Posts Tagged ‘communications’
November 13th, 2012
This article was originally published on Wired UK, November 12th, 2012 as a Guest post by Lloyd Gofton:
As we move from an age of mass media to one of social media, are we experiencing a rebalancing of cultural communications towards disintermediated storytelling?
In today’s technology-enlightened civilisation, many believe that changes to the way we communicate are being driven by global networks and new technologies.
Conversely, it has also been argued that our approach to storytelling in the digital world is in many ways similar to that of the mediaeval era where information and stories were shared orally among distributed communities.
According to that rationale, technology is merely the facilitator of our natural urge to tell stories, not the raison d’Ãªtre. After all, are we really that far removed from our humble beginnings? Have oral traditions merely been replaced, or possibly enhanced, by digital networks? Could it be the case that mass media was a step too far and are we now experiencing a re-balancing of our cultural communications as we find a new equilibrium of information vs. conversation?
To identify why we are so reliant on mass media, it’s important to understand how we got to our current situation.
Read the full article on Wired
December 14th, 2011
Ofcom’s sixth International Communications Market Report was announced today and it shows Britain’s digital culture is developing well against other countries.
According to the report, covered in the Guardian, the British spend more time online, own more Smartphones and digital video recorders and watch more television over the internet than any country on the Continent.
Breaking down the statistics, apparently the British spend an average of 746 minutes (more than 12 hours) a week online, longer than any of the world’s major economies except the U.S.
However, the UK tops the charts in terms of Smartphone use and online and digital TV viewing, as 46% of all British mobile subscribers are Smartphone users, more than in Europe and the US and up from 24% the year before. The next highest was Spain, with 45% penetration.
61% of young mobile subscribers have been able to acquire Smartphones, and one quarter of 55 to 64 year olds claim to access the internet from their phones.
The UK also tops the online TV viewing figures with 27% of Britons watching TV online every week, higher than the U.S., where the total is 23%. UK digital TV penetration is also the highest in Europe, with 97% of households receiving more than the five basic channels. France is the second highest, with 93%, and America at 87%.
The UKÂ leads the field in buying online, as 79% ordered goods and services. The Dutch are the next most likely to make it to the checkout, with 74% spending online.
Considering our lower broadband penetration (The UK’s broadband penetration is 74%, where as France has reached 77%, Canada 83% and the Netherlands 89%) and often patchy mobile service outside of urban centres, the figures show that the British as a nation have not only accepted digital, but are making it a strong part of our culture in terms of communication, leisure and retail habits.
October 12th, 2011
If you are a Blackberry user, you are no doubt very familiar with this week’s service issues, and if you’re not a Blackberry user, you can’t have escaped the continual discussion of the problem via various social networks and in the mainstream media.
To put it mildly, RIM, and more specifically the Blackberry brand, is having a difficult week. Without wishing to be overly dramatic, this could in fact be Blackberry’s worst week yet.
Why? Well, let’s consider the background to any story around Blackberry at the minute. Blackberry’s loss of market share in the US is well documented (see Guardian article for more details) and recently there have been rumours that Blackberry is up for sale, talk that RIM it is a break-up target and concerns about its poor share price performance and lack of innovation. That’s not to mention the iPhone’s continuing dominance of the market, the recent launch of the iPhone 4S and iMessage, Apple’s answer to the hugely successful BBM (Blackberry Messenger). Add to this the issues around the London Riots, and it seems there has been a relentless battering of Blackberry’s brand.
So what has been Blackberry’s response to this growing crisis to date? Well, it’s perhaps best summed up in Gordon Macmillan’s piece on the Wall, titled â€˜How to fail in a crises Blackberry Style‘ but here is the latest and greatest response from RIM, which came last night at 10pm BST, days after the issue stated:
“The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed.”
No timelines were attached to the resolution, no timelines attached to the next update, and nothing has been mentioned since, you could also say that the apology was not appropriate, of course there has been inconvenience, and recognition of this would have been better.
The actions of Blackberry over the last few days suggest that the lack of communication to its customer base and wider community is a considered tactic. If this is the case it’s quite scary, as the case studies of brands turning a problem into a crisis by poor communications are many and varied, and it appears Blackberry will now become the latest and perhaps most confusing.
Why confusing? Well consider the current issues, consider the scale and damage of the technology problem and if the best response is silence, or minimal communication, then I for one am very confused, and it seems I’m not alone.
Not only is this a trending topic on Twitter, with literally every other tweet focused on Blackberry in my feed earlier today, with talk of this being the â€˜final straw’ and â€˜Apple should make an offer to existing Blackberry users’, but the real reason is yet to be revealed it seems. I only say that because the scale of the technology issue and the response to date do not seem equal is anyway, so is there more to this?
Lord Sugar (quoted in a Telegraph article) perhaps summed up the issue best from the technology point of view: “In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such a outage as experienced by Blackberry. I can’t understand why it’s taking so long to fix.
“All my companies use [BlackBerries], every one so reliant on getting email on the move, people don’t know if they are coming or going.”
Ian Fogg, a mobile industry analyst at Forrester published the following on his blog, which was also quoted in the Telegraph: “RIM is in danger of becoming its own worst enemy if it is unable to reliably operate the communication services that have differentiated it. BBM is the reason many young consumers stay with BlackBerry. If it doesn’t work, they will leave RIM.”
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I was a loyal Blackberry user from launch to earlier this year. The reason i changed was simply because the iPhone offered so much more, and i found myself continually justifying the reason for keeping my Blackberry because of its superior email service, when i was losing out in almost every other area. Considering the situation over the last few days, even this and the BBM argument is falling apart.
So where does that leave RIM and Blackberry? At time of writing it leaves the organisation and brand with a mounting crisis, poor communications, extremely annoyed customers and a lack of understanding in terms of why the problem exists and when it will be resolved.
It’s never too late to open up communications, but one could certainly argue a great deal of damage has already been done, and it will take a significant effort from RIM to rebuild faith in the Blackberry brand.
February 12th, 2010
It seems 2010 has started very brightly for most, and I’m happy to say that’s certainly the case for us. I’ve heard lots of talk of interesting briefs, new campaigns and renewed enthusiasm. Let’s face it most of us were very glad to see the New Year arrive, and so far so good.
However, there are always some habits that die hard, always at least one thing that has to drag us back, and for me that’s the non-stop preaching that comes from some corners of our great and varied communications industry.
By preaching, I don’t mean thoughtful insight that is designed to build conversation and add to the communities’ learning. I mean thinly veiled sales patter disguised as thought leadership, or in some cases not disguised at all and simply an attack on other approaches to the issue of digital communications/social media/combined traditional and social media, call it what you will.
Sometimes I think we need an industry referee to step in and give people a dose of reality when they get their preach on…a character like Brian’s mother in the Monty Python movie; The life of Brian, whose famous line was the inspiration for the title of this post “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”
Here’s the clip:
Perhaps Brian’s mother could put a bit more reality and a bit less fiction into the issue. After all, the most frustrating element for me is that in many cases not only are these agency sermons misguided, the preachers themselves know it.
Allow me to give you an example; company A: is a social media agency, approaching social media from a technical stand point as they understand the way the web works from a development and build angle. They know all there is to know about building communities, linking and useful multimedia. Company B also calls itself a social media agency but its strength comes from understanding social media from a communications stand point. Company B knows all there is to know about conversation, influencers and their contacts in the traditional media help them to reach influencers quickly to build social conversation.
Company A knows Company B has skills they don’t, so Company A goes out and talks about how great their approach is and how silly company B is for not being able to do the amazing things company A can.
That’s the game you may say, but there are three main points that get right on my nerves about this situation:
1. Company A and company B know that to deliver a full campaign they require each other’s skills, and it’s even likely that they partner with each other on the quiet to achieve the desired results behind closed doors. Or if not each other, (as that would be silly), very similar agencies.
2. Company A and company B both know that certain campaigns require specific skill sets, but won’t say that, and even if a client comes to company A with a campaign more fitting of Company B, company A will say they can do it, take the campaign on and deliver it via a partner….like company B.
3. Company A and company B know that in the long term their little squabbles will be academic as brands will expect one agency to fulfil the complete lifecycle of communications, including build, social media consultancy, PR, search, you name it. We’re now in the territory of company C (PR) company D (Search) company E (Digital) and company F (Advertising) (all of whom have similar relationships as company A and Company B). Both Company A and company B are recruiting and partnering with other agencies to deliver these skill sets but try not to talk about skills too far outside of their area until they are ready to announce something/someone.
So what are we left with? A whole load of puff. All the different companies talking about how smart their approach is and how naive their competitors are, scrabbling around trying to make their company reflect skill sets from A-D, or even the full range, as quickly as possible as everyone knows that’s likely to be the end game, but we can’t admit it yet as it might put our company at a disadvantage.
As a side note, in my opinion company C (PR) has been the whipping boy of the last few years. And friends, I have a confession, I have whipped that company. I come from a traditional PR background, and I know how slow the industry has been to react, so when I started Liberate Media with my business partner Wendy we wanted to offer a different sort of PR agency that understood traditional yes, but also social media. In retrospect I feel I too have been a naughty boy.
But, the PR industry is getting there and there are some smart agencies with great people delivering measurable campaigns. As a whole there is still a long way to go, but there is a marked improvement.
So where am I going with this? Well the inter-relationships between the agencies are obvious, the skills required to deliver an integrated communications campaign are diverse, and there aren’t many agencies out there that can, hand-on-heart, say they can deliver it all in-house.
So, if your campaign is totally delivered via your agency skill set, that’s great, well done, happy days. But if it isn’t, don’t get frustrated and lash out at skills you need but don’t yet have. Why not try to practise what we as an industry preach to our clients and get back into the open discussion around the issue. That’s one of the things that made this industry great and I’m beginning to fear we’re all being swallowed up by a great gold rush.
I’m not saying there should be a big agency love-in, we all have businesses to run and yes, that is the game, but this short term focus on who has the right approach and who owns social media is doing no one any good, and as we all know isn’t very realistic. So, why don’t we just be honest about what we have today and what we are looking to tomorrow.
This is a subject we’ll be looking at in more depth over the coming months, so apologies if this has come across as a bit of a rant, or if I have started to preach. That was not my intention. I think the industry we all operate in is one of the most open and exciting to be in, but more recently this nagging one-upmanship has crept in, and although competition is healthy and welcome, in some cases I feel it’s no more than propaganda, and that’s a dangerous path to go down.
January 29th, 2010
Following ‘iPad‘ week I decided to look at the differing strategies of the world’s two biggest technology competitors to promote their new approaches/products.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the traditional hero and villain of the computer world, and of course it depends on your point of view on which is which. They have been at it for some time, as the heads of their respective super brands (Microsoft and Apple), but Bill has taken a back seat at Microsoft, although he is still Chairman and of course the world’s richest man.
As you may or may not know, Bill Gates made an interesting move to open up his communications last week, by joining Twitter on January 19th, kicking off with ‘Hello World.’ Hard at work on my foundation letter – publishing on 1/25′, in reference to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit hard at work giving Bill’s billions away to worthy causes. This has pretty much been over looked thanks to the anticipation and launch of Apple’s new best seller.
Since Bill joined, he’s been collecting followers like the Pied Piper of Twitterland. To be precise, according to figures from 20 decibels recent blog post on Wednesday (nice job guys): ‘Bill Gates has 365,000+ followers (now 376,000 +) and counting and has been added to 13,056 lists (now (13,600+) His following grew rapidly after sending his first tweet. He has a whopping 14,600 followers per tweet sent.’
Here’s Bill’s latest tweet: â€˜At Davos G8/G20 panel – Spain Pres. Zapatero says meeting MDGs just as important as global financial reform…‘ (When you have $50 billion in the bank you rub shoulders with some pretty important people).
Here’s some more interesting data from the guys at 20 decibels: ‘Bill’s tweets generate a very high click through rate. He has tweeted 12 links to 6 unique sites with a total of 160,161 clicks.
‘Engagement: In additional to high click through rates, Bill Gates audience engages with his content frequently. For example, his recent Tweet promoting the Gates Foundation annual letter garnered 818 Retweets on top of 13,500+ clicks.’
Pretty impressive, but then you would expect it to be. The question is why has Bill waited so long to join Twitter when his influence and understanding is so high? Could it be just that? In a scale of normal to Bill, the influence of Twitter can only offer so much more in comparison to what he already has? I hope not, as the figures above prove Twitter can be very valuable, and more importantly it has already helped him to engage directly with more people in his first week alone.
Although the iPad wasn’t officially advertised, the buzz and leaks around the story did much of the work for Steve and Apple. Apple doesn’t really need to PR its new launches anymore, well not in the traditional sense. A few strategic mentions, and the odd review leak, and the community will do the job for them. That’s not to say it wasn’t planned though.
So how was the iPad launch received? According to Trendrr there were 177,000 tweets in the first hour after the announcement, and Crimson Hexagon revealed that the content of more than half a million tweets following the iPad announcement sentiment was split down the middle with 48% percent of tweeters reacting positively, while the remaining 52% were less impressed.
Of the 48% positivity, 29% of people wanted to buy an iPad and of the 52% of tweets that were less impressed, the majority (21% of all tweets) had a bad reaction to the name, 19% weren’t impressed and 11% were critical of all the build-up and/or just sick of hearing about it.
But this is just a small proportion of the results Apple generated from a very tightly developed and seemingly secretive launch. You only need to look at the BBC, Guardian or FT yesterday to see Steve holding his iPad, with a nice big smile, to appreciate the scale of the hype surrounding the launch.
But was the hype as positive as he might have hoped? The reaction to the iPad has been 50/50, speaking personally the functionality of the iPad is disappointing and as a product it’s not something I’ll be investing in yet. The idea itself is probably the most revolutionary element, together with the new opportunities it presents for content and publishing. However, the hype may have in fact put the final product in the shade and made it seem a little disappointing in comparison. That said, it will obviously be a success and the next iterations will, as usual, be much more interesting and capable.
So what can we learn from Bill’s low level approach and the higher profile launch from Steve over the last week? Firstly, i’ll hold my hands up and say it’s not really fair to compare the two directly. The obvious issue is that one is a consumer product and the other a campaign of philanthropy. You could also say that both Bill and Steve are super brands in themselves, and nothing helps to build interest like a bit of fame, which is true, but it is an interesting look into the different approaches that two formally old-school technology giants are employing in a world of communications opportunities.
Apple’s old school cloak and dagger approach to product launches, although successful, potentially undermined the final product by not being upfront about its potential uses, elements and focuses. By leaving the community to build the buzz and furore to such an extent they may have in fact ended up being disappointed by the false expectancy. Would a little more engagement and actual product detail have helped to communicate the real benefits of the product and avoided disappointment?
In comparison, Bill has started to take an open approach by communicating with his audience and sharing his day-to-day activity, removing this false picture of the world’s richest man sitting on piles of cash and handing it out to those that he deems fit. This is a very different approach to the path he took at Microsoft and although he has to be more open as he is the brand now, it shows evolution in thinking and perhaps something that Steve could take notice of for his next major launch.
July 16th, 2008
I began experimenting with Twitter at the start of the year, and in that short space of time have observed a dramatic change in usage patterns of the micro-blogging tool.
From a communications perspective, this can be broken down into different stages of adoption, which I feel offers valuable lessons in how user behaviour is evolving as a whole across social networks. Only today, within my own network of followers/followees, I felt we might be on the cusp ofÂ a new adopter stage, and so I thought it might be a useful exercise to analyse this in my own words, to see what lessons can be learnt.
- Discovery – at the start of the year (and admittedly the year beforehand), Twitter was very much in early adopter stage. The tech-savvy were the first to try it and decide whether or not it was a useful communications tool. This stage was characterised by a sense of ‘elite’ ownership i.e. those using it felt inspired by the fact that they were living at the cutting-edge of social media.
- Experimentation – Twitter asks the question : ‘What are you doing?’. Following early-adopter phase, users experiment with how they can respond to this question in an interesting way, increasingly pushing the boundaries of usage. Functionality moves from basic status updates to more engaging conversation.
- Self-promotion – as Twitter networks grow, users realise the profile-raising potential of the communications tool. Until very recently, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people using Twitter for PR/self-promotion purposes. A growing trend has been to use the tool as a platform for seeding blog posts, product launches etc.
- Collaboration -we’ve been heading towards this for the past month or so, but today I saw Twitter come alive as a truly collaborative tool. Social media encourages openness and honesty, and within networks Twitter can be a great place to ask advice and receive timely, expert feedback. It’s a great virtual tool for the sharing of ideas, and bouncing around of creativity.
- Criticising – it’s bound to happen. Just as Twitter reaches its usage peak, people will start to want more than the tool is technically capable of delivering. Users will start asking “what’s next?”.
Which leaves us with ‘Migration’. I think Twitter has a bit more life left in it yet though!
April 18th, 2008
Danny Rogers’ leader article in PR Week raised a common and often debated subject this week. In Danny’s words: ‘Since the beginning of the year there have been several diatribes against the PR industry in the national media, equating it to a malevolent force’.
Nothing new there then eh!
Two quotes from the piece stand out in particular:
Exhibit A: Nick Davies’ book: Flat Earth News, argues PR’s raison d’etre is ‘… that the masses are a political threat whose thinking must be controlled by the techniques of PR’.
Exhibit B: AÂ quote from this week’sÂ Independent: ‘The aim (of PR) is to undermine or marginalise independent journalism, control decision-making, and lastly, mystify and misinform the public.’
PR gets a rough ride from the mediaÂ as it is the media on the receiving end of much of what is wrong with the industry.Â To be fair their experiences have probably led them to these assumptions/conclusions, and after more than 10 years in the industry i can see why. I have met an assortment of PR professionals over this time, some that i am proud to say are the most intelligent, creative and real people I’ve met, and others well, are not.
So am i here to defend PR? No. Am i here to slate it? Nah. Do i have a point? I hope so…
The point is that as with all industries and stages of evolution,Â the strongest, or in fact the most suited to their environment,Â survive. PR’s evolution is based on moving away from the controlling instinctsÂ that the quotes accuse us of. Those that persist in employing these outdated models in a newÂ environment will be found out and go the way of the famous flightless bird from Mauritius (featured above).
IÂ think many of us, especially in the digital space, have alreadyÂ movedÂ away fromÂ controlling the message/audience/issue.Â I feel a great many agencies and individuals have changed inline with their environment and as a result they are flourishing.Â
For what it’s worth, I don’t think PR needs another slagging match, or evenÂ defend itself to these allegations.Â What PR needs to do isÂ understandÂ how communications has changed, not just on the web but in all walks of life.Â Â
So, should PR fight its corner as Danny says? Or just get on with it, shed this archaicÂ image and proveÂ the doubters wrong.
April 7th, 2008
This week we’re running a daily Question Time on the Liberate Media blog. We’ll be posing a timely question to our peers and industry network, suggesting our views on the subject, and inviting informed responses back. There’s nothing like a bit of open debate and collaboration sometimes!
We thought we’d begin with a general question about the ideal balance brands/organisations, and PRs, should be looking to generate between traditional PR and social media consultancy.
I’ll begin by saying outright that there is no correct answer here. It’s a subject that is still very much up for debate, with some going so far as to argue that PRs are not the best people to be providing social media consultancy. An opinion I strongly disagree with.
At Liberate Media we’re of the opinion that digital PR should offer a blend of traditional PR and social media techniques. From our experience, it makes sense to have one consultancy handling the two, with the two strands being interlinked, as creative ideas, collateral and messages can often be effectively cross-fertilised.
We do not believe that PRs should be differentiating themselves through social media (as is rapidly becoming the case unfortunately), but instead be integrating social media thinking with more traditional PR techniques. At the end of the day, we’re not re-writing why people communicate, but how, and it’s this that PR and social media need to address together.
The exact split between PR and social media investment is the tricky bit! The social media resource model that has emerged over the past 12-months is project-focused, with spikes of activity around product launches etc. While this makes overall sense, at Liberate Media we believe there is also a strong case for retainer-based social media consultancy to allow for profile and brand building, and reputation management etc, to respond to the speed at which issues break across social networks.
We’d be really interested to hear your views on today’s question. Please let us know your thoughts…
January 31st, 2008
The older generation is moving in on the hi-tech, online world and the under-30′s are not impressed, writes Martha Irvin from the Courier Mail.
The crux of her post reads that oldies are getting in on the social neworking scene, and the kids don’t like it.
This story rings true of a cousin of mine: a 20-year-old who likes fasion, music, designer clothes and her privacy. You know the type! Her only problem is she accepted her 40 something mum as a friend on Facebook! Her private life isn’t private no more!
The fact of the matter is that online social technology is getting easier to use and fast become accesible to people of all ages. What we are currently seeing is a generation split, but what’s interesting is the potential of social networks to re-build broken parent/child relationships.
Is Facebook becoming an earpiece for parent-child communications, instead of the dinner table? Are children more likely to listen to their parents in a trendy social network environment?
Maybe listening to you parents in a online environment is less confrontational and easier to digest. Let’s hope it brings families closer together… it might end up like the good old days when you sat around the wireless as a family waiting for latest radio play to be aired (before my time of course!).
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!