Postings from the Edge

Global PR, new PR, social media and printing ink

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Online newspaper advertising presses forward

Forwarded without comment...

Figures released by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) report that advertising expenditures for newspaper Web sites increased by 21.1% in the third quarter of 2007 versus the same period in the previous year.

In dollars and cents,that represents a total of $773 million in online ad spending in the third quarter. The increase is the 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for online newspaper advertising recorded since the NAA started tracking online ad spending in 2004.

Online newspaper advertising now accounts for 7.1% of total newspaper ad spending, compared with 5.4% for last year’s third quarter.

On the downside, total advertising expenditures at US newspapers were only $10.9 billion for the third quarter of 2007, a 7.4% decrease from a year earlier.

“Broad economic issues are impacting our industry the same way they are impacting other media,” said NAA CEO John Sturm. “The continued fallout from declines in the housing market clearly affects real estate, recruitment and retail advertising.”

Thursday, 6 December 2007

PR exists in Denmark - it's official

Finally, proof that public relations does actually exist in Denmark. This morning I got a letter from Danmarks Statistik, the body that categorizes companies and economic activity, informing me that public relations and communications now have a category of their own. For the past five years I've been classified under "Other company advisors".

Does this mean that PR is finally beginning to make an impact in Denmark as an independent profession rather than referring to the press releases the marketing department sends out? I hope so.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Technology makes way for people

I've just heaved a huge sigh of relief. No, not because it's Friday, but because Geoff Livingston over at the Now is Gone blog has posted a story that restores my faith in PR. It is about how social media and traditional PR sit together quite nicely thank you and that effective use of the old and the new depends on your relationship with people.

It has been a depressing couple of weeks to be in PR. The mainstream press in the US and high profile bloggers have highlighted various stories that (justly) raise concerns about the tactics used by PR people and online marketers. It reached the stage this week that I was almost afraid to pick up the phone and speak to journalists because I was afraid of what the reaction might be.

Geoff's post underlines how good PR - and good business generally, I would add - is about good hands-on, craftmanship. Know your tools, know your materials and know your customer. It is slightly ironic that high technology is taking us back in this way. But for me that is waht web 2.0 is about - the machinery getting out of the way of the people.

By the way, I did pick up the phone and call plenty of journalists this week - and they were without exception kind, courteous and willing to talk about what they needed for their publications.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Death of an ad salesman

I've commented before on figures that show falling adsales for newspapers and how some think that means the end of the industry. Figures from this week show that advertising sales are continuing to fall.

I've never really understood why so much emphasis is placed on advertising in the newspaper business model - alright I know why, I just think that the emphasis is misplaced. On a very basic level it makes up for all the times as a journalist I was told by ad salesmen that they "pay my wages" with a superior air. All my spluttering anger trying to justify that it was my fantastic words that sold the paper or magazine are now coming back to haunt them.

Because if anything is proven by the downward spiral of ad revenues it is that content matters.

Papers aren't precious, but journalists and other content creators are. It is time for publishers to realise that there's nothing wrong with the reading public, just the publishers' business model.
While ad revenues drop for newspapers, the picture is different for business to business magazines. However, there aren't many media correspondents or pundits that focus much attention on the b2b number sector. In fact, the number of new magazines remains stable with a slight increase. While ad revenue is falling, b2b magazines are actually increasing revenues when you include online, trade shows and other spin-offs.

To underline: yes, paper editions may soon be lining the bottom of the budgie's cage. However, the content lives on is RSS feeds, on blogs, in databases, on social bookmarking sites.

Now who's paying whose wages?

Thursday, 22 November 2007

This just in...

from the doom and gloom department.

Newspaper ads are continuing to fall - therefore print is dead. Yay, all the geeks cheer.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Old-fashioned PR with a web spice

Heather Yaxley has a great post on her blog about why Social Media isn't the be all and end all of PR.
I have to admit to moment of euphoria where my enthusiasm with the social media release tends to overshadow everything.
Today was a good counterpoint to that. Today was a good solid - traditional - grind of a day building up a media list of relevant journalists for a new client. Where I have bought in lists in the past for some clients, this time it is all handbuilt and checked with phone calls to the editors to check if they are interested - before the release goes out.
Although I haven't been able to get through to everyone and have reverted to emailing some of the really busy ones, it has been a good learning experience in an industry that I don't know well enough yet. Chatting to editors, if you can get their attention, is a rewarding experience and best done before the "are you going to use it?" phone call - which incidentally I hate (along with all other PR practitioners I should imagine).
While this part of the job hasn't changed for years, I did it by cross-referencing database info with internet searches, and logging the time and contacts with two different web-based applications. Which brought it home to me how social media really is important but still just one tool in the toolbox.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Taking web experiences into the social sphere

Just kicked off a very exciting web project with the International Business programme at Copenhagen Business School. What started off as a web writing project is developing into something a bit special.
Copenhagen Business School is one of the leading business schools in Europe, but hasn't always had the awareness it deserves. So, together with a group of present students, I'm working on polishing up the web site so it can attract the attention of future students.
From the initial chats we quickly decided that instead of just brushing up the copy we would try and incorporate external blogs, social bookmarking, linking and all sorts of web 2.o bits and pieces to give an idea of the life of students.
The CMS the site uses is a bit restrictive - but has a nice right-hand column that we can use to tuck away bits of code and links off the main site.
The idea is that the main site will carry much of the information needed about studying at Copenhagen Business School, while the outside links will be about the 'experience'.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Social media releases - now in Denmark!

Enough talk, time for action. I've been following the ongoing discussion about social/new media releases for a while, but I thought it was about time to get involved. So here is the link to Denmark's first social media release for Velorbis bikes. Perhaps not the first - and I'd be happy to hear of others. Leave a comment if you know.

Its built up on the Shift Communications template using PRXBuilder (thanks to Shannon Whitley). I have tried to include as much as possible to try and make it as useful as possible for journalists and bloggers alike. That means links from the release to the Velorbis web site, YouTube video and links to pictures, others resources, blogs and articles.

It also has links to send the story to social bookmarking services and the most important - the opportunity to comment and take part in the conversation. It is social media after all.

It isn't the first I've sent out - the others were for another client, b2bCRM , but they didn't quite have the richness of detail of this one, but the next ones will.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Bad PR or lazy journalists?

This has not been the week to be in PR. Chris Andersen, author of the Long Tail and editor of Wired, unleashed a tidal wave of complaints and counter reaction by publishing a list of emails belonging to PR people who didn't pitch him in the right way. The post created 300 comments, some agreeing, some disagreeing.

While I agree with Chris in much of what he says, PR bashing is too easy to do for journalists.
I spent 10 years as a trade journalist, before emails really took off, so I can count myself lucky in that. My best friend during that time was a rubbish bin and a red pen. The rubbish bin speaks for itself. Crap press releases weren't invented with emails - they have always been with us. And it is still just as easy to get rid of them.

The red pen was to improve the press releases that were sent. When I was training as a journalist there were two golden rules: never put a release in unaltered, and never print it without ringing up for further information. As far as I can see that doesn't happen anymore.
It isn't the job of the PR person to write the story. The PR person should alert the journalist to the story and then help them get the facts and then get out of the way.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in the past three years a journalist has followed up a press release with a call for an extra quote or an angle more specific to their industry. Many have become lazy. They choose the obvious stories and ignore those that need time or thought. That's not good for journalism or PR.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Web 2.0 = PR 2.0

Just came across this survey here on the Lewis PR website that claims that "web 2.0" has made PR a more visible process.

"The study showed 96 per cent of companies recognise the importance of PR. In addition, almost two thirds recognise that Web 2.0 has made it a more visible process. 60 per cent believe that the advent of consumer journalism had made PR business-critical, with social media seen to be having an impact on profit and consumer satisfaction."

Friday, 19 October 2007

Social media gets ready to take off

There's a great disscussion going on at the moment about the nature of Social Media Releases (SMRs). There are several great bloggers involved - leading lights of the SMR movement, even - and the quality of discussion is very high.
Have a look in the sidebar for the links or go here:

There's so much happening in this area that it is hard to track, but if you keep an eye on these three blogs then you won't miss much.

I have been a little suspicous about calls for the death of the press release - as it strikes me that it is a case of killing the messenger not the message, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher's press secretary. But I think in the latest version of the arguments we are moving further away from the focus on format and more towards content and context. Social media is getting ready to take off.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The future of the press release

Brian Solis is starting a multi part blog on the future of the press release over at PR 2.0 - Silicon Valley. Brian is one of the leading voices in the movement to open up PR with social media techniques and replace the press release with something better.

I'd like to drop the idea of press releases vs. social media releases because in the end we are talking about a single format (albeit a staple one) in the PR armoury. It isn't about format it is about content - the what, why, who, where, when and how.

In its most basic form a press release is raw content - no bells or whistles, just the facts. That many press releases are abused by the long and laborious route through corporate hierarchies is beyond doubt, but it still plays well to the number one audience - journalists.

It does so because the journalists still write stories in the same format, newspapers print them and news wires, despite their best efforts, still distribute most of their stories in plain text. By insisting of the death of one format over the other or the supremacy of digital over paper formats doesn't really do anything for me but obscure the real job for PR people - getting hold of people not talking about channels.

Talking about social media releases is good because it exposes businesses to an idea that they might not otherwise be receptive to. Physical products drive processes not the other way round. I am advocating social media releases not necessarily because they are better, but becuase they pioneer the idea that you can't control information anymore, you can only take part in the conversation.

I still expect to send out a great deal of press releases in my lifetime, I also expect to speak to a lot of journalists on the phone, text them tips, add links to delicious, blog and, yes, even make a few social media releases available

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

26 reasons to click here

26, a group for business writers in the UK, has just launched its latest project that aims to bring creativity into business writing.

"As part of the 2007 London Design Festival, '26 Posters' set a challenge to twenty-six pairs of writers and designers. To create a six-word poster that somehow comments on or reflects its immediate location. That's it. Simple, but devilishly tricky."

Have a look at what words can do - you can also see some of the other projects on the web site

Monday, 24 September 2007

Great cycling blog

Proof that cycling and chic go together in Copenhagen

read more | digg story

Friday, 20 July 2007

Carlsberg's disappointing global ambition

Carlsberg, the Danish brewer, is looking for a new chief executive to replace Nils Smedegaard Andersen. The company has gone through a huge amount of change over the past seven- eight years, moving from being a national producer with a few international outposts to being a truly global corporation with common policies and practices. So what is the profile of the new CEO? He needs to be Danish, according to the chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation.
The reason is that Carlsberg is more integrated in Danish society than any other and any CEO needs to find his way around ministries, government and the arts, says the chairman Povl Krogsgaard-Larsen to daily business paper Børsen.
What staggering narrowness of vision! Close to 90% of Carlsberg's turnover is generated outside Denmark, how about finding someone who can manage that?
Krogsgaard-Larsen's comment raises two points about globalisation in Denmark:

  • Globalisation is something that goes on 'out there'
  • It implies that Danes are natural global leaders that nip out and solve the world's problems in an afternoon after doing the really complicated stuff at home.

Both of course are nonsense. While I suspect Carlsberg knows better, the Carlsberg Foundation (which owns 51% of the company) ought to be ashamed of such a comment

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

... and just to prove my point

Morten Lund (who will forever be known as a Skype investor although he does other things) has blogged this. It is a web service that sits on the end of a PDF workflow and converts the files into a virtual book or magazine that is searchable by Google

Now if you can just combine this with a feed into the local digital printer who can rattle you off a copy and post it to your home address...

The death of print media - again

Forbes has a story about how online media is going to put an end to print media

It's a good story, but in these days when xml is separating content and structure I can't help thinking that the reporter is barking up the wrong tree. The big fuss about paper vs. screen is about a delivery mechanism and how you attach ads to that mechanism. We should be focusing on content and then delivering that content in the way people want it - paper or screen. The production systems need to be flexible enough so people can choose. Its the news that ought to matter, not the box in comes in.

And I wouldn't rule out paper just yet - when everyone is competing for space on a screen, a well-timed delivery of good old fashioned paper might just be a refreshing change. If it were me, I'd make people subscribe to the content and let them choose how they want to read.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Great new media books

A bit late on this one, but I've been busy. A good list of 25 books that help explain 'new media' . Glad to see the old favourites such as The Cluetrain Manifesto and Gonzo Marketing on the list.

The future of PR pitching

An interesting post by Brian Sollis from FutureWorks. He was responding to a post by Robert Scoble who suggested that PR people pitch him on his Facebook wall.
In this post Brian very nicely sums up what PR people should be doing (and in my opinion should always have been doing) with regard to new media. There's a difference between journalists, bloggers and the public at large.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Tips for great international PR

International PR has a reputation for being complicated, time-consuming and expensive. With so many countries and thousands of newspapers, magazines and web sites to target, costs can quickly get out of hand. But the key is to focus on getting the most out of each market – not to cover them all equally. Here’s a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Start by looking at your business objectives and how you can achieve them. This is particularly important with international PR – by focusing only on what’s relevant to your needs, you can cut a long list of potential journalists in half.
  2. Be choosy. Only target the top two or three publications in each business segment. PR is about building awareness, but some publications are more highly regarded than others. Stick to the ones that matter.
  3. Go to the publication’s web site and get hold of its editorial features list. A features list tells you when a magazine will write about a particular topic, use it to plan your communications.
  4. Build a list of key publications – and use it. Make a point of contacting the relevant journalists on a regular basis. You don’t have to send a press release. Often, a short email ‘tip-off’ is enough, or just give them a call.
  5. If you have a news story that is relevant to several different markets, buy a mailing list or have it distributed on a wire service such as PR Newswire. This way your story will be used on Google News, MSN, Yahoo and others. It also means that if someone searches for your company there’s a greater chance they’ll find you.
  6. Use your web site actively. Upload your latest news and make sure it can be found by search engines through the smart use of keywords or by making an RSS feed. You can even ‘blog’ your news and let specific blog search services know when your blog is updated.
  7. Become an expert on your own national market or region. That way, journalists will want to contact you for information!

Monday, 18 June 2007

Problematic 'point and shoot' PR

I'm working for a client at the moment who has dropped all advertising and instead is just concentrating on Google adwords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for those in the know). One of my jobs has been to make sure that the keywords and search terms that are proving popular are also reflected in the press release.

Optimising and sending out press releases is a growing trend and there are more and more companies offering to send out a killer press release that'll help boost your search engine ratings.
But as more companies rush into this 'point and shoot' PR, it's worth considering once again who your targets really are. If you are trying to get a double page spread in the local business daily (Børsen, in my case) the benefits of releasing the story on the internet equivalent at the same time is really a waste of time. Journalists want exclusives, or at the least a fair run at beating the competition.

I think PR is developing towards a two-tier approach:

  1. The personal relationships developed with journalists and bloggers that will get the targeted quality coverage. These are the people that can move opinions: they need one-to-one attention not blanket coverage

  2. The ratings battle - getting your release on the right sites and feeds and getting clicks back to the right web site.
Both these are important and if you get the balance right will result in good coverage and good results, which is what PR is all about.

Monday, 11 June 2007

"If I'm short of any articles on my website, then I get someone in India to write me a couple."

As a writer and PR professional, the above comment in a meeting shook me a little. But it really shows where the world is going and where some of the challenges exist for global communicators.

I earn a living by helping Danish companies to communicate in English, my native language. I tell myself that I'm competing with other Danish bureaus that can't write or communicate in English so well. But as the quote shows, that's not really the case. I'm now competing with the world and especially with former British colonies where 'proper' English is still taught.

The argument against outsourcing texts is of course that client contact is all important and you can only develop a good text with the active participation of the client. And you can argue that with modern technology briefing a writer in India is no different from briefing one in London or Stockholm - or Copenhagen.

As communications professionals we need to make sure that the client sees the value in what we do - but there may be areas where we can benefit from outsourcing.

No doubt there is a retired journalist somewhere in Bangalore who can copy edit faster than I can - giving me time to spend on other tasks.

Back on the chain gang

I could have been famous.
I started a blog in 2001 on the encouragement of the exasperatingly active Jeneane Sessum who I blogged with on GonzoEngaged, the first team website on blogspot. But I couldn't stick to it because I didn't feel I had anything to say. At the time I was working for the Danish brewer Carlsberg and the conflict between work responsibilities and private comments was difficult to square. Now, I 'm trying again and this time there are no conflicts - I am my company!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

TraceWorks makes marketing management a science

A DKK30 million investment will help the Danish company develop software to meet the growing need for marketing return on investment

Copenhagen, Denmark (May 10, 2007) –TraceWorks, a Danish company specialising in marketing management software for advertisers, is expanding globally thanks to a DKK30 million (€4 million) investment.

The funding from Nordic Venture Partners will enable the company’s can-do marketing software Headlight™ to challenge existing players such DoubleClick, TradeDoubler, 24/7 Real Media, Mediaplex, Unica and Aprimo.

Nordic Venture Partners is a venture capital firm with a portfolio of investments in the Information and Communications Technology sector. TraceWorks was ‘spotted’ for development by Morten Lund of LundKenner who is internationally respected for his ability to spot young business talents and up and coming tech companies such as Skype, Zyb, Zecco, and Maxthon.