Sharkey’s Machine

Social Media Policy
December 5, 2008, 6:08 pm
Filed under: PRCA 3331 | Tags: ,


1. Connecting: Introduce yourself and tell me why you want to connect

I am pretty open to new adds. If I am questionable of adding you; I will send a message asking “why are you adding me?”

2. Follow, add, friend:

Adding or Friend: I will add some one after three conversations, if I think I will continue to speak with them at some point.

Follow: I will follow if you haves something interesting to say to me.

3. Privacy, boundaries and safety:

On Facebook: Only my friends can see my profile. I keep my profile in order as if there is something that I would not want one friend to see; then I will not put it up for any of my friends to see. I don’t have different profile access for different friends.

LinkedIn: Open to the public

Twitter: Open to the public

Blog: Open to the public

4. Signal to noise:

Facebook: I do like to be connected to people who send more than one invite, for anything, a week.

Twitter: I do not like to follow someone who produces multiple tweets (3) as a continuation of one message.

5. Personal data and sharing for different media:

Facebook: is purely informal for me; and I only stay networked to people in my peer groups.

LinkedIn: Is professional for me; so I connect for professional, ideological, or academic purposes.


The North Face Project
December 3, 2008, 8:39 pm
Filed under: PRCA 3331, The North Face Project | Tags: , ,

This page is the culmination of my work analyzing the PR platform of The North Face Inc. The project was done as an assignment conducted through Professor Barbra NixonCorporate PR class at Georgia Southern University. I chose to focus on The North Face (TNF) because of my personal satisfaction in using their products and  their unique insurgence into main stream pop-culture and fashion, even though their products are geared predominately toward a small faction of adventure enthusiast.


Table of Contents


From High Altitude: TNF Corporate Overview


Knots in the Rope: TNF Company Timeline


The 3 P’s of The North Face’s PR Strategy


The Publics


The north face of The North Face: The Challenges Facing TNF


The Summit: Awards and honors of TNF


Feel the Vibrations: A Groundswell on The North Face


The Corporate Alphorn: TNF Online Newsroom


On Belay! Belay On!: Career Opportunities within TNF


Climbers, Campers, and Cold-weather lovers: The Community of The North Face


Clinging to a Ledge: Crisis within TNF


Should I Never Stop Exploring?


The Assent of 10 Things You didn’t know about The North Face Power Point Presentation 



(This post is a duplicate of a similar page ; and  was created to help organize post when using some blog themes)

Feel the Vibrations: A Groundswell on The North Face.

Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li set out an explicit framework how to develop a social media platform in Groundswell. They outline the POST method as an effective process to maximize the utility to gain the greatest advantages from social media. I will use the POST method as a “rubric of effectiveness “to analyze The North Face’s social media strategy.


The common phase from Groundswell that can capsulate the People tenant of the POST method is: “What are customers ready for?”  This is the most important aspect of developing an effective groundswell. If you don’t know what you customers want, need, or will accept from a media standpoint; how can you be sure you are producing a message through a relevant medium? The North Face products line is no doubt geared to young and/or active people. It is often the stereotype that social media is only relevant to this population, and while that might not entirely true; it definitely can be asserted that a youth oriented product line can benefit from a stereotypical youth driven communication medium. I think it is safe to say that The North Face customer base is open to various forms of social media weather that is Facebook, Twitter, You Tube videos, blogs, or podcast.


Objectives in Groundswell are just what they are anywhere else in life, they are goals. What do you want to accomplish? The explicit objectives of The North Face communication strategy is obviously only outlined with the organization; but some basic assumptions can be made. The North Face is a merchant foremost; it wants to sell the most it can at the highest possible margin. So it can safely be presumed that from a communication standpoint it wants to energize its customer base to increase excitement and loyalty to its products. It is reasonable to assume that outdoor enthusiasts that purchase The North Face products are more susceptible to forms of community. By the nature of the hobbies, people who are highly active outdoors are more willing to find likeminded people to share tips, stories, and adventures with.  The predisposition to being open to communal environments should be great for The North Face, that is what social media is all about.  With social media not only can outdoor people share around a campfire; they can continue that experience around a blog, or a networking site when they are not on the trail.


This is the overarching “how” to the objectives “what.”How do you want to go about achieving your overall objectives. How much two-way communication do you want back from customers? How do want the conversation driven, from the PR department, from the customers, from the hands on members in the organization like R&D? I think when taking a Groundswell approach to social media it is important to remember that the strategy must be dynamic. The groundswell conversation will constantly be moving and changing hands between customers, critics, and corporate; that is the nature of the best. It is important to use volatile fluidity change in communication authority to your advantage. I think of controlling social media like playing pin ball. You can’t force the ball or the conversation to go in an explicit direction, but you can give it a nudge to affect its general area or to expel it from an undesired direction, which is just as good as absolute control many times.


