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12th February, 2012

“If the mainstream media are unable to address news stories that are freely available elsewhere, we will look increasingly irrelevant”

Paul Dacre, Mail Editor at the Leveson Inquiry

This week, the FA sacked their manager Fabio Capello. Pretty big news.

And, when browsing some of the coverage, I was suddenly struck by the role that Twitter played in the reporting of the story. It was as though every article or news broadcast pulled in comments that someone football-related had made on Twitter upon hearing the resignation.

I know this is nothing new, the number of news articles that are almost entirely based on a tweet is soaring by the day. It’s a fascinating change to the status quo.

In the pre-Twitter days, journalists would get comments directly from sources and they would then reveal these comments to their audiences through articles or VTs.

Today, these comments are made directly to the public with the ‘celebrity’ in question often having a audience of tens of thousands themselves. The traditional media are therefore left to report on the tweet itself, even though many readers might have already already seen it.

It’s not hard to see how this marginalises traditional media.

And again, yes, none of this is new.

Twitter – the enemy or the solution?

But it is perhaps more interesting in light of some of the leaks this week from Sky and the BBC concerning the way their journalists use social services like Twitter.

Now, despite the extent of the fascist enforcement you believe these two media corporations are engaging in, these reports seems to be pretty telling.

There is not but a little irony hidden away here. For these are not easy times for traditional media outlets. Journalists with swathes of Twitter followers and enthusiastic communities can be a massive benefit. But it is not hard to see how the money-people and those who live and breathe on page views might think differently.

For those of us that work in PR, this dichotomy is nothing new. It’s perfectly conceivable now for a brand to have a bigger social community that the journalists that it has sought to influence over the last however-many-years.

And that’s a pretty liberating possibility.

I’m off to an event tomorrow at Social Media Week London entitled “Twitter, the Butterfly Effect and the Future of Journalism” and I’m sure it will touch on some of these themes.

It’s a tough time for traditional media. But I can’t help thinking that laying down rules isn’t necessarily the answer. The status quo won’t work IMHO.

picture credit

continue reading: Twitter + the media = the beginning of the end?...

2nd September, 2011

For many content marketing and/or social media PR strategies, the concept of ‘sharing’ is pretty important. And ‘sharing buttons’ are a great way to enable site or blog visitors to distribute content to their likeminded friends or followers on social networks.

These are nothing new of course, with ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons being included on most sites these days. Back in June, Google launched a +1 button, initially just on search ranking pages, but soon it opened this feature up so that brands and publishers could include +1 buttons on their websites too.

With the launch of Google+ I’d assumed that these +1 buttons would then automatically post +1ed content on your Google+ profile. And they did, but only in a separate ‘+1′ tab, not on your main content stream. Until yesterday that is when Google announced additional sharing functionality for +1 buttons:

“Clicking the +1 button is a great way to highlight content for others when they search on Google. But sometimes you want to start a conversation right away—at least with certain groups of friends. So beginning today, we’re making it easy for Google+ users to share webpages with their circles, directly from the +1 button.”

Google has also revealed that take-up of +1 buttons has been pretty enthusiastic with over a million sites including them and with 4 billion daily views.

The new functionality should work automatically if you’ve got +1 buttons already installed (try ours above!) on your site or blog. But it’s interesting to note that the buttons on search ranking pages don’t currently have the new sharing features; hopefully this will come in time…

Originally posted on the EML Wildfire Tech PR blog

continue reading: Google supercharges +1 button sharing...

24th August, 2011

As I’ve argued twice already in the last few weeks, the UK government attacks on the role social media played in the recent riots is scandalous.

In my mind, the government would do well to focus its attention on looking into the very real and serious problems that caused the riots and, if it does want to look more into social media, should focus on ways the emergency services could use networks like Twitter and Facebook to better inform citizens.

So, following the earthquake in the US yesterday, I was intrigued to see this tweet from the US Department of Homeland Security:

It’s good to see that at least some in positions of power see the potential of social media…

[hat-tip]

continue reading: What the UK government could learn about using social media in times of crisis...

29th October, 2010

I was interested to see this week a live debate by the two candidates for the CIPR presidency. The debate was being trailed by Philip Sheldrake on Twitter and he was also asking for possible questions for the two. I decided to throw my hat into the ring:

@sheldrake with many thinkng PR is fallng behind, wht should the CIPR do to ensure we lead the way/thinking in digital, social & SEO #ciprtvless than a minute ago via HootSuite


I was pleased to see that my question was posed to the two candidates (about 14 minutes in!). The responses were mixed.

Rob Brown, who has written an excellent book on digital PR, gave a good overview of where we are and argued that, while the past has been all about journalist relations, PR faces a new opportunity and needs to reinvent itself.  He suggested that we have a fantastic opportunity to get to the heart of what PR actually is and begin to engage directly and build relationships with the public.

Sally Sykes was a little more hesitant in her response and although she acknowledged that ‘this was our moment’, she fell back into the reputation management debate which I don’t really think encompasses the true might of what digital and social means for the PR industry. She did however acknowledge the importance of training, which is another positive sign.

Do we need more than the grassroots?

So my question is: does the industry needs better leadership from the top when it comes to online PR and social media and do we have this at the moment?

I’d argue we don’t.

I feel that a lot of the new thinking out there is coming from the grassroots of the industry (maybe this was always the way?). I see wide-ranging, in-depth arguments about the future of PR on Twitter, Linkedin and on blogs (even in PR Week from time to time!), but I don’t see much of this coming from the industry’s professional bodies.

I should add that I’m not a member of the CIPR and so maybe it’s just that I don’t hear some of the noise they are making because it is internalised. And perhaps this is partly why I’m less interested in membership itself.

I want the CIPR to be going out there are really representing the industry and its members by demonstrating the opportunity that PR has, encouraging change and best practice. We know that social media conferences are always oversubscribed; there’s clearly an appetite out there, but I feel that there is confusion and panic about how the industry can adopt these new techniques. The industry needs leadership here.

I know how these organisations work. In the past I used to work for a professional body and I appreciate that in big organisations like this change takes time and it happens slowly. Maybe this is how it should be; maybe we need a more staid, considered approach from the top? But I see some of the great work that bodies like the IAB do in the digital arena and wonder why PR be the same.

Let’s grasp the opportunity and shout about it

At the end of the day, I’m not trying to bash the CIPR or the other PR trade bodies, I’m just passionate about the opportunity the PR industry has and the changes that are necessary for it to truly grasp this potential.

It’s why I decided to enter into the PR industry in the first place instead of some of the other digital marketing disciplines out there. PR has a powerful argument for owning communication in the digital age. I’m just not sure that, as an industry, we are fully realising this potential yet. Hopefully, if elected, Rob or Sally will take this baton and run with it. As Sally said, this is our moment, we need to take it before it is too late.

continue reading: Does the PR industry need better leadership?...