Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tips for online PR

I came across an article that provides practical PR tips in a wired world. Suffice to say the writer knows his tradecraft. The direct, practical, and succint pointers of on-line PR makes for a must read for PR practioners attuned to modern times.

the url is at

Tips for Online PR
Posted by Lee Odden on Apr 11th, 2006 in Reputation Management, Press Release Optimization, SEO, Online PR, Online Marketing

I did an interview recently and thought some of the Q/A would be useful for Online Marketing Blog readers:

What’s the difference between online PR and offline PR?
Basically, online PR invlolves activities geared towards influencing media, communities and audiences that exist solely on the Internet using online channles. That includes search engines, blogs, news search, forums, discussion threads, social networks and other online communication tools. Brand reputation monitoring and management is also a focus area for online PR.

Offline PR deals with the same things except with print, radio TV, conferences/events and other “real life” venues. One difference between online and offline PR is in pitching. For example, before pitching a print journalist, the publication’s editorial calendar is researched to see if there are any planned story opportunities. The subsequent pitch is specific to the upcoming story.
Popular blogs can be as influential as many print publications, but pitching a blogger requires a careful approach. There is no editorial calendar for blogs so it is important to read previous posts and become very familiar with the subject matter covered. When pitching a blogger it is better not to include the press release in the pitch, since most bloggers don’t write stories based on press releases, they point links to a release and write their own commentary.
When you pitch a blogger poorly, they may post your pitch to their blog for all to see. A print journalist will just hang up on you.

Are online PR tactics appropriate for any business?
As with all marketing tactics, a company should really consider the overall marketing strategy and choose the appropriate mix of tactics that will support the execution. That said, I’m a bit biased as my company focuses on SEO, blog marketing and press release optimization. The mix of those online PR tactics along with integration with offline marketing/PR tactics can be very powerful.

If a business has news, they should make it easy for the media to find out about that news. Tools include press releases, wire servies such as PR Newswire and PRWeb, an online media kit, an optimized blog and a good SEO effort. Whenever a company gets online media coverage, they should be sure to use social bookmark services such as and to archive them. It’s also a good idea to use a company blog as a way to reach out to other blogs in the same space to encourage coverage of company news.

What are your favorite online PR tools and sites?
PRWeb has a great mix of tools for distributing press releases as well as hosting high resolution images, permanent redirects for URLs and a podcast feature for certain levels of press releases. PRWeb also offers a trackback url on press releases so blogs are encouraged to link to them. Doing so creates an automatic link back to the blog. Other wire services we use include: PR Newswire, Business Wire and However, PRWeb is by far the most feature rich for SEO.
Some of the online PR sites I like most are:, and There are many more, but I like to keep it simple.

The most important online PR resource you can have is a talented PR pro that can research story opportunities and persuasively pitch both online journalists and bloggers accordingly. Sending out press releases alone is like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks. Software tools can help make things easier, such as or Google Alerts for brand monitoring, but it is human interpretation that provides the most value.

What skills, knowledge and contacts are important for online PR practitioners?
Like SEO, online PR requires a mix (although in a different order of priority) of social, creative, persuasive and technical skills. Developing relationships with online publication editors and bloggers is also particularly useful.

When is it a good time to outsource public relations and when should you keep it in-house?
When companies have an internal public relations staff, they often only need consulting from a online PR specialist on best practices or with a particular situation. For companies that do not perform their own PR, then an online or offline PR firm can help on an ongoing basis for as long as that company has a need for public and media relations.
What is “reputation management” and should companies be using it for their own sites?
Basically, reputation management (online) is the business of monitoring what the marketplace is saying about your brand. It also means responding to situations before they run out of control.

Venues include blogs, discussion threads, forums and social networking sites. A simplistic forumla is to allocate a proportion of resources to reputation management in relation to how important your brand is to your overall business.

Monitoring how consumers talk about your brand can provide early warning signs for product or service issues as well as promotion opportunities that can be leveraged. Companies can start by subscribing to RSS feeds of search results on their company name from blog and news search engines, set up a Google Alerts account or use the BlogPulse conversation tracker.What three tips would you give companies that want to optimize their press releases for search engines?
The first priority for the release is the reader, not the algorithm. An optimized press release is the means, not the end.

Map keywords to the press release like you would map keyword phrases to a web page. Use keywords in the title, sub title and in the body copy of the release.

If possible, create a strong call to action or incentive to click through on the release to destination content on your site. A free guide, report or discount can be effective. Use tracking urls to determine how effective the release is at generating traffic and inquiries.

Be sure to check out a previous post, Lowdown on Press Release Optimization for more information on how to leverage press releases for SEO and online promotion.

Creating Your Online News Room

I came across this very interesting article. It provides practical tips on how individuals and organizations set up online news rooms. The url is at

Creating Your Online News Room
How to build a site the media will love.

by Bill Stoller, PublisherFree Publicity

From time to time, people ask me how public relations has changedduring the two decades in which I've been seeking publicity. My answer: technology.
Twenty years ago, the fax machine was a newfangled novelty. Our primary means of communicating with journalists was the telephone and the US Mail. The advent of e-mail and the web has made life easier in many regards and tougher in others -- namely, thanks to hordes of clowns with money making schemes and software that "blasts" press releasesindiscriminately to reporters, it's become very hard to get your e-mails through to spam-weary reporters.But there's another great advantage provided to publicity seekers by the Internet -- the ability to create an "online news room." In the "old days," the press kit reigned. Big bulky folders loaded with press releases, glossy photos and slides were standard. They were expensive to design, costly to reproduce and required lots of manpower and postage to assemble and distribute.
Today, you can simply direct a reporter to a web URL, where all your press materials and high definition artwork awaits, ready to be used. It's a huge time and money saver.A quick note: the traditional press kit isn't dead. It's still handy to create some physical kits to use with key journalists, as the very novelty of printed material can give you an edge at times. Also, some journalists still prefer a physical kit. Press kits are an important tool at trade show booths & press rooms, and special events. However, gone are the days of sending out large press kit mailings. Keep the kits for targeted use only.Creating a useful online news room is really pretty simple. One of the main things a busy reporter wants is easy access to press releases, corporate and executive info and artwork. A well put together media room should provide a seamless walk-through.Where Should the News Room Go?There are two schools of thought on where to put your online news room. Some companies prefer to have it as a section on their main site, visible to all as a link on a menu bar or other navigational element. Others build entirely separate sites just for the media.There are pros and cons to each. Putting it as part of your main site allows a journalist to "poke around" your site, absorbing more of the feel and culture of your company and its products. It also makes it easier if the reporter wants more information about a particular product than can be found in your media materials.
Of course, since you'll need to provide clear links to the online news room to help such reporters find their way back, anyone visiting your site can access your press materials. This is probably not an issue but, if you feel potential customers may become confused if they wander into the online news room, this could be worth considering.Creating a separate site allows you to tailor everything to suit the needs of the reporter and prevents the possibility of confusion for potential customers visiting your main site. The reporter however, will be unable to quickly "poke around" themain site as described above, so you may consider that in your decision.
If you do choose a separate site, give it a name that incorporates your company (if you're the Acme Company, go for or Also, provide clear links to your main site throughout, and code them so that they open in a new window, allowing the reporter to see your main site without having to backtrack to the online news room.Some Do's and Don'tsDON'T force journalists to register or sign in for access. They're busy folks and may very well decide not to bother. Make life as easy as you can for them.DO offer the opportunity for journalists to enter their e-mail address if they wish to be kept abreast of the latest news from your company, but don't link it in any way to the ability to access any portion of the site. DON'T confuse non-journalists who may wander into the site. Make it clear at the top of your main page of your online news room what it and who it's for.DO provide a link to your consumer FAQ page and an e-mail link for customer service to give non-journalists a place to go to get their questions answered. This will save you a great deal of time responding to messages from non-journalists asking "why am I looking at a press release? How do I download a new driver" or some such thing. Here's what Gateway says, "Gateway presscontacts are only able to provide assistance for qualified members of the news media. They are not qualified to respond to product or technical support needs...If you are not a member of the news media, please feel free to visit our pages for Product Service and Support."DON'T try to lay out the online news room if you're not a talented web designer. Don't use flash, heavy java scripts and other doo-dads. The face you put forth to the media must be highly professional, and the ease of navigation and logical flow of the news room is vital.DO hire a professional designer who has a portfolio that includes simple, easy-to-navigate, clean-looking sites.What To Include in Your Online News Room:Personal Contact Info. The name, address, e-mail, phone number,fax number and cell phone number of your primary media contactsmust be front and center. If you have an Instant Messaging ID,put it in there, too.Press Releases. Place press releases in chronological order (mostrecent at the top). Keep traditional press release formatting anduse easy-to-read fonts.Executive photos, product photos, charts, graphs, and otherappropriate artwork. Provide multiple versions -- 72 dpi (lowerresolution) for online publications and websites, and 300 dpi(higher resolution) for offline publications. Put instructionssuch as To download, right-click and choose "save" next to thegraphics. Make sure your pitch letters and press releasesprovide links to the appropriate artwork on your site.Backgrounders, executive bios, white papers, investor relationsinfo (if applicable), fact sheets, speeches, awards, streamingmedia of: press conferences, product demonstrations, president'sspeeches, etc.Search Tool. Make it easy for journalists to find just what theywant, by making all your press materials fully searchable.Online News Rooms to Study:The best way to learn how to put together an online news room isto see how some very smart folks have done it. Here are threeoutstanding examples....

"Second Life"

In the recent global initiative on climate change, the virtual world "Second Life" was used as portal for those who participated on-line. What makes this world unique is the use of avatars and the sense of community involved in the interaction of participants.

I have linked the wikipedia explanation of "second life" at

As an initial description, wikipedia mentions that "Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world launched in 2003, developed by Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab), which came to international attention via mainstream news media in late 2006 and early 2007.[4][5] A downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called "Residents", to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from one another.
Second Life is one of several virtual worlds that have been inspired by the cyberpunk literary movement, and particularly by Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash. The stated goal of Linden Lab is to create a world like the Metaverse described by Stephenson, a user-defined world in which people can interact, play, do business, and otherwise communicate.[6] Second Life's virtual currency is the Linden Dollar (Linden, or L$) and is exchangeable for real world currencies in a resident to resident marketplace facilitated by Linden Lab.[7]
While Second Life is sometimes referred to as a game, this description does not fit the standard definition. It does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. There are, however, several games within Second Life, e.g., international football matches.[8]
In all, more than 20 million accounts have been registered, although many are inactive, some Residents have multiple accounts, and there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage. Despite its prominence, Second Life has notable competitors, including IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, and the erotic-oriented Red Light Center.

The Second Life Portal is at

It just made the world smaller but its inhabitants closer even more.

Market positioning and public relations strategy session for businesses

"One-day market positioning session" for business start-ups
Mind Bullet Inc., a market positioning and public relations (PR) firm in the Philippines, introduces its "one day strategy session" aimed at helping predominantly start-up enterprises and companies position themselves properly in the market.

At the launching of its website,, Mind Bullet leverages market positioning as it applies to new business. President and CEO Eero Brillantes elaborates. 'What we have done is to concentrate on key market positioning subject areas appropriate for start up businesses. With some preparatory time, a session would last a day with a measurable market positioning program as output. After the session, we present our strategic recommendations. After that, it all nurturing time spread over the period a program is being implemented. "

Brillantes emphasizes the need for proper positioning as necessary to roll out new business.

"Now more than ever, market positioning is a major activity for any new business to succeed or even become dominant in a market. As a process, market positioning encompasses certain factors essential to roll out strategies and launches. Identifying real value, actually owning key words and phrases in the consumers mind, and establishing consumer relationships based on human interaction is what market positioning is all about".

Brillantes mentions that a lot of new businesses spend so much resources on capital outlay and tactical marketing campaigns only to be frustrated.

"How many times have we seen owners of businesses spend on equipment, expertise, and marketing gimmicks which do not give real value. It just so happens others have spent on these also. The same equipment is bought. The same media-marketing mix are employed. Similar corporate philosophies and business models are cascaded throughout the organization. But if you look closely, a lot of spending go to expenditures which do not anymore provide the competitive edge needed to succeed. Many factors of competition are already at parity. Yet this type of mistake is common. "

For his part, Nestor Mijares, Accounts Director at Mind Bullet says that nothing beats owning real estate in the mind of consumers.

"With so much information out there, and a galaxy of options for consumers, how do products and services stand out if these are new? Owning a word or phrase and relating this with what is offered is the most powerful outcome of any in market positioning strategy. Done properly, positioning makes a product, service, or individual stand out in the crowded market place and even at times dominate . Pushing the envelope further, proper positioning opens up new markets."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Renaldo Lapuz: instant hit in TV and internet

Who is Renaldo Lapuz?

"I wanna audition because this is a privilege to sing to the whole world, that's it". He did not aspire popularity. He just wanted to sing.

This guy, Renaldo - a Filipino from Arizona USA, auditioned in American Idol 2007. He was the last guy in the line and was wearing an extravagant white cowboy outfit. He is very nice and likeable but was gutsy.

To make this short, he did not make it to Hollywood. However, he was able to hit it off with his audition piece-composition made for American Idol judge, Simon, "We're brothers forever". The song has a very high retention rate among the audience. From his audition's airing (16 January) to date (20 January), Renaldo has a wikipedia entry, an official website with t-shirts for sale and freebies, a discussion topic in various forums, internet articles and print articles. His song has a remixed version by Rocko. If searched in google and yahoo, more than 40 pages of blogs, videos, podcasts and articles featured him. All in four days.

The newest internet sensation
Apart from the elaborate costume and the highly addictive song, Renaldo just wanted to sing to the whole world, and be an inspiration to those in despair *but according to him, in despairs. The website, claimed that this website have been visited in 57 countries. In youtube, he is in this week's top rated video, most discussed and most favorite -- not in one youtube account but in three separate youtube accounts, totaling to more than one million views.

An instant celebrity
Elaborate costume, sincere guts, nice and cool, and a highly addictive song. Reality tv has definitely changed the television viewing landscape. Ordinary people, like Renaldo, becomes instant celebrities through reality TV. Supplemented by the internet, those we see for minutes on TV can be replayed over and over. At present, the internet - alternative to the capital driven TV the audience a venue to communicate their opinion, preferences and critiques. Soon, the mass communication models will be able to measure and analyze methods of audience feedback through the internet.

Renaldo Lapuz had around 15 minutes of airtime in the American Idol auditions, but he was given more bandwidth by bloggers and entertainment writers through the net. Just his web presence alone is phenomenal -- making him and his song, an instant hit.

Here is a video clip of his audition in American Idol

We're Brothers Forever by Renaldo Lapuz
"I am your brother
Your best friend forever
Singing the songs
The music that you like
We're brothers til the end of time
Together forever til the end of time
I am your brother
Your best friend forever
Singing the songs
The music that you like
We're brothers til the end of time
Together or not, you're always in my heart
Your hurting feelings
Will reign no more."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Power Sector Reform Blog Launch

Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III has formally launched his power sector reform blog. Entitled NAKUPO (, the blog seeks to be the internet site for Rep. Guingona's advocacy to bring down electricity rates. His major advocacy includes the Privatization of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the full implementation of the EPIRA law.

In his previous policy adovacy statements, he sees the NAPOCOR as a mafia controlling the price of electricity by having a virtual monopoly on power generation.

The blog includes newspaper articles quoting Rep. Guingona's statements. It also includes transcripts of radio interviews he made in the course of his advocacy. Also available are the two major privilege speeches he made on corruption and questionable dealings of NAPOCOR and that of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation or PSALM, the agency tasked to privatize NAPOCOR's assets.

It is envisioned that with the blog, Rep. Guingona would reach more online citizens, including the private sector and civil society groups with the same concern for lowering of electricity rates.

The blog will also be Rep. Guingona's way of building bridge with the more powerful consumer rights blogs which could provide pressure to national government officials to seek meaningful reforms in the power sector.

Qualitative research methods and emerging techniques

In marketing research, qualitative research has been highly utilized – with businesses struggling to convert data into information. We can see how picky and detailed consumers are in their preferences and behavior through various qualitative research methodologies.
The main stars of qualitative research methodologies are the standard focused group discussion (FGD) and focused interviews (FI). These methods are both fast and cost-effective; immediate, comprehensible and visible.

Gill Ereaut, a qualitative research expert, described the evolution and revolution of qualitative research. For Ereaut, at present FGDs and FIs are
no longer possible or sensible to represent a whole research philosophy with a single method. People are thinking radically about the kinds of qualitative services there could be. They are taking a wider view of what constitutes 'qualitative market research', bringing other data-collection and analysis processes under this heading. They are putting real expertise in place to deliver complementary approaches; and being brave and bold about these alternatives, their benefits, their organisation and pricing. It has meant suppliers and clients alike working outside their comfort zones and rethinking business models. (Ereaut, 2004)

For Ereaut, FGDs are not yet dead, because they remain to be the core methods in the qualitative inquiry. However at the other end,
clients have more need than ever to understand the texture, context and meaning of consumers' lives. And they are increasingly willing to use complex research methods with or without more sophisticated varieties of consumer groups to do this.

In order to describe client expectations, Ereaut presented the emerging marketing research methods, which are:
  • Using direct dialogue or facilitated interactive sessions to get closer to consumers. Thus, researchers help clients experience consumers' lives by proxy: immersion sessions, workshops and video-clip libraries increasingly replacing PowerPoint.

  • Behavioural data and psychological insight alongside socio-cultural analysis are utilized.

  • According to her,
    important 'new' methods of data collection and analysis semiotics and ethnography are looking increasingly mainstream and essential. They are no longer 'fancy stuff', but sit alongside face-to-face interviewing.

    These trends show that qualitative research methods are alive and evolving. Researchers facilitate new methods to further substantiate clients' needs and get to know the consumers better.

    Evolution and revolution in qualitative research
    Gill Ereaut, Admap, October 2004, Issue 454, pp.146

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    Goverment information using mobile phones: Are we ready yet?

    Text capital of the world - that has been claimed for the Philippines. In the recent age of digital technology, tech-curious Pinoys grappled over various new media gadgets such as cellular phones and the internet. Pinoys sought cellphones for personal messages, or for business. From a lowly laundrywoman to the CEO of the largest company, cellphones are found to be useful, cheap and convenient.

    The Philippine government attempts to utilize the mobile phones through the E-commerce Law . M-government, as one of the components of e-government, sets the
    whole world in utilizing mobile technologies to communicate government actions and concerns (Signo, et. al, 2004). Adopting this new scheme, the Philippine National Police (PNP) created the TEXT 2920 service where, mobile phones are used to report crimes and other community concerns. A paper entitled PNP TEXT 2920 SERVICE: A Communication Perspective on M-Government in the Philippine Context presented in two international conferences held in South Korea and recently, in Chennai India, analyzed how m-government, a component of e-government services, utilizes the mobile phones to inform Filipinos on government services and programs. The existing PNP Text 2920 was studied using survey methods, focused interviews with mobile phone users and Philippine National Police key informants.

    The study showed low information and awareness among mobile phone users (40%). Almost 60% of the respondents said that they are hesitant to use the PNP Text 2920. Further on, according to the study, "there are elements that should be studied to make PNP TEXT 2920 efficiently and effectively utilized. These elements include the institutional capacity of the PNP in mgovernment and the public impact on the program. Technological requirements should be satisfied first so as the smooth implementation of the program. The PNP’s drive for implementation should also be strengthened. A tri-media campaign is also deemed necessary for a massive information
    campaign of the program" (Signo, et. al, 2004).

    Government attempts in using e-government - or using new media technologies for information dissemination, policy making, strategic implementation and any government concern can be effective and efficient means in building relationships with the citizenry. Cellphones are the best media to start building relationships. However, related issues such as broadband deals and cybered were subjected to corruption issues. The high amount of budget for government infrastructure is indeed questionable. The Philippine NAtional Police's implementation of their text service is one example of how unready government infrastructure in implementing these devices. The failure to satisfy technology requirements and the failure for a massive information dissemination were examples of how poor government is in implementing their communication strategies. Thus, it is our role, as communication advocates, to continue producing scientific data and recommending strategies on institutions like the government can apply and maximize their projects and programs. And ultimately, eliminate corruption.

    Reference: Buenaventura V., de la Rosa M., Domingo, E., Signo C, Valera I. (2005). PNP Text 2920: A Communication Perspective on M-government in the Philippine Context. A paper presented in the CPRsouth, Chennai India, 15 December 2007.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2008

    'New media shaking up public relations industry'

    This is a very interesting article on blogs as direct to consumer communications. Turns out the Philippines is one of five Asia Pacific countries where blogging is a national phenomenon.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007By Brian Asmus, Special to The China Post

    TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Len Apcar, chief editor of the New York Times, once intoned that, "Newspapers, in the traditional sense are dead. PR people have an opportunity to create content that will be delivered to consumers and embraced by the media." The South China Morning Post, in an editorial, chimed in that, "Blogs and sites like Wikipedia have become the thinking man's graffiti."
    Tectonic shifts in how news is reported are forcing corporations and their public relations strategists to adapt. Central to this new focus is the role of advocacy, said Andrew Pirie, president Asia-Pacific, Weber Shandwick at an AmCham Marking and Distribution Committee breakfast held yesterday at Shangrila's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei.
    According to Pirie, 90 percent of consumers regard word of mouth as the best source of ideas and information about products and services. Today, 26 percent of Google search results on the world's 20 largest brands are coming from consumer-generated sources with 45 percent of consumers engaging in some form of advocacy activities and 54 percent saying they have more power to influence a company's success or failure as well as having a greater say in what is sold.
    Advocates, pointed out Pirie to the gathering of corporate executives, are knowledgeable, connected and passionate, giving them colossal power to convince others. This spread of information is more than just word-of-mouth awareness; these advocates are making recommendations about everything from brands to issues. This is underlined by the fact that 63 percent of consumers are deciding more quickly to buy products and services, and to support or reject issues, causes and companies because of the influence of advocates.
    This has impelled major changes in how public relations is conducted. In the 1980s, said Pirie, the industry was mostly about announcements, presentations and collateral; then moving into opinion, strategy and awareness in the 1990s before attaining new forms of influence in the first decade of this century, namely, engagement, experience and participation.
    Corporations are spending great effort on determining how to best engage advocates to share their experiences, (hopefully positive) and get them to participate in the company's effort to get its message heard. Some of the reasons for the new power held by advocates, said Pirie, are the fact that fewer consumers trust established institutions such as government, corporations and traditional media channels. "They have put greater trust," he stressed, "in their peers and nongovernmental organizations."
    Digitization of society has also led to networking among consumers with shared interests. "Ordinary citizens," he said, "have a powerful voice." This means that information and ideas can spread faster and farther than ever before.
    To underscore just how networked people are these days, Pirie cited a number of figures on global Internet usage. Today, there are 1 billion global users online with 37 percent of these in the Asia-Pacific. In Asia, the top three countries for reading blogs are China, Korea and Malaysia with the top five for running a blog being China, Korea, the Philippines, Japan and Malaysia.
    Pirie further observed that, in 2006, China had more than 160 million Internet users, 51 million regular users of bulletin boards and 35 million regular blog users. There are, he continued, as many as 100 companies trying to imitate Myspace with another 200 mimicking Youtube. ",, and," he noted, "are all popular social networking sites with millions of Chinese users every day."
    Anyone doubting the strength of these consumer sites can examine the spate of recent incidences in China, where well-known foreign companies have been forced to react to negative campaigns involving their corporations and products.
    Blog -- and other advocacy -- activity sees consumers taking the lead in generating media. Internet search ability means that consumers can instantly connect with anyone who has an opinion. Distrust of corporate marketing means that consumers are demanding open, honest interaction and dialogue. "Brands must be seen to be human, honest and willing to engage directly with audiences," Pirie said.
    The marketing model must, therefore, change. Rather than filtering news through the media, companies must now involve consumers in the journalistic process to fuel electronic word-of-mouth evangelism. Rather than control the dialogue, concluded Pirie, corporations and their public relations strategies must now settle for merely setting the terms of the debate, while enlisting multiple voices and utilizing an integrated approach.

    Monday, January 7, 2008

    Communicating the Philippine water crisis

    I am posting a communication briefing paper on how a senator can generate public support for the water crisis issue. Hope our presidentiables generate ideas from this.

    Eero (

    Mind Bullet Briefing Paper: Communicating the Philippine Water Crisis as a Defining National Issue for Candidates Running for the 2010 Presidential elections.

    I. Rationale

    Defining moments are very important in capturing the imagination, hearts , minds of the people to genuinely entrust leadership. Through conscious efforts and expected historical milestones, defining moments can be laid out as a story line leading to a positive perception or conclusion. Defining moments establish how the market (electorate) will perceive and decide what to do with the product (politician). Simply put, defining moments in history will determine the market positioning of candidates running for President in 2010.

    All Philippine Presidents in contemporary Philippine history have been defined by the times they were situated in. President Ferdinand Marcos postured his New Society amidst widespread agrarian unrest, proliferation of private armies, the continued stranglehold on the economy of the feudal and industrial oligarchs, opposition to the Vietnam conflict, and the Cold War. President Corazon Aquino was swept into power as the anti-thesis of the Marcos authoritarian rule. President Fidel Ramos was a legitimate hero of the EDSA revolution. President Joseph Estrada became an iconoclast of the poor, on an off the screen, aside from being once a mayor, Senator, and Vice-President. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had EDSA dos as her conjuncture.

    For the present batch of Presidentiables, each one will be consciously doing two strategic activities. One is to look presidentiable by taking on issues of national concern even if by way of sound bytes at the very least. The second activity is to be able to latch on an issue which would define character and relevance in history.

    Similar patterns are being employed in the run up to the presidential elections in the United States. On a strategic note, Senator Barack Obama has owned the concept of “change” while outlining his political agenda. Senator Hillary Clinton positioned herself as the one with “White House experience to institute change”. However, both of them drum up their candidacies by creating the impression that America is at a historical cross roads of change and all the melodramatic packaging that goes with it.

    It is the attempt of this briefing paper to provide a sample market positioning plan to communicate the historical relevance of a candidate through a defining issue. The core message is “meaningful leadership” and the issue is the Philippine water crisis. A marketing mix of community action, policy advocacy, public relations, direct to consumer communications, and engineered events are to be employed.

    II. Review of Related Literature

    1. The water crisis in the Philippines is directly connected to climate change. It is already a ticking time bomb. As far back as 1998, former President Fidel Ramos has said on many occasions that water will be a flashpoint for conflict. It is both a political and economic issue with catastrophic implications.

    2. Alert International is an independent peace-building organization working in over 20 countries and territories around the world. It has included the Philippines in its list of 46 countries facing high risk of armed conflict as a knock on consequence of climate change. It has likewise included the Philippines as one of the countries with serious to extreme exposure to climate change.

    3. Expert studies done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) indicate a looming water crisis (, Dec. 2, 2007). Consider the following :

    In its publication "Asian Water Development Outlook 2007, the ADB warned that water availability in the Philippines could be "unsatisfactory" in eight of its 19 major river basins and in most major cities before 2025.

    The Philippines’ water resources are fast deteriorating with rapid urbanization, with only about 33 percent of river systems still suitable as a supply source and up to 58 percent of groundwater now contaminated, a new Asian Development Bank research shows.

    The ability of groundwater—or water held underground or in pores and crevices in rocks—to meet future water demand has been projected to be limited, amounting to only 20 percent of the total water requirement in the country's nine main urban centers by 2025.

    Depletion of groundwater resources has been an increasing problem in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, the study pointed out.

    "Water quality is poorest in urban areas, the main sources of pollution being untreated discharges of industrial and municipal wastewater," the ADB said.

    Although groundwater resources are generally abundant and of adequate quality for domestic purposes, the study states that poor environmental management of extractive resource industries—such as uncontrolled forestry, mining and minerals extraction—has been leading to the pollution of downstream water courses and aquifers.

    "The majority of solid waste disposal and landfill sites are poorly operated and maintained, permitting leachate to pollute some water resources," the study stated.

    In Manila, for instance, the study noted that less than four percent of the population were connected to the sewer network, with many high-income households constructing their own facilities.

    "Flush toilets connected to septic tanks are widely used, and often serve large housing developments. However, sludge treatment and disposal facilities are rare, resulting in indiscriminate disposal of untreated or poorly treated effluent into the Pasig River, one of the world’s most polluted rivers," the study pointed out.

    Over-exploitation has been lowering water tables, leading to increasing intrusion of saline (salty solution), it noted.

    "The rapid urbanization of the Philippines, with more than 2 million persons being added to the urban population annually, is having a major impact on water resources,“

    16 rivers are now considered biologically dead during dry months;

    48 percent of water pollutants arise from domestic waste, 37 percent from agricultural waste, and 15 percent from industrial waste;

    Solid waste generation in Metro Manila, now estimated at 5,345 tons per day, is expected to double by 2010. But, only 65–75 percent of the waste generated is collected, with only 13 percent of that recycled, and the remainder just thrown anywhere, particularly into creeks, threatening health and increasing flooding;

    Some 700 industrial establishments in the Philippines generate about 273,000 tons of hazardous waste annually, but at present there is no integrated treatment facility in the country to deal with it, although there are some 95 small to medium-scale hazardous waste treatment facilities;

    Approximately 50,000 tons of hazardous waste are stored on or off-site due to lack of proper treatment and landfill facilities.

    The priority sector constraints that the country must address include sector "under-funding" and slow promulgation of environmental legislation, such as the Water Resources Management Act and the creation of a National Environmental Management Authority, the ADB study said.

    The study also lamented the insufficient enforcement of existing legislation, and the weak legal and regulatory framework for environmental impact assessments, monitoring and coordination. Data for planning and management are incomplete, according to the study.

    Investments over the last two decades have been insufficient. At least P40 billion or at least one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) will be needed to meet development goals," the study said.

    4. Political-Economic Analyst Peter Wallace wrote an article on the Water Crisis (Aug. 18, 2006). Specifically he mentioned that:

    Based on a survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, only about 80 percent of Filipino households (eight out of 10 families) had access to a supply of clean water in 2002, virtually no improvement from 79 percent in 2000.

    And many of those belonging to that 80 percent have to trek quite some way to get water they can drink.

    This translates to 17 million Filipinos that use and drink water that could make them sick, and does make them sick.

    About one million cases of water-borne illnesses such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis are recorded every year.

    In Metro Manila, two million people do not have access to water that is clean and affordable. The most unfortunate part of the story is that these two million are poor.

    The World Health Organization cited that deaths due to gastrointestinal diseases in the country have increased from 502 per one million people to 5,151, or 10 times more because people do not have access to clean water.

    And when the poor get sick, they have no money, and can’t afford to be treated. So many of these 5,151 people die unnecessarily.

    According to Asian Development Bank estimates, the government would need P92 billion just to bring water to an additional 14.3 million Filipinos by 2015.

    But the problem is not just in bringing clean water to everybody; it is ensuring that there is enough water for everybody for many years to come.

    Levels in the country’s water sources are at their lowest in years.

    Since 2002, the water level in Angat Dam, the source of about 76 percent of the water supply in Metro Manila, has fallen to critical levels.

    Despite the high average rainfall, the Philippines will have, according to estimates by the United Nations, the second to the lowest per capita freshwater in Asia.

    III. Campaign Objectives

    To be able to establish a macro-economic and political reform initiative to address the water crisis. If possible a bill will be filed.

    To develop a policy environment for the universal access to potable water among Filipinos

    To effectively identify, track and address specific locations in the country where conflicts may arise because of disputes over water sources

    To provide community based showcases of proper water management initiatives

    IV. Campaign Directives

    Trigger Activities (Jan. 28 2008 or the first day of congressional sessions)

    1. Privilege Speech and proposed bill filed on the water crisis (legislative staff)

    2. Publicity of the Privilege Speech (Publicity Staff, MRO, media group)

    3. Publicity of popular stories about the water crisis

    Example Story lines:

    17 million Filipinos will not have safe drinking water for Christmas
    189 municipalities still do not have potable drinking water?
    RP considered potential high armed conflict area due to effects of climate change
    Will the water crisis in Atlanta, Georgia happen to us?

    Accelerator Activities (Feb. 1 to March 21, 2008)

    1. A video-documentary on the water crisis by Sen. X

    2. A national road show of the video in 80 provinces. This will be initially done in the central schools, state universities, and provincial capitols for a total of 240 venues.

    3. Initial 10,000 advocacy kits including video, frequently Asked Questions, and Sample Resolutions given to the environmental committee chairpersons of provincial, municipal , and city councils

    4. 1 million signatures supporting the water bill (Legislative staff, various cause oriented and civic groups)

    5. Sense of Senate, House to support the bill (head count)

    End Game Scenarios (March 22, 2008, World Water Day)

    End game Minimum

    1. Resolution of the League of Provinces (Legislative and political staff)

    2. Resolution of League of Municipalities (Legislative and Political staff)

    3. Resolution of League of Cities (Legislative and Political Staff)

    4. Sense of the Senate and the House to support for bill (Preliminary head count-Legislative and Political staff converted into primary lobby group and supported by other advocacy groups).

    5. Pilot projects on community based water management. At least 1 NCR, 1 Luzon, 1 Visayas, 1 Mindanao.

    End Game Maximum

    1. Privilege speech on World Water Day

    2. 80 provincial resolutions supporting the advocacy (Legislative and political staff)

    3. One million signatures supporting the water bill formally delivered to Senate (Legislative staff, various cause oriented and civic groups)

    4. Sense of the Senate, House (preliminary head count)

    5. President signs the bill as urgent

    6. Pilot projects on community based water management. At least 1 NCR, 1 Luzon, 1 Visayas, 1 Mindanao.

    7. Bill is passed on March 22, 2008, World Water Day (Best Case)