Archive for May, 2008

Successful Viral Videos

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Just seen this video that Lastminute produced to showcase their theatre offering. It’s a really good ‘watch’ and the sort of things you’d pass onto friends.

Don’t take my word for it, just check out the ‘views’ on YouTube. It has breached 129,000.Lots of companies are thinking about ‘viral’ and want to know how quickly they can get hundreds of thousands of views in no time for not much money. It’s hard and can’t be forced.The art of producing something that your audience will pass on to others in such numbers as to make the spend worthwhile is just that, an art not a science. But as with most media relations it’s important to observe things that do well and try and spot common denominators.

This one had a great foundation for seeding i.e. Lastminute’s existing traffic and email database. But its also got two key success factors…a) enough of a ‘can you believe this happened!?’b) a voyeuristic quality i.e. you can sit back and watch people’s reactions in the knowledge that you know what’s going but they haven’t the foggiest.  

What I Really Think About The PM on YouTube

Friday, May 23rd, 2008 by id

Prime Minister’s Questions on YouTube

PR Week have covered Gordon’s foray onto YouTube this week. I think its the best thing he’s done, hot on the heels of Paddick’s Twitter, the key to politicians on social media is to recreate the old days, when people were actually able to ask politicians things live! And then they would talk back!

Since TV took over politicians have gone into ‘top-down’ soundbite mode and people are now massively cynical about it. So Gordon has got the medium and the principles right but it will still be Gordon and that’s the bit PR Week have quoted me on!

Seems Drew B didn’t quite have his full view expressed as well:)

The Power of Forums

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 by Mark Hanson

I am often asked how to engage with forum users and the power of them. As with all media (new and old) certain forums are more influential than others based on their subject matter, usefulness and the strength of bond between users – just like any community, geographic or otherwise.

In my day job I am often using our software to run social media audits in order to present a picture of influence amongst audiences that a brand may be trying to reach. It’s interesting that whether the topic be ‘green motoring’ or ‘gap year travel’, the algorithms are bringing the same forums regardless of their perceived niche.

Sites like Moneysavingexpert and Moneysupermarket are associated with financial services whilst DigitalSpy was originally launched for discussion about cable TV. However, their forums  are coming up as highly influential in so many areas way, way outside of these initial subjects.

Why? Well just like any community – your street, your football club, trade union, church, if you have lots of people that meet regularly, help each other out all the time and start to really trust each other then they will tell their friends who will tell their friends and the community will start to grow. Then there will be people in the church or football team who travel a lot, know about marketing or who study politics or indeed anything that you might want advice on. Then niche discussions start and the community gets ever more useful.   

Check out the general discussions area of DigitalSpy, look at how many people have viewed each topic, how many people have posted on each topic and how many topics those people have posted on. Then look at this post about Madeleine McCann. Over 2 million views – that’s more than the readership of some national newspapers!

So it’s no surprise that so many organisations are asking their PR advisers how they can engage here. It can be done badly or done well.

Rather than me telling you how to do it, I thought you might want to watch/listen to the forum editor of MoneySupermarket.


Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Crucify Paul Williams

Hats off to those creative communicators who are using social media to publicise their own skills and build relationships online with potential employers. I found a graduate placement student via Facebook last summer, Stephen Waddington raves about a new recruit via Twitter and I wanted to mention a new creative that’s just been hired by my employer’s sister ad agency, TBWA.

His name is Paul Williams. He constructed a cross outside our head office, which is a disused church and imprinted the details of his blog. It’s a stunt that could’ve gone either way! We could have crucified him (sorry!) but the big cheeses recognised his creative flair and balls, so checked him out. This is how he did it.

I’ve just had a coffee with him. He’s a good guy with a bright future.


Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 by Jon Clements


Sally Whittle over at journalism and PR blog, Getting Ink, tells it as it is when it comes to receiving junk (i.e. irrelevant or badly targeted) PR material from so-called PR professionals.

But how many companies buying in PR support are aware that the antics of their agencies might be getting their stories – and hence their reputations – blacklisted by journalists?

Asking who and why agencies are talking to on your behalf (and how) is too important a question not to ask.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''


Thursday, May 15th, 2008 by Mark Hanson


There’s something interesting happening on the blogosphere at the moment. The most powerful political blogerati are on the right wing. The simplistic explanation is that they are in opposition, enjoy funding from wealthy individuals and enjoy more direct co-operation with the Conservative Party.

However the liberal left has it’s own heroes. One is Sunny Hundal, written about by me here and also by Colin Byrne, head of Weber Shandwick and former right hand man to Peter Mandelson.

Sunny has got a band of brothers together to have a go at maverick Tory MP, Nadine Dorries and her campaign to restrict abortion rights for women. All seems like classic blog-bitching, good fun but not quite political sea-change stuff.

But there’s more going on here. 

Sunny and other people he’s been working with, including other bloggers like Tim Ireland, have been researching Dorries and who she’s linked to. David Cameron backs her campaign as do our afore mentioned Tory A-List bloggers, Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie.

