Sunday, 28 September 2008

Using for blog research

Whois is a useful-ish tool that enables you to find out who owns a website and where they live. For example, I put in the address of one of my favourite blogs,, and it brings up the owner's information and contact details

This is very handy for that age old problem of finding the location of a blogger. You can see from the above that whois gives you quite detailed personal info including where they live and their telephone number. 

I must admit knowing these kind of details feels a bit weird and slightly stalker-y and I'm not sure that they should be used when getting in touch with a blog author. Most bloggers put on their blog how to get in touch, so ringing them up or sending something to their home, probably wouldn't go down too well.  

The only draw back is that it doesn't work for blogspot addresses, which is annoying when trying to find out which bloggers might be interested in what you've got to say.

My conclusion: use with caution and don't go all Cape Fear. 


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Ads in song lyrics? mmmmm

This post on PSFK is interesting bearing in mind the economic times we are facing. With things getting tougher, brands are looking for new ways of getting their message across and promoting products. While I'm all for new ways of doing things, particularly integrated campaigns, this just doesn't sit comfortably.

Call me old fashioned, but isn't music supposed to be from the soul? Or the heart? Or some organ that is quite spiritual? Writing lyrics based around a product or brand takes some of the passion away, doesn't it? I imagine musicians will lose an awful lot of credibility if it goes as far as writing songs about soft drinks or a new car. I just can't imagine some of the icons of [my] musical taste succeeded if they took this approach? For example:
  • Terry's Fools Gold - Stone Roses
  • Black & Decker Dog - Led Zep
  • All Along the Swatch Tower - Hendrix
  • Golden Wonderwall - Oasis
  • Rolling Rock The Kasbah - The Clash
  • Seven 11 Nation Army - White Stripes [courtesy of Paul Stallard]

Or maybe I should start talking about how it was all fields round here when I was a lad getting up at 4am to work down t'pit.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Social media and crisp flavours

You may have seen the ads for the Walkers Do Us A Flavour campaign. The post on Crack Unit describes it well. The crisp giant is asking us, the people, to come up with new flavours of crisps. The winner gets £50K and 1% share of the profits.

Without stating the obvious, I think this is a really neat idea because:
  1. Being the person to come up with a new flavour is a great way to get people to engage with the brand. Wouldn't it be great to be immortalised by a crisp flavour? I can just picture my gravestone 'Here Lies Robin Wilson the inventor of the Ham And Cheese Omelette and Tabasco crisp'. 
  2. Walkers have made the prize pretty serious: £50,000 and a 1 % share of the profits is life changing stuff. Many social media campaigns try to engage with people by being a bit of fun or by getting you to share your opinions/interests. This does both of these and gives you the chance of a serious prize.  
  3. The 1% share is particularly interesting as you become part of the Walkers enterprise, kinda, as you now want the company to do really well. 
A very simple and ballsy idea. I wonder who will be next? Channel Five getting people to send in ideas for TV shows and winning a share of the ad revenue? Mars crowd-sourcing ideas for new choccie bars? Whoever it is, I'm all for it [particularly the chocolate bars - I'm thinking dark chocolate creme egg with a stucco of chocolate buttons].

Friday, 19 September 2008

Online bike maps

To lighten the mood for the week [well, mine anyway] I thought I'd share a nice online service for anyone interested in mountain biking. It's called BikeMap and, surprisingly, it allows you to download maps for off road routes.

It just costs a few quid and you get a very easy-to-follow laminated A4 map delivered a couple of days later. It even has little icons and colour coding to show when a stretch of route particularly tough going or technical. Nice.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The shit hits the fan

Its been a gloomy two days. Lehman Brothers going bust, inflation up to 4.7%,  and more to come, according to some leading analysts. See City bloke in vid. The Recession is nigh.

I'm getting my head together on what it means for the digital PR and social media industry, but in the meantime, I couldn't help feel really bad from people at Lehmans. I must admit this is a new feeling for me - feeling sorry for City boys who get paid footballer-type bonuses for, what is essentially, gambling. But it was sparked by a friend of mine who runs a trading desk at Lehmans.  He's a thoroughly decent bloke, very down to earth, honest, unbigotted and open minded. Not a wide boy 'Yours! Mine!' stereotype.

I rang him on Monday morning to see how he was holding up. He was very chipper and joked when I asked him if his job was safe: "Oh god no. They've told us to be out by 5 and don't come back. Oh, and we can't pay you for this month". Which even by my, callous, standards is pretty damn harsh.  

I put this news out on Twitter and was surprised at the general feeling of sympathy that came from the web 2.0 lot. I know this doesn't really help my friend, but it's kinda nice to know that people do give a shit - even about the rich kids.

Interestingly, he did say that they were expecting the shit to hit the fan for 2-3 months and he'd told his 'missus' to start saving and not buy anything back in July. 

