Cameron I Forbid You to Like The Smiths

2 12 2010

Since the then newly crowned PM Tony Blair invited Noel Gallagher to Downing Street,  politicians have been trying to borrow cred from the music business.  Who can forget (if you are old enough to remember) Neil Kinnock singing and swinging to the beat of D:Ream’s  “Things Can Only Get Better” after the ’97 Labour election victory?

Gordon Brown’s was famously said to have a soft spot for the Arctic Monkeys but when challenged by a men’s magazine, he was unable to name a single track from their debut album.  To be fair to Gordon he apparently was asked to choose whom he preferred The Monkeys or James Blunt.  Fair call Gordon.

Today a new political threat emerged from the social web.  Apparently the Prime Minister has been professing his love for Manchester icons ‘The Smiths’.  It’s not impossible that he does quite like them, he was just seventeen when they released their first album.  However the band’s guitarist isn’t having any of it.  He tweeted today “David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

Not much chance of gaining any reflected cool when the band so publicly disowns you.

Social Strategy First Crisis Second

30 11 2010

It’s incredible how many of the major organisation with the best social media strategies got there in the wake of a crisis.  The most obvious example is Dell.  First there was Dell Hell and then there was IdeaStorm and a comprehensive on line communications and commercial strategy.  My anecdotal experience entirely supports the idea that even now most major organisations don’t formulate their social media communications strategy until they have experience a royal kick in the digital arse.

It really doesn’t have to be that way.  In the words of Henry George Bohn “wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own”.   The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is hosting ‘Reputations in Flames’,  in London next Monday 6th December. The one day conference will explore the risks that businesses and organisations are exposed to via social networks.  I have the honour of chairing the event and there are some must see speakers.  Euan Semple will cover the fundamental changes that have occurred, Dominic Burch, Head of Corporate Communications at Asda will explain why social media monitoring is a necessity, not a ‘nice to have’.

Luke Brynley-Jones, Founder and CEO, Our Social Times will look at the tools that are available and Guy Esnouf, Head of Public Relations, Public Affairs and Community Relations at  E.ON UK will highlight how social media can be effectively used to communicate with stakeholders during a crisis.

The afternoon session features Marshall Manson of Edelman and Helen Nowicka, Managing Director of Shiny Red.   It is a real opportunity to learn from people who know.  Better to be prepared than to have to learn on the job.  Oh, and the slogan on the t-shirt?  It says “the crisis and me are friends on Facebook”

Should Advertising Regulate in Social Media?

1 09 2010

Today the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that it extend its remit to cover “marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under their control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter”.  The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has decided to extend the digital remit of the ASA and has today published a document detailing the new remit and sanctions.

I have some serious and personal concerns about the document.  In justifying the extension of its remit ASA refers to 3,500 complaints in 2008 and 2009 about the content of organisation’s websites.  How does this relate to social networks or social media?  Throughout the document there is constant reference to “other marketing communication” (sixteen times on 14 pages) with only a very loose definition of what constitutes “other marketing communication” suggesting that it is concerned principally with the primary intention “to sell something”.  Marketing communications is so much broader than that.

The plan is to carry out a review of guidelines in 2013, two years after the implementation of the extended remit.  This shows a fundamental misunderstanding and disregard for the speed of change on-line; for example in two years Twitter went from zero to 10 million tweets per day.  Spotify, which is fundamentally changing the music business, is less than two years old.

There is also a contradiction in terms of definition.  The guidelines exclude “press releases and other public relations material” and yet the definition of “other marketing communications” includes items that could be considered to be public relations material, for example the promotion of unsolicited (or solicited) consumer endorsement.

I would endorse all of the objectives of the CAP code with regard to the prohibition of misleading advertising, the protection of children and social responsibility.  The intentions here are good there is no doubt of that.  I just can’t help feeling that in regulating the social media space, bodies that concern themselves with advertising and have advertising in their title feel more than a little out-of-place.

Cameron and Zuckerberg Face to Face

9 07 2010

Two weeks ago this blog reported that Mark Zuckerberg and David Cameron had met at Number 10.  In this video conference between the two of them, Cameron confirms that the meeting happened. 

In an extraordinary, albeit somewhat staged discussion, David Cameron demonstrates that he hasn’t forgotten the PR skills that he forged in his early career.  In short, this is a quick chat about crowd sourcing ideas for debt reduction using Facebook.  The British public will be invited to communicate their ideas through a dedicated forum on the number one social network.    This is partly a PR exercise to show just how down with the new channels the new PM is.  He even speaks the lingo “thank you for engaging” he says to Zuckerberg and “it’s all been, up to now, very top down”.

It also shows just how powerful the social networks are becoming.  Not only does Zuckerberg get ‘face time’ with the British Prime Minister for the second time in less than a month he is also given an open invitation to drop by whenever he likes; “next time you are in town come and look us up”.

Cameron Meets Facebook’s Zuckerberg at Number 10

21 06 2010

Downing Street If  more proof were needed of the growing power of social networks it came with the news that the new UK prime minister David Cameron met this morning with Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg at 10 Downing Street.

Joining the two fresh-faced power brokers was the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, who used Twitter at 11.28am to announce the meeting had just taken place “Just met Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook. Really smart guy with some good ideas on improvement digital engagement in policy making.”

According to the BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones “the Cameron/Zuckerberg summit was about how government can use the internet more to engage with the public”.

This is the first time that a British prime minister has met with a social network supremo and he did so before he has had face to face talks with many of the world’s major political leaders.

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.

Will the Last Newspaper Proprietor to Back a Party in the General Election Please Turn Out the Lights

23 04 2010

I posted a few months ago saying that The Sun can’t win elections any more or even influence them in the same way they once did.

This election is proving that to be the case.  Yesterday after the press rounded on Nick Clegg after his success in the first TV debate and on the cusp of the second TV hustings, the twittering classes hit back.  The hashtag #nickcleggsfault was essentially a crowd sourced piss-take that said we don’t have to take whatever politically motivated guff you throw at us and the choice is ours not yours.

The Murdoch media are however hanging on to the old ideas of influence and boy have they had a concerted go in the last 24 hours pushing a YouGov poll on Sky News that was out of step with all others and that the pollsters have admitted today that they used a flawed process. The Sun has even been accused of suppressing polls that are out of step with their support for the Tories.

However we are now facing the absolute racing certainty of  hung/balanced parliament, so the only party guaranteed to be part of the next administration is the Liberal Democrat party.  When media owners realise that they can’t be certain of backing the winner they will back off from nailing their colours to the mast.   The backlash begins.

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