Journalists Prefer Traditional Comms – Pope Has Balcony Etc Etc

From the hallowed pages of PR Week (issue dated July 22, cover price £57.32) comes this story – and story it is, for no – disbelievers all – the Week has not made it up, oh no, they let Broadgate Mainland(*) make it up for them – t’Week has simply reported it. They’ll make journalists yet.

(* Meisters of Financial Spin of the parish of Old London Town.)

Anyway, before I got so wildly carried away, I meant, bloggy snorkellers mine, to post the link. No, of course you won’t. You’ll simply see if you can make head or tail of the post without going anywhere near the colourful linkey of doom. Wet, is what you are. That being said, maybe there is an Arthurian trotter amongst you and for that brave Templar I provide this – the Holy Link of Har Megiddo. Carefully now – swish and click – obliviate!

(Warning. I am sorry, faithful followers, but in an almost Murdockian stylee, PR Week will wish you to subscribe before you read the article. You may not wish for PR Week to be your horcrux, however, at least, not while there are still pesky kids around.)

So, the article. In brief, it says that while UK corporates are doing more social, a survey of financial journalists (and I think we can take that to mean journalists, period) reveals traditional comms channels remain the more important media relations tools. That’s what it says – ‘more important tools’. With 81% of the 100 surveyed saying that they prefer to receive stories via email, I’d say ‘most important tools’, wouldn’t you?

In other bears-defecating-in-the-woods- type revelations, only 11% thought Facebook was an appropriate corporate comms channel and 97% researched companies via their corporate websites. (Incidentally, a truly spiffing photocaption for the article’s illustration of Zuckerberg’s monster – “‘Inappropriate’ Facebook”.)

So, it’s official. Journalists prefer to get their stories off real people, in real time, via targetted communication. Unsurprisingly.

Other stats in the article included the 38% of FTSE100 companies signing up to Facebook (up from 25% six months ago) and the 56% running a corporate Twitter account (up from 40% in December). And we know why they’re doing this. Mostly peer pressure and a misguided desire to be ‘down with the kids’ and to have their very own shiny object. And, as I’ve said before – if you’re an airline, then Twitter is useful for updating your customers. If you’re a firm of management consultants it is wholly inappropriate (like Facebook). In the case of most of the FTSE100, it is wholly inappropriate.

Just sayin’.

Lies, Damn’ Lies and Social Media Statistics

Another day, another hefty dollop of horseshit about how the social media conversation is changing, irrevocably, life as we know it. (While I’m here, big up to Danny Rogers, the ‘editor’ of PR Week, for this phrase ‘Increasingly one hears that ‘PR is the new advertising’ or ‘conversational content is now king”. On so many different levels, blog trotters mine, on so many different levels. He goes on to say that we need some stats to confirm what we suspected – don’t tar me with your cavalier ‘we’, Danny – as if stats could actually prove that ‘conversational content’, whatever the living crap that is when it’s at home, is indeed ‘king’, another nebulous and completely immeasurable concept. Anyway, the whole stats thing is what’s driving this post, so let’s proceed, shall we?)

Today’s merde de cheval du jour is from the Not PR Week (some may say that this is a good thing),  Communicate Magazine – you may visit its hallowed portal here – swish and flick – crucio!

Anyhoo, it’s an article entitled Fit to Print (which is, indeed, in the print version of the magazine but not, strangely, available online) and it’s about how ‘social media has fundamentally changed online communications over the last few years.’ Backed up by a wodge of statistics – here’s a few examples:

  • 90% more journalists use social media than in 2010
  • Tumblr’s referrals to news sites increase 350% in past year
  • The Independent has seen referrals from Facebook grown (sic) 680% year on year, whilst Twitter referrals have increased 250%

The problem – obviously, I don’t have to point this out, I know, but let’s pretend that there’s one lone blog snorkeller out there who’s maybe just a soupcon less incandescently bright than the rest of us – is that the stats are meaningless. An increase of 350%? Enormous! Unless your starting point was one, or two. In which case it would be up to three and a half, or seven. (I think. Maths never was my forte.) You see, without hard numbers, it’s impossible to tell. And if people are making it difficult for me to see the full picture well – forgive me – I get a little suspicious.

Even when the stats are reasonably clear cut, there’s something not right about it. Read!

“Visits to news and media sites from social networks have increased by 80% in three years up to March 2011, and in that period social networks have gone from providing6.26% of total traffic to news and media sites to providing 11.33%.”

Great! My comment would be that news and media sites are on t’internet, and part of t’digital age. Thus, really, you got to expect that a proportion of their traffic would come from social media, which are also internet-based and part of the much-vaunted digital age. In fact, you’d be forgiven for expecting that the proportion of traffic provided by social networks – if they’re the phenomena everyone says they are – would be CONSIDERABLY FUCKING MORE THAN A MANGY 11.33%. Just sayin’.

Thank God, however, that Communicate magazine got digital content agency Zone to ‘dramatise the findings’.  Interesting choice of words. ‘Dramatise’. Implies making a story out of something. A fiction.

Which is exactly what I remain convinced the hype around social media actually is.

Go Away, Julian Assange, The Joke’s Over

Some time ago, I posted this, speculating that Mr Assange of Likiweaks ‘fame’ might, were he not extra careful, slip on some stairs in a police station and, proceeding in a downwardly direction, meet his Maker coming the other way. At the time, it seemed that there were enough people (mostly Mercan) in a righteous tizzy about his latest juvenile swing at authority to render Mr Assange’s demise in suspicious circumstances something of a real possibility.

Now, of course, the world has moved on. No-one gives a flying monkey’s proclivity what Leakiwiks is doing, and even less so when it comes to the Assangester. The latest bit of ‘freedom’ information, if I’m not much mistaken, was the bank records of the rich and the famous, showing that they’re not paying tax. No shit, Sherlock, you don’t say. And, again if I’m not much mistaken, these banker-busting revelations weren’t even published – probably because the rich and the famous are also highly secretive, and like all highly-secretive people (I presume, not really knowing, because it’s all highly secret) have really dangerous lawyers on speed-dial.

Then there was all this nonsense about a cyber war. Which, not unlike the Y2K bug, failed to materialise.

So, here we have the Assangemeister and Lekawiiks, choking for lack of the oxygen of publicity. The only thing that seems reasonably certain, as far as they’re concerned, is that Jules will be taken to Sweden and be tried for sexual assault. Hardly high-profile and not terribly freedom-fightery.

So what’s he doing? Demanding assurances that if he is taken to Sweden, he won’t be taken to the States and killed. Here’s a news piece.

Talk about trying to string it out – this smacks of real desperation. Julian – if you’re listening, or if anyone can get a message to you – no-one is going to kill you. No-one cares anymore. Wikileaks – just soooo 2010.

Please, please, please – do the decent thing and bugger off.  There’s a good chap.

So Farewell Then, Julian Assange

OK, OK – he’s not actually been terminated with extreme predjudice just yet.

On Tuesday, when Mr Assange was remanded into custody, I joked with a colleague that he (Mr Assange, not my colleague) should beware of being any length of time at the top of staircases while in the care of Her Majesty and Her Majesty’s finest. Seems someone shared my (yes, sick and depraved) sense of humour, for on Wednesday I came acros this piece, courtesy of the twisted minds behind The Daily Mash. Somehow, I can’t seem to post links today – must be the workings of those cuddly hacktivists, Project Payback – so here’s the url. Cut’n’paste, people, cut’n’paste. (Obviously, supposing there still IS an internet by the end of today.)

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/war/aasange-to-escape-from-police-at-the-top-of-some-stairs-201012073327/

Today, however, I’m rapidly coming to the realisation that this probably isn’t a joke at all. I cannot comment on Mr Assange’s state of mind and, arguably, if he hadn’t done the whole Wikileaks thing, then someone else would. Much of the information contained therein is – as London’s Evening Standard rightly pointed out – in same news category as ‘Small Earthquake in Chile, Not Many Dead’. Frankly, I’d be more surprised if diplomats, politicos, SPADs etc etc DIDN’T say and do these things.  And as for Prince Andrew – yes, he’s an inbred arse – tell me something I don’t know.

But, and oh dear for Mr Assange. He has irked the US. More to the point he has irked the Ghengis Khan de nos jours, Sarah Palin and her Teapots. On top of this, whether he wanted to or not, he has unleashed the crusty might of the hacktivists who, as we know, need (and needed) little excuse to show how technologically capable they are. (With their stupid names. Who, in their right mind, styles themselves ‘coldblood’? That’ll be a 34-year old man, called Kevin, living in Milton Keynes with his Mum, then.) Sadly, coldblood (Kevin) and his mates bigaxe (Barry) and deathquake (Alan) can actually do some real damage here. (Which, in the case of them destroying Twitter, would be No Bad Thing. In the case of them preventing the world doing business in a time of economic crisis – not so much.)

Someone’s going to have to do something. And if I was Someone, I’d start at the top. Of the stairs.

Of course, I’m only partly serious. But what odds that Mr Assange is still here by Christmas?

So, Did You Bury The Bad News?

Ah well, so I don’t seem completely curmudgeonly, and before I go any further, congratulations from all here at The Wordmonger (that’ll be me then, and the tumbleweed, and the wind, moaning softly through the broken shutters) to Kate and William. Who knew? (And, for the record, I’m with Mrs Middleton on toilet and pardon. ‘Excuse me, I must rush off to the lavatory’? Puh-lease.)

Anyway, blog snorkellers mine, it was (and still is, get in quickly) a good day to bury some bad news. I look forward to the City pages of the Evening Standard this evening. However, if you’re Ireland, I think it may not be a good enough day to bury the sizeable tranche of horrid tidings concerning your wrecked economy and starving population. Clearly, I don’t actually know that they’re starving, but it seems a fair assumption, based on the reportage to date. (I’m going to Ireland for Christmas – do hope it’s picked up by then.)

So, and back to the wholly unlikely and unexpected Royal union – did anyone else clock the similarity between that famous piccy of a young Diana in a (wholly appropriately enough) diaphanous skirt, and a young Catherine Middleton in her undies and a diaphanous dress? (Only there’s something of the grubby about Kate – in a good way, obviously.) If one were cynical enough, and of a conspiracy theory bent, one might almost say it is too serendipitous. Non? Or is just me?

I’m losing track. I don’t often (ever, actually) post links to social media, but I found this on Twitter this morning and it resonated. Enjoy!

Snakes and Ladders

Hey, blog snorkellers – whassup?

Just a quick one – yesterday’s rant about a certain global PR concern and its lack of control over its own blog (social media + no control = the chocolate cupcake of cock-up) – well, two things.

First – they’ve not taken the offending post down. They must have seen me linking to it, they probably read my comments – a bit of action here, people, please. Actually – bugger off – don’t take it down, it wasn’t a bad post. Just edit bits of it. And you know which bits I mean. Go on – do it now.

Second – a further post on the same blog. Now this is genuine genius. Brilliant. Honestly.

Tell me – would it be too difficult to hook up Author 1 with Author 2? My feeling is that everyone would benefit.

So Many Pitfalls, So Little Time…

And, as I’m not exactly overburdened with spare time myself right this instant, I’ll get straight to the point, dearest blog snorkellers.

Regular snorkellers of this blog will know where I stand. (What’s that? ‘Just to the right of Genghis Khan’? See me afterwards, Blog Snorkeller Minor.) Social media, while not exactly evil (in themselves), are much overrated and are certainly no great shakes in the big MacDonald’s Happy Meal that is marketing and communications. But they are potentially dangerous – which is why I have always advocated tight controls on, and careful monitoring of, their use in a corporate context. There is, sweet reader, massive potential for you and your brand to be sitting, waiting, at home for Mr Fuckup to call.

My other pet bugbear (I breed domesticated bugbears – small, furry, friendly and – if you keep them well fed – they won’t eat your children) is the lack of real talent in PR. Enthusiasm maybe, talent, not so much. And the appalling lack of basic skills. This has always been the case mind, but, for god’s sake, if you can’t write, what are you doing here?

So imagine my delight when I come across this.

Oh yes, people, a blog on behalf of a big PR agency. And they’ve let some hapless staffer loose ‘as part of the foodie contingent of the H&K blogging bunch’. And she can’t write – “Although the initial instinct is that there can be nothing less festive than a pot noodle, it begs to differ that the mere intrigue of such a flavour will generate sales on its own.”

So – it’s a twofer! I’ve got a PR person who – while undoubtedly enthusiastic – is in need of some training, and I’ve found it through the medium of social! (Well, a blog is social media, isn’t it?)  

Serious questions, mind. Who’s moderating the H&K blog, why didn’t they spot this and why doesn’t the company have a more stringent policy in place? Far, far worse – this is a global communications company. They’re supposed to be good at this shit. Much reputational damage on the wold, I’d say.

(I really do hope I’ve haven’t left any typos in this. Now really would not be the time.)