Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Audience 2.0

I don't usually post stuff from press releases, but this story about how technology and the arts create a new type of audience participation appealed to me:

People who participate in the arts through electronic media are nearly three times as likely to attend live benchmark arts events as non-media participants (59 percent versus 21 percent). In addition, they attend twice as many arts events on average (6 events versus 3 events in one year) and in a greater variety of live art forms. Media-based arts participation appears to encourage — rather than replace — live arts attendance.

The full report is available here:

Changing my blog design - again

Last week I posted on how I had found the design settings in Blogger (the Google-owned blogging platform I use) and had settled on a new design.

Well... following feedback and my own opinion after a week of usage, I'd decided to change it again to something more easily readable than white text (and grey hyperlinks) on a black background.

Hopefully you'll find this design theme easier on the eye....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Using FourSquare as an employee engagement tool

You only have to follow me on Twitter for a few days to know that I'm a keen user and fan of Foursquare, the geo-location based game / application / service / whaddever.

Foursquare has its uses for business owners, news reporting and even perhaps amateur stalking. However, could it be used as a tool for company employees and provide some organisational benefit?

Firstly, what I am **not** advocating is using your staff to provide anything other than their own opinions via social media. Getting them to provide fake reviews / tips (e.g. Buy the expensive xxxxx, it's really good) is not only completely contrary to the ethos of social media, its also gaming the game... especially if it is not utterly transparent that they are employees.

What you should do if you run a business, is monitor this important feedback channel to not only understand more about your customers (who they are, how often this small but technically-savvy group of visitors visit etc.) but also to get feedback on your staff as well product quality.

And before you ask... Yes, it is possible to get tangible positive as well as negative feedback on your team's customer service abilities.

You can, by registering your company with Foursquare, view important statistics about customer checkins such as time of day and top visitors. But what other employee benefits are there to using Foursquare? well... here's some thoughts...

  • There is no reason why your employees can't read this feedback themselves and understand customer needs better

  • They can familiarise themselves with other businesses in the vicinity (including feedback on the competition)

Foursquare have also been testing a new Staff page in the USA.

This is anticipated to be a specific section available to each business that allows employees to interact directly with customers (e.g. via Twitter).

This is not just good for customers, it helps to build up staff recognition and morale.

Are there any more suggestions on how it could be used?

Note: A special thanks to a certain well regarded Blogging company for recognising my mistake in an earlier posting

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Has Apple jumped the shark?

For those of you who are not aware, there is a phrase in relatively common usage known as "to jump the shark". It roughly means that something has got to a silly or unrealistic point and it should be stopped.

It's origin apparently lies with an episode of TV's Happy Days, where our 'lovable' anti-hero (The Fonz) escapes catastrophe by jumping onto the back of a shark... This point is seen by many as the point at which the programme should have been shelved, instead of making further embarrassing ones.

And, with almost-certain wrath-inciting inquiry... I ask if Apple has, with the launch of it's latest iPhone 4G, reached that very moment where it's own shark just got jumped?

Friday, June 25, 2010

News, a business model problem

I've previously mentioned that "We may eventually find that the profitable running of a newspaper was a failed experiment!". The thought being that we may one day look back at the big print media barons and see that, just because they were at the time operating in an imperfect economy (where information was not globally and freely available), that they never had a long term commercially viable product.

Or as Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a keynote speech to open the annual conference of the American Society of News Editors back in April:

"We have a business model problem; we don't have a news problem" http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20002227-93.html

However only yesterday, research released from online measurement company Hitwise gave a good indication that the paywall finally put up around the Times newspaper website is having a negative affect on its readership (its currently only requiring people to register to see content, charging is expected to happen towards the end of July).

This is hardly a surprise.... if you insist on registering users, you will affected visitor traffic. The question is whether loyal Times readers will pay for the opportunity from next month. Or vote with their virtual feed and migrate to other popular newspaper sites.

Schmidt may have claimed in his speech that newspapers were "fundamental" to democracy, but he also predicted that they would need to come up with new business models based on advertising and subscriptions.

I wonder which business model historians of the future will say was the correct one?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another giant leap for Apple with the iPhone?

With the launch of yet another device this year (the iPhone 4G, of course) Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has once again brought the media spotlight back to advanced smart phone market and their applications - rather than the tablet format that the iPad created so much hype about earlier in 2010.

Jobs has described the device as "the biggest leap since the original iPhone"... But is it?

Sure, the original iPhone was a jump from the rungs of the traditional lunar capsule of Personal Computing and MP3 players that was Apple's existing domain... but it was hardly the huge step that he is now claiming it was. Others were already in the market with similar and comparably better or higher specification mobile phones.

The giant leap was in the creation of the App Store, the method of distributing small programmes that further enhanced the functionality of the device. This led to a micro-industry of bedroom developers building things they wanted or needed ... then Apple cleverly allowed them to give away or sell their work (provided they gave Apple a cut of the profits).

Lets just be careful . Don't let 'The Book Of Jobs' be the only historical document we refer to in the future.... or we may find that he claims he was first to walk on the moon (or water) as well !

Note: If you are passing an O2 store in London first thing tomorrow morning, you may see me queuing outside for my 4G iPhone

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What your emailed press release says about your PR company

As a blogger and reviewer of books in the in the Internet industry, I get dozens of press releases emailed to me each week.

Some of these are from individuals who are either trying to do their own promotion or very small PR agencies (usually one-man-bands). However the majority are from bigger PR and communication consultancies who think they understand the online / email medium.... and most quite simply don't!

Lets just take the way I am addressed in these emails as the most obvious example of what I mean.

Here's a list of genuine titles I have been given in emails:
  1. Dear Mr Sutherland Hayden
    A clear case of them getting the first name and surname fields in their mail merge software mixed up #fail

  2. Dear Blogger
    To not even bother to find out my name makes me want to read further..... not! #fail

  3. Dear Madam
    Errr.... not the last time I looked! #fail

  4. Dear Press2.0 Communications in a digital world
    A hint: The name of my blog isn't necessarily my real name. #fail

There are, of course, a few more.... but you get the point.

If you are sending out Press Releases by email, at least have a bit of professionalism when you do it or risk looking a complete amateur.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A new blog design

I've had a busy few weeks, which has meant I haven't had the chance to blog recently. However, taking a break from my daily routine to collect my thoughts and put a new posting together, I noticed that Blogspot has a new feature where it allows you to apply themes to your site.

So now, rather than one of only a handful of basic designs, users of Blogger/Google's blogging tool now get the chance to have a little more creative freedom.

This template design is called 'awesome'.... apparently.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Twitter Fail Whale

As I'm writing this post, Twitter.com has yet again stopped working and instead is just displaying the infamous 'Fail Whale' image.

It does occur to me as silly that major issues like this still affect such a popular service.

I recall a time several years back where millions of dollars was wiped of the price of Amazon's valuation because they has a short outage. But these days the Fail Whale doesn't seem to create the same sort of stir.
Is Twitter just not seen as essential (despite its high value and apparent social media impact) or have we just learnt to accept mediocrity in our modern web services?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ideal Interface launches charity climb website

We’re really please to have built this site (http://www.kili2010.info) to help a group of eleven friends from the UK who are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity this summer.

They hope to raise at least £27,000 for a new unit for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

They should be live blogging as they climb (if they manage to get a mobile data signal up there), so come back regularly to the site for updates on their progress.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The blurring lines between PR, Marketing and Tech

We at Ideal Interface now work as part of a larger corporate entity called All About Brands(http://www.aabplc.com/), a global group made up of marketing & communications companies. As part of our consulting work and the contact we have with our sister agencies, I've observed how there is now a greater blurring of the boundaries between PR, Marketing and digital technology.

Marketers were one of the first to spot the potential of the online world and its ability to initially capture the eyeballs (and therefore the money) of the technically savvy. But subsequently, as the Internet population grew to now cover a far more generic demographic, its ability to show tangible & measurable responses to very granular groups - with almost immediate results - became even more useful.... one reason why online marketing tools such as with Google's AdWords are so powerful now... and hence why Google is too!

And now thanks to Social Media, there is now far more of a blurred lines between PR and online person-to-person communication (Word of mouth marketing) that there's ever been. The digital integration of Public Relations agencies and digital is happening all the time, with any PR agency worth its salt now involving, creating or buying digital departments. Just look at the sorts of activity that would have been an alien concept to most only a few years ago:

  • monitoring online channels for mentions of clients & trends
  • segmentation of the digital audience (rather than just labelling everyone under the 'online' umbrella)
  • reaching out to influencers of all size (and errr.... influence)
  • Measuring the trust of online users
And now all three separate disciplines are coming together more often. For me this is exemplified with the activity of Search Engine Optimisation - the "why, what and how" of effectively utilising the powerful indexes of: Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
  • Marketing and PR provide the customer communication need, the "why" in this balanced relationship.

  • PR has a huge role these days in giving search engines something they love... regularly delivered healthy amounts of content, in the form of Press Releases. "What" they provide is a steady stream of keyword dense articles that the search spiders can get their teeth into.

  • And obviously digital provides the overall understanding of the technology & standards, including developing sites that are fully compliant and that make the best use of the above... that's "how"!
It then requires the strategic combination (blurring) of these three elements. Allowing all three parts to work together to create the right SEO plan and deliver measurable results over time.