What does Edelman know about Client Relationships?

Agency- Client Relationships

Agency- client relationships play an integral role in the operation and management of a PR agency or firm. Bruning and Ledingham (2002, p. 25) note the continual development and formation of agency- client relationships, ‘Just as individuals experience relationship phases…account executives suggested that agency personnel and their clients likewise experience identifiable phases as relationships are initiated, developed, maintained, evolve, and deteriorate’ .

The business of client relationships has been spoken about by researchers as one that is complex in nature due to the diversity of clients. A 2009 study aimed to, ‘develop these ideas towards a view of clients as relational, pluralistic, processual and constructed’ (Alvesson et al 2009, p. 261). To achieve success it is suggested that communications professionals must develop a deep understanding of the client and the importance of monitoring and maintaining relationships and their unpredictability, ‘there are likely to be actors and groups within the client firm that identify with the project and their client positions, people that are skeptical or hostile and those who are ambivalent’ (Alvesson et al 2009, p. 256).


There is a certain complexity evident when discussing agency- client relationships and this complexity seems to be understood by global PR firm Edelman. Chia (2008, p. 69) suggests that, ‘Public relations is a profession where successful relationships are developed, maintained and effectively managed’  and Edelman’s emphasis on the unique nature of clients and tailoring appropriate relationships mirrors this idea. Dan Edelman established Edelman in 1952 and is now renowned for his work in the PR industry (Edelman 2013a). Edelman is the largest Public Relations firm, employing 4,800 communicators globally, with 67 offices worldwide (Edelman 2013a). Edelman represents a range of different clientele, including:

  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Consumer packaged goods
  • Energy
  • Financial Service
  • Nonprofit
  • Sports and Entertainment
  • Retail

(Edelman 2013c)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/what-we-do/industries/)

Chia’s (2008, p. 77) idea of ‘blending’, ‘best described the mix of a personal and business management approach as one being part of the other’  becomes very relevant in the case of Edelman as they address Chia’s notion of a personal and business management approach in their guiding principles:

  • Edelman is committed to honesty.
  • Edelman is committed to transparency.
  • Edelman is committed to fair dealing.
  • Edelman ensures business activity aligns with the interests of all stakeholders: clients, employees and parties with whom we interact.
  • Edelman strives to model best practice in all areas of our business.
  • Edelman does not violate legal obligations.

(Edelman 2013d)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/)

Edelman reported revenue of $637 million worldwide in 2012 (Figure 1). The organisation has the financial might to invest in programs and procedures to establish their intended actions in the area of agency-client relationships. Edelman is an agency that addresses Burgers (1972, p. 23) two basic requirements, ‘Having something valuable to say, and the ability to say it in a manner that will be listened to’ . As a result of Edelman’s extensive experience and financial strength they can be identified as a leader in the area of agency- client relationships.

Figure 1:

Figure 1


(Edelman 2013a)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/the-details/)

Key Concepts

Due to Edelman’s 70% growth rate over a 5 year period ending in 2012 (Figure 1) and the company’s strong financial position, the organisation offers an example of successful billing, budgeting and financial management. Additionally in 2012 Adweek reported that in 2011 Edelman gained 100 new clients globally and only lost one major account, Burger King (Adweek 2012, para. 10). This high level of retention and acquisition leads to a discussion of the role client relationships has in improving client acquisition and retention. These two key concepts associated with agency- client relationships work autonomously, as well as in conjunction with one another to achieve Edelman’s tangible success.

Billing, Budgeting and Financial Management

In its book ‘Public Relations Business’ Entrepreneur Magazine (2012, p. 143) suggests, ‘One of the primary indicators of the overall health of your business is its financial status, and its important that you monitor your financial progress closely’ . Entrepreneur magazine’s idea offers an ideal introduction into discussing Edelman’s approach to financial management within relationship management.  As Bruning and Ledingham (2002, p. 26) note the practicalities of financial management are key to establishing a prosperous ongoing relationship, ‘both the agency and the client are very cognizant of the value that is received as a result of participating in the relationship, and often view the initial phases of agency-client relationship development in a very utilitarian manner’ .

