Category: Media

Ego boost

Have you done that QDOS thing yet?  A few people have mentioned it.  It calculates your online presence.  Initially, all you can do is enter your name and postcode and it gives you a score.  This’ll likely be a few hundred…which looks a bit rubbish when you can see 50 Cent there at the top of the board with a score of more than 10,000.

But when you apply to register – and are accepted – you build your profile by adding details around your online presence, so any URLs, blogs, Flickr pages etc etc, and your score increases.  Your presence is split into four elements: Popularity, Impact, Activity and Individuality. 

I added my details and my score went up to 4,420, which found me sandwiched between Seb Coe and Demi Moore.  I haven’t decided whether I’m happy with that or not (though I’ve heard he goes like the clappers for four minutes and then it’s all over).    A few more points would’ve seen me stuck between Catherine Zeta Jones and Terry Wogan which, frankly, is even more confusing.

But I still wasn’t happy. 

And then it struck me. When you enter your URLs and blogs and that there’s no check on whether they’re really yours or not.  So I added a few more…like google.com, microsoft.com, scobelizer.com, bbc.co.uk.  Before you know it, I’m at 9,839 points, in 12th place overall and just behind P Diddy! 

And I feel great.

About-face book

u.jpgWhen Bite PR, as PRWeek put it back in October, “became the envy of trendy consumer tech agencies everywhere [by] scooping up the Facebook UK brief” I bet in all their excitement the team never suspected that one of the first things they’d be handling would be the fallout from the Facebook founder’s humiliating apology over a dodgy advertising system.  Though perhaps they’re not having to do very much at all…as we all know, when stuff like this happens with our big American clients, it’s generally time to stick to the prepared statements and say nothing else.  I’ve always found that enormously rewarding.

In fact, with all the current chat about Facebook having jumped the shark, I’m not sure that other agencies would be that envious right now.  My gutfeel is that Facebook’s crested the hill and is starting a chilly descent.  I reckon Zuckerberg knows it too, so he’s grabbed the cash from Microsoft and the rich Asian fella while he can…$300m isn’t a bad return for a few years’ work in anyone’s book.  Hopefully Bite has negotiated a long notice period.

I bet the guys at LinkedIn – the client that Bite (rather arrogantly in my eyes) thought wouldn’t mind being serviced by the same agency as Facebook but which (rather predictably) decided that it did – are chuckling away though.

One thing I chuckled away at this morning is Kara Swisher’s decoding of Zuckerberg’s apology on her excellent BoomTown blog.

Kids’ telly of a morning

This post started from one place and ended up in another.  I love that.

shreddies_knitted200.jpgAs a father of a couple of young children – mine are five and three – I’m something of an aficionado of morning kids’ telly, particularly the Milkshake! segment on Channel Five.  Some great programmes (all highly educational, I might add…sort of) and nice cheery presenters.  My favourite is Jen, the young upstart threatening the established trio of Naomi, Kemi and Beth (I see they’ve kept Jen’s song off the album).  But I digress.

Being a commercial channel, Five carries advertisements and of course we’re well into Christmas stuff now.  Having said that, one of my current favourites is the ad for Shreddies…the “knitted by nanas” one which, as you might have guessed, explains that each and every Shreddie is knitted by a lovely kind nana.  I like it so much that I was prompted this morning to visit the website, www.knittedbynanas.com

It’s been very well done.  There’s a bit of loading to deal with, but it kept me distracted for about 20 minutes which can’t be bad.  My favourite is the games area.  Nana vs. Robots didn’t grab me too much, the Skip Challenge appeared a little dull initially but the changing pace of the rope added to the challenge, Teabag Fling was compelling but ultimately frustrating (you get your power sorted and then screw up the angle!) and Slipper Slide is a joy.  It’s definitely worth a look.

Now to the other place.  While I was thinking about the ads, I recalled one which, frankly, disturbs me.  It’s that animatronic pony called Butterscotch.  That thing freaks me out.  “Don’t worry,” Thea tells me, “it’s not real.  It’s got batteries in its tummy.”

Looking around for a Butterscotch clip I was chuffed to find that I’m not the only one who finds Butterscotch a bit weird.  David Letterman does too…and you can see a very amusing video here.

“Take that, you lousy nag.”

Annual report 2.0ish

Tim Dyson, CEO of the Next Fifteen Group and therefore my old boss, points to something that he believes to be a world’s first; a company annual report that is also a blog.  It’s for his own company, of course.  I’ll always take a look at the Next Fifteen annual report as (a) I think, somewhere, I still own some shares (though they’re well underwater, wherever they are) (b) I know for a fact that my mum owns some shares and (c) I’m always keen to see how much Dyson gets paid.

I’m not totally convinced about how innovative the social media annual report is…it’s rather like an online annual report (which the company’s done before) with a bit of blogging literally added onto the side.  I mean, it’s not like you can comment on the chairman’s statement or other specific parts of the annual report itself (now wouldn’t that be cool…”so Tim, why did David Dewhurst get a performance related bonus but you didn’t?  What did he do that was so much better..?”)

But I’m happy to agree with Dyson when he says that more and more companies will be producing their annual reports in this way.  That hand on the front page is a bit odd though…I thought it might be some fancy biometric jobby and now my screen’s covered in sticky hand-prints.

A couple of years ago I had a chat with one of the members of the Egg plc PR team about – as I saw it – a new PR discipline which I rather cunningly called “consumer financial”.  The premise was that, as millions of individuals now own shares and are increasingly involved in managing their own share portfolios, quoted companies needed specific communications activities geared towards this audience.  Sure, they’d need all the standard financial info and regulatory announcements, but the tone and approach would be very different to those communications, say, pushed to institutional investors in the City.  While the numbers clearly matter very much to members of the “consumer financial” audience, they’re also, I believe, more inclined to want to understand the culture and ethics of the company in which they have invested.  I see the Next Fifteen annual report/blog mash-up as fitting right into this category.

As I said though, the blogging bit seems a little added on to me.  There are posts from key directors in the Next Fifteen Group, such as Dyson himself, “Social media – the new big thing in PR” (hmm…) Grant Currie of Inferno (a good mate of mine) and Aedhmar Hynes of Text 100.  They’ve kick-started the conversation by commenting on each other’s posts and roping in a few clients, but you can’t blame them for that (in fact Hynes’ post – about virtual worlds, natch – has two comments, one from Cisco, a client, and the other from a bloke called Tony Hynes.  No relation, I’m presuming…or is it?)

What’ll be interesting for me is how well they manage to keep the blog element of the report alive.  Neither Dyson or Hynes have exactly been the most prolific bloggers, and Currie’s contributions to the Inferno blog have been, ummm, sporadic.

Still, credit to them.  I do think it’s original and more companies will do something similar.  Of course, it would have been really cool if Next Fifteen itself had a digital team as part of the group that could’ve developed the social media annual report concept; I could have seen that leading to a load of new business.  But it doesn’t, so used a company called CGI Squared instead.

It might be the Sunday papers…

st.jpg…but is anybody reading?

Ask anyone who knows something about anything and they’ll tell you that the Sunday Times is influential, that it has significant reach into high-end demographics, that it drives recommendation and purchasing decisions…blah de blah de blah.

Well, it’s a myth.  Like dragons.  And let me slay this one once and for all.

I was featured in the Sunday Times yesterday (as was my family).  Not just a little mention either.  The first two words of the article were my name, the next one my age and the next four my occupation.  It then went on to discuss our life here in France…or at least the bit of it related to the rental of our holiday properties.  And there was a picture.  I was even quoted as using the word “caboodle”.

I don’t know about you, but if I saw someone I knew featured in the Sunday Times, I’d probably give ’em a call.  Or send an email, or a text:  “Saw your ugly mug in the Sunday Papers…nearly hurled my cornflakes…”  That sort of thing.

Twenty-four hours on from the article’s appearance and what have we had?  One call.  From the Mother-in-Law.  And she gets to stay here for free.

My only conclusion – based on an admittedly small research study – is that the Sunday Times exerts no influence whatsoever over its readership.

Actually, that’s not my only conclusion.  Others might be that I have no friends that read the Sunday Times.  Or, more simply, that I have no friends.  But my Facebook profile tells a different story (OK, so this might be a slight flaw in my otherwise rock-solid argument).  I also recognise that the Property section comes fairly well down the Sunday Times hierarchy.  But surely it trumps Travel and Appointments? 

I’m also concluding that the purchase of the Sunday Times is purely a habit.  In the same way that I flick the kettle on upon entering any kitchen, a decent proportion of the UK population searches out a newsagent and buys the Sunday Times every weekend.  Both are largely a waste of energy.

Extrapolating my bitterness argument, I’m also going to conclude that old media is well and truly dead.  Indeed, the only positive result that will come out of the article will be due to this blog post, confident as I am that it has greater reach (and if anyone would like to sign up to my new training course: “How to extend the influence of traditional media coverage through the creative use of social media” than please drop me a note).

I said “caboodle” for Christ’s sake.  Surely that’s good for something?

Facebook application

I had an idea for a Facebook application in the pub last night, but I’m not sure if it already exists.  I suspect not, for possibly obvious reasons.  Perhaps someone might let me know?

It’s really simple.  I’d like there to be an application which tells me which of my friends have spent the most time looking at my Facebook profile.  And perhaps which bits of it they spent most time looking at.  Like pictures.  That’d be interesting. 

Of course, I’d also like to be the only person in the world allowed to load it.  Or I’d like to at least be able to bar selected friends from loading it.  Particularly the lookers.

I’m feeling the back of my hand

“Anymore of your cheek sonny and you’ll feel the back of my hand…” 

Funny little phrase that.  I’d have thought “the front of my clenched fist” might’ve been a better deterrent, but there you go. 

Of course “the back of my hand” has a double meaning.  There’s the corporal punishment for children one as described above and then there’s the one about knowing something (generally a physical location) particularly well.  “I know Soho like the back of my hand”, as someone might utter.

I came across a website called backofmyhand.com earlier today.  It was mentioned at the bottom of a Hotmail I received from a friend (sorry, a “Windows Live Hotmail”).  Not surprising really, as it turns out that it’s a Microsoft owned website – out of the Windows Live team and all based on Virtual Earth (bit of disclosure here – I’ve done a bit of work for Microsoft over the years.  I’m not at the moment though – and I’ve never worked with the Windows Live people).

Actually, I think the fact that it’s a Microsoft site has been its problem, as I can’t imagine it gets any great focus alongside the other Live properties.  The fact that the latest additions to the site seemed to have been made back in March this year seem to endorse the fact.  It’s a shame, because I think it’s a brilliant idea (which probably means it’s being done somewhere else even better…probably based on Google Maps).

Basically, this is how it works.  If you know a particular area like the back of your hand, you can pinpoint it and places of interest on the map with a little description.  It can be as broad or as specific as you like.  So, you might do “brilliant boozers in Barnet” or, equally, “Speed cameras in Stockport” or “Nice things to do on the Isle of Wight”.  You can search the site on location or interest.  It’s cool – and could be really useful if it was populated well.  Problem is, there are only 107 entries on the whole site!  Shame.  I wonder if they’d sell it to me?

worldcup3.jpgHere are another couple of links for the fellow cycling nuts out there.  In a follow-up to my slightly odd Rapha post below and some bike porn surfing this afternoon, I think I might have found my dream bike brand, Witcomb Cycles in Deptford. Witcomb has been custom-making bike frames since 1949 and is now the only bespoke framebuilder left in London.  Just beautiful bikes – check out the lugs on that.

I found the Witcomb website from a link of the site of the Tweed Cycling Club, which is also based in south-east London.  Tweed CC eschews the technology and modernity that has overcome modern road cycling.  The website’s a joy to read – take this for example:

“Why spend a king’s ransom on the latest titanium confection when any weight advantage will be rendered irrelevant by a cheese-and-pickle sandwich and thermos of soup?”

Quite.