Archive for November, 2007
November 29th, 2007
The PR industry has taken another bashing over the past couple of days for failing to embrace and understand social media as they should. If you’ve missed out on the conversations, it’s worth reading Will McInnes’ post “World has changed: PR agencies haven’t“, and Antony Mayfield’s follow-up post “Can PR evolve quickly enough?”.
Although Will makes the very valid point that “PR will NOT die at an industry level”, he insinuates that most PRs are in danger of being usurped by other agencies or disciplines, who have a better understanding of social networks.
And this is where I strongly beg to differ.
Expert PR thinking will always be at the strategic heart of any ‘PR’ campaign, and so long as we are always focused on being up-to-date in our approach and techniques, we will never be pushed out. The definition of ‘PR’ is on the very cusp of being radically overhauled, but our expertise and understanding of the media will never become redundant.
I am the first to admit that many PR agencies are taking too long over adapting and embracing the media climate that’s evolving so rapidly, but they shouldn’t feel bullied into having to becoming social media experts and having all the answers to hand. Their current PR expertise will be the only foundations and knowledge that they need to build on.
A great analogy to reference at this point is the publishing industry’s evolution from print to online. Ten years ago I got my first job at Ziff Davis, which coincided with the launch of its first two internet divisions – Gamespot and ZDNet. These websites were set up by traditional publishers and run by print journalists and editors – none had any prior knowledge of the Internet. To look back now it’s easy to see that we didn’t have a clue what we were doing, but we believed in the Internet and knew it was the right thing to be doing, and so just went for it! I don’t need to tell you how successful ZDNet and Gamespot are today.
My point is that we didn’t waste our time debating about how we should embrace the Internet, and who was best placed to succeed at it, or how we’d all lose our professions if we didn’t…we just did it, and learnt as we went along. As a result I’ve now been working in the digital industry for the whole of my career – I owe a lot to t’Internet!
So at the end of the day, us PRs are still the best people to do the job!
November 28th, 2007
For those who haven’t yet picked up on this shocking media story…Heat magazine is this week giving away free stickers – one of which includes a photo of Katie Price’s (aka Jordan) disabled five-year old son Harvey with the slogan:
“Harvey wants to eat me”.
The fattist humour is completely lost on me – does anyone get it?!
The magazine’s editor, Mark Frith, has apologised saying: “No offence was intended, but if any was caused we would like to apologise.”
I deeply hope this isn’t going to be his only effort to manage the crisis situation his magazine has caused.
November 26th, 2007
I had to do a double take on this story when I was reviewing my feeds this evening as it seemed quite low key, but if I’m reading it right this has the potential to be massive for digital content producers.
According to Leigh Holmwood at MediaGuardian, Pact’s (Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television) interactive rights framework has been agreed by the BBC, meaning producers retain ownership of the IP rights to their content for the first time.
This deal, which was previewed by NMA last week, puts interactive content owners and producers inline with their counterparts in the TV industry and could be the catalyst for huge growth in the sector.
Assuming other major broadcasters follow suit and offer similar deals, digital content producers will now have the flexibility, recognition and opportunity that has previously been held back from them.
The interactive content sector is made up of a number of smaller but pioneering producers and this agreement could be a real boost and just reward for their creativity.
November 22nd, 2007
It’s a great first attempt at integrating digital-focused editorial with interactive content. For a magazine that pitches itself as being at the forefront of digital marketing, this is definitely a step in the right direction.
NMA has great journalists on staff, and is well-respected by the industry…but that won’t be enough to carry it through the social media era. My RSS feeds are full of expert digital commentators and bloggers, and for NMA to keep its head above the rest of the crowd, it’s increasingly going to have to find more ways of engaging with its audience online.
So big thumbs up to NMA!
As a funny aside, just as I was about to click ‘publish’, I received an email from NMA saying its advertising rates are due to rise in 2008. Great timing Centaur!
November 22nd, 2007
Check out this hilarious Frank Sinatra take on social media.
Just remember, 10,000 friends ain’t no rat pack!
November 21st, 2007
I stopped in at the NMK Beers and Innovation: â€˜Clients in the wildâ€™ event last night and it was certainly an enlightening evening for a number of reasons. Ian Delaney and the NMK team put on an interesting panel discussion, featuring: Will McInnes, co-founder Nixon McInnes, Sarah Ogden, MD Midnight Communications and Drew Benvie from Hotwire, who all waxed lyrical about social media, or blogging in the main.
There were some pressing questions put to the panel by the great and good of the PR industry that were in attendance, including asking how the panel would have handled the Northern Rock crisis and Facebookâ€™s recent targeted ad launch.
Overall I felt the crowd were quite guarded, me included, either because they we not confident on the subject, or probably because they were surrounded by their competitors. This is an all too familiar problem in the PR industry and the issue seemed to surprise the non-PR panelist, Will McInnes, who had kicked-off by asking who among the PR attendees could measure the results of their campaigns, to which he was greeted by a deafening silence.
Will made a number of good points, but the one that stuck in my mind was his analogy relating PR to the web, confirming PR cannot continue operating in a web 2.0 environment with a web 1.0 approach. For me this encapsulated the most poignant issue that we as PRs face in a social web environment.
The PR profession as a whole is guilty, to some degree or other, of trying to place the social web into a nice little â€˜channelâ€™ box. We continue to apply traditional rules of control to a long since departed way of communicating. On last nightâ€™s evidence it seems weâ€™re all still struggling with the concept that communications is going through its most rapid stage of development to date, let alone devising new strategies to cater for it.
Of course there are exceptions, and some of the leading lights that attended last night certainly added to the discussion with examples of their own insight. However, I noted that much of the discussion was based around tactics â€“ I.e. blogging, rather than a strategic conversation based on communicating in the current environment, which would have been more revealing.
At the end of the day, I think NMK did a great job to pull the PR crowd together and this shows there is an appetite to learn, which was the main point of the event after all.
November 15th, 2007
I worked for teenage virtual world Habbo Hotel in its early start-up days, and was fascinated to read this morning that police in the Netherlands have arrested a 17 year-old suspected of stealing virtual objects from other Habbos.
It is believed to be the first time European officers have arrested someone for stealing virtual property. According to reports, five other teenagers are also being questioned over the theft, which is thought to have netted items worth around â‚¬4,000 (Â£2,800).
Hackers and thiefs (known as scammers) have been an ongoing problem for Habbo Hotel, and the community’s success has to a large extent rested on its ability to both technically and manually deal with these trouble makers.
Sulake, the Finnish company behind Habbo Hotel, has always taken a firm approach to anyone trying to damage the user experience, as for one, its community is largely made-up of children and teens. But it amazes me that it’s taken more than five years for Europen police to come up to speed on dealing with an issue like this. Virtual property laws in the UK have to date been largely untested (well as far as I’m aware).
As the internet infiltrates more and more of our daily lives, it’s crucial that offline laws are equally as applicable online. Let’s hope the Habbo example goes down in case history.
P.S. The image at the top is my old room in Habbo Hotel ‘newsbox’!
November 9th, 2007
Two interesting blogging-related surveys caught our attention at Liberate Media this week, firstly, Garlik – a company that advises people on how to protect personal information on the internet, announced that the UK has a blogging community of four million, or 15 per cent of the UK’s 26 million web population. And before you ask: ‘Yeah, but how many of those are active bloggers?’ According to the survey, almost one in five are blogging at least once a day.
The Guardian has the full story.
November 6th, 2007
Let’s face it, it’s a job many would prefer to avoid. PR pitches or annual reviews frequently run without a clearly defined brief, but for many reasons this is a missed opportunity, and something that we should be looking to improveÂ on as anÂ industry.
In addition, asÂ digital communications become more and more converged, providing a clear brief to all ofÂ your agenciesÂ will be crucial to ensuring a joined-up communications strategy for your organisation/brand.
So here are my top five tips for writing a good PR brief:
1. Be honest – this may seem like an obvious point, but sometimes it’s the hardest part of writing a brief. Companies are often worried about divulging too much information to a PR consultancy in the early stages, but it’s crucial that you do. Ask for an NDA to be signed if it makes you feel more comfortable. It’s important the the brief explains your companies strengths as well as weaknesses, and enables the agency to get under the skin of your business.
2. Clearly define the bigger picture – don’t just include pieces to a puzzle in your brief – be open about what the overall picture is. We’re not mind readers, and we’ll do a better job for your business if we understand what your ultimate business goals are! This point is key to the digital media sector, where evolution is the name of the game.
3. Be open about money – this is always a sensitive discussion point, but it shouldn’t be. The best pitchesÂ take into account the budget the company has available. It makes everyone’s lives a lot easier if you can be upfront about the level of resource that you plan to allocate.
4. Share your experiences and expectationsÂ - don’t make the pitch process a guessing game. If you’ve learnt valuable lessons from previous PR experience, share that intelligence. There’s no point in starting from scratch for the sake of it.
5. OutlineÂ marketing/sales strategiesÂ - it still amazes me how many companies keep their communications strands separate. If you want a truly joined up campaign, and maximum ROI, be clear in your brief about what your current marketing/sales strategies are for 2008.
And finally, be BRIEF! Keep it short and sweet – bullet points are my favourite. This doesn’t need to be an epic, so don’t feel you need to write 20 pages.
If you have any helpful tips to add to these, please do!
November 2nd, 2007
The OpenSocial network already includes Friendster, Hi5, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Ning and the blogging network SixApart, as well as the software makersÂ Oracle and SalesForce.com. ItÂ gives developersÂ access toÂ a standard software kit that will allow their applications such as games, video players and photo albums to work across multiple social networks.
Google says it has invited other social networks, including Facebook, to participate in the spirit of openness.
Facebook showed the way forward by opening up part of its code toÂ encourage the multitude of applications that are evident on its network today.Â It has replied by saying that Facebook will respond to Google’s invitation once it has had a chance to evaluate the OpenSocial network.
I think it’s safe to say that beyond ‘openness’ -OpenSocial represents Google’s ambition toÂ sell more advertising on participating sites, similar to the $900 million advertising partnership it already has withÂ MySpace.
MicrosoftÂ tookÂ a small but expensive stake in Facebook to secure ad rightsÂ just last week, but if OpenSocial is successful, Google could really mop up the ad opportunities in social networks. Furthermore, if Facebook does decide to join the OpenSocial movement, it could set up a battle of the heavyweights with Microsoft and Google rubbing noses on Facebook.
Whatever the motive, Facebook are still sitting pretty, enjoying being courted by the big boys.
TheÂ BBC has the full story.