Edelman has a number of different strategies in place to ensure clients feel as though they are being provided with the best and fairest services. Firstly they are open and transparent with releasing their revenue and growth, it was reported in 2011 Edelman’s global revenue grew by 17 percent and they billed $456 million (Adweek 2012, para. 9). Clients and potential clients being able to access this sort of information contributes to Edelman establishing an image of strength and reliability. In addition Edelman projects itself as trustworthy in the area of financial management by having a key principle that addresses financial dealings with clients:

  • Edelman is committed to fair dealing.

(Edelman 2013d)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/)

Secondly and probably most significantly Edelman has established a ‘Code of Ethics and Business Conduct’, the code of conduct addresses, ‘common compliance and ethics issues facing global businesses today and outlines the responsibilities we have to one another, to our clients and stakeholders, to the firm, and to our industry’ (DJE Holdings 2013, p. 2). Most notably the code of conduct addresses financial management, billing and budgeting in the following ways:

  • The financial and accounting records of Edelman and its subsidiaries must be maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or international financial reporting standards (as appropriate) and implemented consistently throughout the organization.
  • All employees must diligently follow Edelman’s policies and procedures and our client contractual provisions to ensure that we bill our clients appropriately

(DJE Holdings 2013, p. 17-19)
(Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/96444691/Code-of-Ethics)

Specifically the ‘‘Code of Ethics and Business Conduct’ outlines the way hours should be correctly entered into the system, client’s invoices must reflect bill rates and business expenses must be reported accurately and then billed to the client appropriately. These measures support Public Relations Business’ idea that it is a necessity to, ‘Establish and follow sound billing procedures from the beginning’ (Entrepreneur magazine 2012, p. 145). Edelman has put in place these procedures globally to the maintain the trust of clients, supporting Chia’s (2008, p. 69) suggestion that agency- client relationships are made up of a combination of both a personal and business management approach, ‘The business of relationships is about how they are managed and what makes them viable, effective and beneficial for business partners’ .

Client Acquisition and Retention

As mentioned earlier, in 2011 Edelman gained 100 new clients and only lost one major account (Adweek 2012, para 10). These sorts of statistics would suggest that the organisation understands the intricacies of client acquisition and retention.

The company adopts a number of different strategies to assist in this field. Firstly, what has been named a ‘client-centric approach’ to Public Relations that focuses on the ongoing needs of the client, ‘Because at our core, what we’re all about is successfully supporting every client, every day’ (Edelman 2013b). This statement addresses similar ideas to those of Brunner (2008, p. 74) who identifies, ‘trust, control mutuality, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most important outcome factors in an organizational relationship…’ . Clients have most frequently described Edelman as:

  • Strategic
  • Dedicated
  • Honest
  • Creative
  • Passionate

(see Figure 2)

Similarly Figure 2 provides evidence that despite economic issues client retention has remained steady over the past ten years. 

Figure 2:

Figure 2


(Edelman 2012)
(Source: http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/edelman-quality)

Secondly Edelman has implemented a ‘Global Client Relationship Management Program’ this program has been initiated for the companies largest clients and aims to use a global relationship management approach to achieve business success, ‘This client-centric approach ensures that all practices and offices around the world working on the client’s business follow consistent standards, protocols and processes – and achieve impactful results’ (Edelman 2013b). This sort of initiative allows Edelman to employ open, yet strategically structured and tailored communication to cover all areas of dialogue with a client, supporting Chia’s (2008, p. 79) research that, ‘Where communication was open, transparent and formal and informal dialogue, face-to-face or online communication was managed ethically, respect for all relational partners was evident’ .

