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Nation States Show Green PR Fingers at World’s Biggest Garden Show June 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in green marketing, green pr, pr.
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 A recent visit to the Chelsea Flower Show reminded me of how nation states continue to reach for flower pots and spades rather than guns and soldiers to fight their brand wars.  

Nation branding is a concept popularised by Simon Anholt and examines how nation states can build positive brand values  around the quality of their people, culture, business acumen and politics. Simon would argue that nation branding isn’t simply about marketing but good, clear lines of communication with consistent messaging are important to how a nation state presents a positive image. 

 The show gardens at Chelsea are among the ultimate PR power vehicles, costing millions and burnishing the brands of banks, newspapers and retailers.  And increasingly they are joined by nation states for the same purpose.  Malaysia, Australia and Norway all deployed gardens to communicate a variety of powerful messages. And it’s not all about tourism. Take the Norwegian garden for example which showcased new building materials, solar cells and ethanol home heating technology alongside the planting. 

 The ROI of  this approach? The costs are probably astronomical but a successful garden that embodies your key messages – luxury, calm, green, cool, welcoming, open, beautiful – gets round the clock television coverage in HD for seven days on the prime BBC channels and websites as well as performing as the perfect spot for a bit of networking in the sun (or rain).


The beautiful (and highly social) game June 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Facebook, Twitter, Uncategorized, video, YouTube.
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by Sophie

Now that the whole nation is well and truly immersed in World Cup fever, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how we’re keeping ourselves up to speed with the latest updates and news.   It’s been two years since the latest major football tournament (Euro 2008) and oh how the media landscape has changed in this time.  More traditional forms of communications have paved the way for apps, videos, fan pages, Twitter feeds.  So for all of you that haven’t already dumped England off at the first hurdle, here we take a look at three of the best ways to follow the beautiful game:

1. On the 1 June, the FA launched their biggest campaign to date in an effort combine the public’s enthusiasm for football with actual participation.  This has included a Facebook app where users can create their own Official England Shirt and then post it as their profile picture.  You’ll have to move fast to get the number you want though. 24 has been taken by Stuart Pearce, 25 by Ray Winstone, 30 by Stephen Fry and 67 by Nick Clegg.  Other numbers include 66 by the Bobby Moore foundation, 2012 by The Olympics and 2018 by Back the Bid

2.Twitter has launched their official World Cup Tracking page.  Twitter staff select the most interesting tweets using the hashtag tool and algorithms.  You can also view the latest country updates by clicking on the flag of choice.

3.Video had to feature in this list – so here you go!  If you’ve missed any of the action or fancy a cheeky lunchtime watch of any of the games go to Footytube.  It’s not completely new for the World Cup – you can watch league teams (even smaller ones) in action – but they have a dedicated World Cup page so that you can make sure that you’ve always got some good footy knowledge to share down the pub at the end of the day.

So, great news for us – these are just three of the many ways we can stay up to date with all the action via social media.  Check out Mashable’s Social media hub here



Not so great news for our players where the teams from Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Germany, Argentina and England are forbidden to use any social media tools including sites like Twitter! Shame, would have been interested to see what Green would have tweeted after Saturday’s match.

Soon the proof of UK Newspaper Paywalls will be in the eating May 28, 2010

Posted by kewroad in iPad, Journalism.
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This week is potentially very exciting for the newspaper industry. It marked the first stage in Rupert Murdoch’s plan to introduce pay walls for his UK newspapers

So the doubters out there that said consumers will never pay for news/content online may soon have to eat their words. It will cost £1 a day or £2 a week to view.

At the very least you can be sure people who need quality news and articles for work and business will be prepared to pay for it. And if News International makes its content truly valuable and different to all the other freely available material then of course, people will be prepared to pay.  Notably for the first time the Sunday Times will have a standalone website

Pay walls are not a new concept. Indeed Euromoney, the FT and the like have been doing it for some time. What’s different this time is that these others have allowed limited free access to casual browsers.  To do the job 35 additional new staff have been recruited to produce thesundaytimes.co.uk.

 I really hope for the sake of the newspaper industry, they can make this pay! But they will need to work harder on synchronizing their digital strategies though. In the same week the websites are relaunched, The Times became the second UK national to offer an iPad app. Great idea as the iPad finally arrives in the shops but pricing is problematic because if you want web access on your PC and on your iPad you have to pay twice. Surely this’ll be ironed out soon?

The value of a great story teller May 26, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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by Sophie

As everyone in the world of PR and communications knows, nothing beats having a great spokesperson or as I like to call them… a storyteller.  Storytelling is all about sharing experiences and moments. We use storytelling in our everyday lives – at work in the office, at home with our family or over a beer (sometimes several!) in our local.

But great storytelling is almost an art form and there are few people out there that can do it really well.  I was lucky enough this week to meet Horst Brandstatter (the father creator of toy company Playmobil) or as I now like to call him – my storytelling hero!

During a UK media tour to Germany last week he told a group of journalists what creative play and toys meant to him.  He talked eloquently about the power of imagination – pointing to his head as he described that real child’s play happened ‘in here’. 

His amazing ability to capture the essence of what Playmobil is all about, using real life stories and memories, did more for the brand than any fancy media party or PR stunt could ever do.  This magical storytelling not only impressed me but also the journalists that accompanied me on this visit.  Check out Telegraph TV’s coverage of what has been described as the ‘best media visit ever’

Facebook – We love you, we love you not, we love you… May 26, 2010

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Facebook, Online Reputation, social networks.
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Despite being somewhat of a media darling in 2009, where the introduction of even the most basic of features were salivated over by the press, Facebook has come under heavy criticism over the past few months. This has predominantly been around privacy settings, though the odd security scare has also hit the headlines, which has resulted in Mark Zuckerberg announcing plans to roll out simplified features from 26th May.

Although this is likely to be met with a several hurrahs and pats on the back from people stating the power of social media has once again influenced power over an organisational strategy, I must admit I don’t really care and truth be told, I doubt 90% of the people on Facebook do either. Privacy settings are rarely a concern for the man on the street and he definitely doesn’t read the terms and conditions, as demonstrated by GameStation, so why all the fuss?

The fact is that more than we love to see someone succeed, we love even more to see them fail and this is especially true when it comes to brands in the internet age. What will be interesting to see is whether Mark and the rest of his team will be able to turn up the marketing charm, something they haven’t had to do much of previously, and get the media back on side.

The elephants have arrived! May 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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If you are a London-dweller, they you probably would have noticed a major change in the landscape over the past week – ELEPHANTS!  We have been invaded…. by cute, brightly coloured, designer sponsored elephants, and they seem to be popping up all over London – from Green Park and Soho to the City and Southbank!

In their words the – “Elephant Parade is a conservation campaign that shines a multi-coloured spotlight on the urgent crisis faced by the endangered Asian elephant. Brought to you by www.elephantfamily.org, the event sees over 250 brightly painted life-size elephants located over central London this summer.”

As well as its imposing yet adorable presence on the London landscape, the Elephant Parade is a great example of how to use social media platforms (in particular Facebook and Twitter) to  generate consumer engagement. This campaign really demonstrates the power of building an emotive buzz around a subject and generating ‘true’ audience engagement from the outset.

 Having seen this campaign from both sides – as a consumer and a sponsor – Chang Beer has sponsored an elephant on the South Bank (pictured), it is easy to see what the campaign has managed to gather so much momentum.

 The Elephant Family’s Facebook page is a smart collaboration between ‘fun’ and ‘fact’. They provide regular updates on the campaign successfully using exclusive teaser images, sponsor and news updates to drive and maintain interest in the Parade, and interweave it with the hard hitting facts and images about the harsh reality of the plight of the Asian elephants.

 They have also used the newly created ‘Donate Now’ function on Facebook to drive revenue and created online petitions to generate support for the cause.

 On the launch date, May 3rd, when the 250 something elephants popped up across London, their Facebook page transformed itself into a community of fans sharing images of the elephants near their homes and offices, which elephants were their favourite, and shout-outs for people to help users find their favourite elephant in London.

 The entire campaign has been supported by regular updates on their Twitter feed, which drives traffic back through Facebook or to their microsite.

The Elephant Parade is a great example of how brands can create a successful, content-driven strategy through social platforms and generate ‘word of mouth’ for their campaign. 

 Definitely one to watch in the coming months!

Online Gaming spreads its wings like Freebird May 14, 2010

Posted by kewroad in internet, new media, social networks.
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 A Reuters story caught my eye today about how the game industry is  expanding its reach.

Turns out the freemium model is becoming important for how games are marketed. No surprise there if you consider how freeware works in other less exciting spaces. But what’s most interesting is how online free games are opening up new demographics of consumers who have never played computer game before; namely the elderly and older females. Social media is also proving to be a powerful sales tool. The same Interpret survey quoted by Reuters revealed that 12 percent of online social network gamers intend to purchase offline gaming consoles like the Wii.

Napster Goes Social May 7, 2010

Posted by kewroad in social networks, Uncategorized.
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Despite the news last month that social networking site Bebo was closing its doors and the continued decline of MySpace over the past year, the opportunity around social networking sites is considerable when done right. According to a recent report by Nielsen, the total time spent on social networking sites by users worldwide grew more than 100% over the past year, as Facebook and Twitter posted large gains in unique users.

Napster, the pay-to-use streaming and download web application, which has recently lost market share today to both legal and illegal alternatives, yesterday announced the integration of social media tools to give a new attraction to its online activities. Napster will now allow users to share their music interests with online friends and consume social media content from applications like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

The runaway success of Facebook is indeed based on the relationship forged between Internet users who declare themselves “friends” but also on the preferences expressed by each user. This strategy of socialising existing services is likely to be adopted by many consumer facing industries in the future and these changes to the Napster service are significant and offer functionality that is likely to resonate with their intended audience.

However, with Facebook continuing to grow and looking at new ways to monetise their user base what’s to stop them doing the reverse and entering the digital content market and blowing services like Napster out of the water, or perhaps even just buying them? The digital opportunity is huge but toppling the current major players requires innovation and differentiation rather than emulation.

AOL slams the door on social networking April 8, 2010

Posted by kewroad in social networks.
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Yesterday AOL announced that it planned to sell or shut down the social networking website Bebo. The news comes a few months after the digital media giant announced that it would cut one-third of its work force in an attempt to save $300m a year.

Despite this, the move to sell Bebo, one of the top 10 social networking websites, seems surprising at a time when social media is on the rise.  However, Bebo’s global unique visitors in February totalled 12.8 million, which was down 45% on February 2009. In comparison, Facebook had 462 million visitors, MySpace nearly 110 million, and Twitter 69.5 million according to figures from ComScore. Clearly the ability to attract advertisers and ultimately revenue is becoming more difficult – one of the core reasons for the purchase at the time in many industry commentators opinions.

At the same time AOL continues to invest heavily in digital content. In March this year it bought the local US news site Patch for $50m as part of its ongoing plans to invest in local news digital content. It also acquired StudioNow Inc. , an online platform for quality video creation and distribution, which is going to be integrated into its content management system Seed.com.  The interesting concept behind Seed.com is that users can upload original photos, music and or written content and get paid a certain percentage of the profits. However, AOL retains the rights to the product which allows the company to exploit successful content across its digital media platforms or to sell distribution rights to broadcast/music/publishing companies.

This can potentially generate high revenues, especially if the company can successfully utilise its business connections with Time Warner. Following on from this, it is not surprising that AOL has decided to refocus its core business strategy on content management and creation and avoid heavy investments in the highly competitive social networking market.  The company is trying to reposition itself as a major digital content provider and it shifts its direction towards niche markets, localised information and user generated content.

Wikipedia due for a face lift but is its beauty more than skin deep? March 26, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Uncategorized.
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So, Wikipedia is getting a makeover. The idea is that easier editing will encourage more users to contribute and change articles, and, let’s face it, the old Wikipedia as we know it does look a bit antiquated. But then that’s also what’s nice about it, a trusted encyclopedia a bit like that dusty leather-bound version on your bookshelf that answers just about any question.

While Wikipedia has often been praised as one of the very first true Web 2.0 applications, it looks like the rest of the web has continued to evolve at break-neck speed while Wikipedia has been left behind. However, I doubt it’s anything to do with usability and more to do with the fact that it’s actually pretty good as it is. We’ll see if the new look makes any real difference.