Archive for January, 2007|Monthly archive page

Will Vista Crash? All Bets Are Off

As part of our New Media Workshop on Monday, one of my colleagues made a keen observation regarding the habits of bloggers. He claimed that the majority of bloggers were influenced by mainstream media and events. I’d never given this much thought before but realised it would be foolish for bloggers to just talk about activity within the world of social media…how would they attract casual readers from the ‘real world’?

While the odd scoop ahead of the mainstream media might be nice, generally speaking it’s probably bloggers who follow the crowd right? Then again, what about the launch of the iPhone? Thanks to bloggers, I knew all about the new Apple products hours (and even days) ahead of the national news here in the UK. And from a quick look at Technorati, I can see bloggers have got Microsoft Vista well and truly documented on its launch.

So I began to question who’s following who?

Then I turned reflection onto my own blog. Where is my ‘news’ coming from? So far it’s mainly been my thoughts based on topics that have been established within the blog communities for some time. Maybe I should be following the mainstream news and offer my comments on that to help bring in those new, casual readers?

So I set myself the challenge. Today I would report on a mainstream news event. Not just one but two stories appeared that are actually going to have an impact on my life!

City of Manchester Coat of ArmsToday, the recommendation was made that Manchester (my home city) should be the host to the UK’s first super casino. Well it was not only I who was more than a little surprised. I didn’t even know Manchester was in the running for this honour. It would seem neither did the Blackpool spokesperson on BBC Radio Lancashire whose carefully thought out response in reference to the decision was simply: “They were wrong. We the right city. They were wrong.” Althought I may be paraphrasing a little, I always enjoy hearing others in the PR industry wrestle with the English language as a microphone is thrust into their face.

And so this new casino is set to bring jobs and tourism to the England’s second city. This notable landmark will no doubt sit alongside the greatest icons of Mancunian history including Manchester United, the industrial revolution and Madchester music scene. Or maybe it will just mean debt and gambling addiction for locals? I’m undecided at the moment but look forward to seeing how this progresses and how Blackpool responds considering the super casino was rightfully theirs…or so I’ve heard.

On to World news now and the launch of Vista. I was interested in seeing the mainstream media’s take on this bearing in mind a lot of new media outlets take the same view as David Pogue. In settling down to watch ITN’s interview with Bill Gates I was ready for an interesting angle, perhaps looking at how we’ll be interacting with our computers in the future or maybe just a look at how Vista will revolutionise the modern day workplace and home. And then the report just froze….It crashed…..And went back to the studio.

I smiled a little and went to my Mac to write my first blog exclusive. I finally scooped the mainstream media.

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Social Media Release

I’ve been following the online discussions that began with the recent Third Thursday event in San Francisco. You can listen to it in full here courtesy of For Immediate Release.

What I’ve witnessed is the same thing that seems to be happening time and time again within the social media community – people getting shot down for voicing their ideas.

I’ve been excited about the Social Media release since I first saw the initial concept from Todd Defren of SHIFT communications. The tradional release has been creaking around for a while now, changing form ever so slightly. Even in my career there has been a shift from sending out hard copies and killing trees to the standard email, only to be met with a quick-fire journalist who’s ready to hit that DELETE key.

The concept of the social media release sounds so appealing to me but I would really like the opinions of journalists. Essentially if it works and journalists like using it no-one, not even Stowe Boyd, will be able to stop the evolution of the press release.

I’m sure I’ll be joining the growing movement and I’ll be trying my best to attend the upcoming Social Media Club event in London on 15 Feb. I’m sure it’ll be an enlightening event which will define how UK agencies should proceed going forward.

Let me know if you’re planning to be there.

Education, Education…you know the rest

I came across this piece by Chris Clark for the Blog Herald which echoes my own opinions on educating PR practioners on social media.

As Chris notes:

For starters, most PR practitioners don’t have time to learn new things. This is probably true of every industry: you’re so busy trying to catch up on yesterday’s work that you can’t even begin to think about what tomorrow will bring. It’s no different for PR, as we’re talking about an industry that hasn’t changed a whole lot historically.

Another reason PR professionals aren’t catching on with social media: nobody is teaching them! Personally, this is my biggest issue.

Where does this education come from? Traditionally it’s the ex-journalists who have been the mentors to many young wannbe practitioners but perhaps the tables are turning.

As Gary Goldhammer points out on the subject of journalists immersing themselves in blogging community:

I would add that public relations and other professional communicators do the same, especially students.

Are these new students, who are growing up surrounded by social media and who interact with it on a daily basis, the ones to teach the old dogs a new trick or two?

I made a decision some time ago to immerse myself in the world of social media and ensure it became my specialist subject should I ever find myself on Mastermind. I’ve no doubt it was my enthusiasm for the subject of blogs and podcasts that helped me secure my current agency position.

It’s been clear for a while that education is going to play a key role in ensuring PR and marketing folks take on social media with both hands which is why we’re taking steps to develop New Media Workshops (that and some friendly words of encouragement from Neville Hobson). The idea behind workshops is for them to provide an insight and ongoing training for team members who are desperate to learn about this area but don’t know where to start (or at least find it too daunting). Based on the assumption that enthusiasm is infectious, we should have everyone blogging and podcasting in a matter of weeks…right?

Probably not. But at least it provides a starting point – One which I think many PR agencies will be discovering for themselves in 2007.

As for all the PR students out there, class is in session. I’m sure this ‘old dog’ can learn a few more tricks.

E.T. iPhone Home

What is it about Apple products that make me want to write…no…shout from the rooftops with joy?

Earlier this week Apple announced they would be releasing the highly anticipated iPhone but I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for how incredible the device was going to be. Admittedly I haven’t got my hands on it yet but it’s incredible to see how powerful word has spread of the device across the blogosphere.

In a way, it’s like Apple is a company that has moved beyond PR. They no longer need an official press release or press officers to spread the word. It was a direct communication between the announcement of the iPhone by Steve Jobs to the world at large.

Of course the mainstream press covered the story in plenty of detail (a day later) with the aid of the Apple press office no doubt but would it have made much difference if they hadn’t? The core audience for the iPhone live online, gather their news from blogs and interact with other Apple fans around the globe. Of course the iPhone will reach a new audience through the mainstream press but I think this product demonstrates above all others the power of citizen journalism and forces us to take a new look at marketing in a 2.0 world.

And it’s here I start my blog about PR, perceptions of the 2.0 world with a hint of photography.

Remember, it’s All About Image