Archive for the 'Politics' Category


Social Media in the Renewable Energy World

A New Goal for the Renewable Energy Industry: Educating the Public

by Al Maiorino

In a world full of excess- from energy consumption to environmental pollution- it is only natural that companies explore alternative sources of energy. It appears that most people outside of the energy industry view renewable energy as the panacea to saving the world. Yet in reality, the public support of ‘clean’ energy is not as absolute as the industry may hope for. One of the reasons that may cause this gap between theory and practice is the fact that common knowledge of renewable energy production is rather limited. The majority of the public understands the dangers of environmental pollution and, thus, supports any initiatives to prevent or at least minimize it. The problem is that while most people comprehend what renewable energy means in theory, they know very little about the process involved in its production. They fear it as the ‘unknown’, and that stigma can act as a strong motivation to oppose a renewable energy development.

The answer to this problem lies in educating the public. During the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, people were skeptical of many innovations. Yet with time, as they had become familiarized with the new ‘technology’, they began to appreciate the improvements it brought to their lives. The same thing needs to happen within the renewable energy industry. If information about clean energy becomes more accessible, people will probably feel less alarmed around wind farms and biodiesel plants. Luckily, with modern technology and decades of creative advancement in media and public relations, getting the message out is as easy as ever.

When investing in a renewable energy project, any developer should launch an informational campaign that will educate the local community and prevent potential damaging misunderstandings. One of the best ways to achieve that is by employing the new technological phenomenon known as social media. Below are some of the reasons why a social media campaign is a crucial step in acquiring public support.

Two-way traffic

One of the main advantages of social media is that it provides a two-way channel of communication. Of course, there are many forms of promotion, such as print and television ads, that help you get your message out. However, traditional advertising is often limited when it comes to obtaining the public’s feedback. No matter how much research you do, you can never be sure what exact information your community needs to receive to understand your project. Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets allow your audience to respond, express their opinion, and ask questions. That communication is essential if you want to avoid opposition. You are given the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings people may have about the renewable energy industry and about your project. It also gives you a chance to show that you take pride and caution about the local residents’ opinions and their neighborhoods.

Making the Connection

Unlike most industrial publications, social media allows (and even often requires) you to use simple language that will be accessible to a larger audience. Describing your project, as well as the renewable energy industry in general, in basic terms will ensure a better understanding from your community. In addition, the informal tone will help bridge the gap between you and your audience. Chances are local residents will express less antagonism if they think of you as a ‘friend’ rather than a ‘developer’ or ‘corporation.’

Infinite possibilities

When using social media, the choices of how you convey your message are almost limitless. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, and social media allows you to use that to your advantage. Along with traditional text you can apply photographs, videos, sound clips, animation and more to get your message across to the masses. Imagine how much information you can relay in a five-minute YouTube clip versus a newspaper article. In addition, video gives you an opportunity to humanize your project by showing the speaker’s face, rather than a distant voice of a radio advertisement. Overall, the modern public seems to be more open and have a more positive reaction to messages carried out by digital media rather than ‘old-fashioned’ articles and ads.

Perfect Timing

Given the fast-paced lifestyle of the modern world, timing is everything. Sometimes, getting the information out quickly makes all the difference. Social media has no waiting period, no printing delays, and no broadcasting limitations. You can deliver your message to the audience in the matter of minutes, if not seconds. You can keep the local residents updated on project progress, legislative changes, scheduled meetings, and anything else that may be relevant to your support/opposition battle. In return, the community will appreciate your thoughtfulness and courtesy of communicating with them.

It has been established decades ago that educating your public is a crucial attribute for a successful outcome of any venture (especially in a young and controversial industry like renewable energy). The question is no longer why, but how. Regardless of whether you approve of social media as a part of our lives, it is a very useful tool when it comes to public relations. In addition to the advantages discussed above, social media is significantly cheaper than traditional advertising, which allows you to focus your finances on other areas that may require extra resources.

Our world may be far from perfect, but we (especially those of us involved in any campaign) should appreciate living in an era with social media and other communication innovations at our disposal. When it comes to facing opposition to your renewable energy project, a social media campaign is a beneficial, and even necessary, weapon to have in your arsenal. Use it to the fullest at an early stage and, perhaps, you will avoid opposition all together.

Al Maiorino started Public Strategy Group, Inc. in 1996. He has developed and managed multiple corporate public affairs campaigns in a variety of industries such as gaming, cable television, retail development, auto racing, power plant/wind farm projects, and housing/residential projects. Al received his BA in political science and a MA in American Studies from the University of Connecticut.


