Archive for April, 2009
April 24th, 2009
The end of the working week in near, so as always I present my five fabulous web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
1. First off is News Trendz which gives you the low down on the latest, most talked about issues, people, events and news on the web by searching through Google and Twitter. The current top trend is 1. Susan Boyle
2. Analytics App for the iPhone provides you with Google Analytics for any account you administer. The app is very well laid out and gives you all the information you see in the web-based version. A great app!
3. Last week we featured NameChk which checks if profile names have been taken or not across social networks, news and bookmarking sites. KnowEm? does the same thing, but is slightly more visual and checks a few more accounts.
4. Social Media Metrics Plugin for Google Anayltics – this automatically pulls in social media metrics into Google Analytics’ Content Detail reports. To run it you need Firefox, and the Greasemonkey script. Check out the link to find out how to set it up.
5. Finally a little bit of fun. Cameroid lets you take crazy snaps of yourself right from your browser via a webcam. There are loads of different effects and filters to choose from to make your photo stand out.
April 22nd, 2009
The session was structured as an Oxford-style debate on the issue of ‘has the PR industry lost its capability to lead clients in a New Media Landscape?’, withÂ Roger Warner of Content and Motion and Antony Mayfield from iCrossing in the ‘yes’ camp, and Stuart Bruce of Wolfstar and James Warren of Weber Shandwick in the ‘no’ camp.Â Mike Nutley, editor-in-chief at NMA chaired the discussion.
I should also point out that a great many of the agencies that ‘get’ online PR and social media were there too. However, there was a real lack of client-side attendance, which meant there was a heavy bias towards the PR angle and argument, which was always going to win the debate in such a crowd. Please read Roger Warner’s write up for a different and more digitally-focused point of view.
As you can tell by the panel, it was a meeting of strong opinions, but i was surprised not so much by the differences discussed on the night, but more by the similarities. Obviously, the two sides had differing opinions on many of the issues, but overall I felt the vision for the future of online PR, digital communications, call it what you will, were similar. Let me make it clear that both sides made a good argument for digital or PR to lead clients in a New Media Landscape, but what i took from it was that it will in fact be a mixture of skills coming from both sides that will win out, something that i totally agree with.
For exampIe, I agree with the ‘yes’ debaters that you need specific skill sets in an online environment, and that not all PRs have this, but I also agree with the ‘no’ side that the art of communications, not the way in which we reach our audience, is the key factor.
From a personal point of view, i also found it difficult to choose a side. I come from a traditional PR background, but what we’ve been trying to do with Liberate Media over the last three years is very far from traditional. We are part of a newer breed of PR agencies that are trying to break free from the shackles of traditional agencies in terms of our set up, approach and skill sets. So from that point I agree traditional agencies cannot lead unless they bite the bullet and evolve. But from a communications stand point, i also believe this blend of skills, be it PR, digital or journalism will be the future not either – or.
This part of the debate was also flavoured with the point that PR has become media relations in many cases, and this is why digital must lead as media relations alone is not relevant. This has been an issue, but taking the PR panel members as an example, it’s certainly not true in their cases, and i would argue to a greater degree that more of an emphasis has been put on strategy and communications development in the leading PR agencies over recent years to move away from this problem. And at the top, i don’t think this is a major issue.
So, where does that leave me? Well, if by ‘the PR industry’ you mean traditional agencies or ‘the dinosaurs that run PR who don’t get the significance of digital’, as James Warren put it, then i agree PR has already lost. But if we’re talking about the growing band of smart new agencies and the intelligent approach of the largerÂ agencies of which a few were represented last night, then no. These sorts of comms professionals know they still have a lot to learn, but they are building digital skill sets by hiring in experienced individuals or looking beyond the boundaries of what would traditionally be PR. Yes, the social media specific agencies and digital agencies have a lead in understanding the environment, but they also need to skill up in terms of comms strategy and delivery. Something that they have also been doing over the last few years.
Who will win? Well, it’s simple really, the winners will be the agencies that get this blend of skills right, be they digital or PR in original orientation.
The debate continues on Twitter: #PRDebate
April 20th, 2009
Social Media News Release (SMNR) service Pressitt today launches in public beta, following a successful month of private beta testing.
Developed by digital PR and social media consultancy Liberate Media and web development firm Best Served Cold,Â Pressitt has already been trialed by an impressive list of high-profile and challenger brands and organisations. These include Johnsonâ€™s online parenting community BabyCentre, the Governmentâ€™s Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, online music provider Napster, digital creative agency Collective, digital entertainment and internet solutions firm iBAHN, digital engagement agency Kerb and LED lamp producer Greengage Lighting.
In just over a month, the service has already secured a Google PageRank of four, and attracted a significant level of private beta interest.
Pressitt enables PRs and businesses to create their own SMNRs (also known as a Social Media News Release) and publish to an online community of journalists, the blogosphere and the general public. A Pressitt release contains all of the core information found in a traditional press release, but it is presented in a more digestible format along with images, video clips, links to previous Pressitt announcements and other relevant online information such as homepages, social media profiles and downloadable presentations or PDFs, ensuring all story assets are saved in one central online place.
Based on early user feedback, a range of service updates will also be launching to coincide with the public beta launch. These include brand-specific RSS feeds, enabling individuals to easily keep track of Pressitt releases published by companies of interest, and a tool called PressTwitt which allows Pressitt releases to be shared via Twitter easily. Screencast videos are being developed to provide additional guidance on how best to use Pressitt, and A new homepage design is also going live in direct response to the feedback of private beta testers.
The service is currently free to use, and a premium paid-for version with enhanced functionality will go live later in the year.
Additionally, Pressitt is also unveiling a bespoke version of the service, which enables organisations to have a customised SMNR template designed to reflect the colours, style and branding of their organisation. Those wanting to take it one step further can show-off their bespoke releases in a Social Media News Room, offering a completely branded environment housing all of their corporate SMNRs. A Social Media News Room can be a part of a companyâ€™s existing website or hosted via Pressitt.
Wendy McAuliffe, director of Liberate Media and Pressitt, says: â€œThe private beta phase has been incredibly successful, and weâ€™re delighted to be coming out of it after just one month of testing. The Social Media News Release has been a hot topic within the global PR industry for a while, and weâ€™re pleased to see that businesses and brands of all sizes are eager to trial this up-to-date press release format. Early user feedback has been constructive and encouraging, and weâ€™re making service updates as quickly as possible to ensure weâ€™re continually innovating and responding to the needs of our users.â€
Greg Doone, managing director of Collective, adds: â€œWeâ€™re proud to have been one of the first organisations to trial Pressitt, as weâ€™re keen for our company news to be as â€˜socialâ€™ and shareable as possible. We develop a wide range of multimedia assets for high profile brands such as Honda and EA, and Pressitt provides us with the perfect environment to showcase these to our blogger and journalist targets in one central online location.â€
Please see latest news from Social Media News Release service Pressitt below:
April 17th, 2009
The digital marketing trade press has embraced blogging to varying degrees. While Haymarket has recently relaunched many of its magazine websites and simultaneously stepped-up the intensity of its blogging, other publishing houses are yet to rollout blogs for their flagship titles. Magazines such as NMA and Marketing Week, for example, are still without blogs.
What’s apparent is that some trade publishers have been nervous about blog content undermining the value of their magazine and online editorial, often failing to grasp where blogging can add value.
Having been following the progress of the Haymarket blogs and watching what other trade publishers are doing, as well as discussing the practicalities of blogging with journalists in our sector, I thought it might be helpful to offer some insight into some of the shared concerns, and for what it’s worth, my views on how these problems can be addressed…
* New demands for journalists to produce magazine and online content are high enough. Adding blogging to the list will lead to poorer quality of writing and less time for investigative reporting – this is a genuine concern that is shared by every trade editor I speak to, and journalists are similarly reluctant to take on extra writing responsibilities. Compile this with the recent redundancies that have taken place across most trade media, and the average journalist is over-worked and over-stressed.
However, this line of argument is missing the point about the role blogging plays in news consumption, and failing to acknowledge what magazine audiences want nowadays. Blog content can be equally as important as magazine coverage, if not more. Now is the time for publishers to be re-evaluating their content priorities.
* If content is now being broken online and followed-up in the magazine, what can we write about in a blog?- every new blogger worries about finding subject matter to write about, but journalists shouldn’t really have this problem! As a former trade journalist I know so many stories never make it into the magazine, or you have fascinating conversations with contacts that you wish you could do something with editorially. A magazine blog can be the perfect place to write about titbits of information that might otherwise get lost, or to start debate on subjects that you might feel passionate about. Although magazine editorial guidelines will most likely still need to be adhered to, the blog should be a place where journalists can publish independently and have a bit more freedom with subject matter.
* Blogging just doesn’t draw in the level of traffic that we’d like -magazines that have tested the water with blogging, but not dived in wholeheartedly, often cite this as a reason for delaying the launch of a proper blog. There can be many reasons for a magazine blog not taking off properly, but frequently the reasons are that the blog is hidden away on the website and not signposted clearly enough, that content is not interesting or updated frequently enough, and that measures have not been put in place to share the content socially or allow for comment and conversation.
* There’s no budget for professional blog set-up or consultancy, so we’re looking into it ourselves – it’s clear that times are tough for the trade publishing industry, and having worked on a trade magazine, I know what a battle it can be to make money available for these sort of projects. I would argue that this is a sign of a blog not being given the priority it should be, but that isn’t offering a useful solution to the problem.
