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Pretty vacation August 17, 2006

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, arsenal, blog.
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Not that any of you will notice, but blogging will be light over the next couple of weeks as I am off on my hollibobs.  See you when I get back.  By which time – with any luck – Arsenal may have got rid of Ashley Cole.

 *tumbleweed*

Bebo yay, MySpace boo August 8, 2006

Posted by James Warren in social media, web 2.0.
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In the UK Bebo spanks MySpace’s bottom, according to Hitwise (courtesy of some weird blog called TechCrunch that none of you will ever have heard of).

State of the blogosphere, August 2006 August 7, 2006

Posted by James Warren in Uncategorized.
3 comments

Dave Sifry has posted his latest state of the blogosphere.  Here are some edited highlights:

  • Technorati is now tracking over 50 Million Blogs.
  • The Blogosphere is over 100 times bigger than it was just 3 years ago.
  • Today, the blogosphere is doubling in size every 200 days, or about once every 6 and a half months.
  • From January 2004 until July 2006, the number of blogs that Technorati tracks has continued to double every 5-7 months.
  • About 175,000 new weblogs were created each day, which means that on average, there are more than 2 blogs created each second of each day.
  • Total posting volume of the blogosphere continues to rise, showing about 1.6 Million postings per day, or about 18.6 posts per second.
  • This is about double the volume of about a year ago.

Great stuff, lovely graphs etc.  But am I alone in thinking 50 million is a small number?  And while we’re on the subject, does anyone else find Technorati’s search results, erm, unfulfilling?

Not very slick August 7, 2006

Posted by James Warren in pr, social media.
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Speculation here that a ‘homemade’ YouTube video making fun of Al Gore was actually created and uploaded by Exxon’s PR agency in the US.  Ouch.  Whether it’s true or not, all this serves to do is further rubbish the PR industry’s reputation, and make my/our jobs harder.  Big corporate clients can be somewhat apprehensive about engaging with social media – stories like this just add further fuel to the fire and give them another reason not to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Via (the very excellent) Tom Coates

2 3 4 August 7, 2006

Posted by James Warren in geeky stuff, media, web 2.0.
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This week’s Channel 4 Three Minute Wonders are to be shown simultaneously on TV and in Second Life – each will be a kind of parallel documentary about Second Lifers and their in-game characters.  What a great idea.  What’s also cool is that the filmmakers submitted their treatment for the films via Channel 4’s IdeasFactory initiative.  Consumer-generated TV, anyone?  Hat tip: PSFK

Top five social media tools August 4, 2006

Posted by James Warren in social media, web 2.0.
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Both Simon and Ged have tagged me for this top five social media tools meme thing that’s doing the rounds.  Many thanks gentlemen and apologies for not responding sooner.  Here are the first five things that spring to mind, for what they’re worth: actually that’s a lie – the first five social media tools that sprung to mind were people – but that’s a different story altogether 😉

  1. RSS.  A boring choice perhaps, but this ball-bouncingly simple and natty little acronym is fundamental to all social media.  I now boot up my RSS reader in the morning before email and my internet browser.  I use Sharpreader, in case you’re interested – nothing special, but whenever I try other readers, I always end up coming back – it’s just Really Simple and Straightforward.  I could add Juice too.  Basically, the whole subscribing thing just makes media consumption sooooo easy.
  2. WordPress.  Love it, love it, love it.  Not only hosted by them for free (like this puppy), but also as installed blog software for client blogs.  It’s hyper-adaptable, reliable, scaleable, does everything you ask of it and is incredibly intuitive to use.
  3. Icerocket/Google Blog Search (can’t separate them, only because neither is perfect).  Purely for the ease with which you can set up bespoke (that’s customized to you Merkans) RSS feeds.  Essential for any self-respecting PR person (oxymoron?) that wants to track what the world is saying about clients/issues/competitors.
  4. Alexa/Google Trends.  Although these have their uses for me in my day to day work, their real impact comes when you unveil the odd clever graph in a client preso/meeting.  Clients are generally flabberghasted that this sort of information is freely available.  I showed both to AMEC at a conference a few months ago.  There was a fairly muted reaction.  Quick (instant), dirty, free online media measurement – yes, it’s basic (very) but there’s no arguing with the figures and facts.  If we’re running a campaign which uses particular messaging or language, Google Trends is great for analysing the effectiveness.  Alexaholic’s ability to measure traffic to microsites versus competitor traffic, for example, is also as powerful.
  5. Windows Live.  Believe me, a few months ago I really didn’t think I’d be writing this, but I have to concede that Microsoft has seriously got its, ahem, ‘stuff’ together wrt web 2.0, and in a very short space of time too.  Even if they weren’t a client (same-size print: they are) I think I’d still include their live.com site as a good example of pulling together some lovely AJAXy goodness and incorporating some juicy RSS functionality etc.  Hats (although not red ones) off to them.
  6. IM.  I wish it wasn’t on this list (and strictly speaking it shouldn’t be, seeing as its number six) because I can’t claim to have quite managed the time management implications of instant messaging.  But its certainly growing in use and significance.  IM and RSS between them should cause the end of email altogether (here’s hoping…).  One of the biggest implications of the ‘death’ of email is the fall in traffic to the likes of Yahoo, Gmail and – of course – Hotmail sites – traditionally among the most popular online destinations.  The decline in email use will bring about a corresponding drop in the advertising value of those sites.  Although I dare say they’ll make it up elsewhere, eh?

