Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 15 June 2012


The PR measurement world has this week been focused on the annual Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) conference, this year taking place in Dublin. As you’d expect from a room-full of communications professionals, there’s been a very active and insightful Twitter hashtag on best practices in measurement and insights, which you can follow at #AMEC2012.

In social media, Mashable have written a 9 step guide to providing a social media health check for your brand, with suggested KPIs including share of voice, key influencer mentions and sentiment analysis. Twitter has announced the launch of expanded tweets, allowing users to see extra content within tweets from selected partner brands, without having to click through to their websites. As well as partner news brands such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal being able to provide headlines and introductory news text, non-news publishers such as Buzzfeed and Dailymotion will also be providing image and video content.

Following on from Facebook’s announcement last week about mobile monetization, the platform has now revealed it will introduce real-time bidding (RTB) on display adverts within weeks. This will allow brands to target advertising to users based on their off-site browsing history, rather than traditional user profile keywords and ‘likes’ targeting.

Influence marketing firm Crowdtap has published a study into online influence, concluding that in terms of purchasing decisions made, we are more influenced by our friends and networks than celebrities. You can view an infographic summary of the report’s findings on influence here.

Finally, as a constantly evolving industry, PR Daily looks forward eight years to predict the skills PR professionals will need in 2020. Until next week!

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 8 June 2012


It’s the time of year again when the world shifts its attention to the UK and all eyes focus in on the Queen’s four-day Royal Jubilee celebrations. It has been interesting to see media globally talk of the resulting success of ‘Brand GB’ and the huge shift in (positive) perceptions of the British Royal Family. Mark Borkowski highlights the ‘Wills and Kate effect’ as a shining case study of how to do PR – “[it] epitomizes all that is great in good communications: healthy cynicism, transparency, definition, strategy, digital fluency, mutual understanding and, above all else, a compelling set of stories”.

For when things do inevitably go wrong, however, PR Week’s recent Crisis Communications conference has provided a number of key best-practice takeaways on how to stay in control during a PR crisis. Advice includes how to plan at a very micro-level how you would respond in a crisis, how to handle social media, and how best to present your messaging. We also recently blogged on crisis communications for social media following a NASDAQ OMX breakfast conference in San Francisco, which you can read here

One company facing such a crisis this week was LinkedIn, as rumors leaked out of 6.5 million passwords being posted online. The company has come under criticism for its ‘indirect’ approach to communicating about the crisis by updating journalists and consumers solely through its Twitter channel. The lack of a formal response by the company led to security experts elsewhere being widely quoted, with the press stating that the company itself had refused to comment.

In other social media news, Twitter’s advertising revenues are predicted to hit $1 billion in 2014, Facebook is attempting mobile monetization for the first time with news-feed sponsored stories just for mobile devices, and Sean Parker announces the launch of Airtime, video-chat based around shared interests. Finally, Ragan’s PR Daily also presented us with the fascinating 52 cool facts and stats about social media.

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up 11 Nov 2011

Following on from last week’s round-up, it transpires our Shippam’s paste friend was indeed a hoax. My blog explains the revelation, and also what we can learn from the affair about social media content.

PR Week has taken a close look at what makes a digital PR specialist, highlighting key skills such as knowledge of data and analytics, a forward-thinking approach, being social online, the ability to work in a team, traditional PR skills, and finally, experience. 

Future Buzz has written about the benefits of corporate blogging, with the provocative If your team hates blogging, you need a new team.

Wall Blog has taken a closer look at the world of paid-for celebrity tweets by the company Ad.ly, in which celebrity ‘influencers’ are paid $10,000 to endorse a product (in 140 characters).

On the subject of paid-for endorsements, the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau has just announced its guidelines around payment for editorial content in social media. The guidelines are certainly worth a read, and come amidst confusion across the industry, as brands are still unwittingly putting themselves at risk.

Research from Searchmetrics has looked at how many times stories from the leading 12 national papers’ websites were shared across six social networks. Whilst dailymail.co.uk has almost three million links a week being shared across social networks, thetimes.co.uk (now behind a paywall) languished in final position with just 256 links/week shared.

Forbes has written about the social enterprise, integrating technology, people and strategy, and offers 10 strategies to help achieve this. Top tips include hiring a Chief Social Evangelist, using social analytics to drive key strategic decisions, and replacing traditional marketing with content marketing.

Finally, the BBC’s Rory-Cellan Jones has taken a look at Silicon Roundabout, and its cluster of new media, design and software start-ups, a year after David Cameron unveiled his plans for the area.

What can we learn from the Shippam’s paste Twitter affair?


Let’s start at the beginning… A few weeks back a Twitter feed appeared, purporting to belong to Shippam’s Pastes, and manned by ‘Ben’, an ‘executive social media intern’. Being new to the world of social media, he was quite honest about his intentions and shortcomings:

The feed read like a social media engagement for beginners’ rulebook, sometimes perhaps a little too literally:

The Tweets led many to question who was behind the account. Was it a hoax? A genuine attempt at ‘engagement’ from a naive intern? Or a stroke of marketing genius from a largely forgotten brand (à la Old Spice…)? As the Guardian revealed over the weekend, it was indeed a hoax. The man behind the account explained, “faking a spectacularly inept attempt to ‘do Twitter’ just seemed funny – as did picking a real, but nearly forgotten, brand to do it. A large part of it was also simply wanting to see what happened.”

Funny is certainly how the feed was perceived, picking up over 9,000 followers before it was closed down. We learnt of Ben’s nights out in Wetherspoons, and his failures in seducing the local chip shop girl, as well as admirable attempts to help us consumers engage with fish paste, of course:

Having seen so many corporate failures on Twitter, as the author remarked, “A company attempting to get involved with an internet ‘thing’ like Twitter and cocking it up entirely is also completely believable.”

The feed played on the idea of ‘engagement’ being seen as the holy grail of ‘doing’ social media and ensuring the whole thing is ‘fun’. In reality though, the feed had very little engagement, being largely a broadcast of disparate thoughts and product references. It broke all the best practice social media ‘rules’, and yet was a great success.

So what can we learn from this? Largely a reminder of the old mantra that content and creativity are key, and even more so in social media, where everyone’s fighting for our attention. Ironically, given the account was fake, original ideas such as this is what brands should be doing. Content which is genuinely engaging and disruptive will attract our attention and make us click ‘follow’ (as the success of the Waterstones Piccadilly feed testifies, as well as our old friend, the insurance quote comparing meerkat).

We must not of course forget that this account was not authorised by the brand, Shippam’s. I would, however, be very interested to see their web analytics for the past few weeks, and also to see if there’s been any rise in sales. If I ever feel like a ‘batenberg sandwich of the sea’, I certainly know where I’ll be heading.

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 4 Nov 2011


Causing a social media stir this week has been an entirely unsuspecting contender – Shippams fish paste. The brand’s Twitter feed is supposedly run by a social media intern who helps users ‘engage’ with the brand’s crab paste. As The Wall pointed out, “The account is clearly having a laugh at the marketing industry and its need for brands to have a digital media strategy, no matter how established or tedious, like crab paste, the brand may be”. Whatever the motives, the feed is genuinely amusing and has grown to almost 9,000 followers, as well as drawing a lot of attention to the company’s products, of course… *

Westminster Council’s director of comms and strategy recently unveiled their guide, Evaluating Your Communications Tools: What Works, What Doesn’t, suggesting that evaluation programmes should be based on ‘real outcomes’, including ‘measurable changes in audience perceptions and awareness’. The report has the backing of the PRCA and AMEC, and can be found online here.

Meanwhile, Adam Singer writes about metrics ‘Your PR team isn’t tracking… but should be”, focussing on web analytics, including referring sources, branded search engine traffic, and inbound links.

Providing insights into where best to place links in Tweets to maximise click through rates was the focus of a recent study by Dan Zarrella. Sampling 200,000 bit.ly links, Zarrella created a Tweet heat-map to highlight CTRs, concluding the most effective place to insert a link is at around 25% of the way through a Tweet.

Finally, our friends at PressIndex have continued their study into the UK’s top PR agencies, this time looking at levels of engagement with fans. Perhaps unsurprisingly, We Are Social were found to have the most popular fan page, and were also the most active.

 *At the time of proofing this blog (11am), the Shippams Twitter handle no longer exists. More details when we have them.

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 14 Oct 2011


After Apple’s dominance of the news agenda last week, it was Blackberry’s turn this week. I’ll refrain from repeating any of the jokes circulating on Twitter, and mention what seems to have angered users the most, namely RIM’s handling of communications around the crisis. CorpComms Magazine provided an analysis of the damage to RIM and Blackberry’s reputations, including insight from Glide’s CEO, Sam Phillips.

PR Week this week reported of the sale of College Group to a private equity firm, suggesting it could pave the way for more PE deals in the PR industry. Danny Rogers believes that despite all the doom and gloom, the sector does have some strong growth areas, notably digital content solutions, and reputation management.

A new study from ISBA and Havas Media Social shows that seven out of 10 marketers believe their CEO understands the importance of social media, while nearly eight out of 10 view it as a long-term investment.

Another study of CMOs this week, however, from IBM showed that although 82% say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years, only a minority actually currently track brand conversations happening online. The research lead highlighted the benefits of real-time monitoring to companies: “CMOs who successfully harness this new source of insight will be in a strong position to increase revenues, reinvent their customer relationships and build new brand value.”