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Bringing back 80s footwear: web 2.0 style

Social media + trainers + bloke who grew up in the 80s = the chance to recreate classic trainers. This is a cool little 2.0 type initiative by the V&A where you create your own trainers, send them to a friend or upload to Flickr. 
For me, the early 80s were when the trainer came of age and when some of the most iconic designs were created: Addidas Samba, Puma G Vilas, the majority of Diadoras. So, here is my rather the feeble attempt to recreate classic 80s hoolie wear.
I think its really nice you can upload it on Flickr. I just wish it was slightly more customisable - there are limited upper options and the majority are too modern for my taste - and I wish you could go straight to the Flickr gallery to see what everyone else has done. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Tips from Social Media Measurement Camp

It was a productive get together at the Sept Social Media Measurement Camp, thanks to Chris Reed at FH or hosting and providing extremely high quality choccie biccies.

A quick aside: measurement camp is a bunch of digital types getting together to discuss/share/create ways of measuring social media campaigns.

I thought I’d post my Top Five of the session [in no order]:

1.      Open Measurement API. The idea to build an API that mashes Flickr data with Google Maps to give a location landscape of participants. Then run the postcodes through Mosaic to get socio-demographic data. Also, build standard measurement APIs on the Flickr platform.

2.     WIIFM: the guiding principle when planning any social media campaign is to think like the audience i.e. What’s In It For Me or slightly more aggressively WTFIIFM

3.     The 3Cs or 1:9:90 rule, Yakob Neilsen rule: people on the web are

a.     Creators[1%].: people who put content on the web This can be bloggers, photo uploaders etc.

b.     Contributors [9%]: people who comment on or review stuff

c.      Consumers: [90%]: people who look at stuff.

The theory being that if you can find out the amount of creators in a particular community by, say, posts, uploads etc, you can extrapolate back and get the number of Contributors and Consumers.

4.     Be personal. People don’t often talk to brands, but they do talk to people with a common interest. Take the time to find out about the audience, what they are interested in, how they like to be approached and find common ground. The real life analogy is when you meet new people for the first time, you don’t start shouting about how great you are. In the same way, brands shouldn’t go into a community and start telling them how great their products are.

5.     Benchmarking is hard. Stating the obvious slightly but, when trying something new it’s hard to work out what makes a success as there is very little precedent. It’s best to do a bit of digging and find any similar things that have been done before. Or even say, ‘we’re not sure’.

Chris had a practical idea of taking an existing campaign and coming up with ways of measuring it. I’ll post about this later.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The green gym

At last! Someone has done it! A very smart person has managed to take all the energy we expend in the gym and recycle it. And they've called it the Green Micro Gym. Genius!

The amount of times I've been pounding away on the treadmill like a slightly pudgy two legged hamster with an iPod, when I've thought 'what a colossal waste of energy it is to drive machines to help us burn off energy'. [well twice - I don't go to the gym that often]. I'm so chuffed, or should I say 'stoked' as a nod to the home of the green gym, the Pacific North West, that someone has worked out a way to take the energy we use to exercise, and use it to drive the machines with which we exercise. The law of the conservation of energy meets Fat Fighters. 

Fitness First, I hope you are watching. 

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Press Release grader tool

I came across a nice online tool that grades your press release, cunningly called press release grader. You paste your press release into various boxes and the software does its stuff and gives you a grade.

According to Hubspot, Press Release Grader's creator and internet marketing software company, the software has been developed in conjunction with PR and social media experts. So in theory in should work pretty well. 

In practice it's not bad at all. It gives you pointers on how to make your press release more SEO friendly and have more of an impact in social media.

However, I would treat it with a pinch of salt and use it as a guide, rather than defining master formula for writing a press release, for a number of reasons:
  1. You shouldn't take a formulaic approach to creating releases/stories for mainstream media or social media. Your release should be written in the best way to get your story across. Templates aren't that interesting after a while.  
  2. Press release are only one small tool that us PR types use. Sometimes they are not the best way of getting interest in your story. Plus, there is a groundswell of opinion [Tom Formeski for example] that reckons the press release is dead
  3. The tool is designed by our friends across the Atlantic, who tend to do things a bit differently to us here in UK. What makes a great release stateside, doesn't necessary work over here [think 'revolutionary end to end solution designed to meet customers' needs].
Having said all that, it's a nifty little tool that prompts you to include things that search engines pick up and bloggers find useful. Plus, it's great for training those new to our fine industry. 

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Cheggers! In one of our PR campaigns!

It's what dreams are made of. I know talking about your own campaigns is bad form, but it was planned before I joined so I can claim some impartiality. And, I just can't resist the chance to do a post about 'working with' Keith Chegwin. Or should I say, The Legend Keith Chegwin.
OK. Technically, I didn't get to work with him. But he did do a store opening for my client Aldi in Aylesbury today and some of my colleagues met him.  Check out the genius that is Cheggers here

I can't help thinking that if I'd met him, he might remember me from his Swap Shop days. Cheggers, if you are reading this, I was the ten year old trying to swap a [dad's] MkII Cortina with 45K miles on the clock for an Eagle Eyed Action Man and Attack Helicopter.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Genius social media campaign from Haagen Dazs to save the honey bee

Urban street culture meets honey producing insects meets tree huggers meets ice cream - in other words the Bee Boyz.
As part of a social media campaign, Haagen Dazs has created a short vid of a B-Boy crew, 'throwing down some shapes' [as I think they say], dressed as honey bees to raise awareness of the fact that honey bees are disappearing

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