Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

Another politician uses social networks..

February 26, 2007

If you, like me, regularly commune with TechCrunch, PaidContent and Techmeme you probably find the media sections of major newspapers somewhat lacking in bite. “Stop Press : Young people express themselves on the internet” and other such insights.

However, I’ve always thought the Observer got it more than most until I read this in their diary column.

“Social netwroking site Facebook was revealed to be one of the tools US Presidential candidate Barack Obama, is using to try to win over voters. Bang go Facebook’s cool credentials”.

I’m trying to pin down exactily what it is that annoys me about that. Does Hoxton lose its cool because politicians canvas there? Does The Observer lose its cool by allowing politicians to write for it? Or does it show that The Observer is a key media player?

Facebook is a social space and a community, by approaching people through it, you approach them on their terms and you show them you appreciate its importance.  (Earlier posts on politicians and social networks here and here).

Damn, I just wrote a post about MSM “just not getting it” – how sterotypically new media blogger is that?

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4 in 100 at an Int’l. Ad. Assoc. debate had heard of Walmart and Edelman controversy

October 31, 2006

Last night I went to a debate sponsored by the International Advertising Association on the motion “In the online age consumers are the new brand managers”. During the right to reply I did a quick straw poll of the 100 or so people attending and asked how many of them had heard of the Walmart/Edelman fiasco.

There was definitely not a massive show of hands. Only four of the hundred plus advertising execs, media representatives and brand managers had heard of this MONUMENTAL CRISIS that had nigh on annihilated Edelman’s reputation. Or so the blogosphere would have you believe.

Is it important that of this assembly inhabitants of the advertising ecosystem so few had heard of this flog saga? No, but what it does show is that social media is still in its infancy in the UK.

The idea of consumer endorsement via blogs was novel to some. One gentlemen stood up and suggested if this internet (which he might well have thought was a series of tubes) was effective why not hire 100 students to write positive blogs for your company. I could feel the spirit Steve Rubel, Neville Hobson, Ben O’Connel and Jackie Huba rise in me, that is definitely not in line with WOMMA guidelines.

In the end, I had to vote against the motion despite feeling a deep affinity for what Simon Waldman, Digital Publisher at the Guardian, and Gary Lockton, founder of Strategically, who proposed the motion were saying. They showed the new power of word of mouth with the examples of Kryptonite locks and Mentos fountains, the problem was that they didn’t define brand managers tightly enough.

Patrick Barwise of London Business School, however, used Peter Drucker‘s definition of marketing – the art of seeing an organisation through the eyes of the customer -, locked down branding as delivery of a promise and said brand managers executed that promise. With that done he deftly showed that whatever the changes in media, there will still be those that manage brands. Tough to argue against that.

However, had brand managers been pinned down as those who, through the purchase of above and below the line media, attempt to deliver a controlled brand message, it would have been a different story. The days of controlling all channels of delivery, and the possibility of ignoring consumer reaction, are gone.

Dreams of control should be a thing of the past. However, there is a wealth of opportunity for those who will be able to let go and engage in the conversations which are happening online. I’m really glad to be taking part in these conversations and to hear them happening in the UK.

It really was a great night and I haven’t stood up for some public speaking for a while. Man it’s fun.

David Cameron: I don’t want to say I told you so but…

October 19, 2006

Now, no one likes a smart alec (and I speak of what I know), however, it suddenly seems as though politicians are invading MySpace. The slight crowing is because my David Cameron MySpace experiment – where I created his profile then got in touch with the Tories about it – happened a full 8 months ago.

That is all.

How do you make a successful website?

October 9, 2006

Anyone who wants to be part of Project Redstripe must be thinking – how will we make this new site work? Luckily AU Interactive blog has digested The Future of Web Apps 2006 conference and come up with 10 Things That Will Make Or Break Your Website.

Here are a few that I liked the sound of :
“1. EASY is the most important feature of any website, web app, or program.

Make the website easy to use. Then make it easier.

5. Release features early and often.
Start with a core set of features (and create plugins on top) – always know your end goals.

6. Be special.
Passion for what you are doing and creating is paramount. If you believe it, do it. Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s not possible or shouldn’t be done. Create purple cows. Challenge the status quo. Do it against the odds and with little startup money. (Raising too much money can hurt you and make you lose focus.) Prove all your detractors wrong. Passion and a belief in yourself will get you through the rough times….”

The entire list is great but it’s really number six that speaks to me.

I know that part of the point of this is to show that The Economist is ‘web savvy’. Well, I might let point number 6 do the talking and politely ask to tear up that idea.

Web savvy is great, but how about doing something amazing? Why shy away from the word revolutionary? Let’s be as brave as possible and bend every single part of the web to our will. Let’s do justice to the potential of the internet.

The BBC was founded with the words Nation shall speak peace unto Nation, today we should let citizen can speak unto citizen.

Our readers have so much to contribute. Project Redstripe should give them that power.

An Economist PR Experiment

October 4, 2006

So the idea that I was the person to speak to about blogs spread. Until one day Charley Smith, PR and brand guru, walked through the door and asked me – can you believe it? – to help her get in touch with bloggers.

My breath got short, with knuckles white I struggled to contain myself. “Yes of course I can help” came the unsurprising answer.

Tom Standidge had written a very funny article on the real dangers of air travel – definitely not something to read before an Aeroflot flight to Ulan Bator. Charley wanted to get in touch with bloggers about it.

After a bit of a think three strategies came up :

a) Contact A-list bloggers with the piece, to get as much viral as quickly as possible.

b) Find out who had written recently about air travel, then give them a very funny piece on it.

c) Approach Economist reading bloggers and reward them with a pre-press scoop.

In the end we decided the third option (option c, for those weak in the alphabet) would be best. For a start getting linklove of top bloggers is a chore. They get so many approaches a day that it would be tough to get anywhere.

The second choice (b) was better as it involved finding people with a concern, then providing them with some great content. However, it was close to the liquid explosive on planes incident and could look a little opportunistic (a little too “good day to bury bad news“).

And any way option c (no. 3) looked far more exciting. Rather than going to the top, or going to those on message, why not go to our fans? Use the passion that our readers have for The Economist to generate word of mouth.

Charlotte sent the article to Michael Seaton’s blog Client Side, saying Michael could “scoop us on it, you can criticise it, do what you want with it, or even just ignore it”. Best to hear what happened from the man himself :

“My delayed reaction was a serious “wow”. Being a long time reader of The Economist I am really intrigued and impressed at the notion of using the blogosphere as a test-bed. Especially in the way they have reached out.

Sure, it feeds my ego to know that one of my favourite magazines has asked me to participate in this little social media and PR experiment. I must say that I really respect that they seem to have a grasped how to engage folks like myself in a conversation where the outcome for them could go one of several ways…

The bottom line is that this tactic worked with me. So, am I a sucker? Am I part of an elite group? Not sure yet. Let’s see how this plays out”. (Link)

Not only did this story reach one blogger but it caused a (mini) splash from Toronto via Talinn (do not adjust you browser, that is in Estonian) to Calcutta.

Lee, a PR blogger in Toronto commented on the story thus :

“i think what the economist has done is fantastic; inviting you to scoop them, not being anally retentive about their content – it seems as if they’ve really learnt from, as opposed to reported on, the social media survey.

i’m just mad that my favourite periodical didn’t get in touch with me!” (Link)

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Mad Lee 

Whilst Louis liked the fact that The Economist “ought to run with the idea of engaging with (in contrast to the Independent’s asinine attacks on) the blogosphere.” (Link)

This side project shows that I have some understanding of how the blogosphere works. That I can get positive results through it, and can be innovative. What’s more, this combination of word of mouth marketing with digital PR show that I have quite wide interests and skills. And startups frequently have to rely on generalists, more than specialists.

The wonders of wikis

October 3, 2006

One of the problems of trying to get my blog project off the ground is that I have spoken to a lot of people about it. This has given the false impression that I’m only obsessed by blogs, when I’m obsessed by new media as a whole. This blog should show that I’m a rounded digital player with an understanding of many developments on the web.

I would like to take the opportunity to showcase/showoff my Group Sales wiki (for what it’s worth). This was something that I started, believing it would enable a greater level of conversation amongst parts of the group that are separated by borders and wonky timezones.

Firstly, what is a wiki? This is answered very well in an article by John Edwards of CFO :

“Wiki,” the Hawaiian word for “quick,” is also the name for collaborative Web sites that let users add and edit content quickly and easily.

The best-known of these collaborative sites is Wikipedia, a multilingual Web-based encyclopedia. Unlike conventional online reference works, which are updated on regular schedules by professional writers and editors, Wikipedia is written entirely by volunteers and allows most articles to be changed, edited, or updated by any user at any time. This continual, “community oriented” publishing approach has enabled it to become the world’s most largest and most current encyclopedia — though hardly the most accurate, say detractors.

As Wikipedia’s popularity has soared, businesses have begun to investigate its underlying technology as a way to share business and financial knowledge among employees, suppliers, and customers. Why use highly structured content management software, they reason, when a wiki’s collaborative process can get the job done faster and easier?”

The software has already been adopted by many organisations (there is even, I believe, an Economist editorial Social Text wiki). A good example of such just such a company is Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. There is a great case study on the implementation and this is part of the conclusion :

“At DrKW, wiki users have seen demonstrable value. Their meetings run more smoothly and are more productive; unnecessary barriers between teams are being broken down; the quality of product specifications and documentation is improving; presentations are being written faster and more effectively; and the risks posed by staff leaving is reduced.

But more than that, the wiki is helping people form business relationships with people that they would otherwise never have met. It’s strengthening existing relationships, and providing a forum for high quality conversation and exchange of ideas.”

Having drunk from the wiki Kool Aid I thought I’d see if I could get some of these benefits by setting up a wiki on StikiPad. The chief aim of this was to put up information that I had on the Postgraduate Courses section that I was working on (see Economist’s of 30th September and October 7th).

This would be a way of putting information up there which could then be shared without sending a barrage of group emails around the salespeople and reps. I have the privilege of working on courses full time and I’d love it if others could benefit from my work. What would be even better would be if I could benefit from their’s.

Eventually I put up here not just Postgraduate section material, but also dotcom options and sales emails for the various surveys.

Now, I’m not going to say it was a success. Whilst some folk have accepted authorship of the wiki, it has just one user. The total failure of the project aside, I hope you can see that I try to come up with innovative, practical solutions using web apps.

If you would like to have a look around this ghost wiki please email me and I’ll send you an invitation.

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The benefits of collaboration