Monday, 30 November 2009

Twitter Takes the English Language by Storm

It’s not exactly a secret that digital media is changing the face of marketing and PR at an incredible pace. But perhaps more surprising is the way that the two leading social media platforms are now impacting not just on our communication habits, but also on the way we speak. Over the last twelve months Facebook has become a verb, as in ‘Facebook me’. And now, the Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘Twitter’ was the most popular word or phrase in the entire English language during 2009.

The word Twitter beat ‘Obama’, ‘H1N1’, ‘stimulus’ and ‘vampire’ as the most popularly used word in the English language this year, and it was also the second most searched topic of 2009 according to Microsoft’s search engine Bing. Only Michael Jackson was searched for more since the engine launched in June, with the phrases ‘swine flu’, ‘stock market’, ‘Farrah Fawcett’ and ‘Patrick Swayze’ out-Binged by the year’s most high profile social media sensation.

Looking at the words and phrases that make up these lists, there are clear reasons for most of them, with the swine flu/H1N1 pandemic probably the story of the year and popular icons like Jackson, Fawcett and Swayze all passing away in 2009. But for Twitter to beat all of these in terms of public interest is extraordinary and shows just how much impact the likes of Twitter and Facebook now have. Even the word ‘unfriend’ recently scooped the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year.

Are you as amazed and surprised about Twitter’s impact on everyday English this year as me? Please let us know in the comments.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Android & Social Media: A Match Made in Google?

In the world of mobile digital media, there’s a war going on. Usage of smartphones is predicted to rocket over the next six months as mobile social media comes more and more to the fore, and that means there’s a huge market just ripe for the picking. So as always happens with emerging technologies, a format war has erupted. But in this case it’s not the devices themselves which are battling it out for market share – it’s the operating systems that smartphones rely upon to work.

On the one hand, there’s the iPhone, which obviously uses an Apple operating system. On the other hand there’s the Blackberry, which uses the RIM platform. And then on the other other hand (yes, you have to be multi-dextrous in the digital world), there’s the Android platform from Google, which is being built into numerous devices. Oh yes, and on the other other other hand, there’s the Microsoft Windows operating system, again being used in multiple devices. Confusing, isn’t it?

It’s no surprise at present that the iPhone rules the smartphone world. Around 44% of mobiles are now smartphones, and the iPhone accounts for approximately 50% of those. But it’s Google’s Android technology that is making up a lot of ground on Apple, rated as vastly superior to Microsoft’s ‘clunky’ Windows platform and more flexible than the obviously Blackberry-centric and rather corporate RIM system. The latest mobile metrics report from AdMob says that in the last six months, use of Android devices has increased by an incredible six times, with market share now at around 20%.

Additionally, digital media website Mashable recently carried out a reader poll of over 5000 smartphone users in which 66% voted for Android over iPhone. People cited “the openness of the platform and third-party development process, as well as Android’s versatility, being able to be put to use not just on phones but also netbooks, tablet devices, eReaders and more”.

As someone who has just upgraded to an Android-powered HTC smartphone, I felt particularly smug to read that my hours of research resulted in making the right choice. But I can’t help but wonder, am I playing into Google’s sneaky plan to take over the entire digital world?

What are your views on the iPhone v Blackberry v Android v Windows war? And what experiences of any of these platforms have you had? Leave a comment below...

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Are lazy men a myth?

New research suggests that women are exaggerating their partner’s faults at home in order to feel more in control. A study involving 15,000 female breadwinners concluded that they feel guilty about working, and so criticise the home-making abilities of the men in their lives in order to feel more in control of the traditionally female household roles.

“Working women who provide the majority of the household's income continue to articulate themselves as the ones who 'see' household messes and needs as a way to retain claims to an element of a traditional feminine identity,” says Dr Rebecca Meisenbach, an American academic. “By highlighting stories of how men have to be told or asked to do specific chores in the home, these female breadwinners are making sure they still fit gender boundaries of a wife as someone who manages the home and children.”

It’s hard to comment on this story without getting into the debate about whether women can ever ‘have it all’, but what really stood out for me is that the whole situation is just a bit sad. It’s almost 2010, and our attitudes don’t seem to have moved on much from the Fifties. More and more women are becoming the breadwinners in their relationships, but they are unwilling to give up the ‘domestic’ role that society expects from them. At the same time, they are refusing to appreciate that their partners can handle things at home.

Is it about time we all just played to our strengths and made them work for us and our relationships? Should women stop expecting their men to be perfect, and stop taking everything on themselves? After all, it’s not good for anyone. It seems to me that by moving away from out-dated ideas about feminine and masculine household roles, everyone could be a hell of a lot happier!

What do you think?

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Overpaid Actors? It’s Official...

Hmm, surely we’ve all known for a long time now that many A-List Hollywood actors are somewhat overpaid. But yesterday this was confirmed when a list of the top 10 most overpaid actors was revealed.

Funny man Will Ferrell apparently gives the worst return at the box office than anyone else with a mere £1.72 return for every £1 he’s paid. Our very own Ewan McGregor comes in second earning an estimated £5million per film but only earning back an average of £2.25. They are in good company though, with Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey and Billy Bob Thornton all featuring in the list's top ten.

There does however seem to be an overriding theme. I personally think Ferrel is a comedy genius in his earlier movies with Anchorman (2004) and Elf (2003) being two of my all time favorite films. McGregor shot to fame with the critically-acclaimed Trainspotting back in 1996 and also had a major role in Star Wars, which is one of the most successful film series in history. But these stars seemed to have reached their peak, had their heyday and are now on their way down with their most recent movies completely flopping at the box office.

Ferrel’s Land of the Lost, released this summer, is said to have cost £60million to make but earned just £39million worldwide for Hollywood studio Universal Pictures – now that’s gotta hurt! On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good ROI, Transformers star Shia Labeouf seems to be a good bet, bringing home £134 for every £1 he’s paid.

Most overvalued stars:

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Can Corporate Branding in Football Be a Poison Chalice?

There’s an almighty storm brewing between some football clubs and their supporters at present, sparked by perhaps one of the biggest PR disasters in recent sporting memory. In October, the much-maligned owner of Newcastle United FC, Mike Ashley, announced that he wanted to sell naming rights to the club’s home, St James’ Park, in order to maximise the club’s commercial revenues. That in itself wasn’t disastrous, but renaming the ground to his own company’s name to show how the naming rights could work has infuriated fans and turned a once great club into a bit of a laughing stock. After all, the @ St James' Park Stadium doesn’t really have much of a ring to it, does it?

Since then, both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have announced that they are considering selling naming rights to their stadiums, with varying responses. In the case of Chelsea this would involve renaming Stamford Bridge, the club’s home for over 100 years, and supporters aren’t happy about it. But in the case of Tottenham, the naming rights would be sold when it builds a completely new stadium (pictured above), in the same way as Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers have done. History shows that such naming rights are generally accepted by fans.

So why is corporate branding such a PR travesty for Newcastle United but accepted by Arsenal? In the first instance, the name counts for a lot. Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium or Bolton’s Reebok Stadium work. They’re simple and the brands themselves are inoffensive and suited to the clubs they sponsor. On the other hand, the @ St James' Park Stadium is not only a mouthful, but it also further ties an owner and a brand to the club that fans feel has already gone a long way toward destroying it. Even as a neutral, you can’t help but feel that the @ St James' Park Stadium is particularly ugly. It feels like Ashley is kicking supporters when they’re down, and even MP David Clelland has called for him to reconsider his decision.

In PR terms, reputation is everything. It’s just a shame that Newcastle’s owner seems intent on destroying the club’s…

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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The goose is getting fat… but we’re getting thinner!

Apparently, today is the day women will start their Christmas diets, so chances are there’s going to be a lot less cake in the office than in recent weeks ( Six out of ten women are planning to start getting in shape for the festive season, and particularly for their office parties.

On average, each woman wants to lose 10lb, with 71% hoping to shed the weight with a healthy balanced diet. However, almost one in ten plan to skip the odd meal completely, and another four per cent will cut out breakfast from their daily routine.

This is bad news for British Lion eggs, who did the research. However, it’s provided them with the perfect opportunity to encourage women to consider eggs for breakfast. ‘Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and therefore can help with weight management,' a spokesman said.

It’s a nice story that’s bound to get plenty of coverage online and in the papers, and a great way of promoting British Lion eggs to an audience who are unlikely to be reading about them otherwise.
So how do you like your eggs in the morning? We’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re going to lose 10lb before our Christmas party in five weeks…

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Monday, 9 November 2009

Simon Cow- ard???

So is it rigged, did Simon Cowell feels his own acts were being threatened by Lucy’s talent or is he just a plain and simple wimp?

Lucie Jones’ shock exit from X Factor last night has created widespread speculation and horror not only at the fact that such a talented singer has been ejected from the competition when the entirely talentless Jedward remain but at the gutless way Simon had the opportunity to boot out the ‘horrific” twosome (his words not mine) but instead wimped out and put it down to the public vote.

All the way through this years competition Simon has ranted about the fact X Factor is a ‘singing competition’ but yet his actions didn’t reflect his words when faced with the seemingly easy choice of choosing either the highly talented and gorgeous Lucie Jones or the terrible out of tune and laughable twins. And so is it any coincidence that the twins have been talked about in every newspapers since the live shows began, is Simon just worried the show’s free PR would leave as they do??

Who should we blame for this travesty – Simon for not following his convictions, or us, the public for apparently continuously voting for this ridiculous act?

Personally I think the answer is both. Simon has lost all credibility for doing this and has clearly voted for ratings and publicity over talent and not only that didn’t even have the bottle to do it publicly. For a media mogul such as Mr Cowell, a man who has the responsibility of making or crushing the hopes and dreams of contestants every week, it really is a disgraceful decision.

And as for the public, well what can I say – what are you all doing?? If you really want to hear those two talentless twins on the radio for the next year then keep voting the way you are… or if you would rather someone with actual talent wins then please, please stop voting for them!!!

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