Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where next for Twitter?

Twitter has become this year's the biggest online phenomenon being talked about offline, which is a strange intersection in itself. So I've seen the talk about Twitter on Sunrise and The Today Show, I've read the Sydney Morning Herald articles, I've seen the 'how to' pieces in business management publications and heck I've even had to interupt (and correct) a close-to-elderly relative mid-lecture to other elderly relatives explaining Twitter.

So I've thought for some time now the end must be near. Much as Twitter is close to my and the teams' hearts it's very fast becoming "like so 2008". Not that we'll be leaving it anytime before 2015, we're in PR after all and we need all the communication channels we can get!

But this week an unprecedented offline commentary on Twitter occurred and I'm pretty sure it's finally 'jumped the shark'. Yesterday's Australian Financial Review ran on its front page the story Why Tweets Have Got Bosses All A-Twitter, which was followed up by a full-page piece on page 60! Oh dear, when Australia's leading business and financial publication has jumped onto the topic you know you've gone mainstream. Better yet when your boss wants to ban it you know you've really made it. I especially liked this quote "Twitter is emerging as the communications tool of choice for a growing number of twentysomethings and hipster web surfers..." Yeah that's it!

So what do you think? Is Twitter on the way up or on the way out?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Twitter for business

A couple of months ago I was asked to provide some comment for a training session on Twitter's value for business. This presentation was given in Melbourne this week - I am famous (from slide 59) :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MasterChef lessons for the PR world

MasterChef season one has finally come to a close. And what a successful one it was - more than 3.7 million viewers tuned in to see Julie crowned Australia's first ever MasterChef - making it the most watched TV non-sporting event since ratings began. According to an article on SMH "Including sports telecasts, it still comes in third place, beaten only by the Hewitt v Safin Australian Open match in 2005 (4.04 million) and the 2003 Rugby World Cup final (4.01 million)."

So after countless tries by the TV networks in varying reality TV formats and genres, why was MasterChef so incredibly successful?

To hazard a guess I would identify passion as the primary ingredient. The shows contestants (and definitely the shows judges) displayed enormous amounts of passion for their chosen genre, and the contestants in particular were often made to articulate and re-articulate their passion for cooking and food throughout.

What does any of this have to do with PR? Much like a TV show, PR’s aim is to engage with an audience, and if successful a very large audience. The importance of being passionate about your subject is often overlooked. Journalists (or any audience for that matter) become excited, involved and really engaged with people who are passionate about what they do, they are swept up in others enthusiasm – if the enthusiasm is credible. Having a deep understanding and most importantly passion for the industry that you work in cannot be undersold in the PR world – whether it be an organisations spokesperson, or the PR person who works on your behalf.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A case of role reversal

A large part of our jobs as PR professionals is securing media interviews for our clients and briefing the spokespeople on how to best handle these interview situations. Well this week the tables were turned when I was asked to be a media spokesperson for a charity fundraiser I am participating in this month, Dry July

All of a sudden I was the one in the spotlight, having a journalist fire questions at me down the phone line - and I thought the abstinence from alcohol for a whole month was going to be the tough bit.

Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t the AFR, The Australian or even The Daily Telegraph, but it was the Central Coast Express Advocate – the newspaper from where I grew up and lived for 22 years of my life. So sort of a big deal!

No longer a cool and calm PR but a nervous interviewee, I was lucky to have my colleague and co-founder of the charity on hand to give me a thorough brief on the publication and journalist, run through a Q&A document and give me a good pep talk.
So I will now have a much greater sympathy towards those execs that have no choice but to make media interviews part of their job but I must say I think I was smack bang 'on message'...

"Hopefully it will benefit our wallets and our waistline as well as
raising money for a good cause,"Ms Wright said.

Twitter to save journalism?

The social networking platform Twitter (which you must have been hiding under a rock not to have heard of) has been getting a lot of column space over the last few weeks.

Some journalists are quick to dismiss it and yet others are hailing it as the saviour of journalism.

Renai LeMay, the editor at online technology news site wrote this piece last weekand said that "Twitter represents a way for journalists to get back to their grassroots history and connect with readers and audiences in the most personal way." Despite the 'Nights of the roundtable' mythology analogy used throughout his think piece, LeMay makes a good argument about the importance of social media (in this case Twitter) to directly reach his audience and more importantly, to reach his sources of information.

Five days after LeMay's article appeared Sally Jackson from The Australian wrote a similar piece about the media use of Twitter and the publishing houses policies around its use. While the article notes Twitter's shortfalls it also extols the benefits for hacks, clearly tipping the scales in its favour. The same could easily be said for Twitter’s use for the PR community.

Increasingly, we are finding that the traditional mediums from which the public derive their information are becoming less all-powerful as a direct engagement model becomes more popular. On the same day as Jackson’s story, another journo at The Australian, Simon Canning, reported on how organisations are using Twitter to exploit the direct engagement model it offers companies. He also notes the disadvantages associated with not participating at all.

While the medium may be (relatively) new, the idea that a consumer is influenced by multiple channels is not a new one for PRs, who simply need to continue to assess all influencers and engage with the most appropriate. All the noise around Twitter simply adds to its users, increases its influence, and therefore makes it more important that this new channel join others (media, associations, analysts... ) on our targets.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Unwanted followers...

Have you recently dived into social networking applications?

Now that you are an established member of the community are you finding that your are being followed by undesirables?

A came across this image of Pac-Man being followed by the infamous ghosts on an undisclosed social network and - retro as the pic may be - I really felt like I understood what was running through Pac-Man's mind

I have been tweeting for quite some time now but only just recently joined facebook (as I'm a true believer in telephone calls and human contact) and within 24 hours of joining I received over 75 friend requests - half of which I didn't really want to accept.

The visual image of Pac-Man and his ghost followers made me feel somewhat closer to the iconic 80's arcade game figure... And made me ask the question - is it rude to ignore unwanted friend requests and block unwanted followers?

What are there etiquette guidelines for letting people down gently via social media networks?

And more importantly - should I be offended if someone considers me an "unwanted follower"?