I don’t think there’s anybody else in the UK PR blog scene that hasn’t answered this already, so I shan’t pass it on.  Good weekends, all!

Mobile phonograph August 4, 2006

Posted by James Warren in geeky stuff, mobile, music.
2 comments

Further to my gibbering earlier, the other week I saw this and this and a whole lot else besides and it’s made me think about the future of portable media.  By way of a quick (non scientific and incomplete) overview, flash memory technology is allowing mobile phone manufacturers to incorporate xGB MP3 storage into their handsets.  This makes them a compelling alternative to (for example) Nano and Mini owners.  Throw the phones’ wireless capability into the mix and their increasing ability to handle email, internet and multiple media (multimedia sounds so very 90s, don’t you think?) and you have a practical and cost-effective solution to an all too familiar problem – too many blooming devices.  To illustrate this one of my very good friends has discarded his (almost brand) new Nano because he’s just picked up a Sony Ericsson Walkman phone.  To quote him (he has a work Blackberry too) “I’m just fed up with carrying so many things around.”  Interestingly, the reason he bought the Nano in the first place was because his ‘proper’ iPod was too heavy to carry in his suit pocket.

The answer?  Handbags for men.  Of course the real answer lies in yet further convergence in the area of mobile devices.  But will the phones eat the iPod market, or is there an alternative?  What I singularly failed to mention in my previous post was that an iPod with 3G wireless connectivity could also be used as a phone (durr).  And a portable email device.  And heaven knows what else besides (Jobs would doubtless include built-in camera, given Apple’s creative heritage, with some simple edit s/w and integrated upload to an Apple version of flickr/YouTube).

In one fell swoop, Apple does to the PDA/mobile email/phone market what it did to the MP3 market all those years ago.  The super-rich celebs, meejah and city types (not to mention the less-impoverished PRs) would ditch their boring practical corporate Blackberries for sophisticated sexy sleek designer iPads before you can say ‘Look at this shiny monochromatic hunk of converged gorgeosity – see how successful, cool and rich I am?  By the way, I also have a great sense of humour, am fantastic in bed and know how to operate a spin dryer.’

Baaaaaaaa baaaaaaaaa August 4, 2006

Posted by James Warren in apropos of nothing, blog, marketing, music, pr, social media, wine, work.
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(That’s me being sheepish).  One of the downsides to being a PR agency social media specialist/online tart (*delete as applicable) is that you (by which I mean I) get dragged in to almost every pitch the agency does.  It just seems that no self-respecting pitch these days is complete without some social media goodness, courtesy of ‘web boy’.  Now don’t get me wrong, that is as it should be and these sorts of opportunities are why I moved to WS in the first place.  But with seven pitches/creds in the last two weeks, my posting here has suffered.  That, and the fact that I have been caught red-handed focusing on the social rather than the media, goes some way to explain my conspicuous absence from these gloriously hallowed pixels.

Although I am desparately sorry to those of you that care for my opinion and insight (hi Mum), I shan’t make contrite ‘must do better’ statements – I refuse to be a slave to this blog – but I am confident things will calm down over the next few weeks and I’ll be able to give this exquisite vessel the attention it so richly deserves.  To be honest, I’m most excited about showcasing some of my superduper colleagues’ blogs over the coming weeks – one of the first things I tasked myself with when I joined WS was to get some of the brilliant people here blogging.  It’s finally beginning to happen, so please watch this space.  You’ll find out about them here first…

Anyway… what’s new?  Well, lots as it happens.

  • The Razorlight album, which is absolutely brilliant and has supplanted Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoise as my iPod favourite listen du jour.  It’s almost perfect. I should confess I have a bit of an irrational thing about Razorlight in that I think they are the dog’s proverbials (weird how that sometimes happens with some bands and not others…).  Still, I urge you to buy it
  • Coca-Cola’s new web initiative – welcome to the Coke side of life – which at teh time of writing hasn’t yet made it over this side of the pond, but I fully expect to (same-size print: The Coca-Cola Company is a WS client).   At first glance it looks like a classic social media exploitation, but I strongly believe this one will work for them a) because they are giving away proper, valuable prizes, b) because Coke has the sort of brand that people already socialise/mash and c) because coca-cola.com provides a fairly large global shop window for wannabe creatives to showcase their smarts.
  • On the subject of sugary drinks, check this out.  Just can’t get enough of this sort of stuff – it’s astonishing, and actually has some fairly strong implications for regionalisation of PR/comms.
  • It had to happen – here is a magazine aimed at Second Life entrepreneurs.
  • This is new too – genius.  How long before there’s one at every transport hub, office and pub?  Not to mention in planes and trains…
  • If you fancy being wowed (in a slightly geeky way) then watch this – the future of computing interfaces is here (it’s another of those brilliant TED videos).
  • And, because I promised in my blurb I’d write about wine occasionally, if you’re after a nice rose (and in this weather, why on earth wouldn’t you be?), I can heartily recommend this.  Even non-rose fans will enjoy it, I promise.

Back to pitching, and here’s one that has generated plenty of bitching: agency.com put its pitch to Subway up on YouTube.  Brave, certainly.  Clever?  My honest opinion is there’s not a great deal here to convince me to appoint them.  As future pitch strategies go, however, it certainly provides a lot of food for thought.  And Subway are being talked about throughout the marketing blog echo chamber – so maybe agency.com have made their point.  I would like to have seen some more of their ideas and thinking made public – *that* would have been brave (and a bit more 2.0).  Plus – if they’d really shared their most creative and strategic thinking, irrespective of whether they win Subway or not, they would have had other brands beating their door down.  I think this was almost good – but not quite good enough.  There’s a very fine line between brilliant and tragic in the social media space.  But I hope they have the balls to put the next stage up there too.

As a PR blogger I feel duty-bound to reference the Longtailhere’s a spoof (?) trailer for the book.  Love it.

Finally, I can’t resist speculating as to the announcements due at next week’s Apple shindig.  THere’s been all sorts of conjecture and pontificating as to what Mr Jobs will unveil.  My client Microsoft has tried to trump any iPod related announcement by pre-announcing Zune – which admittedly sounds exciting.  But why oh why oh (spells…?) does Msft always pre-announce its products?  The reason people get *so* excited about Apple product announcements is that they know they’ll be able to get their hands on the product, in store, the very next day.  It does make the whole announcements that more, well, exciting.  So what’s in store next week?  In the greatest Apple tradition, I’d like to see the goalposts moved, with the introduction of a truly wireless iPod (by which I mean mobile 3G-esque wireless as opposed to wi-fi) connection to the iTunes store and my iTunes ‘server’ – erradicating the need for masses of storage and connecting me to my existing and *new* music wherever I am (with free plays of tracks it thinks I might like).  Would require an update of the interface design etc, but, hey – we can but dream.  And the expense of the wireless delivery could be offset by incorporating (location/time/mood contextual) podverts into the delivered content.  What do you think?  I’d like to see a mobile computing device too.  As The Economist pointed out last week, the future of the PC is mobile.  Apple is nowhere in this space (with the current functionality/interactivity of the iPod, that is).

Off to a wedding this weekend, so light blogging ahead (joke – the blogging bit, not the wedding).  If you’re really lucky I might even get around to finishing my ‘why PR 2.0 is real’ post, which i started writing over a month ago.  (How’s that for an Eastenders-like cliffhanger, eh?).