Will you be in DC on October 14? If so, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speak about the intersection of U.S. diplomacy, international technology partnerships, and entrepreneurship. Learn about how the State Department is promoting mobile technologies as tools for women’s empowerment and international development. The Department is also involved in “Apps 4 Africa,” a new competition to spur technological innovation in East Africa.
We’re pleased to host Alec at Ogilvy PR’s DC office. Learn more about the event here.
The Progress and Freedom Foundation has closed its doors after a fantastic 17 year run. The PFF was the first think tank to study the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. We’re sorry to see them go and we look forward to working with these great people in future endeavors.
Will you be in the DC area on June 23? The Ogilvy Exchange is presenting a discussion with Facebook on how to improve citizen communications, international diplomacy and the internet economy. This free event will take place at Ogilvy’s DC office at 8 am and fear not: breakfast will be served. See the full invitation here for additional details.
Friedrich Nietzsche said that the future influences the present just as much as the past… but what about Twitter?
A new study shows that on Twitter, followers don’t necessarily equal influence. Researchers found that “follower count is not sufficient to capture the influence of a user (i.e., the ability of a user to sway the opinions of her followers). It only shows how popular the user is (i.e., the size of her audience). But, as we showed in our paper, retweets and mentions, which measure the audience responsiveness to a user’s tweets, do not correlate strongly with number of followers.”
A surprising finding of the study was that only a fraction of Twitter users actively tweet and it is this small group of active Twitter users who initiate retweets and responses. The majority of Twitter users read other users’ messages but don’t generate many new messages themselves. So what does this mean for your clients and their Twitter accounts? Encourage them to engage their followers directly. Monitor direct messages and retweets closely. Identify followers who tweet actively and take steps to engage them. Make sure you’re engaging your audience in relevant topics.
The researchers believe that “businesses, rather than trying to put emphasis on the follower count, could try to increase audience responsiveness in their fields.” Instead of using a Twitter account to push out news on a regular basis and nothing more, try taking a more active role. Besides, a comprehensive Twitter engagement strategy is much easier to wrap your head around than a Nietzsche quote!
I’ve just returned from a short trip to the West coast, where I was able to work from the Ogilvy PR San Francisco office. I enjoyed meeting many of my Ogilvy San Francisco colleagues in person for the first time, some of whom I’d already been working with for months. Less than a week after my trip, one of my Denver colleagues is in town this week and working from our DC office, where I met her in person for the first time. Meeting these Ogilvy colleagues from across the country has shown me that there’s really no substitute for a face-to-face meeting in building a network and enabling collaboration.
We live in an increasingly wired world in which a variety of technology solutions exist to connect us. But as much as we benefit from video conferencing, instant messaging, Twitter and the like, we must not underestimate the power of a face-to-face conversation. A 2009 Harvard Business Review study included over 2,000 businesses and found that over 95% of the respondents judged in-person meetings to be critical to building long-term business relationships. It’s understood that face-to-face meetings are critical in winning new business and maintaining strong client relationships; yet we often overlook the benefits they bring to our own internal teams. What may take days or weeks over email can be completed in a brief, face-to-face conversation. In fact, in-person meetings further strengthen our ability to connect via technology tools. As we spend our days and nights evangelizing new technology, let’s not forget the power of a handshake and a hello. Or if you’re Michael Arrington, a fist bump, head nod, or polite bow.
Today’s news that the National Enquirer is planning to apply for a Pulitzer is an important reminder of today’s changing media landscape. We all read daily about the emergence of blogs and social media sites as new sources of news and information, but it’s important to remember that even traditional print media is changing its ways and redefining its focus. If a publication best known for announcing alleged alien invasions can break a major political news story, than what other changes might we see from print media in the coming years? Less tawdry examples abound. Consumer tech coverage has steadily increased in top tier business publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Meanwhile, Newsweek revamped its format in 2009 to include a much heavier emphasis on politics and public policy.
The National Enquirer probably won’t be the way to go when pitching your next tech client, but the publication’s progress teaches PR professionals an important lesson in the constantly evolving focus of print media: know your target.
I wrote a couple of months ago about the importance of transparency in contributing to Wikipedia. Today we learned that “Wikipedia will soon begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about people.” Within weeks, a trusted volunteer editor for Wikipedia must approve of any change to an entry about a living person before the entry can go live. While this wait-and-see approach to revisions can prevent the spread of misinformation from pranks and hoaxes, it also limits the freedom so long associated with the site. Research shows a growing resistance to new content; content from trusted editors is more likely to remain on the site, while updates from new contributors are more likely to be removed.
So what are the marketing implications of these flagged revisions? Misinformation about a person can not only harm that person, but also affect the companies and organizations that person is affiliated with. Remember when the rumor about Steve Jobs’ death adversely affected Apple’s stock price? Incorrect information on Wikipedia can and does certainly have the same effect. Those of us interested in reputation management should keep a close eye on the evolution of Wikipedia and its processes. Is this the beginning of the end for Wikipedia? Who or what will be the next subject of flagged revisions by experienced, trusted editors? Or is this a natural progression to making an already useful site even more dependable?
The most emailed article on the Web site of The New York Times this afternoon is about how technology “has completely altered the once predictable rituals at the start of the day.” Before grabbing a cup of coffee or doing any of the number of usual things in a morning routine, people now reach for their laptops, BlackBerries, and cell phones. This article is just another example of how more and more people not only get their information online, but are practically addicted to their Internet feed of information. And people get their news from a variety of online sources—not just from the Web sites of established media, but from blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Some may be nostalgic for a crisp morning paper and a hot cup of coffee, but it appears that many more are reaching for their laptops before they even get out of bed.
I recently spoke with a colleague at a well regarded lobbying firm who had been tasked with carrying out some minor PR tasks while her firm waited to engage their next PR agency. Imagine my surprise when, in a passing comment, my colleague mentioned she had been asked to update her client’s Wikipedia page with a number of materials.
As any PR pro will tell you, Wikiscanner first debuted back in 2007, making it much easier to determine the source of an entry or edit in Wikipedia. Wikiscanner exposed that many revisions to Wikipedia entries came from corporate sources, and suddenly, non-objective entries were subject to scorn from the general populace and even deletion by Wikipedia. All in all, Wikiscanner caused more than a few PR disasters as well as general embarrassment among those who were caught red handed. The majority of PR firms immediately changed their “Wikipedia strategies” to no longer edit client pages or pages related to clients. Surely no one was still doing this?
While tempting, we must never assume that non PR professionals—whether they are clients, professional colleagues, or friends—have the same PR expertise we do. What may be common knowledge to those of us in the PR industry can be elusive to others with their own separate area of expertise. Lesson learned? A thorough evaluation of PR activities is a must, lest your client “go rogue” and end up unintentionally creating a PR fiasco. Are your clients attempting to do more in house as they attempt to trim budgets? Make sure the lines of communication are open so you can provide the appropriate counsel.
Wikipedia remains as relevant as ever; Wikipedia entries are often the first result listed in a Google search, and now Wikipedia articles have been integrated into Google News results. For many, Wikipedia remains the first resource to turn to when researching a topic. And Wikipedia contributors are closely monitored; Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee recently blocked editing from sites owned by the Church of Scientology, after hundreds of articles relating to Scientology became embroiled in edit wars with critics.
Fortunately, my colleague spoke with me before editing Wikipedia entries from her lobbying firm’s IP address. And she’ll be sure to run other communications tactics by her next PR firm (or by her helpful colleagues at Ogilvy!) before moving forward. I’m looking forward to hearing from you about this issue—do you consider Wikipedia when crafting a communications strategy?
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