At, we’re all VIPs!

27 03 2009

thecwAs much as I love The CW, I have to admit that I’m sometimes a little overwhelmed by their website.  I feel like everything I click on leads to social media, social media, and yes, more social media.  Now, I’m not saying that their use of social media is bad – I actually think it’s pretty great – it’s just that there’s so much of it!

Every show on the network has its own “VIP Lounge” filled with blogs, message boards and community member profiles related to that particular show.  Fans of The CW can join the website and post blogs, skim through tag clouds, discuss their favourite shows, take quizzes, meet other fans, and browse through countless photo galleries of the ridiculously attractive CW actors.  As America’s fifth broadcast network, targeting women ages 18 to 34, The CW is definitely taking advantage of the social media trend.  You hardly even need to watch the network, considering the amount of the supplementary material they provide on their website through social media.  Blogs with plot summaries, streaming video of full episodes, previews for upcoming episodes… why bother even turning on the TV?  They’ve definitely recognized that those in their key demographic group are big users of social media.  In fact, according to an analysis done on, 61% of the 893,000 Americans who visit The CW’s website each month are female, and 50% are within the 18-34 age group.

In addition to filling their website with different forms of social media, The CW has also extended their online presence to external sites like Facebook.  Upon clicking the “Lounge” link on The CW’s homepage, users are taken to a page where they can go to the VIP Lounges for various shows, or link to the network’s fan page on Facebook, where they’re told they can “make friends”.  With more than 52,000 Facebook fans, it’s pretty easy to see that The CW has a considerably large online following.

What I find funny though, is that The CW’s Facebook page is, in some ways, easier to navigate than its official website.  While there’s a lot more information and ways for fans to interact on, the Facebook page is much more streamlined and much less chaotic.  The website is bright, flashy and fun to look at, but a little overwhelming at times because there’s so much going on – and I bet it would not be too fun with a dial-up connection…  The Facebook page, on the other hand, is simple and makes it easy to find information like the nightly show lineups, photos, videos and even where to buy CW shows on DVD.

Clearly, The CW is not afraid of using social media – they’ve embraced it really well, but the fact that as a member of their key demographic, I sometimes find the website too overwhelming to even bother with, makes me wonder if they’ve gotten a little too ambitious.  Or maybe I’m just picky and too lazy to dig through all that extra stuff when I want to know about the latest One Tree Hill drama or Gossip Girl hijinks?  Is it just me, or is it just a bit too much?


A Delicious way to organize my addiction

23 03 2009

So, I sort of love my Delicious account.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessively organized and don’t like mess.  At all.  Hence the Delicious love.  Before I discovered the social bookmarking site, I rarely bookmarked things that I randomly came across because I didn’t want them cluttering up my neat and tidy bookmark list on my computer.  I thought of my bookmark list as a place only for the websites that I visited regularly, not something I happened across and found interesting.  I refused to be like my father who bookmarks anything and everything and has literally hundreds of things bookmarked on his computer with no organization whatsoever.  The chaos on his computer actually upsets me to the point that I avoid using it.

So, imagine my delight when I found Delicious.  I finally had a place for all my random stuff that I didn’t want cluttering up my bookmark list – all those blogs and articles that fuel my TV addiction.  Now it’s just second nDelicious TVature for me to bookmark things on Delicious and put them into neat little categories with tags.  Life is good in my organized bookmarking world.

Looking at my bookmarks, it doesn’t really surprise me that about a quarter of them are tagged with “TV”.  I love reading blogs and articles about what’s going on in my favourite shows.  Every day, I’ve got things popping up in my Google Reader from TV websites and blogs that I follow, and when I find something really interesting, I immediately add it to Delicious.  Or, a lot of what I bookmark actually comes right from Delicious because I like to see what TV-related stuff other people are finding.  I can’t even explain how many websites I’ve found through the “Explore Tags” tab on Delicious that allow me to watch TV online.  I definitely owe the person who thought up that genius idea – I don’t even want to take a guess at how many hours of shows I’ve watched on the sites that other people bookmarked.

In his blog, “Blog for web development“, Nik Chankov draws a really interesting connection between social bookmarking and television:

“I think that Social Bookmarking Networks (SBN) are the same as TV. Why?

