Bloggers take their bow on A-list red carpet
Porter Novelli Melbourne’s Mandy Griffiths offered her two cents on the ‘twitterati’ phenomenon in The Australian newspaper today. You can read the original article (paid) on The Australian website.
TRADITIONALLY, the A-list targeted by every PR company was a combination of media, celebrities and politicians, depending on what best suited the client. A simplistic yet effective formula to get your message heard.
But change is in the wind, as a new breed joins the ranks of coveted guests.
Those who used to qualify as key opinion leaders are moving down the totem pole in terms of influence. Moving up to meet them? Connected consumers: the twitterati.
Bloggers were the first to join the A-list and many have certainly earned their place.
In fact, Technorati Media’s 2013 Digital Influencer Report indicates that bloggers are the fifth-most influential source of information when making a buying decision, and even more influential than traditional media.
Blog events and Tweet-Ups (where tweeters come together to meet in person) have been around for years and companies have been quick to adopt these trends. Now we are seeing the emergence of a new trend: the “social media call”, an event for people with an established presence online among the right demographic.
Twitter lends itself perfectly to this because it is easy to digest, easy to execute and has the ability to reach a lot of people very quickly.
It is also not asking much of the tweeter to write under 140 characters or to use a hashtag, as opposed to spending hours on an article or blog post.
The Victorian Opera recently held a social media call, inviting Melbourne tweeters identified as “influencers” to attend a dress rehearsal for its new production of Sleeping Beauty.
They were asked to use dedicated hashtags and meet and take photos with the cast (using Instagram of course).
Securing publicity in advance with thousands of followers validated the time taken to identify and approach the select twitterati.
This is an easy exercise for an event-based company with an attractive offering or those with a retail focus underpinning brand value.
However, the corporate sphere should not discount the twitterati.
There are always tweeters interested in what is happening with your industry and brand.
However, Twitter is a transactional relationship.
If you want people to take to their smartphones on your behalf, then you need to take the time to identify your online influencers and build a strong connection.
The twitterati carry a lot of influence in their hands, and like bloggers, that influence is likely to increase.
Mandy Griffiths is a social media strategist at Porter Novelli Melbourne.
Shoving back: using social media to respond to old media
If the spat between Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk and the New York Times has taught us anything, it’s that social media has the power to answer back to its more established counterpart, traditional news media.
Through his Twitter account, with some 140,000 followers to date, and his electric car company’s blog, the American entrepreneur has been able to effectively hit back at an unfavourable car review in the NYT.
The article reported that the company’s flagship model, the Tesla S, ran out of charge on a lengthy test drive.
For a radically different car hoping to break ground in a significant auto market, a photo of it on the back of a tow truck in a major metro newspaper is not good publicity.
However, unbeknownst to the NYT, Tesla had installed data logging equipment in its test car.
The company decided to do so for all media drives after a segment on popular BBC motoring program Top Gear showed an older Tesla model running out of power. Tesla subsequently sued the program, although the case was thrown out on the grounds that Top Gear’s test drive of the Tesla Roadster was not equivalent to a real-life, road-going situation.
Tesla’s CEO first revealed on Twitter that the data logs existed and published a blog post that refuted the NYT‘s claims about the car’s limitations.
Media coverage ensued, which escalated the dispute with the NYT.
The NYT journalist fired back on the newspaper’s motoring blog proclaiming his honorable intentions and a point-by-point rebuttal of the data log.
Other reviewers have since claimed the route attempted in the article is perfectly doable, if one abides by the car’s recommended driving patterns.
Whether the NYT review was accurate or not, the bigger question that emerged is; which medium is up in the credibility stakes?
What this slugging match has shown is that, with enough influence in the online sphere, someone can strike back at traditional media and make editorial teams sweat. Does that mean the NYT has lost its core impression of reliability among its readers? No, and it wouldn’t do so based on an issue like this alone. But, it did make the venerable publication sit up and take notice.
Written by Porter Novelli Melbourne consultant, and former journalist, Tristan Price.
Boards are the New Feed, a session with Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann
Despite what you may have read, Pinterest wasn’t created a few months ago; it has been a long slow road of pins and people since 2009. How much market research went into coming up with the concept? How about none. In this session, co-founder and CEO Ben explains how Pinterest was just something he really wanted to see built.
