PRII Annual Conference Dublin

The Public Relations Institute of Ireland’s annual conference took place in Dublin yesterday. Attendance was up on last year and there was a nice buzz at the event.

I gave two workshops on emerging technology which were well attended and I’m glad to report that the awareness of blogging is growing nicely. There were even two bloggers in attendance (I didn’t get the addresses so if you’re both reading this do let me know!).

Funniest moment of the day was a question from a gentleman in one of the sessions which I didn’t hear properly and sounded like “You haven’t discussed how Symantec will change the web.” I assumed that Symantec must have made some sort of announcement that I missed so I asked him “Do you work for Symantec”. He replied; “No the SE-mantic Web”. I thought it was quite funny.

PS: In a 40 minute session that tries to provide context and a little insight into how emerging technologies will impact PR I didn’t get into terrible detail on anything and certainly not the Semantic web. The closest I get is RSS which I imagine will be part of the Semantic web.

Global product naming is a pain….

A couple of weeks back I mentioned the fact that whilst Social Text’s new product sounded very interesting, living in Ireland there was no way you could go into the pub and tell people you were just writing on your Miki.

It seems more traditional products are facing similar Irish naming problems. Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s have a new ice cream flavour out in the US called “Black and Tan”.

Although this is another exclusively Irish issue, and therefore unknown outside our rain-swept island, the term Black and Tan often has some negative historical references. [This is something I always found amusing in the US where the black and tan drink includes Guinness].

You can’t really blame Unilever, particularly as the mixed drink is widely consumed throughout the US. I’m not sure Irish consumers are that important either. What is very interesting is that this product is only available in the US, but it shows how the Interweb again creates potential issues which would have previously never arisen.

More from the Guardian.

PR Miscellany – April 18, 2006

Thought for the day: Does it scare anyone else that we’re already half way through April?

  • There was an episode of “The Outer Limits” or the “Twilight Zone” where aliens landed on Earth and declared that the human race was simply an experiment that they were bringing to an end because looking at the global political situation it was clear to them that our mental and social development was too primitive and showed no signs of improvement. The world’s leaders begged for a week’s stay of execution (bear with me on this one) and in one week the aliens duly returned and the world’s political leaders declared they had finally solved all the conflicts around the world. The planet was now at peace. The aliens laughed and destroyed the planet because they meant there wasn’t *enough* conflict. This is what jumped into my mind when I read this. Is the last bit of entertainment seeping out of PR blogs? Are we facing a barren wasteland? But don’t kid yourselves boys, it was never THAT interesting.
  • Speaking of aliens. PR from a different world to mine. [Neville Hobson, Andy Lark]
  • And in case you don’t believe me that something strange is going on, Steve has a post that’s linked to PR 🙂
  • Dear PR practitioners if you want a graphic example on the inherent difficulties in carrying out Public Relations in the world of the blog then look no further than this link. We’re moving into a time where everyone’s needs are different and failure to recognize and meet those differences can have a negative outcome. This is potentially disastrous for an industry with a long and very proud record of being unable to remember which journalist writes what. Now on top of that we’ll have to know if or how they prefer to be pitched. This ain’t going to look pretty. [Read the comments – link courtesy of Jim Horton]
  • Speaking of Jim Horton. It’s a little known fact – in a PR blog universe now exceeding 450 – that Jim is one of the PR profession’s first online pioneers. His Online-PR site has been running for years and he was blogging back before you could blog. Jim always has fantastic insights into the practice. I loved his post that the difference between marketers and PR people is that marketers believe the glass is half full..
  • A notable new entry into the world of PR blogging is Keith O’Brien editor of PR Week.
  • Also one of the more recent members of the Lewis PR fraternity to step out from the closet, Drew Benvie has kicked off a new blog called the Social Media Report.
  • The Hobson & Holtz Report #129
  • Nevile Hobson has a fantastic story that illustrates the challenge of the exclusive in the modern world…
  • Richard Edelman provides his perspective on the changes facing traditional media outlets. Can we please drop the “MSM” tag…
  • PR is ranked as the 20th best job in the US by Money magazine. And they give out about us making up surveys…. [Thanks to Voce Nation]

[Thanks to Philip Young and of course the artist Hugh MacLeod]

PR Miscellany – April 11th 2006

  • According to the guardian of all things to do with PR blogging, Constantin Basturea, there are now over 440 PR blog feeds… wow…that’s a lot of PR…
  • Philip Young tracks the storm that’s accompanied Julia Hobsbawm’s Editorial Intelligence project which aims to bridge the gap between PR professionals and journalists. Stuart Bruce has some great commentary and common sense on the reaction to the project from the Guardian’s Christina Odone.
  • Eric Schwartzman has released podcasts with two of the most respected people in the industry namely Harold Burson and Al Golin.
  • Hugh MacLeod’sGaping Void is always sharp and always worth a visit…

[Via BL Ochman]

Do PR people need new media skills?