Whilst on the subject, here’s seven free tools to use to help measure your social media effectiveness. (Regular readers will be aware of my views on tool number 7…)

Until next week.

The Social Media Newsroom Part 4: Facilitating Conversation Elsewhere


This is the fourth instalment in my 5-part series about Social Media Newsrooms – to read more about the series read my introductory article here.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 of this series look at some specific suggestions for things you can do to make your Newsroom social, with some good and bad examples of where other companies have done so. Today I’m having a look at how to use your newsroom to support your social channels and in part 5 I will look at how to make your content more personal.

How to use your Newsroom to encourage conversations elsewhere

Conversations don’t necessarily need to happen on your newsroom as you probably will need to moderate these comments and might not have the resource to do so. You may want, for various reasons, to actually have conversations with people elsewhere. In which case, use your newsroom as a way of directing visitors to the places where they can have a conversation with your business or individuals within it.

Example:  SEB, Erica Blomgren, Twitter

SEB have a nice newsroom (I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a “social media newsroom” though) and one thing I do like about their site is that they are open enough to show contact details for their experts across a range of subjects in the newsroom site. They give direct dials and email addresses opening the way for offline conversations to happen.  They are risking more spam and unwanted sales calls by doing this but they clearly think this is a price worth paying in the name of openness and accessibility. Credit to them for that.

When one of the experts listed is active on twitter they also show a link to their twitter profile. One expert that is using twitter on a daily basis to communicate news and opinion on her area of expertise is Erica Blomgren. What I like about the way she uses twitter is that it’s very focused, so people following her know what to expect, she posts regularly, and she is willing to respond to questions and give people answers online. Overall a great example of how to use twitter in a financial services context. Now SEB just need to encourage some of the other 50 experts to do likewise!

Example: BASF, Facebook

Now check this out for an impressive example of making the effort to respond to people!

BASF, a leading global chemical company based in Germany, has a Facebook page and they use to share stories about concrete in English. You read that right. Concrete on Facebook.

So they share the story and what happens? For a start 32 people ‘like’ the story but three people also post a comment in response. One comment is in English, one in German and one in Malay. What do BASF do?  They respond to each post in the language of poster!  Bravo.

The interesting thing here is the interaction between Facebook and the company’s newsroom. The conversation on Facebook has taken place because they posted an interesting story on their newsroom and people have responded to that. There is the possibility to comment on the article page itself but no-one has chosen to do that, preferring instead to post on Facebook.

What BASF should try and do next is bring some of these channels together more – for a start allowing people to like an article, tweet or share it is a simple win (I’m surprised this feature is missing given how well they’ve done other things) but perhaps they should also use the Facebook social plugin or a tool like Disqus to make it easier for people to respond to their articles? Maybe then they’ll truly deserve the moniker of ‘Social Media Newsroom’ that they’ve given themselves?

Now if a company as “boring” as a chemical company can post interesting content on a regular basis on their Facebook page and engage with people there, your company can probably do so too! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

In the fifth and final part of my series I will be talking about how to make your content more personal and to bring out some of the expertise of your own staff as individuals into your news content.

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 23 Sept 2011


If we were to take Twitter trends as a news barometer, the most important event in the past 24h (even outside of Comms) seems to have been the next batch of changes Facebook announced at the f8 conference. The good folk at Mashable have summed up everything you need to know here.

The platform shows no signs of slowing down as it passed 800 million registered users this week. Even offline luxury brands are now seeing the benefits of digital strategies, including Porsche who spoke to econsultancy about their strategy and how they measure digital campaigns.

Another luxury brand, Burberry, marked a social media first this week as they launched the world’s first ‘Tweetwalk’, partnering with Twitter to release backstage photos of London Fashion Week collections before they hit the runway.

In analytics news, the IPR and PRSA North American Measurement Summit was held this week, with a focus on social media reporting. You can view Tim Marklein’s presentation “Goodbye measurement, hello analytics” here, highlighting the need for real-time analytics. Fleishman-Hillard’s Don Bartholomew has also published a free ebook evaluating social media listening platforms.

In more light-hearted news this week, a cautionary tale has taught us the value of keeping passwords safe, particularly if you fire your copywriter

Weekly Media and Comms Round-Up – 16 Sept 2011


Twitter was in the news again this week, as they announced the launch of a new analytics platform, providing insights into how many links and Tweets are shared across the platform. Techcrunch TV covered the event as it happened here. The presentation also highlighted that Twitter had passed 100 million users for the first time, and around 5 billion Tweets are sent every month. We also learnt this week that Twitter sentiment is being used by a hedge fund to predict short term stock market price changes (with up to 87% accuracy…).

A fascinating study by Market Sentinel on fan engagement on Facebook showed that despite huge numbers of fans liking pages, only around 0.002% actually engage with the page more than once. Given the way Facebook’s edgerank calculations work (determining what appears in feeds), if people do not engage with a fan page or piece of content, that ‘like’ will disappear from users’ feeds.

Fast Company explained IBM’s latest thinking in transforming companies into social businesses, including insights being derived from the way people interact digitally to improve various functions in the business. The BBC’s Deputy Head of the Newsroom also wrote about how social media is changing the way the BBC operates, and the shifts in the way people consume news.

Finally, the next instalment in the guide to social media newsrooms is here, where Alistair discusses comments and engagement on corporate blogs.

The Social Media Newsroom Part 3: Comments


This is the third instalment in my 5-part series about Social Media Newsrooms – to read more about the series read my introductory article here.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 of this series will look at some specific suggestions for things you can do to make your newsroom social, with some good and bad examples of where other companies have done so.  Today I’m having a look at comments, Part 4 will be about using the newsroom to support your social channels and in part 5 I will look at how to make your content more personal.

When looking at how to bring in some two-way dialogue to a company’s newsroom one obvious place to start with is allowing members of the public, or the specific community you are targeting, to post their thoughts, comments and questions on your site in response to your news pieces, blog posts and even press releases.

However, one thing I really don’t like to see on a corporate newsroom or blog is spammy comments!  If you see a blog that has comments that are clearly spam lingering around on their site for days, weeks or even longer what does it say to you?  What it says to me is that there is clearly no-one moderating the site and probably no-one actually bothering to read what people are saying in the comments.

Comments spam and ignored questions – HP blogs

HP has a pretty-looking blog site that is actually a hub pulling together a number of blogs on various topics.

But are they really taking the comments seriously or is this just another gimmick?  Take a look at this post title “Answering your questions”.  Ironically, given the title of the post, no-one has bothered to reply to the people who posted questions in the comments in response to this post.  The last post here from “leo” is clearly spam trying to get some link juice from the HP site (and if you look around other posts you’ll find plenty of spam).  What do you conclude by looking at these comments?  HP isn’t really paying any attention to the community on their site…

Allowing comments and responding to them – Microsoft Hardware Blog

Microsoft have a vast array of blogs on a variety of topics nicely laid out with a summary of the latest posts.  Not all blogs allow comments and you do find the occasional spam but what I like about many of these blogs is that Microsoft does actually respond to the comments people post.

Microsoft Hardware Blog Imagehttp://www.microsofthardwareblog.com/we-want-your-feedback/

This shows a much more genuine attempt to use comments as a way of engaging with people through the site.

How much freedom should people be given to say what they want? Should negative comments be allowed?

This is a tricky question to answer and a lot depends on both the wider culture of a company and also on regulatory requirements.  Aside from preventing abusive posts, spam, blatant self-promotion or links to indecent or illegal content, how far a company goes in allowing people to air their views is really a matter of discretion.

One really interesting example of a company that takes a very tolerant approach to comments on their own site is General Electric.

Take a look at this post about the nuclear meltdown in Japan after the Tsunami and the role that GE played in tackling the crisis.  There are over 111 comments in response to this article, many go beyond negative and are quite damning, it doesn’t really get much worse than being blamed for a nuclear disaster, does it?

The people posting are a broad mix with some people claiming to be engineers and even nuclear experts themselves.  GE have not responded to individual comments but it is interesting to see how commentators with differing views interact with each other.

Do these posts damage GE’s reputation?  GE obviously don’t think so.  Everyone coming to the site first reads GE’s official statement and there are links to other information and posts from GE about the issue on this site.  The community that has developed on this site has also developed a degree of self-correction with individual posters correcting the most blatantly erroneous statements from other posters and there is quite a lively debate about how to tackle the nuclear problems in Japan and the pros and cons of nuclear energy more generally.

There isn’t the usual level of spam, off-topic posts or self-promotion on this site which suggests to me that someone from GE is moderating comments.  Meaning that these negative posts are not there simply because no-one has noticed.

Now the question is, would you let someone say this about your company on your blog?

Comment from a member of the public on GE Reports blog

But look also how the community on the site supply each other with information.  There are a lot of well informed commentators taking part in the discussion.

Comment in GE Reports Blog

I will be interested to hear people’s thoughts on whether such an approach is good for GE but what you can’t deny is that this is ‘social’ in a real sense and also quite ‘brave’ of GE to permit such criticism in a space they control.

In the next part of the series I will be looking at how to use your newsroom to facilitate conversations in other channels.  Thanks for reading!