For years now technology has offered marketeers portals into your life. First Radio, then TV allowed them into your home, then Computers and the internet allowed them to understand a little bit about the things you like, then social networks allowed them to get into your social sphere and really know quite alot about you. Now it seems a new mashup of technology will be able to tap into your geographical network. Not only allowing them to offer you things they think you might like, but in places you might like to get them.

OK I’m getting ahead of myself, this is all about Dash, an internet enabled semi social GPS system. It works like an ordinary gps system except that the internet link allows live streaming of traffic information and location based search facilities. I called it semi social because, unlike other GPS systems around at the moment, some of the traffic data is sourced from commercial outlets but alot of it comes from live updates provided by the community of people who own the devices.

How long before something like this partners with something like trusted places? if it did (and the price was right,) I’d buy one.  

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Just a very quick rant, and before I start I should just say this – I really like Politics Home. It is one of my two homepages (along with igoogle) and an absolutely brilliant resource for the political junkie.

But.

Their PHI 100 coverage really annoys me. It is obviously a very authoritative group of individuals so why on earth does the website have to continually big up the panel, and why when ever they get anything right, do they have to tell us over and over again?

Take today – Andrew Rawnsley writes “Before the by-election, the PHI100 confirmed its reputation for accurate prediction of votes and events by giving a very strong forecast that the Conservatives would win it.” 

Well firstly their “accurate prediction” of the C & N by election could be called into question when an earlier question about benchmarking the results seemed to suggest that the overwhelming majority of the panel thought a win with a mojority of less than 4000 would be the most likely result.

Secondly, it wasn’t exaclty rocket science to work out that the Conservatives were going to win, at the time of their prediction betfair was offering odds of 1.04 on a Conservative victory, and bookmaker Paddy Power paid out on wednesday night for the simple victor market.

Rant over. Politics home is great – please stop telling us how good it is.

One of my favourite sections in any of the PR trade media is PRWeek’s “Campaigns” section. Now, I don’t want this to get into one of the “PRWeek is rubbish” slanging matches that seem to crop up reasonably regularly when its name is mentioned on a blog. But, that said, I don’t remember it ever featuring a campaign that has made use of / enganged with social media in any meaningful way.

The aim of the campaigns section is to share best practice whilst giving a bit of a publicity boost to the people who had the ideas in the first place, a very “2.0,” win/win idea. I think best practice in this emerging (or emerged depending on where you live and your point of view,) field has been woefully overlooked and thus, in the spirit of social media, and using my ability to reach an audience of, ooh at least three at the click of a button, I’ve decided to do something about it.

Each month, starting in June, I’ll post a bit about some of the standout campigns that have been going on across the UK. I will try to spend some real time doing real research into this and make it worth reading. I’ve also set up a wiki at https://PRtwopointoh.pbwiki.com this is very much a nascent project at the moment but if anyone wants to be involoved in helping get it off the ground, please get in touch. 

 

 

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Here at Waterside we’ve been thinking about re-doing our website. It’s been one of those long term, bottom of the pile projects that we’ve been meaning to get on with for the last year or so, but could never quite get round to due to the weight of client work.

Last week I decided that enough was enough and that I would put the long overdue time aside to start work. First things first, find the best competition and see how we can improve things, build up a checklist and see how we can implement it.

After trawling through somewhere in the region of a billion agency websites not only do I have a huge headache, I’m no-where near finding my perfect PR website formula, they’re all well, a bit rubbish. I’m not saying ours is any better, there is some criminally old content and it’s designed in a way that makes papyrus look modern, but I really thought there’d be a few good ones out there?

So far, the best I can come up with would take the visual impact of MCG’s website, mix it with the web 2ness of Wolfstar, the campaigns pages of PR Week and aspects of the Harris Associates’ structure. Even then, it still wouldn’t be perfect.

I just wonder, in what other industry could this happen?  It probably says something about client focus but stil…

Also of note is that all three of the websites I have mentioned happen to be based in Yorkshire. Is there a niche forming?

Anyone out there who thinks I’m being unfair please send me a link to your website and if I am, I promise to take it all back.

Listening to Alan Johnson’s interview on Today this morning it struck me that we might be seeing the first incling of a strategy by Gordon Brown to get out of the mess he’s in.

If I’m right, then of particular importance was the bit when Johnson said something along the lines of: 

“Am I the leader of any particular Gordon Brown fanclub, No, but I have worked with him for 9 years and I’ve never” Blah blah blah… “but he’s a good honest and able politician.”

Translation: “look, you may not like Gordon but times are hard and he’s a safe competent pair of hands.”

It’s certainly the strategy I would go for if I was in the unenviable position of Gordon’s comms chief. Gordon Brown is not likeable, and ever since his move to number 10, his comms effort has gone into trying to change that perception. By any possible measure that effort has failed, but, and it’s a big but, if he can portray himself as the safe option, given the current climate he doesn’t need people to like him.

People are always worried by big picture problems, and that worry influences their vote, but right now they aren’t scared about abstract ideas, they are scared about very specific, very immediate problems – how much is my house worth? can I afford my mortgage if interest rates go up?

In these circumstances, if Gordon can succesfully blame the Americans for the property problems and portray the Tories as a risky choice then like him or not, its my guess that people would vote for him.

Granted, there are alot of ifs in this but, and here’s the final if of the day, if I’m right, you’ll see alot more ministers admitting that they may not be Gordo’s number one fan but…

(well if that title doesn’t generate some google juice…)

OK, so I haven’t posted in a while (why does saying that feel like I’m an American Politician admitting that he hasn’t been to church in a while?) but, as I’m on a train, and one made infinitely more tolerable due to my wife’s inspired packing of a cold Stella, I thought I’d use the time and free wifi put down some thoughts that have been buzzing round my head of late.

I like Boris. Not just because he’s Tory, there are plenty of Tories I loathe, but because I agree with the CIPR in thinking that he is not only a nice guy but a great communicator. I realise that this might be a dangerous comment for me to make right now (for reasons some will know and others will not,) but I do. Not only do I like him, but I think he’s going to win, in fact, I think he’s going to win because I like him, (well, more accurately because people like him.)

Somehow despite slagging off the scousers for wallowing in self pity and writing off large chunks of the South coast he is beating Ken “London” Livingstone, and not just, as many thought would be the case, amongst those frivolous, “vote for Boris, it’d be a laugh” voters. In fact, poll after poll, his lead is largest amongst those absolutely 10 out of 10 certain to vote. Somehow,  despite all the chat show jokes, people think he’s serious and despite more than one ill thought out comments on race, people (including me,) believe him when he says he loathes racism. If that isn’t evidence of great communication, I don’t know what is, – and it is because of this that Ken’s election strategy is fatally flawed.

Boris’s biggest stength is also his biggest weakness and Ken has fundamentally failed to appreciate this. He has Santos problem, to mis-quote from the West Wing “people want to go for a beer with him, they just don’t want to vote for him for president.” Ken’s increasingly desperate, increasingly personal attacks play to Boris’ strengths and actively encourage people to ignore his weaknesses, of which there are many.

For the other side of the argument see this post by Stuart Bruce, but when you read it remember that only 10% of communication is verbal, I reckon Boris has it 90% right.

I recently received this email from a reader and it struck me that some of the questions she asks are still pertinent even now after 3 years in “the business.” I will try to answer her questions below but if anyone else thinks they have a better take on it, I’d appreciate your comments.

Hi Mr. Oakley,

My name is Divya Kumar and I’m currently doing my Masters in Mass Communication from University of Leicester. I’ve been trying to figure out a career move and now have to decide between either PR or Marketing Communications. I was doing a bit of research when I came across your blog, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I hope you don’t mind me mailing you for PR based career pointers.

I currently live across the pond in Seattle and I just began to look for work related to communications. The abundance in career options has drained my enthusiasm to be honest. I finally chose PR and Marketing Communications because of my interpersonal skills and interests in media and marketing.

Here are my questions:

How do I know PR is for me?

What would be the best way to start a career in PR?

Should I start by doing an internship or trying for a full time position?

What according to your experience are the most important skill sets a PR person must have?

I look forward to hearing you.

Blog on!

Kind Regards,

Divya Kumar

OK, 1: How do I know PR is for me? – You don’t know, until you’ve been doing it for a while but if you like reading, like the news, like talking and listening to people and don’t mind working very hard for very little money then you might well enjoy PR. I think there’s something of the speech writer inside most PR people in that we like seeing our words on the page or the screen and don’t mind that they’re attributed to someone else.

2: What would be the best way to start a career in PR (and 3: Internship / full time position.) I’m not the best person to ask about this, I got a full time position but I didn’t have the choice of an internship, I needed to be earning. I’d be interested to hear what people who did get internships think.

4: Skill Sets: Writing and face to face communication are key. You also need to be flexible and willing to get stuck in, PR is not a 9 to 5. Every agency seems to be different and you have to be able to cope with that as well as different requirements of different journalists. You have to be able to form relationships quickly – the average length of time a journalist is in post is about 15 months so you don’t have long to get on their radar. I’d also say that you have to “get” the internet and web 2.0 etc… though I doubt every MD of every PR agency would say that yet. You have to be willing to learn when someone knows more than you, have strength of convictions when you know more than them, and have the perspective to be able to tell the deference. I could go on…

That should be enough to get started – any comments? 

For Some reason this video won’t embed. Click the link though, it’s worth it.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8oMo467HTAI

I don’t want to be a Vampire / Werewolf / Pirate / Space Ninja Cowboy Robot Alien (well, not unless I actually get the space ship that goes with it.) I don’t want to get e-kissed or rated or compare my movie knowledge. I don’t want to fight anyone or pimp up a car or swap fish, cute though it is, I don’t even really want to feed my wife’s pet dragon Marvolo.

I want to talk to my friends, communicate with some people about work and ideas and see the photos of my wedding that some people are already uploading (cheers Kate.)

In short, I want to do things that mean things. This was why facebook was so good – it linked up real people who actually knew each other in the real world.

But no more, the network is now so unbelievably clogged up with crap that I have to dredge through a trillion invites to do things that I don’t want to do before I can find any of the stuff I want.

If, as I do, you want to take facebook back from the Vampires and their evil companions please join this group. Better still find a dead clever IT type person and bully them into writing a facebook spam filtering application. It is the next app I will install.

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At Waterside we’re all on our way to Newcastle for our Christmas party. We’re going today because it is the last free date in our collective diaries before christmas.
PR really is the most ridiculous profession

I’ve been blogging quite lightly over the last few months – mainly due to a lack of time and, whilst that’s not really a problem, (I can always just start writing right?,) what is a problem is that I haven’t been reading a lot either. Quite a few people have literally dropped off the radar and, it doesn’t feel like I know where the debate is anymore.

I want to start again so… top 5 UK PR blogs please? If enough people comment I promise to bring all the data together and produce a bloggers’ “most favouritest” list.