In addition the acquisition of key clients in Edelman’s Australian offices recently highlights the global reach of Edelman’s policies and their substantial success:


By synthesizing the academic research and the values and actions of Edelman it is clear that Public Relations practitioners need to understand the complexity of agency- client relationships to achieve success. In the area of financial management, billing and budgets it can be concluded that by providing clear, sound and understandable information an organisation can develop a level of respect from clients, in order to achieve Bruning and Ledingham’s (2002, p. 28) ideal state of agency- client relationship, ‘Moreover, both parties are able to accurately predict the behavior of the other, and have developed highly complex patterns of interaction’ . In the area of client acquisition and retention it can be concluded that by valuing, understanding and listening to a client an organisation can achieve success. This conclusion is in line with the research of Burger (1972, p. 24) who suggests that, ‘Like most of us, clients or employers are perfectly willing to listen to sage counsel, and perfectly willing to accept valid ideas, as long as such listening or acceptance does not imply that they are fools’ .

Reference List:

Adweek 2012, ‘Media Agency of the Year: PR, Edelman’, Adweek, 23 January, viewed 15 September 2013, < http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/media-agency-year-pr-edelman-137643&gt;

Alvesson, M, Karemann, D, Sturdy, A, Handley, K 2009, ‘Unpacking the client(s): Constructions, positions and client—consultant dynamics’, Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol. 25, pp. 253-263.

Bruning, S, Ledingham, J 2002, ‘Identifying the Communication, Behaviors, and Interaction Patterns of Agency-Client Relationships in Development and Decline’, Journal of Promotion Management, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 21-34.

Brunner, B 2008, ‘Listening, Communication & Trust: Practitioners’ Perspectives of Business/Organizational Relationships’, International Journal of Listening, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 73-82.

Burger, C 1972, ‘The New Challenges in Client Relationships’, Public Relations Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 22-25.

Chia, J 2008, ‘The business of relationships’, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, vol. 9, pp. 69-86.

Edelman 2012, Edelman Insights: Edelman Quality, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, < http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/edelman-quality&gt;

Edelman 2013, About Us: The Details, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/the-details/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Client-Centric Approach, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/our-global-approach/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Industries, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/what-we-do/industries/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Values and Mission, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/&gt;

DJE Holdings 2013, The Edelman Family of Companies: Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.scribd.com/doc/96444691/Code-of-Ethics&gt;

Entrepreneur magazine 2012, ‘Financial Management’, in Public Relations Business: Entrepreneurs Step-by-Step Startup Guide, Entrepreneur Press, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/(S(lebbx1ldp3bycdednfdarmjw))/Reader.aspx?p=979548&o=116&u=IOscgPs%2fwrrXl%2bHlhzQrww%3d%3d&t=1379833714&h=B0F2DDEAFD3C56FDC4E57DF9C713FAC60A3373F2&s=10104592&ut=337&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n#>

PRIA 2012, Edelman joins KFC at the dinner (and boardroom) table, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/industrynews/edelman-joins-kfc-at-the-dinner-and-boardroom-table&gt;

PRIA 2010, Edelman wins the EXTRA professional account, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/news/id/1032&gt;

PRIA 2010, Edelman wins Listerine, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/news/id/1038&gt;


The Value of Visual Storytelling for NGOs

In the age of Web 2.0 your NGO must have the ability to break through the incredible amount of noise on social media. You have to do something that hits a nerve.

Breaking through noise might be about big campaigns and spectacles. But how about for the everyday NGO, NGOs just starting out or the budget conscious? It may be one of the oldest forms of captivating an audience, but just maybe it’s still the best. Storytelling.

In the case of Web 2.0, where content is hitting your audience from every angle, maybe visual storytelling is the answer.

Use Image Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal. Source: http://www.nten.org/blog/2011/10/04/visual-storytelling-nonprofits

Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal. Source: http://www.nten.org/blog/2011/10/04/visual-storytelling-nonprofits

Blogger for socialbrite.org JC Lasica suggests there is nothing more powerful than an emotional connection. Whatever the visual form, it’s a matter of thinking about your organisation not souly as an NGO but as a media organisation.

So what about an example of a successful visual storytelling technique, ‘Trailer of Burbax, Ethiopia’, produced by ‘A Glimmer of Hope’.

