“Trust can’t be broadcast.”

David Cushman has a nice overview of PR firm, Edelman's, annual Trust Barometer launched today.

David points to the apparent "accelerating collapse in trust in advertising and traditional mass media" and makes the incisive soundbite: "Trust can't be broadcast."

I'll try to post some thoughts once I get a look at the results.

News: I’m joining Weber Shandwick

Going by the number of kind Tweets I’ve just received it seems PR Week has run the news of my appointment as Head of Digital in Weber Shandwick’s Consumer practice.

You can read the official announcement on the PR Week website.

The more personal account of my appointment is – as ever – here on my blog.

Obviously, making the decision to leave Edelman wasn’t an easy one to make. Edelman has a good reputation in the digital space and I have some great friends there.

However, the opportunity with WS was too good to pass up in terms of my personal career and it seemed the right move to make as PR becomes an industry that must bake digital into the heart of its campaigns, rather than bolt it on as an after-thought.

I’m really excited about working with Scott, James and all the other smart people over at Weber Shandwick.

I won’t start at WS until November and look forward to saying ‘Cheerio’ to my friends and colleagues at Edelman and Spook tonight.

Technorati tags: Edelman, Weber Shandwick, public relations

Video from Crowd Surfing Book launch

Book launch from David Brain on Vimeo.

David brain has kindly made the video available of the recent book launch for Crowd Surfing. Enjoy.

Technorati tags: Crowd Surfing, David Brain, Martin Thomas

Meme: Social Media Best Practices

I’ve been tagged with couple of memes recently and have finally managed to get round to converting ideas to words in the second case.
In the first instance my apologies to Nicky and Andy as I’m so late with their question as to who are my three most admired communicators I can’t imagine my comtribution is relevant!

More recently I’ve been tagged by Badger Gravling aka Dan Thornton who passed on the meme to share best social media marketing practices.

If we put aside the idea that I am uncomfortable with the term social media marketing then I want to approach this issue from the more fundamental position of what best practices should organisations adopt to make their communications relevant and effective in a digital age, rather than what’s the best way to secure maximum traction for my "viral".

The emphasis – to me at least – is on social media best practice, rather than marketing best practice.
This is encapsulated in a three word maxim that we talk about a lot at Edelman:
Be, Do, Say.

Let me elucidate:

Be – as Dan points out in his post, companies cannot turn on a social media marketing strategy overnight. It takes an (often) significant investment of time and understanding to review an organisation’s business goals to make them compatible with the expectations of a contemporary, digitally enabled society.  This is the first big hurdle organisations must overcome before they can deliver any kind of social media activity successfully

Do – If they can cross this first hurdle then the organisation should e able to deliver its corporate promises. This is the ‘Do’ bit. Companies must put their money where their mouth is and prove their commitment to open, transparent and authentic business practice through action

Say – Once the first pieces of the jigsaw are in place then – and only then – can organisations shout about how good they are. But even then it isn’t enough to simply change your ways for a sort-term campaign or brand/product re-launch. A commitment to this new way of working and communicating is essential. I call this approach ‘sustainable communications’. It requires a long-term, far-sighted approach to your business in order to sustain a long-term, far-sighted approach to communications.

So there are my views – and possibly the first and only meme I have followed up this year! Given I’m already behind on this one I think I’ll not pass it on.Apologies to Dan!

Technorati tags: Social Media Marketing, Social Media Best Practices, Dan Thornton

Book launch: Crowd Surfing

Edelman’s European CEO and author, David Brain, kindly invited me along to the launch of his new book this week at the Groucho Club.

Crowd Surfing, co-written with Martin Thomas, is about how changes in society – and more specifically consumer empowerment – are changing the commercial and political landscape (Regular readers of this blog will know that these are two themes right up my street).

One barrier I think any author writing about this topic will encounter is how to adequately summarise and crystallise ideas or examples that have become almost cliches or accepted logic in business – and particularly marketing -circles.

Everyone seems to ‘get’ Web Two Point Oh and want a digital empowerment strategy as standard. But in the rush to ‘tick the boxes’ (as I heard one client remark recently) there is the real risk to entirely misunderstand what changes are *really* happening and why.

I haven’t yet finished my copy of the book but so far and Crowd Surfing hasn’t disappointed. The authors give a clear outline of what the phenomenon of ‘customer empowerment’ looks like and why is matters.

Subsequent chapters look like they will provide clear case studies illustrating real life examples of where companies have got it right and wrong. I see that the 2012 logo launch makes its way to the pages; a case study with which I may be a little too familiar!

James Cherkoff has read the book and already posted his review.

It was also great to catch up with Antony Mayfield, Stephen Davies, Stuart Bruce and Justin Kerr-Stevens again. And also to meet Amelia Torode and Dom Campbell for the first time.

Technorati tags: Crowd Surfing, David Brain, Martin Thomas

Is Knol *really* the great Wikipedia-killler?

Doc Searls is the first to echo some of my initial (private) scepticism about Google’s Wikipedia rival, Knol.

Knol "aims to include user-written articles on a range of topics".or as Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan calls it, "Wikipedia with moderation."

Knol permits anyone to author a page about a particular topic. While each article or ‘knol’ defaults to a ‘moderated’ setting, this can be changed to closed, preventing anyone else from authoring it.

This struck me as odd from the outset. I personally wouldn’t place too much trust in anything that was authored, put online then closed to revisions or third party intervention. That’s simply advertorial.

The power of Wikipedia, as David Weinberger has pointed out previously, is not necessarily the articles themselves – it is the social knowledge that is embedded in both the article and its discussion page. Wikipedia is trustworthy because it isn’t authoried by an authority rather, by many conflicting authorities.

But I presume Google knows this already as Knol is a shrewd business move. How smart a move remains to be seen.

Edelman Digital’s Steve Rubel circulated an internal memo which highlighted some of the ‘operating rules’ for Knol. These include:

  • Each article can list its “Affiliation” – a move intended to flag conflicts  of interest.
  • There is a significant emphasis on authors and their authority. For example authors are asked verify their name using mobile phone or credit card details
  • Google (apparently) has a team in place watching for spam, while links are no-follow in an attempt to prevent SEO spam.

But despite these worthy measures, it already looks as if the spammers are setting to work.

Going back to Doc Searl’s initial foray into the Knol-iverse, he writes that that a big chunk of the search results search for ‘hair’ were, in his words, “commercial gaming”.

More specifically he highlighted a clear example where Knol’s guidelines were being (or at least appeared to be being breached):

“The top result is for this article on hair loss, by Rob E. Angelino, Founder Hairlab center for hair restoration. Or so it says at the top. At the bottom it says "Copyright © 2005-2007 United Global Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved".

Not sure how that squares with Knol’s defaulted Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, but it’s significant that Mr. Angelino also has collaboration closed on the document. You can do that with Knol. It also says here that Mr. Angelino is "Founder and CEO of United Global Media Group Inc." and "currently the CEO of The Beauty TV Network". Mr. Angelino has a total of six knols, including one each for the Beauty Channel, BeautyTV and The Beauty Network.”

And there’s my concern made real. I just don’t get the point of Knol. It is just one quick and easy algorithm away from a spammers’ paradise. But even despite Google’s best attempts to keep Knol spam free. I still don’t see the point. And perhaps that’s because there isn’t one.

The big hype around Knol has been that it is Google’s Wikipedia-killer. But, as Doc points out, Knol isn’t a rival to Wikipedia at all. It doesn’t come close or even compare.

And maybe Google knows that which is why they (or someone) has positioned it as such.

Technorati tags: Knol, Doc Searls, Wikipedia, Spam

10 immutable laws for measuring conversation

Er… so it seems Edelman held an academic social media conference the other week in Chicago.

There is a good round up of some of the topics discussed at the conference live blog, but I like this post from one of the delegates, Karen Miller Russell, who teaches at the University of Georgia, about measuring social media.

Readers of this blog will know that I haven’t brought myself fully into the ‘how we measure’ social media debate because I haven’t yet decided why we need to measure social media (apart from the usual "so we can justify our existence to the client" which is the one reason not to use to develop metrics, IMHO).

However, the following list of "10 somewhat immutable laws of measuring conversations" from Sean Moffitt helps get us a step closer to defining why we measure social media:

  • REACH—how far does it go?
  • RELEVANCE—does it support your intended direction?
  • INFLUENCE—who shares and with who? How many generations of
  • AUTHORITY—how trusted is the source?
  • ENGAGEMENT—how involved do they get?
  • INTERACTION—did they do anything with it?
  • VELOCITY—how fast does it travel (viral)
  • ATTENTION—how much time do they spend?
  • SENTIMENT—how positive are they?
  • NET PROMOTER—are they recommending you to others?
    Would you
    recommend Brand X to a friend or colleague? (On a scale of 1-10, the
    formula is "People who say 9-10 (extremely)" minus "those who answer
    1-6" = your score). And this is what really matters

Hat Tip Karen Miller Russell

Technorati tags: Edelman, social media measurement

Sao Paulo, risotto and anarchism

So I’m here in Sao Paulo for a couple of days doing some social media training for Brazil’s PR trade body, Aberje, as mentioned in my previous post and while I’m here I’ve been catching up my Edel-colleagues.

Yesterday I had a fantasic lunch with our Digital Manager, Thiane Loureiro at a restaurant where you can buy everything in the place. We had a great discussion over risotto and beer about social media, PR, relationship building, sustainable communications and anarchism – but despite having many shared interests I’m sure I keep mis-pronouncing her name! I think it’s pro: Tee-ahn-nee. Tee-arn-uh. Thiane – am I right?

And then today I visited Edelman’s rapidly expanding Sao Paulo office to meet the rest of the digital team. Our office is on the twentieth floor so you get quite a view from the window:


Anyway, I sat with the team and we talked about monitoring brands online, the difference between digital advertising and digital PR, the added value of relationship building in the online space and they took me through a couple of case studies – all of which were really cool, well thought-out and executed programmes.

I think it is really cool to see that even in another (pretty different) market that the fundamental ideas behind delivering online PR campaigns remain the same  – and more importantly are successful.

The reason for this – I decided today – is that aside from a few cultural differences, people are people throughout the world. They are largely driven by the same desires, needs, likes and dislikes.

By putting them (indeed, us!) at the heart of our work then we can finally start to make meaningful connections with society on a global scale. And that can only be a good thing, can it not?

I’ll end this post with a top quality Brazilian tune, Sex-O-Matic by Edu K. The Amazonian natural world video is amazing too. Check it, as they say:

Technorati tags: Brazil, Sao Paulo, Aberje, Edelman, Thiane Loureiro, Edu K

PresidentialWatch08 – visualing the US political blogosphere


PresidentialWatch08 is a really nifty website that represents all the US political blogs visually and organised by political persuasion.

I’ve not had a real play with it yet but you can zoom into the network and see which blogs link to others, get an idea of blog size/popularity (based on links) and see screenshots of the each site. Pretty damn cool.

I recall Antony Mayfield had something similar around the this time last year, but this would be a great tool come the next UK general election. Any offers?

[via my Edelman/Spook colleague, Marcus Dyer.]

Technorati tags: PresidentialWatch08, Politics, US Presidential Elections,

Pictures from Duxford

Back from a client’s annual communications conference which was held at Duxford Air Museum near Cambridge.

It was the kind of place that reminded me of what it was like to be a 13 year-old boy again. Here’s a picture of a Tornado GR1.


More pics on my Flickr stream.

Technorati tags: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Tornado GR1