The Strategy Boutique: The Register

Listen to this. Anyone working in marketing and PR will laugh (and cry).

My ZDNet blog

is here.

Looks like only the ZDNet staffers get to have their own pictures – so for the moment, you have to use pre-defined avatar icons.

Like this one:


Will be interesting to see how the ZDNet community develops following the recent revamp.

Lies, online readership figures and implications for PR

Once again, Peter Kirwan  has highlighted a subject which has big implications for PR. (Again, if you haven’t got a sub yet, get one).

He points out that publishers are more than happy to be selective with evidence when it comes to justifying their own ends – in this case, who has the highest online readerships.

The Telegraph, Guardian and The Times are embroiled in an unedifying spat on this subject – and all using different measurement agencies to back their claims.

As Peter says: "We’re steadily leaving behind an era in which it was safe to assume that Guardian Unlimited beats all of its rivals in terms of traffic numbers. From here on, debates about the nationals’ online audience figures are going to become a lot more intricate. The second point is that publishers need to work together to sort out the unholy mess that is online audience measurement. In the UK, some tech publishers have been exploiting this mess for years, making — and getting away with — claims that don’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny."

His last point is quite telling. PR agencies can only rely upon the data provided by publishers in order to demonstrate the value of the coverage they generate. If Peter’s right about much of this readership data being ropey, where does that leave the value calculations of PR agencies over the last few years for online coverage?

It also raises a more general point about how to value online coverage in PR terms. There still seems to be  prejudice that print coverage is somehow more "valuable" than online. Which is curious, given that all print coverage has a finite shelf life. For example, the FT is usually held up as a gold standard of tech PR coverage – and yet the FT has a shelf life of around 4 hours ie it will be read between 6.30am and 10.30am on the day of publication – and after that, its chip paper. Online coverage on the other hand sticks around for, well, forever. So one would assume that because it has a longer shelf life, it may well have greater value over time. Of course, putting some kind financial value on that is even trickier. Ignoring the rights and wrongs of advertising equivalence, I’ve yet to find anyone who has come up with a meaningful measure of value for online coverage. For example, just because the Guardian claims 12.5 unique users clearly doesn’t mean 12.5 million people will read your piece of coverage – let alone act on it.  Then again, the same is true of the print world – just because you appeared in the FT doesn’t mean all 400K+ readers will have seen the piece – and in our time-poor world, you do begin to wonder what percentage of people bother to read anything, anywhere.

However, the difference with online is that presumably the media owners know exactly how many people have viewed an individual article. I’ve made initial enquiries as to whether publishers would be prepared to reveal (for a fee of course) how many views an individual article received – at the moment, no one is prepared to discuss this proposition.  They have their reasons clearly.

Ultimately, I think Peter is right – we need a level playing field in terms of online readership figures – and it would be nice if we could get some sense of what people are actually reading – both to justify or otherwise what value PR is delivering – and to make PR campaigns more efficient.

The hidden dangers of Skype voicemail

Somebody left me a Skype voicemail last week – however, they didn’t close the call down properly – so their microphone carried on recording their conversation in the office – let’s just say that a few unflattering remarks about their own company and business partners were made that  I’m sure they  wouldn’t want repeating.

So – always remember to check you’ve properly closed down your Skype call connection…..

So, farewell then, Press Gazette

After 41 years, the Press Gazette closed its doors on Friday. leaving journalism in the UK without a trade paper.

Roy Greenslade of The Guardian has a good obituary here. Commiserations to all the journalists now without a job – especially Jon Slattery who has been there for 22 years (we crossed paths in around 1985/86, covering many of the same press conferences and launches – I don’t think even he thought at the time he would become such a fixture of UKPG).

Neil Backwith on PR agency profitability

His letter in PR Week led me to stumble on this article – sensible stuff from someone who knows a thing or two about PR agency (un)profitability.

Download 05-1.pdf

India – if its good enough for lawyers….

… then as PR likes to see itself on a par with professional services of this kind, this piece from Computer Business Review adds more fuel to the fire.

Read this:

The global legal services market stands at some $260bn, and about
$160bn of it is in the US, said Lexadigm president Puneet Mohey, citing
recent figures from Forrester Research. Between 60% and 70% of this
work can technically be offshored, and 70% of this offshorable work is
likely to go to India, Mohey said. Forrester figures that 12,000 jobs were in India by 2004 and that number should grow to a whopping 79,000 positions by 2015.

India is the top destination due to its many English speakers, large
pool of attorneys graduating each year, and the similarity of its legal
system to the US model. Plus there’s the obvious cost advantage of
these offshore suppliers that often charge below $50 an hour for
services that US law firms will typically bill $150 an hour or higher.
Yet the legal outsourcing market is still young. It was only in the
hundreds of millions last year, Mohey said, and most of this went to
corporations’ captive shops offshore.

The paralells are not hard to find. If 70pc of legal work can be offshored, who says 70pc of PR work can’t be? Discuss.

Computer Weekly’s Tony Collins now has a blog – be afraid

Veteran Computer Weekly journalist Tony Collins now has his own blog. For those who don’t know him, he is a one man Woodward and Bernstein of British IT journalism – he has been at CW for as long as I can remember (so getting on for nearly 20 years). He has exposed more incompetence and muddle headed thinking in major IT projects than probably any other journalist. A campaigning hack of the old school.

His blog should therefore give him another platform to provide more detail on the stories he uncovers.

As he says himself:

Fortunately few IT-related failures lead to deaths. One advantage of
this – and a disadvantage – is that there is not the pressure to learn
from mistakes. This blog will seek to apply a little more pressure than
now exists.

It will also look at the increasing importance of good
communications, external and internal, and oddities in the way some
organisations report bad news.

So – something for all the family. Here’s a sample of Tony’s style:

For example I was in touch yesterday with the spokesman of an NHS
trust which has had serious problems with a system for handling
electronic patient records. One of the trust’s prospective patients,
with suspected cancer, has not been seen within two weeks of an urgent
referral by a GP. This is in breach of a government target. The trust
has reported that the breach occurred because of “process issues” with
the patient record system.

Yet the trust reports a 100% success rate in meeting the target for
seeing urgent referrals for suspected cancer within two weeks. The
spokesman explained that there was a “certain level of tolerance” over
the 100% target figure.

A 99.9% success may be categorised as 100% because 99.9% is closer to 100% than 99%. This to him seemed reasonable. 

I asked him how many patients with suspected cancer can fall though
the net, and not be seen within two weeks of an urgent referral by
their GP, before a 100% success rate is reported as a 99% failure. I am
waiting for a response.

ITPro: News: Office not threatened by Google apps says Microsoft

ITPro: News: Office not threatened by Google apps says Microsoft.

Would they say anything else?

I’d like to go to India…

… as Big Star sang back in the 70s. (The India Song in case you were wondering which one)

And a little discussion of India as it relates to PR has kicked off at TWL.

But it was an item from Peter Kirwan’s must-read FullRun newsletter that bought my eye this morning (if you work in hi-tech PR and you haven’t already done so, pay up and subscribe – Peter’s writing and analysis are the prime example of you get what you pay for).

"In Amhmedabad, 300 miles north of Mumbai, for example, an offshoring company called Hi-Tech Export is currently offering a discounted rate of £189 for 40 hours of editing services. That’s £9,000 for a notional 48-week year, with overheads absorbed into what we presume to be a
still-handsome margin."

How long before the outsourcing of press release writing, release distribution, clippings analysis, etc is being done from India for similiar rates to these?

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