19 March 2013
You may have seen the (re)launch of flattr this week, a service which has
just becoming bigger and better from the idea first proposed in
2010. The basic concept is that, providing there are the (pre-paid)
funds to do so, anyone viewing a post, a picture, a blog, or a
video can give the creator of the material a flattr credit by
simply clicking an icon - essentially heralding the era of
microdonations. The service is compatible with nearly all major
platforms, including Instagram,
flickr, twitter, Facebook and various blog
What this means is that there is, perhaps, finally a small scale
monetisation opportunity for everyone creating fresh, engaging
content, through a broad all-encompassing service - such a reach
that means the reliance on individually monetised silos could be
obsolete. This has long been one of the biggest challenges for
content creators in the social era; how do you make yourself
profitable as a blogger or occasional commentator?
This 'Oyster' card approach is one which could become hugely
effective in that it could break down the barriers to siloed
content - you can't help but wonder whether if newspapers got
together and created a similar approach they'd be able to monetise
their content collectively rather than in individually subscribed
If you could pre-pay to read a finite amount of content across a
variety of news sites (which then divvied up the proceeds based on
reader behaviour) then you'd browse more. As it is, the increasing
number of subscription-based models merely means people get tied to
one title only - or, as seems to be the case, simply find the news
for free elsewhere rather than pay multiple subscriptions to be
able to browse multiple sites. There's power in working
For individual bloggers, it provides a nice opportunity to see
tangible rewards for your work (albeit rewards that are unlikely to
allow you to retire), as well as be able to give flattr credits to
others you enjoy reading, watching or reposting. It's a novel idea,
and it'll be interesting to see it progress.
Social media, Blog, Social, Reward | 1 comment
07 January 2013
It shouldn't *really* be a surprise that people
tweeting ad infinitum about social media techniques and tips should
describe themselves as 'social media gurus', but the
report from What's Next Blog shows how ridiculous this
self-aggrandising chest thumping has got.
Over 180 thousand twitter users describe themselves as 'social
media gurus' in some shape or form, with some of the worst
perpetrators being those who modestly dub themselves 'warriors',
'mavens', and (strangely, given the industry's relatively nascency)
What would be interesting would be to assess the
*actual* guru-ness of these people. In my
experience, accounts who boast such a title are often the worst
culprits for spamming linkbait blogs repeating the same old
nonsense - let's be honest, there is a genuinely finite amount you
can write about how to run a good social media programme or
engaging twitter account. It doesn't need a dozen posts a day to
explain it. Furthermore, they often have tens of thousands of
followers, but rarely a RT - they're not practising what they
preach by means of engagement.
What really annoys me though is that these accounts follow
people, then, within 24 hours, unfollow if they're not followed
back, or unfollow you the moment you do so to them (when you get
bored of being spammed crap blogs).
Twitter isn't about reciprocal follows, it's about following
people you find interesting, funny, or informative; 'follow me if I
follow you' is the wrong approach, yet so many self-styled 'social
media gurus' do just that - harvesting followers to increase their
We're all, individually and as an industry, constantly learning
about the opportunities social media brings and finding new (and
not always perfect) ways of using platforms in the best way
possible. However, calling yourself a guru is perhaps arrogant at
best and when you fail to grasp the basics, downright annoying.
Social media, Twitter, facebook, social media guru, annoying, LinkedIn, follow, unfollow, spam | 3 comments
12 September 2012
Populus has released some very interesting stats today on the
trustworthiness of our news outlets. The Sun is apparently the
least well-trusted newspaper, with just 9% of the population
stating that they trust the outlet 'completely or somewhat'.
Whilst we should bear in mind that a hefty chunk of people may
have ticked 'neither trust nor distrust', there were a few
surprises: both the Telegraph and the Guardian only achieved a 39%
trust rating, and the FT - confident intellectual heavyweight that
it is - still scored less than half (48%).
Trust is interesting, but I don't think it's a binary
distinction, nor should we think about this in really simplistic
terms - it's also important to think about factors such as quality.
