Category — Social media
Leaves: a lot to the imagination.
There are certain ideas that just capture the public imagination. Councillor Caroline Salmon’s cycle sculpture was one of those. As soon as I saw her Tweet, seeking sponsors for a sculpture to commemorate cycling in Surrey, I was hooked.
On further investigation, the idea was as simple as it was elegant. Local people were being offered the opportunity to buy one of three hundred steel oak leaves that would be assembled to form the figures of two cyclists and positioned near the foot of Box Hill.
My husband and I are keen mountain bikers and cycling is a fundamental part of our lifestyle. It being our fifth wedding anniversary in July, with a theme of steel, Councillor Caroline’s leaf sponsorship scheme was serendipitous. It provided a perfect opportunity to mark our own special occasion by contributing to a wonderful local community project, marking this historic year of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory and the London Olympics.
I clicked through from @CllrCaroline’s Tweet to read more about the project, spoke to the good lady herself and a few weeks later received leaf number 13, just in time for our anniversary.
We were extremely excited to be invited to the unveiling of the sculpture on July 17th, just three days before the Olympic torch was due to be carried through Dorking on its relay route to Guildford and the Tower of London.
Councillor Caroline had organised a reception for the unveiling, dubbed, “lemonade in the layby”. Hearing her speak, I realised that this was a feat of event management that had been timed to perfection.
By her own account, the idea of installing a cycle sculpture had come to Ms Salmon back in November 2011, when she was looking for a way to commemorate the momentous year of 2012, in her role as chairman of Mole Valley District Council.
In the space of five months Caroline Salmon sought and won planning permission for the installation at the Denbies/Pixham Lane roundabout and found the sculptor, Heather Burrell, to carry out the work. She then got to work using local and social media to promote her project.
Marketing experts talk about the four Ps: product, price, placement, promotion. Councillor Caroline’s project had all of these ingredients, which made it such a success.
Product: It pains me to label it so baldly because the sculpture is a thing of beauty, commemorating a truly historic year in British cycling. The oak leaves reflect the local woodland beauty of Surrey, where many rewarding trails for road cyclists and mountain bikers can be found around Hurtwood, Holmbury St Mary, Leith Hill and Box Hill. The sculpture’s slender design recalls the groundbreaking carbon monocoque frame that steered Chris Boardman to glory in 1992.
Price: At just £40 for a leaf, Councillor Caroline offered members of the local community the opportunity to help create something of real beauty that celebrates the sport that can be enjoyed so well in this area and commemorates an historic year for the nation. Contributing to the sculpture was a perfect way to give something back to the area.
Place: Box Hill will form the most arduous section of the Olympic cycle race, with cyclists powering up the incline nine times. The Olympians will cycle by this sculpture, adding to its history.
The Denbies estate, which borders the sculpture, forms part of the epic Dorking Ups and Downs mountain bike route organised by Wiggle and UK Cycling Events, which celebrates everything that the Surrey Hills can offer a cyclist: the burning legs and lungs, the steep, rooty descents and the glorious unrestricted views from the tops of the Downs.
Promotion: Councillor Caroline Salmon is a lady of considerable energy and enthusiasm, who galvanises those around her. Her use of local media, social media and personal contacts in local government enabled her to pull this together in a frighteningly short time frame and ensured that a fantastic idea came to life in time for the London 2012 celebrations.
On this momentous day when London hosts the Olympic Games for the third time in its history, we wish all of our athletes the very best. We will be watching you and supporting you.
July 27, 2012 No Comments
Early last week I received an email invitation that began, “I noticed your profile on Linked-In and thought you would like to attend our Guildford Link-Up networking event on 12th October”. I read through the attendee list and was surprised to see that I didn’t recognise a single name on the list. Having attended many local networking events over the past four years, organised by #DigitalSurrey, 4N and Business Link, I’d started to see the same names cropping up on the attendee lists. So it was interesting to see that the organisers, Only Marketing, had built a completely new community. I was also impressed to see attendees from major local companies: Autodesk and BAE Systems, so I decided to go along.
Another major attraction to the #Guild-LU event was the presentation on Google+ from Thomas Power, social media expert, Chairman of eCademy and author of “Networking for Life” and “A Friend in every City”.
I was invited to join Google + by Kevin Townsend, a philosopher, security blogger and journalist. Thus far, my involvement has been limited to adding fellow high tech PR professionals and journalists to my circles and +1 ing articles and blogs that I have enjoyed reading, so I was interested in hearing Thomas Power’s views on Google’s new rival to Facebook.
Despite being billed as a Google + presentation, the point that resonated with everyone I spoke to at Guild-LU was Power’s comment that recruiters in the US are now using Klout scores to decide whether or not to interview people for marketing roles. Apparently, if a candidate’s Klout score is below 50, they won’t be interviewed because they are not using social networks sufficiently to be able to influence an audience. He pointed to the fact that Lady GaGa has a Klout score of 92 and that each of her Tweets goes out to 14 million followers, explaining that this means that she could charge $1million per Tweet.
In his YouTube channel Power talks about the key benefit of gaining a larger social network, citing that “1 in 100 people in your network will bring you business, 1 in 1000 will bring you good business and 1 in 10,000 will bring you useful information or mentoring”. He talks about networks improving the flow of information and opportunities to oneself, so the larger your network, the greater the chances of getting the right information and opportunities for your business. Power stated, that, based on social networks having a seven year cycle, both Twitter and Klout would reach critical mass in 2015.
From my own experience, this influx of information and opportunities has certainly proved to be Twitter’s biggest benefit. By following the journalists who write the most on my clients’ sectors, I can discover which news stories are breaking, trending and worth following and quickly pick up on the key issues facing our industry. But it’s not all business, Twitter also allows me to enjoy banter with friends and former colleagues as though we’re still sharing the same office. As Thomas Power states, the power of social media is about sharing knowledge and ideas. I would add that social media also allows us to create a dream team of our favourite colleagues so that we can get the right information, be more productive and have fun in the process.
Big thanks to Jane Sherwood for my invitation to Guild-LU. I’m already looking forward to the next event.
October 14, 2011 No Comments
This has been a landmark week for social media and privacy.
On Monday morning, 9th May, Jemima Khan Tweeted: “I’ve woken up trapped in a bloody nightmare,” after allegations appeared on Twitter 8th May that she had taken out a super-injunction to prevent certain pictures being published, or even alluded to. In spite of the fact that UK newspapers were prohibited from even referring to the case, the allegations were widely reTweeted and Ms Khan was quick to use Twitter to refute them.
As testament to the old William Randolph Hearst phrase, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”, with just six Tweets to his or her name, the person who made the allegation against Ms Khan had accrued 112,627 followers by 13th May.
While the 8th May Tweet was clearly in breach of UK law, as a US company, Twitter does not have to comply with UK super-injunctions. Legal experts have commented that Twitter would have a strong defence under US law and the right to freedom of speech. This throws up a number of legal and privacy issues, the chief one being whether country specific gagging orders can be upheld in the age of global social media and citizen journalism.
The UK Parliament is now set to debate whether to update the privacy laws enshrined in the Human Rights Act of 1998, so that social media use is covered by the same rules governing print journalism. While some commentators predict that this will lead to censorship of Twitter, its founder Biz Stone has stated that he will not remove controversial Tweets.
A number of commentators have discussed this erosion of privacy by social media, with a particularly good post by Chris Moffatt eConsultancy.
Just as the Khan/Twitter clamour died down, another social media v. privacy story broke. On Thursday 12th May, Facebook admitted that it had hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to raise awareness of alleged privacy infringements and data scraping by Google’s Social Circles application. The admission came after a PR executive had approached online privacy expert, blogger and former Federal Trade Commission researcher, Christopher Soghoian, to interest him in writing an opinion piece on the alleged privacy infringements. Soghoian asked the PR executive which company he was representing. When the PR executive declined to name his client, Mr Soghoian published the email exchange online and the PR company was accused of running a smear campaign. The campaign was traced back to the client and the story attracted negative publicity for both client and PR.
Looking over the events of this week it would appear that in the social media age, the discipline is to balance old fashioned ethics with new media to ensure that what goes up does not bring you down.
UPDATE: Tim Jowitt has reported in eWeek that the British High Court has issued an injunction specifically prohibiting Twitter and Facebook users from publishing damaging information online that could reveal someone’s identity in a particularly sensitive case http://www.eweekeurope.co.uk/news/facebook-and-twitter-hit-with-injunction-ruling-29234
May 15, 2011 No Comments
In an earlier post I talked about Alex Blythe’s excellent writing course. In that course, Alex promoted the use of short, clear sentences. He also warned against using jargon.
Yesterday this was reinforced when I saw a Tweet from Chris Green with his recommendation:
“Fellow journalists, please read this, print it out, laminate it, stick it by your monitor, read it every day: http://bit.ly/gqu7NW”
That captured my interest, so I clicked on the link to investigate.
Chris was publicising an article by Tim Radford in the Guardian, in which he explained his 25 “commandments” for good journalism. While these are directed at journalists, a good number of the rules apply to PR copywriting and so I’ve summarised them here:
- Identify your reader before beginning to write and make your story relevant
- Try summing up your story into one sentence. That will often become your first sentence
- Your first sentence is the most important one
- Use simple language to tell your story and avoid jargon
- Use words correctly
- Avoid superlatives
- If your story is complex, select one aspect and stick to it
- “No one will ever complain because you have made something too easy to understand.”
No matter how long we stay in this business, it’s always helpful to be reminded of why we are writing and who we are writing for. As Mr Radford points out, the whole point of writing is to entice people to read. This can sometimes be forgotten in the effort to gain client copy approval and meet editorial deadlines. But if we don’t get readers then we can’t convey our client’s message.
Mr Radford states: “9. So if an issue is tangled like a plate of spaghetti, then regard your story as just one strand of spaghetti, carefully drawn from the whole. Ideally with the oil, garlic and tomato sauce adhering to it. The reader will be grateful for being given the simple part, not the complicated whole. That is because (a) the reader knows life is complicated, but is grateful to have at least one strand explained clearly, and (b) because nobody ever reads stories that say “What follows is inexplicably complicated …”
So, if there is one strand of spaghetti that we could pull from this, it is that you must know who your reader is before you start writing and tell them your client’s story as simply as possible. I still laugh about my PR colleague who returned to journalism and was astonished to receive a press release on garden tools after requesting information on mobile technology.
So, thanks to Chris for the Tweet. It never hurts to go back to basics.
January 20, 2011 No Comments
A trend that has been emerging among my circle of friends. People who used to call, text, or email me now send a FaceBook message.
I know that this trend is driven by the fact that many of my friends now own iPhones, HTC Desires, BlackBerry and Nokia smart phones. It’s just as easy for them to log into Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and send everyone a message while they’re travelling to work as it is to send the same message via mobile email.
Why am I remarking on this?
Because if I’m in the middle of a work task and an email arrives from a friend, I’ll read and respond. If I’m in the middle of something and an email arrives with a link to a Facebook message, it goes onto the back burner.
Why? Because I have to log in to the social network, find the message and respond. While I’m there I know I’ll see at least half a dozen other messages that I’d like to respond to.
Those two extra steps make me conclude, “This will take time, I’m likely to get distracted and start looking at fun stuff, so I need to wait until after work”.
As a rule, I will leave Twitter open in the background while I’m working and regularly check and respond to Tweets and direct messages from journalists, clients, analysts and colleagues. For Facebook, I tend not to, because it puts me in the wrong frame of mind for work: a little like taking a laptop to a pub with loud music, rather than working from a cafe.
In January FierceMobileContent reported Garner’s prediction that by 2013 more people will access Web sites from their phones than their PCs, with 1.78 billion PCs jostling for Web access against 1.82 billion mobile phones. In other words, I’m going to be getting more friends contacting me through websites that they’ve accessed from their mobile. So I’d better get with the programme.
Quocirca analyst, Rob Bamforth, has also commented on the growing problem of keeping on top of email, IM and social media and come up with an interesting suggestion: Filofax 2.0.
Just as architects have long recognised the existence of the “desire line”: that path that humans will instinctively carve across lawns, ignoring the pathways laid in stone by the building’s designers, I’ve come to the conclusion that people should be able to reach me however they want to reach me.
My task is to determine when and how to respond.
November 10, 2010 No Comments