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Ah-haaa! I cried when I heard the news that Norfolk’s best-loved DJ and Travel Tavern aficionado, Alan Partridge was ‘bouncing back’ to our screens for some one-off specials – Jack-anack-anory!
But before I could break open the Toblerone in celebration I was dismayed to find that in order to follow Alan’s story tonight, I’d have to subscribe to Sky’s Atlantic channel!
After my inevitable sulk and wild accusations of Alan turning his back on the BBC in search of a new satellite audience, I began to see that this was indeed a canny move to sow Alan’s ‘seed’ wider in search of the Partridge-faithful.
Could there be a long-awaited film on the horizon…? Surely not!
Anyway, enough of the scepticism, the fact is Alan’s back after a decade out of the terrestrial TV spotlight. He’s using the media in an extremely savvy way to re-open the doors to his closet fans and raise awareness of Alan Gordon Partridge ahead of his big screen debut. Who’d have thought it, he’ll be signing up to Twitter and Facebook next!!
Let battle commence! And for those in the know, ‘Cook Pass Babtridge’.
Joining the ‘Twilluminati’
I have a confession, which will be unsurprising to many who know me. I am a Twitter addict. Having said this however, whenever the subject of Twitter arises in conversation, most people all tell me the same thing – that they “don’t get it”.
Now I should preface this article with the fact that I’m not generally a social media evangelist. In fact it would be fairer to say I’m more sceptical than excited most times I hear about the “next big thing”. I make an exception for Twitter however, because even despite the hype, I think it’s widely underestimated.
When people join Twitter they, unsurprisingly, go and find people to follow. We are naturally averse to following complete strangers at first because it’s quite unnatural, which is why many people decide to follow their friends and celebrities. This is a mistake, because the second complaint people have about Twitter is that the tweets are all about “what people are having for dinner” and “how their bus journey is going”.
The truth is the most important button in Twitter is not the “follow” button, but the “unfollow”. If you don’t find their tweets interesting, unfollow them. If you find someone else who says something interesting to say, follow them and if you have an interest; find the users who share it.
The power of Twitter lies in its power to connect people. You can follow people who tweet from inside the borders of war torn countries taking grainy videos of tanks rolling down their roads, or perhaps a senior academic working on the large hadron collider; maybe you can follow your regional and national journalists as they tweet from the latest big court case or ask your local MP which way they are voting while they are sat in the House of Commons.
The problem is, of course, that Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga are unlikely to reply to your tweet and it’s unlikely your friendship circle involves MPs, senior scientists and reporters embedded in Syria. My advice to you if you don’t “get” Twitter is to go back, unfollow anyone whose content doesn’t interest you, then go back and find someone who does.
Coca Cola is always coming up with new ways to make us feel all ‘loved up’ with the world. For me, it isn’t Christmas until I hear the ‘Holidays are coming…’ ad; and they taught the world how to sing when I was a knee high to a grasshopper.
I spotted this viral and thought it was absolutely fab – taking CCTV footage with a twist. Just when you think the man is going to attack someone in the street, he gives him a big hug, people are ‘stealing’ kisses and gangs are helping people with broken down cars to push them out of the way.
So rather than focusing on happiness, they have now focused on looking at the world in a different way – which I am sure Coca Cola drinking will facilitate!
The Diamond Jubilee, The Olympic Torch Relay, Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, just a handful of events that seem to have whipped up a frenzy of patriotism in recent weeks. With the bunting and union jacks now a permanent fixture in communities up and down the country, brand Britain hasn’t been so in vogue since the days of ‘Cool Britannia’.
Keen to not miss the boat, some of the UK’s favourite consumer brands have ridden this wave of patriotism with specific marketing campaigns to exploit the swell of Britishness. Hovis, Heinz, Mcvitie’s and Schweppes are just a few brands who have celebrated the national spirit with new flavours, packaging and advertising campaigns.
However, it’s not just in the UK where the British brand is riding high. Consumer research by Deloitte found that the Olympic effect was also benefiting the UK’s tourism industry internationally. 63% of Chinese and 60% of Indian consumers interviewed said they would like to buy UK products, a further three quarters of those surveyed said they wanted to learn more about the UK as a result of the London Olympics.
With the eyes of the world focused on the UK this year, many companies will want to share in the sentiment. Of course aligning your brand with all things British can have significant PR benefits but it also comes with a word of caution. Simply jumping on the bandwagon for the Olympics can feel shallow very quickly, if you make your brand very ‘of the moment’, in six months time it can seem rather superficial if you’ve simply packed away the bunting until the mood takes you again.
