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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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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’

One browser no longer rules them all March 22, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Broadband, information technology, internet, Microsoft.
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Things appear to be looking up for Opera Software since Microsoft began offering a choice of 12 browsers to Windows users on 1 March. They’ve reported significant increases in downloads of its desktop browsers with more than half of all European downloads originating directly from the Choice Screen.  

Microsoft agreed to offer browser choice to European users following a 10 year dispute with the European Commission over competition regulation. As well as the ‘better known alternatives like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera, web users will also be offered lesser known browsers such as Sleipnir, Green Browser, Maxthon, Avant, Flock, K-meleon and Slim.

It will be interesting to see how this will affect the PR and marketing initiatives of these companies, with companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple already possessing mainstream recognition. Over the next few months I fully expect to see the browser wars heating up, similar to that which the search engine industry has seen over the past few weeks, with a flurry of online touch points being saturated with content around speed, customization and of course security.

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).

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!


GBC Germany

The internet now drives opinion not the print media October 18, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, information technology, internet, Journalism, new media, pr, print media, social networks, Twitter, Uncategorized.
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The furore since Thursday evening over the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir’s take on the death of Stephen Gateley serves to demonstrate that communications and opinion is no longer in the hands of journalists alone.  Twitter not only ‘breaks news’ – it also provides the facilitate to quickly garner masses of public opinion around news.   In the old days, a journalist would express a view and all that might happen is a letter from Mr Angry from Bournementh in the letters page the following week.   Many of might have wanted to comment but didn’t have the inclination to write a letter.  Not only does the popularity of Facebook and Twitter  now enable people to comment instantly but these social media tools also enable us to come together collectively, quickly and forcefully to drive comment and lead opinion.

Is this new wave of influential public opinion revolutionary? Well almost.  When before could a swell of opinion be expressed so quickly and powerfully? Long-term, this must have a positive effect on the old powers of the handful of media moguls who have long domintated the printing presses. Surely, long-term, it will be public opinion that drives the news agenda.  This new power of the people can’t be underestimated. Such was the rumpus caused by the Daily Mail article that the  newspaper lost significant advertising revenue. The mail had to remove adverts from big brands like Marks and Spencer, Nestle, Visit England, Kodak and the National Express. 

As the Observer recently reported, the print media is changing beyond all recognition and will never be the same again. We are currently living in a period of incredible change in communications and social media. No one really knows what the outcome will be, all that is for sure is that it won’t be the same as before. 

Sue Grant

Analyst House Restricts Use of Charts August 5, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Uncategorized.
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As PR practitioners we have seen firsthand how declining advertising revenues have affected the media landscape here in the UK.  Just last week, we learnt that Shiny Media had gone into administration, providing further proof that even companies that once led the new media digital content movement were vulnerable.

Although the steadily growing lists of publications that are victims of this downturn have been well documented, the effect on analyst houses has gone relatively unreported.  One indicator of how analysts have been affected is the constant stream of industry events e-mails that appear in my inbox on a daily basis, with many being cancelled due to lack of industry availability, aka sponsorship.

With the signs of declining revenues upon them, I was surprised to learn last week that analyst house Gartner has restricted the use of images included in their Annual Hype Cycle report for emerging technologies. The details of the restrictions can be found here, but in short the chart cannot be used without Gartner’s express permission, a condition not imposed on previous reports.

But why is this interesting? Although I respect the fact that Gartner is a commercial organisation and can’t give away all its content for free, certain flagship reports produced by the analyst firm have traditionally proven to be extremely effective in generating media coverage and general buzz around the company.  The reputation that these conversations create has no doubt resulted in part to the growth of Gartner’s client base, a major source of income for the company especially when budgets are tight and the spending of $2,000 on a report is hard to justify.

I am unsure as to why Gartner has chosen to restrict the use of the available charts to only individuals willing to go through the arduous task of getting permission, a task which will likely date your blog posting and comment compared to those that have chosen to forego the approval process.

Would it therefore, not have been simpler and more valuable for Gartner to enable casual use of the hype cycle chart, stimulating the use of the chart in blogs and other online resources to drive discussion and create conversations about these reports?  Most blogs and sites will include hyperlinks to where people can purchase the report, or at least to the general Gartner website, driving both traffic and awareness.

What do you think?  Is this a reaction to current market challenges and if so, is it the right one?  Responses on a postcode and the best will be read out in front of the class.

The Tale of a PRO and his Notepad July 29, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Uncategorized.
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“I should stop myself from dying if a good joke or a good idea occurred to me” – Voltaire

For one of my modules at university I was required to build a simple relational database, a project that lasted an entire term and an ability that has since remained idle (not too much need in the world of PR). However one part of that course which has followed me since my very first lecture was when the lecturer told us to invest in a notepad to jot down ideas, be it on the bus or when chatting with friends over a pound pint in the student union.

Since those hazy days my daily life has changed, as well as the technology I use, however that same principle of an ideas notepad has remained constant. My notepad has however become digital and is no longer confined to my own scrawling, but can feature audio recordings and include photos as well. It’s also not confined to pages or able to be lost, as it now exists online and according to Business Week, I am in pretty good company.

Author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss, reportedly also has an online notepad, though he much more elegantly refers to it as his “augmented brain”. The service we both use is Evernote, a web-based service and software application running on smartphones and PCs that helps people organise their thoughts into a rich, always-on and organised form.

As a PRO, a key component of my daily role is coming up with new and interesting ways for my clients to get into new media, be it a half page in The Financial Times or in the Downtime section of Computer Weekly. The rise of social media over the past few years has also meant the frequency and range of ideas has swollen beyond the capabilities of any paper notepad.

Even last night in the gym when following a routine set-out by iFitness (what did I do before my iPhone) a news programme came on the television and I immediately went for my iPhone to tap out a note to self. This, of course, resulted in glares from fellow gym goers for breaking the unspoken rules of ‘gym etiquette’, but the idea was good and I knew I wouldn’t remember it otherwise.

With PROs rising to the challenge to not only adapt but leverage the changes that are taking place in our industry, the importance of coming up with AND remembering a good idea has never been so valuable. Thanks to Evernote the remembering part has been solved, now I just need to wait for inspiration…..

Twitter: Next Generation of Citizen Journalism? June 30, 2009

Posted by billyburnettgbc in Journalism, new media, Twitter.
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I didn’t learn of Michael Jackson’s death on the news, nor did I read it in a newspaper or online, I heard about it on Twitter, the fastest growing medium of so-called citizen journalism.

I was in a public house near my flat and as a friend frequented the little boy’s room I took the opportunity to load up Tweet Deck on my iPhone.  I was suddenly met with over 300 “MJ related” Tweets, with an assortment of hash tags and tiny URLs which I could use to follow the story.  This was citizen journalism in action and I became part of it the minute I decided to Retweet and subsequently break the internet.

As the fastest growing website in the UK, experiencing a 22-fold increase in the past year, Twitter is now not only used by many for communication, but also as a source of news.  This is supported by a recent study by industry analysts Hitwise, who found that during May, links from Twitter accounted for 1 in every 350 visits to a website.  The figures also revealed that Twitter was the 27th most popular source of traffic to media and newspaper websites in the UK.

But is this a sustainable medium, not in terms of enthusiastic users but in terms of quality?  On the same day that I learnt of the news surrounding Michael Jackson, Tweets were also circulating around the death of Jeff Goldblum, culminating in an Australian news channel covering the news.  A term we are referring to internally as Tweeting Whispers.

Another challenge facing the use of Twitter as a source of news is the opportunity for misuse. Habitat has hit the headlines over the past couple of weeks when an overenthusiastic “intern” decided to leverage the popularity of hash tags surrounding the Iran elections and Apple iPhone to promote a special offer by Habitat.  On this occasion the site was simply misused to promote a special offer, but what if it was to send people to an infected website etc.

The challenge for Twitter is on how to address these problems. Does it put in place technical solutions that could potentially inhibit growth and functionality?  Or does it leverage the Twitter audience and create a new system of rating or reporting tweets?

The task ahead is unenviable however there is no doubt without some action from a predominantly unchanged social networking platform the Twitter platform will be replaced.  I am already thinking of a tool where you aren’t allowed to use vowels.

GBC Spends a day at MeasurementCamp June 9, 2009

Posted by andysephton in internet, social networks.
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From the ashes of defeat a new champion often arises. 13 months ago a panel discussion on measuring the effectiveness of social media ended inconclusively.

But one member of the panel felt that this was a topic that warranted a more constructive, collaborative approach. From these humble beginnings MeasurementCamp was born a month later in a bar in Soho.

Last month , nearly a year after its creation, I attended my first MeasurementCamp, hosted by an agency near Southwark in London. Over 30 people showed up and enjoyed the free tea, coffee and excellent chocolate brownies before getting their teeth into the issues of how to measure the effectiveness of social media and use this new media channel to their best advantage. With representatives from marketing, PR, advertising, charities and much more, this diverse group of professionals provided unique insights into this area of the world of media.

The level of knowledge sharing was rare and refreshing, organising the event through a wiki inspired and the knowledge gained from the session invaluable. If social media has the power to bring together a group of, essentially, competing professionals and encourage them to share knowledge in such an open forum it has more potential than many of us realise.

I for one plan to become a regular MeasurementCamper and hope to see some of you there in the future and don’t worry if London is a bit far afield for you, MeasuermentCamp Dublin is up and running and MeasurementCamp USA is on its way.