After all, I trust the BBC's reporting, but the reporters have such
a broad remit, from 3D games
processors, from 4G to Facebook
stock to security,
they can't possibly have in-depth knowledge about all these topics
or their heads would explode. So, I trust the BBC for the top line
and would look to more niche, geeky sites for more detailed
scrutiny. I'd say that whilst the FT is trustworthy, the reporting
can be dense and inaccessible to the man on the street, which could
lead to distrust.
I was also a bit puzzled by the implication on Populus that
trust is equivalent to morality. After all, people might not trust
the Guardian or the Telegraph because they know they have a left /
right-wing slant to their reporting. I don't think this is immoral;
they're entitled to their views and I think these views are
well-known. Similarly, the now defunct News of the World may have
used sources who gained information via phone hacking, which was
clearly immoral, but the information may have been wholly
I'm not disagreeing with the Populus piece, but I do think that
trust, quality and morality are all tied up in a more complex web
than a simple 'I trust / don't trust this newspaper'
But I suppose this doesn't make for quick, digestible news.
Media, BBC, Populus, Christian Sharp, Guido, Leveson, Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times, distrust | Leave comment
02 July 2012
This time last week I was at home, recovering from the
Isle of Wight
Festival and basking at the sheer joy of being home, and clean,
and on a proper bed, and clean, and having had more than three
hours sleep, and importantly…being clean.
The idea to go the Festival was first seeded over a bottle of
wine, when I asked my friend whether being the tender age of 32 and
13 months made me too old to go to a festival. A gentle 'No babe'
was given in reply and a plan was hatched. Yes it might rain a bit,
yes it would involve camping and I'd be cold, but we'd have each
other and booze, which would make it all okay, right?
Our plan first seemed at risk when the weather report in the
week ahead looked shoddy at best. 'No fear', I said. 'I have a
Kagool and Jack Daniels, it will be ace.' The closer it got to the
event, the more it rained and the more nervous I became about it
being a mud-fest. So, I put my hope into modern communications to
aide me. After all, knowledge is power.
I became obsessed with weather reports and following anyone
vaguely useful on Twitter,
from official festival organisers and ferry operators through to
anyone tweeting about their journey. Come Thursday afternoon, day 1
of the festival, tales of woe were literally flooding in and there
was a Twitter frenzy with people complaining of being trapped in
their cars and on ferries in the Solent. No one could get
into the festival site due to mud and social media was awash with
panic. Rumours were spreading that thousands were trapped, the main
stage was sinking and the whole thing had been called off.
People wanted answers. What they got were two tweets. One at 2pm
in the afternoon saying that there were some difficulties getting
people on site. The next one six hours later saying 'Cerys Matthews
is opening the Big Top' which was understandably met with a torrent
of expletives from people who were still stuck on the road and
hadn't moved in eight hours.
It comes down to this. If you have a Twitter presence, use it.
If people have questions, answer them. If you have nothing to say
or update people on, tell them. Just keep in touch. The organisers
said that they were busy helping people get on site which is why
they were unable to talk to media or put updates on Twitter. This
sounds noble enough but just doesn't cut it in an age where
everyone is online. Knowledge is power but if you opt for radio
silence, you lose that power and the online world will make up
their own reality.
In the end, after purchasing an extra groundsheet and an extra
bottle of Jack Daniels to see me though, we had a surprisingly easy
journey to the festival. Yes we renamed it 'Mudfest 2012', yes the
mud will haunt me for years to come and yes it was a brilliant
weekend in the end, but poor social media management meant that we
could have called it off altogether.
So, my two 'take-aways' from the weekend are as follows. Silence
isn't always golden, and white isn't always a sensible choice for
festival attire - evidence below.
, Social media, Twitter, Isle of White Festival | 4 comments
14 June 2012
It's been all over the news this week - Google falling
foul of Britain's privacy watchdog over the misuse of personal
data. The online search engine has been accused of using their
Street View cars to gather information from unsecured Wi-Fi
Scary stuff! Even scarier that George Orwell told us extreme
surveillance was going to happen - fair enough he is about 28 years
out in his predictions, and we aren't all being controlled by the
dictatorship of The Party - but still this 'Big Brother' state is a
Yesterday, I frantically made my Facebook profile private in as
many ways as possible, without removing the ability for people to
write on my wall... which is actually just a space for me to post
things that I/other people find funny.... I digress; I suddenly
became very worried about who had seen my photos and who had been
trawling through them, although in reality it is probably just my
mother taking a peek at what I have been up to. Still, I do know
people who take great pleasure in extracting information from
people's Facebook pages - "OMG did you see she
liked his status? I am
defo looking through her
photos!" The thought of someone doing that to me
worries me greatly, especially as these are individuals, not
companies, who are following our online movements! **Shivers**
Let's face it; if Google weren't going to extract data from
unsecured wi-fi networks then they would probably just get
it from our online movements. Both of which are creepy. My advice?