I’ve been asked to write a blog entry. I’ve got nothing of any importance to say and, worse of all, nothing that anyone should waste their time reading. But as we have a blog it needs to be kept up to date, and in the absence of anything worth reading, with utter drivel.
And that says everything about the digital age. The cost barriers to becoming a publisher in the digital age are next to nothing, and so any wannabe journalist can tap away on their keyboards.
Does anyone read the nonsense that most of them churn out? Does anyone care what people say on their blog? In most cases, the answer is almost certainly no.
But occasionally, one of those wannabe journalist’s followers could be a real journalist – one who writes for an influential trade website or, perhaps, a national newspaper.
And there are cases when major national stories that have been damning of a company or product have started from a blog written on a kitchen computer.
The threat that this poses means that those of us in the communications industry need to be aware of these new digital threats to an organisation’s reputation and put in place strategies to ensure that online content is monitored and issues dealt with before they can escalate.
With the numbers of people posting content soaring, it’s clear that monitoring and responding to bloggers can be a burden for any organisation, but can such reputational threats be buried under the carpet?
Online should be treated like any other channel of communication. The first step to addressing the challenge is to identify which bloggers carry influence. Fortunately, there are tools and people to help.
The Mail on Sunday recently reported that the Post Office is to cut queues by installing ‘tap and go’ payment systems in all its 11,500 branches by the end of the year. While this initiative is no great surprise given the long lines of people one almost always faces at the Post Office, it does make you wonder if we are heading towards a service industry where there will be little to no human interaction at all.
Already gone are the days where you check in with the receptionist at the surgery on arriving for your doctor’s appointment. Instead, you face the challenge of fathoming the computerised check-in kiosks (which when you are feeling under the weather is no mean feat!). In fact, it is possible these days to do almost anything without actually speaking to a person whether it is checking in for a flight, cashing in a cheque or buying cinema tickets.
While this is all very well and good in some respects – being able to pay for your petrol at the pump or book train tickets online can be a great way of saving time and money – it does seem sad that these days we are having less and less human interaction.
Nowadays good customer service is less about a friendly chit chat with the nice lady scanning your groceries but more about efficiency. Consumers are not prepared to wait in a long queue or jump through endless hurdles to get what they want. They want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Ironically, staff are often needed to man self-service machinery as at times it can prove a challenge to operate – we have all been faced with the annoying ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ announcement when self-scanning at the supermarket!
The reality is that this type of technology is here to stay and set to grow. While companies and organisations will continue to employ people to man checkouts, Post Office kiosks and reception desks, they will also continue to look at ways of simplifying the service process, which will inevitably involve the use of technology. The onus is on us to ensure that good customer service continues to have a human element where possible, after all, however clever self service machinery is, the one thing it can’t provide consumers with is a service with a smile!
Many moons ago I started my career in publishing as a sub-editor on a range of trade titles until eventually reaching the giddy heights of editor.
Working in publishing, it is not uncommon to have quite a tarnished view of PRs. I often felt they were stalking me to check I’d received a press release and they frequently seemed unable to fulfil some fairly basic requests – was it really that difficult to get me a high resolution version of the picture I needed for my 12pm deadline?
Then a strange thing happened. I crossed over to the dark side and got myself a job in PR. Lured away from publishing by the expectations of cocktails after work and days spent on photo shoots with celebrities, I began my new job expecting life to take a far more glamorous turn.
However, those expectations were fairly short-lived and my impression of life as a PR very quickly changed. Far from the fluffy PR bunny image, PR consultants need to have many strings to their bow and frequently juggle the demands of many clients.
Now many years in, I do of course realise that those preconceptions I had as an editor were completely inaccurate. The reason I received so many calls from PRs on a daily basis is because they’re under immense pressure to achieve coverage for their clients. Why didn’t I get the images I so desperately needed? It wasn’t for want of trying; their client was unable to grasp the importance of my deadline and resolution requirements.
PR consultants need to be jack of all trades: able to create compelling, engaging and of course grammatically accurate copy at a moments notice; secure a slot for their client on the BBC Breakfast sofa and deliver sparkling PR campaigns on an often tiny budget.
So, far from mingling with celebrities and enjoying cocktails way into the early hours, PRs can mostly be found shackled to their desks trying to meet a tight deadline or on the phone negotiating a feature opportunity with an editor.
Now, if anyone reading this is aware of any careers where the main pre-requisites for the job are mingling with celebs and drinking Cosmopolitans please let me know – I’ll be brilliant at it.