Launching a magazine blog is a serious business (well it should be) and it’s important to bring in experts who know what they’re doing. It’s crucial that you have advice on the platform you’re going to use, as well as how it’s going to be designed and optimised etc. Particularly within the digital marketing industry, I’m sure there are companies out there who would be willing to advise the likes of NMA etc on a blog strategy for free. Now is a time to make the most of your contacts!
* We’ve already added ‘comments’ to our stories, so why do we need to blog? -this is probably the lamest excuse that I’ve heard for not blogging, but it’s come up a lot in conversations that I’ve had! If you’re a reader of sites such as NMA.co.uk and Revolutionmagazine.com etc, you’ll know that stories very rarely receive comments. Ticking this box is not a reason to delay launching a blog.
April 17th, 2009
Hi all, after a two week absence I’m back with five fabulous web 2.0 tools and sites of the week.
1. Top Twitter friends helps you to visualise the people that you talk to most often, and what your Twitter social network looks like.
2. Chat Chatcher is a WordPress plugin that monitors comments for your blog posts. These are then posted on your blog.
3. Who is ranking is a quick and dirty way to see which sites rank highest for certain keywords in searches at Google, MSN, and Yahoo.
5. NameChk as the name suggests, checks names. It checks usernames that are still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites.
April 9th, 2009
Lots of news at the moment about traditional newspapers and magazines going bust, tightening their belts and generally finding ways to cut costs.
After a recent conversation with the editor of a well-known trade magazine within the media and marketing sector, it is apparent that online is finally as high up on the priority list as offline magazines. Journalists are now being asked to function across both medias, which is increasing their workloads and meaning less time for investigative journalism.
Here is some information on the rise of online news sources for five well-known trade publications within our sector:
The graphs below show unique visitors to the various websites from Google Trends and Compete.
The majority of sites have seen a definite rise in traffic and visitors, probably due to the fact that news stories are now being broken on the web before appearing in the magazine. Additionally some sites have undergone a relaunch in recent months – the spike in March’s traffic to the Revolution website can be undoubtedly attributed to this. Similarly, sites like NMA.co.uk are also investing more in initiatives like podcasting, which can be a great traffic driver.
Through Twitter and social bookmarking etc, news can be broken and shared in an instant, and I believe going forward more and more exclusives will be given to the online trade press rather than the print press.
I might just have to re-visit these sites in six months time, to see if the trend is continuing…
April 8th, 2009
The web’s soothsayers have been talking about Google acquiring Twitter for some time, but last week, the rumours seemed to have a bit more substance thanks to stories of a Google/Twitter deal and potential acquisition talks that started on TechCrunch and spread rapidly, as you would expect.
The original TechCrunch story has been updated three times, including an official denial from Twitter on Friday, and further discussion from various sources that agree or disagree that acquisition talks are going ahead.
What most people seem to agree on is:
1. Google wants a deal, but initially focused on real-time feed of Twitter updates to speed indexing, as it currently has to index each Twitter user periodically to look for updates. This is apparently the main point of the current discussions, and certainly makes sense for Google at least when you consider global visits to Twitter approached 10 million in February, up 700% from the same time last year, according to comScore, and this figure is only going to keep growing, which leaves Google with a big issue.
2. Twitter’s current valuation is $250 million following the recent round of funding
3. Twitter values itself at much more, some sources say closer to $1 billion at least
4. Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have already sold Blogger to Google five years ago
So why would Google want Twitter? Well I think this quote from Jeff Mann of Gartner Research that appeared in Forbes sums it up well: “Twitter’s value is in its content, growing by 6 million tweets per day. Twitter is attractive because it has built a service that attracts this much volume, creating a constantly growing, twitching, seething real-time source of comments, news and opinions.”
Beyond that, Twitter is the real-time search engine for breaking news and comment, it’s also not a bad reputation engine and Google undoubtedly wants a piece of this, as mentioned in my post in March.
Why would Twitter want to work with Google? Well, beyond having done it before, Twitter has so much potential as a revenue generating platform, but seems to be having trouble in realising this potential. Could Google be the answer to get the business model moving?
Whatever the eventual result, i think it’s going to take longer than a week to resolve, and since the story first broke last week there has been much discussion, an example of which can be seen in this Paid Content article, but little in the way of movement. As we know, these things don’t tend to move quickly.
So, do i think Twitter will be acquired? Probably, but probably not this year until they have developed a few more valuable services, proved revenue generation and got that all important valuation up.
April 3rd, 2009
At Liberate Media we are always looking to engage with like-minded individuals and bloggers, who share our passion for all things technology and digital.
As part of this focus, we are eager to build new connections with bloggers who are interested in hearing from our clients. Don’t worry, we’re not going to spam anyone with press releases, but if you would be interested in getting in touch on a more one-to-one basis to discuss campaigns, opinions or simply to have a discussion on a relevant topic, we would love to hear from you.
We have added a brief preview of some of our relevant clients below, but we are also in touch with a number of other brands and industry experts on various projects and campaigns, so please get in touch if you would like to hear more.
Associated Northcliffe Digital – Associated Northcliffe Digital has a massive online footprint, operating the digital assets of Associated Newspapers Ltd and Northcliffe Media, as well as key online classified sites.
Collective – Collective has been the lead agency behind Hondaâ€™s digital strategy for the past five years, andÂ is using PRÂ to help tell this story and gain greater recognition for the other high-calibre brands it works with including EA, Sega and Snickers.
iBAHN - Having worked to establish iBAHN as the internet provider of choice for business travellers across the globe, we are now re-focusing our efforts on raising the profile of iBAHNâ€™s growing portfolio of in-room digital entertainment services.
Kerb – Kerb is leading the future of online advertising, through its creation of highly engaging content-led campaigns and viral games for brands such as Samsung, Sony PlayStation, E4 and MTV. Its sister company, Kerb Games, is expert at producing highly successful massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs).
Napster – Napster is the pioneer of digital music, and is now one of the industryâ€™s fastest growing mobile music platforms.
Mike Bayler – a consultant and author, specialising in consumer-led marketing and innovation. He has advised some of the worldâ€™s leading brands, media companies and international stars, including Nokia, Diageo, Telefonica, Bacardi Global Brands, Sky, BT, Sony BMG, Ogilvy and Mather, Robbie Williams, Dido and Simon Cowell.
April 2nd, 2009
It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the G20 summit is on in London currently, and the protests that accompany this event have taken centre stage with the majority of mainstream media. Well I say protests, depending on what you are watching/reading/listening to, the protests could be riots and the unrest is either down to a small minority of anarchists or thousands.
Although the issue is a serious one, the coverage of the protests has been disappointing in my opinion, as some of the media outlets again look directly towards the sensational angle. For example, there was a well-documented attack on a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland in the midst of the protest yesterday (Wednesday). The reports of this attack seemed to vary greatly in terms of the amount of people involved, the timescale before Police interjected and amount of damage. There is no doubt that the damage caused was extensive, but from the news footage that I viewed, the initial damage was caused by 1-2 protesters surrounded by upto 40 photographers. There is no question that others followed suit, between 20-40 depending on the source, for between 15 minutes to an hour, before police removed them.
So, what’s the truth? It’s hard to say. The one irrefutable fact that came out of the coverage is that one protester unfortunately died, although how this happened is unclear. What is clear is that most nationals led with this â€˜protester dies’ headline, with many now saying he died from a heart attack and had been returning from work locally when he became involved in the protest.
The criticism of protesters or Police tactics also vary depending on your source of information, but the one constant reliable source of information in my opinion was, and remains, Twitter or at least my personal network on Twitter.
Let me make it clear that obviously there are individuals, and media, on Twitter, including many traditional news sources, that have their own agenda when reporting on the protests. But i’m not referring to these sources.
What I am referring to is my personal network of people that I choose to follow. These are individuals that I trust and in my opinion stand little to gain from sensationalism. In fact I heard about many of the key points of yesterday’s, and today’s, news stories much earlier in the day on Twitter and without fail they have been proved accurate in terms of facts, and it’s the facts that I personally want reported upfront and uncluttered. Again, this is where Twitter triumphs as you have to get your point across in 140 characters.
Beyond the facts, I also got a feeling for what the mood was like on the ground, and also heard a few light-hearted anecdotes about the day’s events from all sides, which helped to put the major points into perspective.
So, what’s my point? Fundamentally, what I’m trying to say is that my reliable news source, which in years gone by was the news on TV, or radio, or newspaper reports, then the online versions of these outlets, has now moved to Twitter.
Why? Well, it’s more relevant to me, it’s immediate and offers a gateway to a whole host of additional news sources as my network links to reports that they find interesting.
And just to prove the point, I’ve also been getting up to the minute quotes from President Obama’s speech at the G20 summit this evening via my network.
I’m not saying Twitter should replace the traditional so called ‘trusted news sources’, as Twitter offers the freedom to report anything according to personal agenda with no visible consequence. (See my colleague Wendy’s recent post on this issue). But I trust my personal network and if they are on the ground receiving direct information I will continue to take their updates inline with other news sources.Â After all, this is now my chosen source of news, and just as a person’s choice of mainstream media outlet reflects certain characteristics about their political preference or the manner in which they like to digest information, my choice of Twitter probably tells you what you need to know about my belief in the power of networks and reliability of communities.