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Disclaimer and Disclosure

Disclosure Statement

I pay for the blog. Yes, there are ‘buttons’ for donations on the blog (sometimes), but I don’t think any of us believe anyone will ever click on them. In fact, they were placed there as examples for students. So, if they are not there now – I’ve already shown them to the students. I want them to know the ‘simple’ processes that they can use to empower non-profits / clients in their efforts to solicit donations / payments online.

I have affiliations with Auburn University in Alabama, Alabama Easter Seals and a few other non-profit organizations. I volunteer for the non-profits. I am an unashamed advocate for people with disabilities and their abilities. For instance, have you ever heard of ‘Camp ASCCA‘?

You should realize, from the beginning, that this blog is intended as an example. It will contain a wide variety of links to PR, marketing, advertising, journalism, CMS and many other topics.

Disclaimer Statement

The blog, in no way, is intended to represent the views of my employer and associates. I don’t even agree with some of the examples I post in here. It is a blog. It is a CMS. That is all.

Opinions: The commentary contained in this site is solely my personal opinion. It is a snapshot in time. I reserve the right to change my mind. Opinions change. Posts from the past should not be construed to reflect my present opinions.

Comments: You are invited, and encouraged, to post your comments in my blog. I reserve the right to delete any comments that are spam, vulgar, abusive and/or express any racial/ethnic/gender/religious bias. Offensive comments will not be tolerated. There may be other examples, too. Please, just play nice and be respectful of others. Fortunately, I have not had any experience with any of those offending examples, to date. Well, except spam, of course.

Email: I reserve the right to post the contents of any email received in reference to this site and to identify the sender.

Fair Use

Fair Use. This blog is a collection of commentary employing criticism, parody and/or teaching on a selection of PR/Marcom examples, related topics and references for my students. This blog is a teaching tool/tactic. For information on Fair Use, visit CETUS: “Fair Use and Higher Education: A Statement of Principle“.

Also, for examples of the four elements of “Fair Use” visit Bloggers Beware: Debunking Eight Copyright Myths of the Online World, By Kathy Biehl. Thanks to Shel Holtz and Trevor Cook for the link.

Anyone with any questions, or concerns, about the content contained in this blog should write to me using this link. I do not seek to offend or misuse anyone’s material. Any offense I may commit is unintentional and will be addressed quickly.

More Background Info … A Bit Out-dated

[Updated & Revised: 02/05/2007]
About The Blog

I am Robert French. I teach public relations and multimedia at Auburn University in Alabama.

My target audience: college students. Specifically my college students.

I will edit, alter, update and change the blog – and all the postings within it – at any time in order to keep it as accurate, fair and correct as I can. My sole objective is to serve my students with the best information I can collect. Everyone else, you’re on your own. ;) Thank you for visiting.

This blog might seem more like a ‘Furl’ page, or a clippings folder, to some of you. Well, it is. I occasionally write about PR topics, too. But, this blog is aimed at my students and providing them with suggested readings on current topics of interest.

E-mail.

My background is varied:

    public relations for non-profit organizations, student affairs/student activities, public relations, marketing, special event production for two universities, radio and television production, and public speaking. In my public relations work, I have managed million dollar budgets, produced events valued at up to $500K all the way down to feebies. All involve public relations activities.

I started this blog, initially, in preparation for a class in Fall, 2004. I am continuing the use of blogs/CMS in subsequent classes. My students will be creating, and working with, blogs, wikis and portal sites. They will set up opensource CMS* packages to familiarize themselves with the process. Opensource is free. It may be used by business, non-profits, government and other organizations. (*CMS is content management system.)


The following is for my students. You are welcome to read on, too.

What Will The Blog Contain (Note: Some links are dead. I put up CMS platforms and take them down when I’m done playing with them.)

The following posts will be a combination of (a) sites of interest to our class projects and (b) just random ‘blog’ posts which (I hope) reflect the various types of blogs seen on the internet.

OK, that is the brief history. If you are still interested in what we are doing, or if you are one of those uninitiated to CMS, please read on for more.

CMS has become so popular in public relations, broadcasting, business and journalism that I feel it is important for students to understand how it works. This includes [a] knowing what software/scripts are available, [b] how it works and [c] how you can use the power of these publishing tools to benefit your campaigns, projects and business.

Please forgive my awkward and long ‘blogroll’ on the left/right (I change the theme/style often, so it may be on either side).

Students! These lists are for you. Use them as a ‘launching point’ to go off and discover your own favorite blogs.

