Reading the Cluetrain

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Have you got a Tweetcret? To name or not to name, that is the question.

Recently I have been getting a newsletter from Contagious , a quarterly intelligence briefing in publication that claims to identify  ‘ideas, trends and innovations behind the world’s most’ (and I hate this word but ho hum) ‘revolutionary marketing strategies.’ To date it has been interesting but not sparked more in me than a ‘Hmm’. This issue however, it lead me back to the philosophies of the Cluetrain.

 

 

This time it featured an article about how web trends are cyclical and how a twitter brand extension called tweetcret which takes us back to having an anonymous voice on the web. It made me wonder how this will play out with the hardcore internet community who from my experience definitely follow the Cluetrain’s mantra that everyone and everything should be transparent and named online. Indeed, at a recent event  

 

 

Mirona Lliescu a lovely lady I have met since I have touched this world commented that she is glad that my blog is not anonymous anymore. I explained that I was new to blogging and frankly was more than a bit nervous but I listened to the arguments and figured it was better if people did know who I am even though to be honest a part of me still feels a tad uncomfortable with it.

 

 

But back to tweetcret, I am definitely going to watch that space. As you (probably have already seen) from the current entries the posts are predictably more ‘out there’ than they would be if the poster were named and shamed. The site is on pause at the moment to sort out its spam filter or something and I suspect as does one of the people who has posted that it’s the comments are from ‘the same five girls’ at the moment. The look of the site is distinctly aimed at females and our gossip gene so who knows whether it will gather momentum.

 

 

I guess the argument is that should some areas of the web should be a place where people can “anonymously” rant and express themselves? Will such services be used by a different more mainstream demographic than the hardcore net community? Or will they just reflect the divided identities of our online selves? Or, will such services just die in the water? Personally, I think it will be a combination of ranting and a split personality.

 

 

Before I blogged as a BBC person I had a personal kind of anonymous blog somewhere else. I enjoyed it, I like a rant. It was mostly concerned with kids playing-out their mobile phones on public transport, (I hate that), nightmare dates (why I won’t go out with someone who tattoos VEGAN on the bottom of their back) and my general opinions on life and society. It was for me, and a very small readership of my friends e.g. Fran and Claire (not that I am exactly nudging JK Rowling off her pedestal now of course) I just liked having a place to say what I wanted, get it off my chest without worrying about the consequences. To be honest I don’t feel I can do that here when even my minimal readership know where I work.

 

Hmm, maybe I should subscribe to Tweetcret or as one of the posts on the site says “if you cant say it to her face then that makes you a pussy. grow up.”

 

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

And our survey said…

I am probably going to get hammered for this but I am compelled to write about a blog post by Roy Greenslade that I found today. It’s titled ‘People believe PR officers lie – survey’. Obviously as a PR person who doesn’t believe that my job is actually lying this sort of statement is immediately going to get my back up.

 

The piece however isn’t nearly as annoying as I first thought, (note to self, it helps if you actually read the whole article before you let your blood pressure rise) it comments on a survey by Ciao Surveys which is really annoying.

 

First of all, who the hell are Ciao Surveys? Prior to my escape to the BBC I worked in PR agencies where the survey has been a fall back mechanic for getting lots of coverage quickly. I have heard of MORI, I have heard of YouGov, but who the funk is Ciao Surveys? The fact that they have the word goodbye in the title, (I grant you in Italian to me does not bode well). ‘Yes we’ve done you a survey; no you probably won’t get any coverage, err ciao!’

 

To be honest I don’t know how Ciao work or who uses them, in the past I have used MORI because they are a trusted company and the public recognised the name. They are used frequently by PR companies as is YouGov more recently and the results were usually good, (in terms of coverage volume anyway). But Ciao, well I had a bit of a Google and they get some pretty bad press.

 

But obviously it’s more the subject matter that’s got my goat on this occasion. Like Mr Greenslade I am going to state some facts and put my spin on them (hope you get the irony there…)

 

First of all according to this Goodbye, sorry Ciao Survey ‘60.3% of people in Britain believe that PR officers often lie’. Do they? Do they really? Do 60% of people in the UK actually know we exist? Perhaps they have just seen the term bandied about in the tabloids next to stories about ex wives of a Beatle or sex tape victims represented by Max Clifford in which case I guess fair enough. But to be honest, I really don’t buy that the majority of the population know what this job is even if they have heard the term.

