PR, marketing and communication news and views.

Archive for June, 2011

My best bookmarks from the last two years


I have a very bad habit of bookmarking things and then never getting around to looking at them again.

Over the last two years this has resulted in hundreds of bookmarks and favourites – otherwise known as a big, unorganised mess.

This week I’d had enough and decided to sort them out.

I found some gems – here’s some links I found that I just had to share:

SOCIAL MEDIA:

1. Behind the scenes of 8 social media campaigns:

This post can’t fail to get you excited about the potential of social media. From the talented peeps over at Mashable, it gives 8 examples of innovative and successful social media campaigns which have captured their target audiences’ attention and generated some great results for clients.

2. What the f**k is social media

Does your boss (or you?!) still need convincing of the validity of social media? This no-nonsense slideshow is just what you need. It contains some impressive statistics and examples – though it is two years old now so it might be a bit outdated.

3. Seven deadly sins of social media

I’m a sucker for a list – and I love this one. It gives us the seven ‘deadly sins’ of social media including ‘Deafness’, ‘Phoniness’ and ‘Greed’.

4. Fifty digital resources you might have missed

Another great post from Mashable. This mammoth list gives you 50 resources worth reading including ‘How to make a 3D YouTube video with two cameras and a roll of sticky tape. I can’t wait to try that one!

PUBLIC RELATIONS:

5. Nissan’s online news room

WARNING: This post will make you want to work for Nissan. It talks about the company’s in-house newsroom which creates and develops news for the brand across all platforms, from video to print. In my opinion – all brands should be striving for this, or at least taking elements of it. A great, inspirational read.

6. Big list of free press release sites

I don’t use these sites, but they can be useful as an additional tool when selling in news releases.  This post lists LOADS of sites which you can upload your releases to for free.

7. How and why to write SEO releases, plus where to submit them:

SEO should be a skill which every PR pro is willing to learn – and it should be built into all content you create which may find itself a home online. This article is a great crash course into why SEO is so important, and how to use it for press releases.

8. Times Style Guide

Every newspaper and magazine has its own particular style, and PRs should always try and take note of these. It’s also worth having you own ‘house’ style. If you’re still trying to implement one then this could be a good post to refer to.

PHOTOGRAPHY:

9. Photography challenge:

I have a secret desire to become a photographer. Two things stand in my way; a lack of decent camera and a lack of talent. When I get these things, I will definitely be doing this challenge from the White Peach Photo blog. It gives you a photography challenge every day for 30 days – from ‘Self Portrait’ to ‘Clouds’.

OTHER:

10. Top 16 UK marketing blogs

Looking to expand your blog repertoire? Well, look no further. This post offers up 16 of the UK’s best marketing-focused blogs.

Are there any gems hidden in your bookmarks? If so, share them here.


Modern communication: The 10 ways we speak to each other

I saw this tweet on Friday from finance journalist James Andrews (@financejames).

Of course the first thing it makes you want to do is count up your own channels, which is exactly what I did.

I have 11 altogether.  I found it pretty shocking to be honest – and a little scary when you think about just how connected we are nowadays.

What about you? What channels do you use that I’ve missed off? And is it a good or a bad thing that we are so connected 24/7?

USED DAILY:

1. Email

Ah, good old email, how I love thee. Simple to use, lets you write as much or as little as you like, send attachments, group contacts, instantly file messages into separate client/personal folders. Email is still my favourite way to be contacted and it is still the most popular way people contact me in work, and out of work for anything other than a friendly chat.

2. Phone

Look at me! I have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR phone numbers I can be reached on. I have to admit I sometimes think the phone call is a little neglected nowadays. The downside of virtual communication is that tone and humour can often be misunderstood. I often think that one quick call would make things so much simpler.

3. Twitter

It took me a while to ‘get’ it but I wouldn’t be without it now.  I don’t really use it to organise things as such, or chat with people at length, but it’s a nice way to connect with people outside of my immediate circle, and keep up-to-date with news and opinions.

4. Facebook

Facebook for me is most definitely for friends only. It’s probably the main way that I sort out where and when I‘m meeting friends for dinner, drinks or whatever. Plus it’s a good way to connect with those you don’t see as often as you like. A quick ‘hello’ on someone’s wall is the modern day equivalent of a postcard.

5. Text message

I probably shouldn’t admit this; but I hate texting. I find it laborious and boring and I am much more inclined to simply pick up the phone to speak to someone. Still ‘tis a necessity sometimes, and friends still seem to prefer to text than anything else.

6. Forums

Possibly not one on most people’s list (anymore), but I check my sports team’s forum everyday. Not only do I play the sport (roller derby if you’re interested!) but I’m also the league’s PR spokesperson and there always seems to be plenty of news to catch up on and posts to reply to.

LESS FREQUENTLY:

7. Skype

I don’t use this as often as I used to when I lived in America, but I still love using Skype to catch up with old friends in different countries – both via calls and messages. I’m also trying to get it used more at work to speak to international clients.

8. Instant Messaging

There was a day when Hotmail messenger was the hottest tool around, but it’s moved on now to Facebook chat and Blackberry Messenger. I don’t use IM as much as I used to, but I have a feeling my new Blackberry next month might change this!

9. LinkedIn

Usually I use LinkedIn simply for the initial connection. If I’m interested in speaking to anyone after that it usually migrates to email, Twitter or phone.

10. Snail mail

I love receiving post, and writing a good old letter or postcard. I liaise by post regularly with my auntie in Canada and my close friend in New York. Nothing will ever quite beat the excitement you get when you receive a letter (that you know for sure isn’t a bill!), or the feeling that actually, someone must care about you a fair bit to spend the time and money to contact you the ‘old school’ way.

AND A BONUS ONE:

11. In person

Yes, that’s right! I am not just an Avatar – I am indeed a real person. If you ever want to speak to me properly I promise you I am not a hologram and I am fully capable of conversation without aid of technological tools or methods.


Timesaving ‘V’ privacy – why I can’t wait to use the new Facebook tagging tool

Facebook now automatically recognises the people in photos

Facebook has hit the headlines yet again this week after rolling out a facial recognition tool which automatically recognises the people in photos, and then gives users the option of tagging them.

The feature has been available in the USA for six months – but since launching in Europe last week it has caused outcry among some, who suggest that, yet again, those evil Facebook programmers are out to invade our privacy.

To be honest I’m not quite sure I get what the problem is.  It seems to me that the conspiracy theorists are just low on material at the moment.

For me, any tool which is added to makes things like uploading photos quicker and easier can only be a good thing, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Remember the days of ‘simple upload’ when you had to upload 5 photos at a time and albums had a maximum capacity of 60 images?

It was very frustrating – as is tagging friends in photos.

There are so many photos of me and my friends on holiday and at weddings etc that I would quite like to see, but can’t be bothered to go through everyone’s albums to find.

Same as I know that there are loads of photos of friends in my albums, who would love to be tagged, but don’t know the photos are there. And I certainly don’t have the time or the inclination to go through and tag them all myself!

This automatic facial recognition system will no doubt make things quicker and easier for all involved.

So what’s the problem?

From what I’ve read:

  • It only recognises your friend’s faces (and you know what they look like already, surely?!)
  •  It won’t recognise complete strangers who happen to be in the background, or people who you are not direct friends with on Facebook already
  • It won’t go through and tag all existing photos linked to your profile – only ones you upload from now on (and then you can choose whether or not to tag them)
  • Users who are tagged will receive a notification and can then untag themselves if they wish
  • And perhaps most importantly – you can turn the feature off! That means that your friends will have to continue to manually tag you in every photo

Don’t know how to turn it off? Check out instructions here.

This sort of technology has been around for years (there is even an exisiting app for Facebook which was launched in 2009), and I just simply don’t understand why it is an issue for Facebook to be using it to make their users’ experience more efficient.

What do you think?

Is Facebook invading our privacy or are people making a big deal out of nothing?

Photo via


Bloggers are human – and yes – we make mistakes!


Like many people in the PR industry I read a lot of blogs.

I have the ones I read on a regular basis, as well as those that I stumble across on Twitter and Facebook.

The thing I love the most about blogs is the abillity people have to comment – to add value to a debate or a topic and help spark even more interest than the original post itself.

Or at least thats my idea of what comments are for – but apparently not everyone feels the same.

During my rounds today I found three comments on different blog posts – all pointing out mistakes which have been made by the blogs author.

Some were grammatical mistakes; others were statements or sentences which could perhaps have been written a little more clearly.

The comments weren’t written in a friendly way – they were rude and you could tell the people leaving them were feeling smug at the fact that they had spotted an error.

Now, I know that blogs should be correct and anyone in PR who makes a grammatical error should know better.

But do you know what – it happens! Get over it!

Why feel the need to leave a smug comment about it?

I also spotted a post on one of my favourite social media blogs which had – shock! Horror! – not one, not two, but THREE spelling mistakes.

Did I leave a rude comment chastising the author? Or did I think; “You know what, I bet they wrote that in 10 minutes in-between client meetings, phone calls and drafting copy for a deadline, so let’s give them a little slack shall we?”

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t call people out on errors (especially if they are factual errors) – indeed in some ways its a good thing. As an author you can then correct it and make sure you pay more attention next time.

But I don’t think it should be done rudely – and you should still add more to the conversation than just “oh, by the way, you’ve spelt that wrong.”

So, the moral of my rant is that mistakes DO happen! It’s making sure they don’t happen again, and how you handle the mistake that makes the difference.

Here are some tips:

1). Always approve negative comments on your blog, or ones that call you out – unless they are overly rude, personal or use bad language. Then craft your reply carefully. If someone points out an error thank them for there eager eyes and make a note not to make the same mistake again.

2). Get your work proofed. Part of my role as a manager is to proof any work drafted by other members of my team. But equally I always ask our account executive to proof my work. I’m human, mistakes happen, and sometimes you get too ‘close’ to your work to realise your making mistakes.

3). If you make a factual mistake, or you alter your post significantly after people have commented, always let your readers know you’ve made the change.

I’ve made six errors on purpose in this post (here’s hoping you don’t find more than that!). Let’s play ‘Call me out’. Go on – get it out your system!


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