Talk is cheap

by ohdanyel

Tonight I went to Centennial College’s unconference, Talk is Cheap, looking at trends in PR and social media. Some of the reoccurring themes that seem to be popping up across these networking and social media events I’ve been participating in over the last few months have to do with genuineness and transparency. The consensus out there is that, if you’re going to put yourself online, be your true self. People will figure it out otherwise. Be authentic. Be transparent. And in doing so, you learn to make more conscious choices.

One of my favourite quotes from tonight was “By broadcasting where you are, you’re broadcasting where you aren’t” said by Brad Buset of Espresso. He was referring to such sites as Please Rob Me, and the fact that without realizing it, or intending to do so, people are offering up all sorts of information about the fact that they aren’t home. And with more apps like Blippy, people are publicly cataloguing everything a criminal could steal from their house.

I find it interesting that this wealth of public information about our whereabouts and what we are doing is unintentional, because another amazing quote from tonight came from Leona Hobbs of Social Media Group. She paraphrased Seth Godin when she explained, “Online interactions are largely assumed to be intentional/on purpose.” A lot of the time, we don’t seem to realize this. But when you are posting something online, obviously you are putting it out there for people to see. So you better be sure it’s something you want people to be able to see.

Another amazing panel from tonight discussed the effect that social media had on the Haiti disaster, and how it really broke through the barriers to entry. It allowed real-time updates, and helped people to find their loved ones, and introduced the concept of donating through texting. Social media is new to all of us, especially in an emergency context, and this was one of the first times we really got to see the difference it can make.

As a PR and social media student, this unconference offered some great insights into the ways social media is changing how we do things, and prompted us to ask ourselves how much of ourselves we want to put online. Is it better to be searchable, or private? It’s all a personal decision, but by limiting your public online persona, you are limiting your engagement in that public conversation. I think what people will tolerate is shifting rapidly, and I’m excited to see the continuous shift in where social media takes us.