National Hurricane Center, FEMA chief encourage social media as part of disaster preparedness

MIAMI — Nobody is going to push the “like” button for a hurricane, but the National Hurricane Center hopes to get some Facebook fans for its storm advisories.

The hurricane center joined the online social network in January to give a behind-the-scenes look at Director Bill Read and hurricane specialists at work well before any storm starts brewing in the tropics.

The new outreach effort comes as the nation’s emergency management chief urges Americans to make social media part of their disaster preparedness plans.

People should know which local agencies disseminate information on Twitter or Facebook, and they should set aside extra batteries or solar chargers so that even in a power outage they can update their status with a simple “I’m OK.”

That can help reduce the volume of phone calls in a disaster-stricken area, leaving vital communication lines open, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate testified May 5 before a Senate subcommittee.

Fugate also urges local emergency managers to develop mobile websites to be viewed on cell phones, so that residents can both receive and contribute real-time updates during a disaster.

“Rather than trying to convince the public to adjust to the way we at FEMA communicate, we must adapt to the way the public communicates by leveraging the tools that people use on a daily basis,” Fugate said.

FEMA maintains 16 separate accounts on Twitter alone, including Fugate’s individual feed, in addition to Facebook and YouTube accounts.

The National Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Florida Division of Emergency Management also are among the federal and state agencies that post severe weather updates, warnings, videos, behind-the-scenes photos and other graphics on the major social media channels.

Justin Kenney, communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tweets on his individual account about the agency’s marine, weather and climate research, along with interesting tidbits of information related to severe weather news, such as aerial images of recent tornado damage in Alabama.

Social media channels help NOAA update the public about events such as a pod of pilot whales stranding in the Florida Keys, even after those events stop being breaking news, he says.

The informal posts often also boost traffic to NOAA’s official website. One such spike was recorded after animations illustrating Japan’s tsunami in March were posted on its YouTube channel and relayed on Twitter, Kenney says.

“Yes, there’s a lot of information that useful as one-time information, but I think it’s useful to try to continue the conversation,” Kenney says.

The hurricane center’s Facebook page supplements its website, email alerts and a mobile website for cell phones. Posts so far have showcased hurricane hunter aircraft, individual forecasters and the center’s reports on the 2010 hurricane season.

By posting a link to an updated tropical cyclones preparedness guide or writing a note about how much storm track forecasts have improved in recent years, shrinking the “cone of uncertainty,” officials are trying to address concerns and answer questions well before coastal residents need to consider evacuating, says hurricane specialist Dan Brown.

Starting June 1, the official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, daily updates about conditions in the tropics will be posted on the Facebook page.

“When there is a threat you’ll see an increase in our postings. We’ll talk about watches and warnings, but truly what I think it’s going to be is directing people to our website for all our storm information,” Brown says.

Hurricane center officials say that by engaging the public informally through Facebook, they hope to combat complacency in coastal residents skeptical of storm warnings and evacuation advisories after five years without a major hurricane making a U.S. landfall.

The bottom line of most postings is “be prepared,” urging readers not to join the millions who don’t stock up on nonperishable food or water until a storm is imminent, stressing the system and risking the possibility of having to recover from a hurricane with few or no resources.

“We can certainly always try to reach more people. It’s an excellent tool to educate the public not just during an event,” Brown says.

Some Floridians who have befriended the hurricane center on Facebook say they’ll add the page to the online forecasts and maps they regularly check during storm season.

Lois Crockett, 60, in Coconut Creek, who works for a local pest control company, says checking the hurricane center’s Facebook page is part of her preparedness plans. She already checks online resources, TV news, the Weather Channel and the newspaper for storm information, and Facebook is just another tool to stay up to date.

“I’ve found that NOAA is the best source because these are the facts, not the hype, so this (Facebook page) will be a little memory jog to go to the NOAA website,” Crockett said.

But she said she’d only be checking Facebook before a storm, not during and certainly not after if the power was out. She doesn’t have a smart phone, but she does plan to get a backup generator this year, and she would plan to check Facebook for updates only after she had power.

Non-traditional communication streams such as social media have proven lifesaving, emergency officials say.

After an earthquake leveled much of Haiti’s capital in January 2010 and left roughly a million people living under tarps or flimsy shacks, many feared heavy winds and flooding from Hurricane Tomas would cause thousands more deaths in early November.

Read says he was relieved when the death toll in Haiti topped out at 35. The storm’s heaviest winds and rains had remained offshore, but Haitians also had been able to request help from emergency responders and get storm information through text messaging.

In spite of the catastrophic earthquake damage to Haiti’s government and infrastructure, its cellular capability bounced back quickly, and mobile messaging proved helpful for everything from search and rescue to aid distribution, Read and Fugate said.


Study: Social Media Closing In on Newspaper Websites

(Aug. 13) — Here’s a bit of news to share* with your friends: According to a study conducted by United Kingdom based iCD Research, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are catching up to major news websites when it comes to which source users turn to for breaking news.

The picture is not at all bad for traditional newspapers, which are managing to stay afloat despite heavy declines in their standard circulations, but the research results do provide the latest illustration of how the worlds of new and old media continue to collide. Surge Desk takes a look at where this latest study finds the Fourth Estate.

Social Network Use Shoots Up

Based on results from the 1,000-person survey, conducted exclusively in the United Kingdom, 50.4 percent of consumers still favor the BBC website as their primary breaking-news platform, but social media tops all other contenders, coming in at a strong second with 18.4 percent.

As more and more people log on to social networks (Facebook recently eclipsed 500 million users) for more and more time each day (jumping from roughly 3 to 5.5 hours a month during 2009, the Nielsen Co. reported earlier this year via Marketing Charts), it should not be surprising that their news-consumption habits should migrate to social media networks as well.

Dead-Tree Media Still Standing, But On Uneven Footing

The report dovetails with increasing fears over the fate of the traditional “dead-tree” publications. Newspaper circulation in the developed world dropped precipitously between 2007 and 2009 (by 30 percent in the U.S. and 25 percent in the U.K., respectively, according to one estimate). News websites have been seen as the next logical means for those outlets to hang onto readers, and this year started out better than any in a long time for newspapers in that sense, with properties attracting record traffic to their websites in the first quarter of the year.

Of course, social media continues to change the game: In the iCD study, not a single British newspaper website topped the social media category, with the pay-walled Times of London website receiving a paltry 5.4 percent in support.

The Great Tumblr Rush

Interestingly, while many traditional media organizations are attempting to use Facebook and Twitter to redirect traffic to their main sites (with less-than-stellar results, at best), there is one, lesser-known, less-trafficked social media platform that has lately become something of a magnet for news websites, despite its novelty and unfamiliarity: Tumblr — the weird microblog platform that fills a niche somewhere between Facebook and Twitter and eschews the now-standard comment threads in favor of a “reblog” option.

Traditional media heavy hitters such as The New York Times and The Atlantic are reportedly having “a field day” on Tumblr. But the definition of a “field day” in this case may be a bit overstated. So far, many of the websites have simply staked out domains on the service (ironically, the financially strapped Newsweek was one of the first, and so far few, to actually carve out a decent Tumblr-exclusive content presence), so it remains to be seen just how they will employ it and how effective it will be at drawing readers to their main websites.

Tablet Gamble

Add to that today’s revelation that News Corp. publisher Rupert Murdoch will launch an all-digital U.S. “national newspaper” specifically formatted for mobile and tablet devices such as the iPad, and what you have is … well, an unprecedented new/old-media collision, in which a sustainable 21st century business model remains as elusive as ever.

Of course, there are diehard holdouts to all of this newfangled social-media mumbo-jumbo. Among the respondents to the British study, 276 indicated that they straight up “do not get their news from the Internet.” Maybe they are waiting for someone to get it right?


The Geithner Plan

Loan money to “investors” so they can buy undervalued companies? What if the properties are not undervalued? The rich gambling with tax $?

“MR. GREGORY:  Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate, New York Times columnist, been very critical of this plan.  He and others have said this is effectively a transfer of wealth from the banks’ balance sheets to the government’s balance sheets. A bailout for the banks, trash for cash.  You’ve heard all of these terms. And in fact, Krugman writes in a column last Sunday that your approach is very similar to your predecessor’s in the Bush administration, Hank Paulson.  This is what he writes.  I want to have you respond to it:  “The common element to the Paulson and Geithner plans is the insistence that the bad assets on banks’ books are really worth much, much more than anyone is currently willing to pay for them.  In fact, their true value is so high that if they were properly priced, banks wouldn’t be in trouble.  And so the plan is to use taxpayer funds to drive the prices of bad assets up to `fair’ levels.  Mr. Paulson proposed having the government buy the assets directly.  Mr. Geithner instead proposes a complicated scheme in which the government lends money to private investors, who then use the money to buy the stuff.  …  The Geithner scheme would offer a one-way bet:  if asset values go up, the investors profit, but if they go down,” and again, these are all mortgage backed, “the investors can walk away from their debt.  So this isn’t really about letting markets work. It’s just an indirect, disguised way to subsidize purchases of bad assets.” Respond, please.”

Read The MSNBC Geithner Plan Article


Malcolm X

If you think Obama is a great speaker, then take seven minutes and listen to this:

From the Oxford Union Debate…have you ever really listened to Malcolm X speak?


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March 2023