Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

If Microsoft no longer has a walled garden….

February 20, 2007

The past week has seen both Dell and Yahoo launch Digg like services, and now Microsoft gets in on the act. With Netscape already in, it shows the big boys/girls are in on the social news party. Interestingly the MSN version lets users submit stories from any sites blowing apart the walled garden approach.

If Microsoft are no longer trying to keep you in their (evil) empire, its a good bet that no one should. It also shows that companies with communities (hint: if you work at a newspaper that means you) should try to get them to create a social news site.

Communities of people like you and people you like (from henceforth, plypyl) want to help, find ways to let them. (via TechCrunch).

Mad props to the Social Media Club

February 16, 2007

Project Redstripe went to a meeting of the Social Media Club yesterday. It’s an informal gathering of various webheads that is organised by Lloyd Davis. Unfortunately, we had arranged to go to dinner so we couldn’t stay till the end, but I did learn a couple of neat things, and meet some interesting follk.

Rav, turned me on to the idea of peer media networks. He looked perplexed when I asked him what publications he read, because he and his colleagues had set up a private digg-style system. They tagged the articles that they thought were important, so he compiled news that was relevant to his context. That’s what I call a local news site.

Now, how interesting would it be if Economist journalists bookmarked all the pages, papers and articles they read?

Thanks Lloyd for organising it and see you at the next one.

I’m way excited about going to more web events

October 30, 2006

I’ll be heading off to a brilliant debate organised by the dashing Dominic Allon of The Economist. The motion is cracking : In the online age, consumers are the new brand managers.

It’s taking place within the Debating Group  which is the Parliamentary Group for debating marketing. I’ll be looking forward to some cracking speeches, but it will also be interesting to see where marketing in the UK stands.

Will there be a heated discussion about Coke vs Mentos, the perils of astroturfing and the recent Edelman and Walmart balls up? Or will there be mad wailing at the loss of control?

I’ll report tomorrow.

Coke and Mentos action

Building customer relationships through blogging : Pt. 2

October 11, 2006

My first post on how to use blogs to build customer relationships attracted the only comment on this blog so far. It went like so : “i’m sure that a typo in the first line would grab a dean’s attention”. Quite.

The second part in the series demonstrates two things – what I thought I had to offer the business school market and my (un)healthy obsession with the web.

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MBA2.0

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems a lot of people are talking about the internet at the moment. Once again there are a series of hot companies that create a lot of sound and fury, but does it signify nothing? Google, Yahoo, My Space, and You Tube are sitting pretty now, but will they be the Boo.coms of the future? In 2000 that company was just one of the 537 web related bankruptcies.

This time it’s different, they say. Now the talk is of Web2.0. Web2.0? Yes, that’s the catch all name for the new web companies that are coming up. It’s also known as the social web, becuase this time the web is enabling people to interact, communicate and collaborate in entirely new ways.

That’s why this blog is called MBA2.0. I’ll be highlighting how these new technologies will effect MBAs, and how you can take advantage of it. If this sounds interesting to you then stick around.

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Unfortunately I never got to set up MBA2.0 (maybe I should copyright the nAs so much of education, and particularly business education, is based around social interaction and networking I do believe there will be some serious changes. Already Phoenix University are building a campus in Second Life.

This blog would have brought up some ways in which business education could take advantage of these developments. I wouldn’t have interested everyone, but I’m sure I could have found my niche.

Group Love

October 6, 2006

It’s Friday and my mind is slightly turned to the weekend. Now is not the time to put down the monstrous web visions that keep me up at night. No, I will put in another reference instead. This time from Sally Bibb, the Director of Group Sales Development.

Sally was one of the first Economistas who I talked web with. There’s a moment in The French Lieutenant’s Woman when two characters discover that they are both Darwinists. They talk late into the night, delighted that they can share their (secret) knowledge.

So it is when I find webheads. Rather than a blank stare, I see the same crazed look (OK, she didn’t get as crazed as me) and then we’re away. Here’s her take on me and the internet :

“Great blog! I think it’s fantastic that you have put yourself forward for Red Stripe. You clearly are very knowledgeable and savvy about the web. You’re the first person I would think of asking if I had web type question. Apart from your knowledge I love your energy and passion for the web. Good luck. Keep me posted.”

The disclaimer on all this is that I’m not a big showoff the whole time. However, I don’t want to think “If only I’d put myself forward a bit more”. Hence. the immodesty.

What the hey, I’ll just see how this rolls.

L’esprit startup

October 6, 2006

I like startups almost as much as I like French anglicisms, you can’t help but laugh when you hear that the bonheur attitude c’est bon pour ma life. My first job was for a seriously failed startup radio station in Paris.

Paris Live Radio turned out to be not so much bootstrapped as cashstrapped. That didn’t deter me from saying I was a graphic designer, just to get involved. After using my minimal Photoshop skills I was able to branch out.