How it came about
Taking a cue from the simplicity and success of Twitter, Ben decided to concentrate on just three things people, boards and pins. They went the venture capital route in order to delay discussion on monetisation. Making money was not the focus, and is still not the focus. Yet.
Labouring over the design stage, they had 12 fully coded versions before deciding on the final. If your collections didn’t look awesome, why would people spend time to build them? he says.
“The average consumer has really high expectations. If you don’t give them something that is worth their time, then they shouldn’t give you their time. They can watch TV or play Angry Birds.”
Pinterest has also put boards back on the map. While they had been very unpopular within the tech community, Pinterest persisted as Ben explains – “Boards are a very human way of looking at the world. I’ve always loved folders; they are a way to make sense of chaos.”
Then, why did it take so long to take off?
Ben doesn’t have an engineering or tech background, and I don’t think Pinterest would have been created if he had. Pinterest is unusual in that it wasn’t embraced by the tech community. Silicon Valley didn’t understand it, didn’t see a need for it. There was also no celebrity to join that made it go from 0 to 60, ala Ashton Kutcher with Twitter.
“I’m glad I didn’t read the proxy book on when to give up because it took a long time to get going. People ask me why I didn’t, and I think I just didn’t want to tell people that we blew it.”
It was just the everyday people that made it popular. And Ben made sure that these people were happy.
“I personally wrote to the first 5,000 users. I gave them my cell phone, and would meet them in person. People say that’s a lot of commitment, but I was just really happy people were using it and wanted to know what they thought.”
How did he know people would like it?
Ben was very much on the ground in developing Pinterest. He would peruse newsagencies and the amount of lifestyle magazines indicated that there is a great interest area and market for it.
“I loved the idea that you could take an offline activity and create an online service that could aid that.”
What is the actual purpose of Pinterest?
“The mission of Pinterest isn’t to keep them on the site, it’s to drive them out to get what they want, go to the places they want to go, cook the recipes they want to try. With or without Pinterest people have hobbies and interests, what we want to do is make sharing and collecting these easier. Helping people to discover things they didn’t know they wanted, he said.
“I also wanted to create a service that was timeless. If something’s your favourite book now, it’s going to be your favourite book in five years.
How has Pinterest been embraced that he didn’t expect?
“First to come to mind satire boards. A Fake Mit Romney account has already been created, with his suggestions on what yacht to buy, and how to take a San Pellegrino bath. You can find it here http://pinterest.com/fakemittromney/
“Museums have also started joining to showcase upcoming collections, and travel boards were also a surprise, as people created spaces to document their desired destinations.”
For SxSW I was particularly impressed with advertising agency GSD&M (who also created the Don’t Mess with Texas campaign) board with their Pinterest Guide to Austin http://pinterest.com/gsdm/, which is where is where I discovered Austin has a Pop Culture museum. I am in heaven.
What’s coming up for Pinterest?
Pinterest has reached the tipping point of mainstream success, and now the race is on to make sure Pinterest is the one and only pinning service worldwide. But Ben is not concerned about racing the clones: “We just want to make sure that what we release is of really high quality.”
Look for an all new profile design expected to be launched this week. We wanted to make it more beautiful, he said.
The team of 20, which was 10 people until a few months ago, wants it to be very different to your Facebook and Twitter profile – a snapshot of what you’re about.
You will also be able to see who people pin from and who is influencing others.
And something I am really looking forward to, they are expanding to include video. Sometimes you just need all your YouTube cat videos in one place, you know?
They are also working on platform expansion, with an iPad version, and planning to open up API, but no set date as yet.
I want Pinterest to feel like a human service.
He also values his workers; he is not looking to be the next figurehead of a company, the next Steve Jobs. The team is the most exciting product that we’re building.
Above all, Ben wants to celebrate people’s interests. Preferably on Pinterest.
The New Rockstars
After hours of planning, my schedule took a six block detour when I found out my social media crush Gary Vaynerchuk scheduled a last minute #eatup (eat and tweet). And I was not the only one, after tweeting the location, a crowd gathered instantaneously, lining up in an orderly fashion to speak to and take photos with the man himself.