“Because in SBN you don’t spend time on watching commercials, but at least 2/3 of the news are not related to your interests, so you just read the title, but it’s a waste of time, isn’t it? They are also addictive, because I always wanted to know is there something new around and I open my RSS reader more than checking my e-mails.”

It would appear that I’m not the only person out there addicted to scanning RSS readers and listening to the groundswell.  According to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book Groundswell, the term refers to “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other.”  I feel like this is exactly what I do when I’m looking for what’s new and interesting in the TV world – I turn to other Delicious users to see what they’re bookmarking.

For example, today while perusing the “TV” tags on Delicious, I came across something that piqued my interest called the “Battlestar Galactica Frak Map“.  Since Battlestar Galactica is a huge guilty pleasure of mine, I simply had to know what this was.  When I clicked on the link and found an elaborate map linking together all of the show’s characters based on who had been romantically and/or “intimately” connected, I was so amused that I bookmarked it on Delicious and immediately told a friend who is also a fan of the show to check my Delicious account for the link.

I’m sure I really don’t need any more ways to engulf myself in TV, but I think it’s pretty obvious that my love for TV isn’t exactly rational.  But, at least it is organized!

RT @FamousActor It’s really me!

19 03 2009

A couple months ago, I wrote about the idea of celebrities using Twitter as a marketing tool. Well, I just stumbled across a blog that’s got me thinking about it yet again. I think it’s a cool concept, but I generally question the legitimacy of these celebrities’ identities on the site. Like I said in my previous post, it just doesn’t seem overly plausible that the star of a huge Hollywood blockbuster or primetime drama is going to use Twitter solely for the purpose of promoting that project – it seems a lot more likely that someone in some communications office somewhere would take on that responsibility, just using the celebrity’s name.

BUT – yes, there is a but – what about celebrities who want to tweet about things in their personal lives? This is where that mysterious blog I Confessions of a Twitterholicmentioned a whole paragraph ago comes into play. On, the writer of the post “Confessions of a Twitterholic: Your Ultimate Guide to TV on Twitter” brings together his love for TV with his love for Twitter by offering readers a list of TV actors who have Twitter accounts. He also provides a link to another page with a list of some TV writers and producers.

Now, my first thought was a sceptical one. I figured that most, if not all of these tweets would actually be written by someone else just representing the celebrity. But then I clicked on some of the links and was pleasantly surprised. It seemed pretty obvious that some of the accounts weren’t maintained personally by the celebrity, but a lot of them seemed legitimate. Some had tweets about doing things with family and friends, their plans for the day, or what they had for dinner, and a lot had the classic self-shot profile picture taken in their living room or wherever. The accounts that really convinced me, however, were the ones that didn’t allow me to see the tweets – I could see their self-shot pictures, but I was blocked from seeing anything they had written unless I started following them. This made me feel like there was a lot less possibility that the Twitter account was just a marketing tool, because a marketing tool that doesn’t allow people to freely access it immediately doesn’t seem too effective.

While knowing every little thing that my favourite actor or producer is up to isn’t particularly interesting to me, the fact that these celebrities have thousands of followers means that it is pretty interesting to some people. And I may not feel the need to follow them, but I do like the idea that so many TV celebrities are opening up little bits of their lives to their fans – you know, those people they owe their careers to…

We’ve got dancing celebrities and island survivors, but no PR?

6 03 2009

Why is it that amongst all the crazy TV shows out there, there isn’t one about PR? All we’ve got is semi-PR professional, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, and the version of PR that she portrays doesn’t seem overly accurate.

If you’re wondering what got me started on this little rant, it was something I created last semester that I just came across when I waThe ApPRentices sorting through some files. For a TV-themed event that I worked on, I created a PR-related logo based off of the logo for The Apprentice. At first, I just thought “Hmm, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a PR version of The Apprentice? But, featuring a boss with better hair, of course.”

