Archive for December, 2008
December 23rd, 2008
So here we are again, the end of the year, well end of the working year for us at Liberate Media at least.Â Traditionally this is the time for looking back at last year’s predictions and making new predictions for the year ahead.
However, I don’t feel that next year will be a year quite like any other, so I’m going to avoid making a set of predictions as such and look at what we know.
First of all, don’t worry, this isn’t a post of doom and gloom, but allow me to set the scene before we delve deeper: Financial crisis, GDP at lowest level since 1990, recession, nearly everyone is feeling the squeeze in some way or other, in fact let’s be honest, most people just want 2009 to be over before it has already begun.
So, where does that leave us in the PR industry? Well for starters the game has changed. By game I mean whatever strategy, business plan or focus you had, will ultimately need to change to consider this new environment. No prediction there, just common sense.
Secondly, there will be casualties, agencies will make redundancies or disappear just as we have seen businesses go across the board. Clients will at least cast a close eye over PR spend and probably make reductions, and in some cases stop all together.
However, it’s not all bad, there are opportunities. Over the last month, at Liberate Media, we’ve had a large amount of new business enquires. This isn’t me shouting about how clever we are, this is simply a fact. Of those new enquires, most have been linked to social media or online methodologies in some respect. In affect, what was true prior to the crisis is true now, brands are investing in social media and progressive PR, but they are looking at it from a different perspective and in some cases this spend isn’t coming from a PR or marketing budget, it’s coming from a digital budget. There is no doubt that clients are more cautious, but the opportunity is there.
So, is this leading up to a big sales pitch for Liberate, no it’s not supposed to be. The point i’m making is simple, the PR industry was going through an evolution already, it started years before this economic crisis, but now the affects of this evolution are much more obvious.
As i said in my recent post: PR isn’t online or offline it’s through the line,Â the fundamentals of good PR are as true now as they have ever been: open and honest communications either online or offline is a simple rule to live by, where as spinning a story and talking ‘at’ audiences is a sure way to fail. The fact that an open and measureable communications model is the accepted approach online, puts the emphasis on online as the new model, but in reality the same is true offline.
So, although we will see a slow down across the board i think those that have embraced the change that PR has needed for so long, will continue to see opportunity. It’s a harsh way to look at it, but perhaps for the PR industry at least, this new environment will help to accelerate our much needed evolution.
If you’re after more predictions, allow me to point you in the direction of Stephen Waddington, who has done an excellent predictions post that I heartily agree with.
December 19th, 2008
As you will have no doubt seen by now, Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch U.S. has killed/banned/stopped, call it what you will,Â the embargo. As you can image, it’s caused a bit of a stir and many hundreds of commentsÂ including counter points, general name calling and some insightful questions/points/suggestions.
Cutting through the wittering that surrounds such, let’s be honest -Â dramatic announcements,Â I tend to agree with the main issue;Â Â that fundamentally embargoes are dead, or are at least holding on for dear life. Blame who and what you will, it doesn’t really matter, there won’t be an agreement from all sides.
The fundamental point is thatÂ news is live,Â so if you’re trying to halt the flow of news or communicationsÂ to favour one outlet or another, ultimately the environment has changed so much that it simply isn’t going to happen consistently. But, if you are successful in this endeavour now, it’s going to get harder and harder, so let’s all just move on sooner rather than later and reduce the pain endured by all.
So, a few requests: to the media thatÂ ask forÂ exclusive stories only, clients that want stories in specific ‘favoured’Â titles as well as going out to all,Â and PRs that pile on the embargo pressure or don’t stand up to one or the other and say ‘it’s not possible!’, stop. Do now what’s going to have to happen anyway, and move onto trying to embrace the wonderfully open news environment that we find ourselves in, rather than trying to cling onto the past.
December 19th, 2008
Hi all, back again with a pre Christmas round-up of five fabulous Web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
Just to let you know, there will be no round-up on the 26th as I will have eaten too many Christmas treats and become too bloated to type! – back again the following Friday with a New Year special.
1. A little bit of fun to start with:) I’m in with like you. â€œWhy hang out with your friends in person when you can do it on the internet? No need to wear clothes that way. Seriously, this is bigger than Jesus and wrestling put together.â€
This is a really great flash site with the aim of making friends whilst playing against them over a series of fun individual games.
2. This next one is touted is an Opinion search, it is called OpThink. Simply type in the electronic product you want to find reviews for and off it goes, you end up with a list of search results.
3. I’m a big fan of Computer and video games so this next one is right up my street, it’s called dawdle – it’s a marketplace for buying and selling used video games, consoles and accessories.
4. Radio Beta . Yes people do still listen to radio, and if you need to try this site out! You can search stations by genre, location, tags, or geography. Radio Beta offers a nice clean interface with some decent options.
5. Finally today is Yonkly a site you can go to and create your own Microblog network. Features include:
- Monetize through Ads
- White label solution
- Use your own domain
- Advanced Control Panel
- Make it unique with your own skin
- Threaded conversations
- Picture sharing
- Background Picture
- Search friends and messages
- Advanced user interface
- Widgets-enabled sidebar
December 18th, 2008
At Liberate Media we’re always eager toÂ share research or nuggets of information that we discover on a daily basis. In the interest ofÂ continuing this theme, we’ve just published a case study on a campaign that we’ve been working on over the last two years, for digital marketing agency iCrossing.
The case study offers a brief overview of the campaign that we developed following Spannerworks’ acquisition by iCrossing in early 2007, and the subsequentÂ activity to drive iCrossing’s awareness in the UK.
We hope you find the case study of interest, and if you would like toÂ find out further information on the online and offline PR services that we offer at Liberate Media, please get in touch.
December 17th, 2008
After a hard week there is nothing better than a relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, last weekend was not asÂ relaxing as I had anticipated, as I was still very much at my desk, head downÂ and working hard. While checking my Twitter feeds I was surprised byÂ the lack ofÂ tweets from theÂ usual suspects, andÂ this got me thinking, is Twitter just a week day tool?
I did a little reseach into some brands and high profile Twitter users, and came up with the following:
So, as you can see from this very, veryÂ brief snapshot of brands and high profile users, it looks very much like Twitter is a great communications channel, but only during the week.
I guess it’s pretty obvious really, the people behind the brands are probably paid to Tweet while at work Mon-Fri and the rest of us, give or take a few, Tweet while working at our desks or via mobile devices in our variousÂ working environments. To be fair, personally, I too am a Monday to Friday man.
Just one more thing before i go,Â look again at the examples given, usage seems to peak midweekÂ and then slightly fall off towards Friday. It seems that theÂ Friday feel means less tweeting as well.
December 15th, 2008
Agree or disagree with my views…as always please let me know!
December 12th, 2008
Ok, here we go with this week’s Web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
1. I like this a lot, but it’s a shame it’s only availavble in the US. It’s called near.ly, and sends you via Twitter links to news and blog posts happening within 1000 feet of your address.
2. This next one is a mobile version of one of my personal faviourite sites of all time – Delicious. Delicious Mobile enables you to sign into your account and browse your bookmarks, tags, inbox, and other data. You can also browse popular and recent bookmarks and tags from the Delicious community.
3. ChizMax is next up. Search music by artist or song and not only do you get the video for the song but the lyrics too. Karaoke on your laptop!
4. The Shorty Awards are next. Honor the world’s top Twitterers over dozens of categories. Voting closes on December 31st.
5. Here is your bonus Christmas tool/site. The holiday toy list gives you toy ideas in age and then price categories.
See you next Friday for a pre Christmas Web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
December 10th, 2008
Social media and online PR have been the hot topics of discussion in the PR industry for some time, and the temperature is increasing as we approach 2009, which is seen by many to be the year of social media.
However, when it comes to offline or traditional PR, which is often wrongly labelled as simply media relations, the excitement dies and the level of conversation follows a similar downward spiral.
But why is this? Is traditional PR slowly dying? Are we moving online at such a rate that offline communications have become devalued? Put simply, no, that’s very far from the truth.
Don’t get me wrong, at Liberate Media we’ve been talking about the benefits and necessity of online communications since our inception, and that hasn’t changed. But neither has our vision that online and offline are in fact the mechanisms through which we deliver good PR, not the definition itself.
So what happens when we blur the lines and combine offline and online PR? “Not a lot” I hear you say, “It’s hardly a revolutionary thought”. Very true, but how many case studies are you aware of that are combining the two areas successfully via a seamless strategy? Sure, many brands engage in both online and offline PR, many via separate agencies or specialists, but the links, although evident, are rarely maximised.
Let me give you an example. There have been instances in recent new business meetings whereÂ we’ve been informed that the PR to dateÂ has been handled offline byÂ agency X and online by agency Y, and when we try to explain that Liberate Media offers a joint strategy, not one bolted onto the other, we are met with quizzical looks and a degree of disbelief.
So why is this? I think that we, the agencies, are mainly to blame. PR agencies that offer online, or social media consultancy, have usually differentiated this offering through their online or digital department/division/individual, making it appear as though they are specialists operating separately to give credence to their capabilities. Furthermore, there are also a growing number of specialists that do a great job of offering online consultancy but rarely offer traditional PR services as well.
So we’ve divided the two specialisms and that divide, we believe, should not exist. Not just because our company offers both services but because the customer journey may begin online or offline and switch between the two. So how do we engage communities effectively where ever they are, if not by meeting them of their own turf?
The simple truth is, at the moment we’re still taking a channel approach, ring-fencingÂ online away from the rest of PR.
There is no real reason why the two shouldn’t co-exist and in fact aren’t better suited to co-exist through a purpose-built strategy, not two strategies coming together and then being revised to fit.
The fundamentals of good PR work equally well online as they do offline. The rules of open and honest two-way communications aren’t particularly new, but enforcing these rules through brand communications is.
So what I am asking is for is a shift in thinking: as we evolve PR and continue to develop new campaigns that encapsulate core business objectives, please don’t compartmentalise thinking into offline or online. Simply state your objectives and look to your agency/contacts/internal PR department to develop a clear through-the-line strategy.
Let’s break free from the online vs offline thinking trap now and avoid revisiting it in a year when the dye is cast. Let’s break free from the mistakes of theÂ past, when we waited until the market as a whole was comfortable with seperate offeringsÂ before pulling together delivery. Instead, let’sÂ embrace PR in all its forms and simply develop brand communications thatÂ engage our target communities at their point of interest.
December 9th, 2008
Muxlim Pal was launched today and has been created by the Finnish-based company Muxlim.com, a social site launched two years ago and which is now claiming 1.5 unique visitors a month. Â The 3D world is an English-language environment and caters primarily to Muslims living in western countries.
The environment echoes Habbo Hotel in its isometric 3D display and in its â€œgameplayâ€ where users can create an online persona, design their own rooms, buy virtual items and interact with others.
The virtual world will be free but some premium services will be offered. New users receive virtual coins for clothing and room decoration, with options to buy virtual currency , although no exchange rates have been established.
The owner is 23-year-old Mohamed El-Fatatry, founder of Muxlim.com, the social network launched in December 2006 and now drawing 1.5 million unique visitors per month.
El-Fatatry, who moved to Finland five years ago from Dubai, was quoted tonight on the BBC: “From what we have seen from our market research, most Muslims have a lifestyle that is not so different from everybody else. They all share the core values which are from Islam, then beyond that they actually have made identities, they have many interests. We are not trying to segregate anybody; we are trying to build a platform for Muslims to have a voice and dialogue with others.”
Also in the Habbo style, a mobile virtual world that bucks the trend and is building a solid user base. Mini Friday, from Sulake, is about to hit 1 million users. It seems to echo the growth rate of its parent, Habbo Hotel – 110,000 registered users in October 2007, 300,000 in February 2008 and 500,000 in May.
Brands â€“ and trusted individuals in the brand environments â€“ can talk to their customers and clients in these worlds. But each world will seed and develop a specific form of language and conversational style, which we will all need to learn.
December 8th, 2008
Avid iPhone literary users, including Stephen Fry, should be even happier mobilistas with the launch today of Penguin 2.0, a group of services from the esteemed publisher,Â that embrace the Web 2.0 social media world by including aspects of customization, personalization, delivery to mobile phones, as well as eBooks and e-only content.
The Penguin 2.0 services (under the slogan “What’s next for text”) include Penguin Personalized, a way for customers to add personal dedication pages to digital books, and Penguin Mobile, which enables readers to receive text on iPhones and other mobile devices.
The publisher plans later phases of Penguin 2.0 that will offer community functionality and social networking. For example, next year, users will be able to create a Penguin book by putting together classic Penguin short stories, essays, and novellas. The Penguin US website will be the hub for the programme.
I wonder if we will now see other mobile-focussed publishers like HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Simon & Schuster expand their social media offerings on mobile platforms.