Covid-19 Climate Science Vaccination Misinformation PR and Astro Turfing

In recent months there has been an increase in confusion, misrepresentation and misunderstanding in news and social media round Covid-19 using same techniques as in tobacco, climate science denialism and anti-vaccination movements that seem to benefit US radical right libertarians’ preferred ideology and politics.

 

The following articles from The Fifth Estate in Australia and DeSmog Blog in Canada explain the communication techniques well.

 

Separating truth from lies in the causes of the pandemic

 

David Thorpe | 28 April 2020

 

OPINION: What’s caused this devastating pandemic that’s so far cost at least 207,000 lives (and it’s hardly begun) and wrecked the global economy? If, like me, you’ve been on the receiving end of a blizzard of bizarre messages claiming to reveal the truth behind the pandemic you might be forgiven for feeling confused, so here’s your handy guide to what isn’t the cause and what is.

 

Misinformation wars

 

Right from the start misinformation was rife: there was no virus; the disease was like flu and wouldn’t cause significant harm; emails offered baseless cures and treatments; and conspiracy theories spread like wildfire about its origin.

 

It turns out that many who circulated such misinformation have a history of casting doubt on climate science or seeking to debate issues that were already laid to rest within the scientific community, according to DeSmog.org:

 

“The decades that fossil fuel companies spent funding organisations that sought to undermine the conclusions of credible climate scientists and building up doubt about science itself ultimately created a network of professional science deniers who are now deploying some of the same skills they honed on climate against the public health crisis at the centre of our attention today.”

 

Some of this misinformation was/is channelled by presidents Trump and Bolsanaro. Others by think tanks, experts (some self-proclaimed), academics, and professional right-wing activists who are also climate change denialists.

 

After taking apart all of these arguments, DeSmog asserts: “COVID denial should forever discredit climate science deniers”.’

 

From DeSmog direct:

 

The Reason COVID-19 and Climate Seem So Similar: Disinformation

 

Repost By Guest • Monday, April 20, 2020  of Amy Westervelt, Drilled News. Originally published by Drilled News.

 

For a long time, the story went that the tobacco industry cooked up disinformation and then spread it to the fossil fuel guys, the chemical industry, pharma, you name it. But one thing that became incredibly clear when we began digging into PR firms and specific publicists was that this version of history was not quite right; if disinformation strategies were cooked up by any particular industry it was the public relations industry, which put these strategies to work on behalf of fossil fuels, tobacco, chemical manufacturers and more, often all at the same time.

 

The very first publicist, Ivy Ledbetter Lee, worked on behalf of both Standard Oil and, shortly after, American Tobacco, for example. Daniel Edelman developed astroturf campaigns for both RJ Reynolds tobacco company and the American Petroleum Institute, as did John Hill, who went so far as to have tobacco folks join the API. He also worked with Monsanto, juggling all three clients at the same time. E. Bruce Harrison worked for the chemical guys first, then managed front groups for tobacco and fossil fuels at the same time. You get the drift.

 

These industries all surely learned from each other at various points in time, but that was mostly because they were working with the same publicists. The history is less that tobacco or oil embraced disinformation first and then passed it on and more that a handful of PR firms and consultants created the disinformation industry, and then put it to work on behalf of whatever industry needed it at any given time.

 

Today, those same strategies are at work on behalf of those who worry that the response to COVID-19 will undermine capitalism, which is why climate folks keep noting how familiar the whole anti-science component of the rightwing response to the pandemic feels. It’s familiar because the exact same strategies are being deployed, in some cases by the same people. Here are a few key examples:

 

Disinformation Strategy #1: He who controls the language controls the narrative.

Disinformation Strategy #2: Leverage science illiteracy to create doubt.

Disinformation strategy #3: Astroturfing.

 

Our hope, of course, is that when people learn to recognize these strategies and know what’s behind them, they might become less effective. Disempowering the disinformation industry is a necessary part of any climate solution.’

 

For more articles and blogs about climate change, Covid-19, populist politics, critical thinking, marketing & communications and science literacy click through.

