Sesame Street, Literacy and Technology

As a child, “Sesame Street” was one of my favorite television shows. I was happy to learn that Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of “Sesame Street,” announced plans to use conversational technology to teach preschool literacy. According to New York Times, Sesame Workshop has been testing prototype mobile apps with ToyTalk’s PullString technology. The technology uses speech recognition, artificial intelligence and prewritten scripts to respond to what a child has said. With the influx of technology, more and more children are using technology as a learning tool. “Sesame Street” is taking action and incorporating technology in new ways to show they care about literacy, a value shared by parents. Positive news is hard to come by these days and a story like this brings a positive light to Sesame Workshop. Sesame Street Using Technology to Boost Literacy, by Matthew Schwartz sums it up perfectly:

“Helping to educate your customers puts your brand in a more favorable light, compared with your competitors. It extends the number of reasons why customers come to rely on your company and enhances your brand’s reputation as a thought leader.”

I remember “Sesame Street” having an educational component, but my parents didn’t own computers or cell phones when I was watching the show. It’s exciting to see how a show I grew up watching is keeping up with the times and using technology to make a positive impact.

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PR Power of a Reddit AMA

I finally understand the Reddit AMA.

Until a few days ago, I didn’t understand the PR power of a Reddit AMA. After sifting through the text heavy site, I certainly found some captivating discussions. An AMA (short for “Ask Me Anything”) is a Q&A format on the website Reddit. A successful AMA is an opportunity for anyone with something interesting to say to answer questions about almost anything.

Let’s take the example of Internet Explorer. A few months ago, engineers from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team hosted an AMA. Team members were open about problems with the browser’s reputation and discussed their efforts openly and honestly. David one of the experts hosting the AMA responded to a comment:

“I’m going to a lot of web events just to gather feedbacks and really try to improve IE!”

The language of the conversation on AMA makes the company seem more approachable and genuine. After all, PR is about building relationships and what better way than to take down the facade and answer questions about your organization.

In addition to having a conversation, organizations can use a Reddit AMA to make announcements. About a month ago Netflix used Reddit as a platform to announce their participation in “Internet Slowdown Day.” The title of the AMA reads: “Hey guys, Eric from Netflix, letting you know we’re joining reddit and others for ‘Internet Slowdown’ Day Sept. 10th to protect Net Neutrality.”

It’s exciting to learn new forms of communication like the Reddit AMA and I’m convinced that the AMA will become an even more powerful communication tool in the future.

If you didn’t know already, Barack Obama held an AMA about two years ago. Check it out!

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Three PR Takeaways from Snapsaved, Snapchat Photo Leak

Photo by  Maurizio Pesce (www.flickr.com/photos/pestoverde/)

Photo by Maurizio Pesce (www.flickr.com/photos/pestoverde/)

On Oct. 11, 2014, Snapsaved.com addressed users via Facebook regarding a photo leak. The company, which owns snapsave, an app used to save Snapchat’s, admitted that Snapsaved.com was in fact hacked, but confirmed that Snapchat was not. Whether you’re one of Snapchat’s 100 million monthly active users or not, this breach is not the first of it’s kind and certainly won’t be the last.

Here are three PR crisis communications lessons that we can learn from the photo leak:

1. Respond quickly

Snapchat responded to news of the breach quickly. The company sent tweets assuring users that their servers were never breached. Even though Snapchat may not have had the full story right away, they responded with the information they had at the time, and that’s important.

Snapsaved.com waited a little longer to respond but took full responsibility. Snapsaved.com also announced that they deleted their entire database upon discovering the breach. During a crisis, companies must not only inform the public of what happened, but also share what they’re doing to fix it.

2. Be sincere

Snapsaved.com’s Facebook post reads, “I sincerely apologize on the behalf of snapsaved.com we never wished for this to happen. We did not wish to cause Snapchat or their users any harm, we only wished to provide a unique service.” This move seems sincere and shows that the company is willing to take responsibility.

3. Create a strategy and follow through

How companies respond off the bat is one thing. How companies continue to respond months after the incident is equally important. Even though Snapchat cautioned using third-party apps it does not have the ability to fully block third-party apps, and therefore faces the possibility of a similar breach again.

The purpose of public relations in a crisis like this is to end the negative publicity. Although Snapchat was not breached, their name is still out there. Do you think Snapchat should have responded differently? What could Snapsaved.com done differently?

Sources: “Confirmed: Snapsaved Hack Led to Snapchat Photo Leak”

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Why Apple Doesn’t Use Twitter

Photo by Gonzala Baeza (www.flickr.com/photos/gonzalobaeza/)

Apple has ingrained its brand and products into the lives of just about everyone I know. The company masters the media with a PR strategy that seems effortless (although I’m sure that’s not true). Until yesterday, I would have bet almost anything that Apple used Twitter. It seemed fitting that a tech company with social media implanted into every crevice of their products would use social media for their own business.This is not the case. Yesterday, I ran across an AdWeek.com article written by Christopher Heine, “Apple Pays Twitter Some $200,000 for an iPad Ad But Barely Uses Free Social Media.” To be honest, I was shocked. Heine explains that Apple bought Twitter’s Promoted Trend to push its iPad Air 2 launch.

Apple doesn’t have Twitter accounts for Apple, iPad, or iPhone but does use an account for iTunes (@iTunesMusic). Why is this? From a consumer perspective I understand Apple’s PR strategy: be mysterious and incredibly strategic. Social media like Twitter are platforms that provide constant contact and Apple’s PR strategy isn’t about constantly sharing what they’re up to.

Nowadays almost everyone uses at least some form of social media. There seems to be a growing assumption that businesses need social media. But is it always necessary? Of course, not every business has the same scope and power as Apple.

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Welcome to Tech Savvy PR

Welcome to my blog, Tech Savvy PR. My name is Ruby Betten, and I am a senior at the University of Oregon in the School of Journalism and Communication. I’m majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration. This is my first official blog, and I am excited to begin increasing my online presence.

My blog will focus on technology through a public relations lens. I chose this theme because of how much technology is engrained in our lives. We are constantly surrounded by and engaged with our technologies. Behind almost every technology company is a team of PR professionals attempting to make sure that company’s message is shared positively. I’m particularly interested in the ways technology companies build relationships with their publics.

I hope to explore these questions with my blog:

  • How do technology companies handle crisis? I will explore this question by analyzing case studies of crisis communications in the technology industry.
  • How do technology companies use social media?
  • How has the public relations industry kept up with the fast paced technology industry?

I look forward to sharing my findings and responses to these questions and gaining a better understanding of technology public relations.

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