I describe technology in communications as: the mediums to which an agenda is carried out; no matter how archaic or innovative.  In Groundswell Bernoff and Li warn how picking inappropriate technologies can be detrimental to your overall communication strategy. The technologies have to be dependent upon the first 3 tenants of the POST method. You have to pick a technology that your people are open to, that can help achieve your goals, and that can be incorporated into your overall communication approach. Many times companies focus too much on the technology aspect of their social communication program without having a solid justifiable foundation for their decisions.

The North Face may be guilty of focusing too much on technology. They have all basics covered, they have a blog, podcast, viral video, widgits, and a page on Facebook; but how effective is all this? For me, not much.  As I laid out in my last post Blogging for Big Business, The North Face does a poor job in making its web-based PR functions accessible through its retail website.  On its Facebook fan page The North Face does a better job outlining blogs, allowing members to upload comments and video. When I looked at The North Face Facebook (I love alliteration) page, I wondered why don’t they incorporate this functionality into their corporate website with a community page?

Well they have, they have just done a poor job of marketing it. Over the past few months during my analysis of The North Face social media strategy I have been disappointed that they didn’t have a corporate community webpage; and until now I hadn’t found one. When I clicked on a blog post from the Facebook page it took me to a corporate community page, UREAKA! Finally what I had been expecting. However, I am still disappointed that it took me so long. From what I can tell this site is not linked from the corporate site and I could not find it during any of my Google searches. In fact, even on the Facebook page there is no explicit link to The North Face community page, you just have to click on a blog post to go there.  

For me finding the community webpage after so long is better sweet. It is everything I wanted to find, but it is proof that The North Face should reanalyze its media strategy priorities. The people are there, the goals are clear, but the technology and strategy don’t seem be cohesive.  Until next time, keep the sun upon your face and the wind at your back.

Blogging for Big Businesses
November 7, 2008, 4:04 am
Filed under: PRCA 3331 | Tags: , , , ,

Blogging at its inception had somewhat of a grass roots appeal. An inexpensive trendy way marketing by small startups has now become an essential element in the communication structure of all businesses (regardless of size) that interact with the public. In Darren Rowse analysis A Guide to Corporate Blogging of Reem Abeidoh’s 13 Steps Fortune 500 companies take to create a Blog; they collectively outline a set necessary of elements contained in an effective corporate blog. I used their recommendations as somewhat of a rubric to analyze The North Face blog strategy. While I won’t make comparisons and contrast based on every step proposed, I will use the general themes of the guideline to draw my conclusions.



A company must decide if they are will allocate the people, resources, and the ATTITUDE necessary for a blog serve as a proper communication function. A synergistic strategy must be developed across all blogging active departments in order to properly disseminate a cohesive effective message. Commitment seems to be the biggest problem facing The North Face. From their website it is unclear how to exactly find company related blogs. The can be found under the “Explore” tab as “feeds.” On this page there are links to blogs, online diaries of athletes, and podcast. I think it is great that this page compiles all of their web-based PR functions; but it does a poor job at actually delivering the information. The blogs (and podcast) are listed with a brief description of the topic of the blog, but that is it. There is not a snap-shot of recent post or a direct link to the blog; you have to accesses the blog through the RSS button, which may be unclear to many users. Once you access the blogs, many are not up-to-date; out of six separate blogs only one had a new post in the last two weeks. I think this observation is indicative of the fact that The North Face is not committed to producing high-quality blogs for their consumers. Abeidoh points out those companies must find people in their organization to blog, train them, and promote the blogs they are producing. I assume this is not currently taking place at The North Face.


Blogging is essential to most companies; especially those that are directed towards young people. One only has to take a walk across any college campus, to see the abundance of North Face backpacks and jackets to see that The North Face has a blog receptive audience. It is possible that if The North Face doesn’t capitalize on blogging and social media that their brand will go the way of countless other fly-by-night fads. Anybody remember Ocean Pacific, British Knights, or Members Only? Blogging can be the catalyst that helps organizations continue the momentum growth; instead of slowly losing steam and not knowing why.

Article Review on How Social Media is Changing
October 23, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: PRCA 3331 | Tags: , , ,

I reviewed an article in the Public Relations Journal addressing the topic that much of my Corporate PR class has covered this semester, social media. In “How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced,” Wright and Hinson (2008) address how PR practitioners perceive social media and blogs, and how the PR industry is affected by this relatively new form of communication. The article is a continuation of a three-year-long international survey; it compares and contrasts how PR practitioners’ beliefs have changed over this time period on key aspects of social media (including blogging); such as: effectiveness, influence, and the ethical concerns of employee blogging (Wright, Hinson, 2008).