Fighting Fake News in Finland via Schools

We have witnessed years now of conventional and now digital media being manipulated to confuse, misinform and mislead the public of all ages round science of climate change or global warming, politics and campaigns, immigrants and population growth, vaccinations, natural disasters, religion and minorities etc.

Like some states in Australia used to teach critical thinking to high school students in the 1970s, since been ’embedded’ and/or disappeared, Finland has taken the lead in developing skills at primary school age dealing with Russia especially, and global warming denialism.

From The Guardian:

‘How Finland starts its fight against fake news in primary schools

Country on frontline of information war teaches everyone from school pupils to politicians how to spot slippery information

You can start when children are very young, said Kari Kivinen. In fact, you should: “Fairytales work well. Take the wily fox who always cheats the other animals with his sly words. That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?”

With democracies around the world threatened by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in primary school.

In secondary schools, such as the state-run college in Helsinki where Kivinen is head teacher, multi-platform information literacy and strong critical thinking have become a core, cross-subject component of a national curriculum that was introduced in 2016.

In maths lessons, Kivinen’s pupils learn how easy it is to lie with statistics. In art, they see how an image’s meaning can be manipulated. In history, they analyse notable propaganda campaigns, while Finnish language teachers work with them on the many ways in which words can be used to confuse, mislead and deceive.

“The goal is active, responsible citizens and voters,” Kivinen said. “Thinking critically, factchecking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive, wherever it appears, is crucial. We’ve made it a core part of what we teach, across all subjects.”

The curriculum is part of a unique, broad strategy devised by the Finnish government after 2014, when the country was first targeted with fake news stories by its Russian neighbour, and the government realised it had moved into the post-fact age.

Successful enough for Finland to top, by some margin, an annual index measuring resistance to fake news in 35 European countries, the programme aims to ensure that everyone, from pupil to politician, can detect – and do their bit to fight – false information.

“This affects all of us,” said Jussi Toivanen, chief communications officer for the prime minister’s office. “It targets the whole of Finnish society. It aims to erode our values and norms, the trust in our institutions that hold society together.”

Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917, is on the frontline of an online information war that has accelerated markedly since Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine five years ago, Toivanen said.

Most campaigns, amplified by sympathetic far-right, nation-first and “alternative” Finnish news sites and social media accounts, focus on attacking the EU, highlighting immigration issues and trying to influence debate over Finland’s full Nato membership.

Resistance is seen almost as a civil defence question, a key component in Finland’s comprehensive security policy. Toivanen said: “We are a small country, without many resources, and we rely on everyone contributing to the collective defence of society.”

The programme, piloted by a 30-member, high-level committee representing 20 different bodies from government ministries to welfare organisations and the police, intelligence and security services, has trained thousands of civil servants, journalists, teachers and librarians over the past three years.

“It’s a broad-based, coordinated effort to raise awareness,” said Saara Jantunen, a senior researcher from the defence ministry who has been seconded to the prime minister’s office. “Like virus protection on your computer: the government’s responsible for a certain amount, of course, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to install the software.”…

…..He wants his pupils to ask questions such as: who produced this information, and why? Where was it published? What does it really say? Who is it aimed at? What is it based on? Is there evidence for it, or is this just someone’s opinion? Is it verifiable elsewhere?

On the evidence of half a dozen pupils gathered in a classroom before lunchtime, it is an approach that is paying off. “You must always factcheck. The number one rule: no Wikipedia, and always three or four different and reliable sources,” said Mathilda, 18. “We learn that basically in every subject.”….

…..Part of that continuing education is also provided by NGOs. Besides operating an effective factchecking service, Faktabaari (Fact Bar), launched for the 2014 European elections and run by a volunteer staff of journalists and researchers, produces popular voter literacy kits for schools and the wider public.

“Essentially, we aim to give people their own tools,” said its founder, Mikko Salo, a member of the EU’s independent high-level expert group on fake news. “It’s about trying to vaccinate against problems, rather than telling people what’s right and wrong. That can easily lead to polarisation.”

In the run-up to Finland’s parliamentary elections last April, the government went so far as to produce an advertising campaign alerting voters to the possibility of fake news, with the slogan “Finland has the best elections in the world. Think about why”.

Similarly, Mediametka has been developing and working with media literacy tools since the more innocent days of the early 1950s, when its founders were motivated mainly by fear of the irreparable damage that comic books might do to the minds of Finnish children.

These days, the NGO, part-funded by the culture ministry, organises ed-tech hackathons with inventive Finnish startups in a bid to develop “meaningful materials” for schools and youth groups, said its executive director, Meri Seistola.

“We work with pictures, videos, text, digital content; get our students to produce their own; ask them to identify all the various kinds of misleading news,” said Seistola: from propaganda to clickbait, satire to conspiracy theory, pseudoscience to partisan reporting; from stories describing events that simply never happened to unintentional errors of fact.

Finland has something of a head start on information literacy, ranking consistently at or near the top of international indices for press freedom, transparency, education and social justice. Its school pupils have the EU’s highest PISA score for reading.

“The level of trust in national institutions, in the media, in society as a whole, does tend to be higher in the Nordic countries than in many others,” said Faktabaari’s Salo. “But that means we really need even greater vigilance now, to prepare ourselves for the next phase. Because we have more to lose.”’

 

For more articles and blogs about younger generations, critical thinking, climate change and curriculum click through.

 

Language Learning, English and White Nativism

Language learning in Australia by monolingual English speakers is hardly encouraged while for many descendants of non-English Speaking Background (NESB) immigrants, their knowledge of their parents’ language is declining.  However, not only does language allow access to one’s own cultural background or preservation of heritage, learners can also do the same in a smaller world, with other benefits in outlook, creativity, soft skills, business communication and development etc..

Australians of non English speaking background losing their ancestors' language.

Language Diversity Other than English (Image copyright Pexels)

Legislating for English

One would argue that this is not a passive organic process.  Till the ‘90s multiculturalism and other languages were encouraged e.g. Hamer Liberal conservative government in 1970s Victoria.  This was till the Howard government adopted white nationalist or WASP policies creating antipathy towards other languages, banning the word ‘multiculturalism’ in the PM’s Office and promoting English only, influenced by US organisations related to John Tanton, the ‘racist architect of the modern anti-immigration’ movement.

The main organisation was ProEnglish which included Tanton on its Board of Directors, lobbying Washington, and described by SPLC as:

Anti-immigrant hate group ProEnglish visits White HouseSince 1994, ProEnglish has pushed to have English declared the official language of the United States through legislative means. The latest attempt at the federal level, HR 997, the English Language Unity Act, was introduced in 2017 by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), one of the most outspoken anti-immigrant members of Congress. ProEnglish has also pushed for similar legislation at the state level, where 32 states have some form of official English measures on the books.’

Australia has been called ‘a graveyard of languages’. These people are bucking the trend

ABC Radio National

By Masako Fukui for Tongue Tied and Fluent on Earshot

Gaby Cara speaks to her nonna in fluent Italian, but only because she spent a year in a Tuscany when she was nine.

“We were in this tiny little village, and because I was so young, I just picked up Italian really quickly,” Gaby says.

For her dad Bruno, a second-generation Italian-Australian, this was a dream come true.

“I always wanted the kids to experience the culture, and to learn the language at a level where they could communicate freely,” he says.

Gaby and her sister Alexia, who was five at the time, attended the local school in picturesque Panzano.

Alexia soaked up the new language “like a sponge”.

“She had a real Tuscan inflection. It was actually beautiful,” Bruno says.

“Roots migration”, or going to the homeland for an immersive cultural and linguistic experience, is how the Cara family managed to buck a rather alarming trend.

Losing your language

Italians are losing their language at a faster rate than any other ethnic group in Australia.

In the last 15 years or so there’s been a drop of around 80,000 people speaking Italian at home.

According to Census data, there were almost 354,000 people who spoke Italian at home in 2001. By 2016, that had fallen to around 272,000.

The Greeks share a similar migration trajectory to the Italians, but “there are some factors that have helped the Greeks maintain their language more,” says Antonia Rubino, senior lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Sydney.

“One is the lack of this distinction between dialect and standard Italian.”

Many post-war Italian migrants spoke dialect as their first language, and often did not pass on Italian to the second generation, Dr Rubino explains.

“The Greeks also had the church,” she says.

The ‘monolingual mindset’?

This attitude is reflected in our education system.

“Australia is one of the most multilingual countries in the world,” says Ken Cruickshank of the University of Sydney.

Yet, language education is not seen as a high priority and “languages are not part of the core curriculum in any state apart from Victoria in the primary schools,” he says.

In fact, he says, “we come lowest of all OECD countries in the provision and uptake of languages”.

The result is that a bilingual child has a five in six chance of losing their heritage language by the time they finish high school, according to Dr Cruickshank.

Or put simply, multilingual kids go to school to become monolingual, in the majority of cases in Australia.

This monolingual mindset is totally out of sync with our multilingual reality — around 300 languages are spoken in Australia on any given day.

There are two ways people can lose the languages they speak.

The first is through linguistic colonisation, which is what’s happened to many Indigenous and minority languages around the world.

The second is linguistic assimilation.

That’s when immigrants lose their languages as they gradually shift towards the dominant language, English — itself a migrant language….

…..And that raises an important question for all of us living in multicultural Australia.

If language is key to people’s cultural identity, doesn’t it make sense that we value our rich multilingualism?

Gaby appreciates how important knowing Italian is.

Her language not only connects her to her nonna, but also gives her an understanding of different cultures.

“When we were younger, we didn’t think anything of going to Italy,” she says.

She’s now 30, and understands that living in Italy as a kid was also about experiencing a different culture, which is why she’s determined to pass Italian on to the next generation.

That would mean that four generations of Caras speak Italian — a small yet significant contribution to countering the image of Australia as a “graveyard of languages.”

 

For more blogs and posts about learning theory and the promotion of white nationalism click through.

Understanding Digital Marketing – Student Course Book and Management Guide – Damian Ryan

Understanding DIGITAL Marketing – Marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation.

Course Book from Damian Ryan and Calvin Jones, 2009, Kogan Page.

Following is a university or higher education course book for digital marketing including preface from the author Damian Ryan and table of contents including key features or components of digital marketing culture and practice.

Marketing strategy and management of in the digital era requires new approaches and understanding in both teaching and management.

Understanding Digital Marketing – Damian Ryan (Image copyright LinkedIn/Kogan Page)

Top down traditional marketing precludes synchronous feedback with horizontal and bottom-up communication as central to digital marketing strategy of systems via social media carrying WOM word of mouth of authentic messages that cannot be controlled by marketing ‘commissioners’.

First some quotes:

We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. (Marshall McLuhan)

The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Whoever, or whatever, wins the battle for people’s minds will rule, because mighty, rigid apparatuses will not be a match, in any reasonable timespan, for the minds mobilized around the power of flexible, alternative networks. (Manuel Castells, author of The Network Society)

 

Preface: Welcome to a brave new world

The world of digital media is changing at a phenomenal pace. Its constantly evolving technologies, and the way people are using them, are transforming not just how we access our information, but how we interact and communicate with one another on a global scale. It’s also changing the way we choose and buy our products and services.

People are embracing digital technology to communicate in ways that would have been inconceivable just a few short years ago. Digital technologies are no longer the preserve of tech-savvy early adopters, and today ordinary people are integrating them seamlessly into their everyday lives. From SMS updates on their favourite sports teams, to a free video call with relatives on the other side of the globe, to collaborative online gaming and much, much more: ordinary people – your customers – are starting to use digital media without giving it a second thought.

The global online population was around 1.3 billion at the end of 2007. Projections suggest that figure will hit 1.8 billion by 2010. In the developed world internet access is becoming practically ubiquitous, and the widespread availability of always-on broadband connections means that people are now going online daily to do everything from checking their bank statement, to shopping for their groceries, to playing games.

What makes this digital revolution so exciting is that it’s happening right now. We’re living through it, and we have a unique opportunity to jump in and be part of this historical transition.

In the pages that follow we’ll take you on a journey into the world of digital marketing. We’ll show you how it all started, how it got to where it is today, and where thought leaders in the industry believe it’s heading in the future. Most importantly of all we’ll show you – in a practical, no nonsense way – how you can harness the burgeoning power of digital media to drive your business to the crest of this digital marketing wave, and how to keep it there.

This digital marketing book will:

  • help you and your business to choose online advertising and marketing channels that will get your ideas, products and services to a massive and ever-expanding market;
  • give you that elusive competitive edge that will keep you ahead of the pack;
  • future-proof your business by helping you to understand the origins of digital marketing and the trends that are shaping its future;
  • give you a concept of the scale of the online marketplace, the unfolding opportunities and the digital service providers who will help your business to capitalise on them;
  • provide practical, real-world examples of digital marketing successes – including leading brands that have become household names in a relatively short space of time;
  • offer insight through interviews, analysis and contributions from digital marketing experts;
  • ultimately, give you the tools you need to harness the power of the internet to take your business wherever you want it to go.

 

We set out to unravel the mysteries of digital marketing by taking you on a journey. As we travel into this digital world we’ll reveal how leading marketers in sectors as diverse as travel, retail, gambling and adult entertainment have stumbled on incredibly effective techniques to turn people on to doing business online, reaping literally millions as a result. We’ll show you how to apply their experience to transform your own digital enterprise.

Whether you are looking to start up your own home-based internet business, work for a large multinational or are anywhere in between, if you want to connect with your customers today and into the future, you’re going to need digital channels as part of your marketing mix. The internet has become the medium of choice for a generation of consumers: the first generation to have grown up taking instant access to digital information for granted. This generation integrates digital media into every facet of its daily lives, in ways we could never have conceived of in even the recent past. Today this generation of digital natives is entering the workplace and is spending like never before. This is the mass market of tomorrow, and for business people and marketers the challenge is to become fluent in this new digital language so that we can talk effectively to our target audience.

Television froze a generation of consumers to the couch for years; now digital media are engaging consumers and customers in ways that the early architects of the technology could never have dreamed of.

When the Apple Mac came along it opened up the art of publishing, and as a result print media boomed. Today, the same thing is happening online, through the phenomenon of user-generated content (UGC) and social networking: ordinary people are becoming the directors, producers, editors and distributors of their own media-rich content – the content they, their friends and the world want to see. But that’s only the start. Prime-time television audiences are falling, print media are coming under increasing pressure to address dropping circulation figures and – while the old school sits on the sidelines, bloated and slowly atrophying – digital media have transformed themselves into a finely tuned engine delivering more power, opportunity and control than any other form of media could dream of. In other words – it’s time to follow the smart money!

Over the last 15 years I’ve had the absolute pleasure and pain of working at the coalface of the burgeoning and insistent new media. I’ve met lots of smart people and spoken to literally hundreds of organisations with massively diverse and challenging agendas. The one common factor was a hunger for data and knowledge: anything that would give their particular brand that elusive competitive edge.

When putting this book together we wanted to make it as informative and practical as possible. Each chapter begins with a summary of its content, so you can easily browse through the chapters and select the one that addresses the topic you’re interested in. We’ve purposely left out the jargon – and where technical terms have been absolutely necessary we supply a clear definition in the text, backed up by a complete glossary at the back of the book that explains all of the terms we use in plain English. The result, we hope, is a book that is clear, informative and entertaining, even for the complete digital novice.

In your hands you hold what independent marketers around the world have been crying out for: a book that shows you how to use the internet successfully to sell your products or services. We begin with the origins of the medium and take you through the various disciplines of digital marketing campaigns. We travel around the world collecting facts, figures, comment and opinion from acknowledged experts, brands and organisations in different fields, getting them to spill the beans on how the net delivered the goods for them.

We’ll look in detail at areas like search marketing and affiliate marketing, we’ll delve into e-mail marketing and creative online executions and look at various digital marketing strategies, some moral, some less so.

In Amsterdam last year, I was granted a late-night audience with some of the best ‘Black Hat’ marketers in the world. These people, who will remain nameless, earn their living scuppering the efforts of competing brands in the digital marketplace. Black Hat marketing is real – and it can do real damage to your business. We explain what it is and, more importantly, give you some practical steps you can take to help protect your business against it.

It took television 22 years to reach 50 million households – it took the internet just five to achieve the same level of penetration. Things are progressing at an unbelievable rate, and we’re approaching a pivotal point in marketing history – a time when digital marketing will overtake traditional mass media as the medium of choice for reaching the consumer of tomorrow.

In the summer of 1993 I interviewed Jerry Reitman, head of direct marketing for Leo Burnett in Chicago, for my magazine goDirect. During our conversation Jerry pointed at the computer on his desk and said: ‘And that. . . that’s where it’s going.’ I wondered what he was talking about.

Fifteen years on and practically the entire population is online. Consumers have grown tired of mass media marketing and are turning instead to the internet. They want more engagement, more interaction. They’re starting to spend most of their leisure time in a digital world, and creative digital marketing is the way your business will reach them. Welcome to my world. . . Damian Ryan

Table of contents

  1. Going digital – the evolution of marketing
    2. Strategic thinking
    3. Your window to the digital world
    4. The search for success
    5. Website intelligence and return on investment
    6. E-mail marketing
    7. Social media and online consumer engagement
    8. Online PR and reputation management
    9. Affiliate marketing and strategic partnerships
    10. Digital media creative
    11. A lot to look forward to
  • The future’s bright: head towards the light
  • Word of mouth: savvy consumers control the future
  • Search: a constantly evolving marketing powerhouse
  • Mobile: marketing on the move
  • Tracking and measuring human behaviour In-game advertising
  • Holistic marketing: blurring lines and integrating media
  • Dynamic, unpredictable, exciting – and essential

 

For more articles about digital marketing lecturing and the teaching of the same, click through.

 

Marketing Strategy – 4Ps – 7Ps – 4Cs

The Marketing Mix 4P’s and 7P’s Explained

The advent of significant service sectors and digital marketing and communications, have changed both marketing strategy and dynamics of business in reaching consumers.

From the Marketing Mix (2018):

‘Before we go into all the elements of the marketing mix, and to avoid confusion between the 4p’s, 7p’s and even the 4c’s – you should pay attention at the image below to understand what makes up the entire marketing mix.

4Ps 7Ps and 4Cs in marketing strategy and digital world.

4Ps or 7Ps in Marketing? (Image copyright MarketingMix 2018)

The image above is a simplistic diagram of the elements that are included in a marketing mix.

It is a basic concept, but here’s the cold hard truth…

If you don’t understand it in detail or at all, then there is a fairly certain chance that you are missing out on the key ingredients that will ensure scalable success from the ground up.

It has been said many, MANY times in business that if you don’t know your target market well enough and figured out what they exactly want, you’ll commit entrepreneurial suicide and the business will inevitably fail.

On the other hand, you can be sure to attract mountains of profits when you have a deep understanding of these concepts. Understand this fully and you will know exactly how to maximize profits on your own sustainable business or help become a valuable asset within your company and gain endless promotions.

Sadly, for many existing marketers and aspiring marketers, this concept is glossed over as “everyone seems to know what it is” and is disregarded as basic knowledge. But do you really know what it is? Let’s find out.

Now, what is a marketing mix, exactly?

 

  • Marketing Mix 4P’s Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

  • Marketing Mix 7P’s People, Process and Physical Evidence.

  • Marketing Mix 4C’s Customer Value, Cost, Convenience and Communication.’

 

Of the above key changes have occurred in how ‘people’ ‘communicate’ in a digital environment carrying word of mouth WOM quickly and broadly to attain value from trusted sources, in other words out of the control of conventional marketing.

 

Reference:

Marketing Mix 2018, The marketing mix 4P’s and 7P’s explained, viewed 17 July 2018, < http://www.marketingmix.co.uk >