If PR was no fun in 1985, what is it now?


David Maister’s 1993 book “Managing The Professional Service Firm” is still the gold standard by which all other management books aimed at the legal, accounting, PR, marketing and consulting sectors should be judged.

A round up of material he’d been writing since the early 1980s, re-reading it again reminded me how much truth is still contained within its pages. There is very little that has dated.

Every chapter still contains golden nuggets of wisdom – not just for those in senior management positions in PR firms, but for those who are starting out on their careers.

For example, if you think the “motivation crisis” among the younger generation in PR is a new phenomenon, think again:

“PR is just not any fun any more. Today’s clients are demanding, cynical about the value they receive, and treat you less as a professional and more like an ordinary vendor. The pace, intensity and workload are greater than ever, and the firm atmosphere is competitive rather than supportive, and certainly less collegial. With all this concern about profitability, it seems like we’re being asked to work even harder for less money.”

And that was in 1985!

However, if the issue hasn’t gone away, then the solution offered 25 years ago is broadly similar. In other words, the problem isn’t one of too much work, but too much meaningless work. The role of management is to explain why work is important rather than just telling people what needs to be done. In addition, it is a function of the knowledge and skills that the firm has to offer that will give it the best chance of long term success. As Maister says, knowledge and skills are assets that left untended will depreciate in value. And quickly. And perhaps even more so in this day and age.

The PR sector as a whole clearly needs to invest in developing new knowledge and skills.

The future is bleak for those who continue milking yesterday’s assets.

 

 

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Automated sentiment analysis? Yes, it is possible. And it’s here: Glide Intelligence


Glide Intelligence

The concept of automated sentiment analysis has pretty poor reputation. Not least because expectations have been raised in the past by vendors only to be dashed on the hard rocks of failed promises.

Glide Intelligence – launched this morning to group of 50+ senior comms professionals at the CIPR HQ in Russell Square – thus enters the market with a hefty hurdle of cynicism to overcome.

However, having been involved in the beta testing of the product over the last 12 months – and having sampled many rival attempts at sentiment analysis in the past – I’m very optimistic that Glide Intelligence really does take a major step towards the holy grail of genuine, real time automated sentiment analysis.

So what sets Glide Intelligence apart from rival sentiment analysis systems?

  1. The product hasn’t been knocked together in five minutes. As Glide CEO Sam Phillips said this morning, the project started nearly 5 years ago and has seen a 7 figure investment in its development.
  2. One of the key brains behind the project is Keith Woods-Holder, who, if anyone, is entitled to the moniker of godfather of automated sentiment analysis. He began his career 25 years ago creating advanced mathematical models for the UK Government’s Advanced Planning Unit, followed by 3 years as Research Director at Saatchis. He was then recruited by IBM to set up KWHR, on of the first ever firms to build a commercial sentiment analysis model which was subsequently adopted by brands such as Kodak, Dell, Sony and NASDAQ (Keith does a good line in Michael Dell anecdotes). The man has form.
  3. The technology is based on 4th generation advanced NLP sentiment analysis. It is also context-based, rather than keyword or dictionary based. This means it gets over one of the major traditional objections, namely, that automated sentiment analysis can’t handle irony, sarcasm or slang.
  4. The breadth of sources. Glide Intelligence will monitor broadcast, print, online and social media all at once – and in real time.  For example, you could have a real time, minute by minute, monitor of brand sentiment – and be able to spot where comms issues are developing in real time (just think what Peter Morgan at Rolls Royce could have done with this). An example was given this morning about how the tool could be used to monitor reaction to tube strikes – and where the sentiment is developing and how that is translating across media platforms. And what comms action could be taken – in real time.
  5. It can also be used to trace how a story developed eg if a particular article generates reaction across Twitter, broadcast, etc – and which could provide a blueprint for dealing with a similar issue in the future.
  6. Glide Intelligence provides multiple perspectives – in other words, not only can you view sentiment for your own organisation, but you can see how the world looks through your competitors eyes. The implications of this kind of analysis for comms professionals is obvious.
  7. Full transparency – you can pretty much drill down as far as you want to an original Tweet or article.
  8. The reporting capabilities are immense. More charts and tables than you can shake a stick at.

As you can guess, I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. If Glide can deliver what’s on the tin, then perhaps the long awaited promise of automated sentiment analysis may finally have arrived.

Form an orderly queue for your demo now.

Magic Ink with Dan Gold – DynamoTV episode 2: Panasonic TA1


Latest episode from DynamoTV. Great stuff.

A Tinie (Tempah) bit of magic – DynamoTV episode 1 – Panasonic TA1


How does he get the Panasonic TA1 pocket video recorder into the bottle?

10,000+ views on YouTube in half a day.

Eye popping magic from DynamoTV over the next few weeks: Panasonic TA1


If your image of a typical magician is Paul Daniels, think again.

Dynamo has certainly brought a breath of fresh air to the traditional world of sawing assistants in half and pulling rabbits out of the hat.

And over the next eight weeks he’ll be amazing some of the hottest names in entertainment with his eye popping magic. As well as the rest of us watching it on YouTube.

As the YouTube promo copy says: “Stay tuned for an AAA pass into Dynamo’s world, all captured in full HD on the Panasonic TA1 pocket video camera*.”

Anyway – keep an eye out for some mind bending magic from Dynamo over the next few weeks. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter. Or Panasonic UK for that matter.

*Disclosure: Panasonic is a client

Panasonic TA1

New York Times on Twitter: “The Conversation begins here”. And ends here it would seem.


Looking back over the last 24 hours, the New York Times Twitter account has Tweeted around 56 stories. An examination of the click through rates on these stories (which you can see for yourself by simply appending a ‘+” sign to any link as the NYTimes is using a customised bit.ly domain) shows that each story typically gets between 200 – 400 click throughs. Even being generous and assuming that each story gets a unique set of people clicking through, that suggests that, at best, Twitter generates around 22,400 click throughs to the site per day.

Even the “conversation” around NY Times stories on Twitter doesn’t seem too lively. The number of Retweets of each story is low, rarely getting into double figures.

According to Google Ad Planner, the New York Times site gets around 170 million visits per month and around 650 million page views. Based on the above analysis, Twitter based traffic is accounting at best for around 660,000 of those visits.

Clearly, 660,000 visits for most people would be a stonking triumph – and it could be that visits from Twitter result in people who spend longer on the site and read more content. But it suggests that the bulk of NY Times traffic is coming either directly or via search.

Of course, the overhead of running a broadcast style Twitter account for the NY Times is trivial. So perhaps in that context, the click through rates should be judged a raging success.

Then again, given the recent E-Consultancy survey which showed that most businesses are spending next to nothing on social media, you wonder if the NY Times experience is a possible explanation – namely, if the NY Times – with 2.7 million followers – finds it hard to get more than few hundred people to click on a link, what hope do we have?

What do you think?

Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility


FX: Fanfare

This the very first Guest Post on In Front Of Your Nose. And I’m delighted to welcome Kelvin Newman from SiteVisibility for this auspicious debut with his take on The Myth Of Press Release Syndication. His views on the subject are highly pertinent – not least because he knows what he is talking about when it comes to SEO – and the PR world on the whole has a very distorted view of what they can, could or should do with regard to press releases and search.

Kelvin is Creative Director at SiteVisibility (without question, one of the top SEO firms in the UK), as well as editor and presenter of  iTunes most popular marketing podcast (again, along with a sub to Econsultancy, people could save themselves a lot of pain and heartache by simply listening to this every week).

Anyway. I’ll shut up. Kelvin, take it away….
Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility

“We all understand that Google’s algorithm is trying to mimic the real world. Google’s reliance on links to determine authority is based on what happens offline. If a trusted person or media outlet recommends a product, the more I trust the recommendation. And the more likely I am to believe them. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why do so many people believe that Press Release Syndication services (who will shill for anyone who hands over the cash) are going to be good for your rankings?

In my opinion, rather than just being a benign distraction for the naive, I’m genuinely concerned that huge swathes of the PR industry think that in order to ‘get’ SEO they just have to start adding a few keywords into their press releases, bung them on a wire. And their clients will  automatically shoot up the rankings.

The links that have the most impact are those that are hardest to achieve; genuine editorial mentions on relevant pages of sites with huge trust. Press release syndication will never enable you to do that. All it does is get you a link from a website which no real person ever visits. There are no real editorial standards being used. So the chances are even higher that really low quality spammy sites are being linked from and tainting your clients by association.

Some people occasionally justify this process on the basis it might help a website get at least some links and coverage from journalists who subscribe to the release wire service concerned. Personally, I can’t see it. When I used to work on Zoo and Arena,  journalists were swamped with releases by email. I doubt they’re going to go out of their way to sign up to get more.

Some services even charge you more to get some shiny social media buttons on your release. What a complete waste of money. I can count on one hand the number of times a press release has been shared in my social networks. And in those cases, it was only because what was contained in the release was hugely news worthy. The latest “me too” product launch or made up survey is never going to get shared socially.

And do you think Google, with their sweat shops of PHDs, haven’t twigged that these websites will link to anyone who pays? It’s not a huge leap to assume that they might have tuned out any minor value that these websites might have had years ago.

So why do people still think it works? Well, it’s easier than actually wrapping your head around how link building really works. It’s a small nod to SEO without actually having to drastically change approach.

However, I can’t be completely against the technique.  It can be a great way to open up communication between whoever is responsible for PR and SEO. It shows that on both sides of the table, we’re starting to understanding that we’ll get better results if we work together.

Of course, it is beautifully ironic that in the area where you most frequently see collaboration between PR and SEO currently, the outcomes hardly justify the effort. The real value of PR and SEO working in unison is in creating stories and content that appeal to the people who have the power to link to – and influence – a site’s reputation in a positive way.  This is where PRs and SEOs should be concentrating their efforts.

In summary, my attitude is if the news release has already been written, it’s mad not to try to eek out a bit of SEO value by publishing it on a wire. It’s not going to do any harm. But anyone who thinks press release syndication is an important link building strategy needs their head testing.”

What do you think?

Comment below like your life depends upon it.

Monitoring Social Media event – Boston: 5th October 2010. 20pc discount on all tickets.


Update: 16/10/2010 Discount now 20pc. Post amended to reflect this.

The folk at Influence People have a got a number of good events coming up in the US over the next few months. If the quality is anything like the Social Media Marketing event I attended in London in June, then US attendees are in for a treat.  One of our clients (Glide Technologies) will be participating in the Monitoring Social Media event in Boston on the 5th of October (more details below).  A 20% discount on any ticket price is available to anyone using the promo code ‘GLIDE’.

Enjoy.

Monitoring Social Media (Boston) will bring together leading brands, PR and marketing experts to discuss the latest ideas, trends and techniques in social media monitoring and measurement.  Though a series of presentations, panels and expert-led discussions, we will explore the critical issues that marketers and PR professionals are facing in their efforts to monitor their social media interactions.”

Tuesday 5th October

John Hancock Hotel & Conference Centre

40 Trinity Place at Stuart Street

Boston, MA 02116

 


Exclusive! 4 step process for PRs to gain backlink building expertise in 30 mins. Guaranteed!


Kelvin Newman of Brighton-based SEO firm Site Visibility posted a great piece on EConsultancy recently in which he claimed that PRs can be better link builders than SEOs.

Of course, the important word in the title to his blog post is “can”. The implication being that PRs currently aren’t better link builders.

On the back of this, I have spent a lot of effort over the last few weeks to come up with the following foolproof process for PRs who feel they are lacking in their backlink building skills and want to get one up on the competition:

Step One: Click this link
Step Two: Spend 30 mins to one hour reading the articles here.
Step Three: Go back and read them again
Step Four: Remember what you’ve read before embarking on any kind of link building exercise.

Seriously though. Eric Ward talks a lot of sense.  He’s been banging the “great backlink building is synonymous with good PR” drum for longer than anybody.

Pick any one of his articles, and you’ll usually find a pearl of wisdom eg:

It is not the link itself that the engines trust. It is the person behind the link.

The ultimate credibility of the content will be determined, from a linking standpoint, by the credibility of those giving out the links.

Web marketers should not ignore the significant role this human algorithm will play in their link building future.

There seems to be a growing consensus that relationship building and content are the keys to successful backlink building (and by definition, successful PR and SEO). If so, then the door remains firmly ajar for the PR sector. However, it needs to make the effort to grasp the opportunity.

The problem of Information Obesity


I believe Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame coined the phrase and concept of a “low information diet”.

According to Ferris: “It’s not enough to use information for ‘something’ – it needs to be immediate and important. If ‘no’ on either count, don’t consume it. Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.”

It occurred to me that you could extend Ferriss’ diet/food analogy. In other words, we are all consuming too many information calories. And, as a result, we are suffering from information obesity. Our brains are getting fat with useless information.

However, what we don’t have is any equivalent form of food labelling for information.  The food we buy has meta data regarding its nutritional content – in other words, we have the opportunity to decide whether to consume based on prior information.

However, with information itself, rather than be able to determine in advance what “info nutrition” the content has, we tend to have to consume it first to find out – by then, it is too late.

Stretching the analogy to breaking point,perhaps  trusted people, media and brands will  become the information nutrition filters that our bloated minds surely crave.

Or do I want my cake and eat it?

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