Liberate Media blends online PR with offline PR expertise to form a uniquely positioned social media agency.

Archive for February, 2012

Google offers $1 million reward to hack Chrome

February 29th, 2012

Are you a hacker, and do you want to win a $1 million reward? Then Google is offering just the competition for you.

Google is pledgeding cash prizes totalling $1 million to people that successfully hack its Chrome browser at next week’s CanSecWest security conference. Members of the company’s security team have recently announced the Pwnium contest on this blog post.

The Pwnium contest is part of  CanSecWest security conference, and it awards valuable prizes to those who remotely commandeer computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in fully patched browsers and other Internet software. Both Internet Explorer and Safari have been comprised, Chrome has never been attempted due to the difficulty of bypassing Google’s security sandbox.

“While we’re proud of Chrome’s leading track record in past competitions, the fact is that not receiving exploits means that it’s harder to learn and improve. To maximize our chances of receiving exploits this year, we’ve upped the ante. We will directly sponsor up to $1 million worth of rewards in the following categories.” said Chris Evans and Justin Schuh, Google Chrome Security Team

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A two and a half men stunt!

February 28th, 2012

Ashton Hayes in Cheshire has certainly been put on the map, after it was renamed ‘Ashton Kutcher’ after the Hollywood actor. Ashton under Hill in Worcestershire, Ashton in south Northamptonshire and finally Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire were also renamed Ashton Kutcher for two days this week as well.

The village takeovers were the idea of TV channel Comedy Central, as a PR stunt to promote the hit series Two And A Half Men, in which Ashton Kutcher stars.

Bill Griffin, from Comedy Central said: ‘It seems the UK has been gripped by a kind of mania for Ashton Kutcher. The stunt was genuinely meant in good humour and if any of the locals were amused, bemused or in any way inconvenienced I’ll buy them a drink at the Ashton Kutcher Arms’.

Ashton Village Takeover. from Bang Boom Creative on Vimeo.

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The Fifth Wave strategic vision for mobile

February 27th, 2012

Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway appear to know their shtick. They have just published an account of where we are going online and what this means.

The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment and Return was released today at Mobile World Congress 2012.

It blows part of the mind, i.e, it’s really quite interesting, while it makes an informative case for us as we move through 2012-13, with the old economic order dissolving and the new struggling to take first breath.

I’d argue with Marcus and Hemingway on the creation of new value, which they position as deriving from opportunity. This is a superficial view to my mind and they need to look much deeper into value creation to make their case work.

Opportunity is just a secondary reflection of the market condition. The value is created in the primary area.

This is a strong account of where we are going in mobile and through our network. It needs a second read and report back.

Robert Marcus led a keynote and panel during the opening session today (February 27th) of the Mobile World Congress conference session on Mobile Cloud. You can get more info on MWC here.


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Do you work remotely? 60% of office-based employees will be in the next decade

February 23rd, 2012

A survey by Virgin Media Business suggests that 60% of office-based employees will be ‘regularly’ working from home within the next decade, thanks to technological advances in the workplace.

The research was carried out between 12 December and 16 December 2011, and surveyed 5,000 directors and business-owners from UK companies with 100+ employees. It also noted that face-to- face meetings will soon become a thing of the past, according to 72% of respondents. 62% also expect to commute less thanks to remote working.

You might say that Virgin would want us to work from home as they can provide the infrastructure, and you would be right, but that doesn’t detract from the main issues.

Tony Grace, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Media Business also made some strong points: “There’s a change coming to the way we work. Remote working isn’t anything new, but with technology providing the right tools for the job, the acceptance that it will soon be the norm is.

“Businesses are already getting fit for purpose by investing in cloud-based software, virtual private networks or investing in new tools such as Unified Communications to ensure that remote teams remain connected and engaged. The growth in video and social media across corporate networks is also supporting this migration away from the traditional office confines; the importance to underlying network infrastructure once more comes under the spotlight.

“This raises questions about the way businesses currently use office space. We see the office of the future being a lot smaller, desks set-up for hot-desking and a workforce that can easily interchange from working in the office to working from home or at a satellite office. Underpinning all of this will be a reliable network helping companies to manage their staff and resources.

“There will always be a case for having a main office, but if you can make your staff happy by allowing them to work remotely, reduce their commuting time and give staff the freedom to work in a way that suits them, then why wouldn’t you take it.”

As Grace says, there are many reasons to embrace remote working, and at Liberate Media we have had a remote working policy from day 1. After six years it has worked very well. We offer a central office as well as work spaces elsewhere, but the majority prefer to work from home or wherever their meeting is going to be.

It takes a little getting used to at first, but once settled in we found productivity went through the roof, and generally the team is much more efficient and relaxed, which in turn shows in our work.

The old arguments of ‘I miss working with people’ are becoming less relevant as it is replaced by ‘i can get so much more done’ and in our job we are on the move so much that we are seldom in the office, even if we want to be.

The fact is, economic, ecological and modern working practises are pushing organisations towards remote working, so unless it’s an issue of training and supervision, i would highly recommend it.

You may say it’s easy for us as we are a small business, but there are also examples of remote working succeeding at the biggest organisations, such as BT, HSBC and O2.

British Telecom began a telework scheme in 1986 and now has 15,000 people working that way, out of their 92,000 employees. BT argues that it saves nearly £6,000 a year by allowing employees to work from home, they take fewer sick days and are 20% more productive.

HSBC also confirms 15,000 of its UK bank staff have the ability to work from home.

O2 recently allowed 3,000 employees to work from home for the day, which is a quarter of its 12,000-strong workforce.

According the The Next Web, O2 is hoping that the trial will act as a test-bed for future scenarios beyond the Olympics, with flexible working helping to increase efficiency, productivity and innovation.

O2 will look at reductions in its electricity usage, CO2 emissions and travel time, and the company’s three year sustainability plan pledges to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly, and collectively save over 500,000 miles of travel.

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When Larry met Sergey is more than just an infographic

February 22nd, 2012

The Google story is a fascinating one, and one that I have personally followed very closely. A great way of finding out more about how Google started, way back in 1995, and its journey to success since then, is the embeddable Evolution of Google timeline aka When Larry met Sergey.

When Larry met Sergey is a creative infographic that actually made me stop and read the facts highlighted throughout, which include such gems as:

“Google implements industrial shipping containers to house their servers, each containing 1,160, for an estimated total of 200,000. Each is powered by Intel and AMD x86 processors and comes with an integrated 12-volt battery in case of failure”.

My favourite aspect is the fact that when you scroll down through the years, you get an ever increasing update on the number of Google users and the number of employees working for the company. In 2011 that figure stood at 2,100,000,000 web users, 31,353 employees with a current net income of $7,032,000,000 (in quarters 1 through 3). Not bad for 16 years work!

If that isn’t enough, there is a link to a list of sources found on the bottom right hand corner of the timeline, encouraging you to dig even deeper into the the world of Google.

So what does the future hold for Google? Will people begin to move away? Will the likes of Bing, Facebook and Twitter halt Google’s progression? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section of this blog.

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The Howling Football Campaign

February 21st, 2012

There are two huge sports-related events in the summer, the London Olympics being one, and the other is the European Football Championship hosted in Poland and the Ukraine. This post will focus on the latter.

A German non-governmental organisation has created the video shown below to raise awareness for a so-called “street cleaning programme”. Apparently street dogs and cats are being removed (exterminated) from the streets of the Ukraine to make the country “cleaner” in preparation for the expected mass of football fans.

The video is very well shot and certainly grabs attention. The sound of the ball howling when kicked is very haunting indeed.

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Mobile World Congress promises surprises

February 20th, 2012

With a week to go before the Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona, the number of pre-show announcements is growing rapidly.

It’s interesting to see that Firefox developer Mozilla plans to announce partners for its Boot to Gecko (B2G) project, a browser-based operating system for mobile devices. Mobile network operators are pretty certain to show strong support for this, offering as it does, the potential for new revenue streams.

Google, which stands to lose ground in mobile if B2G gains traction in the market space, is building a strong presence for Android at MWC so we can expect some good hooks.

Samsung has pulled back on the promotion of its new Galaxy handset, which was a surprise to many – but not the company apparently. However, I hope the innovative vendor will be a strong presence at MWC and that some of the rumours around its Android tablets bear fruit.

As we all pretty much know now – Apple does not do trade shows and so will not be gracing the Barcelona show. No need for them to find out more here, then.

Isn’t it also really great that we can finally ditch the annual phrase “This is the Year of Mobile”?

The show runs from Monday February 27th to Thursday March 1st.

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Are we really still talking about PR vs search vs social?

February 17th, 2012

Warning: rant coming…

First of all, this is not meant to be an attack on the recent post, titled ‘PR Agencies: Adapt or Die‘, on the Forrester blog. It made some good points, but it was also the spark that re-ignited my ongoing frustration with the industry that perpetuates this ‘x vs Y approach’, or ‘we’re better at it than you’ nonsense, which in my opinion misses the point entirely.

Yes, the traditional PR agency needs to adapt, and the same has been said for many years. The smart ones already have, and the others, well…they are slowly learning why they should.

In that time the search agency became all powerful, then became a digital agency and is now trying to redefine itself, and it’s a similar tale across the industry.

The reality for PR agencies, social agencies, digital agencies, search agencies and the vast majority of agencies, is that simply offering one element of a much wider remit of brand communications is not enough.

You cannot expect to live by one skill alone any more, and it’s pretty clear that brands are not willing to pay five agencies to do five roles that one should really be able to accomplish. Is it too much to ask that brand communicators should be able to establish emotional connections with customers, without the client needing to worry about where each level of service implementation comes from?

Some may argue that mobile is a specialism and one worth maintaining outside of the brand communications sphere of skills, and although it could be argued that is true for now, it was true of search and social at one time. Therefore, the simple truth is we as consumers absorb media quickly, and expect our services, brands and conversations to be cross-media very quickly, so why shouldn’t we expect the same of our agencies?

Getting back to my point, the issue is not about whether PR lives or dies, in its traditional form it has been struggling for 10 years. Search is losing its slice of the pie as skills go in-house and revenues tumble, and social agencies need to up-skill across the board to remain competitive, or risk being stranded as a specialist. So the issue is not so much who will win, but what will win.

By what, I mean that the agency of the future is not search or social or PR or even advertising. It’s more likely to be earned or paid media, and even earned and paid. This agency, let’s call it simply a brand communications agency (although I realise that has negative connotations traditionally) can do all of the above. This agency will be the winner, and yes that will upset many business models and eat into carefully laid profit plans, but that is the reality I see, and I don’t mean this agency will need to hold all skills in-house.

So yes, PR agencies as a general rule don’t do digital very well, this is not news, but it’s what PR, social, search and digital will become that is much more interesting.

Finally, a note to our regular readers. My apologies if you have seen this same rant in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and now 2012, it seems change takes time.

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Amnesty International unlock campaign

February 15th, 2012

Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which is described by Wikipedia as ‘an extrajudicial detainment and interrogation facility of the United States located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba‘ is well known for many reasons, and often the target of campaigns aimed at closing it down.

On the camp’s 10th anniversary, Sweden’s Amnesty International arm devised a campaign using iPads and an animation across a digital billboard. The idea was that you signed a petition on the iPad using your finger, which would unlock a prisoner on the digital billboard across the road, to highlight the cause.

If you would like to support this campaign, please get the free mobile wallpapers from here http://m.amnesty.se/slidetounlock/. They are used as the images when you unlock and lock your phone.

Check out this video to see how it worked in real time.

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Singing the rain

February 14th, 2012

There is nothing better, when there is nothing else, than a feel-good film – Singing In the Rain for example. I’m speaking as a 55+ man who grew up with the feel-goods, and feasted on the movies that denied any sense eventual happiness.

The social life we are building on-line strikes me as similar.

On the one hand. Nirvana. Where we will finally resolve all the contradictions that separate is. Social media, by its nature, will insist that we live equally because we share.

On the other hand, the unbelievable force of the Market that requests individuated responses and governs in a comforting one-way culture.

I feel nothing for the one-way culture, and hanker for the “feel-good” messages of my past. The feel-good is alive and vibrant in our social media culture.

That’s why I’m singing in the rain.

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