The media is using the departure of Bill Gates from Microsoft as an opportunity to reappraise his career and ask questions about the company’s future. As far as that goes I found this article in the Economist to be interesting.
The news, however, reminds me of this Wired article from last August, as well as the concept of Numeracy (and Innumeracy). The article argues that the ability of people like Bill Gates to conceptualize large numbers and mathematical concepts – their mathematical literacy – makes them – potentially at least – much more effective philanthropists than those of us intimidated by graphing calculators.
Over the past few years I’ve become convinced that the relative innumeracy (mathematical illiteracy) of most publicists seriously undermines our ability to do our jobs effectively. Mathematics provides us with a deeper understanding of the world and, therefore, a richer ability to identify and leverage trends. It also enables us to measure the value of our work and establish credibility with our clients. This is especially important, I think, in technology public relations.
Over the years I’ve made fitful attempts at becoming numerate. I recommend the work of John Allen Paulos and his books: “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” and “Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences.” The truth is I still have a long way to go.
With all these thoughts swirling in my head I recently purchased a new book along the same lines: “How Math Explains the World,” by James Stein. I find myself troubled by the opening: “My first glimpse into mathematics, as opposed to arithmetic . . . “
So you’re saying there’s a difference?
I have a long way to go.
While I largely agree with the points Tom Foremski makes, I do have two quibbles.
First: the notion that “PR firms cannot claim to know anything about new/social media if they aren’t using it themselves.”
There’s no question in my mind that direct experience is tremendously valuable, however it seems to me that there is plenty of evidence to support the notion that, in any endeavor, outside perspectives can provide unique, valuable insight and trenchant analysis.
I think the tendency of some in the blogosphere to critique the MSM without having experience or training as reporters is a great example of this. Their critique is no less true and no less valid for their lack of experience in investigative reporting.
There’s also plenty of evidence, I think, to support the notion that an overly insider perspective can negatively distort and bias opinions. That’s how we get market bubbles. On balance direct experience is better than no experience, but I don’t think it’s an absolute.
Second: the notion that many PR firms only post “after meetings about what they will blog about.” This strikes me as somewhat apocryphal. It’s certainly not true in our case.
One final point, I do think most publicists struggle to blog – I know I do. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it may have something to do with the nature of our profession. We can’t blog about day-to-day work because it’s all supposed to be privileged – until its not – and then the focus should be on the client. It can be difficult to make the time, and the head space, to find other sources of material.
I was reading an article about Twitter on Silicon Valley’s Mercury News today. It raised a good point and one that I wanted to talk about here. The sites describes Twitter as the “…Seinfeld of the Internet”. This can also be interpreted as ‘the website about nothing’. I have blogged about the use of Twitter in the Marketing/PR industry previously so with this comment, I think it is time to revisit my thoughts on this new(ish) Web 2.0 tool.
Are we wasting time frequenting Twitter? Is there really any inherent value that we can take away from this online tool? To be perfectly honest, i’m not too sure if my Twitter updates, such as those below, would provide any use to any of those that follow me:
It might make them laugh at me but i’m probably wasting their time (and mine). These people, however, have requested to follow me which makes me think people actually want to hear about my daily rants and whereabouts – as pointless as it may seem.
I don’t want to be too pessimistic about the value of Twitter. Mercury News reports that Twitter had “…1.2 million unique visitors in May…”. We are seeing it gain value in some parts of the world – particularly with regards to political applications in the United States. For example, Barack Obama has used Twitter to provide updates to the public from his campaign trail.
We are also seeing the tool used for PR purposes. These days, many journalists are also using Twitter as a means of communicating the stories/ features they are researching and writing. Savvy PR consultants are utilising tools such as Twitter regularly in order to keep abreast of relevant engagement opportunities for their clients.
As I mentioned, I see this tool gaining traction in the United States but I don’t think we are seeing similar traction across the Asia Pacific – at least not at this point in time. Will we see the journalists/ analysts on this side of the world use the tool to put the word out regarding what they are working on? We’ll just have to wait and see.
As far as reaching a wider audience, would my mum or dad ever use Twitter? (No – I really doubt it). I don’t even think my friends working at large IT-centric companies would.
The questions I am toying with at the moment (and I ask for your input) – Will we see Twitter move into the mainstream? Will it ever attract a truly global audience? As communication experts, should we be using Twitter on a daily basis?