What is the beauty of your story? I think there is something special about breaking away from the norm. Do you think there is some value in using visual storytelling to delve into a NGOs complexities? Giving people a chance to use their brains and actively connect.

I think much of the value of your story comes down to its circulation. Resource wisely, use platforms with a wide user base and choose your time to post wisely. Understand when people have time to make an emotional connection.

I’ll leave you with a final example. Let me know what you think, its strengths and weakness or simply did this technique of visual storytelling affect you?

Social Media as a Platform for NGO donations

An NGO can’t operate without donations. It is the core of an organisation, giving an organisation an ability to reach its current goals and to strive for more influence. In the age of Web 2.0 Social Media offers a massive pool of potential donors difficult to ignore.

Source: socialbrite.org

Source: socialbrite.org, ‘How can NGOs use Social Media to Create Impact’– Slide 7

Social Media largely dominates the ‘eco-system’ of the internet. It becomes a matter of putting this resource to work.

‘Likers’ and ‘followers’ alike the question that floats to the surface is how to turn discussion to donation?

STEP 1: Raising the Profile

For an NGO using social media it is essential to raise the profile of the organisation. Consultant Samantha Fleming of Afrosocialmedia talks about the potential for discussion social media offers.

Source: Samantha Fleming, Afrosocialmedia on NGOs using social media

But as professionals in the NGO sector there’s a question in the back of your mind, how does this convert to tangible funds?

STEP 2: How to donate?

NGOs have to have the ability to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon and their ability to provide customers with their product in a minimal amount of ‘clicks’.

It’s about efficiency. Janet Fouts, (follow her on twitter @jfouts) blogger at socialbrite.org, in her post ‘Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks’, gives organisations a clear list of efficient donating tools to integrate into their greater social media strategy.


In response to Janet Fouts’ post, I think it’s important to comment on the recent shift and ongoing trend toward greater integration between social media and donation.

Greenpeace is an active example of where the future is headed. In just two clicks from their facebook page donors are right where they need to be.

Step 1:

Step 2:


So what do you think? I’m all about integration and the ability to make the social media experience one that’s completely linked to donation. What about you, do you think there some value in keeping the two somewhat seperate?

Digital Story #mymelbourne

Connect to my digital story #mymelbourne, via the link below:



My digital story has taken shape on the blogging platform tumblr.com, I discovered this was the best way to showcase my digital story in a logical, aesthetically pleasing and easily accessible way. I changed this from my original plan to use wordpress, as tumblr I felt had a better ability to showcase my story in a way that demonstrated the narrative and my intention to paint a picture of #mymelbourne . This change in platform was informed by the flipped lecture ‘Visual Storytelling For Web: Tips and Techniques’, which highlighted the importance of composition, ‘the placement or arrangement of digital elements in a work’ (Source: Filizefe 2009, Accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/filizefe/visual-storytelling-for-web-tips-and-techniques)

I think I was successful in giving my story a united feel, and attempting to carry out a similar aesthetic through all six photographs. I was able to do this by, as proposed, using my iPhone 5 and the panaroma function. I then used iPhoto to edit these images in order to manipulate the brightness, contrast and hue to make all the photos have a similar style. I increased the brightness and exposure slightly and significantly increased the contrast to give the images their bright vibrant appearance, which I think captured the essence of what I was trying to say I felt about Melbourne as a city.

The six locations I chose were significant and important because I think they captured the key elements of Melbourne I love and enjoy. The architecture, studying, exercising, the outdoors, food and cooking. I think they provided a good amount of variety in; location, appearance and purpose. The variety in my opinion helping to maintain the interest of the audience.

I used text sparingly, as I was attempting to let the photographs themselves do most of the talking and tell the story, I thought a great deal of text would distract from the beauty in the photos. I wanted my audience/viewer to spend the majority of their viewing time shaping their own perception of the location I had posted. The text I did use took on the same skeleton for each image, once again in order to create a sense of unity throughout the piece. Using single words in a list to describe what draws me to each location, I think was enough to give the audience a taste, hopefully imploring them to want to find out more.

