CSR and IBM

I feel like I’ve been hearing that acronym a lot lately.  CSR or corporate social responsibility seems to be a growing trend.  Or is it a trend? Either way, it’s something companies should be doing.  CSR is synonymous with corporations and their efforts to become good corporate citizens.  I don’t think I really understood the value of CSR until earlier this semester when I had to research the CSR efforts of IBM.

IBM was ranked third in Corporate Social Responsibility by CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2009 and if one visits their website it is easy to tell why.  A good portion of their corporate website is dedicated to their CSR initiatives, programs and efforts.  And if one types “Corporate Social Responsibility” on their search box another section dedicated to showing other companies how to set up their own corporate responsibility initiatives will be displayed.

IBM states on their website that the main focus of their corporate citizenship activities is on “developing initiatives to address specific societal issues, such as the environment, community economic development, education, health, literacy, language and culture.  [They] employ IBM’s most valuable resources, [their] technology and talent, in order to create innovative programs in these areas to assist communities around the world.“  IBM is mainly active in seven main areas.  They understand that the world is connected so they make it a point to contribute in crucial affairs.  They help when disasters strike.  They assist victims of natural disasters with their Web-based “disaster relief in a box” management system, which provides essential tools for tracking missing persons, coordinating relief efforts and managing pledges for support.  Additionally, they address food shortages.  For instance, IBM is using their World Community Grid to improve the food itself by computing genetic data to develop stronger strains of rice.  They are hoping to provide “more nutritious yields, pest and disease resistance, and better water and nutrient use.”  Thirdly, they are making energy grids more efficient.  IBM is leading seven of the world’s top ten automated meter projects because according to them “a smart grid can save electricity and money and the planet, by linking smart meters in the home with instrumented power lines and plants.”  It seems that IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives are pretty well rounded.  They are also improving educational opportunities.  They are creating the “Reinventing Education” program, which aims to bring the right people together in order to “identify barriers, develop solutions and implement them via the BlueSky open source portal.”  They have developed voice-recognition technology now in use in hundreds of schools around the world.  They also have early childhood interactive learning centers set up which makes sense for them since children are the future and some of them could end up working for IBM some day.  Furthermore, IBM does much for the environment by partnering with The Nature Conservancy to build advanced web-based tools for river basin management.  The software they have developed helps visualize the impact on ecosystem services and biodiversity of different scenarios for land water use.  IBM finds more than one way to help the community.  They have set up IBM’s “corporate Peace Corps.”  The program allows them to send teams of employees to different emerging countries to work on projects that combine economic development and job creation.  Lastly they are using software to plan the growth of our cities intelligently.  They are helping improve the concept of information sharing so that municipal services will be more efficient.

Overall everything on IBM’s agenda makes sense for them.  They are using what they do best, new software technologies for instance, in order to create a better tomorrow.  The reality is that their fast developing technologies can cater to a variety of areas or industries so they have the freedom to concentrate on whatever they desire.   I think they have made smart choices in that they have chosen to focus on important matters that really can and will affect the entire world.

They do a terrific job explaining in-depth what CSR is so that they can encourage other companies to take part.  They are a terrific example of what good CSR is and they are definitely making their presence known.

In my opinion, we need more companies like this.

Use your Facebook profile for something better than stalking…get a job!

A couple months ago I wrote about LinkedIn and how I wasn’t sure about its job networking abilities, so some might be surprised that I deem Facebook to be a better job resource guide for public relations and communication professionals in general.  I know, shocking.  Let me explain myself.  On LinkedIn you are nothing but a resume.  You are a piece of paper with all your job related qualities listed.  Except for a tiny picture and a line stating your interests and activities there is nothing truly human about LinkedIn.  Plus, if you try to connect with someone it’s possible that they will assume that all you’re trying to do is get a job out of them.  What I am saying is that if you are truly interested in the work of a colleague they might not know that by simply connecting with them on LinkedIn, in fact, you might even be labeled a “job-digger” and have your LinkedIn resume tossed in with all the rest.

Obviously, this is just a reflection of my thoughts, and there is actually a reason why I think Facebook would be more helpful, especially if you are trying to connect with a specific person.  In my opinion, if you know how to use it correctly, Facebook could actually work in your favor during your job search.  Companies don’t want robots.  They want real people with real personalities and you can use Facebook to let your personality shine.  Evidently, you will want to clean up your profile a little bit, but all those pictures really aren’t that bad.  I think companies know that we are a generation that likes to have fun.  We are a live bunch that will make the office a fun place to work.  Ideally,  you should have a decent resume that you would have sent them so that you aren’t automatically written off as no-good party animal simply from your Facebook.  Show them that sure, you can play hard, but you can also work hard.  Make them want you.  Show them you are a well-rounded person.  Facebook is good in that it lets you showcase your talents in a variety of ways.  You can list your endless interests and activities and you can even showcase pictures of your well-rounded activities, and  to top things off you can list your job history.  Facebook also lets  you join career-oriented groups so that you get tips on great job openings from people from all around the world.

Additionally, just how Facebook helps you connect with old friends, it can help you connect with old colleagues with out it being awkward.  Facebook reflects our lives (or in some cases what we portray as our lives), and it allows us to be connected with friends constantly.  So if you’re forced to leave a job don’t delete your colleagues from your Facebook or limit them to what they can see, instead use your profile to keep in touch effortlessly and naturally with ex-coworkers.  Wish them a Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. Keep the friendship alive so that when you find yourself in need they can let you in on any open positions, (or gossip).  I’m not suggesting that you to use people, I’m just telling you to stay connected and not burn any bridges.  Everyone has a Facebook these days, so staying connected shouldn’t be too hard.

Bottom line: Don’t be too worried about keeping your profile totally and completely private or squeaky clean.  We are human after all, and I think companies now a days could use our fun-loving spirit a little bit, especially in this economy.

Maybe I should consider blogging as a career…

So here’s the truth: I am not a “real blogger,” I’m not doing this because I care so much about the world of public relations that I find the need to share my thoughts with the rest of the world.  I am doing this because I am taking a Public Relations Writing course this semester and my professor considers it good practice to keep a blog.  I am basically writing this blog for a grade.  Don’t misunderstand me, I mean, yes I care about the public relations industry and that is why I am considering it as a career, but I guess I just don’t consider myself worthy enough to have a blog yet because I just don’t think of myself as an expert…and usually bloggers are experts right?  Well they are definitely something because according to this article on VentureBeat the average revenue for a full-time blogger is $122,222.  Now that is what I call crazy.  How is it that newspapers around the country are crashing down and bloggers are making a six figure income?  I just don’t understand.  On second-thought, maybe I should look into blogging as a full-time career.  I guess I would have never thought about writing a blog if it had not been assigned to me, so maybe I should thank my professor as he is pointing us in the direction of a super affluent income.  Or is he?  It looks like part-timers will only average about $14,777 which really is not all that much.  So in order to make the big bucks I would have to become super popular, and then go around giving speeches, and selling competitive ad space.  It looks like in order to really make some money you have to commit yourself 100%.  I’m not sure if I am ready for that.  I guess I will determine whether I want to become a die-hard blogger or not at the end of the semester when I get my grade.  Until then tell me, what are your thoughts?  How much are you bloggers making out there?

The Wonderful World of Flickr…and PR

In this world of the social media obsessed there is no way that photos could stay behind, and they clearly didn’t as they now have their own social network on Flickr.  Flickr allows different people to post pictures based on a category (like cuisine, marriage, dogs, etc) or on a location, or based on different interest groups.  There are plenty of both expert and amateur photographers showing off their wonderful work for the world to see.  You can purchase a plan which will allow you to keep your pictures forever on the site and let you post an unlimited amount of photos and video but if you opt to not purchase the plan you still get the chance to show off 200 of your latest pictures and 2 videos per month.

There are many reasons to go Pro since you can do lots of stuff on Flickr.  You can edit pictures, create business cards, greeting cards, and calendars amongst other projects and it’s easy to upload pictures in several different ways, including straight from your email.  The main point however, is that just like any other social network it’s all about sharing and connecting.  Now how exactly does this fit in with PR?  Flickr allows companies to show their products or work to the world.

For instance if a company wants to generate attention before they even put out a product they can post pictures and get people excited.  This would work great with a company that makes visual products because it would be hard to show off an intangible good (although some may argue otherwise).  But if a company has a really great product Flickr can be a great visual platform that will help generate buzz.  The best part is that it won’t be too hard for people to find it as you can post pictures and easily link them to the product category so that the aficionados can easily find them and continue sharing with other people.

The world of social media is great, especially if  you know how to take advantage of it and Flickr is a great tool for companies to share their efforts without breaking the bank.

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Some thoughts on LinkedIn

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I do not know of anybody who has actually found a job using LinkedIn.  It could just be that I just don’t know the right people or that I am not taking it seriously.  Maybe I just don’t believe in it.  I get the gist of it: you sign up, post your job history and a cute (tiny) picture and essentially hope that somebody finds it.  It’s a good idea especially if you know the right people because they can introduce you to other people, but regardless, I find it a little weird.  What happened to meeting people face to face?  If they don’t know you how are they supposed to give you a job just because somebody told them they should.

I guess I just feel like too many things could go wrong.  For instance, what if you are a horrible employee who happens to know somebody who knows somebody looking to hire.  What if you ask them to introduce you and by some miraculous reason you get the job but you do an awful job.  This doesn’t really make the person who introduced you look too good and they probably just killed their chances to get hired by the person who hired you if they’re ever looking for a job.  And all this because they just happened to be connected to you on LinkedIn.  I guess I just don’t get why people are connecting you to other people without even recognizing the quality of your work.   Call me old fashioned but I’m only connecting people who I know can do a good job.

As if the world wasn’t creepy enough…

….Well, now we have Twitter, so if you were having trouble stalking that hottie you met last night at the bar, well your world just got easier.  Well, that’s if they’re on Twitter, because it seems that people will either embrace Twitter all the way and tweet their status every five seconds or they will hate it with a passion and think that you are the stupidest person in the world.

Twitter is like the home to facebook statuses.  It allows you to update your status from the Twitter site, directly from your cell phone or you can even combine your facebook and twitter statuses.  Twittering is a recent trend, but at least between my friends and I it doesn’t seem to have caught on yet.  So who exactly tweets?  Apparently everyone.  It seems everyone from ExxonMobile to Britney Spears have a twitter account.  Twitter is meant to be an easy way to keep everyone updated.  Constantly.  Which means if you were out last night, and met somebody new you can probably look them up on Twitter and follow every single thing they have been doing since last night.  And, you might end up reading something about you (or your actions).  But is this really what we need?  We have a lot of active restraining orders in America from all the creepers that just can’t stay away.  Is it possible that with this new trend we are going to create a new type of stalker?  I think so.  We are a curious society.  We like to look and judge and copy, and Twitter will now make our lives a lot easier.  We already have facebook, but people tend to get lazy about updating their statuses but now we have a network exclusively for status updates, which means you will be logging in with the sole purpose of letting the world know exactly what you are doing.

Recently I created an account, but I am used to updating my status on facebook.  I do it enough so that I keep people informed, but I don’t do it enough to become obnoxious.  I have discovered a few things. One, I am a lazy person and don’t keep up with Twitter since I already update on facebook, and two, I do not have enough followers on Twitter, or at least the people I want to stalk aren’t up there yet which takes the fun out of twittering.  For now I think I’ll stick to facebook, but when that hottie I met last night at the bar gets an account, I will probably revisit it regularly.

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