Archive for February, 2010

Manchester App School opens doors

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by Jon Clements

As a recent convert to the iPhone and the wonderful world of the “app” (Planet Rock, anyone?), it’s good to know that the future of app development is being bolstered by a Manchester-based course for young people known as The App School.

Creative consultants, The White Room, are running the free course – backed by the city council, Cornerhouse (Manchester’s centre for visual arts and cinema) and Manchester Metropolitan University – for 18-24 year olds interested in designing new iPhone applications.

And with the mobile app market forecast to reach $6.8bn this year, there’s a potential money making machine for the creative person with the right ideas.

But techno-phobes need not be discouraged. This is about people with potentially commercial ideas and not necessarily those who dismantle computer hard drives for fun.

According to Phil Birchenall, project director at the White Room: “What we need is plenty of enthusiasm and ideas, that’s all.”

I eagerly await the “help your kid with his maths homework app”, and soon.

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

A Virtual Revolution….Virtually

Friday, February 19th, 2010 by Rob Brown

For the last three weeks the BBC Two series ‘The Virtual Revolution‘ (7.15pm Saturday) has been a highlight of the week.  It charts the very real impact that the Internet has had on our lives and forecasts how it might develop as access spreads around the globe.   The list of interviewees is stellar; Tim Berners-Lee, Arianna Huffington, Clay Shirky, Jimmy Wales, Steve Wozniak, Biz Stone and Evan Williams are just a small selection.  All of this hosted by the brilliant Dr Aleks Krotoski.  It takes on the big questions around politics, privacy, society and relationships bringing genuine insight into the changes driven by the web.

The web isn’t a channel like TV, radio or print it is so much more than that but it is critical that those involved in communications remember the residual power of conventional channels.  This series can be viewed on line but most are still watching on TV and tuning in on Saturdays at the point in time determined by the scheduler.  Mainstream media is still driving online traffic.   There is a very neat illustration of this if you take a look at Dr Aleks K’s twitter following.  She was already a respected authority on-line; Guardian journalist, blogger, presenter of the excellent Guardian Tech Weekly podcast, however her twitter following  went through the vitual roof when this series went live on the 30th January. 

 aleksk-twitter-stats.png

TV along with many of the strands of conventional media is a channel of the future as well as the past and digital channels sit comfortably alongside.  It is the final episode of the series tomorrow and you really dont want to miss it.  Make an appointment to view and get a smartphone or laptop in hand for those live watercooler conversations. 

Hashtag #bbcrevolution. We’ll be virtually in the same room.

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).

10 Million Blogs Go Down

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Rob Brown

WordPress, the leading blog platform, suffered a major outage at around 21.40 GMT today taking around 10 million blogs with it.  Twitter has been awash with commentary, many quoting the figure of 9.2 million blogs but this is a significant underestimate.  It is the number that appears on Wikipedia but this is almost four months out of date – the true figure is around 10 million based on an extrapolation of the published rate of growth.

Although PR Media Blog uses WordPress it is independently hosted so therefore not affected by the current crisis.  No reason has been given for the service interruption but Matt Mullenweg the 26 year old founding developer at WordPress tweeted in the last few minutes “we’re investigating the source & most expedient fix. I hope to have everyone’s blogs back & running as soon as possible”.

It remains unclear as to whether this is the result of a denial of service attack similar to that suffered by twitter last August or perhaps a technical problem caused by the volume of users.  Whatever the explanation 10 million blogs represents a huge volume of information and the pressure on the team at Automattic, Inc. the web development company that runs WordPress must be immense. 

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).

Seetickets Puts Fans in a Rage

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Chris Bull

Tens of thousands of music fans were left enraged after seetickets, the only website on which fans were able to enter the draw for the free Rage Against the Machine concert, apparently crashed. The error left many fans staring at a loading screen or frantically refreshing the page for the three hours it took for all the tickets to be allocated. 

The free gig in London’s Finsbury Park was announced by the US anti-establishment rap-rock band earlier in the year as a thank you to British fans who helped the band’s expletive-ridden 1992 single, Killing in the Name to reach this year’s Christmas number one slot.  

The band achieved the feat after a social media-driven campaign – urging music fans to shun the latest X-Factor offering -caught the imagination of a large part of the British public. As the campaign’s website proclaims: “You spread the word, you swayed the outcome, you made music history”.

Over the weekend, tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, went to seetickets.com to pre-register for the draw. Fans were then told to log on to the website at 9:00am on the 17th February to enter the draw for tickets.  

However it appeared that, despite knowing how many people were likely to visit the site, seetickets could simply not handle the numbers. Many have now taken to social media – the very platform which brought the gig into existence – to vent their frustration and lambast seetickets for its poor foresight and lack of preparation. 

From a PR perspective, this was a golden opportunity for seetickets to achieve some money-can’t-buy brand awareness. The only thing most music fans are aware of now, however, is the site’s ineptitude. Do a Twitter search for seetickets and you will struggle to see a positive comment, with many stating they will never use the site again. 

Seetickets? Just seeing the homepage would have been nice.

About Chris Bull

Account Exec for Staniforth PR, based in the TBWA\ Building in Whitfield Street, London. Areas of interest include politics, the car industry and sport.

Social media sanctified by the BBC?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Jon Clements

PR Media Blog, when it comes to religion, is at the very least agnostic and certainly non-denominational.

But when the venerable institution of BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day talks social media, quotes Mark Zuckerberg and namechecks YouTube, we simply have to listen.

There’s no doubt that TFTD has divided opinion, with Christians championing the need for religious broadcasting while humanists and atheists urging the broadcaster to do less, if any, God at all.

But, sometimes, the chosen TFTD speaker manages to harness the zeitgeist and build a meaningful connection between faith and a modern, technological world, seemingly indifferent to the church.

Read here or listen to here what the Rev Dr David Wilkinson says about social media and the importance of relationships.

Could social media be the saviour of religion or, ultimately, become its replacement? To paraphrase Karl Marx, could social media be the new opium of the people?

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

PR comes out into the light?

Monday, February 15th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Is it right for the corporate “story makers” – aka PR people – to become the story?

PR Week editor, Danny Rogers’ latest editorial poses the question in the wake of the Toyota furore, in which the company’s UK communications chief, Scott Brownlee, as opposed to the management, did most of the talking.

Add to that a tardy apology from Toyota’s top brass, and you wonder what the company is doing at the most testing moment in its history.

I’ve spent a number of years working on media training with major companies so that people at the head of running operations are capable of communicating effectively, especially in times of trouble. Fielding a PR person to defend the company would seem to defeat the object, and suggest that those at the business end have got something to hide.

But after the worst recession in living memory, in which a lot of PR and communications went the way of all flesh, does the Toyota example illustrate a more interesting point: that PR is being treated as an equal at the boardroom table?

Countries, never mind companies, are reputedly looking to PR advisers to protect their reputations and solvency during the current Eurozone financial meltdown.

But is this approach to PR still resonant of barn gates and bolted horses?

A quick internet search for PR and strategy brings up an interesting study. Before I tell you how old it is, I wonder how close to your experience this extract comes.

“Public relations professionals typically are not involved in strategic management until an issue occurs; they are not called in to help anticipate which publics might create issues and to communicate with those publics before issues occur. Senior managers are preoccupied with the mass media, even though they generally are not the most effective way of communicating with strategic publics-especially at the stage of building relationships rather than responding to issues. And there is a surprising fragmentation of the communication function, especially in corporations. Many departments have responsibility for communication, and many organizations do not integrate the function. As a result, strategic planning for public relations is almost impossible.”

The study, by the IABC Research Foundation, was published 20 years ago. I’d like to think much has changed since then, but the scenario depicted  by the research still seems remarkably familiar.

PR people often cry that the client’s call for help came too late, leaving them to make the best of a bad mess.  But do communicators ever wonder why they were not part of the inner management circle from the beginning (after all, the marketing people are there)?

A more recent (2004) and highly informative study by Chime and Henley Management College into CEOs’ views on reputation management suggests that while bosses value PR very highly – seeing it as part of strategic thinking and providing the “corporate conscience” – they also need PR to make its case very clearly in order to be taken seriously at management level.

But former McKinsey consultant, James Kwak, warns CEOs about the dangers of overconfidence, which can apply to their attitude to PR also.

Some chiefs are natural communicators with an instinctive grasp of PR, but not all. Bringing in the PR team – in-house and agency – early in the strategic planning stages will give the comms plan the discipline it needs. It won’t necessarily make the bad stuff go away, but it will make it a lot easier to chew when it does.

Image: www.momento.co.uk

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

Google Buzz on Social Networking

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by Rob Brown

todd-jackson-google-buzz.png 

In a live press conference broadcast through YouTube, Google today announced the launch of Google Buzz a social networking application built onto Google Mail.   Todd Jackson, Gmail Project Manager explained how it uses Gmail contacts to create a ready made friend list but then allows users to pull in contacts from other social networks.    

It borrows a lot of the ideas born out of twitter but adds a new level of sophistication.  For example the recommendation engine will over time filter ‘good buzz’ from ‘bad buzz’ – if you like an intelligent retweet system.

Google Buzz has some stunning features that set it apart from other social platforms, particular when it comes to smartphones.  It uses GPS to locate where you are and integrates with a new version of Google mobile maps.  Posts from mobiles including pictures will be automatically geo-tagged (or located to place) which will allow you to broadcast and recieve the buzz around shops, restaurants or visitor attractions, nearby.

Perhaps the biggest new feature is the inclusion of voice to text.  This means that you can speak directly into your mobile phone and it will appear automatically as a text in your Buzz profile.   In one fell swoop Google is taking on Friendfeed, Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook and, oh yes, the iPhone.  The mobile features of Buzz will be available on the Google Nexus One and other Android handsets but not (at least for now) on Apple’s market leading smartphone.  When will Buzz be available?  It launches now.

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).

Trinity Mirror Buys Manchester Evening News

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by Rob Brown

The Manchester Evening News and its associated titles have been acquired by Trinity Mirror for £45 million in a deal announced today.  It spells the end of the long association between the Guardian (once The Manchester Guardian) and the MEN.

Sly Bailey, Chief Executive of Trinity Mirror , commented: “GMG Regional Media is a perfect strategic fit for our Group. This acquisition, which includes the Manchester Evening News with its proud and rich journalistic heritage, together with the weekly titles and associated websites extends our reach across print and online and is a further step towards our strategic goal of creating a multi-media business of real scale.”   The deal doesn’t include the TV station Channel M. 

If you drill down into the detail of the deal, £37.4 million is to realease the papers from a long term printing contract – but it is still a lot of money to pay for a regional title when the sector is under so much pressure.   The deal may be good news for the title because it moves from a group that does not really believe in the future of regional print to one that is committed to it.   For that reason it probably ensures a longer future for the MEN but whether Trinity can stem the flow of advertising and readers away from regional newspapers in the long term is quite a different question.
 
 

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).

Social media ROI – is it a Euro, buck or pound?

Sunday, February 7th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Return on investment from social media?

Step forward, please, the social media alchemist who has struck gold…

The leading voices in social media practice and debate are certainly giving it their best shot: Brian Solis’ recent guest post on Mashable paints a daunting picture of senior executives’ views on ROI from social media, including the bar chart below lifted from a study by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club.

In short, the marketing decision makers remain unconvinced; so, if selling social media is the way you’re aiming to pay for dinner tonight, be prepared for a light salad rather than roast beef.

Solis suggests that measuring social media ROI in 2010 will hinge on real business metrics, such as revenue, rather than the nebulous numbers offered by volumes of followers on Twitter.

Though it’s been around for a while, Oliver Blanchard’s take on the ROI question (presentation below) still hits the spot, although the influence of other elements in the marketing mix make it difficult to evaluate the effect of social media in isolation.

Olivier Blanchard Basics Of Social Media Roi

View more presentations from Olivier Blanchard.

In our experience as a business using social media for our own purposes, as well as advising clients on theirs, there is a significant investment of time in order to make it work. Equally, the definition of a “return” has not been limited to pounds and pence, though that is the ultimate objective.

So what has been our return from social media? In its purest, measurable form of generating income, we have developed an ongoing relationship with a blue chip company that began with an exchange of views on this blog. But there have been other returns too, that oil the wheels towards our destination.

This has included using social networks to develop new contacts in a range of fields whose knowledge we have been able to call upon when pitching for new business. Through listening to networks such as LinkedIn, we’ve been asked to quote for work, opened doors with decision makers where they otherwise may have remained shut and we’ve fostered true partnerships with our suppliers by providing recommendations and referring them to opportunities spotted online. Monitoring Twitter has helped us to protect and enhance client reputation, especially when influential people on the network have a grievance.

Granted, none of this is a guarantee of instant, financial success. But would we rather have it or not have it? In tough times (and, let’s face it, one measly tenth of a percentage point growth doesn’t make for a recovery) every tool in the new business box has to be sharpened, and social media is now one of them.

To borrow from Solis again, “Defining the “R” in ROI is where we need to focus, as it relates to our business goals and performance indicators specifically”.

In business, the “R” is beefing up the bottom line. But there’s more than one way of getting there and building a presence within social media can mean you leveraging a little help from your friends.

 

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