Monday, March 30, 2009

Press release translation - Mumbrella style

I could not stop laughing when I read this post today! Mumbrella again hits the nail on the absolute head. Below is a small snippet of his translation of a Starcom media release (in red text) but you really should read it in full to laugh out loud! I can't believe a marketing agency could be so ridiculous in its own own marketing speak.

From Mumbrella:

“With a number of new appointments and promotions we have assembled a world-class team that will be integral to the success of clients across the company.”
“With the downturn we’ve been able to get good people a lot more cheaply than six months ago.”

Consumer anthropologist Seema Patel has joined Genesis to navigate the consumer landscape for clients, providing a differentiated lens to understand consumers as humans first.
And we’re tired of people like Naked having all the wanky job titles like consumer psychologist, so we’ve got a consumer anthropologist. Stick that, Adam Ferrier.

Patel’s focus will be augmenting SMG’s approacch to insight generation, through SMG’s fusion approach - a unique ethnographic approach to understanding consumer drivers that takes the best from the psychological and anthropological worlds.
But we don’t see any irony in talking about understanding people as humans first while using language like this.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twouble with Twitters... (according to

Oh dear I think I can see myself in this video...

Found it a nice reminder that while we explore new communication channels it is important not to forget the traditional methods!

Generation gap a myth?

I read with lots of interest Kate Carruther's post last week about the Real Generation Gap. She wrote that she's not entirely convinced by the oft-quoted generation gap differences between Boomers, X, Y and now iGen and I totally agree. While generational differences are a great way to explain some trends you really can't categorise people (and especially their attitudes towards technology) by their year of birth.

Kate says, "In both my work and personal life I am seeing the development of a different kind of generation gap, and it is not one that is age based. Rather it is about the individual’s relationship to technology and their willingness or desire to become and to remain connected." Frankly I couldn't agree more. As a Gen Y-er who's reasonably close to the Gen-X cusp I take pride in my embracing of the internet culture but equally I know several people younger than me (or indeed my own age) who can think of nothing worse than their life being portrayed on facebook or writing a blog that reveals their thoughts to the world. And in the same breath I say that there are heaps upon heaps upon heaps of active bloggers and social media gurus who love this internet connected culture are (dare I say it) well beyond the Gen Y birth year cut off! Kate refers to this phenomenon as the real digital divide and explains it not as a gap but rather a "continuum of connectedness". So where do you think you fit?

(McCrindle Research sets out a diagram of the generations in its report 'Seriously Cool' so for those needing a refresher it's below)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Google Street View

Google Street View has finally launched in the UK and its interesting to watch their reaction to it from our perspective in Australia, having been able to play with it for a few months already.

I was surprised that one of my non-tech friends (an accountant actually) stumbled upon it on day of launch. Her reaction was that it was a bit of fun.

The media over there don't seem put off by the fact that it only covers cities at the moment (my home town is hardly in the sticks, but no joy on pictures of my street to bore people over here). Nor did anyone seem to respond badly to Google's complaints that London was the hardest city to photograph yet; they blamed the weather and the one way streets.

A good 5 (?) months after service launch in Australia though, what do we see? Well it was a lot of effort to photograph mile upon mile of outback road, but is it actually useful? I use it to get a visual idea of where I am going if I am going to a meeting. But otherwise its still just a bit of fun - eclipsed by the media attention around Google Latitude's tracking systems (which, frankly, terrify me!)

Comedian Dave Gorman had an amusing story of his run in with the cameras (and the fact he is recorded for posterity on everyone's search for a particular Bethnal Green street).

But for today, I will share with you a link to the image of the outside of the Hotwire office in a trendy warehouse in Clerkenwell. Hotwire is a fellow Photon tech PR agency (and my former employer before I was lucky enough to be transfered out here to Kinetics and the Land Of The Sun). Twitter was alive yesterday with debates among former colleagues trying to work out who got caught by Google on their sneaky cigarette break.... :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sixth sense technology

This presentation from the recent TED conference is excellent. It was the talk of the show and in it Pattie Maes from the MIT Media Lab's new Fluid Interfaces Group looks at the tools we use to work with information and connect with one another. She demos their prototype "Sixth Sense" device. Its 8 mins long but well worth watching - seems very bizarre to begin but as they explore the opportunities for the technology towards the end it doesn't seem so outlandish!

Those Pauline Hanson photos *vomits into bin*

Yes, whether we liked it or not, most of us have been exposed to those Pauline Hanson photos. 

 Like her or hate her, heads should roll after this weeks latest media smear campaign. 

 The defense for publishing the 'lewd' photographs seems to hang on the opinion that the media has a duty to publish these as she is a public figure (running for a public office) so anything that she does deserves to be scrutinised: there is a public interest.

 But what public interest does anyone have in seeing photos of Pauline Hanson, 30 years ago, in private - long before she ever came into the public eye?

 In defense of her actions, the Sunday Tele used exactly this argument AND astoundingly, also the next:

 If we didn't do it someone else would have.

 I can hear my mothers voice "If so and so jumped off a bridge..."

 There are a myriad of responses to these ridiculous arguments, but bottom line: This is not public interest, it’s News Limited’s commercial interest, but the question I want to ask is, where was the fact checker for this story?

 I don’t personally like Ms. Hanson, but it would be good to see her press the point home by suing.

 For a fantastic wrap up of this story see Monday’s Media Watch  (One of my favourite programs)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does a financial bust mean a financial boom for PR agencies?

Paul McIntyre in today's SMH online penned a piece Financial crisis spells boom for master of spin about the fact that economic turmoil is proving good news for the PR industry. But I'm quite sure I believe the hype. If you stratch the surface you might think, as I did, that this story is a classic case of PR self-promotion (possibly at the expense of some hard truths). And it's definitely got a touch of the 'the independent Australian-owned business vs the multi-national big guns' about it.

Now in terms of PR firms gaining from the financial crisis I think the truth is in the middle ground (isn't it always) - some practictioners and agencies must be bringing in more work as companies (especially those ASX-listed entities) struggle to maintain a reputation of corporate success but for others it has to hurt (even if only a little bit) as more and more companies hold onto their money waiting for the better times around the corner. Isn't that what consumers and individuals are doing too?

And in any case if you're not hurting, isn't it just a little crass to flaunt your success while so many other businesses and individuals are hurting.

I think the person who said it best was Gabriel McDowell, the partner in local consumer and public affairs firm Res Publica: "That's just rubbish," he says. "The reality is some of those international companies are already being directed by their London or New York head offices to cut costs. It's the boutiques, the locally owned businesses, which have a reputation for delivering at a local level that will see growth. Most sophisticated companies know now that access to the right people, to senior people, is the key. Those [PR firms] who know how to hunt for their own dinner will prosper. It's not going to be the large multinationals."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rudd gets TP

Last Friday I was lucky enough to participate in a world first. Cisco, along with Telstra and the Australian Federal Government, held a press conference across four different states and territories in Australia. How is this possible you ask? The magic of TelePresence:

Whilst the Finance Minister, the Hon. Lindsay Tanner and Cisco VP Les Williamson sat in Melbourne, Telstra big wig David Thodey joined from Brisbane and journalists made up the numbers in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. Everyone could all see and hear each other as if they were only separated by a table.

Now whilst I’ve participated in TelePresnce sessions in two different places before (i.e. Sydney to Hong Kong) never have we had four different places happening at once!

Coverage from the press briefing appeared everywhere – over 18 publications including The Australian and twice in the AFR. Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy blogged about it and a hash tag was used on twitter (#govTP). All in all quite a success!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aussie bank step backs from web 2.0

The Bank Channel today repeated an IT News story about: Westpac has revealed that changing business conditions and poor adoption forced it to abandon or shelve some of its highest-profile Enterprise 2.0 projects.The bank has abandoned the Second Life presence it used for employee induction, has re-evaluated the use of blogs within the company and has pulled back on desktop video." In a candid presentation at Future Exploration Network's Enterprise 2.0 conference in Sydney, the bank's former chief technology officer and now general manager of application development, David Backley said...
"Failures can become expensive. We do massive systems rollouts and we expect huge paybacks." Westpac was among the earliest Australian big organisations to grant its workers access to social networking. Its internet banking site has three million users logging up to 700,000 sessions a day and 6000 users at a time. And it handles more transactions on the internet than from its branches and call centres combined.But it has seen its share of project failures too, Backley reminded the audience.Such as its early leap into blogs. Bank management at the time was too risk averse and the technology too new, he said."Parts of the organisation were too scared to put comments in because they didn't know what the consequences were," he said.
...Backley told delegates there were some important lessons they could learn from Westpac's experience. "You need to ask yourself, can the organisation support the technology?" he asked. "It is no use if nobody will give up headcount or budget to support it."