Granted, this is his space, this is a crowd that knows his work and his charm. He has never had a TV Show (he turned it down as he feels cable is dying), never been in movies, but he has written books, made countless online videos, and if there is a world record for the amount of people an individual has replied to on Twitter, he would have it.
At the #eatup Gary had time for each and every person, and will not leave that space until everyone has had their turn. He knows the value of connecting with your audience directly, and his reputation shows that. It is interesting to compare this to the traditional “celebrity”.
For most celebrities, when they allow themselves to be available to the public, it is because they are promoting their movie/TV Show/album/tell-all book/perfume range. At that point, the time of showcasing your completed work, is it too late to expect them to care? What story have they told? How do they know how much work has gone into what they’ve produced? Did any work go into it or did they phone it in for a paycheck?
Looking back at the People’s Choice Awards, pretty much everyone who walked away with an award not only has a large presence on twitter, but tweets regularly. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev was the first person to win an award when she wasn’t even listed on the original nomination ballot. How has this never happened before? Perhaps because previously stars didn’t have the almost 2,000,000 followers that they can mobilise in an instant like Nina can. Many stars still don’t, but the saying goes – “Build your network before you need it”, and she has dedicated hours and hours of time engaging and speaking to her followers. If public figures are not building their network now, and dedicating real time to it, they could find themselves being eclipsed by stars who previously weren’t even on the radar.
Or as Gary Vaynerchuk says – “whoever cares the most, wins.”
June 30th, 2011
- by Lindsay McHugh
/ Tags: Tags: blog
, Google Plus
, Google Wave
, News Corp
, Social networking
/ Comments (0)
Google Plus – a game changer or more of the same?
This week, Google announced the launch of the newest player in social networking: Google Plus. Described as “real-life sharing, rethought for the web,” Google Plus – still in trial stages – is being seen as Google’s answer to Facebook. Plus is made up of three key components – circles, hangouts and sparks. Mixing familiar elements of Twitter with differentiating features such as video conferencing and a real-time listing of web trends, Google hopes their version of bringing real-life social interaction to the web will be enough to persuade us to jump on board.
Has Google got it right or is this just another Google Wave?
Regardless of the eventual success or failure of Google Plus, we as public relations professionals need to take a step back before diving head-first into the next best thing and remind ourselves that social media is simply a tool. Since the infancy of social media, we have adjusted the way that we practice public relations. We have amended our strategies to incorporate Facebook groups, Twitter pages and blog activities. We have experimented with new platforms and tailored our communication tactics to fit in with the flavour of the week.
Is it really worth our time to adapt our practices to specific new media platforms that – in many cases – fade away when our basic principles as public relations professionals stay the same?
The introduction of new media is not a new occurrence for our profession – we have coped with the introduction of radio, television and the early days of the World Wide Web. We need to remember the core principles of our job: to influence behaviours and opinions for our clients. We cannot let the ever-changing, exciting landscape that is the internet change our underlying credo.
Myspace, having been sold this week by News Corp for a mere $35 million – a shadow of the $580 million it was worth six years ago, is a prime example of the transient nature of the internet and a reminder of why we need to approach new technological developments with a grain of salt. Though all media have their lifecycle and we inevitably have to adapt how we operate, the fact that the lifecycle of internet properties are so short should play into how we practice.
By developing an adaptable assessment tool to evaluate new technologies, we can better judge the role they will play in our PR toolkit. It’s easy to get caught up in the newness of things, but it’s essential to remember that technology is just that – a tool. By working together to create a framework for the medium, we can test out new platforms without losing sight of the ultimate goals for our clients.
Technological advancements are not going to slow down and the need for strategic advice as these new platforms arise will not fade away. We need to be prepared for our clients while developing a strategy that will allow us to use our time wisely.
Time will tell whether Google Plus will prove itself valuable, but ultimately it won’t change the way that we practice. If we remind ourselves of our core responsibilities to our clients, we will be able to get the most out of our ever-expanding PR toolkit.
What elements would you include in an adaptable platform assessment tool?
June 28th, 2011
- by Louise Gates
/ Tags: Tags: Australian Dental Association
, Dr Seuss
, Mayo Clinic
, Mercy Health
, Porter Novelli
, Public Relations
, Public Relations Institute of Australia
, Social Media
/ Comments (0)
Cyberchondria: a national health priority area?
A wise Doctor of Philosophy once said: “You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”
That was Dr Seuss writing in 1986.
I mention it because it links with what’s happening in consumer health and self diagnosis.
A 2010 study showed about a quarter of Australians regularly sought health information online.
Health information sites are all over the web like a rash, from credible Government sites like http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/ to those claiming online diagnosis by doctors, albeit with a disclaimer that will read something like:
“We take no responsibilities for anybody using the site, nor for any information obtained from it, or as a result of using it.”
But, credible or not, a whopping 80 per cent of Australians surveyed by international health insurance giant, Bupa – a Porter Novelli client – admitted to going online for health information, with 47 per cent of these people making a self diagnosis based on what they found online.
Let’s say you have pins and needles. It could be – according to readily available online resources – a vitamin deficiency, sciatica……or multiple sclerosis. Got an earache? Check common cold, an ear infection. Or possibly a brain abscess.
As a former healthcare professional, I have to ask what this might mean for primary healthcare, without even considering what the implications are for the many health sector organisations we work with.
The question for us, as communications specialists, is how to beat the clutter?
Simple, really. What if we turn the tables? Instead of consumers having to find “us”, we go looking for “them”?
Our Australian Dental Association (Victoria) client is stepping into social media through the Caring for your kids’ teeth page; Mercy Health is a relative early adopter and keen experimenter; and we like the work of Cabrini here in Melbourne (that we don’t work on).
The one we aspire our health sector clients to be like remains Mayo Clinic. Check it out.
And if you have a nasty, persistent cough, might be worth a visit to the doctor. It’s probably not tuberculosis.
June 24th, 2011
- by Sarah Pinch
/ Tags: Tags: Authentic
, Kim Kardashian
, Mummy bloggers
, Porter Novelli
, Public Relations
, Social Media
/ Comments (2)
Authenticity #FTW (For the Win)
Bloggers have redefined traditional editorial and are growing rapidly in readership. Their audiences are targeted, loyal, sometimes large, and blogger opinions are influential. There was a time when people turned to traditional news for opinion. A recent Kleenex study found that blogs, in particular Mummy blogs, are moving strongly into influence, providing a more authentic outlook, untainted by commerciality.
Blogs and reviews play a large part of the decision-making process with 63% of social-networkers reading an average of six online reviews before buying an item. It’s been found that 46% of mothers read blogs regularly, 23% comment on blogs, and 13% of the Australian mums with kids between 0 and 12 years wrote blogs themselves!
It’s becoming common talk in the US that consumers are more influenced by the opinion of a blogger than a celebrity when it comes to learning more about products or making a purchase. Kim Kardashian gets paid $25,000 to tweet 140 characters about a product. With more than seven million followers, her message gets seen – but is it heard? Do her followers trust her tweets are authentic, or a mere financial reward?
In Australia we have the (small) luxury of being an adaptive market, borrowing the bits that work from other markets. The same is true for blogging: but the bit that really works and makes this so exciting for us is that authenticity will prevail over the long-term.
The seventh mass media platform: Mobile
What comes after the internet revolution? The portable one. So is this a game changer on how we communicate?
No. Mobile does not spell the end of newspapers, radio, cinema, television and the internet, it is the combination of all of them in one handy, time efficient device. No form of mass media has ever died completely, and is not likely to now.
Yes. 70% of mobile phone traffic goes to social networks, and social by very definition is an ‘opt in’ network. It used to be that no matter what you had to say or at which point you started your campaign, if you had enough money you could saturate newspapers, radio and television, and your message would be heard. With social media, you need to build your network before you need it, and people have a choice if they want to follow you on Twitter, ‘like’ you on Facebook, and for influential bloggers, write about your product. You can’t buy in the way you used to. Any approach to this area with a ‘What’s in it for our brand’ mentality is not going to cut it.
What’s in it for everyone else? Particularly with mobile, if they choose to download your app, taking up real estate on their personal screen, it needs to provide value, and if it doesn’t maintain this value, it will be deleted. At this point you can shout about your brand as much as you like but they can’t hear you.
Be useful or entertaining. That is what people want, and have for a long time.
Social media and mobile make this possible, and brands that do this will be rewarded.
April 18th, 2011
- by Anastasia Golubeva
/ Tags: Tags: advertising
, Public Relations
, Public Relations Institute of Australia
/ Comments (0)
The Work The Work The Work
It’s widely assumed that the craft of Public Relations lacks true creativity.
I’ve always known this opinion to be untrue, having racked my brain countless times to find a newsworthy angle for my clients, however, it has still managed to send me into a poetic depression on more than one occasion.
I can often be found clutching on to my G&T, in the dark serenity of a Surry Hills wine bar, fretting about the futility of trying to encourage ingenuity in our approach when advertisers are the only ones expected to be creative. Yet, any PR person would tell you that when it comes to value for money, teamed with an innovative approach, PR gets coverage above and beyond anything advertising could achieve on the same budget. Frustrating, to say the least!
This is why I was so excited by a recent conference, held by the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), which portrayed true creativity in action.
The event, titled Creative Juices: How to think big and impress the boss, was aptly held at a moody city club called Space. With tweets flying back and forth, the filming of an impromptu amateur soap opera (with the help of an iPhone 4) and a motza of ideas to inspire us it was truly an insightful and entertaining evening.
Ryan Peal (@ryanpeal) showered us with great ways to transform our approach to brainstorming. Next time your team is really stuck, hire a maxi cab and take a ride around the city instead of meeting in the office. The visual and sensory stimuli could be just what you need to get the ball rolling, forcing the team think outside the boardroom (bored room) square.
Or try bringing outsiders in on your next brainstorm, whether it’s the client, an AE from the advertising company upstairs or your mum! The presence of new people is bound to stimulate a different style of conversation and encourage your team to think a little differently.
And there’s nothing like a little role play to get the creative juices flowing. Try approaching your next long term strategy brainstorm like this:
1. Tell the team their client is X (for the point of this exercise, let’s say Coke).
2. Think of a great campaign.
3. Now tell them that they have left this agency and are instead employed by the agency that represents Pepsi.
4. They know what Coke has in store, it’s pretty fantastic- they thought of it. What can they do to counteract the plan?
Now you have two great ideas, you can pre-empt what the competition would do and you’ve pushed your team to think that little bit harder about the brief!
Here’s another great way to push your team’s brainstorming session:
1. Tell them the brief.
2. Tell them their budget is unlimited.
3. Collate their amazing and over-the-top ideas.
4. Now scale back. Say, no, we can’t have Brad Pitt but what can we have? A lookalike? Maybe we could run a competition to find one and then use a really soft lens?
Before you know it the team will be coming up with some hilarious alternatives that could prove to be better than the original idea!
However, what resonated with me the most was a comment by Scotty Iseri (@scottyiseri). Although he also spoke a lot about the importance of being creative, he actually encouraged us to embrace the limitations of the brief.
It’s all well and good to be creative but “without a frame you’re just arting everywhere,” he said. He stressed the importance of getting a detailed brief and understanding the needs of the client.
This threw me back to Clemenger BBDO’s motto The Work The Work The Work. Indeed, despite the fun that lies in letting your creativity reign, it must inevitably come second to delivering work that best suits the client’s needs.
And the #Oscar goes to… Twitter
Twitter has changed the landscape for how news is identified and shared. Nothing new in that statement.
This week’s Oscars provide an obvious case in point.
Co-host James Franco (using #oscarsrealtime) was one of 388,717 tweeters, tweeting as the ceremony unfolded and even posting footage of his first steps onto the stage http://say.ly/BNqa5c
Tweets referencing the Oscars totaled an impressive 1,269,970, generating 1,663,458,778 potential impressions.
Contrast that with Nine’s evening replay of the event: 505 000 Australians tuned in, down nearly 200 000 last year.
To manage this evolution, what do we need to know?
We need to understand and respect – even if we disagree with the accuracy or integrity of content – the power of information shared via social media platforms
Twitter particularly provides quick, inexpensive (read: free) and measurable means to tap a community’s thoughts, gauge and manage response, and operate in real time
The passive consumption model is less valid each day; consumers want and will participate, even if they don’t know what they’re talking about
The daily news beach-head of the mastheads in print and broadcast are now part of the media landscape – not the dominant feature