When is a blog not a blog?

September 27, 2007

Coming back round to the important “social media” question, which is obviously “how to pitch to bloggers?” there are still a couple of things that seem to be lost between the “PR2.0” group and the “web2.0” group.

There’s a lot of talk on the PR2.0 side about how to treat bloggers, but there appears to be little direct involvement from the kind of bloggers that most tech PRs want to pitch to, just more of the same from the PR bloggers. On the other side there are the tech blogs that everyone would like to pitch, but make themselves fairly difficult to pitch to. (OK, not necessarily difficult, but the result of this form is effectively going to be an emailed list of bits of info, surely the original release would be better – I mean we do try to make an effort with the releases..!)

On a corporate level, Google’s official blog appears not to be a blog, whereas Yahoo’s is. Is this a collection of blogs? It certainly says that it is. Or this? What about this? Would the real blogs please stand up?

How about a survey? Better still a kind of registration – All tech blog editors are invite to state clearly whether they want to be pitched to or not. And once the call is made, all releases have to be returned unopened! Use the comments here if you want to.

So, to pitch or not to pitch? In other words, how to follow the very sensible “PR2.0” groups eminently sound guidelines?

Can we count on the fact that 90% of the time, if you get your pitch far up enough the “MSM” foodchain, it’ll appear on the blogs in any case. If your clients is at CES or MacWorld, do you need to pitch to, say, engadget, when in the couple of weeks around the two shows appear to throw everything they see onto the site?

What we need here isn’t another stand alone “social media outreach policy” but a bit more input from the target audience – the bloggers, and that can’t happen without their engagement in “the conversation”

<rant>

Years ago, things were far more clearly defined. Bakers baked bread, students studied, journalists wrote articles for publication in newspapers and magazines, and PR practitioners squirmed, grovelled and bought enormous amounts of food and drink for them in the hope of getting a favourable piece on their client, or on their client’s product.

Then it all changed. The internet (and email PR, for in many cases, that’s about all there is to it) came and allowed us to see far more clearly and easily who was doing what to whom, instead of only seeing the results of all that frantic activity in print.

Today there are a few clearly defined “splinter groups” and they are more visible than ever before. A small group of PR practitioners are currently indulged in the theory of “PR 2.0”, a conversation which includes the usual tags like “the social mediasphere” and the like.

Now, I think that this is all very good, worthwhile stuff. The theory appears to be sound – there are some great minds at work here, but I can’t help feeling that it’s not getting anywhere. The whole thing keeps getting either sidetracked or hijacked by sideshow affairs. Many of them Microsoft related oddly enough. From the tech bloggers who were so very affronted at Edelman and Microsoft’s “long term loan” of new Vista-equipped laptops, to the fawning that goes on around the “bottle of wine as a social object”. I love Hugh’s cards, as well his take on brand and reputation management, but guys, it’s a bottle of wine with one of Hugh’s cartoons on it. A bottle of wine is a social object under pretty much any circumstances. Enough already…

Back to the point – I posted a while back on what seems to be the generally accepted poor health of the UK’s tech PR industry as a whole, on the woeful state of day to day relations between flacks and hacks, and fact that until these issues are looked at on an industry-wide scale, there’s little sign of things changing.

Like I said, the theorising and deconstruction that goes on within these conversations on the future of PR is welcome, inspiring stuff for the rest of us. Most of the time. On the other hand, there are relatively long periods where the conversation drifts into what seems a lot like one of those conversations that you can earwig for hours without quite working out what the subject of the conversation is…

Perhaps it’s time to get back on track?

</rant>

The Anti-Facebook Club

July 23, 2007

Facebook is a dangerous and ugly perversion of everything that’s open and expansive about the internet. It’s closed and introspective nature offers nothing to its users except the self gratification of having amassed more “friends” than their friends have.

This is a trend-reversing, even history-reversing that era we live in. Information is more freely available to more people than ever before, it is a true democratisation. Even if that informatin is flawed or incomplete – it is still available where it previously wasn’t.

So why the need for an invitation only corner of the virtual world? Are the people posting to their Facebook pages just bloggers with greater insecurities than the rest of us? Are they lacking the confidence to openly discuss things with the wider world? In which case, is an email not good enough?

Welcome to the Anti Facebook Club – there will eventually be a poll or sign up thingy in the sidebar, for now – if you want to join, simply post a comment below this post.

Together we can end antisocial networking!

Further Reading can be found in the form of the excellent “The cost of (anti-)social networks: Identity, agency and neo-luddites” by Ryan Bigge

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed- interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit- crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life…

Spud can’t help thinking that, along with the unstoppable march of time, comes the seemingly unstoppable expansion of choice… Is there any aspect of everyday life that doesn’t involve a days worth of research to make an informed decision? A friend of mine is switching broadband providers, and asked my advice – so we sat down and tried to compare like for like providers and the services they offered. We were overwhelmed with choice. I personally went with BT myself, as I don’t believe that the swings and roundabouts of special offers and introductory deals brings no real benefit unless you’re willing to switch providers every three months or so. I know that some folk do, but me? Nah – pay for it, use it, that’s about as far as I get.

The problem that this particular spud finds increasingly frustrating is that with this expansion of options at every turn, the only decision that can be made is between the “easiest to understand” options, rather than between the most appropriate.

The good old days weren’t always good – and I’m not hankering after the old monopolies such as the one that BT enjoyed for so long, but it made life a hell of a lot easier when it came to choosing which phone line you were going to use…

Anonymity Or Not?

June 13, 2007

Is the Spud hiding behind a pseudonym through fear? Insecurity? Do I have some libellous information to post? One thing the Spud is doing right now is trying to work out which part of the following is the most preposterous:

Anonymous said…

Hang on a minute, isn’t the Spud blogging anonymously?? So what’s Ian Green getting so defensive about?As Ian himself puts it: “If you want to engage in the conversation – please reveal yourself.”

Why should posters not remain anonymous while the very bloggers they comment on are doing the same?

Spud (more or less) said:

I don’t feel like I’m anonymous, at least not to the same degree. Spudgun is a young blog right now, but the spud’s personality will become more apparent with each post and you’ll have an idea of what the spud is all about. And now you know where to find me

Anon, on the other hand, is and remains completely and utterly anon.

So I’m going to leave it to you guys to decide whether you feel that the Spud’s real life identity is of the national interest and should be disclosed under FoI legislation…

Should all commenters be forced at least to make up a name? After all, if the spark of imagination is bright enough for them to have something to say, surely there’s enough there to think up a name? I’ve got into plenty of discussions in the comments on other peoples sites, that die a death because there’s five or six anons posting, and no one has any idea who’s saying what, and to whom.

Would any contribution I might make be more valid if my identity was public knowledge? Is the same true for, say TWL. A blog with a history, a personality, but an anonymous blog none the less – not hidden, but anonymous. Or The Friendly Ghost? Or maybe even the myriad blogs that exist outside of our little world. I could go on…

What we (say we) do

June 9, 2007

The Friendly Ghost has put some extra hours in looking up the kind of verbiage we use to describe ourselves…

“As my methodology I used its Web Page Explorer feature to extract and count the keywords from the pages on a selection of ten major UK PR agency sites that described what those companies did, usually the ‘about us’ page or similar. This meant I used copy representative of general descriptions of PR rather than specialities. It would probably have been better to identify keywords from entire sites but the software doesn’t have this ‘crawl’ feature.I then just collated the results across all the pages, removed the really generic words that could apply to any site, and here are the results, for keywords that appeared at least twice:”

Hot keywords include;

  • Communications
  • Clients
  • Business
  • People
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Corporate
  • Strategic
  • Global
  • Relationship

Values, that’s a good one! Go have a look and see just how much the average UK PR agency gets through before they get round to “work”

Looks about right…

June 8, 2007

This is just great – finally a comprehensive overview of the social web… but what happens if you sail right off th edge? What is at the end of the internet? as usual, Google has the answer…