Paul Holmes 20 Mar 2012 // 12:22PM GMT
What role does geography play in attitudes towards social media? I ask this based on two recent events - yesterday's blog post that revealed how global PR people see social media as a threat; and my experience in Dubai last week, where numerous people voiced concern over the use of social media to spread disinformation. After the social-media inspired events of the Arab Spring, this surprised me, but after reading this Economist article, maybe it shouldn't. Geography is not so much the issue here. In countries where trust in media is low, there is every chance that people will question the authenticity of the information they receive, whether by social media or otherwise. Sticking with the same theme, Hong Kong chief executive contender Henry Tang is hoping that a new-found affection for social media will help revitalise his flagging election campaign. And Tang is eschewing the civil discourse that typically characterizes these contests, taking to Weibo in a manner that will surprise people in Hong Kong, to say nothing of China. This might seem like a good idea for Tang, particularly as he has directly addressed some of the mistakes that have bedevilled his bid. And, by choosing Weibo, he clearly has one eye on the leadership in Beijing, who play a much bigger role in deciding the election than anyone in Hong Kong does. The question remains though: will Beijing approve of this approach? Also in Hong Kong, a rather neat riposte to the current trend of PR agencies going private. Financial relations firm Wonderful Sky is planning to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, following in the footsteps of China's BlueFocus, which listed in Shenzhen two years ago. We have discussed, at length, the problems that markets have in valuing public relations firms. Lord Bell perhaps put it best when he told us that public markets have a hard time understanding 'people businesses'. Perhaps an investor relations firm, with a business model that is based on IPO notices, may be viewed as more "scalable".