About a Book

17 03 2009

book-coverThis blog is a companion to the book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’.  It will be published in a couple of weeks.  Last week as a first time author, I got to see my book in printed, hard copy form for the first time.   For me at least, writing the book was a long held ambition, I found myself on garden leave with some free time but even when the book was accepted for publication it seemed unreal.  There are various stages that make the unreal, real; the point when I stumbled across it on Amazon was one, but getting hold of the physical manifestation was the real milestone.  

If you have a book struggling to get out or you are in an early stages of the process of getting your first book out here are a few things that I wasn’t prepared for;

  • The publisher decides what it looks like, as a first time author you have no experience of what works and your views or wishes won’t count for much.
  • You write, edit, re-read and proof read.  An author will read their own book four or five times in its entirity before publication.   
  • Reading your own book when it is printed sometimes feels like you are reading someone else’s book.  I suspect that in the months between submitting and publication you start to forget some of the 60,000+ words.  I really felt when I dipped in to the published copy that some of it was new to me (and I found it interesting!)  
  • When you’ve finished writing, the writing doesn’t stop, there are blogs, guest posts and articles that all need to be written.  Time consuming but if you were never sure whether you were a writer or not, the confirmation is right there.  

If you are interested in reading it too it’s available to order from the publisher Kogan Page and from Amazon.





Blogroll, Shmogroll.

24 02 2009

toilet-rollNot long after I discovered the concept of blogging I became aware of the convention known as the ‘blogroll’; the list of blogs, usually placed in the sidebar, that reads as a list of other recommended blogs (you’ll find one to your right and down a bit).

As the web is built on the concept of links, I took it as read that this was a key defining element of what made a blog.  Moreover to be listed on a blogroll was to be included in that blog’s roll of honour.  Not really so.  Very few visitors ever click on the links in a blogroll.  The blogroll here lists just four blogs.  Two are WordPress links which were automatically generated when I set up the blog and it seemed a bit churlish to delete them.  One is for PRMediaBlog where I also post and the fourth is a link to Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog, which I included beacuse I believe that Todd is ‘the’ trailblazer for PR 2.0 or digital PR.  Of the four as the only link with no vested interest, it could be considered to be the ‘control’ in terms of click through.  The results are not spectacular.  The first 5000 visits to this blog generated just three visits to PR Squared or a 0.06% click through rate.

Blogrolls just don’t generated much traffic.  I predict that Todd’s blog will get more visits from this single post than from three months on the blog roll…but that’s up to you not me.





The Third Wave of Digital Influence

23 02 2009

A fierce debate is playing out as to what skills are best suited to the conditions created by a digital world to which everybody has access.   The era of single message mass marketing is coming to an end. In a presentation to 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York in late 2007,  Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “for the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation and they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

I believe that we have now entered a third phase since the inception of digital marketing.  The first phase was a technical one, the second was built around design and creativity and this third phase is characterised by the democratisation of content.   In the nineties when businesses first launched commercial web sites you hade to be a programmer or coder to build a website.  The industry was wholly reliant on technicians.  Specialist agencies sprang up and clients were in their thrall and people had to place their trust entirely in the hands of digital specialists.  Over time coding became more commoditised and new programmes allowed the less technical to do more and more.  The creative and design community started to be able to exert more of an influence.  The look and feel as well as the functionality of a website becomes more important.  In this second phase designers and creatives gained pre-eminence in the field of digital marketing. 

The third wave of digital communications is characterised by user generated content and templated designs that can be adapted and customised  (like the Wordpress template for this blog)  and are now widely available. More importantly much of what we see on screen is originated in a space beyond the control of clients or agencies.  Content comes from lots of different places the skills that are important to the marketing function are not hard technical skills, nor are they predominantly aesthetic but they are the softer management skills of diplomacy and influence. In short these are the skills that PR people have always used in their interactions with traditional media.





Fear and Loathing

8 12 2008

 

Companies are waking up to what is happening with their brands and there is  concern in the boardroom.  To them the web 2.0 world is the wild west.  There are people staking claims, there are outlaws and there are wild rumours of huge fortunes.  This is a digital frontier where the laws of the old world do not apply and voices are raised against the might of the old corporations.  There are already celebrated examples of major brands and corporations capitulating in the face of on-line challenges like the David and Goliath battle between Jeff Jarvis and the mighty Dell. 

Because of this many businesses are fearful of Web 2.0.  They are starting to realise that the PR profession has a new role to play but they feel very uncomfortable about participating in an environment where the consumer talks back.   Ultimately the choice for organisations is a simple one, they either take part in these conversations or they don’t but the conversations won’t go away.  So ultimately there is no choice.   The consumer will demand that the corporate talks to them.  According to Brian Solis leading PR 2.0 evangelist  “Social Media is no longer an option or debatable. It is critically important to all businesses, without prejudice. It represents a powerful, and additional, channel to first listen to customers, stakeholders, media, bloggers, peers, and other influencers, and in turn, build two-way paths of conversations to them. ..in the process, you become a resource to the very people looking for leadership, expertise, vision, and also solutions… it’s measurable and absolutely tied to the bottom line.”

That is why companies like Dell,  Starbucks and Chrysler are actively talking and listening to their customers.





Changing Communications

29 11 2008

 

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We are experiencing a communications revolution that began in the 1960s with the birth of the pre-cursor to the internet, but entered a significant new phase in 2004 with the arrival of Web 2.0.  


This is an iteration of the web where ordinary users can add words, pictures, sounds and video.  A simple idea in theory which in practise signifies the transfer of control of the internet from the few to the many. It is the democratisation of the internet.    

The phrase web 2.0 was coined in 2004 but nothing fundamentally changed that year from a technological point of view.  The tools that were available to create Web 2.0 environments already existed.  What changed was the way that people started to view the internet.








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