My use of hyperlinks is also very integral to my story as it allows the level of interactivity with the audience, that through my research, I thought was a very important aspect of keeping a digital story engaging. The links are optional extras, but allow the audience to find out more through; maps, websites, blogs, reviews and videos. This was my attempt to make this digital story a trans-media type presentation and to engage the audience on a more secondary level. Trans-media story-telling is raised in the flipped lecture ‘Getting Started with Transmedia Storytelling’, ‘“Transmedia storytelling” is telling a story across multiple media and preferably, although it doesn’t always happen, with a degree of audience participation, interaction and collaboration’ (Source: Robert Pratten 2011, Accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/ZenFilms/getting-started-in-transmedia-storytelling).

This idea of interactivity is similar to that discussed in the digital story-telling flipped lecture ‘Creating an Interactive Adventure’‘Stories must have a reason to branch.’ (Source: Edwin, May 2012, Accessed at: http://thefictionengine.com/2012/05/creating-an-interactive-adventure/). I interpreted this quote in a non-fiction sense for the structure of my story, and the reason to branch was a desire to find out more.

I used social media quite extensively as I was creating my digital story and at it’s completion in order to gain a wider readership, as noted in the flipped lecture ‘A Perfect Storm’, where it was noted marketing must be ‘A cross-platform explosion’ (Source: Mel Exon, Accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/melex11/the-perfect-storm-the-social-web-storytelling-and-brands-08-07). I will post some screen shots below, to demonstrate the way I did this. By connecting through the hashtag #mymelbourne, and posting as the story grew, I was able to allow people to follow the story as it developed. I have received lots of feedback from my connections on these social media sites, many of the comments revolving around the quality of the photographs and their interest in the concept.

Please see my twitter profile @emmaodono to directly see the tweets relating to my digital story. These can be identified with the hashtag #mymelbourne.

Similarly connect to me via my username emmaodono on iPhone application ‘instagram’, to see my use of this social media platform, relevant photos will be linked with the hashtag #mymelbourne.


#mymelbourne Instagram on Twitter:

#mymelbourne Instagram on Facebook:

#mymelbourne on Twitter:

#mymelbourne on Facebook:

This is definitely a story I want to continue building on. Hopefully as my readership grows and people begin to post their interpretations of the hashtag #mymelbourne, these too could be added into the blog. This would create a greater texture to the story and hopefully widen it’s scope around Melbourne. This draws on the idea raised in the flipped lecture, ‘The Perfect Storm’, which highlights, ‘People are spending more time with content made by people like themselves’ (Source: Mel Exon, Accessed at: http://www.slideshare.net/melex11/the-perfect-storm-the-social-web-storytelling-and-brands-08-07)Also on reflection this idea offers a great potential for any city or town around the world. If one blog could be created where readers could access multiple countries #mynewyork #myparis #myberlin #mykenya, I could see this digital story becoming a means of researching potential travel destinations and connecting with people all around the world,  ultimately this idea of connection being the notion this course Networked Media is based around.

Locative Media: Is it ok to eat or not?

OK so my story starts with me sitting in what I would describe as the casual section of RMIT Swanston library. There’s couches, tables at a coffee table height and people not reluctant to have a good old chat about anything really. There definitely doesn’t seem to be a strict ‘only study’ policy.

So I sit casually watch my lectures, post in my blog, do my study. My stomach starts to rumble. I look around and wonder do I have to give up my prime position (might I add I had a powerpoint right next to me, to charge my almost dead computer) just to crack open my tupperware and eat the fresh, mango I’d cut up this morning. I sat for a while longer, normally not one to study in the library, I started to regret my location of choice, I don’t know the etiquette.

