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Indie 2.0: Inspiring a Generation of Artist August 2, 2011

Posted by billyburnettgbc in blogs, conversational PR, Facebook, Journalism, kindle, new media, print media.
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As you may recall, in a previous post I talked about how filmmaker Kevin Smith announced he planned to market his next movie, Red State, using just social media and entirely without studio support. He has since not only made back the cost of the movie, something several recent summer blockbusters have failed to do, but also launched an internet radio station, filmed a pilot for a new TV talk show and started work on his final film, Hit Somebody.

The story of Kevin Smith is enthralling, but what’s more exciting is that it is far from unique. As far back as 2004, the British director Franny Armstrong made the eco-documentary The Age of Stupid, pioneering “crowd-funding”, a method whereby the financing (£450,000) was raised by selling shares to individuals and organisations, who all received a pro-rata share of the profits.

Now with the decline of the printed book and the rise of the eBook, supported by recent announcements by both Borders and Penguin books publisher Pearson, many authors are self-publishing and promoting their latest page turners.

For example, Toronto writer Blake Northcott decided to launch a Kindle version of Vs. Reality, a “comic book-inspired urban fantasy novel” on Amazon.com. During the nine months she spent writing the comic and movie blog, she amassed a 16,000 strong Twitter following, more than 1,700 personal Facebook friends and 4,500 page views providing real-time feedback on her work. To put that into perspective it’s more than Image Comics, the world’s largest independent comic book artist publisher.

Even those authors that still have the financial and marketing support of their publishers are realising the opportunity around social media in promoting their work.

John Green’s latest book, The Fault in our Stars, recently landed the number-one spots on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. This isn’t particularly strange – expect the book won’t be published until 2012. Using a variety of social media tools, including Twitter, Tumblr, community forums and YouTube, he has created a community around his work and unprecedented pre-orders have followed.

This presents a conundrum for any artist. Consider the extra blood, sweat and tears that self-distribution requires; engaging with followers via social media instead of getting that final chapter done, which is surely self-defeating, but also becoming an intrinsic part of the marketing mix which was traditionally handled by the publisher.

Thanks to social media however, artists across the globe are writing their own rules about branding and fan engagement.

Listen up Celebrity Tweeters! Apparently Nobody Cares! September 27, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in conversational PR, new media, Online Reputation, pr, TweetVolume, Twitter.
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Twitter plans to launch a free analytics dashboard that will help its users – especially businesses – understand how others are interacting with their tweets. Announced by Ross Hoffman, a member of Twitter’s business development team, the tool will show you which tweets are spreading and which users are influential in your network.

Although bad news for third-party Twitter analytics tools, such as Klout, Omniture and Twitalyzer, it is likely to be welcomed by many as a step forward in the way we measure the beast that is social media – especially as it’s free!

Twitter is perhaps one of the best examples of the difficulties surrounding social media measurement, with retweets, followers and the ability for a topic to trend all playing a role in determining influence.

Only this week, Ashton Kutcher, one of the services most famous users with millions of followers, shown to have very little if any influence according to a study conducted at Northwestern University. These findings hit the wire a few months after social media analytics company Sysomos claimed that celebrities’ followers don’t have any influence, either.

It might all depend on how you crunch the numbers. Don’t forget that Justin Bieber used to consistently sit near the top of Twitter’s official trends list, and that one source close to Twitter claimed 3% of the network’s servers are dedicated to tweets from Bieber and the retweets from his followers.

Although the launch of this service is unlikely to be considered the defacto standard by every PR or marketing agency, especially as some have already invested in developing their own tools, it does provide an independent view for the client.

We’ve moved July 30, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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Now we’re no longer on Kewroad but in lovely downtown London (or Frith Street, Soho, to be precise) we’ve decided to move our blog too. And we’ve got a new name too –onechocolate communications – matching the agency’s new brand identity onechocolate communications that unifies our old identities of GBC and Chocolate Communications

Copy and Paste Culture of Social Networks July 16, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in social networks, Uncategorized.
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Mashable.com confirmed today the rumour that MySpace has begun demoing a completely redesigned version of its profile pages to select users. Despite a couple of nice new features (well new to MySpace anyway) is this really enough to turn things around?

Site analytics show the site has been in steady decline for the past 12 months and recent departures from the senior management imply a lack of clear vision moving forward. Facebook continues to lure away MySpace users whilst the rumoured entrance of Google into the space should also be cause for concern.

Although the introduction of these new features may interest a few users and capture some headlines this is unlikely to change the fortunes of the company. We have already seen this exact same scenario play out in the mobile handset world, where handset manufacturers look to emulate the features of the market leader (ok then, copy) instead of innovating and differentiating their product. It’s not they are bad, it’s just their competitors do it first and often do it better.

Facebook won’t be around forever and the next “big thing” is probably being developed in a garage somewhere right now, but with this copy and paste culture it’s unlikely to be from MySpace.

It’s only a game July 6, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Agency management.
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It never ceases to amaze me, particularly around World Cups, how much running a successful agency  is like managing a great football team.

So, for example, it’s no good having a team of star players if they don’t work well for each other.  Building a team around a couple of top talents most often only works for a game or two (or a season or two in league terms) before the star(s) lose their touch and often fall foul to ego (and in the case of footballers women apparently).  You need balance in the team.  Not all of them can be the hero striker  nor can they all just chase after the ball and hope for the best (ringing any bells here, England).  A great team works for each other built upon respect and understanding for the roles that they individually play.  And a lot of success is based on talent plus sheer hard work and practice, practice, practice.  The story of Beckham’s heyday free kicks goes a long way here.

It is also about evolution in the team and flexibility.  What may have worked one, three or five years ago changes as other teams’ change and tactics evolve.  I’m guessing Cappello should be taking note here too.

And the best thing about getting management insights by football is you get to watch a great game at the same time.  Try it and see.

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Holiday Reading July 4, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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Summer holidays are here and what to pack to read on the beach?  Leather bound collections of PR Week? A costing document?

You could pluck for some worthy PR or business tome but my recommendation for the right blend of entertainment and PR education is grab one of the latest revisionist biographies of the Hollywood stars.

William Mann’s biography of Katharine  Hepburn fits the bill. Why is it relevant you ask? Well this and other biographies of this genre take the lid off the careful PR processes that built the star’s brand. In the case of Hepburn, a decade’s worth of awful PR in the 1930s was remedied by a carefully placed article or two that defined much that we now have of Hepburn. there’s also a great technology angle too. A perfect storm of movies, radio and print meant the army of journalists desperate for a story was huge in Hepburn’s day. So the PR role wasn’t small either.

What’s also illuminating is how much Hepburn colluded in her own PR right up until her death while espousing that she avoided the Hollywood publicists. The reality was that her image was deliberately created and protected. Well no surprise there you might say. That’s a fair point but read the biography and you’ll find that the PR process concealed a complex character with a complex sex life too.

Win, win, who will win? Pay or free to view? June 25, 2010

Posted by kewroad in 2010 predictions, Journalism, new media, Online Reputation, print media.
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The great paywall debate in the publishing industry continues to rage.  With the Sunday Times and The Times now taking out full page advertising to promote News International’s new pay wall scheme, the Daily Telegraph and others are also taking a stance.  According to Beehivecity, The Daily Telegraph is now running London Underground adverts along the lines of :

‘Award winning journalism, free at the dailytelegraph.co.uk.  Sometimes you get what you don’t pay for.’

And…

‘Quality journalism should challenge your mind not your pocket.’

This is possibly the first time that the Daily Telegraph is taking a clear stance that it does not believe paywalls are the right way to go and that newspaper content should be free.

There are clearly two camps evolving.   The FT sits with The Times on the far side of the paywall debate, while both The Guardian and The Daily Mail are committed to it being free and easy for all.  And with all BBC content free – that’s quite a strong ‘free’ force.

News International is charging readers £2 a week to access The Times and The Sunday Times online, the price of one copy of the Sunday newspaper.  I’ve just subscribed to the limited free version and  there is loads of interesting content in there that I would probably be quite happy to pay for it especially if it’s the same price as one copy of the Sunday newspaper.

On the free-side argument, the Guardian generates £27m of online advertising revenue which rises to £38m with dating site. Total turnover last year for Guardian News Ltd was £253m. So the advertising revenue more than makes up for lost subscription revenue.

And with the Evening Standard’s free edition going profitable this month for the first time and solely relying on advertising revenues, is this possibly yet more proof that long-term people won’t pay?

While the publishing industry works all this out, people still need to get used to going online for their news and information – no doubt the iPad will help do that.

Ultimately, may be the industry will end up with a mix of both – sometimes consumers pay, sometimes they don’t.  Whatever happens between pay and free-to-view models, the future business model of a medium that is nearly 500 years old will change forever.

Elephants take over London with the support of Chang June 23, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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As you would be aware from our previous blogs, onechocolate is a huge fan of the Elephant Parade – London 2010. Over the weekend, we took Chang Beer’s elephant Cha-Chang exclusively to Taste London to introduce him to the media and fans alike.

 Sadly, the Elephant Parade is coming to a close in the coming weeks. Check our Mary and Ruth Powys from the Elephant Family talk about the event and the reason behind the influx of 250 brightly coloured elephants that took over the London streets.

Too Many PRs Spoil Measurement June 21, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in conversational PR, first impressions, new media, pr, search engines, SEO.
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What do you get when you put the leaders of five global professional measurement and evaluation bodies and 150 delegates from the world’s top measurement companies and PR agencies together in one room? According to @Sean376, a pile of S#@t, and I completely agree.

As you may be aware, the above “experts” all met this week at the second European Summit on Measurement in Barcelona to produce the first global standard of PR measurement. This is something that has eluded the PR industry since its inception; with various initiatives looking to deliver a universal framework to no avail, but perhaps the problem is that there is not a one-size-fits all approach.

This may be seen as slightly cynical, but in my experience no client, campaign or PR agency has ever been the same and measurement is a somewhat customised tool. For example, a common task set to us as a PR agency is to support sales, but even this could be measured in a multitude of ways:

  • Website traffic (for example, using vanity url’s to track inbound traffic generated)
  • Brand awareness (increasing share of voice and awareness amongst customers)
  • Sales increase (taking into consideration other marketing activities)
  • AVE (it has its merits when speaking to the CFO)
  • Attendance to launch event (public/press/celebrity)

I could go on but you get the idea. I think the main frustration of this initiative is not that they are attempting the impossible, as I feel some standardisation or best practices should be established, but that in 3-days a total of 7 common-sense principles were drafted.

I look forward to the rest of the industry’s reaction, but in the meantime you can check out the seven key principles on the PRWeek website here, or for perhaps if you are looking for a satirical view then check Sean’s post here.

Death of the ad? June 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in 2010 predictions, conversational PR, pr, print media.
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I was reading an interesting article over the weekend on Social Media Today that weighs up the importance of social media versus advertising and discusses whether advertising is a dying game.

Over the pond, The Institute for Advertising Ethics was set up last week and, with it, hope that advertising will be turned around to get consumers back on side. By that I mean no more meaningless adverts, empty promises, half-commitments – there’s still a real opportunity around the globe for marketers to start engaging with their audiences through meaningful adverts that are relevant, current and thought-provoking.

I agree with the article’s author, Jonathan Salem Baskin, in so far as adverts have begun to be regarded or labeled as ‘bad’. We see it as an opportunity for brands to broadcast their messages to anyone looking in that direction with no or little engagement – something that social media definitely has the upper hand on with its real-time ability to evoke a two way conversation on a subject.

But, having been an advertising professional myself for several years, I’m encouraged to hear that there is still hope for ads if the industry is willing to stay open minded and, ultimately, reform to meet the current market’s expectations of what a brand should be doing. I genuinely believe that traditional methods of above the line marketing including advertising can definitely complement below the line activities. After all, a well thought-out integrated through the line campaign surely has to have a stronger impact than just elements of social media outreach and some full page ads at the back of a magazine?

Time will only tell on this one. But I think we’d be making a mistake to dismiss traditional methods of marketing too quickly. Social media is indeed the way forward for most brands but, if we as PRO’s stay open minded enough, we should be working with marketers to ensure that the brand’s best interests are the priority. And that we really are engaging with consumers in the most appropriate way, not just the way the industry is moving at that point in time.