Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Life starts now…

The recent tragic and untimely death of Brittany Murphy adds to a growing list of young stars and starlets who are dying young. She was found unconscious in her bathroom after suffering cardiac arrest aged just 32. A raft of speculation surrounds her death, eating disorders, plastic surgery, and narcotics but whatever the reason, it is a startling reality that this once bright and successful actress will no longer light up our screens.

There is a whole list of stars who have left us this year Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Patrick Swayze, Stephen Gately and Jade Goody, to name but a few… and however they died they all have one thing in common they all died well before their time and most of them in their 30’s.

I am turning 30 in 2010 so for me it becomes all too real. So my message today is simple - Life is short. Live it to the fullest! Enjoy all that it has to offer. Don’t wait for tomorrow, get started now.

Brittany was a talented actress, was loved by many and seemed very down to earth and likeable so Brittany RIP, and to quote her co-star and ex boyfriend Ashton Kutcher “ the world has lost a little bit of sunshine.”

So if your life starts now what are you going to do differently?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow joke

If you live in the south of England, like we do, you might have noticed that it’s been snowing. A lot. I am writing this from my house, where I expect to be for quite some time, as my Peugeot 206 does not come with snow chains (some NPD for next year, perhaps?). I’ve been wondering, how many other people are stuck at home? Has the economy ground to a halt?

Snow days aren’t what they once were. I have a laptop, server access, a mobile phone… no excuse to stop working. Lucky me! It’s not as much fun as being in the office, but very little changes, except I get to wear my dressing gown over my clothes when I get cold. I’d imagine a lot of the media industry is in the same position, as the benefit of our job is you can do it anywhere. If you have an iPhone or a Blackberry, you can even work while you’re staying overnight in your car (as hundreds of very lucky people had to do in the South East last night).

I’d imagine that other professions are hit a bit harder in extreme weather conditions. My boyfriend, who works with children, is having some ad hoc holiday at the moment as neither he nor said children can get to his place of work. Anyone who builds things, or drives things, is probably at home as well. This must have a massive effect on the economy, especially if the snow carries on for several days, as it is at the moment. I expect the weather is also having a pretty detrimental effect on insurance companies, as cars slide off the road into ditches, bushes, other cars… I hope no-one is too attached to their no-claims bonus.

We all wanted a white Christmas… is this a case of being careful what you wish for? How is the weather affecting you? Do you think I’m being a bit of a Scrooge about the whole thing, or are you finding it harder to drive home for Christmas than Chris Rea?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Digital Media in 2010: The Web Goes Real Time

As the year draws to a close, every man and his dog seems to be publishing summaries of 2009 and predictions for 2010. So, though I don’t have a pooch sat by me, I thought I’d take the opportunity of my last blog post of the year to take a look at what 2010 offers the digital world.

2009’s been about evolution. Aside from the death of MJ, swine flu and canny Geordie Jer Mec-Elderry geein an to win X-Facta pet, Twitter has been the social media equivalent of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment: a big story. After Stephen Fry-led explosive growth in the first six months of the year where brands were jumping on the bandwagon faster than a Usain Bolt 100 metres (to see just how fast that is, see below), there has followed a period of consolidation where marketers and journalists alike have been thinking about how to use Twitter effectively.

Elsewhere, Facebook has come to dominate social networking, having doubled the number of page views it receives in just 12 months and having made constant tweaks and updates to its service to keep users engaged. Both MySpace and Bebo, however, have been losing traffic at a rate of knots and, extending the nautical metaphor, Bebo in particular is starting to look like the online version of the Titanic, with users rushing toward the lifeboats as it sinks without trace. The recently launched MySpace Music may well prove the saviour of Rupert Murdoch’s social media vehicle.

So what of next year? Well, 2010 will be all about Real Time. Sparked by our insatiable appetite for up-to-the-minute information together with technologies such as Twitter and Facebook’s status updates, 2010 promises an even more compelling and perhaps even addictive communications environment. We’ve now become accustomed to posting on Facebook and getting a response in seconds. Add to that the fact that smartphones are now more popular than Robert Pattinson on a hen night and you have an environment where it’s all about NOW. It’s all about the moment. And that moment is becoming increasingly fleeting. It’s going to be a challenging and exciting year for brands and marketing agencies.

Real Time will invade everything we do online during the next 12 months. Google launched Wave earlier this year and has just launched real-time search, whereby search results will incorporate even more recent and (arguably) relevant information, such as Tweets. The days of a search result being hours or days old since sites were last crawled, which now seems hopelessly outdated, are over. Geo-tagging will start to become more mainstream, comments and reviews will become even more prevalent. Another Google platform, Android, has already started to make big inroads into Apple’s iPhone domination and could be almost as big by this time next year.

If you think the pace of communications has been fast this year, just wait until 2010. We no longer want to wait for information. Life is too fast, too furious. We now have the attention span of a…well, got bored with that sentence, move on. So have a relaxing Christmas people and then hang on...we’re about to engage warp drive!

Got a comment? Please leave it below.

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Is Your Boss a Scrooge?

Fewer than four in ten office workers will definitely have a Christmas party this year, according to new research from YouGov. For many companies, 2009 has been a very difficult year, with redundancies, client losses and cutbacks affecting finances and morale. Many companies have decided that this Christmas it is inappropriate to hold a Christmas party: it may be insensitive to anyone who has lost their job recently, and anyone who has experienced a recession-induced pay freeze may well prefer to see any available cash heading to their pay packets rather than an evening of wine and canap├ęs.

In some cases, the media can also have an impact. I can just see the Daily Mail now, showing “revellers” pouring out of their offices to “squander taxpayers’ money” (and if it really is taxpayers’ money, I might be inclined to agree with them just this once)!

However, I really think that wherever possible, companies should be trying to get out and celebrate with their employees. In many ways, it’s more important this year than ever, with morale having taken a battering during the recession. Employers should be showing their staff that their redoubled efforts have not gone unnoticed, and it’s a great opportunity to build internal relationships.

Luckily, here at Cirkle we’ve continued to grow throughout the last two years, and our brilliant leadership team know how important it is to let off some steam together once in a while, so we’ll be having a lovely Christmas lunch and late night drinking as usual. I really look forward to our Christmas do and it’s one of the only opportunities I have to talk to my colleagues about something other than press releases and trade shows!

Are you having a Christmas party this year? How do you feel about it? Leave a comment...

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Monday, 14 December 2009

The REAL X Factor Winner

So Joe McElderry wakes up this morning with a £1m recording contract, instant fame, an almost certain Christmas number 1 and winner of one of the biggest most successful reality TV shows in history. However, although Joe is definitely the most effortless, natural singer to grace our X-Factor screens for many years we all know winning this much sought after X-Factor Crown is no guarantee of eternal fame and happiness. You do have the Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burkes and JLS’ of this world but you do also have the Steve Brookstein’s who is currently singing out his days at Pizza Express in Maidstone – not exactly the fame and fortune he envisaged I suspect.

No, the only guaranteed winner of these competitions year after year is the man who after collecting all the millions from the phone votes taken over the weekend, through the massively successful TV programme he created which is produced by the TV production company he owns, now has Joe firmly signed in to his record company. Yes, Simon "high pants" Cowell.

Although Joe was not his act and Cheryl has delightedly claimed this year title as Judge Victor, Simon would always have been the winner no matter which act claimed the final prize. Even if the much mocked/adored Jedward had won, Simon would have taken their five minutes of fame, pocketed the money and walked away knowing next year another Leona would no doubt pop up ready to make him even more millions.

The most unforgettable personality and ultimate winner of X Factor every year is without a doubt Mr Simon Cowell. And to quote pop mogul of the 80’s Pete Waterman “He is the artist. Everyone else is just a support act.”

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Monday, 7 December 2009

£5000 for a Chocolate Teapot?!

The chocolate teapot remains a popular benchmark for objects that fail to perform their intended function. But that didn’t put off one eager buyer when the opportunity arose to purchase one created by Sebastian Conran.

The chocolate teapot in question was designed by celebrity designer Sebastian Conran for the Celebriteapot charity auction which will raise funds for the Typhoo Sports for All initiative in partnership with the Federation of Disability Sport. B
ut when the charity received the unexpected and astonishing cash offer of £5,000 ahead of the auction going live on the 4th December, they saw just how useful a chocolate teapot could be!

For those of you keen to get on board, Sebastian Conran is just one of the many celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr, The Saturdays, Chris Moyles, James Corden and Terry Wogan (to name but a few) who have given their support to the Celebriteapot auction.

To see the beautiful, sometimes mind boggling and outright hilarious designs (check out Alan Carr’s Susan Boyle inspired teapot!) simply visit and bid for your favourite to support a good cause. The auction ends 14th December, and a
ll the money raised will be donated to the Typhoo Sports for All project, helping disabled men, women and children take up any sport of their choice, at a level and venue of their choice.

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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Google v Murdoch: Round 1 to the Tycoon

The battle between media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and search engine behemoth Google took a new twist yesterday with the announcement by the company that newspaper publishers will now be able to limit the number of free news articles people can read.

Until now, Google has always defended its position against claims that it profits from online news pages by enabling users to bypass subscription websites using search. But it finally appears to have flinched, announcing that users who click on more than five news articles in a day from sites subscribed to the programme may be routed to payment or registration pages.

Rupert Murdoch (above) has accused Google (as well as sites such as the BBC) of generating profits by offering too much free content and/or linking readers to newspaper articles, thus increasing advertising revenues and bypassing some sites' subscription systems. Murdoch is a huge advocate of paying for online content and, with circulation figures declining, newspapers are increasingly looking for new ways of making money from the web.

So what’s the impact for those of us in the PR industry and those of us who use the web to keep up to date? In truth, this concession from Google means little at present as, generally speaking, people search the entire web for stories rather than one specific news site. However, it is small and surprising victory for Murdoch in an ongoing war at a time when it looked like his position was untenable. And it does leave me wondering what’s going to happen further down the line. I, for example, spend at least an hour every day filtering through various news sites and my own RSS feeds to keep up with developments that are important to me. But will I be able to do this in future without paying for the privilege?

What do you think of this development? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Do Not Disturb…

For all those exhausted mothers out there verbally bashing your husbands who swear they didn’t hear the baby crying in the middle of the night, you may want to whip up a fresh batch of humble pie!
According to recent scientific research by MindLab, men are only attuned to wake up to certain sounds, and a baby’s cry isn’t one of them! It’s true! In fact while a baby's sobbing is the number one sound most likely to wake up a woman, it doesn't even figure in the male top ten!

Car alarms, howling wind and a buzzing fly are however the prime noises guaranteed to disturb a man's sleep! Those are closely followed by snoring, noise from drains and crickets!
A woman’s brain however, works in a very different way (as we all know!) The research found that the female’s maternal instincts kick in at the sound of a baby's cry - whether or not she is actually a mother, closely followed by a dripping tap and outdoor rowdiness!

If this is the case, and men really are telling the truth, then isn’t it about time that a woman scientist created a car alarm which was triggered at the sound of a baby’s cry?! Read more...