I look around, no one else is eating, in fact no one else even looks like they want to (maybe that was just my ridiculously hungry stomach affecting my vision). So I sit for a minute longer, unable to decide what was more important, that I was a good citizen of the library or whether my stomach, that was now making audible grumbling sounds needed to be satisfied by that delicious mango.

So I took the risk, I reached into my bag, trying not to draw attention to myself. Each movement calculated so it didn’t make too much noise or attract any degree of attention. I pulled out my tupperware. I ate it! The whole thing once I started I couldn’t stop, that was it my self control was gone, now miles away.

And to my surprise no one really looked at me too strangely and I didn’t get abused, or told to leave immediately. Maybe my apprehension was all my head.

So if you ever wanted to know whether you could eat in that part of the library, as a person like me who struggles to go two hours without a quick snack, you can use my experiment as a guide.

So I placed this QR tag to the very location in the library where this momentous event took place. Just so you know exactly where it is you can without judgement eat your morning snack.

What’s in an ‘app’?

It took until the 6th version of the iPhone (iPhone 5) for me to make the switch from my trusty Nokia smartphone, to the much cooler, more sophisticated world of the iPhone. With the switch came the question, “What apps do you have?”. I don’t know if I’ve spent too much time with my Grandma, but to me a phone is very much still for making calls and sending text messages, although I do now thoroughly enjoy being able to check my emails and bank balance in an instant. And this I guess is what ‘apps’ are all about, making life easier, ensuring we’re absolutely connected and providing hours upon hours of procrastination techniques and entertainment. So what exactly is an app?

In his blog Ian Bogost draws on a comment sourced from a Gamasutra article about the new Mac App Store:

‘I think the primary thing that Apple did was create and market the concept of the “app” as a $1-5 unit. They’re doing to software what they did to music: they broke it up into little pieces and then gave consumers a nice place to shop for the pieces. Before, the channels of distribution were much clunkier and inert. This is very much a good thing for smaller devs. Apple has removed so much of the headache of marketing (“Just find it on the AppStore!”), setting up payment systems, installation, etc.’ (Source: http://www.bogost.com/blog/what_is_an_app.shtml) 

In my opinion this sums up the technology aptly, way before the ‘app’ itself was invented or created we were playing games, creating documents, editing photos online, on our phones and on our computers. Although the ‘app’ has introduced a world- where essentially many applications we have used previously are organised into a neat and easy to navigate store, which can be searched for in an instant and downloaded onto our phones and computers just as quickly. Apple, as in my opinion it has done in many instances, turned a technology that has already existed into a ‘new’ phenomenon that’s easier to use, therefore marketable and somehow inevitably ‘cool’.  Of course the ease of accessibility and the fast paced downloading, can only be viewed in my opinion as a pro the world of ‘apps’ that Apple has created. This sentiment is supported by the following statistics, that clearly demonstrate the massive success of the product:

Every day, 46 million mobile applications are downloaded from Apple’s App Store, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner Mary Meeker.’ (Source: Meghan Kelly 2012, Accessed at: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/30/app-store-downloads/)

So what are the cons? Well in my opinion it rests in the ease in creating an app and therefore the absolute masses of ‘products’ that appear as a result. Because of the huge number of apps that are available finding the one that is appropriate for your specific need can take a number of attempts. Also breaking into the world of ‘apps’ a creator can prove just as difficult, as Kelly of venturebeat.com reflects:

Many of app developers say that it’s difficult to be found in the sea of billions of apps that live in the App Store. Crawling up to a “top 25″ spot on one of Apple’s app lists, is also difficult, and based on download numbers.’ (Source: Meghan Kelly 2012, Accessed at: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/30/app-store-downloads/)

It cannot be denied that in many cases ‘apps’ have the ability to make our lives easier, we can check the weather anywhere around the world with a click of a button, connect with friends anywhere around the world in a second, check and send emails from our smartphones and track the progress of public transport. But it must be noted that not all ‘apps’ improve the quality of our lives, many merely occupy the ‘app’ store with a very limited user base, making the process of finding the ‘app’ that’s right for us often a longer process than what it may have to be.

Reflection: Six Degrees of Separation. How connected are we?


1. Thomas Berman 2008, ‘Six Degrees of Separation: Fact or Fiction?’ , ABC, Accessed at: http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2717038&page=1#.UHT_aBZrbSE-

2.Tu, Zhang, ‘Six Degrees of Separation in Online Society’, journalwebscience.org, Accessed at: http://journal.webscience.org/147/2/websci09_submission_49.pdf

3. Internet World Statistics, Accessed at: http://www.internetworldstats.com/

Prof Comm Student Charter

So the challenge was to see if we as students of ‘Professional Communications’ at RMIT University we could improved the prescribed charter. So how to go about this? Well google docs file sharing apparently. I found this experience rather confronting at first, I think the challenge lay in the fact that the document was open to such a large amount of contributors, so many that material that had been changed and edited was difficult to follow and further improve myself. Therefore this experience taught me that perhaps when using online file sharing and editing programs one must be very specific about the content and the intended use and development, as well as the amount of people the file is shared with. A vast and open arena of online editors and contributors in this case proved quite problematic.

Although in saying this I did find the experience quite enlightening and interesting. As such an open forum allowed for a wide range of ideas and sentiments. Annotated in the screen shots below are the changes I believe were most important to make and the points I thought could be added.


The screen grab above shows the three new points I added to the charter

  1. Involve yourself actively and often in discussions during tutorials. It is important to have the ability to voice your opinions in a public space, and draw and develop upon the ideas of others.
  2. Utilise the resources that RMIT provides (technical equipment, academic resources, tutors and lecturers) wherever possible in order to get the most out of your degree.
  3. Approach the course as an active and ongoing learning experience. Students are expected to push their learning boundaries and step outside their immediate comfort zone, in order to get the most of the course

I attempted to write these goals in a formal and direct style in order to suit the already existing points within the charter. Whilst also aiming to be descriptive and clear.


Visible in the annotation on the screen grab I made some changes to three of the points already posted by fellow students. With these changes I aimed to improve clarity in expression and description. As well as attempting to make the wording and expression within these points more in line with the original charter (Seen in Figure 1, Figure 2,Figure 3).

Digital Storytelling: How do you do it?

‘BEAR 71’

The first digital story I watched was ‘Bear 71’ an interactive 20 minute documentary from the ‘National Film Board of Canada’ by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes. It follows the story of a grizzly bear who was collared at three years old and followed around Banff National Park.

My initial response to this digital story was amazement. The ability to navigate around a map of Banff National Park, was extremely creative and the ability to follow the movements of Bear 71 and other animals within this habitat. Although a great strength of this piece I believe is the continuation of the narrative voice-over whilst allowing you to explore the interactive map. Keeping this narrative thread going throughout, whilst allowing the viewer to choose their own path in my opinion ensures a continued engagement with the piece and prevents the viewer getting lost within what is a quite complex layout.

The use of music throughout the piece also greatly added to it’s sense of narrative and flow. I think the instrumental soundtrack selected added to the serious tone of the piece, which really communicated the ‘realness’ of the plight of the bears within this deteriorating habitat, rather than just presenting the story as a fictional narrative or an interactive ‘game’.

The narrator speaking as though they were Bear 71 also proved effective, it provided the bear with humanistic qualities the viewer can relate to, thus providing the basis for emotional connection with the character. On a personal level it wasn’t until the concluding videos in the series (which were not viewer selected, but presented within the story as a compulsory element), that I realised how following this character so closely for 17 minutes had pulled me into the world of the story.

In my personal opinion the weakness of this piece of digital storytelling was in some ways it’s complexity. For example the map in which you could navigate within seemed almost boundary-less, which meant at times you felt as though you were searching for quite a long time to pin-point a particular video. I also think in this regard a system could have been implemented to show the viewer the videos they had already viewed within the map, to avoid the chance of re-watching.

