Archive for December, 2008

Buckley’s our Christmas No.1

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 by Rob Brown

Two weeks ago, I wrote about search engine optimisation (SEO) in editorial, in a blog post entitled ‘White Christmas Should do it’. In short the argument I made was that if you used terms in editorial that people were actively searching for then it would increase traffic to your site.  Well was I right?  The proof of the Christmas pudding of course should be in the eating.

The answer is seldom black and white.   The article was built around the idea that at this time of year a lot of people would search the web for indications of a white Christmas and stumble across this blog…and they did.   Of the twenty articles on PR Media Blog in December it was the third most popular.  It also had a ‘long tail’ of views driven by search. 

However the runaway hit on PR Media Blog this month was a post about the social media driven assault on the Christmas pop chart and the attempt to get Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah to the number one spot.  So far this post has attracted over three times the number of visits drawn by the ‘White Christmas’ story.  It was also something that the public was genuinely interested in and wider media was across. 

So what conclusions can we draw?  There are SEO techniques that work for editorial on the web but they are really not the whole story.  Nor are they a substitute for the traditional mainstays of journalism and PR; a real news angle and a good bit of narrative.  The arrival of the social web hasn’t changed the central fact that if we want to attract attention it has to be news worthy. 

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Reports greatly exaggerated?

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

For an industry accustomed to delivering predominantly bad news, journalism has taken more than a mouthful of its own medicine this year.

There was a time in not-too-distant memory when it was possible for regional journalists to move between jobs to escape a particularly tyrannical news editor, a punishing shift system, the grimness of doing “death knocks” on recently-bereaved families, or even advance their career.

Things are not looking so good now. But Sarah Hartley, blogger and journalist at the Manchester Evening News, has captured some positive vibes for journalism in 2009.

To borrow from Oscar Wilde: “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.”

And long may it be so!

Credit: cartoon care of Attack Cartoons.

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 ''

Social media lends a virtual hand

Friday, December 19th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

“As 2009 approaches, and the world economy is truly in freefall, what is your secret of success – or survival – for next year?”

 It seemed like a fair question to stick on LinkedIn before the festive bells start jingling and the chestnuts roast on an open fire.

This year has been social media year: as well as developing a serious Twitter problem, finding my way around cocomment and helping to keep this blog bulging like Santa’s sack on Christmas Eve, I’ve found LinkedIn starting to come into its own as a professional online networking community. Not only has it put me back in touch with people -without having to throw food or turn them into zombies, a la Facebook – it’s been a channel for some great ideas sharing.

Following last night’s question, here’s a selection of the best advice to come back so far…

Rob Ewanow: “Eliminating marketing/PR spend is short-sighted…those who continue to market will reap the rewards.”

Mark Shippe: “If you have a good product or service, you will always be busy and in demand.”

Derek Weber: “It is more important than ever to make yourself and your company more visible…this is the time really to go out and try picking up new clients.”

Karthik Mani: “Be visible…communicate your viability in addition to your value proposition.”

Bridgett Gayle: “Find your unique selling point, your special value-added (everyone has one) and lead with that.”

Phil Quimby: “Be indispensable, whether to your employer, or your clients/customers. Works in good times too.”

And, my current favourite has to be:

Chuck Bogardus: “Wait until 20 Jan 2009 when the major media will announce that everything has been fixed.”

That’s like Dallas, when Pam Ewing discovers supposedly-dead husband, Bobby, in the shower. And it was all a dream. 

Unfortunately, there’s nothing dreamy about multi-billion dollar bank bail outs.

Merry Christmas!

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 ''

Channel 4 fights on

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

Just to add to the pre-Christmas jobs misery, Channel 4 is axing 200 jobs across commissioning, new media and marketing in light of the fragile advertising market for 2009.

Meanwhile, new funding options for the broadcaster reported today could involve a joint venture with the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

At the end of the day, broadcasting is business, and business stinks right now. But it’s ironic that “Walter” – one of the defining programmes from Channel 4 broadcast on its launch night in 1982 – is being revisited as a radio play, featuring the eponymous actor, Sir Ian McKellen. 

Described at the time by the London Evening Standard as “one of the most shocking films about mental illness ever shown on British TV”, it won a Royal Television Award and Bafta nomination for McKellen. As a teenage viewer accustomed to the blandness of much of public service television’s output, it was nothing short of brilliant and thrilling.

And it was also a “drawing a line in the sand” moment for television, where Channel 4 would show what daring TV could look like, as well as being intelligent and educational. It may have lost its way in the noughties,  and it’s debatable what Big Brother has added to the culture. But for every bunch of screaming, narcissistic housemates, there’s a Cutting Edge, Unreported World and The Sopranos.

So, tough times ahead for Channel 4 and let’s hope it pulls through as there’s nothing else quite like it.

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 ''

Your local news…via India

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 by Mark Perry

 

The 15,000-plus US journalists recorded by the Paper Cuts blog that have lost their jobs this year are facing a new threat.

Not only are traditional newspapers facing the growing popularity of news portals on the web – but one site which describes itself as a daily magazine – is offshoring the writing to India.  

Pasadena Now sends press releases, web video or transcribed interviews to India to be turned into news stories. The obvious benefit is the cost – they pay just $7.50 (£5) per 1000 words. As newspapers in the US cut costs in a bid to stave off bankruptcy the concern is that the traditional media may see a benefit in adopting the same model.  It does beg the question as to how that would impact on the relationship between the media and PR.  What happens in the US usually finds its way to the UK in some form or other. Could we have the situation where newsrooms, could merely become clearing houses for sending stories to be written offshore.  

We have already seen the attempts by the Daily Express  to sweep away sub editors, who are in essence the gatekeepers of newspapers. If the journalists are ‘offshored’ you would lose the knowledge of, and empathy with, the readership. If that happens the essence of why a reader buys a particular newspaper is lost. That could be a cost saving too far.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

All of a Twitter

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

Sorry Twitterfolk, our secret’s out now.

What was – in Facebook terms – very much a worldwide minority pastime is now gracing the pages of Times2.

Though unconvinced by Facebook or – to be precise – its “status update” function as counter-intuitive behaviour for uptight British people, journalist, Sathnam Sanghera,  is now addicted to Twitter. He says: “The banal thoughts of complete strangers are surprisingly comforting and compelling: it’s like following a thousand mini soap operas”. But when he quotes a Twitter user, @foodiesarah – someone I know personally – I realise how small Twitter world has been.

But elsewhere, the migration to Twitter is not being welcomed. Writing on web news site, Mashable, Dr Mark Drapeau is keen to see brands banned from Twitter altogether. He questions whether “one dimensional organizational brands” fit with the Twitter way of working, and concludes they don’t. As he rightly points out, people on Twitter want to talk to real people who use a recognisable identity and photo or avatar, not @DunkinDonuts.

I recently posed the question  – in response to Jeremiah Owyang’s blog post on HP Labs’ Twitter research – about how businesses could work with Twitter, as we have pulled Twitter-based ideas from PR proposals for being inappropriate to the social medium.

And that’s something that businesses should be willing to do before they feel the chill wind of Twitter derision wafting their way, which can’t help but spread online. Social media may be the latest thing, and highly tempting for organisations to get involved in. But don’t dive in without testing the water first – or getting good advice about what might be lurking below.

Pic credit: humble thanks to Rob Cottingham at Noise to Signal for use of the most apt cartoon.

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 ''

Customer Retention: Be a Relationship Leader

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 by Bridgett Gayle

New York-based writer, editor and PR Media Blog reader, Bridgett Gayle, picked up on some of the sentiments expressed in our customer service blog post, http://pr-media-blog.co.uk/customer-shmustomer/. This is her response:

Most salespeople are familiar with the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of sales come from merely 20% of the loyal customer base. But so many companies are either unfamiliar with the rule or have abandoned it, evidenced by their weak customer retention program that devalues customer loyalty.

A Knowledge@Wharton marketing survey found that profitable companies are “relationship leaders” and make customer retention a priority. Loyal customers rave about great companies. Without that customer word-of mouth approval your company is skating on thin ice. One dissatisfied customer tells 8 to 10 people about their miserable customer experience. With the Web, one can tell thousands.

A weak customer retention program allows for two things (I bet there are more than two but I speak here from experience):  

1)     Not providing some reimbursement when customers are inconvenienced.

2)     Favoring new customers and ignoring the old. 

I’ve been a loyal customer of Verizon for almost a decade. One day I started to receive frantic calls from friends and associates saying that there was something wrong with my phone. All they heard were buzzing noises. Seeing as they were finally able to contact me, I assumed the problem was fixed. I was wrong. For two weeks I had spotty phone service. Verizon told me there wasn’t a problem. Verizon was wrong. Not only was there indeed a problem with my line but my entire neighborhood needed rewiring.

I called Verizon expecting some kind of reimbursement for the inconvenience. I was told they have no such policy for this kind of situation. I hung up feeling unvalued.

Time Warner Cable, like many companies, is hell-bent on getting new customers. They devise all these lures to attract prospects. But when they have you, they ignore you. I watched my cable bill more than double in about six years. I discovered that new customers were paying a lower rate than I was. How is that fair? As a reward for being a loyal customer, I pay more? Where are the lures to keep me loyal?

According to the Harvard Business Review, an existing customer spends an average of 67% more than new customers. And many companies lose 50% of their customers every five years. Becoming a relationship leader is much like running a good restaurant. The wait staff makes sure glasses don’t go empty (good customer service), checks level of satisfaction throughout the meal (customer valuing), and corrects dissatisfaction by bringing a new meal or offering a discount (customer satisfaction). The end result is customer retention.

CRM expert Jim Berkowitz provides six questions companies should ask themselves in order to become relationship leaders. I wonder if Verizon and Time Warner have asked these questions. 

Bridgett Gayle is an American-based writer and editor.

About Bridgett Gayle

Bridgett Gayle is a writer and content marketer bringing common sense solutions to improve the business-customer relationship.

Hallelujah …it’s Jeff Buckley

Monday, December 15th, 2008 by Rob Brown

A titanic struggle between new and old media is emerging in the battle for the Christmas number 1 single.   In one corner stands the mighty Simon Cowell, the man that holds Saturday night prime time television in the palm of his hand, in the other a motley crew of Facebook users and music aficionados.

Cowell, X-Factor godfather and impresario has decreed that this year the best selling single at Christmas will be a cover of Leonard Cohen’s climactic masterpiece Hallelujah.   With the power of millions of ITV Saturday night viewers behind him he has also pronounced that it will be sung by the X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke.  

Music lovers across the nation have decided that this song is too important to join the lyrical list lining the already chock-full pockets of Mr C.  It is a commonly held view that the definitive version of Hallelujah was recorded by the late Jeff Buckley and a Facebook group has sprung up called ‘Jeff Buckley for Xmas no 1’ .  The membership is growing by more than 10,000 a day. 

The people formerly known as the audience, who also had John Sargeant so cruelly snatched from the Strictly Come Dancing strut-off, are fighting back.  The downloads are at fever pitch at iTunes and the newly minted MP3 market at Amazon (use the former if you want to be counted for the official chart).   If they succeed in putting the Buckley version at the top of 2009’s Christmas chart they will have pulled of a victory in the manner of David’s over Goliath.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

X Marks the spot

Monday, December 15th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

So, it’s over for another year. And what will a reputed 15 million TV viewers do on a Saturday night now the latest X Factor has been won?

In a supposedly Internet age, when commercial broadcasters are running scared from the all-powerful web, and an era of fragmented television, the viewing figures for the X Factor are staggering. Not that they are remotely close to the legendary audiences for Morecambe and Wise (28 million for the 1977 Christmas special, bless ’em) or those for the 1970s Generation Game, but it’s still good going.

And despite the voice and indisputable talent of X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, the programme isn’t remotely about music. The other acts that paraded the stage with the winner on Saturday night were crushingly average, despite the encouragement from the judges. If you want pop music, then watch Jools Holland’s Later or the BBC’s Electric Proms; the X Factor is a national shared experience about the drama of dreams coming true, or being dashed at the whim of Simon Cowell – not music.

Strictly Come Dancing has achieved similar mass appeal reinventing a very tired format from the annals of television history (when the requisite “glamour” was provided by newsreader, Angela Rippon) with a healthy dose of celebrity sex appeal, fabulous costumes and a “behind the scenes” look at the acts being human.

 Meanwhile, Internet only programmes are supposedly coming of age, attracting audiences of up to a million. But the difference with online content (BBC iPlayer aside) is that the audience is viewing it when it wants, not necessarily in a simultaneous expression of telly togetherness. With a million online views at best against X-Factor’s 15, Saturday nights seem – for now – safe for broadcasters. But how far away are we from families huddling around a screen watching the Internet?  

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 ''

Global Village Idiot

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 by Rob Brown

Marshall McLuhan was the Canadian philosopher who coined the phrase ‘global village’ in the early sixties in his book ‘The Gutenburg Galaxy’.   Even with his extraordinary prescience he could not possibly have foreseen the extent to which this would come true.

A few months ago I started using Twitter, the site where users post 140 character microblogs.  Around lunchtime every day I see a flurry of tweets wishing me a good morning.  The same thing happens at around 5pm when the dudes on the US west coast are switching on their Macs and iPhones – just at the time many of us UK folk are starting to wonder what we’re going to have for dinner.   

Last week I had a slightly bizarre experience when I was interviewed for the North West media and marketing web-site How-Do .  The interview was done via MSN by a journalist based in Beijing.  The editor who posted the story to the site is based in Oslo in Norway …and this remember for a site that serves a region of the UK .

Why does this matter?  Well it doesn’t really, except that we need to remember that the rise of the social web potentially puts much of what we communicate on a global stage.   If you screw up your message or make a fool of yourself online, remember two things – your audience might come from anywhere and the old saying is still true, every village has one.  

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).