Everyone should get offline and go play in the sunshine…..Oh wait?
It's raining? I better update my Facebook and Twitter and tell
everyone just how much it's raining #EnglishWeather.
Rambo (aka Kelly) @KelRams
, Social media, Google | 1 comment
01 June 2012
Driving to work this week enjoying the sunshine with my
window down and music turned up I was not best pleased when a stone
bounced off of a passing lorry straight towards my
windscreen. I closed my eyes but knew from the sound of the
stone hitting the glass that it had chipped. I decided to
take the mature route of cursing at the chip and at the lorry which
had now long gone and continued my drive to work. What a crap start
to the day.
When I got to work I vented my frustration on Twitter as most people do (we all
know that's what it's really for).
Within an hour I was surprised to see a reply from @Autoglass - especially
since I hadn't tweeted them directly or hash tagged them. My first
reaction was that it'd be a sales punt that would've caused my
frustration and annoyance to spiral. But I was pleased and shocked
to see it was a charming, friendly personal note. It cheered me
I replied, thanking them for the tweet, and said that I'd speak
to my insurers and give them a call if I needed any further help.
Turns out my insurers work with Autoglass anyway. So I gave
them a call, booked an appointment and they repaired it.
But what makes this even more remarkable is that it has very
little value for Autoglass (it only cost me £10 to have it fixed).
I was so impressed with how personal and effective they had been
that I've been telling everyone about it (as will this blog!). My
experience shows that using Twitter correctly can really help to
engage customers and help shape brand perceptions.
I later found out that Autoglass are using Radian6 which is how they came
across my tweet. They simply monitor tweets that contain
words like 'chip' and 'cracked' together with 'windscreen' and
'car'. Specific searches are set up so that irrelevant tweets
such as those that include the words 'chip' and 'fish' are ignored.
People tweeting about their dinner obviously won't need to be
I think this is a fantastic example of a brand engaging with
consumers through Twitter successfully. Autoglass listened and
understood my tweet before responding, were helpful without being
pushy and made an effort.
Social media, Twitter | 1 comment
09 May 2012
When you arrive at Stratford station and walk through
Westfield into the Olympic Park - it's hard to believe that just a
few years ago the same area in East London was something of a
'wasteland' characterised by railway lines, neglected waterways and
a history of industrial pollution dating back two
Last night when the Octopus team turned up in Stratford for the
official opening of Cisco
House, the scene couldn't have been more different.
Bustling with life and modern architecture, the same space is
virtually unrecognisable. As we made our way up to the venue, Cisco
House, which is nestled in a unique roof-top location above
Westfield Stratford City, the panorama of the Olympic Park from the
balcony was stunning. And the Octopus team weren't the only
ones to admire the view!
70 members of the national, business and IT print, online and
broadcast press joined Cisco to celebrate the opening of the House,
which showcases the transformational opportunities of technology
for countries, cities and organisations both today and in the
With drinks flowing and some interactive technology for visitors
to test out, the evening was a great success - with journalists
from the FT, The BBC, Sky News, ITN, The Metro, The Mirror,
The Evening Standard, Computing, Management Today and many more
enjoying Cisco's 'business transformation experience' (and tasty
All in all it was a brilliant event and one of the most
successful press launches we've done in terms of both quantity
and quality for years. With just 79 days to go until
the opening ceremony of London 2012 - and plenty more events in the
pipeline - we can't wait to see what's around the corner next!
, Media, Client, Cisco House | 3 comments
27 April 2012
We are very lucky here in the Octopus' professional service team
to have clients such as the Recruitment & Employment
Confederation (REC) that see us speaking to national
broadcasters on a daily basis. The REC, as a professional
recruitment body, talks about all things jobs related and in these
economic times, there is always something happening on this
So what better place to voice your opinions than on TV or radio?
Indeed I don't have to explain that for a PR professional there
isn't anything more satisfying than having a client interviewed on
telly or radio, and this month we did exactly that - nine
times for the REC, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live Wake
Up To Money, Sky News and BBC News 24. With the new record comes a
new challenge to break it and we definitely managed to push the bar
a little bit higher!
So how do we do it?
I'd love to say that there is a science behind it, but there
really isn't. It's about knowing who works at which desk, what they
like and when they like it. To feel comfortable that you possess
this knowledge you need to have regular conversations and plan your
sell-ins in advance according to various deadlines and preferences.
Only by talking to journalists and producers can you find out how
and when various stations and programmes book their spokespeople,
and trust me, they do vary a lot - some broadcast journalists we
speak to prefer to be approached at 5pm for example - not a usual
time to pitch stories.
One more piece of advice - broadcast journalists change their
positions incredibly quickly so never assume you've finally cracked
it - every month I seem to discover something new.
PR, , Media | Leave comment
13 April 2012
I think it's fair to say that the consumer team at
Octopus are often viewed as a being a little bit different, but
different is good right?
To celebrate the feast of Easter we sent a delivery of 24 Easter
egg piñatas and 72 boxes of eggs (that's 288 Easter eggs), no dead
goldfish here, to our favourite consumer tech journalists.
Why, you may ask? Well besides wanting to make some
friends, and eat chocolate, we also wanted to treat everyone to a
taste of Trend Micro's latest tech, DirectPass!
It's a really cool new piece of software designed to fight the
growing menace of identity theft by simplifying and securing the
log-in process for users - no matter how many different
accounts they manage online.
Where are we going with this? Piñatas and chocolate eggs... are
you passwords as easy to crack as these?
Long live the media mailer, the cheesier the better. Do excuse
us; we're off to find a blindfold and stick!
and Naomi @missbarry
, Media, Client, Easter | 5 comments
29 March 2012
Customers, employees and journalists came together this
week for a Taleo breakfast event discussing the impact of LinkedIn
on recruitment, which I was lucky enough to attend.
The event saw a series of insightful sessions from speakers such
as Dan Dackombe (EMEA Enterprise Sales Manager Hiring Solutions at
LinkedIn), Richard Doherty (Head of Business Transformation, Taleo)
and Chris Phillips (VP EMEA Marketing, Taleo). We all know how
social media is transforming the game in terms of PR, so it was
interesting to see it applied to the world of recruitment.
All about LinkedIn, from LinkedIn
First up, I was really interested to hear Dan give some great
insight into LinkedIn itself, and he impressed the audience with
some serious stats on the business. Take these for example; in the
past 14 months, the number of employees working across EMEA for
LinkedIn has grown from less than 50 to an impressive 350. And for
anyone doubting the impact of LinkedIn, Dan told us that 62% of all
UK professionals now use the site.
He also explained how LinkedIn works to the following three
1) Identity - to
help recruiters, companies and individuals create an online
identity that is constantly evolving.
2) Insight -
allow potential candidates and recruiters to learn more about the
individual or the company through various groups and
3) Everywhere -
make the process of recruitment and job-hunting a constant
experience through their mobile app.
As ever, the Q&A session brought up some nuggets of vital
information, and one of the biggest questions for employers, it
emerged, is how to engage employees in social media
participation? However, the Q&A threw up a great
number of things for employers to consider when it comes to social
media. Creating groups within your network, thereby allowing
employees to own a group by contributing content, beginning
conversations and forwarding invitations onto friends was just one
idea, as was giving employees the chance to talk about their
company or about relevant topics. This allows employers to carve
out their identity amongst the greater community and reach their
target audience of potential employees, even if they are only
What I definitely learnt is that social media means that the
world of recruitment is undergoing massive change, led by the
expansion of social media recruitment and the acceptance of new
mobile applications and platforms. It's not just PR that social
media is changing.
As the morning concluded, many recruiters were left excited
about beginning or expanding their journey into the world of social
media and all were full of delicious mini eggs Benedict and hash
Social media, Client | Leave comment
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