In terms of the development of digital storytelling I see this documentary as an exemplary example of the the integration of viewer interactivity, as well as the employment of a range of different mediums, from video, to music, to on screen text. The absolute complexity, yet the presented simplicity in the integration of these mediums, in my opinion is the future of digital storytelling.


Wow, what an incredibly effective way to tell a story. This piece is not what you expect when you see the opening page, an innocent blue lollipop. The twists of this digital story make it highly effective, as well as it’s unpredictability.

The way in which it highlights the dangers of social media is incredible, and by utilizing your own personal facebook images, it draws you immediately into the story. I felt a knot forming in my stomach. Despite every user essentially seeing the same skeleton of a story, by accessing personal images and information the story becomes personal, and this truly captivates an audience in my opinion. The development of character is also very strong in my opinion, the acting is believable and the setting adds to the threatening and intimidating nature of the story. The use of quick changes between a variety of different shot sizes, close-ups most regularly help contribute to the fast paced nature of the story and create a sense of intimacy and a feeling of watching something that you shouldn’t really be seeing. The option to share the story to Facebook at the completion is also a strong feature, allowing the story to reach a wider audience through the very medium it critiques. Such a convention makes the audience, I know particularly in my case really think about ‘sharing’ and what facebook really has the power to do. Which in my opinion is the story’s main contention. The short, succinct length of the piece worked quite well for the subject matter that was presented, it helped develop as a sense of fear, as the viewer is forced to feel as though such a story starts and finishes in just a matter of moments.

In comparison to the first piece ‘Bear 71’, this story is far less interactive. Perhaps it could be improved by offering the audience different options within the story, asking them questions and allowing them to control where the story takes them. I see interactivity as a convention that can improve engagement with the story structure and narrative, as the viewer is consciously active within the story itself. But in saying this perhaps the beauty of the story itself is the inability to take action, just having to watch the internet predator and not be able to do anything about it. Maybe to strengthen the piece the author could add an interactive second episode or prequel, in order to further engage the audience.

In regards to the development of digital storytelling I think this piece highlights the way in which online mediums are perhaps most effective in commenting on online issues. The way in which this story uses facebook (the very social media outlet it critiques), highlights the way in which digital storytelling can draw from such a wide range of online mediums to tell it’s story.


Rome is an interactive digital story that aims to tell the story of  ‘inspired by the music of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi (featuring Jack White, Norah Jones and renowned composer Ennio Morricone’s original 40-piece orchestra from Italy)’ (Source: Mashable.com Layla Revis 2012, Accessed at: http://mashable.com/2012/01/31/digital-storytelling/). The piece essentially takes you on a journey through a number of different graphically produced environments; city, desert, countryside using the music as a catalyst for where the journey takes you.

One of the main strengths of this piece in my opinion is the ability for the viewer to be able to navigate through the different environments using the mouse. The story directs you in a certain forwards direction, although the viewer can navigate up and down and side to side. This I believe added great interest to the piece. The movement of the mouse throughout the journey also prompted the creation of new graphics in the direction the viewer chooses. This allows the viewer to make his or her own connection with the music, and direct the story the way in which the music makes. For me personally this gave the story a whimsical feeling, creating an almost dream like state. Therefore I think the most significant strength of this piece of storytelling is the mood it is able to create through the effective combination of graphics, music and interactivity.

I think this piece could potentially be improved by adding the ability to ‘click’ using the mouse controls. I know a couple of times I subconsciously tried to ‘click’ on certain areas of the digital environment. I think by doing this would allow the user to engage in yet another layer of the digital storyworld. Perhaps by ‘clicking’ you could open up certain elements of the landscape that is presented. I also think the piece could be improved by the use of some form of text, perhaps that related to the lyrics of the songs, or that appeared depending on where the mouse was moved. Once again adding another layer within the story. I also think some of the graphics within the piece could be improved to make the images clearer.

In terms of the development of digital storytelling in my opinion this example highlights a potential direction for music videos in the future. This medium allows people to engage more with the music and gives them the ability to interact with it, perhaps establishing a greater connection.