Which all made me wonder:
a) has Westpac been burnt by trying to do too much too soon;
b) does web 2.0 really just not fit in with the rigourous procedural requirements of a financial institution;
c) is it just because this guy Blackley has been replaced as CTO by someone anti-web 2.0; or
d) is it GFC (global financial crisis) cut backs by any other name?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Video anyone?

Did you know that You Tube is now the second most utilised search engine (after Google) and the first for people under 25?!

If you were to consider YouTube’s integrated search a regular search engine, you would have to hand Google the top two spots for search engine traffic. In combination, Google has about four times the search traffic of Yahoo and more than ten times the search traffic of Microsoft’s MSN sites.

I came across this startling fact when researching how better to reach purchase decision makers. In this vain I decided we should be making more video content and set out to see how easy, or difficult it was to do ourselves… after much mucking around with Microsoft Movie Maker the below video was born.

Now you may think that blogging a video is just lazy on my behalf… but let me guarantee you that it took me far longer to make the video (specifically getting the photos in time with the music!!) than it would to write a blog post… so without further ado, have a look at the quick video to meet the Kinetics team and see some photos of our more recent outings together.


I never thought I would become addicted to a tech application until I got introduced to i-Google. Until recently my home page was always HP which to be honest offered me nothing and I was forever typing in the Google web address so I took the plunge and changed my home page. Now I cant look back. I am definitely the kind of girl who likes everything to be about me so i-Google definitely allows this.

My i-Google is themed "summer ocean'' to fool myself that I am still at the beach when im actually at work. My favourite widget would have to be weather which updates the temperature every time I refresh and lists the weather for the whole week. If it predicts cloud you can only imagine there is a lot of refreshing. My widgets also include g-mail which lets me to see at a glance what’s going on in my personal life whilst not wasting works time as well as YouTube to play the songs I want to listen to when Nova is in talk mode, Google News, Wikipedia and Aussie recipes which I may never make like the mango chutney or the Yabby ravioli with wild lime and shiitake but it is still inspirational.
So if you are not already hooked like I am this is one application I recommend to all!

See the fee

Had an interesting moment at the ATM today when I realised that it is indeed March 3rd and I will indeed be charged god knows how much to take out $20 from the ATM to purchase my lunch (thanks to the ATM fee reform). The reason I say ‘god only knows how much’ is because I was presented with a message that said “This is what we plan to charge you $xx... But your bank might charge you too” – how much? I’m not sure and I was trying not to think about that since it appeared my lunch was costing me at least $4 before I even ordered. Whilst momentarily baffled by the interruption this caused to my ATM autopilot transaction routine, I was impressed to see the ATM does pay you the courtesy of asking whether you accept the charges and want to proceed. I thought briefly (mainly about exactly how far I might have to walk to find a my bank's ATM and whether I was in fact angry enough about being charged extra to roam the streets or whether I was just too lazy to walk and therefore somehow the additional charge seemed warranted) and decided the later option was probably the truth. It was around this point, moments before pressing ‘yes’ to continue that my transaction timed out and it spat out my card as if to say “if you have to think that hard about spending $2, I suggest you remember to bring your lunch."

I guess the point was not that I was spending an extra few dollars - but rather what I was spending it on, who it was going to and why I was being charged in the first place...

Fujitsu buys KAZ

The news came through yesterday that global IT services company Fujitsu has bought KAZ from Telstra. I first saw the news on MIS and took a minute or two to digest. Now this news probably isn't the most exciting thing in the world, or mean very much to lots of people but as a long time B2B/enterprise technology PR gal who has worked with a fairly large number of IT outsourcers, IT service providers and systems integrators over the years this news struck me as significant and therefore worthy of a blog post.

KAZ Group in its heyday was a bona fide Aussie success story; started by entrepreneur Peter Kazacos the company grew as the IT industry expanded, building its reputation for 'on time, on budget' delivery of IT services. Then in 2004, KAZ was purchased for a whooping $333million by Telstra in a time when telecommunications companies were going on an ICT spending spree. And now Telstra has divested itself of KAZ, perhaps in favour of sticking to its core telco offerings or perhaps because the price was right. Many people in Australia have fond memories of KAZ and so we can only hope Fujitsu restores and builds on some of that former glory.