What I Took Away:


 A greater number of public relations professionals are evolving their opinion of social media and blogs in a positive direction. Over the course of the entire study, there has been a steady statistical increase in the number of PR practitioners who view blogs as: as effective form of corporate communication, an enhancement to the public relations practice, and a compliment to mainstream traditional news media (Wright, Hinson, 2008). It is my opinion that tone of general business, including PR, towards blogs is shifting from what was once a novel form of grass-root type communication to now a necessary and primary form of direct public-to-corporate communication. The statistical data of Wright and Hinson’s (2008) article seems to concur with this observation.


The Unexpected:


I had always viewed blogs from the positive perspective, as a necessary device in the PR toolbox. Until reading this article, I had not considered how an increase in blogs and social media can over-saturate the communication pool; watering down the direct specific communication a PR practitioner might be trying to convey with the semi-relevant or antagonistic counterpoints of similar social media produced by any Joe Schmoe. In the open-ended survey questions some PR practitioners “pointed out these new media create additional information channels thus making it more difficult for those who practice public relations to help organizations manage and control information dissemination” (Wright, Hinson, 2008, p 19). The early problems the traditional news industry had with blogs (credibility and openness to authorship); ironically, are now being felt and resisted by the same of the early blogosphere pioneers, PR practitioners.


Thank you, Sir. May I Have Another?:


A major aspect of this article dealt with ethical appropriateness of employees blogging about the organization that employs them.  There has been a shift in the opinion of PR practitioners over the three year period of how appropriate it is for an employee to make negative blog posts about their respective organization; from more tolerable to less tolerable (Wright, Hinson, 2008). There has also been inversion of the opinion how appropriate it is for an organization to monitor its employee’s blogs, from more tolerable to less tolerable (Wright, Hinson, 2008). I think both these statistical derivements are loosely correlated to one another, and to the growing ubiquity of blogs. I think with the growing number people posting blogs it reasonable to assume that sentiments about blogs are something to the affect that: “Everyone has one; so it is futile and in bad taste to defame one’s own firm. However, it is somewhat of an invasion of privacy for your firm to monitor and censor your blog post.” I would like to see this study continued for several years to see if the trends of attitude and ubiquity continue.


How This Research Affects My Research:


In my upcoming research project on the corporate communication strategy of The North Face, Incorporated; the research provided by Wright and Hinson (2008) will prove vital as a concurring secondary resource for establishing the importance of the Groundswell affect as effective and essential form of communication. The importance of social media and blogging in the Groundswell affect can not be overstated. The research can also be important in establishing support for use of the Grunig and Hunt’s two-way symmetric model of PR, which is almost necessary to be effective in today dynamic media market.


Wright and Hinson (2008) articulated a great article on how social media is changing and how it affects corporate communication strategies. I think the article, although objective in tone, is highly persuasive with data to encourage more blogging to occur between the companies and consumers. I would recommend anyone who has doubts about the utility of social media to read this article. Until next time, think good thoughts.  


– Donovan Sharkey




Wright, D.K., & Hinson, M.D. (2008). How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced. Public Relations Journal, 2, Retrieved October 23, 2008, from

A week (or so) of Twitter
September 30, 2008, 11:44 pm
Filed under: PRCA 3331

Twitter was a new experience. At first I was wondering “what’s the point?” To me it seemed like an endless update of Facebook statuses, and to some point I guess it is; however Twitter offers something more than Facebook. There are the occasional passive quips of personal interest: jabs at a significant other (or ex’s), the self-grandalizing of personal problems, and the gloating of success. But Twitter offers something more substantial; to me it’s the up-to-the-minute feedback/information on issues of social relevance. This week offered tons of material for people to comment on: the gas crisis, the federal bailout, stock market fluctuations, the presidential debates, and of coarse most importantly college football. Using Twitter on my mobile allowed me to see immediate reaction of others on these topics. I found this especially fascinating; because as I viewed an event unfold I could watch others response to the event. This allowed to somewhat observe the cognitive faculties that are employed in one’s opinion formation process. Pop-psychologist is just one of the many hats I where; along with astronaut helmet.

I was unfamiliar with Twitter before this assignment, but I got the since that I somewhat got in on the ground floor of a growing phenomenon. It was interesting to see who was on Twitter, and who was not on Twitter (yet). Another little test I employed was, seeing how many clicks it took me to get to a creator of Twitter. We all had to come from somewhere. Twitter categorizes followers by the length of time they have subscribed to Twitter, so the first person in your follower box has been a member the longest. If you click your “oldest” follower, then click their “oldest” follower, and so-on and so-on; eventually you have to come to a creator. For me it was 3 clicks. Just a fun exercise to try. Have fun tweeting tweeps.