What has Google ever done for PR?


The CIPR’s Social Summer season kicks off next Thursday, May 26th, at Russell Square with a session presented by yours truly on the subject of What Has Google Ever Done for PR?

This is an updated reprise of the presentation I gave (twice) last year. The main thrust of my argument remains the same – that the PR sector has a lot to thank Google for, not just in terms of the technology it provides for free, but how we can learn and be inspired by its business approach and culture. I hope you can make it along.

On other matters, one of my recommended books this week is Douglas Hubbard’s Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities.

I’ve waxed lyrical in the past about Hubbard’s earlier book, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business. In this latest, he explores the opportunity offered by massive and publically available Internet data sources to help better understand customer sentiment and opinion – or as he calls it, The Pulse.

As Hubbard says: “The Pulse actually is a far faster and cheaper predictor of economic activity and public opinion than traditional methods in many respects and it is also often a better one.”

Given that one of the aims of PR is to shape public opinion, we ought to devote more attention to the biggest and best source of sentiment ever available.

Hubbard also makes the salient point that most of the big Web properties such as Google, eBay and Amazon provide APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow anyone with a modest amount of development skills to access immense amounts of valuable data for free. Why should PR people be interested in this? He cites the example of being able to analyse sales data on Amazon as a predictor of economic trends – it is this kind of data driven approach that PR needs to get its head around.

However, let’s not get too carried away. A more cautionary view is taken by Douglas Rushkoff in his latest book, Program or Be Programmed. He argues that that we are in danger of sleep walking into a world where we are programmed by the technology we use rather than the other way round. He makes a passionate plea that we need to better educate ourselves about how these technologies are really being built or programmed – or else we will be programmed by them.

As he puts it: “We are intimidated by the whole notion of programming, seeing it as a chore for mathematically inclined menials than a language through which we can re-create the world on our own terms. In a digital age, we must learn how to make the software, or risk becoming the software.”
You have been warned.

Advertisements

Comments

  1. “We are intimidated by the whole notion of programming, seeing it as a chore for mathematically inclined menials than a language through which we can re-create the world on our own terms. In a digital age, we must learn how to make the software, or risk becoming the software.”

    And afterwards we can learn how to make our own furniture, build our own houses, cut our own hair…

    People have been hailing the end of programmers since at least the days of COBOL. Programming is a skill, a craft, a profession: it’s a job for people who maybe have a knack for it, but certainly get trained for it (either formally, or on-the-job, or most often a combination of the two). It’s no more something to be feared than a car’s engine, or a doctor’s professional knowledge. Sure, they can both do you harm, and you’ll probably have a better time, a better understanding of your world, if you inform yourself about them; but you can manage without that knowledge, and most people do.

    Above all, I bet he doesn’t refer to doctors as “biologically-inclined menials”; to the guy who fixes his car as an “engineering-inclined menial”.

    Yes, OK, it’s the “menial” that’s pissed me off, but look at what he’s saying. It’s like he’s frightened of the strange, glowing box, and so he wants to poke it with a stick to see what happens. Because otherwise it might change him; and how terrible that would be.

    Like

    • Andrew Bruce Smith says:

      Perhaps that quote out of context makes Rushkoff seem like a luddite – I don’t think he is – though he seems to have a similar view to Jaron Lanier (his latest book, I Am Not A Gadget) – they are both early Internet cheer leaders who now don’t like the way it has turned out – having said that, both Rushkoff and Lanier are worth reading – they do at least make you think – even if you don’t agree with them.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: