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.





PR Industry gets Guidance on Wikipedia

27 06 2012

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has today published a guide advising PR professionals on how to approach Wikipedia.  The primary principle is that PR people should not directly edit Wikipedia pages that relate to their organisation or clients.  Instead they should use the network to suggest amendments to Wikipedians – the active Wikipedia editors.

A consultation hosted on Wikimedia UK received more than 160 direct edits.  The guidance document published by the CIPR today is version one – it will continue to be reviewed as the relationship between Wikipedia and the PR communities evolves.  The guidance is supported by the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

CIPR CEO Jane Wilson, said: “This guidance is aimed at helping public relations practitioners reach a better understanding of how to properly engage with one of the most visited sources of information on the internet and clearly lays out the process through which PR people can positively contribute to the encyclopaedia. The main theme of the guidance is quite simple – where there is a clear conflict of interest created by the relationship between the public relations professional and the subject of the Wikipedia entry, such as a client or employer, they should not directly edit it.”

Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK Jon Davies, said: “I’m pleased that the PR industry is taking steps to learn more about Wikipedia and how it works.”

This clear guidance coming directly from the industry should reduce the areas of grey surrounding the editing of pages by some well established PR firms.

You can download the guide here.





Jimmy Carr and the Decline of the Press Release

26 06 2012

David Cameron’s allegation that Jimmy Carr was tax dodging put the comedian into crisis mode last Friday.  Five years ago there would have been a press release and possibly a brief statement given to a carefully chosen news channel.  It can’t have escaped your notice that Jimmy Carr put his statement out on Twitter, even though it took five tweets to get the full apology out.

“I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement,  as this is obviously a serious matter.  I met with a financial advisor and he said to me “Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal.” I said “Yes.”  I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.  Although I’ve been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly.  Apologies to everyone.  Jimmy Carr.”

Although Carr hasn’t emerged entirely unscathed it is broadly agreed that he did a good job of defusing the story.    So why Twitter?  He has over two million followers, that’s more than the circulation of any newspaper.  He was able to decide the timing of the announcement and he could ensure it was free from comment or selective editing.  So if celebrities are side-stepping the press then they don’t need PR people either?  Not so.  Carr sought the help of  his trusted advisor entertainment PR guru Gary Farrow on the handling of the apology.

Not every celebrity has a multi million follower list and certainly few corporate accounts can boast that sort of number, but if you are at the centre of a media storm is doesn’t matter whether you have 200 or two million, people will be watching and Twitter provides a faster, more effective route than the press release.





Twitter, Branding and the Batman Bird

18 06 2012

Just under two weeks ago Twitter revealed a ‘tweaked’ redesign of their iconic bird logo (image 1).  They rolled out some brand guidelines that  included usage rules that stated that you should not ‘rotate or change the direction of the bird’ (image 2). Some eagle-eyed twitter users noticed that when you rotate the bird anti-clockwise by 90 degrees it looks oddly like Batman (image 3).

As well as updating the bird, Twitter is aiming to rid the web of the huge range of twitter icons; the boxed ‘t’, the variety of birds and  the lowercase bubble script ‘twitter’ (Pico font with an adapted ‘e’ if you are interested).

The announcement highlights the difficulties in controlling a brand image in an inter-operable and collaborative web.  Brand guidelines are endemic in the culture in large organisations, but the ability to enforce rules on the use of the brand logo is much diminished.   Five years ago a phenomenon emerged where people were reinterpreting the logos of iconic brands as if they were new web brands.  Logo 2.0 interpretations took these identities and played around with them.  My favourite was ‘Quakr 2.Oats’.

It will be interesting to see how successful Twitter is at controlling its brand identity in a world users as well as corporate  communications departments make the rules.





Argyll and Bute U-Turn After Cooking Up a Storm

15 06 2012

The speed at which a PR crisis can now strike and escalate has seldom been better illustrated than the #schooldinnerbloggate debacle ignited by Argyll and Bute council after it banned a nine-year old girl from blogging about school lunches.

Yesterday school girl Martha Payne wrote on her blog  “this morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today…I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners …I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.  Goodbye, VEG”

At 10.53 this morning Argyll and Bute Council (strapline – ‘Raising our Potential Together’) posted a statement which began “Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs.  The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds’ blog …despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils…so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.”   I’ve screen grabbed the full statement.

By lunchtime today ‘Argyll and Bute’, ‘neverseconds’, and ‘Martha Payne’ were all trending on Twitter.  The leader of the council appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme and reversed the decision.   Whilst the initial action and statement was a PR disaster you have to admire the speed of the resolution.

Perhaps the happiest outcome of all is the extra £15,000 in donations added to the appeal for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals a charity that provides lunches for schoolchildren in Africa.

Update: As of 5pm donations to Martha’s appeal have passed the £35,000 mark.





Twitter Outs Trenton Oldfield the Boat Race Swimmer

7 04 2012

Looking for information on the web about the protester that disrupted the boat race today there was nothing via Google News and the in-depth report on the Daily Mail gave no clue as to the swimmer’s identity.

A twitter search revealed his identity in a trice.  His name was spreading across twitter less than an hour after the race was finally completed.  Despite the less coiffured hair in the pictures taken after he was dragged from the Thames, there’s an unmistakable likeness to this image from a conference in Zagreb.

Oldfield had planned his protest meticulously and had prepared a long blog post explaining his ‘anti-elitist’ act of “civil disobedience”.  I’m not going to bore you with his reasons (he does that very well in his post if you are inclined to read it).  A quick search will also tell you that he’s a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and studied at the London School of Economics.  He says in his post  that “part of my inspiration for today’s action comes from a protest action that took place 99 years ago – when Emily Davison ran into Epson (sic) Derby race. On the 4 June 1913 Emily ran into the horse that the king had entered.”  Ironic really considering that Emily went to Oxford.





Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs in Biopic

2 04 2012

If you are casting a biopic and you can find a high profile actor that looks  remarkably like the subject of the film then you have a great PR story from the off.  It’s even better when the subject of the film is perhaps the most iconic figure in a generation.

I had never considered it before but the resemblance between actor Ashton Kutcher and Apple founder Steve Jobs is really quite uncanny.  Kutcher at 34 is only three years older than Jobs was at the career defining moment when he was ousted from Apple for the first time.

Two films about Jobs are in planning, and this one needs a boost as the other is based on based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography of the Apple founder, backed by Sony with Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing and The Social Network) rumoured to be the screenwriter.  Not much is known about this version other than it will follow Jobs  from “wayward hippie” to Apple co-founder “where he became one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time”.  It will have a  screenplay by Matt Whiteley and is slated to shoot from May.

One obvious challenge will be maintaining the likeness as Jobs ages and succumbs to ill health, which prompted a dramatic weight loss over the last few years of his life.  That said, many actors, including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and 50 Cent have lost substantial amounts of weight where the screen role has demanded it.





Prime the Pump or it Tends to Run Dry

30 03 2012

old petrol pump

The current UK public panic at the petrol pumps started me thinking about the certain similarities with social media.  Before you decide that’s a stretch  bear with me

Some years ago when I took my first look at analytics I was shocked to discover there was no ‘long tail’ when it came to traffic stats.  When you  post on a blog or add something to a social network site the impact usually last for a very short time, it’s quite normal for 90% of hits to be in the first 24 hours.   That basically means that if you want to engage through social media you need to do it regularly and preferably on a daily basis.  Pioneer PR blogger Richard Edelman knew it with his daily ‘6AM’ blog.  The founders of BEBO knew it (Blog Early Blog Often).

There are some exceptions, traffic from search tends to increase over time, but it’s no substitute for new content, and without new content your page rank will decline.  Social networks, where the content is ephemeral, are on course to drive more traffic than search: for a few days if February Facebook drove more visits to The Guardian than Google did.

The message is simple – if you wanted to fuel traffic you have to make sure that sure that you are providing new content all the time, if you don’t your visitors will fill up somewhere else.





SXSW – Al Gore and Sean Parker

13 03 2012

A session with the founding President of Facebook and the former Vice President of the USA is the sort of one off experience that on its own can justify the trip to Austin. The excitement in the vast auditorium was palpable.

This was a tour of the history and future of democracy and how it might be shaped by the social web. The Athenian ideal and the importance of the Gutenberg press were the scene setters. Gore remains the master of the sound bite. He illustrated the impact of print on the spread of democratic ideas with the line “Thomas Payne’s Common Sense was the Harry Potter of the18th Century”.

There was agreement between the two that democracy in the US in its current form is deeply flawed. The ability of people to promote and publish on-line may have an even more significant impact than the arrival of the printing press. Whilst the people in power don’t really understand the power of the social web says Sean Parker “we may have an opportunity to take back the system.”

Gore is a great orator but at times he seemed unaware that for this audience Parker was the person that many of the SXSW audience came to hear. That said when the the “Nerd Spring” arrives and the history of democracy and the web is written both of these men will be cited in dispatches.





SXSW – Biz Stone: Content as a Means for Social Change

12 03 2012

20120312-161727.jpg

Biz Stone is back at SXSW for the first time since Twitter blew up there in 2007. In the first of a series of stories he tells is about the birth of Twitter. Twitter wasn’t conveived as a channel for serious communication, it was meant to be fun and social. In the prototype stage, one of the first things Evan Williams tweeted (before the real tweets began to flow) was “Sipping Pinot Noir after a massage in Napa valley”.

By 2007 there were about 5000 twitter users and they “were all the dorks that go to SXSW”. It gave them the “South-West bump” and after that there was seldom a major world event that didn’t feature Twitter. When Biz was called by a journalist and asked about his involvement in a student uprising in Moldova he had to look up Moldova to find out where it was.

The remaining stories cover creativity, being prepared to fail, illustrated with reference to Wim Wenders ‘Wings of Desire’ and the compound value of doing good. Whilst the stories that Biz tells are only loosely connected, they are linked by a theme that links the future of marketing and corporate success to philanthropy. Its his philosophy for business and he walks the talk. Twitter had a CSR person years before it had a sales person.








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