There’s some interesting discussion on whether PR practitioners have the capabilities (or interest) to harness the new media tools. [Ref: Richard Bailey, Drewb, Mike Manuel]

However, I can’t help thinking that maybe that’s the wrong question.

Surely the question that’s more relevant is what skills and knowledge do practitioners need to effectively communicate with their audience(s) using traditional and new media tools.

For many audiences the new wave of Web 2.0 technologies are irrelevant (at this moment in time) and of course for many audiences the opposite is true.

I think it would be wrong for practitioners to jump on every new development just because it’s new. Instead we’d be better off properly understanding how our audiences are finding and sharing information and then using that knowledge to inform our campaigns and tactics.

If your client is a Web 2.0 wannabee, you need to be all over this area, if your client sells to senior citizens that’s a completely different scenario.

We need to be pragmatic in how we bring new tools to our campaigns. That doesn’t mean slow, that means pragmatic.

At the most basic level, I think we can all agree that the vast majority of Internet users start with a search engine – but how many practitioners know about search engine optimization? In my experience between few and none.

I would agree that as a profession we’re very very slow to adopt new technology. This is a profession-wide weakness. However I’d also strongly counsel against adopting technology for technology’s sake. That is just as misguided as the former.

If PR practitioners take a pragmatic and open minded approach to the impact of Web 2.0 on their AUDIENCE, then we’ll find the right path and the right balance.

Neither of the alternatives to that approach make commercial or professional sense (in my very humble opinion).

As these tools and channels mature we’re seeing more interesting and complex discussions around where they fit in and how they impact reputation. For a very interesting post click over to Elizabeth Albrycht’s post.

Bebo, Blogs, Podcasts and Mikis..

I’ve given a number of interesting sessions this week. Two talks with students and this morning I met with a group of PR people in Dublin. Very interesting discussions.

This morning, everyone in the room had heard of blogging but only one person actually read blogs (though I’m sure they’re all reading this now..!). The count among students was less compelling with lower levels of awareness but more people reading them. There’s also a lot of interest in podcasting.

Interestingly the Bebo phenomenon -is everywhere. I believe that the website is now the #1 visited website in Ireland – bar none. Given I’m an old fart I’ve only come to that one late.

I also recounted my Miki story this morning and everyone laughed, so I can confirm it’s an Irish-only naming issue!

Web 2.0 Branding disaster…[Updated]

We’ve all read the salutary lessons on corporate naming projects. Particularly the famous examples of when certain brand-names have different meanings when translated into different languages.

There are loads of examples.

I think I’ve just spotted my first potential Web 2.0 naming mistake (well in Ireland at any rate).

I pronounce the term Wiki, as Wick-ey. In fact that’s the only way I’ve ever heard it pronounced – though I note Wikipedia does provide alternatives.

Now [via Mike Manuel] SocialText have released a Wiki for mobile devices and they’ve called it Miki.

Now that’s fine unless you pronounce that word Mick-ey. In Ireland (and I think the UK) that’s a slang term for a man’s genitals.

I certainly won’t tell anyone that I’ve been writing on my Miki….

Ross you’re OK it seems it’s an Irish only thing so that’s not a very big deal! There’s some funny comments below, so thanks to Kevin, Philip, Mike and Phil who made me laugh this morning.

Elliot: People can easily differentiate between the slang “Mickey” and Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mantle etc. the usage is quite different!

PR Advice: Making your agency sweat…

Feel like you are being far too nice to your PR agency? Do you want to make them toil for your hard earned dollars?

Well there’s loads of great tips being published that give some great ideas on how to be a more grumpy and unpleasant client.

Hot on the footsteps of Morgan’s advice, Topaz Partners have also done some sharing and there’s some great tips on client behavior to avoid from Andy Beaupre.

With a little reading, some preparation and a quick review you can revolutionize the relationship with your agency. It’ll be great craic!

[Light fuse and stand back…]

Thanks to Steve Hodgdon at Beaupre for letting me know I had included the link to the wrong article. That’s taken some of the wind out of my sails….