SEO and the Written Word

19 05 2009

In the rush to populate web copy with keywords the most important thing is sometimes forgotten.  The copy needs to well written, lively, interesting and relevant.  It is astonishing how often this is forgotten in the charge to upload text that will rank highly in Google.   

Engaging content can have a direct impact on search engine rankings and consequently on traffic.   Some websites sacrifice the need for good written content because their search engine optimisation advisors have influenced key words and their placement in the text to such an extent that the site no longer informs or entertains.

What this process fails to acknowledge is that the quality of the content is critical to receiving high rankings, because it will affect the number of pages viewed and the stickyness of the site.   Crafting words is a core skill for the majority of PR people.  We also need to consider how to deliver quality content in all of its other forms – still images, audio and video.  Whilst using the agency or in-house digital camera is useful for the old application for important work we will still tend to use a professional photographer.  The same should apply for audio and video content. 

Words still lie at the heart of all of this.  The right words will bring audiences but in the the wrong alignment they will drive them away, perhaps never to return.





Reputation Management in Black & White

5 05 2009

This Thursday (7th April) I will be presenting on the “PR Challenges of the Social Web,” at the KMP Digitata & How Do Seminar in Manchester.  I will look at how reputations can be affected, how reputations are built and lost and how you can manage your brand’s reputation through the use of PR and social media.

Ever since the explosion of social media and the revolution of social networks, companies no longer have control about what is said about their brand.  Social media is highly influential and the use of blogs, online communities, twitter and messageboards mean that people (consumers) are empowered to say whatever they want about brands and companies. These sources of information are incredibly powerful tools, and have a great deal of credibility in the eyes of other consumers.

The other presenters will be Jon Keefe of KMP and Simon Rogers, of Market Sentinel.  The event takes place at the Manchester Digital Development Agency starting at 9.30am and finishing at 1.30pm.

Click to book tickets 





Media Should Say No To Max

24 03 2009

It is time for the British media to end their unholy alliance with the publicist Max Clifford.  Max plies his trade by doing deals and peddling untruths, he says so himself and I have witnessed it at first hand.  

If Max wants to be part of the story then his own integrity should come under press scrutiny.  During the sad demise of Jade Goody he was ever present but I have never seen him asked or answering the question as to whether his normally substantial fees have gone towards Jade’s estate or the future of her family.

The public relations industry has never been particularly celebrated for its ethics.  In fact we PR people are right up there with politicians and journalists in terms of how our honesty is often perceived.  To some extent we only have ourselves to blame and in part it is because we allow the line between Public Relations advisers and publicists to become blurred.  Public Relations is a strategic marketing discipline, whereas publicity is a rather more straightforward activity that more readily accepts compromise.  In some cases both publicists and journalists have gone along with the old maxim to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  

At the heart of the social web is the concept of transparency. The access that it affords should mean we are at the beginning of the end for publicists like Clifford.





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.





Ewan McGregor’s Fake Twitter

9 03 2009

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is the latest victim of the Twimposter craze.  Close to 20,000 fans have fallen for the scam  and according to social media celebrity validation site ‘Valebrity’ even Ewan’s motorcycling mate Charley Boorman confirmed that McGregor’s twitter was the real McCoy (though there is no confirmation that this was the real Charley Boorman).  

Not so it seems, this the latest in a long list of bogus celebrity social web presences. Other victims have included Eddie Izzard, Star Trek favourites Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (although he now tweets for real) and the Oscar winning Kate Winslet.  It is becoming a minefield for both the celebrity PR machines and the fans who are piling into the social social web so that they get closer to the twitterati. 

The fake McGregor, although a clever ruse, will have been an easy spot for any fellow Scot.  On the (also false) MySpace profile linked to the twitter stream Ewan apparently said  “I love motorbikes, my home Scotland, doing charity work for Unicef. Of course my wife and my wee little girls”.  “Wee little”? Oh please what kind of talk is that?





We are all in Public

4 02 2009

The BBC has dropped former Carol Thatcher daughter of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher from “The One Show” .  The BBC took the action after she apparently used the word “golliwog” to describe a tennis player.    The comments were allegedly made during a conversation with fellow presenters after filming for the programme had ended.  Carol has appeared on the show as a regular roving reporter for the last three years.

Other presenters reported her off-air remark to senior staff, leading to her sacking by the BBC.  The identity of the tennis player has not been revealed but there are rumours that it might even be Andy Murray. 

The critical issue here is not just the debate as to whether the remarks were racist (intentionally or not) but that the words of public figures are now seldom ever ‘private’.  Carol Thatcher needs to understand that the social web means that they can be published by anyone, anywhere in an instant.   The BBC should recognise this too and reveal the name of the tennis player.  Then we will all be better placed to make a judgement.





Obama and the Social Web #2

20 01 2009

The inauguration of Barack Obabma is a historical defining moment for democracy.  The anticipation of the inauguration was described as being like Christmas Eve and was celebrated in every way from commemorative crockery to the new Ben & Jerry’s ‘Yes Pecan’ ice cream flavour.

It’s place in history goes beyond race and background. Obama is the first democratically elected leader to embrace the social web.   After a few quiet weeks his much talked about twitter stream went live again on Martin Luther King Day, the eve of the presidential inauguration.  Obama understood that the ability of the ordinary person to use the Internet, has and will have a significant effect on the relationship between  between the politician and the body politic.   Oh Boy Obama, was an unofficial site produced by his supporters described as an “online think tank” where people voted on policy ideas that they believed Barack Obama should adopt as part of his campaign.   Oh Boy Obama was a Digg style site that showed how political ideas could be tested against real grass roots opinion with those most likely to succeed in winning popular support rising to the top.

There is a great deal of hope riding on this new president.  If he pursues his relationship with the social web he could help to redefine what we mean and understand by democracy.  That would be history in the making.








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