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Closing down September 29, 2009

Posted by James Warren in blog.
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This is now an ex-blog.  I am no longer of this parish.  From this point forward you’ll find me over here.  Thanks for all the fish.

Masterstroke June 3, 2009

Posted by James Warren in funny, geeky stuff, social media, work.
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So the mighty Bing has arrived, and jolly good it is too.  You may have noticed that a significant proportion of the chatter online relates to Bing’s apparent ability to deliver fantastic porn results.  Now of course I can’t comment because I haven’t tried.  (No, really, I haven’t.  Properly, honestly, not).  But it did occur to me – and I hasten to add this is complete and utter supposition on my part – that if this was a deliberate decision (“let’s optimise our new search engine for the most searched for online commodity”) then it is total, complete and utter genius.  Enable people to search for adult content via Bing and the theory is they’ll stay and search for other stuff too.  Of course, Microsoft will never admit as much and just claim it was a happy coincidence.  But I’m not so sure.  It is, if you’ll forgive the phrase, a masterstroke.

(Same size print: Microsoft is a client)

Fiddling, while Byrne roams… December 11, 2008

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, pr, work.

So the boss got promoted to be head of the whole of Europe – which is very cool and totally deserved because he’s, well, <brownnosing>inspirationally brilliant</brownnosing>.  On a far less grand scale, today it’s been announced that I’m taking on a global role, overseeing Weber Shandwick’s global digital excellence in association with the very awesome Chris Perry from the city of angels.  So I’ll now be fiddling with digital problems from all over, not just Europe.  Which is pretty much what I did before anyway, but it’s nice to get recognition, right?  Sorry if this post comes across as self-absorbed.  Truth be told I just wanted to use the pun in the title.  It tickled me.

Back to school November 27, 2008

Posted by James Warren in pr, work.

Here’s the original text of my PR Week Digital PR Essay, published today.  In it, I talk about the concept of Inline Communications (don’t plan/execute offline and online comms separately – all your comms must be ‘inline’) and revisit the requirement to Be Nice.  Comments welcome.


Beyond online.  Get inline

Digital must not be an afterthought.  Successful communications should be seamlessly integrated across all available channels

Is it really twelve months since the last PR Week Digital Essay supplement?  How time flies!  And yet, how much has changed since last we spoke.  Last year, on these very pages, I advised the communications function of every organization to assign dedicated resource to managing the promotion (and indeed protection) of its digital reputation.  I wonder how many followed this advice?  As anticipated, 2008 has seen the marketing world continue its unceasing adoption of digital tools and techniques.  This is only set to increase as we enter 2009 and we PROs are ideally placed to take full advantage – the online environment is fertile ground for creating and amplifying advocacy.  But how to profit from this advantage?

I wanted to use this essay to introduce two concepts; ideas upon which we at Weber Shandwick recommend you base your strategic communications planning and execution in 2009, and beyond.

The first idea is ‘inline.’  The beauty of inline is its simplicity: inline tells us not to build a standalone offline communications campaign and bolt it on to a distinct online campaign.  Rather, inline teaches us to plan, create and execute communications campaigns that make no distinction between the channels employed.  Public relations needs to break out of the silos of specialist planning and tactical execution and become truly reflective of how people (the community formerly known as target audience) are influenced.  At Weber Shandwick we do this by ensuring every campaign is optimized for the combination of channels that carry most influence.

As with all things, the devil is in the detail.  Working with our colleagues at Universal McCann we create what we call an Inline Profile for each campaign, an integrated influence model that reflects the audience we are trying to reach and the nature of the communications objective.  The Inline Profile enables us to identify which combinations of channels (and therefore tactical execution) will be most effective in driving advocacy.

To ensure all campaigns are inline, we have matched the insights gleaned from  the afore-mentioned profile with rigorous and thorough training of all staff, plus the embedding of digital experts into each practice/office across the company to give every Weber Shandwick consultant the confidence that only knowledge and experience bring.  This ensures that all campaigns are practically inline from conception to implementation.

Of course, inline communications is not only reflective of how the audience is influenced. Inline is a state of mind, a process and a point of view. It’s not just about media content – increasingly we are staging experiential events to help drive communications with key influencer groups.  And of course it is also based on media needs – ensuring that there is layer upon layer of additional corroborative information/messaging available via internet search and elsewhere, across all communication channels, to ensure no question of perspective goes unseen.

For evidence that inline communications works, look no further than the communicator of the year, President Elect Obama.  His election campaign was the living embodiment of inline thinking and execution, from the consistency of his ‘Change’ messaging to the perfectly coordinated integrated communications and engagement activities, whether via the media, online or in the field, the Obama team created a truly inline programme.

The second idea I want to talk about is again straightforward.  But if followed to the letter, it will ensure that the design and tactical execution of any digital activity is optimized for success.  And it is, very simply: Be Nice.

While it sounds trite, those businesses that adopt the attributes of niceness when communicating online can only succeed.  A few months ago I wrote on my blog: : “…if you’re generous with your time, are courteous, listen, don’t interrupt, help people achieve what they want to achieve and make people smile – in short, if you’re nice – then people will want to hang out with you and they’ll want to introduce you to their mates.”

Any organization that demonstrates the attributes of niceness online – those that run online campaigns that are inclusive, non-judgmental, even-handed, polite, respectful, courteous, humorous, empowering, supportive, interesting and engaging – will be infinitely better placed to succeed than an organization that doesn’t.  After all, it’s not not called antisocial media for nothing.

My advice to you all: get inline and be nice.  It’s just like being back at school.


Scandisco November 6, 2008

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, funny.

In the absence of anything properly professional (genuine professional properness will be along soon, blogfans), here is something nonsensical.  It is, I think, the finest thing ever to come out of Finland (and that includes herring, mobile phones and Kati and Piia, Bite’s twin Finnish receptionists, circa 1999).

Hat tip to Robert Anderson, my awesome sidekick at WS Towers.

Simon Says Move October 17, 2008

Posted by James Warren in pr, work.

So the cat is out of the bag…  I’ve been dying to write about this for ages!

I’m delighted to confirm that Simon is joining WS UK’s consumer team as head of digital.  This is the first step in our strategy of embedding digital experts (‘change agents’) into our European practice teams (as described, in a slightly round about fashion, in the phase two bit of this post) to bolster our ability to provide clients with appropriate multi-channel comms counsel and support.

We’re moving, rapidly, towards our goal of having digital DNA embedded throughout the agency.  In last December’s post, I estimated this would take at least twelve months.  The great news is we’re well ahead of schedule.  Welcome, Simon.  I can’t wait to have you as part of our merry virtual digiteam and look forward to helping you make a massive difference to our consumer practice (and beyond)!

EDIT: Simon’s take on the move.  Simon is one of the people I’ve most respected and followed over the years in the digital comms space.  In our discussions we very quickly realised we share the same views on the whats, wheres and hows of digital comms.  He’s going to make a tremendous contribution to our business.

Death to 20th Century thinking October 3, 2008

Posted by James Warren in geeky stuff, marketing, media, pr, social media, work.
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This is excellent.  It’s about IT, but it might as well be about the media.  Or anything else for that matter.  Cracking post.  A sample:

Assumption: We (IT) must control what users do with computers and technology. Zzzzttt! Wrong! Thanks for playing though. We (IT) need to learn how to coordinate what people do with technology, not control it. Control is an illusion. IT did not pick PCs. IT did not pick IM. IT did not pick GMail. IT did not pick Facebook. IT did not pick the iPhone. IT did not pick the Web. In fact, IT fought against much of this. Sure, we need to try to keep people safe in their use of technology. But, we need to be negotiators and coordinators and trusted advisors to decisions people will make about technology, not dictators.

Hat tip to the Gartner Tweet.  Disclosure: my wife consults for Gartner.

True to the name of his blog… October 1, 2008

Posted by James Warren in marketing, pr, social media.

The very fine Faris Yakob has ‘stolen’ my Be Nice idea.  Not that there’s a great deal of rocket science to it – it’s common sense, like all great observations (durr).  And when I say stolen, I mean ‘came up with the same idea’ (despite one of the PSFK blogs linking to my original post, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt – see, I’m living the dream…).

The theory (and practice) has played a major part in all my recent ‘how to do digital media’ presentations, and to rave reviews (well, not rave necessarily…  but people didn’t laugh or throw things which frankly I interpret as pretty darn positive).  Indeed, yesterday it concluded a talk I gave to a group of direct marketers at a marketing event.  Needless to say, many of them struggled with the concept.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to say when I finally get around to publishing my white paper on the subject, you lot will have to back me up against the inevitable claims I stole the concept.

Quite simply September 29, 2008

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, marketing.
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This is very cool.

Laugh September 26, 2008

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, funny.

Two things this morning have made me laugh out loud.  You’ve probably already seen the video…

Truly ‘special’.  The other is the Daily Mash.  The following bit of this article really made me giggle.

Top five foreign secretaries you least want invading your sexual fantasies
(Last year’s position in brackets)

1: Margaret Beckett (1)
2: Malcolm Rifkind (2)
3: David Miliband (-)
4: Lord Carrington (8)
5: Douglas Hurd (3)

Sorry.  Am ever-so-slightly hungover which may explain a lot.  Memo to self: blog about work next time.