Then I really got thinking about it, and despite how many ridiculous reality TV shows have been created in recent years, there’s been nothing (at least, from I can remember) based on PR. Yet. Apparently Kelly Cutrone‘s fashion PR agency, People’s Revolution, is going to be the subject of a new Bravo reality show. As much as I love/fear Kelly Cutrone based on what I’ve seen of her on The Hills and The City, I can’t help but worry that this show will just continue to give people the impression that PR is nothing but glamorous parties and celebrities like we see in Sex and the City. The only thing that’s giving me hope that this will not be the case is Kelly Cutrone’s no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is personality. She’s tough and cares more about being honest than hurting someone’s feelings, which is both kind of refreshing, as well as entertaining for TV.

I guess what I’m getting at is that it would just be really cool to see something on TV that accurately portrays at least some elements of the PR world. For now, it looks like all my hopes are pinned on Kelly Cutrone and Bravo.

TV murder vs. PR blogging

2 03 2009

DexterI’ve given it some thought, and I’ve decided that I’m really glad I’m not Dexter Morgan. I think it’s safe to say that I couldn’t handle the ethical dilemmas that Showtime’s famous blood spatter expert/serial killer overlooks every day. During the day, Dexter plays the part of the upstanding citizen, helping solve crimes with Miami’s police, and during night, he brutally murders the criminals he finds. He justifies his murderous urges by only targeting people who he believes deserve to die because they’ve committed criminal acts. But, how does he make that decision? And why does he get to determine whether or not those people live? Is he any better than those people, or is he just trying to make himself feel better about being a murderer?

Dexter’s twisted issues definitely make for good TV, but boy, am I glad that the ethical dilemmas that arise in PR aren’t nearly as complicated as those in Dexter! For example: ghost blogging – yea or nay? For me, this is much simpler than the question of “to kill or not to kill?” Ghost blogging is a practice sometimes used in PR that I must say I’m not a big fan of. It’s essentially when one person writes a blog as someone else, but does not indicate that it’s not written by the person whose name is on it. Often, communications specialists will write blogs for CEOs or other top management, but it is never indicated that this is what’s happening. To me, a blog is a place for personal thought and opinions, not a place for standardized corporate messages. If a CEO doesn’t have time to write a blog, then they shouldn’t have one – it’s as simple as that. Maybe… this is where the line of ethics becomes a little blurred for me.

While I don’t agree with basically lying and saying that something is written by another person, I think that the practice of semi-ghost blogging can be ok. Provided that the CEO actually sits down with the blog writer to discuss what should be in the blog post, and it’s noted in the blog that the post’s messages are from the CEO, but prepared by the communications specialist, then perhaps it’s ok. I’m just not comfortable with one person’s ideas being passed off as another’s. Like I said before, I believe that a blog is a place to express personal views, so as long as the views in the blog are completely those of the CEO, and credit is given to the writer, then I think I can get behind that.

Anyway, I think the real question here is: With his twisted “ethical” justifications, would Dexter support the practice of ghost blogging, or would he murder a ghost blogger for being dishonest? If I were a fictional Showtime PR professional, I think I’d avoid it, just to be on the safe side.

Scandalous personal brand? No thanks, reality TV!

18 02 2009

Since starting at Centennial in September, something that I’ve heard over and over again is that I need to have a personal brand in the PR world. Everyone keeps saying that I’m supposed to brand myself to show potential employers that I have the skills and characteristics that make me the best person for the job. Ok, that makes a lot of sense, even if it does feel a little strange to think of myself as a packaged brand. Although, I guess it’s easier to picture myself as brand if I think of it as an obsessively neatly packaged, TV-addicted brand…

Gossip GirlAnyway, the whole idea of branding got me thinking about something that I read on a blog last week about Bravo working on a realty version of Gossip Girl. Basically, the show will follow the rich and privileged students of Manhattan’s most elite private schools, and broadcast their all their personality quirks to the world. Their potential audience includes individuals who may be influential in terms of their acceptance to college, or acquiring their dream job in the future. For some teens, this could be a good thing – being on their best behaviour during the show’s filming could allow them to demonstrate their positive attributes and sell their personal brand. However, the premise for this show is a real life Gossip Girl, a TV show in which no one is ever on their best behaviour.

Showing privileged teens indulging in the finer things in life, throwing lavish parties and getting caught up in high school drama may make for good TV, but it does not build a very good personal brand. The intention of the show is to find a group of teens who are the real life Serena van der Woodsen, Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf, which means that some serious drama and scandal are certainly in store for viewers. Unfortunately for the show’s cast, I really can’t imagine that drama and scandal are things that college admissions departments or employers would like to see in an applicant’s past. Opening up your life to the world may seem fun and exciting to a teenager who dreams of fame, but a show with a goal of capturing the drama and elitist behaviours of Manhattan’s wealthy teens does not seem like a good way to present your personal brand.

So, I think in building my own personal brand, it may be best to stay away from starring in scandalous reality TV shows – it probably won’t lead to a successful career in PR. It may be hard to give up on my dreams of having every single moment of my life exposed to the world, but I think it may be best if I just stick with building my brand through my online presence with social media. I’d say it’s a little easier to delete an embarrassing picture from Facebook, than it would be to eliminate all records of an embarrassing reality TV show.

9 02 2009

This Friday will be a big day for Joss Whedon fans everywhere – at 9 p.m., FOX will premiere Whedon’s newest series, Dollhouse. In case you aren’t familiar with the GENIUS that is Joss Whedon, he’s the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. I would be lying if I said I’m not really excited to see what Dollhouse is like. summarizes the show as follows:

The Dollhouse is a very secret, and very illegal, place where wishes come true. Clients with the right connections and enough money can hire “Actives”, people who have been programmed to perfectly fulfill the needs, and desires of their clients. The Actives are people who have chosen, for their own reasons, to surrender their bodies and minds for a five-year stay in the Dollhouse. Now they can be imprinted with any personality, skill, or even muscle memory. They can be the perfect companion, lover, spy, assassin; and when the job is done they forget everything.

But something is wrong with the Active called “Echo”. No longer just a blank slate waiting for her next assignment, Echo is remembering flashes of the lives that she has lived and the games she has played, and she is starting to wonder just who she really is…

I’m a big fan of Whedon’s past work, so I’ve got high hopes, but I logically feel that I can’t make a judgement on the show until I’ve seen it. This is why I can’t believe how many fan forums and blogs are already out there, devoted entirely to Dollhouse. I even came across a blog called “Dollrific!”, where a fan has been blogging about the show since last spring. It hasn’t aired a single episode, but Whedon fans are already coming together to support the show – and try to save it from cancellation.

That’s right, fans – or people who assume they’ll be fans – started campaigning as early as May 2008 to save Dollhouse. While I find this pretty strange, I also think that it’s smart, considering the fate of Whedon’s last TV endeavour. When FOX aired Whedon’s Firefly in 2003, it lasted only one season and the cancellation resulted in a lot of angry fans. So this time, fans aren’t waiting until after cancellation to show FOX that they want this show to stay on the air. Instead, they’re being pre-emptive and using social media to band together early. They’re taking advantage of blogs, forums and wikis, and discussing the show they’re all eagerly anticipating.

DollhouseI know I may appreciate the enthusiasm of these fans in the future if I come to like Dollhouse and FOX talks about cancelling it, but I just can’t bring myself to participate on any of the websites I’ve come across. I feel like delving too far into this Dollhouse world may ruin the show for me before I even see it. For example, Dollhouse Wiki (which was actually set up by FOX) has spoilers for the first 10 episodes, which I have no desire to read because I don’t want to know what’s coming. Although I must admit, I’m quite amused by the Dollhouse paperdolls that users of the wiki can download, print and assemble.

Joss Whedon has a very loyal fan base, which I do include myself in, but I think what really boggles my mind about the huge online community that has formed around Dollhouse is that there haven’t been any episodes to talk about yet! I can’t figure out for the life of me how there are currently more than 22,500 posts on Dollhouse Forums when there is nothing to talk about besides the production and anticipation of the show. I mean, it’s pretty clear that I like to talk about TV, but 22,500 posts about a show that hasn’t aired? That’s impressive.

So, as I eagerly await Friday night’s premiere, I’m left wondering if this pre-emptive online community will help or hinder Dollhouse. Will fans using social media be successful in keeping a good show on the air? Or, will the anticipation result in disappointment from high expectations that simply cannot be met? For now, I suppose all I can do is set my VCR and wait.