Are you a courageous PR?

It’s taken me a while but I’ve moved my RSS feeds from NetNewswire to the web sensation that is Feedly.

I’ve been eying up Feedly for a while now (although I fully admit to not knowing how it worked) and just decided the best way was to just to dive right in a road test it.

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I went through the exact same process with Twitter, RSS, Yammer a many other social media tools.

Ok so some didn’t work out but others have proved invaluable.

Social media has certainly changed the game for PRs. Gone are the days of faxing press releases out as the main stay of the job. We now have a myriad of tools. As PRs advising clients on which ones to use, PRs must be ready to ‘get down and dirty’ to find out what they can do.

To coin a phrase from a colleague, “You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.”

There are a lot of soc med frogs out there but quite a few princes as well.

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Waving to Google

I’ve recently become a lot more interested in Google’s activities. As a tech PR, I’ve always been interested in what Google’s up to but over the last couple of days this as taken a different turn. I’ll explain.

Firstly from a personal point of view my mobile phone contract with Orange and I’ve been looking at replacement phones with the Android platform. As anyone who’s been within five feet of me will know, I’m a big iPhone fan. But I’m keen to get my own first hand view of whether Google can really take on Apple. (I’m also looking for another toy to play with but that’s another story).

Secondly, and from a professional standpoint, I’m very interested in the recently announced Google Wave. My old colleague Drew B seems very excited by the prospect in brings. However I’m not too sure. Don’t get me wrong I like the idea but is the business world is quite ready to get its head round another communications platform just as it’s getting used to twitter? I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see.

140 characters – what’s the worst that could happen?

At a recent event organised by my agency (LEWIS Social Media summit) I got into a debate with a client and a colleague about whether it was right for a company to trust its agency to run its Twitter stream.

On one hand, my colleague didn’t feel this was right and the agency was overstepping the mark.

“It would be a logistical nightmare having to get tweets approved,” he argued.

Taking another stance, my client didn’t think it was in the spirit of Twitter for a PR agency to take this role.

I’m a bit uncertain about this one. I speak to journalists, analysts and other influencers all the time explaining to them what my clients do and stand for in my own words (of course this will largely incorporate the client’s messaging and principles).

I agree in the case of an official statement being made, it should be the official spokesperson for the company speaking, tweeting, blogging or providing the comment.

But for casual industry observations, can a PR person really do that much damage with 140 characters at their disposal?

If they can, maybe they’re the wrong agency.

Can social media turn PR from dark art to science?

There’s no denying social media has bought a level of science to the somewhat dark art that is PR. A recent (and excellent post) by Dave Fleet offers some really good examples of how and why PRs need to stop hiding behind the ‘creatively’ banner and get to grips with numbers.

I have to agree.

(Disclaimer: My grounding is in engineering of which mathematics played a huge part). That said, throughout my PR career I’ve listened to arguments about measuring the value of PR and anyone who has spent any length of time in the industry will have dealt with the dreaded AVE metrics.

An old colleague of mine once said to me, “What’s the point of trying to measure PR? You can’t measure influence”. I had to agree with him to a point as the metrics we had at our disposal seemed largely irrelevant to our clients business.

This has changed now. Using tools such as bit.ly means we can provide some level of quantitative analysis to the ‘conversation’ or ‘influence’ we’re paid to generate.

We PR types always complain that we aren’t taken seriously enough at board level. Social media and, more importantly the analysis of how it impacts a business, will at least allow us to make some inroads.

The people vs Nigaz

A few weeks ago the story broke about the not-so-PC name thought up by the Russian oil firm Gazprom thought up with the Nigeria’s state-operated NNPC.

Debate (or faux pas) has reached the mainstream headlines as the online backlash has grown. What I can’t understand is how the ‘branding consultant’ Simon Anholt quoted in the BBC article and who developed the National Brand Index, came up with the following:

The fact is that whenever there is a blunder like this it delights people, it gives them something to talk about and it gives them a bright moment in what might otherwise be a dull day.

And

People will soon forget that the name sounds bad

Errr… As far as I know, that name has been offensive for hundreds of years now.

I’ll leave last words to the ever offensive Chris Rock. Perhaps they consulted him on the name change.