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.

Has Jacqui Smith Been to Manchester?

7 05 2009

The UK government scored yet another PR own goal when it was announced today that they would trial the national ID card scheme in Manchester.  This idea is frankly bonkers on almost every possible level.

The ID cards will be £30 and ‘voluntary’.  My experience of Mancunians suggests it is unlikely that we’d volunteer to part with civil liberties and pay for the privilege. I can hear the conversation in the newsagents as we speak “…sod it cancel the paper and the lottery tickets for the next few weeks, I’ll have one of them ID cards instead. Cheers mate.”

I posted a poll on Twitter this morning – it’s a modest response but resolute (over 86% at the last count) in the view that we should resist the introduction of the scheme. Even the Labour candidate for Withington Lucy Powell doesn’t think that there will be much uptake.

What is more, we citizens of the Republic of Mancunia are not overly keen on being told what to do, especially if it’s one rule for them and another for us. Come on Jacqui take a trip up to Manchester and we’ll tell you exactly what we think.

London Standard is Sorry, Whilst Boston Globe is on the Brink

6 05 2009

The London Evening Standard is saying sorry to Londoners for being negative, losing touch and taking them for granted.

The apology is part of an advertising campaign launched in response to market research, commissioned by the newspaper’s new editor, Geordie Greig. The research found that the paper was seen as negative and didn’t fit with the needs of Londoners.  With a new editor and a new owner it is unsurprising that the newspaper wants to grab some media limelight.  It may even be sincere but it is missing the point.  We consumers don’t mind a bit of negativity – Charlie Brooker’s huge fan base is a testament to that. 

The part of the research that is important is the fact that the paper no longer meets the need of the people and the city.  More particularly many of these needs are being met elsewhere.  Why look up the restaurant pages when Urbanspoon on your iPod will provide location based prices and reviews for restaurants close to where you are standing.

Boston is a city of 4.5 million people.  Its biggest paper the Boston Globe has been teetering on the brink of collapse this week.  In the early hours of this morning the New York Times company which owns the Globe reached tentative a deal with the Globe’s largest union, the Guild.  The company had demanded savings of  $10 million a year, and the end of employment guarantees for Guild members.

Whether the Globe will live to fight another day is uncertain.  What is for sure is that regional and city newspapers around the world are in decline.  Saying sorry might not be enough.

Reputation Management in Black & White

5 05 2009

This Thursday (7th April) I will be presenting on the “PR Challenges of the Social Web,” at the KMP Digitata & How Do Seminar in Manchester.  I will look at how reputations can be affected, how reputations are built and lost and how you can manage your brand’s reputation through the use of PR and social media.

Ever since the explosion of social media and the revolution of social networks, companies no longer have control about what is said about their brand.  Social media is highly influential and the use of blogs, online communities, twitter and messageboards mean that people (consumers) are empowered to say whatever they want about brands and companies. These sources of information are incredibly powerful tools, and have a great deal of credibility in the eyes of other consumers.

The other presenters will be Jon Keefe of KMP and Simon Rogers, of Market Sentinel.  The event takes place at the Manchester Digital Development Agency starting at 9.30am and finishing at 1.30pm.

Click to book tickets 

Follow Friday Five #9

1 05 2009

Another Friday and another five blogs that you might want to take a look at and even add to your reader, or your web favourites, if readers aren’t your thing.    They are all worth a visit and I’ll put my shirt on that.

The sketch is the same as always some big blogs, some not so big. Some PR, some politics, some other stuff.

1. Micropersuasion This week’s blogging behemoth is Steve Rubel’s micropersuasion.  In his latest post Steve tells us what’s next after twitter and facebook. Resist if you can.

2. Neville Hobson Another big beast of the social web. This time with of a British hue. It includes the twice-weekly “For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report” a business podcast for communicators.

3. Salam Pax  The original Baghdad Blogger who became a cause celebre at the start of the Iraq war with his Dear Raed blog. Sill fascinating, still blogging from Baghdad.

4. PR Voice Blog  The words of the president of the CIPR, Kevin Taylor.  With over 9,000 members the CIPR aims to be the ‘eyes, ears and voice’ of the PR industry in the UK.   

5. Artisan The blog for Rob Baker’s Artisan Marketing Communications. Resolutely Mancunian but with a global view. Great insight and a PR blogging trail blazer that has just celebrated its blogging third birthday.

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