Blog action day 08: Poverty

This post is in response to this year’s Blog action day, the theme of which is Poverty.

I’ve always been a firm believer that the only way to permanently break the cycle of poverty is through education. Which is why I was delighted recently to come across this initiative call Room to Read.

What’s all the more inspiring is the the founder, John Wood, previously a high-flying executive at Microsoft, quit his very well-paid job to start up this organisation.

I’ll make a note to get involved with the organisation next year. What little we can contribute, makes a big difference in the lives of impoverished children.

Issues management: Louis Vuitton and Nadia Plesner

Nadia Plesner, a Danish artist, started a campaign in October last year to “raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur”. Her now-famous illustration of an impoverished Darfur child holding a chihuahua and a Louis Vuitton (LV) bag lookalike was meant to highlight the disparate treatment by the media towards a certain hotel heiress and the situation in Darfur.

The luxury goods giant asked Plesner to cease sales of her designs immediately. She resisted and LV, obviously none too happy about it, brought a lawsuit against Plesner, claiming an incredulously amount of over $20,000 for each day of her Simple Living campaign.

I thought this was a classic David and Goliath story. And indeed, it is. Google for the story and you are likely to find media and blog articles on the issue. Even Jeremiah Owyang (one of my favourite bloggers on the social media scene) devoted an entry on the ongoing suit.

Without going much into the nitty stuff (you can read that yourself), I am wondering what in the world does LV intend to achieve by suing the socks off of a struggling artist, who in her best of intentions, simply took the monogrammed LV bag as an inspiration. LV would have been better off fighting intellectual piracy of its famous bags from the likes of the notorious Ladies Market in HongKong, choc-a-bloc full of LV imitations.

I have no doubt that Plesner will garner much support (she probably already has an army of supporters). There is even a FaceBook group in support of Plesner and her campaign. If LV treads wrongly and insists on going down the libel road, it may find itself in more of a fix than it bargained for.

Will this fiasco hurt LV in the long run? Maybe not. With annual sales of billions, and growing, LV’s main target audience are the mostly the well-heeled with cash to burn. It’s not a mass-market brand. Still, would this hurt LV’s brand reputation and how it is perceived? We can only wait and see how will LV react to the current situation. Their PR agency has their work cut out for them, and in this age of social media, they better have a good online strategy in their pockets too.

New beginnings

Gosh! It has been 3 months since I’ve updated my blog. The main excuse being my course… I’m learning that juggling work and studies is so tiring! Now that the term is over, I can kick back and have a little break. Well one interesting thing is that inspite of not updating this blog, I discovered that I am still getting traffic, sometimes from the most faraway places, oddly enough. I hope to regain my momentum and blog more regularly, especially on PR and social media.

And of course, this month I start my new job at Sony Asia Pacific, where I’m part of the regional webcomms team. This is the first week so far, and already the learning curve is steep.

On a more personal note, I joined the big Three O club this month. I thought I was suppose to be like either very scary or exhilarating, depending on how you look at it. But I was like, hmm, okay. There’s other changes that I’m making in my life and here’s to a brand new start to brand new beginnings.

p/s Keep coming to my blog! :D

The eight things meme

I first saw this meme on Jeremiah’s blog, and then on Connie’s blog. It’s amazing how fast information spreads in social media. Well to keep the meme going, here are eight things you didn’t know about me:

1. I’m a natural right-hander but I text/sms with my left. If I try to text with my right hand, I end up as slow as a retard.

2. I started out playing the percussion in the school band. It was so boring until I insisted and got started playing the trumpet. Then I got seduced by the french horn and ended up as a section leader. It has been 8 years since I last touched any of those instruments.

3. In secondary school, the teacher who marked my composition script for the GCE ‘O’ levels preliminaries came and told me in front of the entire class “I read your composition and I nearly fell off my chair. Keep up the good work and you will go far.”

4. I have seven hamsters (!) at home. It was just two originally and one day we noticed the male one humping the female one, and a few months later, out popped five babies.

5. For my first job, I worked in the Government service in a statutory board doing web communications stuff and loved it. I still have fond memories of the place and my ex-colleagues.

6. My favourite country at the moment has gotta be Japan. I was there a few months ago and how can one not be amazed at the culture, the politeness, the scenic beauty and… the food! Oeshii ne.

7. I have fairly high myopia (over 800 degrees each eye). I’m afraid to go for LASIK because I’m convinced that when the laser is zapping my eyes, my eyeballs will move and I’ll go blind.

8. I’m a tech freak and have an insatiable urge to change my mobilephone every six months. Next up, the iPhone. :D

Merry Christmas & Happy new year!

May our light shine brighter
May our love grow stronger
May we grow in grace and go in peace
May we have courage to walk the road less travelled
May we have strength to overcome all obstacles
And may the new year bring renewed hope for all things good

Here’s wishing everyone, and you my dear blog readers – a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Photoblogging

Some of my favourite pics from my recent trip to Japan.

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PR and reputation management

While in the process of completing an assignment, I came across a recent article by washingtonpost.com highlighting how Google is being used to manage our online reputation. Because of the simple fact that Google indexes millions of pages a day, information previously only accessible via hardcopy records are now freely available over the internet. If there is an online identity, there is online reputation vis a vis social networks, blogs and community oriented sites like YouTube.

The article mentioned a new company called Reputation Defender. I visited their website and found that, unsurprisingly, most of the founders and management team are actually non-communications professionals with prior expertise in areas like technology, law, software application and business development. The magic behind online reputation management is actually search-engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Theoretically, anyone who knows their way around the internet and who are tech-savvy can employ SEO techniques in the same way Reputation Defender does.

I feel that the problem with such “reputation specialists”, is that without the benefit of  formal training in public relations, how would they see the bigger picture because the truth is you cannot separate online reputation from the ‘offline’ reputation because one affects the other. These should be managed synergistically. Reputation management therefore is best left to PR professionals. In the same vein, PR and communication agencies must learn to harness this technology because reputation management, whether online or offline, will be an important element in the communication mix of the wired generation. As PR continues to evolve, online reputation management will become an important aspect in the overall communication strategy.