Desmond Libel Case Bites The Dust

23 07 2009

Richard Desmond proprietor of Express Newspapers lost his libel case against author and journalist Tom Bower today.  The result was not the most fascinating aspect of the trial, it was hardly an open and shut case.  What was more interesting was the outpouring of opinion on-line within minutes of the outcome.

The jury at the London’s high court returned a majority verdict rejecting Desmond’s claim against the allegation, made by Bower in his book about publisher and tycoon Conrad Black, that Desmond had been “ground into the dust” by Black when forced into apologising  for articles in the Sunday Express in 2002.  Desmond believed the allegation damaged his business reputation.  However this is a reputation that is far from unsullied, in fact the Guardian’s Janine Gibson opined “It may not be possible to defame him…..” 

One of the first to comment was journalist George Dearsley who tweeted “People like Desmond have helped to kill responsible journalism and made many journalists’ lives a total misery”. “How do you libel a porn baron exactly?” added Leeds based PR about town Debbie Hastie.  The comments came thick and fast sharing dsatisfaction, joy and amusement at the result.

The comments may not have the grace and consideration of a national newspaper leader but they are quicker and a welcome adjuct to free speech …and they do a pretty good job of telling it like it is.





MPs in Commons Tweet Speaker Results

23 06 2009

The results of the House of Commons Speaker elections last night were delivered live via twitter throughout the evening.  At every voting round the results were posted live on Twitter within seconds of being announced to MPs. 

This was made possible because many of the MPs were doing the posting themselves, apparently live from the floor of the House.

Possibly the first to announce the result was Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson, who earlier in the evening revealed who she was voting for in the supposed secret ballot.  Both Tom Watson MP and Jim Knight MP leaked the unofficial result five minutes before it was announced to MPs.  Whilst the voting figures they gave were wide of the mark, they both had the winner right, meaning for the first time ever ordinary voters had the result before many MPs.

The rapidly increasing number of MPs now microblogging (sometimes from inside the chamber) is potentially far more significant for the House than the appointment of John Bercow MP as a radical reforming Speaker.





Budget, Blogs and Twitter

22 04 2009

budget red boxToday Chancellor Alistair Darling delivers what must be the toughest budget in living memory. 

What makes the challenge even more acute is that his pronouncement will be followed and commented upon in public even before he retakes his seat in the Commons at the end of his speech.

Blogs will comment well in advance of the considered reactions appearing in print in  the national press.  The national media will however be playing a big part in populating the blogosphere.  Joanna Geary at the Times will be coordinating a live Budget blog with analysis as it happens. 

To that end this blog is taking live comment from the web – comments on the budget posted across the twitter network will appear as they are posted throughout the day.





Update: Kutcher Twitter Million

18 04 2009

Ashton Kutcher used conventional advertising, billboards to be precise, to gain victory over CNN in his twitter sprint to a million followers.  Lamar Advertising, in a PR coup for the traditional ad network, delivered free of charge “Follow Ashton Kutcher” outdoor ads across its 1,133 digital billboards. 

With Kutcher appearing on Oprah within hours of passing the million mark, this seems like a carefully co-ordinated integrated PR campaign.  Even twitter has been fingerered with the accusation that they made it hard for users to unfollow @aplusk (Kutcher’s twitter handle).





Kutcher Beats CNN to Twitter Million

17 04 2009

Actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) became the first twitter user to achieve a million (1,000,000) followers at 6.12 UTC today.  He narrowly beat CNN breaking news (@cnnbrk) which had overtaken the Barack Obama twitter account as the world’s most popular in the last few months.  CNN became the second account with a million followers just under half an hour later . Both users had been heavily promoting their race to a million, Kutcher using UStream.tv and CNN using their own broadcast channel.  The Huffington Post carried a live counter and follower graph that looked like something from a US presidential election.

This milestone confirms a number of observations about twitter as a ‘channel’.

  • On-line popularity is linked to off-line popularity – both Kutcher and CNN are hardly unknown.
  • Twitter can be a broadcast channel.  It is neither the principal function nor does it reflect twitter’s flexibilty but if enough people subscribe to a feed you can ‘broadcast’ information and links. 
  • Twitter works as a news feed – lots of traditional news meda are bulding large follower numbers. Group them together and you have a powerful customisable news channnel.
  • Twitter is now firmly part of the celebrity PR portfolio.

For those that say that twitter is just this year’s social web fad it’s not about to fizzle out just yet.





Follow Friday Five #7

3 04 2009

Five blogs for you to follow this Friday.  In the usual fashion it is a broad spectrum from student bedsit to fame and fortune. Top copy that I’d like to share with you as we wend our way towards the weekend. 

1 Techcrunch the weblog dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies.  Founded by the controversial Michael Arrington.  It’s scoop central – see this week’s story on Google in talks with Twitter for example.  

2 Borkowski Blogs The inimitable Mr B on the lives and times of the rich and famous the place where the worlds PR and the media and “exposed, inspected, sniffed at, dissected, startled, satirised, tickled and occasionally put to rights”. 

3 Flawless Buzz  the work of Adam Lewis, student at York University, my alma mater (no-one acrtually says that do they?) who has set his sights firmly on a career in the PR and communications industry.

4 Jemima Kiss Great pictures and even greater words from the Guardian writer and interwebber. Follow her on twitter too…making anger an artform.

5. Liverpool Culture Blog A Mancunian bigging up a blog from Liverpool? It’s really good and entertaining stuff and more than just scouse culture (no really) from the brilliantly named Robin Brown.   

Go on. Off you go to some other great spaces on the interweb.  Oh and my book should be out today (I think). Did I mention that?





Social Search

19 03 2009

magnifying-glassAn article appeared in Popular Mechanics in April last year that began with the words “Search is dead”.  The argument was that the huge escalation in social networks would eventually make algorithm based search engines redundant.  This is a pretty bold claim when Google has become arguably the world’s most powerful brand.   The core of the argument is that as social networking grows web users will find what they want by using their social network rather than search because of trust.  Indeed people in general will know the answer that you want better than a mathematical equation.  This has begun to happen with Twitter.   Within days of starting to use the service I saw a request from Jemima Kiss, technology writer for The Guardian for information about about iTunes and a request from social media guru Shel Israel for information on business applications on Twitter.  Shel got what he wanted in just 10 minutes, admittedly quite a bit slower than Google but qualified by trusted human intelligence:

“shelisrael: Thanks everyone. I just got 10 good Twitter biz apps in 10 minutes. Keep them coming when you find them, please.”

Online communities are often built or reinforced around the notion of shared interests.   We create an enormous amount of data when we participate in social networks and this information finds people through the various filters people set up within their social networks. Twitter is instant, Google has to index a page before it can search for it.  We may be witnessing the beginning of the erosion of Google’s dominance in search.

This article is adapted from a more in depth piece in the book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ available now from Amazon.








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