Archive for February, 2011

Newsnight – future of the media

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 by Jon Clements


Launching a debate on the future of the media last night, Newsnight anchor, Jeremy Paxman, asked the question troubling newspaper publishers in mature markets the world over – is it worth printing a newspaper at all?

Cut to reporter David Grossman on an early morning newspaper delivery round, where the number of rounds have been cut from 10 to 5.

Grossman’s voiceover mused that the newspaper’s business model is “approaching its twilight”, with its remaining advocates among the public (albeit a sample of two in his report) similarly entering their latter years. One woman gets a paper as she hasn’t got the internet while a second likes to have the news in print – “to be able to touch it” and resistant to the lure of news breaking instantly, in the vein of Twitter: “I don’t have to know it the second it happens.”

Back to the studio, we were treated to the insight of various media luminaries, whose organisations are each exerting their own distinct influence on the future of media.

Here are highlights of what they said:

Lionel Barber – Editor, FT

  • – “What matters is first class content. Web traffic is going up.”
  • – “Google changed its attitude – it recognised that it [journalism] costs and adapted the model to allow paywalls to exist.”
  • – “The growth of subscription business – you know your customer.”

Peter Barron – Director of External Relations, Google

  • – “We make our money from commercial services. [And we are] sending clicks through to newspapers. A billion clicks per month.”
  • – “There’s no simple silver bullet – we’re in a period of experimentation. One Pass – trying to give a flexible means of setting up a payment system.”

Alan Rusbridger – Editor, The Guardian

  • – “The newspaper has had two centuries – it is a Victorian method while the opportunity for journalism digitally is huge.”
  • – “The BBC does distort the market – I resent and admire the BBC at the same time.”
  • – “We made £30m in digital revenues last year reaching more people than ever before. Influence and reach of the paper will create real influence and value.”

Mark Thompson – Director General, BBC

  • – “No one medium is enough. Majority of people using BBC website want it to be free.”
  • – “14m click-throughs from the BBC to national newspaper sites.”

The programme then turned its light on citizen journalists, with chief sceptic, the Economist’s Anne McElvoy, taking on the enthusiastic digital amateurs:

She argued that fewer professional journalists and the emergence of new media journalism was putting quality journalism at risk.

She also reiterated the importance of journalistic skills in unravelling the wealth of information and news stories contained within the Wikileaks documents, which would be otherwise indigestible.

Conversely, Future Publishing boss, Mark Wood, noted that good writers are taking command of the new media, citing Stephen Fry on Twitter as one of the world’s funniest commentators on new tech.

Once again, back to the studio to get the views of the media bosses:


  • – “At its best it’s a craft – testing multiple sources and revise for accuracy: that’s journalism.”
  • – “Journalists have lost their place as gatekeepers but are not redundant.”
  • – “Deep and original journalism costs money and takes time. It’s a world apart from Facebook and Twitter which is social interaction.”


  • – “Journalism is extremely valuable – the point is the massive democratisation of information and the ability to publish information. High quality material rises to the top.”


  • – “Wikileaks would have been completely unsafe just dumped on the Internet.”
  • – “These tools we’ve had for 200 years – there are real experts out there who are every bit as good as journalists.”


  • – “Citizen journalism is valuable but cannot substitute for the classical skills of journalism. Together they have enriched the way the news works.”

So there you have it. There appears to be life in the old journalistic dog yet!

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 ''

I tweet, you tweet, we tweet…Twitter at 5

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Jon Clements

And so, Twitter will shortly turn five years old.

From a niche club to an estimated 190 million users today; in-depth, double-page spreads in The Observer and a social media platform replete with tales illustrating the positive and negative power of communication.

No doubt, it has changed lives. Sometimes – as in the case of the Robin Hood Airport tweeter and whoever made monumental misjudgements for Habitat and, latterly, Kenneth Cole – probably for the worse.

But for every life changed, how many are still waiting for something to “happen” for them on Twitter? Has it changed my life? Well, yes and no. I certainly haven’t “monetised” Twitter in any way my wallet’s aware of (then I’m not sure Twitter has either, despite the fortune it’s supposedly worth) and there hasn’t been a singular, life-changing tweet I can claim.

What it has been is a vast, virtual lending library in which people are, perpetually, throwing books at me; some of which I manage to read and learn from. But what it’s been more significantly is a great repository of humanity in which I’ve found, befriended, shared laughs with, helped and been helped by people I’ve never met in person. I can’t think of another environment where that’s ever happened. And it’s proven to me that the once derided concept of the “online chatroom”, with all its shady connotations, can be so much more than that.

To get a sense of what Twitter means to people I follow, I asked a selection of them whether they could live without it and, if not, why not? This is what they said:

David Edmundson-Bird, director of executive programmes and principal lecturer (Digital Marketing Communications) at Manchester Metropolitan University: @groovegenerator

“Couldn’t live without it professionally. 1st source of expertise, trusted community, biz dvpt opps. Live and asynchronous method of support for students and great networking opps. I refer to true Tweeters wearing their whole heart on their sleeves. The truth will out. Still needs greater critical mass, but keeps fighting off alternatives.”

Louise Bolotin, freelance journalist and co-founder of InsidetheM60: @louisebolotin

“An essential working tool for me, from shoutouts for contacts to plugging my work, plus I use it to network and socialise.”

Adrian Slatcher, digital development office – innovation, Manchester Digital Development Agency: @adrianslatcher

“If Twitter finished tomorrow (or you had to pay for it) I’d probably wait for the next, not quite as good, thing. What I wouldn’t want to do is spend an age building up my network again on another platform – so that’s the value.”