 

When I first left Uni I wanted to make films (like many of the people at the BBC I guess, although I am happy to say that I no longer want this, I have the patience of a gnat so standing around watching Take 26 of some actor giving a false tongue sandwich doesn’t really float my boat anymore) but I digress. So I left Uni and did a bit of work experience here, (Kent Today) a bit of work experience there (Live TV) but then ended up running out of money (read Dad said get a bloody paying job Sarah) and trotting back down the Job Centre. At said Job Centre I came upon an admin role in a PR and Events agency. Hmm, what is this? I thought, part time I thought, full time would be better, but my boyfriend at the time also told me to get my arse down there so off I went.

 

What they did at this agency was not really my concern. I didn’t know what PR was (it has just occurred to me that surely some of them would have called me up when I was at Live TV, ho hum, dunno how that passed me by) but I knew I could answer a phone and would attempt to type and I am a bit gobby so needless to say I got the job.

 

Five minutes later (read weeks) da boss had decided that he would promote me to being an Account Executive because of my interest in the media and so a new PR was born. But again, the concept of what this actually meant I still found difficult to grasp and I was actually doing it, (okay, before you say it yes I might well be a bit thick but you have to admit PR is a bit intangible).

 

Anyway, my long drawn out explanation illustrates my point. PR what is it? My Dad still asks me if I wrote the story when I excitably show him a bit of coverage I helped arrange so I am definitely not the only one who has found this a difficult concept to grasp. Maybe it’s a Mines thing.

 

Apparently a third of Britons believe that the PR industry is necessary – well thank goodness for that.  

 

Roy’s next point is related to peoples understanding of what a PR’s job function involves. They correctly stated media relations, event planning, advertising (not that correct grrr) and word of mouth marketing. As Roy points out these would have been the options they got on the form which says it all.

 

Roy also points out later on that Ciao had to admit that half the respondents couldn’t answer the questions because they either didn’t care or didn’t know the answers. So again, the amount of people who know what the funk PR people do, (if they know they exist at all) or give a monkeys is bound to be minimal.

 

The thing about a survey is that like all documents based on statistics; it can be manipulated, knowing this. Some of them may still be a useful gauge to find out what a small percentage of the population think about a subject but my reaction to this one is that a survey about what people think of the PR industry is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Did a company really commission this or did the people at Ciao just get bored?

 

 

 

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another 48 hours…

Okay, so Over the Air wasn’t exactly 48 hours, more like 36 (as my colleague Sally Trim pointed out) but to be honest it feels like I was camped out at Imperial College for about six weeks.

 

I left the office on Thursday lunch time after having a terse conversation with someone about the non delivery of fact sheets. They say PRs not rocket science but getting the fact sheets on time, blimey o’reilly!!!

 

After dumping my stuff at a near by B&B I trotted through Hyde Park to Imperial to find Ian Forrester alone in a dining room guarding 300 bean bags from the paws of passing students. He had his laptop though so all good.

 

After a fashion Delores from Imperial who took me upstairs to the Internet Centre so I could get on with my first job – stuffing 500 goody bags. During the three hours that this took more or less on my lonesome I had several flashbacks to the school holiday when I tried my hand at fruit packing. Nightmare, couldn’t eat a grapefruit for about three years after that, yuck. Thank god for my discovery of holiday telesales. I am much better at that and it was a great training ground for PR, but ho hum if a jobs got to be done…

 

The rest of the crew arrived around 4pm and started to build the event. We finished at 11ish then found ourselves in the Imperial SU bar for a swift half before bedtime.  

 

Up again at 7am and before you know it I am sitting behind a registration desk looking pretty damn miserable, I have never been a morning person. My face contorted into a smile though as the first attendee arrived and I was relieved to see that we had a steady trickle of speakers and attendees coming in and settling themselves on the reception area bean bags before the keynotes started.

