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PR and the digital frontier

10 Apr

I’m looking forward to the next event arranged by the CIPR regional group. Called PR and the digital frontier, it’s on Thursday 1 May at Leeds Metropolitan University.

There are some free places available for students, but you do need to register in advance by emailing Nicky Wake at Don’t Panic Projects (follow the link in the paragraph above for the details).

Authentic marketing and PR

10 Mar

It’s easy to get excited about the ‘new new thing’ and forget that principles don’t change that quickly. So when Anna Farmery described her farming ancestor bringing cattle to market, she said that he would be judged on his reputation. You see, reputation and social networks have always existed.

After a century of mass production supported by mass advertising, we’re returning to a more organic approach to marketing and promotion using social media tools like blogs and podcasts. (To keep the analogy going, some farmers are returning to organic principles in order to capture a more lucrative and sustainable niche. Remember that all farming was once organic so this approach is old, not new.)

One of these organic marketing promotional tools might be podcasting, but it is only a tool, not a strategy.

Most engaging of all, Anna spoke for over 90 minutes with little need for technology. Social media is often merely an attempt to replicate the authentic experience of people talking to people.

And the rise of PR (cont)

6 Mar

Fall_of_advertising_2Though I cited such marketing luminaries as Seth Godin, Philip Kitchen, Philip Kotler and Al Ries, my talk on this well-worn theme still seemed to surprise some MSc Marketing students.

So let’s hear from Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of marketing services group WPP, quoted in Media Guardian:

"I can’t recall a time when PR has been as strong," says Sorrell. "Something has changed and the reason for the change is online activity, where personal recommendation and personal communication have become more important. And it’s clearly editorial and it’s clearly not advertising based."

He came, he saw, he Googled

16 Oct

I was sitting next to Philip Young at last night’s guest lecture – and admiring his shorthand. I somehow felt absolved from making notes and following up with cogent observations, confident that this would be done by someone sensible. He hasn’t disappointed.

Philip from Sunderland and John Hitchins from Marjon in Plymouth had travelled to Leeds to discuss plans for Behind the Spin. More news on this to follow soon.

No publicity, mind

1 Dec

It started here as another exercise in word of mouth on behalf of a South African winemaker. Now it’s gathering major news headlines and is threatening to become a ‘brilliant-marketing-but-bad-for-business’ case study. Let’s hope for Thresher’s sake it’s not Hoover all over again.

Social media and PR

23 Nov

Earlier this week, I gave a lecture (via a wiki page) on social media that surprised some of our students. ‘But you didn’t only mention the internet’. No: mobile telephony has been the most pervasive communications technology of the last 20 years, and electronic media can be traced back to Reuters in the 1850s.

I mention this because it’s sometimes hard even to give ‘digital natives’ a perspective on communications technology. Imagine helping the rather older members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations to embrace the new. That’s what the institute is attempting with its social media discussion paper published today (via PR Voice). It asks a very sensible series of questions relating to disclosure and transparency in the light of ‘astroturfing’, fake blogs, guidelines for employee blogs, ghost writing, wiki editing etc.

There are two competing forces at play here. On the one hand, a professional body needs to set exemplary standards and update these in the light of changing practice. On the other hand, workable ethical codes should be simple, memorable and comprehensive: they shouldn’t need changing every week (think of medicine and the Hippocratic oath). I’ll have to give some thought to my responses…

New age of responsibility

20 Nov

I don’t disagree with a word Jeff Jarvis writes in today’s Media Guardian (on the new rules of transparency and the changing world of media relations):

The one lesson I would like to give PR people is that their ability to have a direct relationship with their constituencies also brings them a new responsibility: in the age of the link, when we can click straight to the source for information from companies, politicians, or governments, what we find had better be complete, open, honest and reliable, no longer obscured behind the gauzy window of PR and flackery.

The PR Place-ment

1 Nov

It’s a small world when it comes to online PR talent – though it’s expanding fast. So small that you can still get to know everyone who’s anyone – and predict great things for them.

This is a now familiar – and highly selective – roll-call. There’s the LEWIS stable, including Drew B, Alex and Morgan. And the Edelman empire, with Stephen and Erin joining some wellestablished names.

There’s Simon, who has recently moved to Green Communications. And Paull, who’s about to set off on a blogging world tour.

Richard Millington is something of an outsider in this crowd (as an events management student), though he’s talented, is learning very fast and now has a year’s experience under his belt. He’s now recruiting his successor for a student placement in Cheltenham. He’s a hard act to follow, but this shouldn’t put off the ambitious.

UPDATE: I learn via Stephen that Edelman has revamed its graduate recruitment site and is now calling for applicants for next year’s intake.

Where’s wiki?

31 Oct

I am grateful to Trevor Cook and Lee Hopkins for gifting us a useful guide to social media (in pdf format).

Blogging clearly has a place in here because of its role in assisting conversations. But podcasting? It’s questionable whether podcasting belongs in a guide to social media. It’s broadcasting for the people, so to that extent it belongs in Web 2.0. But a podcast is closer to a finished publication than a rough draft for collaboration purposes, and it isn’t evident to me how the technology assists conversation.

Yet the most interesting social media tool of all is missing from their guide. Wikis – which are collaborative by design, and which have very clear applications in knowledge and project management. Had their guide been offered in a wiki, we could have offered amendments and suggestions. So let me record this request for the second edition.

Online diary or blog?

30 Oct

When is a blog not a blog? This university’s vice chancellor has kept an online diary for three years; it’s prominent on the university homepage – VC Reflects. Yet it’s not a blog. There is no comment feature; no trackbacks.

On the other hand, it’s an exercise in public relations written for those outside the institution – and for its 3000 employees. The VC is addressing our student society later this evening.