Archive for September, 2011

ASOS Feels The Digital Love

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 by Julie Wilson

ASOS, Very and are the three most loved digital brands, a study by Tamar has revealed.

The BrandLove25 report explores the degree to which consumers demonstrate their support and enthusiasm for a digital brand through their social interaction, and ranks companies on a number of different metrics including numbers of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and revenue.

Joining the companies in the top ten are:;;;;; and

Whilst it is of no surprise to see ASOS and Very feature in the top spots, both companies having been amongst the first fashion retailers to adopt and embrace social media effectively into their marketing strategies, credit has to be given to for achieving such a respectable position.  In just five years since launch, the online fashion retailer has firmly established itself as one of the UK’s top online providers of women’s fashion, picking up a number of industry awards along the way and, as this report shows, positioning itself firmly at the heart of consumers.

What makes a brand engaging could be said to lie in the eye of the consumer but there are five key principles to which companies should adhere if looking to achieve the social medial top spot:

1. Know your customer and identify their wants and needs

2. Stay true to your brand and ensure your voice conveys your personality

3. Maintain consistent participation and invite consumers to be a part of the conversation

4. Address the balance – commercial message delivery versus general interest

5. Provide real added value

Speaking on the results of the report Tanya Goodin, CEO of Tamar said:  “In the current climate many ‘traditional’ bricks and mortar brands are struggling but pure-play digital brands are powering from strength to strength.  However, this second edition of our Best-Loved Digital Brands league table shows that, even within the digital sector, some brands are performing much better than others.  The size of social media communities give an immediate and very visible way of measuring the ‘love’ customers feel for brands and reported revenue gives us a clear indication of how that ‘love’ translates to sales.  The brands here have demonstrably capitalised on the seismic shift from ‘bought’ to ‘earned’ media and are seeing stellar financial performance as a result.  Digital brands who don’t make the Top 25 table need to look at the stars appearing and take note.”


Social media is a wiz for Wicked

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Jon Clements

When a piece of culture is panned by the mainstream media, nobody would be surprised if the public took the experts’ opinion to heart and stayed away in their droves.

But word of mouth and social media are potent forces, suggesting that the traditional media aren’t always the kingmakers they would perhaps aspire to be.

Case in point is the musical, Wicked, which today celebrates five years in London’s West End theatre district – with UK box office takings totalling £145m.

Despite its lukewarm, or downright hostile, reviews back in 2006, the show continues merrily down the yellow brick road.  As well as examining the range of possible reasons for what the Guardian’s theatre critic, Michael Billington, calls “its mysterious popularity”, this piece cites social media as the source of the “extraordinary community” and “positive word of mouth” surrounding Wicked.

The Facebook page and Twitter feed supporting the UK production boast nearly 58,000 users between them, though they’re dwarfed by the Broadway show’s 625,000 Facebook friends.  Currently, “fifth birthday facts” (e.g., the London crew having consumed 12,600 pints of tea) are posted on Facebook and shared further via Twitter much, it seems, to the delight of fans.

Not unlike the “sleeper hit” at the cinema that was The Shawshank Redemption, Wicked seems to have hit a nerve with the public and been sustained through the fervency of its fans  and the collective cult obsession that social media can help perpetuate. Which, nowadays, leads neatly to mainstream media attention…

And for those, like me, who knew nothing about it until now, here’s the latest London show in all its wickedness.

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 ''

Digital reputation matters too for Toyota

Friday, September 16th, 2011 by Jon Clements

With digital marketing – as with many things – just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Exemplar of this is the 2008 Saatchi & Saatchi LA Toyota Matrix campaign, soon to be making its re-appearance in a US courtroom.

In brief, the creative campaign was an elaborate online gag in which people received unsolicited emails from spoof, dodgy characters with seemingly real online profiles which appeared to involve the recipient in the fictional online stalker’s chaotic life. The creative panel that road-tested the campaign when launched appeared genuinely impressed with the concept, creative input and attention to detail while their concerns seemed to focus only on how believable it was for the person being “punked” or spoofed. The essence of the campaign – a clever prank – fitted with the DNA of the desired audience of 20-something men.

But one email recipient, Amber Duick, didn’t see the funny side of being digitally stalked by the Toyota campaign’s fictitious, English football hooligan character, Sebastian Bowler (where did they get that name? Surely he should’ve been “Gary”) and looks like she’ll get her day in court with Saatchi on various charges and with a potential price tag of $10m if she wins.

Without wanting to be hard with hindsight on Saatchi – and there’s no doubting the boldness, left-field creativity and relevance for the actual target audience in the campaign – the missing element in the thinking process seems to have been “where could this go wrong?” and “is there a potential reputation problem here?”

An exciting creative concept takes on a life of its own and probably any agency can become wedded to delivering it, no matter what the possible fall-out. Even potential controversy can be considered an added bonus. Call me risk averse – or even an old stiff, if you like, but this was probably a case of controversy that Toyota and Saatchi could’ve done without. At the time, it seems there wasn’t a Toyota  social media team (as it has now) involved in the campaign.

Nowadays, the Toyota social media team tells me that its mix of PR, marketing and customer relations people is “part of the larger digital umbrella” operating at the company.  It’s a fair example of where integration among marketing disciplines – including those with a keener eye for corporate and brand reputation – can help to avert potential disasters when the creative juices get carried away.

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 ''

NLA v Meltwater dispute may hit Newspapers

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 by Rob Brown

A copyright dispute between Meltwater and the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) comes to a head today when the UK’s copyright tribunal sits to consider whether Meltwater’s users will need to pay a licence fee for online news content.

The NLA is owned by the UK’s newspaper industry and already licenses the distribution of hard copies of newspaper clippings. The NLA previously took Meltwater and the PRCA to court in 2010 confirming that web links for online news were protected by copyright law.

The problem for the NLA and the newspaper industry is this.  In addition to Meltwater News which monitors the papers in question (and others besides), Meltwater also has a product called Meltwater Buzz which monitors social media, networks and blogs.  It may be that over time agencies, clients and in-house organisations can measure the effect of media coverage just as well, perhaps better, through social channels as they can by looking at conventional media.  If this happens it will boost blogs and social channels and hit mainstream media.  Perhaps it is time for the newspaper industry to reconsider the role and scope of the NLA.

The case is scheduled to run until 26 September.



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).

Osborne’s GQ appearance is PR disaster

Friday, September 9th, 2011 by Mark Perry

Should politicians be allowed to tell jokes? The answer  judging by George Osborne’s ill-advised attempt at this week’s GQ awards is no.

Mr Osborne was picking up his award for being “Politician of the Year” when during his acceptance speech in which – it has to be presumed – he was trying to be funny he made a lewd comment about the readers of the magazine.

Modesty prevents me from repeating the joke which can be seen here . As can be heard in the clip it went down badly with the star-studded audience who jeered as he exited the stage.

If in accepting the award he was trying to gain some positive personal PR you do have to ask what his advisers were thinking allowing him to appear at a red carpet star-studded event, particularly as he calls for  us all to adopt austerity measures.

He also seems, in the clip, to be reading his acceptance speech from the teleprompters. This probably means that one of his advisers wrote the lines for him which turned out to be so blatantly wrong coming from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  If they had come from the likes of Jonathan Ross no-one would even have noticed.

Perhaps it was an bungled attempt to show him to be an ordinary ‘bloke’? After all, his age places him in the target readership. I am afraid, Mr Osborne, that this is a PR fail.

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.

TV cameras in the courtroom?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould

The announcement earlier this week that TV cameras would be allowed to film in all England and Wales courtrooms was a move to improve the public’s knowledge of, and confidence in, the justice system.

However, the viewer will be limited to seeing and hearing the verdict, which may not always provide a true context.

Since 2009, highlights from the Supreme Court can be viewed on Sky. Since May 2011, Sky News has broadcast live footage from these trials, though it tends to be very long and very boring if you are not directly involved. In saying this, the broadcasts can attract up to 90,000 viewers.

I am not sure about how much would be learned from the small amount of the trial shown. It also throws up some other questions – should more be shown, would inquests eventually be filmed? Would this lead to whole court cases being shown?

I am unsure how much you would learn about the justice system if you were only to see the sentencing part of a trial, and, at the end of the day, court rooms are open to the public anyway.

Would filming in the courtroom encourage disrespect for the court system and will it draw attention to any flaws in the court room? In which case television cameras are a good thing.

There is also the concern  that if this does go further, and we do eventually end up being shown the whole case,  will the witnesses  play up to the cameras  In America, people tend to criticise the filming as cameras can intimidate witnesses and encourage lawyers to put on an almost theatrical performance.  Think of the drama shown during the infamous OJ Simpson murder trial.

On the positive side, opening up the courts will give people the opportunity to understand more about how sentencing works while also ‘naming and and-shaming ’the guilty.

A large case shown on the TV would, no doubt, attract the ratings and –  I’m sure – I would be tuning in as well.


Reading between the lines

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

In a summer which saw GCSE and A level results reach record highs again, I was shocked to stumble across National Literacy Trust findings that one in six children do not read a single book in a month.

The literacy body identified text messages as the most popular reading material outside of the classroom – with 60% claiming to read texts at least once a month. This goes some way to explaining the ‘text speak’ that peppers modern-day vocabularies.

I’d like to say at this point that I’m not a traditionalist. Words slip in and out of the lexicon in new, novel and often admirable ways. Neologisms like crowdsourcing, defriend and tweet, as well as acronyms OMG and BFF, tip the hat to modern methods of communication. Whilst I can’t dismiss the fact that text messages are a fantastic creative medium, they should not in any way be used as a substitute for the humble book.

Research has shown a direct correlation between reading frequency and attainment. Children who read text messages only are twice as likely to be below average readers compared to those who also read fiction.

At the start of a new school term, getting the next generation of geniuses excited about reading is more important than ever. Literacy is considered to be a fundamental right in modern society and transforms lives by increasing confidence, employability and social mobility. Which in my book is as good an excuse as any to curl up with a gripping read.


Is social media the answer?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 by Jon Clements

Despite its invasion of mainstream society – and contribution to the fall of a few despotic Arab regimes in as many weeks – is the jury still out on the long-term value of social media?

PR Media Blog would be the first to admit its quasi-evangelical standpoint on social media, having been both involved in and observing the successful outcomes of its use. Our team has trained companies to understand the potential of social media and seen them develop it in ways we, and they, probably never imagined.  And we’ve been hands-on for other organisations who preferred to outsource the job.

But, maybe, as I reach the milestone of 200 blog posts for this site, it’s a good point to get another – perhaps more reflective – view on where, and how, new media now fits into communications and business.

Recently a number of academics at The University of Warwick tackled the topic in something the university’s online Knowledge Centre summed up as “New Media, New problems”.

Economics professor Gregory Crawford, director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, Dr Chris Bilton and sociology lecturer/researcher Dr Eric Jensen noted that new media had given the public an “amplified voice” which can “to a certain extent, influence the market”.

However, they dispute the “clichés” about new media having wrought the “Death of the author” and “publisher”; simply, older power structures have been replaced with new, exemplified by the movement from major record labels to iTunes, from big broadcasters to Google and from people reading newspapers to self-publishing.

But where one of the mantras of the new media revolution has been “content is king”, Bilton’s view is rather that “context is king”. By this, the inference is that content is not the endgame, but selling the “experiences around the content”. With a generation of consumers who assume that online content should be free, the sensible option for companies seems to be creating and distributing content gratis, while using it as a hook into other commercial transactions.

What does this mean? Well, in markets where some organisations are already creating free content and using it to enhance their relationship with customers and build bridges with prospects, those firms who are still scratching their heads about digital media are placing themselves months, or even years, behind the competition. In other words, if you are still debating “why create content?”, you’re making it harder for yourself to create a compelling “context” in which the customer can consume, or at least consider.

Warwick’s researchers, while acknowledging the “democratic potential” of new media, as a “Fifth Estate” holding powerful media interests to account, are cautious about how brave the new world offered by new media is: Jensen pointed out that offline media and its employees – such as CNN and BBC – dominated also the online sphere, going as far to say that new media was “essentially old media online”, citing Twitter as bursting with “conventional media personalities”.

Among those of you active in social media, do you think the conclusions of these academics is on the money, or are they out of touch with a world understood best by its practitioners?

Let me know – either way, the jury still has some thinking to do.

A summary of the Warwick University discussion and associated podcast is available here.

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 ''

Techcrunch Time for Media Future

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 by Rob Brown

We’ve often talked about the demise of dead wood and ink (and sometime of its resilience) on this blog.  What then of the fortunes of the natural successor to newspapers; online media?

TechCrunch along with Mashable has been at the forefront of this evolution. Focusing on technology news it has carved a powerful niche since it was founded by Michael Arrington in 2005.  It is one of the top 200 websites in the world and has over 4.5 million subscribers.   However the future of this new media Leviathan has been thrown into some confusion today with a post on the site entitled “TechCrunch As We Know It May Be Over”.  The post is written by MG Siegler a respected Techcrunch staffer since 2008 (Official title: Kick Ass Pool Party Coordinator).

The central theme is whether Techcrunch will stay the same if, as seems increasingly likely, the newish owners AOL, dispense with the services of founder Michael Arrington.   His tenure at least in part centres around a complex debate about transparency and editorial control.  Allegations in the New York Times suggest that Techcrunch lacks transparency when reporting on ventures in which its owners or leadership have a financial interest.  Defenders including Siegler say that the loose editorial control ensures that Techrunch can not have an editorial policy in favour or against any organisation and this unrestricted environment is what also makes the site able to break so many stories.

The debate here is not just about ethics, its about the sustainability of loosely controlled new media models.  Stay tuned.

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).