Hamish Thompson, MD at Twelve Thirty Eight: @Suburbman

“I couldn’t live without it. I’d pay. People underestimate significance. Great provider/democratiser – a human right.”

Adrian Johnson, Umpf: @adrian_johnson

“Could NOT live without it – it’s my news filter. I check Twitter first rather than direct news channels.

Tim Difford, social media consultant: @timdifford

“The answer is yes. I did before and could do again. Most people live without it now. Would I want to? Definitely not. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that it has enriched many aspects of my life… from heightened productivity through to enhanced engagement and greater awareness. What’s more, I’m better connected, better informed and better looking.”

Georgia Brown, Digital Account Manager Connect Group and Director @GeorgiaBrown

“Twitter as a tool facilitates simple, effective, useful interaction with a like minded community of often geographically dispersed experts. But I am sure we would cope without! Nothing beats networking in person at conferences/events, but this isn’t feasible on a daily basis!!”

Nigel Barlow, co-founder and writer for InsidetheM60: @NigelBarlow

“Yes,of course I could live without it,but it provides an invaluable tool for collecting,contacting and broadcasting information at little or no cost apart from time. But, as with any technology, one day it could be redundant-look what happened to MySpace for example. I also worry as a society that it has narrowed our attention span and further eroded our social skills as has a lot of technological advancements and continued a trend towards materiality at the expense of substance.But could I live without it? At the moment No.”


Thanks to my fellow Tweeps, each of whom responded via Twitter in under an hour. Now that’s what I call collaboration!

In my humble opinion (or, should I abbreviate, IMHO) while LinkedIn is all about professional advancement and Facebook – at its best – is a private domain for your closest friends and family, Twitter is like one of those packed-out virtual parties that typified Second Life when it was all the rage. But instead of having to play out a role through unfeasibly flattering avatars with fake identities, in Twitter you are trading only on yourself; to work, that requires authenticity, honesty, and generosity. And we’re all the better for 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 ''

Is Wrecking Twitter?

Friday, February 11th, 2011 by Rob Brown

Today I became the unwitting perpetrator of a modest outbreak of cyber-bullying.  My colleague and fellow PR Media blogger @jonclements was on the receiving end because I had accused him of spoiling twitter by using more than 140 characters.  I should explain.

Tweetdeck has been rolling out version 0.37.2 incorporating a facility for posting longer tweets.  Jon likes it.  As for me, not so much, and it seems that I’m not alone.   My slightly tongue in cheek micro blog generated two dozen responses in just twenty minutes and it seems that most users agree that breaking the digit limit is off side. only works in Tweetdeck.  Users of other twitter applications get a link to the longer tweet.  Despite this it has provoked  considerable ire.  A thread on the Tweetdeck support forum entitled ‘Let’s turn off’ has attracted nearly 100 comments in just a week.  According to the twitter blog Tweetdeck is the leading third party application for twitter so it could change the way many people use twitter.  I believe that part of the beauty of twitter is its brevity.  Tweetdeck has responded and a new version v.0.37.3 which has the option of disabling the add-on.  But is that enough?

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).

Does your PR make business sense?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 by Jon Clements

It’s the blood curdling moment that awaits – I would contest – every person who has ever worked in PR: having no results to share with the client.

What is, however, much worse is not knowing what results the client actually wants.

Sometimes it’s the agency’s fault for not asking and rolling out what it considers to be a bright and shiny campaign with a vague notion of “getting media coverage”; otherwise, it’s the client’s fault for not being specific enough about campaign objectives or what post-campaign success looks like. Sadly, for the agency, the client is always right – and you can bet it’s not the client getting their coat!

The marketing communications process needs to be a collaborative one – between client and agency – if it is going to succeed. And that includes making a clear and unambiguous agreement on what the campaign needs to achieve; in other words, what OUTCOME is required.

A fabulous discussion of this took place in the #measurepr Twitter chat yesterday, (transcript here) headed up by Seth Duncan, Research and Development Director at Beyond Analytics.

Duncan divides outcomes into two: business and PR. The former, he says, must be “recognisable and make sense across an organisation” while the latter can constitute any part of the PR lifecycle or “funnel”, which includes awareness, knowledge, interest, preference and action. Business outcomes should connect most directly with the final PR outcome – action. This concept is illustrated simply and effectively in the work of the post-Barcelona Principles taskforce.

But that doesn’t mean the outcome needs to be measured in pounds and pence. Duncan cites non-pecuniary outcomes such as lowering employee turnover or achieving changes in legislation. If that’s what success looks like for the company, then both the organisation and the agency needs to be clear about it from the start.

Then, there’s that acronym – KPIs. I’ve never liked the phrase “Key Performance Indicators” as – from the perspective of PR delivery – performance could be understood as output (what material was generated by a campaign) rather than actual results (outcome). And I’ve sometimes wondered whether clients, when asking for KPIs, have a clear picture of what KPIs they need. Again, it’s a collaborative process.

Alternative phrases for KPIs put forward during #measurepr were “validated metric” and – c/o my ever-helpful Twitter friend and PR specialist, Judy Gombita – “Key Success Indicators”, which seems to make the most sense as a measurement criteria.

As Duncan emphasised: “For a KPI to be worth collecting, it has to be correlated with some goal/behaviour.”

If outcomes are the Holy Grail of PR campaigns, then they’re too important not to be specified, agreed and have their own measurement budget allocated up front by agency and client.

How else will PR make business sense?

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 ''