Twitter PR advice line set up

The site here will be going back to being a blog about everything-but-PR soon (with the PR and media posts appearing elsewhere) but for the next week or so it’s a bit of an interim period.

Anyway, as part of the changes, I’ve decided that instead of having a PR mailing list, I’ve set up a PR Tips Tweet stream (I may add in something with FriendFeed at some point too) – it makes more sense, especially if you’re meant to or want to learn about social media.

Anyway, you can find it at www.twitter.com/pr_tips and it will be getting updated at least four times daily.

Daily Mirror Shows Even More Contempt for Scotland and Scottish Readers

(usual disclaimer: The Mirror sacked me and 26 other people two weeks before Xmas a few years ago leaving a team of four. They’ve since sacked the rest of the team, leaving one person to cover a country in the UK with 5million people)

Anyway, the Daily Mirror is launching a new football website and there’s a blurb there about what it’s going to have, which is all fine and fair enough. And it’s early days, but what’s there that will grate on a few Scotsmen?

  • Is it the lack of Scottish pictures? (They couldn’t even put one up?)
  • Is the the lack of mention of the first UK team to lift the top European trophy?
  • Or is it a shot from 1966 and the build-up to that game?

Actually, what I think annoys me most is the writing on it – there’s not one mention of Scottish achievements or even a hint that the Scottish clubs will be mentioned and the pictures updated. The text implies that it’s covering one Premiership in one country and it isn’t Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Anyone know? I’m sure they are going to have Scottish stuff but would be nice to know…and let’s be honest, the Old Firm fans (and the others) will fork out if there are some nice shots to be bought.

And, will there be  a tidy iPhone app to go along with it?

Herald freelance deal isn’t great – but it could be a lot worse

There ‘s been another stushie kicked off with The Herald revealing the new pay rates for shifters and casuals. AllMediaScotland has the details here.

Now the rates and offers aren’t great, but let’s take a reality check here and consider some of the offers that have come from media companies, it’s not horrifically bad, particularly if you are young and starting out or have a decent redundancy payment already in your back pocket.

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Review: Apple iPhone as a tool for journalism or PR – epic failure

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved the potential of mobile communications for professional communicators including journalists and PR types. I remember in 2000 sitting with glee at getting a Nokia 6210 to work with a Targus folding keyboard and a Handspring Visor. I loved using that kit in the field. Others used the Nokia Communicator for similar results but back then the Communicator was a pricey piece of kit.

Fast forward to 2009 and there’s two real contenders out there for journalists wanting as much of an all in one solution as possible: Nokia’s N97 and Apple’s third stab at the iPhone, the iPhone 3GS.

Last year I had the chance to go up to the music festival T in the Park and put the N95 through a heavy duty field test. Since then I’ve also had a run-through with the Flip and Qik. This year’s T in the Park gave me a chance to test Apple’s latest hyped phone and, as you may have guessed from the headline, boy was I disappointed.

Note: Lots of video and pic links after the jump…

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Is T in the Park PR reporting offer PR genius, #prfail or journalism’s worst nightmare?

I know I’ve blogged in the past about companies buying reporters as a way of guaranteeting coverage, but at last weekend’s T in the Park, I saw an offering by Material PR (who, as always, played a blinder for most of the weekend) that was either out and out genius or the 21st Century Faustian bargain. In short, it was this: “unable to cover all the acts you need/want to cover? Tell us, the T in the Park PR company and we’ll arrange for words and pics for you.”

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Note to Press: I’m not the T in the Park press guy

Last week I had a few calls asking if I could arrange tickets for T in the Park for people. Not an unusual request in itself it has to be said. I’m sure at this time of year most PR types, especially those with music festival and drink brand experience, find themselves being asked that by friends.

What was unusual was that these requests were coming from press down south and abroad, not from friends and family (either that or my friends and family are now impersonating press. Hope they aren’t phone tapping too…)

One quick look at Google showed why: I’m ranking number one under the phrase ‘T in the Park PR‘ which is nice, mostly on the back of my post about using the Nokia N95 as a PR/reporting tool. (for those interested in that sort of comparison review, here’s one with the N95 and Flip camera.)

Now I’m heading up again this year, staying at Airth Castle, and instead of the N95 it’s going to be the first real tryout for the new white 32GB iPhone 3GS that turned up here thank to Carphone Warehouse last week. Should be interesting to see how they compare, especially as the iPhone has the weaker battery and camera.

And in the meantime, anyone looking for the real T in the Park PR for this year should get in touch with these fine fellows.

Now I know there’s money in social media: Gordon Beattie’s hiring

Since setting out solo to specialise in digital/social media PR (but still offering traditional PR to those who aren’t convinced of digital), there’s been many of those 5am moments where I’ve wondered if I made the right move. After all it can be a scary thing, especially in a country which has been slow to embrace a lot of the positives of digital communications for reaching out to customers.

But now I know there’s money to be made in social media – Gordon Beattie’s looking for people in that area.

Now lots of people have opinions about Gordon, but one undeniable fact is this: he’s a damn canny businessman with one of the most successful traditional PR companies in the UK at Beattie Communications (you could also argue that he was behind the success of The Big Partnership as well because it was his seniors from Beattie who started that after working with Gordon) and he doesn’t throw money into schemes that he doesn’t think won’t make money back. And he now has a house in Monaco to prove how successful he’s been, which by any benchmark is a job well done.

(interesting sidenote: I see on the Beattie homepage, it now says ‘London PR Agency’ – has the company moved away from its Scottish roots?)

It’s also good to see the larger PR companies accept and realise that social media and digital comms have a role to play. I know I was banging on that drum more than two years ago when I worked at Beattie, so it’s good to see Gordon taking a lead amongst the agencies in Scotland. He already has the very talented Chris Marritt on his books so the person coming in will need to know their stuff and I’m sure they’ll be able to create some good work worth talking about.

The knock-on effect is that others will also have to keep up and start hiring/training which in turns means more people out there showcasing the benefits of digital and social media communications in Scotland.

Gordon Beattie: still trailblazing. Heh. That gives me a chuckle over my cornflakes.

(Anyway, for those interested in the positions: the programmer job is based in Falkirk but the social media post can be in any of the Beattie offices.) (And if you need to ask how to apply then you haven’t grasped enough of social media yet.)

PR sex scandal shows why you should always keep your desk clean

(Sex scandal might be a bit much, but let’s be honest the gossip scene has been a tad quiet recently. The recession’s got everywhere!)

Anyway, word – and evidence – reaches me of the following scenario involving a junior PR person. The man had been taken on for a three-month trial period, it hadn’t worked out, so he was let go. Now unfortunately the guy was a tad egomaniacal so the non-renewal of contract didn’t end well and he was told that his desk items would be sent out to him.

So the MD of the company decides to get his hands a little dirty by clearing the desk and send the stuff away in a box. At first it’s all the usual stuff – letters from home, pictures of wife and kids, bank statements, notepads, business cards and so on – until he finds (in the second drawer) a page ripped from a popular, evening mass-market Scottish newspaper.

He’s in PR, a newspaper cutting isn’t unusual right?

Except for one fact: this was the page from said newspaper that advertised saunas (or rather “saunas”) and other services that some know to be fronts for sexual services and prostitution.

Now, hang on, you might say, it was the other side of the page he was interested in. And I might agree if it wasn’t for one thing: each of the “services” had been circled, some had comments next to them and most had handwritten notes on how much they charged for an hour and a half-hour of services.

A quick check of the company’s phone logs revealed that, yup, the member of staff had called each of these establishments, leading to cries of “dirty git” (and some word that sounded like banker) from the MD. Said MD was also more than a tad peeved that his ex-member of staff hadn’t got any of the sex companies signed up for PR services (what? There’s a recession going on.). A further check also revealed said member of staff had been calling premium rate phone number services.

Now said MD is peeved as this guy had been given latitude to be a PR superstar and this was how he was rewarded. But he’s not going to take it any further. All he’s done is post all his items back to the guy, newspaper page at the top of the box. What the MD can’t remember is if he addressed the box just to the ex-employee or to the ex-employee and his wife…

So the motto of the tale is this kiddies: keep your desk tidy , keep on the good side of your MD and try to never leave an employer under a bad cloud.

And for those wondering: yes I’ve seen the page in question (I doubted this tale until a scan was sent over to me) and no I’m not naming the bloke (but he lives and works in Edinburgh) (in Scotland) (or used to work there) but if anyone hires me to help with social media/digital media recruitment and this guy’s name comes up. Well…

NLA goes hell for leather to destroy newspapers online with backlink charging plan

(I know the site is still in a state but this is too important not to post quickly)

Now, here’s an interesting one, passed on to me by someone we shall call CIPRMole where basically the NLA (the Newspaper Licensing Association) want to charge organisations – starting with cuttings services then moving on to others by 2010 – for including links to newspaper stories:

The NLA has informed us that from 1 September 2009 it is introducing a new licence for web aggregator services (such as Meltwater News) that forward links to newspaper websites and for Press Cuttings Agencies undertaking this type of activity. From January 2010, the licence charges will also apply to PR practitioners and other organisations forwarding links to newspaper websites as part of their commercial activity. This will apply to almost all newspaper websites excluding News International titles and the FT.

 
I’ve dropped an email into the NLA, telling them about this blogpost and asking a few questions, but what I want to know is:

1) Are they targetting everyone with this? So every backlink to a paper is going to result in a charge?

2) Are they going to backdate the charging?

3) If they are only targetting companies and not individuals, why the discrimination?

4) How are they going to enforce this? Particularly on anonymous blogs or blogs hosted outside the UK?

5) Are they prepared to destroy the hits going to the newspaper websites while the BBC rakes in the hits?

6) Google Alerts and Google News are the biggest news aggregator that exist. Are they going after them or just small companies they think they have a chance of getting money from?

7) If they are collecting cash on behalf of the content generators – ie, the papers, will they put pressure on the papers to share that extra money with the original content generators – the news agencies and so on?

8 ) What about services like the Daily Dust and Net News Daily? Will you collect funds for them?

9) Do you accept that your actions may stop people linking to newspapers sites, therefore causing traffic to collapse, which could lead to more redundancies and potentially (when you factor in the decline of print editions) brands disappearing completely?

This idea smacks to me of the best of old-school thinking. I’m still processing it, so I’ll add more thoughts later, but I’d be interested in other people’s thoughts from both sides of the PR/Journalism debate as it affects everyone.

Tell you one thing, if it comes through I’d say to clients, to hell with going through NLA members, build your own networks, send your info out to interested parties and those that won’t cost you money. The more I look at this, the more it seems like the NLA wants to press fast forward on not only destroying print media but print media online too.

BBC News Boss in Spam my Staff Plea

While I get here sorted out, you’ll find me doing some guest blogging over at the site of Edinburgh PR firm Holyrood Partnership and I’ve put up a post today where it appears that Scottish BBC News boss Atholl Duncan was asking for PRs to send more releases to his staff – something I’m sure they’re delighted of. Anyway you can find the post at Holyrood Partnership’s: BBC Scotland News Boss: Spam All My Staff Please

RETROFEST 2009 is not cancelled

Mentioning this quickly for a mate. Despite the rumour that appeared on Facebook, Retrofest 2009 in Glasgow has not been cancelled and is going ahead as planned. I have this straight from the organisers.

Why Facebook could cost you $10million – and well done Daily Record for Strachan story

It amazes me how people still don’t think before posting online. Lots of people have been following the couple who made off with the $10million accidentally put in their bank account. Now I’ll leave it to others to debate the morality of it all, but I find it hilarious (in a WTF sort of way) that the reason the cops may now be able to trace them is because of the sister-in-law and her Facebook postings.

I mean, how can we still have people not realising that what they post online will catch up with them in the real world?

(while on the note of social media, well done to the Daily Record for breaking the scoop online about Gordon Strachan resigning – even beating some Celtic diehards – on Twitter. I know some doubt the use of Twitter but things like this show the benefit – quick filing of copy to a mass audience and easily spread about. Well done there chaps)

Beginner’s Guide to Social Media: a talk

Thanks to an invite from Platform PR’s talented Kate Trussler, I’ll be speaking at the May CIPR Young Communicators Networking Event at The Grill on the Corner, Bothwell Street, Glasgow. Won’t be anything too intense – heck, wait and see the young ‘uns will probably end up teaching me a thing or two – but it will definitely be fun.

Anyone wanting to head along should drop Kate a line – it’s a good thing she’s doing here. In her words: “Aimed at those who are relatively new to the industry – at account assistant or executive level – these informal monthly events are a chance to bulk up your contact book and discuss industry issues over wine and nibbles.”

Anyway, perhaps see you there. Failing that, I’m booked for a few more speaking engagements later in the year, details of which I’ll drop in nearer the time.

Nottinghamshire County Council coverup is poor PR with Channel 4’s The Unloved

Just watched and been left drained by Channel4’s The Unloved (part of their Britain’s Forgotten Children week) and there’s a missed PR opportunity – damage limitation and positive PR – for the local council in the tale, Nottinghamshire County Council as well as finding homes for children needing help.

It was a harrowing tale of what children go through in the UK care system and was all the more painful for being told through a child’s point of view. (If you missed the show you can watch it here free until the middle of June.)

What was surprising though was that Nottinghamshire social services (and by extension, their bosses at Nottinghamshire County Council) don’t seem to have been ready for this coming. According to director (and Hollywood actress) Samantha Morton in an Independent interview:

And while Nottinghamshire County Council proved helpful, the county’s social services department were less amenable. “Nottinghamshire social services blocked every single meeting. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anybody. I said to them ‘talk to me… read the script… I want to get this right’. They said no. Staff were warned off. Once again it’s a culture of cover-up.”

In the end, Morton says, she didn’t require their assistance. “I didn’t need to do much research because I’m very much active in the care system. I work for a charity called A National Voice (for children in care) and I’m an ambassador for Save the Children. I also have lots of friends who are residential social workers, who looked after me as a child. I was able to ask them lots of questions off the record.”

Now regardless of what the council’s social work department may think of helping the filming out, the fact is that people are going to watch this, see that it’s set in Nottinghamshire and assume that this show is depicting how it is in the care system in the area. To that end, you would think they would have arranged the following:

  • Positive press – nationally and locally – before the show aired.
  • Someone online monitoring/responding what people were saying about the show as it aired – there was plenty of chat about The Unloved on Twitter for example. (C4 should have done this as well)
  • Video and testimony available from the following – care workers, councillors, those in the system, carers and others who have been through the system.
  • All and any reports praising the system.
  • Had something ready to counter the claims of cover-up.
  • Make sure that there’s something in all the local media this week – interviews and features – showing the service off in a positive light.

If feeling brave at the outset they could have worked with the film with a condition being that Samantha Morton also did a 5-10 minute video speaking about how the services have improved since she was in care. That would have been a PR coup for them.

Now while there’s the obvious issue of damage limitation – after all, the film certainly doesn’t do them any favours – there’s another aspect to this in that the next-door city council is currently looking for foster parents – a bit of savvy and the council could have been promoting this or their own foster requirements and who knows how many people that may have helped?

Even if one child could have found a home or a little more funding brought in, then every piece of PR effort would have been worth it.

And yes, it may well be that the council has plans to do something from Monday morning to counter the show but that’s at least a day too late – good PR deals with things before and during as well as after. PR and public opinion doesn’t just work Monday-Friday 9am -5pm and too many still think that it does.

The Biggest Problem with the new Star Trek plot

Fairly decent-sized spoiler for the new Star Trek film after the jump (not a review or anything, just a nagging plot point):

Ok, so Spock and Nero both come from the normal timeline to around 130 or so years in the past yeah? 130 years before the star that blows up Romulus goes critical.

Is it just me or would you go with the red matter to the star and collapse it 130 years early? Job done. Everyone saved, use some red matter or whip around the sun to go home.

(I know, I know, but that’s really bugging me. The film is generally very good – definitely better than the last few, though the plot has… issues if you think it through logically. The worse thing I can say is that I thought the music was poor – especially compared to the trailers. And where was Paul McGillion?)

And feel free to come back here Monday for some Trek/PR fun – leaving it until then to try and minimise folk moaning about spoilers.

Review: Flip Mino HD v Nokia N95 v iPhone v everything else

I’ve managed to have a quick and dirty test with the Flip Mino HD and compare it to what I call the PR/journalist mobile workhorse, the Nokia N95, but which comes out better? Or should you stick with an iPhone? (Yes, I know, including the iPhone was cruel.) Heads-up, lots of YouTube video in this.

I’ve already compared the N95 to the iPhone as a practical multimedia device for PRs and journalists (and parents), so after getting my hands on the Flip – which was used to fantastic effect by the Sunday Mail reporter (and Scottish reporter of the year) Charlie Lavery in AfghanistanI thought I might post my thoughts with some side-by-side examples.

    First thoughts:


In terms of weight and ease of use, there’s nothing between the two of them. If anything, the Flip is a tad lighter. It’s also a little easier to use in that you press the ‘on’ button, wait a second or two and off you go. On the N95, startup (from off) takes a good 30 seconds. If the phone is already on, going into video camera phone can take up to 10 seconds.

Both are straightforward point and shoot efforts. You point at what you want and you digital zoom in if you need to be closer. On both the digital zoom is average at best and best avoided.

The thing to bear in mind with what you see below is that how they look after YouTube is not how they look on my machine. I’ll let you judge what the YouTube codecs has done to them yourself when I talk about colour and sound on the clips, it will be as how they appeared on my machine.

On that note, the first thing worth pointing out is this:

Size of Flip image versus N95 on desktop

Size of Flip image versus N95 on 15inch laptop screen


(click on the above for a full-size image – 1.3MB though)

That was the first surprise -when you set them to actual size to show on your machine the Flip is quite happy to more or less take up the full screen – and looks decent too – while the N95 takes up a smaller space and still looks a little blocky (machine used was a MacBook Pro 15-inch)

    Picture and Sound Quality:

This actually surprised me. I was expecting the Flip to romp this, but it wasn’t that cut and dried.

Interior, dark
I won’t bore you with the video from this as both were awful (if you insist – that was the Flip). Darkness just doesn’t work for either of them, so strap on a torch if you want to re-enact the Blair Witch Project.

Interior, average light
Here’s the shots from my living room. The child in the video when sitting was around six feet from me and when doing starshapes at the end was about two feet away from me. If you want to sync the videos up, the N95 one should be started at 1:00 while the Flip one should be at 1:57 – but you get to see some sound/audio before that if you want to watch the lot.

N95 Living Room

Flip Living Room:

I thought the Flip would romp this but the N95 actually had the better colours. Sound was equal on both.

Flip Goldfish
(Goldfish in this start at about a minute in.)

N95 Goldfish

In the Goldfish, I didn’t think there was much in it – the Flip seemed to have a slight edge, but nothing I would say was significant. (The noise in each shot is the fishtank filter)

Overall for the house shots, I was surprised on this because while the Flip seems to have the better shot and perspective, the N95 actually had better colours. The Flip’s colours appeared a little more washed out, while the N95’s were more realistic.

Exterior shots

N95 Flowers

Flip Flowers

For me, the Flip was the winner here. The colours looked just a tad more vivid and real. Sound was more or less equal on them both. However, after YouTube has done what it does, the N95 actually appears to have better colours online.

N95 Uddingston External

Flip Uddingston External

The Flip was the winner here again. There just seems to be a little bit of sharpness, contrast and better colour than the N95. The perspective also seems a little better – judge the oncoming car in both for example.

    Conclusions and Notes:

For all I’m a fan of the N95, I fully expected the Flip to wipe the floor with it. It didn’t and that surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot going for it – better perspective, better outdoor colours, HD at 720 – but I wasn’t blown away as I would have expected. They were both 50/50 when used on a Standard Definition TV – perhaps some slightly better colour on the Flip.

Where the Flip does score is in convenience – the USB plug pops out, plug it in and off you go – the software’s even built in. The N95’s file structure on the other hand is horrific – and slow if you decide to use Bluetooth.

Both machines use mp4 file format – h264 if memory serves – so they are easy enough to edit in external applications. The software that comes with the Flip is very basic in that regard – but it does the job if need be.

if I had any other phone, I think a Flip would be a no-brainer but if someone has a N95 I don’t know if there’s any great need to fork out extra cash. If you only had an iPhone, a Flip would be a great addition.

I see Flip have updated their range to include a two-hour HD camera that appears a little bulkier but also a little cheaper, which may be an acceptable trade-off for some.

For a person caught needing quick web-ready video, either of these would do. If I suddenly needed a video quote off someone and only had the N95 with me, I wouldn’t panic as I know it would do the job. Similarly if I’m a reporter running about with space for only one bit of kit, the phone wins it as it does more than just be a camera. Both are capable and competent for the job of YouTube-sized web video. It just so happens that one can also do audio, calls and a million other things – and is cheaper.

There are other cameras that some consider including the Creative Vado HD and Kodak Zi6. Here’s some links to other reviews of them – Flip Mino HD (vs Creative Vado HD and Kodak Zi6) and Flip Mino HD, Kodak Zi6, Griffin Clarifi. Those are both video reviews but a fantastic text review (with screengrabs) can be found here.

Anyway, if anyone has decent examples of what these pieces of kit can do, feel free to post examples in the comments section.

Digital Britain Scottish Unconference – Friday May 8, 5-7pm, Glasgow

Thanks to the kind generosity of the wonderful Katie Howard and The Living Room, Glasgow (150 St Vincent Street, G2 5NE), we now have a time and venue and everything for the Digital Britain Unconference in Scotland. Glasgow to be specific. It’s going to run from 5-7pm (though I would encourage everyone to hang about afterwards and chat items through).

I’ll post up more details later but if you want to go to this, leave your details in the comments thread. Space will be limited for this – I’ve kept the venue to a) who was offering free facilities, b) free wifi c) the number of people who had registered an interest.

Basic topics that should come up will include (but I’m open to more topics/better topics):

  • The fact that Digital Britain is especially a lie in Scotland given the remote areas and the troubles they have with online
  • Scottish media and digital
  • Businesses and digital
  • Does Scotland really care about digital?

Anyway, entry is free, the company is free. The rest is up to you.
(And before anyone moans about date, location and so on. May 8 was the best date for those who previously responded.)

Digital Britain Scottish Unconference Event – looking for attendees

Right, doing this one quickly and messily just to judge interest (and because I need to be somewhere else five minutes ago).

The Digital Britain Unconferences are being held after a general consideration that the official conference for Digital Britain (Digital Britain: The Interim Report – On 29 January 2009 the Government published a plan to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy – http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5944.aspx ) was incredibly poor (apart from Stephen Fry) and secured by old media companies to moan more than anything else. So the unconference was born:

http://digitalbritainunconference.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/why-were-here/#more-62

More details of the Unconferences can be found at:
http://digitalbritainunconference.wordpress.com/download/

Anyway, if a free event was held in Glasgow between now and May 12, would you be willing to go along? If there’s a decent response, let’s get this set up. (note, this is completely different from the Digital Media Meal)