Again, lets observe how far this gets but I like it because….

a)     It shows that lefties can use the blogosphere to organise and start to achieve something. There’s implications here in how Labour might re-connect to its core vote.

b)     Sunny’s been cute at getting other ‘stakeholders’ on board. Think tanks, campaign groups (such as the Fawcett Society), academics and old media (Guardian, New Statesman, Red Pepper).


They’ve formed a campaign group called Coalition For Choice and they’ve got a cunning plan that involves using old media influence and mobilising support using new media tools. I’m sworn to secrecy about what’s happening next but I’m intending to keep in touch with this one.


Monday, May 12th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

We brought you the scoop last month that Jerome Armstrong, legendary net roots campaigner from the US and author of a hugely influential book on the subject, had been signed up by Brian Paddick for his London Mayoral bid.

We now know that it didn’t do him much good but I thought it was interesting to look at what innovations were tried and which worked or didn’t.

The Lib Dem web supremo is Mark Pack and true to social media principles he was only too happy to share learnings….

Importance of emails – Data protection laws make it harder for UK campaigns to build up email lists and use them for different purposes, making it harder to achieve the micro-targeting used so successfully in the US. However where emails are sent, the readership rates are much higher than in the US. For the Paddick campaign they were several times higher.

Fundraising – Mark says the campaign was happy with what it raised online but we shouldn’t hold out too much hope for a Howard Dean-type avalanche of small donors to replace the oligarchs and tycoons. The culture in the UK is still to help your Party and to do it through delivering leaflets etc as opposed to donating money to a candidate.

Twitter – this caused a great deal of expectation and debate over whether this was being used as a gimmick. Mark’s view was  ….

“Twitter has some way to go to reach the story of mass audience that Facebook has, but it’s a good way of having a more engaged relationship with people than many other online tools.

“The Twitter interview seem to work well, though next time round I think we wouldn’t try to bunch up the questions for a batch of replies, but rather say, here’s a period of time when X will be checking messages and answering regularly”

All views welcome. As you may know, I’m a Labour campaigner but happy to take my hat off to what Mark did here in the cause of helping politicians adapt to the new media and the way audiences want to interact.


Friday, May 9th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

 Iain Dalecroft

The Evening Standard has chased this scoop all week. So has PR Week as it seeks to preserve it’s status as bulletin board for all spin doctor type developments. BUT when Boris Johnson’s campaign chose to announce the big name broadcast journalist who Westminster reckoned was to become his new Head of Comms it was the blogosphere, Iain Dale and ConservativeHome in particular, who were given the exclusive that it is to be Guto Harri, formerly of the Beeb.

Makes sense. The Tory party is all about finding influence in society and using it. Iain’s readership is around 100,000 unique users per month but its not how many…’s who. Most factions in the Tory family, from Tory boys and blue rinsers right up to Lords and cabinet ministers check out Iain’s mix of gossip and musings at least once a week. Even Michael Ashcroft is a generous friend.

He also has excellent links to the Fourth Estate. He has a weekly column in the Telegraph, a weekly TV show on Telegraph TV, his blog is read daily by most political journalists and his tip-offs regularly become stories in the mainstream press. He’s also regularly wheeled out as a spokesperson for the blogosphere by Newsnight and the Today programme – two outlets that have high quality thresholds.

The interesting thing is, Iain is by no means a 21st Century ipod listening, techie-geek, early adopter. He’s just an old fashioned influence-finder who is using a simple online template to find an audience. 

Brands and public organisations take note – there are many like him.


Thursday, May 8th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Always thoughtful and never boring, Mike is one of the true ‘big beasts’ of NW radio. He’s recently returned from 10 years on London’s Capital Radio. Here and here he tells us why he went to London and what he thinks of the state of radio, specifically in the north west and what to do about finding new talent.

Mike has just started presenting Drivetime on the newly launched Rock Radio in Manchester.


Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 by Mark Hanson

Frenzied political campaigning has already started in little old Crewe & Nantwich, where a by-election takes place in a couple of weeks following the sad death of Labour MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody. This is (another) litmus test for Gordon, so expect all the big guns from all three parties to pile resources into this.

They’ll get a shock though if they try and buy up any online ad space as they try and catch the attention of those elusive young professionals or reliable silver surfers.  An enterprising web-marketing agency has bought the entire inventory on the Crewe Guardian  and Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle sites as well as the entire inventory from other mass consumer sites that focus on the constituency.  
Why? To better co-ordinate online political advertising across the constituency, and to provide synergies to existing clients who may want to influence the election. They’re auctioning it off in blocks – anti–ID card campaign group NO2ID is already running ads. Organisations that aren’t registered with the Electoral Commission are only allowed to spend £500, which is why they’re chopping it up into blocks (and targeting based on specific postcode, or other demographic criteria)

Who will buy it? The parties will utilise the service – but they’ve already got three other different 3rd-party influence groups signed up. 

PS The enterprising agency in question is MessageSpace run by my friend Jag Singh.  He has imported a lot of innovative techniques from the US, where he’s a web consultant on a lot of the Democrat campaigns and worth noting if you’re in the public/charity or lobby sector.