Corporations, organizations, and individuals have been doing this “social media” thing for a while now. It was just destined to happen sooner or later. I’m talking about faking transparency. What’s even worse, sometimes it’s not an employee that is doing the faking. Jeremiah Owyang’s blog post, A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media, added Exxon Mobil to the list in August due to a Tweeter imposture. A “Janet” created and replying to messages on the Tweeter account for Exxon Mobil without their authorization. Here is an example of one Janet’s Tweets.

The imposture accumulated a large following on Tweeter before being caught. This unpaid fanatic showed how easy it is to “brand jack” from a successful business.  The spokesman for Exxon Mobil, Alan Jeffers, reported on the story to the Houston Chronicle article to clear up Exxon Mobil name. Alan Jeffers also admits that Exxon isn’t using any other social media outlets to communicate about its corporate operations. Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, makes it clear that Twitter has polices that support company trademarks and brands. Since then, “Janet” has turned over the rights to Exxon. 

Being laggards in the online world doesn’t cut it in today’s society. Not monitoring the Web for how a brand is being used or talked about will cost you. Shel Holtz was one of the first to recognize the copycat and believes this should be a “wake-up call” for organizations that are slow to pay attention to the social media space. For more on Holtz ideas on Exxon incident, click here.  








Throughout the history of corporate communications, companies have been the ones setting their agendas. With social media, the traditional top-down process of communication has been turned upside-down.  No more gatekeepers of information.  We have seen so much unfiltered, unmessaged, and spontaneous information coming directly from the people that actually run these large corporations that it’s blogging our minds.

With blogosphere flourishing, users are able to read, comment, and vote on how they feel on any topic of interest. People are more in control of company or organization openness than ever before. Tom Kelleher, author of the book Public Relations Online, says that more people are “joining the party” because it’s so easy. Blogging has truly paved to the way for businesses and people to be transparent and authentic when communicating online. 

In a study of people’s perceptions of Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) blogging community, Barbara Miller and Tom Kelleher found that the authentic individual-style communication frequently is used in blogging. This worked for MSDN resulting in building trust, satisfaction, and commitment. Bloggers use what Barbara Miller calls a “conversational human voice“. Only conversational human voice was noticeable higher in the blog condition than in the non-blog condition, which highlights the unique value of organizational blogs to online public relations.  Blogs are computer-mediated context for conveying a “human voice” of openness, commitment, and positivity

Karen Miller Russell’s  Weblogs in Public Relations Education summarizes that even though 70% of blogs operate as private journals, social media can foster participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectivity. When users begin to participation in topics of interest, blogs can make anyone a content producer.  The connectivity of blogs increases the information-sharing process by linking more content to others blogs or sites.  Trust and credibility are established more and more with every linked source within a post. Communities build around shared interests and communication is expected to be transparent and authentic.  

We expect a blogger to be honest. We should view bloggers as if they were journalists and follow a code of ethics. For example, that after an item is posted it should never be deleted (except for editing corrections), and a public relations person should always reveal the connection to a client or employer when posting or commenting on a blog. Blogs have created a breeding ground for truth and conversation. Now individuals, corporations, and organizations have to participate, honestly. And if they don’t, we can only assume that they are hiding something.  


Tactical Transparency

Public Relations practitioner and guru Shel Holtz discusses why companies need to be transparent.  


Tactical transparency is using new social media in order to be honest.  Transparency and authenticity gives readers a sense of openness to your practices, business decisions, and the factors in making those business decisions.  Most importantly, transparency makes your leaders and employers accessible.   

John C. Havens, co author of the book Tactical Transparency with Shel Holtz, interviews Kenny Tomlin, President & CEO of Rockfish Interactive, an agency based in Bentonville, AR but with an international reach. An entrepreneur as well as new media maven, Kenny also created a Coffee and other companies as well.

Below is the interview from  blogtalkradio

Interview with Kenny Tomlin on Tactical Transparency and Authenticity 

Kenny Tomlin began his digital agency three years ago. Rockfish started as marketing and advertising agency and now deals with large clients like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s micro site campaign, Eleven Moms, was successful by seeing real conversation. Wal-Mart and Patentee teamed up to launch their new improved hair shampoo. Eleven Moms were given an unmarked hair product and told to write about their experience, positive or negative.  Wal-Mart’s Eleven Moms micro site provided tools to their suppliers in real time. Tomlin continues in saying that social media campaigns are sometimes “grand slams” when customers can be engaged and participate with the company. A great social media campaign doesn’t guarantee a great product. Companies always are taking a risk in these new social media tools. By having this micro blog, customers writes about how they feel about a product or company and gives readers a chance to openly express their opinion. The company can make changes or has the option to makes changes to better the company. Rockfish has just focused more on customers, making companys a chance to be more competitive. 


Rick Clancy, the senior VP of corporate communications at Sony Electronics, talks about how transparency is the essential to their thriving blog.  Sony’s first tag line, Sony no bologna, truly represents what transparency and authenticity mean. With the blog, Sony was able to build trust, relationships, and dialogue with consumers.

Devils advocate

Matthew Creamer article called “You call this transparency? They can see right through you” discusses how Wal-Mart suffered a embarrassing situation with its attempt to open its PR “war room” to a writer from The New Yorker. The resulting piece was a chronicle of the Wal-Mart’s PR staff’s barely disguised disdain for the author’s existence. Even worse have been high-profile missteps such as Sony and Wal-Mart attempts to useto create the sheen of openness, blatant manipulations of the very tools of transparency.

Picture of Wal-Mart's fake blog      

“The trend line is definitely toward transparency,” said Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media. “Some companies will do it earnestly; others will fake it.”

Being honest will truly set you free. Posting fake comments will only destroy a company reputation and image. Being authentic and transparent advances corporations and organizations in many ways. Social media allows this flow two way of information makes companies aware the negative so the company can react or the positive to continues their process. 


Welcome to Chris Runyon’s Blog! A hyper-focused blog on the marketing and public relations industry. But first, lets break down the meaning of these words.

marketing |ˈmärkiti ng | noun– the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

public relations|ˈpəblik||riˈlā sh ən| plural noun -the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person.

Both words obviously have different meanings but are constantly being used interchangeably. When it comes to brand awareness and reputation, both words have their place in a creating a successful campaign.  I try to find a variety of marketing and PR topics to bring to light. Some of these topics are current or upcoming trends, case studies that exemplify creative and innovative tactics, and even book reviews that will add on your understanding of the marketing and public relations industry. So I invite you to dig a little deeper into my blog and comment as much as possible to become a part of the conversation. Thanks for visiting.