Probably the best round-up ever..

I’ve been in Copenhagen for the past few days and have finally managed to catch up on some of my RSS reading and podcast listening.

Here’s some stuff I found interesting…



Tivoli, Copenhagen

Blogs: Do they need to be first hand or boring?

There were a lot of great questions and observations at the event in Edinburgh last week, but two particular questions struck a chord with me.

1) Are blogs ready for every market?

Although there’s no empirical data that I’ve seen or would stand over, I think it’s fair to say that common sense tells us that the size and maturity of blog readership differs from one geography and market to another. 

For example, in the US technology industry, blogs are mature and influential, however, in a given UK market the immediate influence and first-hand readership is probably significantly lower.

First-hand is the key term however.

A less sophisticated Internet user doesn’t know or care if they’re using a blog.  They just see a website.

They probably find information using one of the better search engines* and whatever relevant results arrive they navigate to. It’s unlikely they’ll add your RSS feed (yet) but that doesn’t matter – what matters is that they’ve found and are reading your content or opinions. 

Using blogs to deliver this content is a powerful tool in itself.  The combination of the blog’s SEO friendly format with the power of modern search engines means that your content can be incredibly valuable even if the current readership is small.

Information overload is always going to limit the number of feeds you monitor (without more sophisticated intelligence) so the “long tail” effect is a powerful one – particularly in the, as of yet, nascent online community. Of course first-hand readership is important – but it’s not the only measure.


2) But surely some subjects are just too boring to blog about?

Are they? In practically every sector around the globe there is an ecosystem of producers, suppliers and customers. That presents some opportunities from a blog creation perspective.

When this question was posed it was in relation to a drinks manufacturer who had started an (inane) blog about its products.  The blog content was appalling – blowing it’s own trumpet – with no value for the reader. The result is a blog that will never deliver the results its creators were aiming for.

But does that mean that certain companies or sectors will never have suitable content for a blog? Nope.

It’s not the blog that’s the problem it’s the content creators.  Think how and why your blog could be interesting.  It could be supporting your community efforts, covering company news or views.  The alternatives are endless.  The lazy option is to blow your own trumpet – the successful option is researching what your audience would value.

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*Cut me some slack, it’s the search engine I use :-)

Edinburgh done – London to-do

Unfortunately this post was delayed much longer than I’d hoped but at least now I’ve more content to link to!

Last week’s event in Edinburgh went very well.  There was great engagement from the audience and, as always, it was fantastic to catch up with Chris, Elizabeth, Neville, Philip and Stuart.

  • Listen to Neville’s podcast with a number of the delegates including Andrea Conway, Scott Douglas, David Connor and Adrian Mahoney.
  • Listen to Neville’s MP3 of a brief closing discussion with himself, Philip, Stuart and myself.
  • Read Neville’s post on the event.
  • Read Philip’s post.
  • Read Stuart’s post.

Just as we’ve finished Edinburgh we’ve agreed to do one final event in the “Delivering New PR” series.  It’ll take place in London on Friday, November 10th 2006 in the Marriott Hotel, Regents Park.  Following that event we’re going to review the event, content and format with a view to launching a follow up series in 2007.  The event is being organised by the ever efficient Nicky and Andy at Don’t Panic Projects.

You can find out more here.

Q & A's

Questions and hopefully some answers… (L-R: Philip, Stuart, Tom, Elizabeth and Neville)

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It’s good to meet people in the real world..

Tomorrow I’m off to Edinburgh for the latest installment of the “Delivering the New PR” conference which looks at the intersection of PR with all those new fangled blog things.

It’ll be great to catch up with Chris, ElizabethNevilleNicky, PhilipStuart and the gang.

I’ve always been impressed, that for a group that Philip pulled together via our blog personas, we get on incredibly well and always have a very enjoyable, albeit short time together.

The Sunday Herald published a preview of the event last weekend with some commentary from Neville and Stuart. And I see Stuart has reached the zenith of online chic with a name check in The Register!

If you build it will they have time to come?

I have an affliction.  I am one of those poor unfortunate moths attracted to the bright light of the new new thing. There’s nothing more I love than a new download or unwrapping a nice piece of new hardware.  However, even with this predilection I have a problem.  Time.

One of the latest online wonders is Second Life. [See Neville Hobson, Gary Goldhammer, Jeremy Pepper and Text 100 to link but a few]. It’s a new online virtual environment where you can meet and interact with other virtual visitors – I realize that’s a very basic description but it’ll do for the moment.

Regardless of my love for the new new thing, I haven’t dabbled in Second Life. I’m not sure I can fit it in.  This is a growing issue. 

There’s so much great innovation taking place, there are new services, channels, applications and content, but from a PR perspective, how will your audience manage all this information?

The modern world is a crazy, complex place. Let’s look at a tech-savvy sample audience member. What does their day look like?

  • They have a home phone – and voicemail
  • They have a mobile phone – and voicemail
  • They have a work phone – and voicemail
  • They travel to work accompanied by advertising hoardings 
  • They have personal e-mail
  • They have work e-mail
  • they have mobile e-mail
  • They have instant messaging
  • They probably use text messaging
  • They receive post
  • They receive faxes
  • They have conference calls
  • They have meetings
  • They are subjected to drive-by meetings when trying to concentrate
  • They listen to the radio
  • They watch television
  • They read a newspaper
  • They visit websites
  • They subscribe to newsletters
  • They subscribe to RSS feeds
  • They browse the Interweb using Search Engines
  • They participate in social networking
  • They have a job
  • They have a family
  • They have friends
  • They have pets
  • They have chores
  • They have interests

This list isn’t complete. 

How do we manage all these media elements?  How do we communicate through the noise?  What tools should we use?  How will our audience manage the complexity? These are pressing questions. 

Right now, contrary to the hype monkeys, people still rely in the main on traditional media, but as media becomes more fragmented, how do you communicate via vast varieties of channels?

It’s fair to say that we, as a profession, currently do a poor job of communicating with journalists in a relevant manner.  One of the most common claims is “irrelevant pitches”.  Now, if we can’t even manage simple information preference from a relatively small group, how will PR participate in “conversations” with millions of individuals – all with their own preferences?

This is a big question and one that will probably only be answered in time.  We can of course make guesstimates that tools such as RSS provide a great way of aggregating content and therefore may become a very popular tool for navigating the huge volume of news and noise – but what content will be aggregated?

In my opinion, the one thing that is for certain, is that consumers are developing increasingly advanced filters.  These filters will ensure that only relevant, interesting information that’s delivered when and where they want it, will be received and processed.

As the noise grows and the media fragments the challenge of reaching individuals will become a more complex proposition.

If anyone tells you they know the answer, you should also ask them how much they want for the nice bridge they’re selling.

To quote Donald Rumsfeld:

“we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

That sums up the current PR conundrum very nicely.

It’s also one of the reasons I haven’t jumped into Second Life.  I only have the one life and there’s too much going on. That’s something I think we’ll find is a common refrain in the coming years.