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Date: Friday, 20 Jul 2012 15:27
Let me start by simply copying the entry on the press release (yes I can do this...): The European Communication Monitor is the most comprehensive research into communication management and public relations worldwide, with almost 2,200 participating professionals from 42 countries in 2012. It ...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "EACD event summit conference Brussels, E..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Jun 2012 15:52
OK so according to a recent study by InSites Consulting, European companies are lagging behind the United States in the use of Social Media. Let's compare some of their numbers: USA: Facebook 61% - Twitter 39% - LinkedIn 29% - YouTube 24% Belgium: Facebook 59% - Twitter 39% - LinkedIn 35% -...

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Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, Steven Van..."
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Date: Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012 15:53
Here the first of a series of interviews with "people like me" - passionate about communications, public relations and social media. Up first is Frederic Herzeele, Head of Social Media at Belgacom's Consumer Business Unit. The Belgacom Group is the largest telecommunications company in Belgium,...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, belgacom, ..."
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Date: Friday, 10 Feb 2012 18:30
After 2 days at the Top Communications Conference in Davos it is clear that the Public Relations industry is willing to take itself (more) seriously. With a hundred delegates from countries as far as India, Japan, Russia, Malaysia and the Middle East the conference was again a success in the way...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Davos, Events/Conferences, Top Communica..."
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Date: Friday, 23 Dec 2011 16:02
Dear readers, First of all a big thank you for being a reader of Conversationblog.com... I will do my best to bring you new insights on public relations, social media communications and crisis communications in 2012 as well. This year has been great at Van Marcke Group; the launch of a new...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "2012, Musings, new year"
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Date: Friday, 09 Dec 2011 16:26
Ever wanted to have a free resource where all the best information on the use of social media for emergency situations was collected, edited and provided online ? Well, I am very proud to be part of this group of volunteers who did just that; the Emergency 2.0 Wiki just launched globally. The...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Crisis Communications, crisis management..."
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Date: Thursday, 01 Dec 2011 10:45
I just launched a very short survey on the needed features and content for a Dark Site. These are sites which function as a central online crisis communications system and are generally managed by crisis communicators. Please take just 2 minutes to give your input. Results will be published here...

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Crisis Communications, Study/Surveys, cr..."
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011 09:00
A guideline document on how to integrate social media in emergency preparedness planning has just been published after weeks of hard work. Kortom, a non profit organisation bringing together more than 700 government communicators invited me to collaborate on this new guidelines some months ago....

Read more on my website by following the link below or clicking on the title of my article.
Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "#smic, Crisis Communications, crisis com..."
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Date: Sunday, 27 Nov 2011 17:28
The internet and social media especially have changed the ways people around the world interact. Organizations have gone ahead to make millions in profits by simply incorporating social media in their marketing campaigns. Everyone is now taking notice of social media as powerful communication...

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Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Guest Post, Social Media, communications..."
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Date: Friday, 18 Nov 2011 10:09
Here are 3 interviews from the conference on using social media for crisis communications which was organised by the Belgian chapter of the IABC in Brussels recently. Thanks to the great people at ZN for taping this. First Aurelie Valtat, who is responsible for online communications for the...

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Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Crisis Communications, crisis, crisispr,..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Nov 2011 15:31
Here's an overview of links, tweets and other resources I found interesting over the last week with regards to #CrisisPR and Social Media for Emergency Management (or #smem as it is tagged on Twitter). Enjoy and if you found other interesting information on the subject, do let me know. This Is...

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Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Blogosphere, Crisis Communications, Inte..."
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Date: Monday, 17 Oct 2011 08:54

On October 25 I'll be speaking, together with some great friends and PR colleagues from the Belgian IABC chapter, on the topic of social media and crisis communications.

You can join us in Brussels as from 16:00 at the IBM Forum in Zaventem. Full details and the registration link are below. Looking forward to meet you there !

Speakers from the corporate, institutional and consulting worlds will be sharing their insights and experience in the field of social media communication and crisis management at this late afternoon event.

On the panel:

Aurélie Valtat, formerly responsible for online communications at Eurocontrol has recently taken up the same challenge for the European Council.

Caroline Sapriel, consultant and expert in crisis communication with over 20 years’ experience in risk and crisis management, corporate and public affairs at CS&A.

Philippe Borremans, author of Conversationblog.com, social media consultant, speaker and trainer, Chief Social Media Officer at Van Marcke Group.

Philip Weiss, chief Hyperthinker and founder of ZN, a Brussels-based eCommunication agency.

This IABC event is supported by ZN and the venue is kindly provided by IBM.

Full registration details can be found here.

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Crisis Communications, Events/Conference..."
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Date: Friday, 14 Oct 2011 11:54

This is the very first time I accept a guest blogpost from anyone and I hope you enjoy it. Kate Manning gives a very good overview of what happened in the US recently and how social media played a crucial role in disaster response.

Social Media in Disaster Situations

Residents of the United States Eastern Seaboard aren't likely to forget the last days of August, 2011. In just one week, a rare earthquake and a dangerous hurricane struck the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, leaving behind casualties, injuries and billions of dollars in damages to property and infrastructure. The two natural disasters were significant in scope and magnitude, but what made them truly remarkable was the impact of social media on disaster management for both events.

The epicenter of the Virginia earthquake was Louisa County, but social media users reported feeling the main tremor and aftershocks as far away as Georgia and parts of Canada. In fact, tweets sent from Virginia reached users in other parts of the country even before seismic activity was felt. These tweets also allowed for real-time disaster mapping, as user-generated maps and info graphics showed a correlation between the intensity of the earthquake and Twitter use.

You don't need to attend an online MBA program to see that the massive use of Twitter during the earthquake stands as strong evidence of the power of online social networking platforms. As a result, the United States Geological Survey has been inspired to develop a special app – the Twitter Earthquake Detector – which will be used to gather information, photos and impressions about recent earthquakes so people will be aware of how the quake could impact them.

Just days after the Virginia earthquake, residents of the Eastern Seaboard learned about another natural disaster headed their way. This time it was Hurricane Irene, a major cyclone which had reached Category 3 intensity during its trajectory across the Atlantic. Although Irene had weakened to tropical storm intensity in its path through the U.S. Virgin Islands, it resumed strength as it made its way across Puerto Rico. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for the island as more than 700 residents were forced to take shelter and thousands were left without potable water.

As the Hurricane Irene made its way towards the East Coast, social media was once again at the forefront of disaster management and preparation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) debuted its app on Aug. 26, just in time to be a part of the preparation efforts already underway for Irene. Upon release, the FEMA app featured emergency preparedness information in English and Spanish, a handy check-off list for putting an emergency kit together, an interactive map showing the location of shelters and recovery centers, and more.

Due to Irene's impending landfall, the launch of the FEMA app was a hasty affair. The app was only available on the Android Marketplace, and some users running Honeycomb 3.1 were not able to download it. There were also concerns about whether the shelter data was all-inclusive (i.e., if shelters provided by faith-based organizations had been considered). FEMA promised to improve  the app and to release versions for the iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices in the following weeks.

Other services unveiled by FEMA in the days leading up to Hurricane Irene's landfall involved text messaging, Twitter and Facebook updates. Twitter, for its part, had recognized the importance of Short Messaging Service (SMS) networks in emergency situations and introduced its Fast Follow service just weeks before Hurricane Irene. Fast Follow allows any cell phone user to receive Tweets via SMS even if they haven't signed up for Twitter online. This allowed residents of the East Coast to get FEMA updates on their cell phones by simply sending the word “fema” to 40404.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the public is signaling a preference for social media reporting than the traditional histrionic antics of television weather reporters. New York City has opened its government data mine for anyone to explore the effects of Hurricane Irene, and application programming interfaces are expected soon.

Written by Kate Manning.

Kate Manning didn't expect to find herself at the intersection of business, marketing, and the Internet, but with sound writing and editing skills, she makes the most of it with www.mbaonline.com

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "#SMEM, Crisis Communications, crisis com..."
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Date: Friday, 17 Jun 2011 15:30

Today I spoke at the e-Recruitment day of Vacature, the leading HR/Recruitment Magazine here in Belgium.

The keynote was by Joeri Van den Bergh, co-founder of "Generation Y " and expert at InSites Consulting, who spoke about findings from his book "How cool brands stay hot".

Next was Stephanie Radochitzki who gave some very interesting insights on the use of mobile devices in Belgium and the impact these have in communications and news consumption.

See my tweets during the conference by searching for #erd on Twitter.

My main topics, coincidently or not, are completely (and better) explained in this video which I found today.

It was made on behalf of Melcrum by Red Sky Vision and they did a terrific job interviewing specialists from all over the world (including @jangles)

Social Media @ Work from Red Sky Vision on Vimeo.

In short, I strongly believe in the following points when it comes down to using social media within the enterprise:

  • don't block: there is no use in blocking internet and social media access in the company. It all boils down to trusting your employees and helping them use the tools in a correct context. Be brave and sign the petition here.
  • when you recruit through social media - make absolutely sure you're reflecting reality on the job... Transparency is key.
  • social media communications is not a "golden bullet" - it builds upon, enhances and supports a full scope - on and offline - communications plan.

It was great meeting HR professionals this afternoon and am sure most of you will be able to learn and use the video clip about social media at work.

What do you think ? Let me know !

PS: the event was moderated by Belgium's top TV journalists Indra Dewitte - if you're reading this Indra, please stop lurking on Twitter and engage - we will all profit from your insights... ;-)

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Events/Conferences, Internal Communicati..."
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Apr 2011 20:11

It is that time of the year again; the European Communications Summit of the EACD (European Association of Communications Directors) is taking place in Brussels on June 30 and July 1st.

Join me and hundreds of Public Relations professionals for a 2 day conference on several communications topics ranging from Crisis Communications, over Internal Communications to Social Media Communications.

I will not be speaking myself this year so that will leave me plenty of time to follow the main session on Social Media with speakers like:

  • Geert Lovink from the University of Amsterdam who will talk about organised networks
  • Sophie Brendel, Head of Digital Engagement at the BBC who will cover online influence
  • My ex-IBM colleague Thomas Mickeleit, now Director of Communications at Microsoft who will speak about visual online communications
  • Javier Moreno, Editor in Chief of El Pais who's presentation is entitled "From Telex to Wikileaks".

You can find the full agenda on the EACd's website. Let me know if/when you're coming so we can meet up !

If you can't make it, the Twitter account is @commssummit

See you in Brussels !


Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "EACD event summit conference Brussels, E..."
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Date: Thursday, 31 Mar 2011 16:42

On March 30 I had the pleasure to go to an EACD Workshop on the use of Social Media in Political Communications at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Among the speakers was Leigh Phillips (@Leigh_Phillips), reporter for the EUobserver.

Here's a quick account on how he uses Twitter in the context of European Journalism.

Leigh didn't really see the value of Twitter until he discovered Tweetdeck, an application specifically created to manage and work with the Twitter (and other social media channels) "fire-hose" of information but today he find it "As usefull as my notepad and pen...".

When listing his main uses of Twitter for his work he told us that these were the most important applications:

  1. A strolling reminder of things I need to know about.
  2. As a source of story ideas. "I had scoops from Twitter."
  3. To get information, part of the larger story. "As it was the case in the EU parliament robbery story."
  4. To receive feedback from readers. "There is a real difference between comments on newspaper website and twitter feedback which, in general is politer."
  5. For getting in touch, finding sources, quotes and people to interview. "Twitter is faster than the yellow-pages..."

As a reporter he is getting really frustrated (like most of us) with robotweets...

He warns that "twitter is also being used by less savory characters and regimes. We need to be careful and check sources. Those same regimes are also using bloggers."

With regards to pitching him on Twitter Leigh says that "they happen but I handle them the same as email pitches... Do it in the morning please...".

With respect to other forms of journalism Leigh had this savory quote to share...

I have as much respect for citizen journalism than I have for citizen brain surgery....

I do not agree with him on that point but he reminded me of a story I read some month ago about new forms of journalism... He is more interested in the idea of "Public Commissioning" where the public at large decides and donates to investigate a certain news topic.

An example of this is YouCommNews where both readers and journalists can pitch stories to each other and gather interest on certain topics.

The resulting stories created through YouCommNews are then available for publication in all sorts of media, "either freely or through the sale of publication rights, in which case there will be refunds to those who funded the journalism".

Definitely an idea to follow more closely and Leigh's input shows us how the job of a reporter is definitely changing because of, and thanks to social media.

How about the other side...? What about good Media Relations use of social media ?

The debate covered other speakers and topic which I will blog about in the next coming weeks. Stay tuned and as always, feedback and comments are more than welcome. Thanks for reading.

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Citizen Journalism, EU, Journalism, Leig..."
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Date: Sunday, 20 Mar 2011 11:58

I am just back from a short break of 10 days which we spent in Morocco, one of our favorite destinations.

This time we went back to Fes, the marvelous city with small streets to get lost in and a truly medieval Medina.

Later in the week we also visited Chaouen in the North - a small village with gorgeous blue streets in the Rif  mountain range.

As always we felt at home in this beautiful country with its warm and friendly people... But this time I noticed - even more than previous times - the rapid changes happening in the cities.


Almost every restaurant, hotel or B&B has free WiFi. It was amazing to see that I could connect several times a day and for free.

If you compare this to most hotels in Europe where they ask you to pay serious money for a connection it is clear that Moroccan restaurateurs understand that a free connection should be part of the overall service these days.

Tips for when you visit Fes and need to stay connected but at the same time enjoy good food and a nice surrounding; Café Clock in the Medina, Riad Laaroussa or the very nice Fes et Gestes.

And then, one evening when we tried out a new restaurant called La Mezzanine I was really impressed by some of their marketing techniques...

QR Codes:

At this restaurant I found a business card, a booklet and a postcard.... al with QR codes.

The booklet was a compilation of some of the best restaurants in Morocco.

Each restaurant had a page with details, background, a picture of the owner and the chef + a QR code redirecting to the website.

The busines cards and the postcards had the same informaton again with QR codes.

I think it is amazing to see how modern marketing techniques are being used here in Morocco by some smart restaurant promoters.

The overcoupling organisation is called Best Restaurants Maroc and are based in Marrakech.

iPhone App:

And of course, if you're investing is promotional material wirth QR codes the next step is an iPhone application. And they have one...

150 restaurants in Morocco are in the listing and the application has geo-localisation, refined search etc...

The app really looks good and does the job it is supposed to do - point you to a good meal in beautiful surroundings.

The use of these mobile technologies show that countries like Morocco where the mobile phone penetration reaches 101,49% - more phones than Moroccans - are definitely jumping ahead.

I do believe that countries with no or less legacy systems (cable, monopolistic operators) and with a very young population will drive mobile and wireless innovation.

I also believe that most countries in Western Europe - and especially Belgium - will not be able to compete in the long term with very expensive data and wireless connections and no inclination to change this.

What do you think ?


Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Musings, Online Tools, chaouen, fes, iph..."
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Date: Friday, 04 Mar 2011 16:27

Enough has been written about the use of social media in the context of the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and currently Lybia.

Some call it the "Facebook Revolutions" although I have some serious reserves as to which role exactly social media has played in actually igniting these revolutions.

Of course it does help that the Egyptian students have been trained by Canvas, an organisation providing training in non violent resistance.

In the late summer of 2009 the group collaborated with other NGOs to bring approximately 20 Egyptian activists -- including some of those who later founded the April 6 movement that spear headed the recent anti government protests -- to Belgrade for a week of training on tactics they could use to promote change in Egypt.

Petar Milicevic, the founder of the Europe Has No Alternative NGO, helped with the training. He says he talked to the Egyptians about organizing campaigns, the importance of galvanizing youth support, and how to use social media to reach both of these goals. (Source: Radio Free Europe)

Another application of social media is now unfolding: almost real time and curated "crisis mapping".

I have mentioned the Ushahidi platform here before, in the context of my blog posts on crisis communications but this is by far the most challenging application of this tool.

View Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya in a larger map

Based on this incredible curation and mapping work, the people at Ushahidi are now creating another map as requested by the UN OCHA’s Information Management unit in Geneva. The Task Force has over 160 volunteers from 18 different countries.

Map from the iRevolution Blog

This is a fantastic application of social media really making a difference and a great example of using these new tools in the context of crisis management.

If you would like to support this important effort you can send an email to join@standbytaskforce.com


Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Citizen Journalism, Crisis Communication..."
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Date: Sunday, 27 Feb 2011 19:24

Facebook pages for corporate use have been around for a while but not many organisations "brand" them and use the latest update.

A few days ago I was reading up on several articles with regards to branded Facebook pages and found an easy to use online service to create one for Conversationblog.com

Pagemodo is a tool to create your own branded Facebook page offering a nice way to create a welcome page which gives an overview of your services and/or product.

You can add your own photos, embed video, change the fonts and text and show your products in a whole new light. (Pagemodo)

They have several pre-made templates you can use and edit. Inserting links to your website, blog or any specific web page is very easy and the customisation options are many.

I used the free account which gives me just 1 page but their are several option ranging from 9$/month to 59$/month. The last option gives you 15 active pages, video, live support and no Pagemodo branding.

This is a great way, not only to market you company or agency but also to build much more interactivity and content into Facebook.

Give it a try and while you're on Facebook, Like my page... ;-)

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Branding, Marketing, Online Tools, Pagem..."
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 12:39

This is the final blogpost based on my article for Communication World.

Linking other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or traditional websites

If your organization  already has a presence on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media site it would make sense to use what I call “platform independent publishing” techniques through your crisis blog’s RSS feed.

RSS feeds can be used as a publishing system - pushing your updates to other online platforms. This way you can publish once, from your blog, and automatically syndicate this content to other sites.

Your crisis blog feed can be linked through services like Feedburner, Feed Informer or Ping quite easily. Once this is set up, every update you make about the crisis at hand will automatically show up on your Twitter channel, Facebook page or other online identities.

Speed of Twitter during a Crisis
On 15 February at 08:28 several trains were involved in an accident in Buizingen, a small village on the main train track towards Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

Later that evening the media announced 20 people had lost their lives in this terrible crash.  That morning I was driving towards the office and heard a short announcement on the radio about “a possible train accident”.

As I live only three kilometers away from Buizingen I checked Twitter and searched for updates containing the word “buizingen”.

At 8:38 I found an update with pictures of what happened  - making it clear that people died in the crash - while it took traditional media more than half an hour to communicate information about “possible injuries”. (Picture by @cdrik9)

Using Social Media after a Crisis

Once a crisis is “over” it is crucial to keep communications channels open. A lot of organizations underestimate the aftermath and tend to quickly return to what they consider "business as usual".

Although this makes sense from an operational point of view and even from a crisis management perspective, it is crucial for communication professionals to manage the “post-crisis” communications as well. Social media can play a role in this respect.

Social media by their nature tend to gather people around a certain topic or event; this is even more true during times of crisis. The social media tools you have used during the crisis could become a platform for transparent ongoing communications. In some cases an organization can even turn its own platform into a service to the community of its constituents.

One example of such an open social media driven crisis platform is Ushahidi.

The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.

The platform was developed in 2008 to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout that year. Today the platform is open source and free for all to use and tailor to their needs.

I can see a company adapting this platform into an ongoing communications and awareness tool, using it as an advanced alert post, gathering information on potential risks and integrating it into its ongoing crisis planning.

In Conclusion

Social media are here to stay and are part of our daily lives. Traditional media, marketeers and more and more communications professionals are embracing them. Social media make everyone with an internet connection a potential global communicator - including during a crisis situation.

The first step is to listen to these online conversations and to learn how to transparently engage with your online influencers. By trying out and using these tools you will quickly see how to integrate them into your crisis planning.

Although the ultimate goal is never to have to use them, it is definitely the right moment to start adding them to your crisis communications mix.

Article originally published in Communication Magazine - Author: Philippe Borremans - Date: July 1, 2010

PS: Interested in more ? Check out the e-learning page on this blog or let me know if you would like to test an enterprise grade online monitoring tool for free (no strings attached) for 2 weeks.

Author: "Philippe Borremans" Tags: "Crisis Communications, communications, c..."
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