Leverwealth’s Carphone Warehouse experiment

Over at his Leverwealth blog, David Philips is blogging about a frustrating experience he encountered with the telecoms firm, Carphone Warehouse.

It seems Carphone Warehouse (and its PR agencies Freud and Citigate Dewe Rogerson) aren’t too hot on a) customer service b) providing a swift response to media enquiries and, most importantly of all, c)providing a decent internet connection.

David’s comments are important because CW ‘s sister company, Talk Talk, has just launched a new broadband service to much hype in the media.

It seems Talk Talk’s website servers couldn’t handle the public interest in its new broadband service as the site kept crashing! It doesn’t augar well for Talk Talk’s new broadband customers.

In response to his experiences, David has started an experiment by benchmarking internet blog data for ‘Carphone Warehouse’ immediately prior to his post and monitoring references to the keyword over the forthcoming period.

Always happy to help out!

Web 2.0 and Democracy

Anyone who has been reading my blog since the good ol’ days (three months ago!) may have picked up that I have a passing interest in politics as well as PR.

I don’t know if it’s just becasue local election fever is starting to grip, but the ‘Big D’ – democracy – has been at the forefront of my mind recently.

Aside from local elections, it’s also a hot topic in Nepal.

That’s why I’m looking forward to attending the event, Web 2.0: Where’s the democratic dividend? being organised by the centre-left think tank, Demos, next month. Elzabeth Albrycht’s speaking and she’s got more here.

On top of all this excitement, there has also been some excellent conversations started by Neville Hobson’s post on an article in the FT about PR and spin.

Philip Young then picks up on this and the subsequent comments about Neville’s post made by New Labour starlet, David Miliband MP.

All good stuff…. and to top it off over lunch I read Jeff Jarvis’s consistently excellent MediaGuardian column about how Web 2.0 technology is re-shaping politics as we know it.

I’m moved to think more about politics, democracy and Web 2.0 in future posts…

Could media fragmentation have been predicted?

The Economist is written from a devoutly business-centric point of view and it makes no bones about this. Reading the section in its new media survey examining the demise – real or otherwise – of ‘traditional’ media I was struck by the glaring evidence of how slow media institutions (and advertising ones for that matter) have been to react to media fragmentation.

Rupert Murdoch (in case you need it!!) is quoted as saying that young readers "don’t want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them what’s important."

When I was an under (and post-) graduate, the concept of post-structuralism was a well established philosophy that could be used to repeatedly demonstrate that established ideologies and concepts were being broken down, de-centralised or ‘fragmented’.

In literature this is the unifying voice of the author/narrator or even the concept of ‘the novel’. But its ideas were/are also applied to culture, and I suppose by extension, to society.

So the question needing to be asked is: why was business (here the media industry) so slow to react to something so evident in other, non-commercial areas?

Businesses routinely use market analysts to sift data to give better intelligence, so where your business reaches into the distinctly non-scientific realm of the public (recognised as a law unto themselves as long ago as Bernays!) why not use ‘analysts’ to gauge public sentiment?

This lack of ‘market intelligence’ may be due to the fact that newspaper readers were also slow to adapt to this fragmentation and as such a paper’s mass readership may not have shown any signs of fragmentation.

And this is probably related to the fact that prior to the Web 2.0 ‘boom’, the mass implementation of ideas central to media fragmentation (blogs, social media etc) were also prevented by the limited availability of technology – all of which has changed dramatically.

Giovanni Rodriguez at the Eastwikkers blog has recently suggested that anthropologists should become further involved in the ‘New’ PR industry. This seems like a no-brainer to me…. But perhaps the use of anthropologists would have also helped media institutions predict or foresee the looming media fragmentation articulated through the rise of blogs etc…

One more thing….. paradoxically one of the reasons media businesses probably didn’t think to use anthropologists to analyse their ‘market (ie the public) is because this, too, would have been inconceivable to traditional thinking.

That is, if business couldn’t foresee fragmentation of the media world, then it would undoubtably not have been able to accept the break down of business disciplines and turn to alternative (ie non-scientific) sources of business data.

Make any sense?

Economist new media survey – round up

Richard Bailey beat me to it… but The Economist’s new media survey is still a great concise history of new media. There’s nothing too ground-breaking in there, but nevertheless it reassuringly provided me with a few tit-bits about new media’s background that I missed out on first-time around.

Specific highlights will follow, but general conclusions include:

  • the survey would certainly help convey to Amanda Chapel the potential gravity of the new media shift in response to her comments here on Neville Hobson’s blog

  • If nothing else, it reassured me that if I want to stay abreast of new media developments, then there is no better place than reading around the blogcircle itself.

Could media fragmentation have been predicted ? to come…..

Sorry for the delay in transmission…

After the build up… I couldn’t find me a copy of this week’s Economist for love nor money! Richard Bailey tells me he gets his in the post tomorrow, so maybe he’ll scoop me on the survey results after all!

In the meantime this week’s PR Week editorial [paywalled] highlights some interesting findings from the WPP Bellwether report.

The report shows that in the first three months of 2006, ‘traditional media’ [sic] budgets were cut for the sixth successive quarter. PR Week UK’s editor, Daniel Rogers, suggests that this may be in response to the wider high-street slow down, but also notes that specialist PR areas, such as healthcare and finance appear to be doing well.

Similarly, WPP chief exec, Sir Martin Sorrell is quoted as saying: "New media and technologies are growing rapidly as clients question the value of traditional media."

All good news for bloggers… made even better by Rogers’ closing remarks:

"Anecdotally, PR consultancy heads report that many clients now insist that new media monitoring and even specific blogging solutions are included in pitches. PR agencies, it seems, are well placed to take advantage of the growing need to cope with the changing landscape."

As mentioned in previous posts, I have been mulling over the scope of this blog now that I have reached – and passed – the critical three month mark. I’ll be blogging about these thoughts and about clarifiying the direction of the blog shortly (as eternally promised!). But for the time being, Daniel Rogers has done a good job already.

Economist new media survey out TODAY!

Well, I posted about its coming two weeks ago… but it’s finally here: The Economist’s new media survey is out today. Economist surveys are characteristically good, so I have high hopes for this one.

I haven’t seen any of it yet and (oh, the irony) I prefer to buy and read a hard copy of The Economist so I’m off to the shops at lunchtime. For those of you who want a taster… there’s a leader on the survey here.

Who’s going to post first about the survey…. bets anyone?

Intel to develop a ‘community PC’ for the Indian market

Interesting story from BBC Technology here.

Essentially, the computer chip manufacturer, Intel, has announced plans to develop a computer designed specifically for Indians.

According the BBC:

“The Intel Community PC is built to withstand the dust and humidity of many parts of India as well as the sometimes erratic power supply that can damage standard computers.

It will runs on open-source software and has several ways of connecting to the Internet, including wireless and the mobile phone standard, GSM.“

I like the sound of it being ‘a community PC’ running on open-source software.

Also, according to head of Hewlett Packard in India, Ajay Gupta, televisions in India cost about £200 ($350) whereas you can get a PC for about £150 ($263).

He says that the big difference in current usage is that people know how to use a TV, but can’t yet work a PC. However, this is changing as peripherals such as keyboards are developed/adapted to an Indian audience.

This all sounds very inspiring indeed. Although currently only 5% of the Indian population is computer literate I can only imagine that with the development of technology geared towards specific use in India, the country’s level of computer use will soar.

Furthermore, is it just me, or does the introduction of this new hard/software sound as if it will be geared towards social networking from the outset? Perhaps, I’m getting carried away by the name…

Anyway, in the excitement I found a list of Indian’s who already blog. I haven’t explored it yet, but it’s here.

Useful tips to keep ’em hooked after three months…

Not that I’m counting, but my blog is now just over three months old – the widely accepted threshold after which the majority of blogs fall dormant.

Conscious of this, I have been thinking long and hard about what this blog means to me and my work -and the direction it is taking – and will post to let you all know my conclusions shortly!

In the meantime, having read and applied Glyn Moody’s 10 Things to Build a Blog Readership [via Andrew B. Smith] I was pleased to see Steve Rubel offering some (timely) great tips (via Promotion World) on keeping your blog readership interested.

Rest assured I will be studying and implementing these to help me push my blog past the six month mark!

Happy Easter!

PR and cycling


One of the many benefits of the blogosphere (or blogocircle as David Tebbutt refers to it) and social networking is that like minded people can converse and share mutual interests.

I’ve been doing this on the subject of PR for nearly three months now (more on that to come) and it has been great. But as well as developing my knowledge of the PR – and especially ‘New PR’/web 2.0 technology – I have encountered a particularly un-technological serendipity through blogging.

I have discovered, for instance, that PR Guru Stuart Bruce lives about 5 minutes down the road from me…. and that the now infamous(!) PR student Alex Pullin has finished her dissertation and is helping out at Harrogate’s newest agency, which, again, is 5 minutes around the corner from my place of work!

Now, I have started noticing an intersting theme underlying some of the PR blogs I read. And that, to my delight, is……. cycling! [WARNING: the following may become slightly esoteric!]

First to catch my eye was Philip Young’s assertion that one of the four places he’d rather be is:

"On my bike, a few yards from the summit of Mont Ventoux, with the energy to do it all again ."

And then, just the other day I found Serge Cornelius blogging about Trek’s new frame failing George Hincapie in this year’s Paris-Roubaix.

OK, so it’s only two PR/media bloggers so far, but that’s enough to get me enthusiastic about a potential cycling sub-culture among PR/media people who blog.

I would consider myself a part-timer enthusiast. That is, I love cycling and the attendent culture but I draw the line at altering my diet in the ‘on-season’ to maximise fitness! So far, it’s still ‘off-season’ until the weather warms up! Plus, Philip/Serge… shaven legs to enhance aerodynamics?

But this, combined with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be too many offical pro-cyclist blogs, is enough to make me think about setting up a second blog for the cyclists among us, especially now the season (at least for the pros) has kicked off.

Any more PR bloggers with lycra leg-warmers in their closets?

Goodbye Myspace, hello Faceparty

Just when you thought it was safe to claim you’re up-to-date with MySpace, it turns out the kids are already one-step ahead!

Antony Mayfield posted only yesterday about Mysapce being ‘lame’ according to his 15 year-old brother. Add to that the shame of being owned by News Corp when you have a notoriously switched on audience base and it looks like the MySpace bubble is set to burst.

Further evidence of this comes today in an Observer article about the website Faceparty.

Now I’ve never heard of it… but it seems the kids (and others) have, and in their droves.

In the interests of research I took a quick tour around the site (which proudly declares itself as the "biggest party in the world"!) and it looks like it has been around for at least four years. It also runs events which appear geared towards a much older audience (ie. 20-30 year-olds!) than the 16-19 year olds quoted in the Observer.

I’ll keep an eye on face party and see what happens.

Tom Murphy also posted about another (probably not) new site called Bebo last week…. I’m not even going to pretend I know what that’s all about!

Any ideas someone? Anyone?