Writing advertising jingles (Cafe Oz – it’s the great mate’s place mate), directing their recording, designing flyers, reading the news, writing PR pieces and, of course, selling ads.  Friends in London learnt how to use the photocopier, I was soon having to learn how to manage a team of marketing interns.

It was intoxicating. Working ’till ten, coming in at weekends too, in between a bar job to pay the bills. I’m hoping that we get that buzz on Project Redstripe.

It’ll be tiring, but very satisfying.

mick-jagger.jpg

Start me up 

The other hand

October 5, 2006

The one joke I know about economists is this:

Q: Why should you only hire one armed economists?

A : Because then you won’t have any of the “on the other hand”.

So this my on the other hand moment.

Have I been dumb getting this blog on the web? I didn’t ask. I just did.

DidI blather out stuff I shouldn’t? There’s not much to blather, but maybe I did.

I hoping these are the moments of doubt you get when you want something a lot. Me thinking the worst because if I’d put myself out of the game, before it started, it would be……bad.

I’m thinking about the pitch from Agency.com when they were going for Subway‘s online business. Not only did they make a bad pitch, but they put it on the web, potentially damaging the Subway brand.

The stink they caused was huge. Here’s a sample :

“Watch this video so you’ll never do this to yourselves. Do not create a video where you publicly masturbate, backslap and attempt to hipify yourself with viral goodness in front of the industry all in the name of cool factor and winning new business. (…)

Everyone in the industry needs to watch this. Not because it’s good but because it makes ad agency people look dumb and sound really stupid. It’s filled with mindless business blather, self-important ad speak, knuckle bangs, fashionably un-tucked shirts and way too many utterances of the word “dude.” It’s painful to watch.” (Link)

Is this blog brand damage? I hope not.

Mike, you said not just to send an email, so I didn’t.

I guess I’ll just have to see if it works.

If you got embarassed by The Office, and liked it, then enjoy.

Project RSStripe (God that joke is lame)

October 5, 2006

My feed reader saves my life. It brings information to me and lets me munch through the web real quick, allowing me to do things like, for example, my job (and by the way wouldn’t it be cool if that site was a bit more human).

I think it’s great that Economist.com has got feeds on it. I love the fact that I can have Global Agenda sent straight to me. Now I can pretend I have something clever to say about North Korea’s dangerous game, when in I’m just regurgitating.

But Project Redstripe isn’t about RSS feeding all our content. It’s about creating an Economist feed reader which you can plug our feeds into but also any other feed in the web.

The Economist is interesting, but we’re not the only show in town. Let our readers remix the web but allow them to do it with us.

That’s Project Redstripe thinking.

  tealeaves.jpg

 Food readers

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)

ed-lee.jpg

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.

Virtual worlds

October 3, 2006

One of the developments that most excites me on the web is Second Life. The voice of non-webheads rises up with a resounding “What on earth is that?”. It is not on earth, it’s a virtual world of it’s own. A virtual world where online interactions are that much richer, because the people you meet can move their bodies, and use rocket packs.

rocketpack.jpg

My other rocketpack’s a car

It was described a far more clearly in Andreas Kluth’s cracking New Media Survey :

Second Life, a “metaverse” (for “metaphysical universe”) created by Linden Lab, a San Francisco internet company. Mr Rosedale, its founder, says that Second Life is “not a video game but a place where people make things.” This is hard to imagine until one sees it, but then instantly addictive. People who log on to Second Life create an “avatar” (ie, an online extension of themselves). As avatars, they mingle, go to parties, create what they wear and drive in, build the houses where they live, paint pictures and compose music.

Starwood had the first hotel on Second Life , American Apparel had the first store and the first Second Life strike was outside their shop.

The Economist, and any other brands in the group, could take advantage of it in a number of ways. Here are a couple that spring to mind :

i) A virtual reading room. The days of having a club where you can relax, smoke cigars and come up with dodgy insider trade deals with your school friends are behind (most of) us. However, we could create the feeling of comfort, home and sociability associated with clubs by building a house where we distribute Economist content and let Economist readers meet each other.

The meeting of two passionate Economist readers is a sight to behold. Each recounts their favourite covers, surveys and picture byline. We would enable that meeting whilst also providing an environment where our free content could be read.

ii) Cobranded Experiences. There are already many brands that have moved into Second Life, what we could do would be let a brand interact with our audience in James Wilson House. Whether we provide more free content to be perused in virtual leather chairs, or created meta-rollercoaster to teach them about the stock market.

If anyone would like to join me to discuss Project Redstripe I’ll be hanging out there under the pseudonym Nigel Barbecue. I’m a very irregular user so you’ll be able to laugh at me as I bump into Major League Baseball stars in the virtual ballpark.

Harry Potter fun in Second Life

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UPDATE : since first writing this post there has been a cracking special report on Second Life in The Economist.