There’s a great package of articles covering the future of the Internet, start-ups to watch and the business of social networking in the latest Technology Review. While there’s too much to summarize I do want to draw attention to these predictions (and hopes and fears) for the next 5-10 years of the Internet by the likes of Vint Cerf and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
My prediction (or hope) is that the Internet as a distinct entity becomes, more or less, extinct. To put it another way: in the next decade I hope to see an Internet so pervasive, so easily and seamlessly accessed from such a multitude of essentially invisible interfaces that it goes unnoticed by the average user. You can’t help but be conscious of your interactions and experiences with, or on, the Internet today. Ten years from now, who needs the hassle?
Any other predictions?
As technology enthusiasts it’s often easy to forget that technology is not, in and of itself, a solution to anything. This article in Slate on the potential negative impact of programs such as One Laptop per Child is illustrative. Here’s one key point:
“So what happens when good fortune delivers vouchers (and hence computers) into the homes of Romanian youths? . . . computer use also crowded out homework (2.3 hours less per week), reading, and sleep. Less schoolwork translated into lower grades at school—vouchered kids’ GPAs were 0.36 grade points lower than their nonvouchered counterparts—and also lower aspirations for higher education. Vouchered kids were 13 percentage points less likely to report an intention to attend college.”
The article also links to this CNET article from May reporting on a survey showing that one-fifth of all Americans have never sent an email or never used the Internet. That number is striking – but also easy to believe.
Why wouldn’t 60 million Americans reject the Internet? It is possible to live a pretty good life without unfettered, 24/7 access to everything from the most sublime to the most squalid output of human civilization.
That said, I think this all amounts to further evidence of the fracturing of the digital divide into digital subdivisions: increasing numbers of distinct groups defined by widely varying degrees of technological sophistication. (I’m further persuaded by the fact that it’s my idea).
As professional communicators, however, I think it behooves us to take note of this fracturing; the growing complexity that is coming to define how people experience and view technology. Today’s survey measures email use. Tomorrow’s, I have no doubt, will measure take-up, impact (and rejection) of social networking – won’t that be interesting.
A few weeks ago John Bell, managing director of our Digital Influence practice, made the case for every company to have a video content strategy. I agree (he’s breathing easy now) but it occurs to me that far too many companies don’t have any sort of content strategy to begin with.
Most try to coordinate messages and spend a great deal of time worrying about the content on their Web site – but that’s as far as it generally goes. Furthermore, the larger a company gets the less able it is to ensure that even this relatively small amount of content is in any way coordinated. Quality control is easily sacrificed.
For most of my career this wasn’t much of a problem. Companies had limited opportunities to place content anyway, so why worry about it? Today, however, there’s an almost moral (and certainly a business) imperative for clients to produce more and more content. The media is increasingly more accepting of it (more fuel to drive Web site traffic and increase ad revenue), and self-publishing is, of course, a breeze.
Still most companies struggle because the executives and in-house experts counted on to be the sources of content have – who knew – regular full-time jobs that – shock – do not include writing (or even reviewing) articles and blog posts, recording audio or video commentary and so on.
One solution may be to recognize that ongoing content development is a business priority and create a content department responsible for devising a company-wide content strategy and shepherding all content to completion.
Of course creating and staffing a department full of twitchy creative types and content queens isn’t likely to be any company’s idea of a business priority – but the companies that get this right will reap the benefit.
And if they can’t do it, well there are plenty of PR firms – see our shiny new copywriters – that can help them.
Are social networks such as Facebook and MySpace over-valued today? The price tags we put on them are steep in my opinion – in the billions of dollars! Although, are these sites and other online communities just a fad that will be replaced by the next big ‘It’ technology shortly down the line, or will they all see a long and prosperous future?
I slightly digress from my original thoughts but want to put this perception to the test and undergo a couple of benchmarking tests.
Step One – The Site Traffic Test
I got some interesting results whilst conducting a traffic rank comparison between Facebook and MySpace on traffic ranking site, Alexa. For your reference, all the following figures are based on a snapshot of a three month average.
MySpace receives a traffic rank of 6 [this traffic rank is based on a combined measure of page views and users (reach)]. The number of unique pages viewed per user per day on MySpace is 34.52.
Facebook comes in just behind MySpace with a traffic rank of 7. The number of unique pages viewed per user per day on Facebook is 21.26.
The graph above, however, shows us that the traffic rank of MySpace has dipped over the past two months. Over this same two month period, Facebook has grown considerably.
To be completely honest, i’m a little surprised with these figures. I definitely thought that Facebook would have had a bigger lead on MySpace.
Step Two – The Member Test
This next step isn’t really a fair test but I thought I would throw it in to add a new dimension into the mix.
An interesting sociology study was posted on Mashable about one year ago now addressing the difference between Facebook and MySpace users. According to the study ‘jocks’, ‘athletes’ and ‘goodie two shoes’ are the types that frequent Facebook whereas MySpace is the hang out for the ‘alternative’ crowd, ‘punks’, ‘emos’ and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm!
Based on the vast differences between the member bases of these sites, I am starting to feel a little guilty for comparing the two. Apples with oranges?
After completely digressing from my first questions in this post, I want to go back to my original question on the longevity of these online sites. And are we or are we not over-valuing them?
LinkedIn recently valued itself at $1 billion. Similarly, according to Computerworld, Facebook received a market valuation of around US$15 billion after Microsoft bought 1.6% of the site for US$240 million last year. Other networking sites have had valuations between US$200 million and US$560 million, based on transactions from this year. In the same vain, Facebook received a market valuation of approximately “…US$15 billion after Microsoft bought 1.6% of the site for US$240 million last year…”
I’ll leave this one with you to ponder on. Will this bubble burst?
Thought I’d share a few pictures of the new Denver office space.
There is still some unpacking and construction going on and pardon the amateur photos! Overall, it’s a great space with plenty of room for team meetings, client meetings, brainstorming sessions and networking and it will be great to be co-located with some of other WPP companies as well.
If you are in the Downtown Denver area, drop us a line – 303-615-5070!
One of the brainstorming rooms with an ‘Ogilvy-ism’ on it…this room will undoubtedly draw nicknames like ‘The Red Room” or the “Donny Deutsch Room“
Unfinished brainstorm/conference room with bar-stool seating. Unfortunately it came without the rest of the “bar” amenities, but will still be a great space for on-the-fly meetings.
Last but not least, some of the working space…
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work only to find a few blog post links in an email mentioning that I ranked number 29 in the Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blogs. This said list was compiled by Julian Cole. See below.
|2||Servant of Chaos||9||5||8||6||6||5||39|
|3||Duncans Tv Adland||6||5||7||6||8||5||37|
|5||Better Communication Results||8||3||6||5||6||6||34|
|7||Small Business Branding||7||3||0||8||7||8||33|
|14||Business of Marketing & Branding||6||5||6||4||4||1||26|
|16||Australian SEO Blog||4||4||5||4||6||1||24|
|17||Wide Open Spaces||8||5||4||3||3||1||24|
|28||Mark Neely’s Blog||7||3||2||2||3||0||17|
|31||In my atmosphere||6||4||0||3||2||1||16|
|34||Pigs Don’t Fly||6||4||1||1||2||0||14|
|36||Australian Small Business||6||3||0||0||4||0||13|
|37||The Jason Recliner||4||4||1||2||1||1||13|
|42||Zero Budget Marketing Ideas||6||3||1||1||1||0||12|
|46||Arrow Internet SEO||7||2||0||0||1||1||11|
|47||The Sticky Report||7||0||1||2||0||0||10|
|48||Naked Communications-The Flasher||8||0||0||1||0||1||10|
|50||Send up a larger room||7||0||0||1||0||0||8|
The blog list was compiled using a set of criteria, including Google Page Ranks, Technorati Blog Reactions, Alexa page ranking and Blog Lines. Additionally, a subjective ‘pioneer’ score was also included, measuring the ‘blog’s ability to have pioneering thoughts about marketing’.
The Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blog list will appear in the August edition of Marketing Magazine. It will also be updated every three months, with the next update this September.
I try and give my blog as much love and attention as possible, but unfortunately find that my time tends to get cannibalised elsewhere. This new found, albeit short, burst of fame is exactly what I need to give me that extra bit of motivation to make sure that I am regularly contributing my thoughts on the latest emerging technologies and Web 2.0 developments and how these are impacting on the marketing and PR disciplines.
Here’s to crawling up the ranks Stay tuned for the next instalment!
For the past couple of years I haven’t been in a client meeting or industry event where “social media” isn’t mentioned. Forget “mention”: it has been at the core of the discussion. But in all these conversations, what hasn’t been covered is how traditional media, in particular tech press, is evolving, changing, adapting; and what this means for “traditional” tech PR professionals. Publishers like CMP (or better the former CMP) and IDG are changing. They have been “socialized”.
From now on, when I talk to a client or colleague, I’d like to make a distinction between social media and socialized media.
Of course I believe they are both very important, but they are critically different. And since all the attention has been focused on the first one, in this post I want to share some initial thoughts on the latter:
So what’s the net-net? As PR practitioners we are in front a very complex ecosystem, with a lot of moving parts. I think knowing and understanding the different motivations of all the players (the blogger, the journalist, the publisher, the editor) will make us better counselors and strategists.