 

The radio began to crackle at just before ten as the runners got into position to move everyone to ‘configuration 1’. It’s no mean feat to get 300 people up some stairs and in the right place safely but Matthew Cashmore and his number two John Bevan and number two and a half Toby Stokes directed superbly so no one dead. Excellent.

 

The boys continued to get runners from A to B to C throughout the event with amazing smoothness the only slight hick-up was when the fire alarm went off on Saturday right in the middle of one of the seminars due to a student microwave incident. I have found out that I look absolutely stunning in a florescent yellow jacket though and that’s an important development.

 

I know I started off going through the event chronologically but the fact now that I am going to nip around a bit is just a symptom of my tiredness and the extra day that I am absolutely sure exists in a week when you do something as strange as a 48 hour hackathon. Suddenly a normal week goes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Hackday, Sunday and you are transported to a parallel universe where there is only you, the team and the attending punters. Nothing else matters, except for keeping them happy, safe and productive. We did it and I am very glad.

 

Highlights and lowlights…

 

I’m not even going to state which ones are which here. If you know me well you will be able to figure them out and frankly it depends which way you look at it and when you ask me.

 

Werewolf – played by a group of hackers and team members from 2-3am on Saturday morning. There were strange noises, times when it was very important to be quiet and apparently this then spawned advanced Werewolf. I’m not sure who won or even if anyone does actually win. I can’t even play 21 so I thought best off out of it.

 

The Torchwood swede – according to wikipedia a swede is to recreate a film using amateur resources. The lovely but frankly mental Ewan Spence and a team of very excited followers bounced up to me on Friday afternoon and the conversation went like this.

 

Ewan: Do you know what a swede is?

 

Me (with some trepidation): A vegetable?

 

Ewan: No

 

Me: A person?

 

Ewan: No

 

Me: Okay what is it Ewan?

 

Ewan: A swede is a recreation of a film or TV programme? We are going to recreate the season finale of Torchwood!!!!!! Can we borrow your camera?

 

Me: Oh, okay then and you want to play it on the big screen before we screen Torchwood right? (Lots of nodding from Ewan). I am going to have to send a cameraman with it though. BRENDAN!!!!!

 

We got through two cameramen by the end of the filming. I didn’t go with them but when the second one Ant Miller came back I thought he would need a cup of hot sweet tea. I had never seen that look in his eyes before and I don’t think I will again. Anyway, have a look enjoy and look out for a guest appearance by Matthew Cashmore as Reese.

 

Phone Fight – not being particularly techy despite my role with the competition entries I was mostly happy when I could understand what something was. Phone fight, the hack by lastminute.com labs was a fight to the death for honour, valour using Series 60 Python over Bluetooth. I really have no idea what I just wrote but it was cool because when two people holding phones pretended to have a sword fight you heard a clinking sound. I was impressed. There’s a nice picture of it on the BBC Internet blog today

 

Cocktails – a team from erm, I think Italy made some sort of cocktail directory. At the same time as the demo one of the team made a cocktail for the compare Dan Appelquist of Mobile Monday. This was funny for two reasons, a) the team soon realised that their audience when they saw Sally and I perk up at the thought as we sat in the front row and b) about three hack demos later Dan suddenly commented from the stage, ‘What was in that cocktail?’ It appeared to have suddenly hit him like a steam train and he was still carrying the glass when we saw him outside the Great Hall half an hour later.
It’s all over: I had one and a half hours sleep, I ate absolute crap when I managed to eat, (which wasn’t much) but as usual despite this I had an absolute blast. Just like Hack Day I’ve seen things I never saw before, talked to people I would never have met before I started this job and I have learnt so much I think my poor tired PR brain is going to explode.

 

What I value the most though is knowing that we can put this sort of event together and make it a success. And it doesn’t matter what the mainstream media say good or bad, (The Guardian (good), Digital Planet (good), The Register (not completely straight but that’s The Register) the BBC team I was part of to make this happen are the best of the best of the best, I love every single one of them and I can’t wait to do this again so watch this space.

 

 

Roll on 21st/22nd of June.   

 

April 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment