Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…

As a PRO, we rely entirely on the consumer and national media as a credible way of communicating with our target audience and generating visibility. The national papers in particular are held in extremely high regard, often renowned in the PR industry as the ‘holy grail’ of all editorial coverage. Whether it be clinical research, a quirky survey, or even a whacky picture stunt which we have to offer, getting past the news editors aka ‘gatekeepers’ is a campaign in itself! All PR initiatives are brainstormed and tailored around their ‘talkability’ factor and newsworthy content; in other words…will the journalists want it, and can we justify its credible nature?

But in the same way that these journalists ultimately rely on us to provide them with quality, newsworthy content, we also rely on them to provide us with a valuable source of daily information. So what happens when these gatekeepers interpret their sources of information differently, or more than often, are so constrained by time that they are unable to check their conflicting sources thoroughly?

Take for example today’s newspapers with regards to the Winter weather fast approaching. Whilst the Daily Express has dedicated their entire front page to report that ‘IT’S A WHITE CHRISTMAS’, no doubt mustering widespread hype and excitement amongst Brits nationwide…the Daily Telegraph shatters our hopes somewhat, telling us to ‘Stop dreaming of a white Christmas’. With conflicting headlines issued on a daily basis, how do we differentiate between fact and fiction, in the same way that they decipher which press releases to cover and which ones to ignore?

As a big fan of all things festive, I for one am keeping my fingers tightly crossed that snow is on its way, but whether it will realistically happen is another story….!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lost in transmission: Traditional Christmas Spirit...if found please return

Social media greeting apps, virtual nativity plays, online shopping and digital eCards to name a few...Is there any chance of conversing and connecting with one another verbally over the festive season this year?
We tend to associate the holiday season with being able to give a little more time to friends, family, and those who really matter to us, but it seems that as we embrace the digital revolution, real relationships are becoming massively under threat.
The fast emergence of technology has disconnected us from the real world and thrusted us into a virtual world; one where we are forever dependant on various technology platforms and social media networks to engage with one another.
I have no doubt that this Christmas, out of sheer convenience, many will opt for sending greetings via any one of the abundance of digital options, readily available at our finger tips, including SMS, email, tweeting or sending a Facebook message. We may even consider uploading a simple status update, involving just a few festive words at the simple click of a mouse - that way we won’t even feel obliged to engage in conversation, should our friends comment or reply.
But how sincere are our digital seasonal greetings? Whilst eChristmas cards and social media messages may make our inbox’s swell with pride, I personally would question the veracity and depth behind a snappy Facebook message or a 140 character tweet - surely our nearest and dearest are worth more? We wouldn't rush over a conversation at a Christmas dinner, in the way we would speed through an email compilation, tweet or Facebook status.
What's more, those opting to send eGreetings will quite happily ditch traditional cards which once lined our mantelpieces and added to the festive decor.
With entertainment including music, movies and books now available in downloadable formats, there will be a lot less wrapped pressies under the tree. At least for the seasonal slackers digital Christmas shopping can be left until the last minute, the product will never be out of stock and I guess without the wrapping paper there is minimal environmental impact…But how sad that there is no unwrapping of a digital gift on Christmas day.
Whilst on the subject of shopping, we already know that online commerce is set to rise yet again this Christmas, regardless of not trusting eTailers to deliver on time! I understand shoppers won’t have to fight the drones of others on the high street but what happened to the traditional festive present buying commotion and seeing all the flashy window displays?
I could rant forever, but I should wrap this up as it seems I won’t be wrapping much more this Christmas!
With updates in real time about how people are celebrating and the constant barrage of uploaded festive pictures, all I am left to say is that technology is set to kill the art of conversation this Christmas.
Don't get me wrong, social media is great for breaking news, keeping in touch with distant friends and family, plugging your latest campaign and keeping celebrities busy, but when it comes to traditional festivities, I believe we should be keeping conversation alive!
This Christmas I will be making the conscious effort to engage with loved ones in a more meaningful way….

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Guardian and The Independent: innovating their way up?

I’ve been so impressed with the way The Guardian and The Independent are innovating, particularly with their digital/social media offerings. Newspaper circulations may be dwindling and hacking scandals affecting the UK industry’s reputation and influence, but it’s good to see there are those who are putting up a damn good fight. A cynic might argue that the lack of having to fight a war on two fronts (a disinterested public and the topic of the Leveson Inquiry) is paying its moral high-ground dividends.

Chris Blackhurst, editor of The Independent and i has given some inspiring and honest interviews, also revealing that the joint circulation of the two Independent papers is greater than The Guardian’s and not far off The Times, great news for beleaguered PROs increasingly pushed to justify ROI in a media landscape undergoing a sea change of nauseatingly choppy proportions.

Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, appears to have emerged from the hacking scandal as a thoroughly English hero, while his paper continues to innovate online at breakneck speed. Recent months have seen the Guardian Tagbot, part of Guardian Beta, their online film desk’s live blog of the Three Colours Trilogy and their latest offering which gives an insight into the news desk process.

Both papers have a strong presence, with my peers at least, on Facebook. The Independent updates images and news headlines into my newsfeed, while The Guardian posts content created specifically for a younger audience, through their app.

I’ll be interested to see if the two continue to tie their Facebook futures in with frictionless sharing, I’m not a fan so I hope not, and I know the arguments of self-censorship and limiting usage ring true with me. The Guardian in particular seems to be emerging from the ‘privacy is for paedos’ fall-out with a strong and clear brand identity of morality and trust, a much needed beacon of light in these darks times of MPs expenses and before that, dodgy dossiers. Being ‘whiter-than-white’ and being perceived as ‘whiter-than-white’ in the tricky issue of online privacy seems particularly important

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What tache are you?

With Movember ending just over a week ago, I was uplifted to see so many blokes embracing this monthly tache-fesh, and all in the name of charity. Everywhere I travelled, be it on trains, planes, automobiles or just walking up the street, I spied sprouts of ‘bumfluff’ on the top lips of the more mature male, transforming them instantly back to their pubescent teen days. I was surrounded by so many taches, beards and bits of face fuzz, I had trouble working out who actually wore this facial furniture all the time as opposed to just during Movember. What is great is that this month is really catching on and is continuing to be successful in raising awareness of men’s health, male cancers and particularly prostrate cancer - causing real talkability, action and support. Within our office of 30 girls (and one bloke) we wondered what we’d look like with taches and I must say, we liked what we saw … what tache are you?