CIPR ‘Share This’ Tops PR Book Chart

11 07 2012

‘Share This’ has gone straight to number 1 in the Amazon PR books chart on pre-orders alone.   The book is an initiative from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Social Media panel and much of the content is produced by panel members. It is subtitled the Social Media handbook for PR professionals and is set to become an industry standard.

It was conceived at a meeting of the panel last year initially as an e-book.  Both the publishers and the panel decided that there would be demand for a hard back version. More than 20 of the UK’s leading digital communications and PR professionals have contributed chapters to what is essentially a crowd-sourced social media book.  The cover carries an endorsement from no less than Lord Sugar.

The book which was unveiled this week is due to have its official launch at Google Campus, east London on Wednesday 18 July.  It will be published in both print and digital formats by Wiley on Friday 20 July.

Chapter One of the book, An Introduction to Social Networks by Katy Howell, is already available to download for free in PDF format.  The book in its entirety can be pre-ordered from Amazon or direct from the publishers.

At least seven of the chapter authors are already published authors in their own right.  The full list of contributors is as follows: Katy HowellSimon SandersAndrew SmithHelen NowickaGemma GriffithsBecky McMichaelRobin WilsonAlex LaceyMatt ApplebyDan TyteStephen WaddingtonStuart BruceRob Brown, Russell GoldsmithAdam ParkerJulio RomoPhilip SheldrakeRichard BagnallDaljit BhurjiRichard BaileyRachel MillerMark Pack, and Simon Collister.





CIPR and Why the Blog’s Been Quiet

7 11 2011

If your wondering why this blog has been a bit quiet it’s largely because I’m standing to be president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and that’s taking up my spare time at the moment.  Not least given that I have a campaign blog where I’ve been posting my musings as of late.

The vote will be done and dusted in 10 days so it should be back to normal after that.  If you have a passing interest in the contest there’s a debate this evening on CIPRTV, the CIPR’s online tv channel.  I’ll be debating my priorities with the other two candidates, Sue Wolstenholme and Lionel Zetter.

If you want to put a question, you can tweet in your question using the hashtag #ciprtv or you can use the form here.   The programme will be live at 5pm on CIPRTV. It will then be available to watch again on the same site and as a download from iTunes.





Time to Close your Digital Department

22 06 2011

In the last three or four years there has been a rush amongst many PR consultancies to appoint a head of social media or to build a digital team.  If there was a right time to do this (and I doubt it), that time has certainly passed.

Digital PR skills can’t be siloed.  It’s unacceptable for someone who claims to have expertise in PR not to understand the implications of digital channels and the near universal access to on-line media.

Even the terms ‘mainstream’ or ‘conventional’ media have little currency.  The Guardian is mainstream and yet open journalism is now at the heart of its strategy.  How many titles exist solely in a world where dead wood and ink are the only route to readership?

A specialist digital PR team is a cop out which allows people to believe that there are core skills that don’t include an understanding of blogs, social networks, the value of links, PR led SEO, and analytics.   If you still have a digital team get them to train the rest of your people and then merge their activities.  You won’t be asking people to cross the line.  There is no line.





Jaffa Cakes and the New PR

4 01 2011

As I type Jaffa Cakes is a trending topic in the UK on Twitter. Why? Well mainly because as ‘cakes’ rather than enhanced biscuits they are exempt from the UK 20% VAT rate that comes into force today.

The manufacturer McVities classed its Jaffa Cakes as cakes, but in 1991 this was challenged by UK Customs and Excise and the case ended up in court.  McVities argued that Jaffa Cakes were miniature cakes showing that biscuits would normally be expected to go soft when stale, whereas cakes would be expected to go hard, something that an out of date Jaffa is inclined to do.   The court ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake and therefore VAT free.

What has that got to do with PR (new or old) I hear you cry.  Well PR has always used news hooks and the VAT hike to 20% is a on of today’s headlines.  The social web picks up on quirky stories particularly where there is a contentious debate at the core e.g. Jaffa; cake or biscuit?  There is no doubt that if a product trends on twitter it will shift a few packs from the shelves, particularly if there is a price advantage central to the news story.

So have McVities done anything to fuel the social media debate?  Actually although there is a well followed Facebook page, the biscuit, sorry cake, manufacturer has been surprisingly quiet on the subject.   I think they’ve missed a trick.  There was plenty that they could have done; they could published details of their 1991 legal arguments on Facebook,  engaged in debate using the (apparently dormant) twitter account or simply issued a press release that would have fueled the debate both off and on-line.

The PR industry has always known how to make the most of a news story.  The new PR means that you need to be ready to do that not just through conventional media but through social channels.  That you way you can have your cake…





CIPR Digital Impact Conference – 24 May

17 05 2010

There is a great digital PR conference lined up at the CIPR in London next week which I’m thrilled to be taking part in.   It takes place next Monday 24th May at the CIPR HQ in Russell Square, WC1.

Understanding and using digital channels should be part of what all of in public relations do, every day.  This one-day conference provides an opportunity to discuss ideas, hear the thoughts of some of the industry’s leading practitioners in digital PR and will show practical examples of how companies have successfully embraced social media.

The eminent list of speakers is as follows:

Paul Armstrong – Director of Social Media, Kindred

Drew Benvie – Managing Director, 33 Digital

Daljit Bhurji – Managing Director, Diffusion

Amanda Brown – Head of PR, First Direct

Rob Brown – Managing Director, Staniforth

Steve Earl – Managing Director, Speed Communications

Russell Goldsmith – Digital Media Director, markettiers4dc

Katy Howell – Managing Director, Immediate Future

Marshall Manson – Director of Digital Strategy, Edelman

Kieron Matthews – Director of Marketing, Internet Advertising, Bureau

Julio Romo – Communications and Social Media Consultant, twofourseven

Philip Sheldrake – Chartered Engineer, Founder and Partner of Influence Crowd.

There are still a few places so if you think you might be interested don’t hesitate and book now.





Politics, PR and Social Gambling

28 03 2010

You might have noticed the InVinceCable badge top right.  It’s a campaign to promote Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman as the best candidate to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I became involved following an e-mail discussion with Philip Sheldrake, someone who I’ve still never met, but knew of by reputation.  In fact he is mentioned in my book (right) as one of the experts in social web analytics.  Philip along with Mark Pinsent, an ex Edelman Director and communications expert who lives in Bordeaux, was corralling a collection of media, PR and digital people to launch and participate in the campaign.  It launches officially tomorrow although it has been ‘live’ for about three weeks.

It’s one of the most extraordinary things that I have ever been involved in.  Pretty much everything happens on-line even the meeting are held using the Skype conference facility.  Many of the people involved don’t know each other.  We have no funding yet we managed last week to attract the attention of the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones.

Then on Friday after an e-mail exchange a bunch of us decided to have a little bet on Vince Cable giving the next budget speech as Chancellor in the new parliament. We decided to give the social gamble a hashtag #crowdflutter and we invited others to join in.    Within a few hours the odds on Vince had fallen from 12-1 down to 8-1.  By early afternoon #invincecable caused William Hill to do the unthinkable they suspended betting. Later in the evening the following appeared on their press room “William Hill have slashed their odds about Vince Cable delivering the next Budget from 12/1 to 7/1 after a stream of internet bets for him to do so.  For reasons not immediately apparent to us we suddenly took a slew of internet bets for Mr Cable to be Chancellor when the next Budget is delivered.”

Next stop tomorrow night’s Ask the Chancellors debate on Channel Four at 8pm.





BBC Radio 4 The Media Show – Rentokil

17 03 2010

I’ll be appearing on The Media Show today at 1.30pm on BBC Radio 4.  It’s a discussion involving Ben Goldacre who has condemned Rentokil’s PR in the light of a story about bugs and public transport that they put out last week. 

I will be defending the PR industry in general and talking about how social media is making the world a better and more transparent place and how PR people will need to sharpen their game. 

I will also point the finger at certain sectors of the media, the journalists who have an unholy alliance with the likes of Max Clifford and who are complicit in reporting inaccurate stories.





Why PR Needs to Wake-Up

4 03 2010

The bulk of the PR profession needs a wake up call and fast.   We have seen what is happening to print media at a regional level in the UK and US and the UK national newspaper heartland will be the next sector to feel the squeeze.  Never mind the quality of the Sunday papers, feel the width.  Not as bulky as they used to be are they?

Broadcast media is changing too, with event TV dominating schedules and more traditional content being driven by on-demand services.  The cosy relationships where PR people sit between journalists and clients trafficking ‘news’ just isn’t enough any more.

So here are five things every PR person should be thinking about.

1. Earned Media 

Media coverage achieved for clients in the digital world falls into three categories; bought, earned and owned.  ‘Bought media’ was always and is still the province of the advertising business.  ‘Earned media’ is the heartland of PR.  At one level this is just the online version of editorial but it is richer and deeper than that.  We should be collaborating to create content that will earn coverage.  Audio interviews, creative videos posted on YouTube and disseminated across the web as well as words and pictures are the collateral we must use.

 2. Owned Media 

We can create our own spaces on-line that have the capacity to become channels in their own right.  I firmly believe that PR people should blog but the concept of ‘owned media’ can extend much further.  Relevant content brings people to you.  The PR and corporate communications team at ASDA know this.  They have 18 million shoppers, mostly mums and they have used that weight to engage with the major parties during the coming general election and will be using their ‘owned’ channels to host political debate.

3. Reputation Online

“Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. And that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.”  These words were written by Clive Thompson in Wired almost three years ago. PR has always been about reputation management  and arguably a key determinant of reputation is the content on page one of a Google Search. Search therefore is very important to PR.

4. PR & SEO 

If you’re not sure what SEO is you may be in the wrong job.  The most important tool that search engine optimisation specialists have at their disposal is now the ‘press release’. They may in many cases be badly written, off message and even inaccurate but the SEO companies are all using them, with embedded links.   This is a serious threat to the PR industry as it stands.  If we don’t educate ourselves about the value of good editorial and link strategies as part of PR, we’ll be left behind.  Whatever you think about the idea of ‘social media releases’ when you send out content to the media you should embed links. 

5. Evaluation     

We’ve always claimed we don’t like rate card equivalent and then used it any way.  Well now is our chance.  So much of what is online can be measured, sorted and analysed and we need to know how to do this.  Every PR person should have a least a working knowledge of web analytics and should be able to manage tools for analysing conversations on-line.

All of these areas are natural extensions of traditional PR but that doesn’t mean we own them.  We need to stake our claim …or others will.





Strategic Social Media. Manchester

2 12 2009

I am currently at the Strategic Social Media Conference in Manchester. I gave the opening presentation and have been tweeting for most of the day using the hashtag #stratsm but I’ve been missing a trick.  I have an iPod touch with me and I could have been live blogging using the WordPress app on the touch.

Well I am now.  Robin Wilson of my alma mater McCann Manchester is now on stage talking about evaluation. I know Robin a bit but I’ve never seen him speak before.  He’s good and generous with his knowledge.

Evaluation is a major topic in social media marketing.  There are a myriad of free tools like HowSociable, Icerocket and Board Tracker; all using key word searches.  The really powerful tools however are paid for – Radian 6 and Andiamo are just two of the many Robin mentioned.

It’s been a good conference. Martin Thomas co-author of Crowdsurfing was a highlight for me but the live feedback for all of the sessions has been good;  Alex Aitken, Mark Hanson, Sarah Hartley, Ann Longley, Simon Collister, Sarah Lundy, Craig Elder and of course Robin have all provided great insight. 

Don’t Panic Events ran the UK’s first ever social media coverage in 2005 so no surprise that they know how to get it right.  By the way Robin is still speaking but my battery is running low.





Upcoming Events

8 09 2009

This blog is a companion to my book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ , so if you are reading this you probably have some interest in the subject and might like to know about some events that I will be speaking at in the next few weeks. 

On the 16 September I will be talking about ‘The Cutting Edge of Digital PR’  at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations(CIPR) in London. It is a freshly squeezed breakfast briefing. 

Then on 6 October I will be running a session on Social Media in Leeds for the CIPR Northern Conference.  The one day conference has a great line up Alistair Campbell, former press secretary to Tony Blair, topping the bill.  Also in the line up are Yasmin Diamond, Director of Communication at the Home Office; Heather McGregor, Columnist for the Financial Times. 

There will also be masterclasses from Stuart Bruce, MD of Wolfstar; Sarah Knight, Engagement and PR Director at BJL; the eponymous Andy Green of Green Communications; Paul Willis, Director of the Centre for Public Relations Studies at Leeds Business School (LMU) and Robin Wilson Director of Digital PR and Social Media at McCann Erickson; plus more besides.

Then on the 30 October I will be speaking at the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit at Merchant Taylors Hall, Threadneedle Street, London.








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