Crowd Sourced Gig Video – The National

31 08 2011

Last week I made the trip from my native Manchester all the way to Edinburgh for a gig. The National is Brooklyn based an indie rock band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio and despite a series of European festivals this was a short tour. I’ve seen them three times before and they never disappoint.


I had my iPhone 4 with me so took a few video clips and images as reminders of the experience but the highlight was the acoustic rendition of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, with the audience singing along and singer Matt Berninger leaping into the crowd.  I was so captivated I didn’t video it, but at least five other people did.  With some cheap video  software I edited the clips together and produced a crowd sourced video.  With the increasing quality of videos on phone this will become ever more possible and bands without the cash to hire a crew will still be able to have multi camera live video footage.

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.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #6

4 01 2010

Number 6: Wikipedia

Launched in 2001 Wikipedia only just makes the list of web wonders of the ‘Noughties’.  It will celebrate its ninth birthday in just eleven days time.  However in a period spanning less than a decade Wikipedia has fundamentally transformed how we access (and share) knowledge.  

Before this crowd sourced encyclopaedia became available, the gold standard for a comprehensive compendium of human knowledge was the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  It was first published over two hundred years ago and is currently in its fifteenth edition.  That works out as a new edition just about every thirteen years on average.  Wikipedia on the other hand is in state on constant revision.

The user-generated encyclopaedia has become in the words of co-founder Jimmy Wales “part of the infrastructure of the internet” and it is the world’s fifth most popular website.  There are over 3 million entries in English alone, just one (albeit the largest) of the 272 language versions.  

Wikipedia is Web 2.0 to the core.  All of its article are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world and almost can be edited by anyone so long as they have registered to have access to the site.  It has redefined how we collaborate and how we share knowledge.  It is also the only top ten web site that is run as a non-profit organisation.  The model is however under pressure. Giving all users irrespective of credentials or expertise equal rights to publish and edit may not be an optimum way of sharing knowledge.  However to subject changes proposed by newcomers to approval by more experienced editors (an innovation already adopted in the German version) may strike at the core principles of the project.  The debate goes on.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #10

16 12 2009

As we draw to the end of the zeroes (sounds so much better than naughties surely?), this blog is counting down the ‘PR and the Social Web’ top ten wonders of the internet, brought to us over the last ten years.  No place here for the likes of Amazon or Google which appeared in the nineties. So in reverse order….

Number 10: WordPress

‘Blogger’ would have been in the running if it had launched six months later but the original blogging platform was a product of the nineties, just.  It is highly arguable that ‘WordPress’ is also the better bet.  The templates look better and it feels more accessible and straightforward to use, though admittedly less popular (it sits at number 20 on with Blogger currently at number 6).  Blogging platforms have been instrumental from redistributing publishing power from the few to the many.  User generated content and web 2.0  apre products of the blogging revolution. The social web has WordPress at its heart.

It isn’t just the ‘have a go’ bloggers that use WordPress (this site is built with using a standard themed template), many major organisations use a wordpress platform because it is both robust and easy to work with. CNN, Techcrunch, The New York Times and Le Monde all use the WordPress platform as does Playstation and Ben & Jerry’s.  

WordPress was launched in 2003 with less than twenty users it is now used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.  WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are people all over the world work on it and everything  from the support documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community.  It also means it is free to use.  As it says on the site Code is Poetry.

Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys?

13 10 2009

EllipseArctic Monkeys were hailed as the musical standard bearers of the web 2.0 generation.  True, their MySpace presence was part of the package that propelled them to rock stardom but they have always denied that it was the defining factor. The real A-lister for the Gen Y music aficionados is Imogen Heap.

She shared every detail of the production of her latest album Ellipse, on Twitter, posting as she toiled on harmonies into the wee small hours .  For the first time fans could access an artist at work in real time.  Heap gained well over a million followers (more than Stephen Fry or Sarah Brown) on the micro blogging network in the process.  Whilst Lily Allen and Courtney Love are twitter qwitters, Heap keeps piling on the tweets.

Her involvement with the crowd extends to her music.  Last year as part of the Twitter Twestival fundraiser, Heap allowed fans to download all the vocals (track by track)  for a song that was originally composed for a TV programme but was never completed.  Using Soundcloud the vocals for the ‘The Song That Never Was’ were made available for fans and followers to complete the recording adding their own instrumentation and interpretation. There were over 500 versions recorded and uploaded.  That has to be some kind of record.

US Flu Cases Head Off the Scale

24 09 2009

In April when the media went into overdrive about swine flu, I posted that there was scant evidence that the pandemic had taken hold in the US.  The situation was unclear but there was evidence that the media frenzy had actually got ahead of the spread of the H1N1 virus.

Pandemic back on the map

I had placed my trust in ‘Google Flu Trends’.  Google has found that certain search terms are indicators of the early stages of flu.  They use aggregated search data to estimate the incidence of flu cases.  The results provide information around two weeks faster than traditional systems because neither the sufferers nor the medical practitioners have to report the data – it’s instantaneous.

Texas flu trendFlu cases head upwards

As the chart above show the search terms started to lurch upwards three weeks ago and the latest data suggests that in Texas, where the results are highest,  in the past week enquiries were nearly 10x normal levels for the time of year.  The heat map for the whole of the US shows a 397% increase on normal levels.  If Google is right then the official channels should be getting the data about now.  Media alerts won’t be far behind.    

H1N1 set to rise in UK  

Google flu trends doesn’t extend to the UK, but evidence in April suggested that the UK was exposed early in the cycle and we are entering the high risk autumn/winter period.  Anecdotal and sporadic reports from schools and colleges suggest a high current level of absenteeism.  It looks like the pandemic will be right back on the media agenda soon, but this time with much more substance.

Web ‘to go’ – Blogging on the Train

2 07 2009

I am writing this blog post from the discomfort of a hot train carriage en route from Grantham to Manchester.  Why do you need to know that?  The answer is quite simply that you don’t.  My point is that it is now possible to blog or upload content, any time, any place, anywhere.

There is no air conditioning in my carriage but I do have a laptop with me and Internet access, although it is courtesy of a 3G mobile stick rather than having been thoughfully provided by the train operator.  Although to be fair many train operators now offer wifi (usually the same ones that manage to provide aircon).

We are increasingly moving to a point where web access is an expected utility rather than a welcome exception.  The iPhone even has a dedicated WordPress application that lets you blog directly from your phone with considerable ease, making live blogging easier than ever.   The carriage isn’t getting any cooler and I’m still an hour and a half from my stop.  I wonder what’s happening on twitter?

This Week’s Best of the Blogs #2

19 06 2009

1. PR MEDIA BLOG – Will Twitter Do the Business?

Upfront PRMB is the Staniforth blog, where I work, but this is a guest post from Phil Jones, the Sales and Marketing Director at Brother (not a client).  It is a really excellent take on the benefits of microblogging to businesses.  It is the first of a two-parter, with the second published today.

2. GODDAMIT I’M MAD – Becoming a Man

Sister Wolf has been mad for a long time…and she’s getting madder.  This is a piece prompted by Chastity Bono’s plan to have a sex change.  The web can be a weird and wonderful place.

3. TED BLOG – Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It began as a conference in 1984 and the brand has grown to cover a range of activities. The NYU professor Clay Shirky reveals how mobiles, the social web, Facebook and Twitter have changed the rules of the game in Iran.

4. ReadWriteWeb – Twitter Censoring Trending Topics

When the crowd decides to talk dirty it seems that twitter doesn’t want us to know.

5 – Investigate Your MPs Expenses

Another piece of crowd sourcing. with the sheer volume of paperwork the Guardian has opened up the 700,000 documents of MPs’ expenses so the the public can identify individual claims, or expenses they think merit further investigation. You can even work through your own MP’s claims for the past four years.

The ‘WherethehellisMatt’ Meme

4 06 2009

Matt Harding is from Connecticut and in his thirties.  He was a computer games developer who quit his job in February 2003, to go travelling.  Several months into a trip through Asia a travel companion gave Matt the idea of performing a peculiar dance, apparently the only dance Matt does, on the streets of Hanoi. The video was posted on line and attracted some attention. Harding repeated the dance in a number of locations and edited together 15 scenes of this dance with the background music Sweet Lullaby (Nature’s Dancing Mix), by Deep Forest that uses lyrics from a dying Solomon Islands language.

It attracted the attention of Cadbury which was launching a new chewing gum range called Stride gum. They offered to pay Matt to do another trip around the world to make a new video.  In 2006, Matt took a 6 month trip through 39 countries on all 7 continents, dancing in all of them.  The Wheretheismatt videos have between them been seen over 100 million times.

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.

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