Follow Friday Five #2

27 02 2009

In the continuing spirit of the social web’s Follow Friday this is the second in a series of suggestions of five blogs to follow…on a Friday.

The choices here are all inspired by PR, insights into the social web or both (and a little sprinkling of politics).  

Blogs in general range from those that contemplate navel fluff to those that really inspire and deliver some of the latest thinking.  I have tried to focus on the latter.

 If you have a spare five minutes today why not have a look at them.

1 Chris Brogan is President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency.  His blog has a huge audience and provides real food for thought.

2. Econsultancy blog  This is pretty cerebral stuff. It’s a community where digital marketing and e-commerce professionals compare notes so as you would expect the content is highbrow.

3. Norton’s Notes I first met Chris about a year ago when I gave a talk for the CIPR at Leeds Metropolitan University on Digital PR.  Chris asked some searching questions then blogged about it. It is what convinced me that as a PR person I really should blog.

4. Order Order Guido Fawkes’ (mainly right wing) political outpourings but well sourced and a good read for all that. Guido frequently gets stories before the mainstream media and his blog is read widely in Westminster.

5. Byrne Baby Byrne  Colin Byrne is CEO of Weber Shandwick, and one of the leading figures in UK and international PR.  He is one of the godfathers of PR blogging and we should all be interested in what he has to say.

SlySpace, Fakebook and Twimposters

26 02 2009

The term cybersquatting was coined when websites first became publicy available.  People would buy domain names using company or brand names or the names of celebrities and then try to flog them back at inflated prices.  A similar thing is now happening in social networks but potentially the outcomes are far more damaging.

Individuals are signing up on facebook, twitter and across the web to the identities of celebrities, and sometimes brands too.  It costs them nothing and they are not selling the online persona back to their ‘rightful’ owners they are using them to impersonate.   For many the intentions have been harmless but not for all.  The fake Facebook account for Kate Winslett in which she apparently called her screen rival and fellow Oscar nominee Angelie  Jolie , a “fat-lipped crazy cow” amused Kate apparently but that might not always be the case.  A blog called Valebrity has taken on the task of validating celebrities on line and Jonathan Ross has appointed himself as twitter ‘star’ czar.

The act of impersonating others on twitter is also being used for political ends.  John Ransford the Chief Executive of the Local Government Association has a ‘Twimposter’ who has been actively defaming him for weeks and the leading light of the Labour new media movement Derek Draper has pointed people in the direction of a fake David Cameron.

Companies and brands should be cautious too, with the growth of the social web and the velocity at which content spreads, charlatans of  the social web may be ot there doing real harm to their business.

Blogroll, Shmogroll. Update

25 02 2009

Not a big sample I know but of the 53 views so far for the post, six clicked through to PR Squared that’s a rate of 11% more than a little bit higher than the 0.06% click through rate from the blogroll …almost 200x higher.

Blogroll, Shmogroll.

24 02 2009

toilet-rollNot long after I discovered the concept of blogging I became aware of the convention known as the ‘blogroll’; the list of blogs, usually placed in the sidebar, that reads as a list of other recommended blogs (you’ll find one to your right and down a bit).

As the web is built on the concept of links, I took it as read that this was a key defining element of what made a blog.  Moreover to be listed on a blogroll was to be included in that blog’s roll of honour.  Not really so.  Very few visitors ever click on the links in a blogroll.  The blogroll here lists just four blogs.  Two are WordPress links which were automatically generated when I set up the blog and it seemed a bit churlish to delete them.  One is for PRMediaBlog where I also post and the fourth is a link to Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog, which I included beacuse I believe that Todd is ‘the’ trailblazer for PR 2.0 or digital PR.  Of the four as the only link with no vested interest, it could be considered to be the ‘control’ in terms of click through.  The results are not spectacular.  The first 5000 visits to this blog generated just three visits to PR Squared or a 0.06% click through rate.

Blogrolls just don’t generated much traffic.  I predict that Todd’s blog will get more visits from this single post than from three months on the blog roll…but that’s up to you not me.

The Third Wave of Digital Influence

23 02 2009

A fierce debate is playing out as to what skills are best suited to the conditions created by a digital world to which everybody has access.   The era of single message mass marketing is coming to an end. In a presentation to 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York in late 2007,  Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “for the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation and they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

I believe that we have now entered a third phase since the inception of digital marketing.  The first phase was a technical one, the second was built around design and creativity and this third phase is characterised by the democratisation of content.   In the nineties when businesses first launched commercial web sites you hade to be a programmer or coder to build a website.  The industry was wholly reliant on technicians.  Specialist agencies sprang up and clients were in their thrall and people had to place their trust entirely in the hands of digital specialists.  Over time coding became more commoditised and new programmes allowed the less technical to do more and more.  The creative and design community started to be able to exert more of an influence.  The look and feel as well as the functionality of a website becomes more important.  In this second phase designers and creatives gained pre-eminence in the field of digital marketing. 

The third wave of digital communications is characterised by user generated content and templated designs that can be adapted and customised  (like the Wordpress template for this blog)  and are now widely available. More importantly much of what we see on screen is originated in a space beyond the control of clients or agencies.  Content comes from lots of different places the skills that are important to the marketing function are not hard technical skills, nor are they predominantly aesthetic but they are the softer management skills of diplomacy and influence. In short these are the skills that PR people have always used in their interactions with traditional media.

Oscars Leak Rumour

21 02 2009

Rumours are circulating the internet that the winners list for the 81st Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been leaked.  The evidence is a letter supposedly from President of the Academy, Sid Gannis.  This blog has no intention of publishing the list but if you are determined to have a look, the letter ‘real or fake’ can be found here.

All the evidence suggests that the list is a fake. Only two partners of the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers are supposed know the results before the envelopes are opened onstage and so the president should not have this information, let alone have committed it to paper.  What it demonstrates is that with the surge in peer to peer media and the explosion of user generated content has become very difficult to keep a secret.  I hope the letter is a forgery because if it isn’t it is a spoiler in every sense. 

The way the web is now we want instant answers.  The Academy’s PR machine has shown itself to be as reactively poor as it is pro-actively brilliant.  I am sure that they would claim they should not dignify such leaks with a reponse but in an increasingly transparent world that lack of any official word on the Academy website can only fuel the rumours.

Follow Friday Five #1

20 02 2009


19mmtransparent5diceIt has become a fad on twitter to suggest people to follow on a Friday. Twitter users suggest names and then make the suggestions searchable using the hashtag #followfriday. 

In the same spirit this blog will suggest five blogs to follow…on a Friday.


 1. Wadds Tech Blog    The personal blog of Stephen Waddington, head honcho at Rainier PR.  This week with an interesting take on a twitter spam pub game.

2. A PR Guy’s Musings  Stuart Bruce is a trailblazer in online PR. Always good to see what he has to say. This week he wades into the PR/SEO debate.

3. Ian Dale’s Diary  The one stop shop for gossip, humour and commentary on British politics. This MP’s blog has a phenomenal following.

4. PR Media Blog  Full honest and upfront disclosure, this is the ‘powered by Staniforth’ blog, Staniforth being the PR agency I work for.  Lots of my colleagues writing lots of good stuff.

5. NHS Choices – Behind the Headlines A great piece this week debunking the Facebook gives you cancer story in the Daily Mail.

Who’s the Pimp?

18 02 2009

I have read a couple of posts recently by leading PR evangelists talking in disparaging terms about ‘pimping’ blogs in social networks.  It seems that it is unseemly to post too many links to your own scribblings in twitter and elsewhere.

I’m going to ‘fess up right now, I ‘tweet’ a link to pretty much every post I write on this blog and on PR Media Blog the agency blog for Staniforth\  (I also recommend blogs by my colleagues) and I think that it is a right and proper thing to do for a number of reasons.

  • One of the most important functions of the social web is to promote and share content. Links maketh the web.
  • If I don’t link to what I post I really shouldn’t expect others to do it for me.
  • It’s completely opt in.  If you don’t want to follow the link, you won’t and if it really offends you, you will vote with your feet and unfollow, delink or unbefriend.   Market forces are alive and well on the social web even if they seem to have deserted the global economy.
  • I can’t say everything I want to in 140 characters.
  • I want the people I follow to tell me when they’ve written something.  It’s more personal than an RSS feed (and I’m a bit slack when it comes to looking at my feed readers). 

This having been said there are some conventions to observe and room for a well mannered approach

  • Promote other people’s content as well as your own.
  • Maintain a healthy balance and add some thoughtful microblogs to your twitterstream.
  • Keep your friends and followers in mind whatever it is you say or link to.

There is a final argument in favour of the promoter.  This blog has a twitter presence (@SOCIALWEBPR).  It does nothing but pump out links to this blog….and it is about to overtake my personal twitter presence in terms of follower numbers, oh and it never follows it just follows back.   I can only conclude that  the simple  links are more compelling than my innumerable  assorted micro-ramblings.

WOM on SocNets, is it the Future?

17 02 2009

Last night I got involved in a heated debate about PR and search engine optimisation (SEO) .  Partly because the debate was on twitter and it was late into the evening (I think most of us were on UK time) it was fast moving, free flowing and it also involved many of the people who know most about the emerging roles of digital PR.

The discussion became confusing at times…talk about distributed conversations.  I think however that the main points can be summarised as follows, (and there may be I admit a little bias towards my own views here):

  • Public relations on line can play a significant role in SEO or raising the rank and therefore importance of sites in Google and other search engines
  • It is an inexact science, there are probably lots of ways to make this work but they are not publicly available or widely discusssed in the PR community
  • Some SEO agencies know this and are hiring PR people
  • Some PR people know this and are hiring SEO people
  • The PR industry has lost out so far to the SEO industry in selling skills in this area to major companies and brands
  • Planning and use of analytics will be key to how the PR industry develops in the field
  • WOM in SocNets is the future (or even the present).

I want to take issue with the last point not because I disagree but because it points up a problem.  I’ve been in PR a long time and have been involved with the social web in various ways for a good few years but the phrase threw me and I had to look it up. When I found that it meant Word of Mouth in Social Networks I felt like a fool…of course.  Let’s demystify and let’s not be too enthusiastic about the next big thing before it happens.

It is true that social reputation and peer to peer recomendation will assert themselves in the digital space but let’s not downgrade search just yet.  I went to Twestival in Manchester and met lots of mates ….it was packed with PR people and digital marketing people, so I conclude that at the moment we are talking to each other a lot of the time.

For the time being search and content are critical for the PR industry but let’s keep and eye on the growing importance of SocNets.

Many thanks to Tim Hoang, Stephen Davies, Stephen WaddingtonJed Hallam, Jaz Cummins, Lewis Webb, Melanie Seasons, Pete Goold, Ian Delaney and many more!

Stop post (that’s stop press for the blogging era): read Stephen Waddington’s take on the debate here and Jed Hallam’s note from the geekfest here.

Tweetdeck is my Weapon of Choice

15 02 2009

I have been pretty resolutely old skool about Twitter, choosing to use the web as my application of choice. That was up until today when I decided to check out Tweetdeck.  It’s a desktop application developed in the UK by Iain Dodsworth and launched in June 08.  It has also just raised almost $1/2 million in funding to allow Ian the time to develop it, so expect it to get better and better.  

Tweetdeck allows you to tackle the issue that every Twitter user encounters when they get to follow about fifty or more people (Ian reckons his problem kicked in at the thirty mark), the issue of too much noise.  It provides a set of columns that allow you to organise your twitter information streams.  You still have a column for everyone you follow but you can set up columns of selected followers or columns based around search terms that you select.  

There is also a Twitscoop word cloud that allows you to track ‘trending terms’. This Sunday morning I watched ‘hangover’ trending highly in the morning to be edged out by ‘church’ as the day progressed.  For us PR people it provides a neat adition to the tools we can use to track the twitterverse and the conversations that are taking place, which might particularly interest us.

There is also an audio alert for new tweets or, and this is my preference, a discreet notification window which is gently nudging me as I type this blog.

Oh, and the default colour scheme, which you could alter if you wished, is black and cool.

%d bloggers like this: