This Week’s Best of the Blogs #1

29 05 2009

This is the new weekly feature which replaces the Follow Friday Five for the following reasons:

  • There were twelve FFF’s. That’s sixty blogs and I was starting to find it difficult to find relevant blogs that I liked and had not already referenced.
  • If I’d continued the series the next one would have been number thirteen. ‘Nuff said.
  • The format of the blog requires that images have depth (to make the page stand out) and reference the content.  Imagine how difficult it was to find interesting new pictures that illustrated the number five. (This feature won’t have images).
  • This format allows me to reference good posts, that means I can come back to blogs I like.
  • There’s no number in ‘This Week’s Best of the Blogs’ so it is more flexible, I can choose to reference any number of posts I choose.  I think I’ll start with five.


  1. Convince and Convert – The 6 Dangerous Fallacies of Social Media  Jason Baer neatly summarises from a PR perspective some of the major popular misconceptions about working with the social web.
  2. Revolution – Twitter founder reveals business plans Finally the scoop on twitter’s plans for market domination…..sort of.  Read the latest at Revolution.
  3. Stephen Newton’s diary of sorts… – Five years of Carol Kirkwood naked An eclectic take on blogs and SEO.  I wonder if this post will take PR&TSW to number two?
  4. – Find us on Twitter  Does exactly what it says on the tin.  A guide to the Guardian’s multiple twitter feeds.
  5.  The Huffington Post – 13 Tips For Actually Getting Some Writing Done Top tips from Gretchen Rubin. No.13, have something to say.  OK I’m off.

Politics and the Social Web

26 05 2009

In the words of Dan Rather the US veteran TV news anchor “Candidates do hate, genuinely hate, audience participation, because they like to control the environment,” When faced with the idea that voters will ask them questions via a YouTube video, he says, and “they get the shivers.”

 The long-term effects of using generated content and other aspects of the social web on our political systems will be fascinating to observe.  There is no walk of life where messages have been more tightly controlled than in the political arena.  As brands and corporate bodies begin to learn that they are operating in world where the customer talks back, politicians will come to learn that they need to do far more than pay lip service to their promises of listening to and respecting the opinions of their electorate.   

 The level of scrutiny that they will face will continue to increase and there will be greater availability of physical records in terms of audio visual recordings of what they do and what they say.  These records will be searchable and will exist for very long time making politicians ever more accountable for their promises.

Follow Friday Five #12

22 05 2009

As usual, politics, PR, marketing, journalism, other stuff all neatly packaged in five great blogs from mighty media megaliths to more modest marketing types.  A great selection of material to take a look out whist your are filling in your expense claims.

This week’s follow Friday five blog takes the total of recommended reads to sixty and that is a lot of blogs.  Whislt there are still many great blogs I haven’t linked to I think it might be time for another weekly feature so this may be the last in the series.  Let’s wait and see but until then here’s a fiver for this week.

1. The White House  Yes, that White House and it has a blog.  How truly modern is that? Links to twitter, facebook and a vibrant comments section….er, actually no comments section.  Not that modern then.

2. The  World’s leading…. gossip site for those involved with technology PR.  Great layout and great content.  This week sees the debate over the world’s oldest twitterer. Fact or PR fiction?

3. Blogstorm  Officially the number 1 marketing and social media blog in the UK this month, discussing internet marketing and search engine optimisation news & strategies.

4. Crackunit  The work of Iain Tate at Poke and a stellar name for a blog.  It looks at the web, advertising and the space in between, plus this week a bit of fun at the expense of MP’s on the take. 

5. Nick Robinson’s Newslog The official and very BBC-ish blog from the BBC’s political editor. The opinion behind the headlines.  Guess what the subject was this week.

Brandjacking & Social Web Imposters

20 05 2009

When websites first became available companies had to do with the issue of cyber squatting, where individuals with no connection to an organisation nevertheless registered obvious names for corporate websites and then sold them back often at exorbitant prices.  This practice was eventually stamped out through legal channels and in some countries with the introduction of new laws.

More recently companies have had to deal with ‘brandjacking’ where an individual or individuals hijack a company’s identity and pose as representatives of that organisation within social media environments.   The very nature of these environments allows ordinary individuals the same access or even better access than corporate bodies.

One example of this was the arrival of ExxonMobilCorp on Twitter last year.  For a few days this was heralded as an attempt by the oil giant to engage with customers at a very personal level and to invite public debate about their business practices.  The author of the post was called Janet and her profile carried the Exxon logo and a background of wall of corporate images.

The twitter biography contained the company slogan “taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges”.   Although the feeds were not malicious they were not from Exxon;  Alan Jeffers, spokesman for Exxon Mobil said that “Janet” wasn’t of Exxon’s public relations machinery and they no idea who she was  “She is not an authorized person to speak on behalf of the company. There are several inaccuracies.  We take great care in having authorized people speak on behalf of the company. We want to make sure anyone who is speaking for the company is doing so accurately.”

In case you were wondering about the image it is part of an internet craze (or meme) for reinventing logos in a Logo 2.0 style.  Even the core brand identity is no longer safe from the brandjacker.



SEO and the Written Word

19 05 2009

In the rush to populate web copy with keywords the most important thing is sometimes forgotten.  The copy needs to well written, lively, interesting and relevant.  It is astonishing how often this is forgotten in the charge to upload text that will rank highly in Google.   

Engaging content can have a direct impact on search engine rankings and consequently on traffic.   Some websites sacrifice the need for good written content because their search engine optimisation advisors have influenced key words and their placement in the text to such an extent that the site no longer informs or entertains.

What this process fails to acknowledge is that the quality of the content is critical to receiving high rankings, because it will affect the number of pages viewed and the stickyness of the site.   Crafting words is a core skill for the majority of PR people.  We also need to consider how to deliver quality content in all of its other forms – still images, audio and video.  Whilst using the agency or in-house digital camera is useful for the old application for important work we will still tend to use a professional photographer.  The same should apply for audio and video content. 

Words still lie at the heart of all of this.  The right words will bring audiences but in the the wrong alignment they will drive them away, perhaps never to return.

Not All Content is King

18 05 2009

As PR communicators we need to be very careful about content.  PR people have a tendency to feel that if something is published then our goals have been achieved.   The ease with which things can now be published undermines that presumption.  The sheer volume of web content means that a lot of the stuff that appears on the net is of little interest to anyone other than the publisher.  That which has no interest will have no impact.

There is simply too much out there and many sites and pages will quite literally never be viewed by anyone other than their originators.  For print media cost is a barrier to entry for organisations wishing to act as publishers;  there needs to be a sufficient audience in order to generate revenue to keep a publication afloat.   What that has meant for PR people is that coverage, even in a niche publication would have some relevance and in almost every case we could quantify the circulation and readership and understand certain things about people who were reading the title.

We must not allow ourselves to be fooled that just because something appear on the web it has an audience.  It is similar to the old argument that it is not sufficient simply to measure column inches.  Fortunately there are a lot of tools at our disposal to measure what is going on on the web and the impact and authority of individual web spaces.  Many are freely available.  It is vital that we use them.

Follow Friday Five #11

15 05 2009

Here are five more blogs for you to take five to look at during your busy Friday.  There are some small blogs that cover really big issues and voices of authority from PR Week and the Guardian. You might be anywhere but I’m right here in Manchester UK so I’ve added some local flavour. 

Enough hot air from me; there should be something for everyone here so click away.  

1. Planning Corner Small but perfectly formed.  Insights into the world of advertising and marketing.  Apparently Germans feel more guilty about not brushing their teeth than they do for having an affair, now where else could you find out something like that?

2.How Do  Not really a blog but a media and marketing news site that follows many of the conventions of a blog – posting comments and now updating throughout the day.  Essential reading if you work in the creative, media or marketing industries in the North West of England.

3. Ask Jack Blog The Guardian’s Jack Schofield is the godfather of tech. I have been reading his stuff in the newspaper for many years. This is the place where he answers all of those niggling technical questions.  Got a problem? Email Jack.

4. PR Week Blogs  All new look PR Week online blog community.  It’s been revamped and it is pulling in gurus from the PR sphere.  New, hot, looks good.

5. Chris Reed – Ginger and Proud  A digital PR trail blazer, blogging since 2007. Thoughtful, and opinions worth listening to about the world on online PR.

It’s the Content Not the Channel

14 05 2009

We are moving away from a world where content and products were pushed to a world in which content and products are pulled.   There are many reasons for this and they are all interlinked.  The decline of deference means that the consumer is less willing to accept what is being pushed.   In the digital landscape it is easy and quick to tailor content to consumer demand.  Even in manufacturing and production we are seeing an increasing number of bespoke processes and offers.

Media channels are all about push marketing.  You decide which channel suits you, be that a TV broadcast channel or a daily newspaper, and once you’ve chosen you accept the content thereafter that is pushed to you.  The ability to pick and choose content from lots of different sources means that we don’t have to accept what is being pushed.  As we schedule our own content, from TV viewing to the consumption of news our choices and interests override those of schedulers and editors.

This elevation of consumer choice will separate the wheat from the chaff. The phrase ‘content is king’ will become increasingly relevant. People seek out content that is relevant to them, that contain something of genuine interest, that engages than some other way for example through humour or that provides genuine and powerful insight

Fact and Fiction on the Web

13 05 2009

We tend to believe that we have a natural instinct for the truth but the web has many inaccuracies that are commonly held to be factual. We can follow the old journalistic principle of getting at least two reliable sources for important pieces of information, but much of the internet is a mash up of other bits of the internet. The resulting multiplicity of sources might suggest a breadth of knowledge but in reality if a factoid is convincing enough it can spread.

Wikipedia is amongst the most reliable of sources because the content is genuinely the result of multiple entries, sometimes hundreds of them.  Even Wikipedia has been guilty of significant errors – often the result of malicious editing.  Prominent US journalist John Seigenthaler  was  incorrectly named as a suspect in the assassinations of both President John F Kennedy and his brother, Robert for example.  The false information was the work of a man called Brian Chase, who said he was trying to trick a colleague at work.

A common error is that of the false obituary.  It has even been know for false obituaries to be published on on separate occasions. Pre-written obituaries of entertainer Bob Hope were accidentally released on news web sites on two occasions and Pope John Paul II was the recipient of three separate reports of his demise. Other widely duplicated falsehoods on the internet include a report that Barack Obama is a muslim and that Bill Gates is giving away his fortune. This sort of widely distributed misconception is not the preserve of the Internet, for example the Great Wall of China Is not in fact nor ever has been, visible from the Moon, but the internet provides a distribution network that spreads these inaccuracies more widely and more quickly.

It is not just facts that are manipulated and distorted, the prevalence of powerful image manipulation tools means that photographs can not necessarily be trusted either. Even the celebrated news agency Reuters came under fire for this when in 2006 it published doctored images of an Israeli air strike in Beirut.

This entry is adapted from ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ available from Amazon.

Follow Friday Five #10

8 05 2009

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know by now that every Friday I pull together a quick list of five blogs that I like and I think that you might too.   They are all clickable so you can go straight to them and have a look.

This week the list is a little more eclectic than usual but no worse for that. Here is my five penneth worth for this Friday.


1. On-line Journalism Blog  Comment and analysis on citizen journalism, blogging and on-line news from Paul Bradshaw et al. Paul is senior lecturer in Online Journalism, Magazines and New Media at Birmingham City University

2. Toby Young  You either love Toby Young or you feel a bit alienated by him. Either way he is funny and insightful in equal measure. 

3. Push-on If you want to get technical Simon Wharton and the team have it all here for you to lap up. Expect this blog to be well optimised.

4.Simon Alexander  Another Simon and another digital marketing person – albeit one of a slightly different hue.  Communications, marketing and lots of good stuff on games.

5. Jon Ronson  I have followed the journals of Jon Ronson in their many forms since I first encountered him as a cub on Manchester’s City Life.  He wrote a scathing piece on one of my clients but he was very funny.  He still is.

%d bloggers like this: