Welcome!

My name is Jacalyn (Jackie) Albright. I am a student at James Madison University in the School of Media Arts and Design. I am currently studying Corporate Communications and Spanish. This blog will be used as part of a project for my Web Communications class. This blog discusses new social media and how it makes collaboration easier to work with different constituent groups including employees, investors, the media and customers. I am looking at case studies and how companies are using social media tools to reach their audiences. Enjoy!

The picture used as a header was taken by myself, in May 2008 in Lisbon, Portugal while studying in Spain.

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Social Networking for Spies

It seems as though everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon these days. The government has even jumped on board. The intelligence community, including the CIA, the FBI and the National Security agency, began using A-Space, a social networking site dedicated to intelligence analysts that are a part of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, in September 2008. According to an article from Federal Computer Week, A-Space is an online collaborative site that will allow intelligence officials to be able to share information more easily and more rapidly. In an article from CNN.com, A-Space even has the potential for members of the CIA to discuss information on Al Qaeda.

To use A-Space, employees must be listed in the directory and prove who they are before they are granted access. Like Facebook or MySpace, users create profiles and others can post notes on their profiles. People can see what projects a user is working on and users will have access to a search function which enables users to look for content on other classified domains including those from allied countries! This collaborative site also allows users to have access to the highest level of classified information. This collaborative environment is building a community where users will depend on one another.

Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, says in the article from CNN.com, that A-Space is not just a place where people can meet and share ideas, but also allows them to speak out loud for the first time. The goal of A-Space is to protect the United States the best way possible by analyzing all the information that is available. It is very interesting with new forms of technology such as social media tools, like Facebook and now A-Space, that boundaries are being crossed which have never been crossed before, like the sharing of classified information. I am very excited that government implementing this social networking site. I am sure that it will make collaboration easier for the government intelligence agencies and more efficient as well.

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Scoring Communications Goals

I love soccer. I have played it since I was three. So naturally I love watching soccer too. My favorite MLS team is D.C. United. I grew up watching them play and going to their games. Being so enthused by soccer and D.C. United, I decided to check out their website and see what they were doing to collaborate with their constituent groups. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have their own blog! The comments on the blog are not pre-moderated and the comments are part of conversation with real people, according to the blog’s “About Us” page. The page also says that the comments will only be deleted or censored if they are vulgar, abusive, off topic or blatantly spam. I think that this form of open communication is great to maintain the relationship between the club and its fans.

I found through the blog a “contact us” page which included an address, email addresses to customer service, ticket information, community relations and United for D.C., and phone numbers. Allowing for a two-way conversation will help foster relationships between stakeholders such as customers and the press. After browsing through the blog, I found that it offers several different types of media for its audience. There are contests, polls, photos, news and even video! There is a separate page on the blog for pictures and videos and D.C. United also has a Flickr account. A reader can search through the archives of the blog by either date or tags.

D.C. United’s main website also provides several interactive media tools to help collaborate with its audiences. It has press releases, articles and videos available for the press to use. I also thought that their page on what the team is doing in the community was excellent as well. I think it is important for its constituents to see not only how the team is performing on the field but how they are performing in the community as well. This helps build their relationships even more as well by developing trust. Fans can also follow the team on Twitter. I was very happy to see that my favorite MLS soccer team was taking steps towards becoming a more collaborative entity through the use of social media!

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Extra, Extra Read All About It: Collaboration with the Press!

A main constituent group these days for any company would be the press. The relationship that communicators at a company have with the press is vitally important. Social media tools such as online newsrooms, have made it easier for the press to get their stories about certain companies. In a blog posting from Steph Synoracki’s page entitled “Apple’s newsroom..a slice above the rest,” she discusses how Apple’s online newsroom may be one of the best in the country, has all the essentials that an online newsroom needs. Their site not only attracts the press but also interested customers and other stakeholders.

Apple’s Press Info page is quick and easy to use. It has a list of the most recent press releases, press contacts, images for the media to use, investor information, executive profiles and more. There is even a way to search their press release library. Subscribing to their RSS feed, would allow members of the press to receive information from Apple, even more quickly and easily. In an article entitled, “Dynamic Online Newsrooms Great Leadership Opportunity,” David Henderson discusses the differences in the Apple online newsroom and the Dell online newsroom. Henderson says that Apple does a great job of listing its contact information while Dell list only a general telephone number. This is especially disappointing, as I have mentioned in previous posts, Dell has really taken advantage of social media tools to attract their constituent groups into collaborating with them, however, it seems that their online newsroom is falling short of attracting the same from the press.

Henderson continues to discuss the difference between the two computer companies. Apple tends to overshadow Dell often, with its new products that the public seems to gobble up, but Apple’s communicators also take a different approach than Dell’s do, which he says is the main reason that Dell is not measuring up. He says that Dell is relying mostly on press releases and paid advertising while Apple is taking the next step in a growing market share and customer satisfaction. Apple’s success, therefore, is really dependent on their communicators, who are reaching out to customers and really using the new tools that are available to them. Finally, Henderson lists 5 ideas for creating useful media information pages. The fourth idea he lists is to be accessible. I feel that that is the most important for any company and any communicator because customers and other stake holder groups are expecting it. With web 2.0 and social media tools, constituents expect transparency and if you are not accessible, your company’s success will reflect that.

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Have you heard the buzz around Beehive?

If you have not heard of it yet, Beehive is a social networking site that IBM has created for its internal network. It connects employees on a personal and professional level by allowing them to share goals, interests, pictures and more. On the IBM research website, it discusses how when an employee signs for Beehive they receive a profile page with an “About Me” section to allow other employees know who the employee is, what they do, what they hope to achieve, and what they are thinking. Beehive even allows employees to participate in what is called “hive fives,” or lists that people are passionate about. For example, people could list their outline ideas for a project and then have other employees reuse their ideas. This is a great way for employees to work collective on a project.

IBM Beehive team created the Beehive as a research project to see if social networking sites such as this one, would benefit employees in building relationship that are vital for day to day business and also seeing if the social networking site would connect people with the same goals and skill sets to work on projects together. The research group had several questions, the one I see as most important to collaboration is “How can a social networking site best support employees in finding the people they are looking for and discovering the information they need? ” I see that as the most pertinent to collaboration because I believe that social networking sites are great ways to spur collaboration within employees.

On Anne Pauker Kreitzburg’s blog, she included a model of the IBM research model it used in researching the social networking site as seen below. 6a00d834554d9069e2010536ee3148970cKreitzburg says that not only the employees are benefiting, but the company is benefiting even more, and I could not agree more with her. According to the IBM Social Networking Research, those who actively used Beehive, cared more and were willing to contribute more to the company.

In an article entitled, “Big Blue Embraces Social Media“, featured in BusinessWeek, IBM’s Beehive is making possible the relationships that were lost during globalization. With company reaching all over the world, personal connections have been loss, and this could strengthen those weak ties. Beehive also has the opportunity to share knowledge, innovation, and expertise with people around the world. Allowing collaboration to be easier and more efficient. Beehive is a true social media tool that will truly help IBM’s business.

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IBM’s Collaborative Jams

IBM has been using social media in new ways for several years. Since 2001, IBM has held a series of “jams” which have ranged from Value Jams to Innovation Jams. According to the IBM Jams event page, IBM has used its events to reach more than 300,000 employees across the world in new and exciting ways. The Values Jam, held in 2003, was an opportunity for employees to work on IBM’s values, something that had not been changed in more than 100 years of the company’s existence. In 2006, during IBM’s Innovation Jam, the company held the largest brainstorming event online ever, bringing in more than 150,000 people from 104 countries and 67 companies! According to an article from BusinessWeek, IBM was the first to open source, inviting clients, consultants and even employee’s family members to participate in finding new ideas! The results from the jam were 10 new IBM businesses. Jams, however, have not been restricted to only business issues. Also in 2006, IBM held a social issue jam called Habitat Jam which brought together several key players to discuss urban sustainability.

In 2008, IBM took their Innovation Jam another step further. In a blog posting from Shel Holtz, Holtz says that IBM was pretty ambitious in inviting companies from around the world to participate in the online brainstorming event. Holtz continues on and says that IBM’s jams are models for online collaboration. From IBM’s Innovation Jam 2008 website, the jam conversation focused on four major topics: built for change, customers as partners, globally integrated, and the planet and its people. On the site, the results are listed as, “Held over a 90-hour period from October 5th through 9th, 2008, the Jam benefited from nearly 90,000 log-ins that generated over 32,000 posts. It tapped employees from more than 1,000 companies across 20 industries-including thousands of IBMers, as well as independent authorities from a variety of fields.”

IBM is doing a great job of collaborating with its audiences both internally and externally. Not only have they reached out to the people who care the most about their company, but they have reached out to their rivals as well. According to an article from Venture Beat, besides the ideas generated from this collaborative events, IBM may be receiving high earnings from these events as well, critical at an economic time like this. I would say that collaboration is not only making it easier for IBM to reach its constituents groups, but also making it more profitable as well.

The video is a short advertisment promoting IBM’s Innovation Jam 2008:

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Intel’s Insight into Collaboration

Wikis can be a great resource in collaboration. Quick and easy to use, wikis provide a forum for people to come together online and edit each others’ work. From my personal use of a wiki on a group project, it can be very useful tool when you just can not find a time to meet at one place at one time. The convenience and ease of use make wikis very appealing.

Intel caught onto this idea and began using it to their advantage in 2006 with the creation of their wiki entitled Intelpedia, named after the popular site Wikipedia. In an article from Business Week, entitled, “No Rest for Wiki,” John Bancroft, an Intel engineer, needed a way to connect employees together from all different parts of the country to share idea, so he created Intelpedia, which solicits employee input from everyone in the company on this internal site. Soon Intelpedia caught on and employees were posting on subjects from history of the company to new projects.

In an article, entitled “Intelpedia,” says that the website has grown so much that it is the second most viewed website by Intel’s employees, only proceeded by the company’s main homepage! The success of the website may be attributed to the transparency of the website with only a couple constraints being listed on the site. These constritants include that the users must adhere to company policies and the issues being posted must be valid to at least one other employee. I think that the openness of this site really attracts more employees to it, because they really feel that their voice is being heard.

On a blog posting from the Intel site, Jeff Moriarty said, “Our internal wiki, Intelpedia, got moving as a grass roots effort by several passionate employees. It snowballed as people found it, tried it, loved it, and then used it in all sorts of fascinating ways. It has helped break down internal communication walls, helped combat bureaucracy, and helped foster collaboration and innovation across groups that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.” I think Moriarty had a great point about Intelpedia fostering collaboration, as Intel is a company that operates around the world, sites like their wiki can not only save them time and effort, but money as well. And it is as easy as that.

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Dell gets their investors involved

I seem to keep praising Dell for their collaboration! Something that we don’t hear much about everyday is how companies are now using social media tools to reach their investors. A great example of this is Dell’s Dellshare blog as part of their investor relations. Robert L. Williams, President of Investor Relations for Dell, maintains the blog, and it covers topics from as little as questions and answers to as big as fiscal year performance. This blogs provides investors with the opportunity to ask questions first hand. Dell is also on Twitter, which alerts their followers of the updates that are made to the blog.

In an interview podcast with Lynn A. Tyson, the Vice President of Investor Relations, from the Hobson and Holtz Report says that the CEO himself, Michael Dell, challenged employees to push the boundaries of communication channels with stakeholders. She discusses that how you communicate internally should not be that much different from how you communicate externally whether it be on a blog or one on one with an investor.

In the very first post, “Welcome to 21st Century IR“, Tyson discusses how this blog is for the readers and how Dell plans to develop and maintain relationships with their investors and look forward to hearing from them because relationships are two-way streets. This is a great way for Dell to collaborate with their investors to hear their concerns and really work toward bettering themselves (Dell) as a company. Tyson also says in the first post that Dell hopes that this form of sending out information is more easily accessible and easier to understand. This form of communication with their investors will really improve the relationship between them and their investors, and increase the trust the investor have in Dell.

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