Now, to the fun part

(Note: This list is old, but I’m leaving it here for the sake of an archive.) Suprisingly, setting up a CMS site is the easy part. Honest, it can be done in as little as 5 minutes, or with the more awkward systems – maybe 30 minutes.

The CMS software/script sites hosted here now are:

- SiteWorksPro 5.0 – Portal [Commercial]

- e107 (Version v0.614 ) – Portal with Forums [Opensource – Free]

- Mambo ( 4.5 Stable-1.0.8 ) – Portal with Forums [Opensource – Free]

- Mambo (4.5.1 Beta.) – Portal with Forums [Opensource – Free]

- Serendipity (0.6-pl3) – Blog [Opensource – Free]

- WordPress (1.2 Free) – Blog [Opensource – Free]
WordPress, formerly ‘b2/cafelog’, is the grandaddy of easy installations.

- pMachine (2.3 Free) – Blog [Opensource – Free]
‘pMachine free‘ is the free version of a popular commercial blog script

- Segue (v.1.0.6) – eLearning (similar to WebCT) [Opensource – Free]

- XMB (1.8 Partagium Final) – Forums [Opensource – Free]

- e107 (Version v0.616) [Opensource – Free]
—- This is a separate part of my account – another domain name – and it is for the Alabama Special Olympics.

In class, we will use the following CMS (PHP/mySQL) packages:

- WordPress blog

- e107 portal

- Mambo portal

e107 and Mambo are:

…commonly referred to as simply a portal: a Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience. By the way, CMS like our blogs are ‘loved’ by search engines. They create simple URLs and are frequently updated. Search engines, like Google.com, just love these things and you’ll notice a lot of ‘blogs’ and ‘CMS’ portals doing quite well in search rankings. (From webopedia.com. Several other definitions are available here, at Google.com.)

PHP/mySQL are the ‘scripts’ which power the sites.

Don’t worry. You really don’t have to know anything about either to set up one of these sites. Honestly, the only things you have to know are: File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – or ‘how to upload files from your computer to a web server’, Telnet (sending commands via a small application to that web server), and how to type on a keyboard. I should point out that on most servers, you will not have to know the telnet functions. We will use telnet because our university does not offer an online mySQL management function, such as phpMyAdmin. You will find that most hosting providers do offer some sort of browser-based control panel for these functions. More on that in class.

The scary thing about this whole process is, you really only have to know the first two of those for about 5 to 30 minutes during the setup process. The rest is just like filling in an e-mail using TigerMail. The administration of the sites is really that easy.

Now, I have told you that this process will take only 5 to 30 minutes. Well, that’s if you are doing it alone. Since we will be doing this in class, I imagine it will take the whole class period. I’ll cross my fingers and pray that all students go slow, listen to instructions, read the instructions and don’t ‘work ahead’ of me. That is when problems usually tend to arise.

Also, as you will see, there is some advance prep work that needs to be done. You need to obtain hosting space on a web server (with the appropriate PHP/mySQL software installed), or run it off your own desktop computer. The latter may only be done if (a) you have a service provider that gives you a ‘static’ IP address and (b) you are willing to run Apache/mySQL/PHP on your desktop. Apache is the server software. There are free opensouce options like Wamp5 (also available here – e107help.com) and easyPHP, which we will discuss.

If you want to obtain a ‘domain’, such as my AuburnMedia.com, that will require about 5 minutes to obtain and 1 week, or more, for it to show up in the domain registry. We are fortunate that students at our university receive server space (40mb) and have access to PHP/mySQL. For instance, you may request your own mySQL database account. So, we do not have to acquire any hosting for this project.

Everything we will use is ‘free’. Meaning, there will not be any monetary costs, but you will see that ‘sweat equity’ (time in populating the site with content) is going to be your ‘expense’ or ‘cost’. Take it from Mark Cuban, millionaire/billionaire? entrepreneur, Rules of Success. #1: Sweat Equity is the best equity!

Yes, maintaining one of the portal/blog sites can get more difficult (and cost money) if you want to ‘hack’ and broaden the power of these sites, but that isn’t necessary. And, you really do not have to know what PHP and mySQL are.

I still want you to know what PHP and mySQL are. You knew that was coming, didn’t you. So, we will talk about it in class.


I think you’ll be surprised at the ease with which this is all accomplished.

This will be useful and, when you realize just how easy it is. The fact that you did it will also make the experience fun and rewarding.

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