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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.

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.

Apple: Victim of its own success? March 10, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in conversational PR, HP, iPad, iphone, Online Reputation.
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Apple knows how to create hype around a new flagship product. Fact. Most apparent with the recent launch of the iPad, thousands of articles were dedicated to industry rumour and speculation around the name of the product, let alone a laundry list of features that were dedicated to showcasing possible designs and features. But, what happens when the hype outweighs the product itself?

This is a major challenge that Apple is now facing and with the launch of the iPad in the UK at the end of April, something they need to address quickly. Unveiled on January 27th, the media bubble quickly burst and subsequent polls found that the masses agreed.

Was this because the media had put too much hype behind the product, perhaps? One supporting point behind this is the string of videos, images and articles dedicated to ridiculing the name of the product itself. Even I find myself referring to the product on occasion as the iTab, but what can I say – I just preferred what the masses had come up with?

Even Apple fan boys have struggled to hide their disappointment; as a result this has resulted in another PR challenge for Apple – competitors are highlighting the product weaknesses with few product ambassadors to protect them and media keen to draw attention to them.

One such video was released yesterday by HP which highlighted the flash capability of the HP Slate and immediately captured the media’s attention:

Over the course of the next few weeks the Apple PR machine will be tested and how they react is likely to make or break the success of this product (and potentially a slight price discount).

Mobile internet likely to outstrip the desktop February 8, 2010

Posted by kewroad in 2010 predictions, conversational PR, information technology, internet, mobile, pr, Uncategorized.
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There is almost too much to blog about this week. Business Week  covered why are there not enough women at the top of IT companies, hmmm now let’s see – might it be because most need/want to juggle work and family and large IT brands just simply don’t have cultures that enable that to happen at board level?  Then, of course, there was  Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun’s resignation over Twitter. Given he was one of the first CEO’s to truly ‘get’ that blogging and other social media tools were a way of communicating directly with customers and sharing views about new products,  a resignation over Twitter seemed very appropriate.

However, perhaps what’s most exciting just simply because it’s about future trends is a Morgan Stanley report shared by Brian Solis which suggests that the mobile internet market will eclipse destop internet…sounds crazy but then it’s backed up by lots of strong statistics.  Apple provides marketeers with the ability to mine an entirely new channel to reach prospects and customers. Morgan Stanley also predicts that smartphones will out ship the global notebooks and netbook market as well as out shipping the global PC market.  Morgan Stanley sees three platforms demonstrating strong momentum – facebook, mobile and the web. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires over the coming years.

SCG

Twitter hits PR agencies – guess what it’s called: twitpitch November 25, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, blogs, conversational PR, internet, Journalism, pr, Twitter.
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Twitter makes the world go round and probably provides more opportunities than people can think of right now. Not only journalists, bloggers and analysts find a new communication channel in the 140 characters space that Twitter offers. Companies start to talk to their clients, partners, best friends and potential new clients about new products, the market or other hot issues. PR agencies like us try to introduce the advantages of  Twitter to our clients and we try hard even in “far-behind-Germany”.

Now as part of the PR community we can make Twitter a new business channel for us as well. We start twittering in our community and talk about PR news, discuss issues and get quick feedback from other agencies of our thematic focus. And this network could lead to new contacts for our business. Watch us twitpitching!

Bettina

GBC Germany

Who will pay? November 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, blogs, conversational PR, Facebook, Google, information technology, Journalism, new media, Online Reputation, Uncategorized.
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Murdoch has created a lot of storm recently talking about how consumers will have to pay for content.  In this Sunday’s Observer, there was yet more discussion about how even in the good old days of printed newspapers, customers never paid the full price anyway – so why does Murdoch think they will now! And then later in the week, the editor of the Times shed more light on how he expects readers to pay for the digital edition of the Times.  Good luck to them. Now, the founder of Digg, is suggesting that news aggregation sites have a contribution to make.  So it’s definitely all still up in the air, in terms of how it’s all going to work financially.

In the meantime, it’s goodnight to another printed publication, 25 year old Media Week but welcome to it’s new online presence..let’s hope they can make it pay.

So in this revolutionary world we currently live, the winners will be the ones able and prepared to change their business model and make it work financially.

Sue Grant

Conversational PR kicks in August 5, 2009

Posted by kewroad in conversational PR, flip video, pr, social networks.
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I’ve enjoyed two stories this week…the first is the review in US PR Week by Erick Chandler of CJP Communications on Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge’s new social media PR book ‘Putting the public back into public relations’.  The authors convincingly explain how ‘PR has always been about storytelling’. Absolutely. ‘Today we are talking to real people…craving real, meaningful conversations.’ Absolutely. Can’t wait to get my hands on the book.

Another story was Cisco’s Digitalcrib, a cool game on twitter. You get to watch 3 cool videos with electronic dance music DJ Paul van Dyk, TreeHugger.com founder Graham Hill, and Lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane Fox and then answer a series of simple questions to win a fab Flip. And with people like me helping to spread the word, what could go wrong!  But seriously it’s yet another example of how communications has social media integrated within it – PR people can tell stories better than ever.