that speak to your heart. They steal your emotions. They create a persona that seems invincible. They are actually not.

Ask questions. Test their motives. Throw away blind fandom. Find that fake person behind a fake news. Have a critical thinking mindset.

Cheers.  

Balancing social media

tweetupsl
pic credit: Dialog

I went to tweetupSL 7 yesterday. I have missed last 2 years.

So many new young faces, and the interactions gave me the flavour of young aspirations and new trends in social media. Right now, the intensity of  interaction is high, one of the main factors is the inclusion of local languages. It’s much more engaging when one can type in your own language.

On twitter, we follow so many unknown people. It’s great to meet someone in person after I had followed and interacted with them for like 3 years. Most of the time, when I meet in person, I see a different personality from his or her online presence. So yeah, we have our split personalities: online and offline. This very core human nature brings in numerous issues and tensions on social media. Social media promised us harmony around 2007, we wanted everyone in the world to be on social media. Yet we find ourselves in unwanted trouble in 2017, because when we have many people on social media, we get to see all of their problems too. You just cannot have good things only. Just like life.

I was asked this question by Amila, and I had to answer to the audience – ‘how did twitter helped in your life and work?’

I actually reflected on this same question, few days back after I watched Chamath Palihapitiya’s rant about how bad social media is, especially facebook.. He asked people to move away from social media. I guess yes, when you are popular and influential. No one needs your tweets to validate your authority in the field. But for the rest of us, who are ordinaries, social media is a gift of unfathomable proportions. Provided, we use it safely, with empathy and with patience. (UPDATE: yesterday, Chamath has taken back his own words. Again emphasising my point, we need balance)

I joined twitter in 2009. I’ve connected to great people and brilliant ideas on twitter. I cannot count them, but I can assure it is in thousands. So many long term business partnerships were formed through twitter and other social media introductions. Many good friends were found, some of them feels like my family.

Yet where do I draw the line? Too much of anything is bad. Too much of video streaming is bad.  Getting to phone the moment we are bored is bad. Too much of scrolling in your phone as a habit is bad.

Part of what Chamath says is true. Social media can own you, take control of what you think. It can create a small bubble in your mind and can make you think that what you see in your feed is the truth. It has happened to me. It became an addiction and then I had to get out of it. That’s where digital detoxes helps me. And there are apps to help me to get in to digital detox. 

Technology inclusion in our lives are inevitable. We must be part of it to explore the opportunities. We must also take care of our personal hygiene, so we become mindful in a world full of information.