Friday, December 30, 2005

Citizen journalism at 30,000 feet

Jeremy Hermanns talks about his terrifying experience on an Alaska flight when the plane suddenly nose dived and decompressed because of a hole in the fuselage. He posted some pictures of the event. Amazingly, his account of the incident attracted loads of critics (trolls) questionning the story, his credibility and so on. Talk about the wisdom of crowds...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My 2006 Predictions (Not)

2005 is coming to a close and I predict a rise in champagne hangover, soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions and an endless supply of mystics, psychics and punters (also known as "analysts" or "experts") sharing their vision of the future with less enlightened mortals. (See Fred Wilson's delicious tag on this).

Will Ajax finally make the transition from kitchen sink to popular web design technology? Will we ever trust Wikipedia? Will we soon run out of buzzwords combining the word"blog" with less fortunate technology related words? (vlog?, splog? ...).

I planned to articulate a clear vision for 2006 in this post through proper research, talking to industry players, looking at tech and marketing budget trends, sampling consumers... but then I realised that it was a substantial amount of work to do, all before the end of this year. Instead, I used Mcalister's 2006 tech prediction generator:

Last year I made several predictions that now seem ridiculously too ahead of times... But a few ideas were pretty close. I've got a feeling that 2006 will be a big year, and here are some of the reasons why:

A Los Altos startup is going to open our eyes to some new ways that social RSS tagging can influence culture. Business 2.0. will pick up on this and run several cover stories on the founders.
Jorma Ollila (NOKIA) will be in the spotlight for his decision to support AFLAX remote scripting. This will upset Robert Scoble, and the blogosphere will react "mainstream media like"... The noise will quiet before the end of the year and it will all be forgotten soon after the shock.

Amazon will see their stock skyrocket after their Podcasting business starts taking off. We've seen it coming for a while now, but 2006 will be the year it really kicks into gear.

Either Yahoo! or Google will seek to expand their social networking business by acquiring Linkedin. AOL will be overlooked in the process, and they will see a management shakeout later in the year.

One of the big leaders in the entertainment industry will wake up to the opportunity in the Internet and the Web 2.0 trends. After months of speculation, they will make a key acquisition that will shake up the landscape for years to come.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and all of that.

Finally, I finished my first term exams but for one assignment due on the 4th of January. I feel shattered. For the next week, I will swap blogging for skiing. I wish all of you who have been reading Beyond PR, despite the irregular posting frequency a happy holiday season. I'll be back after the 26th.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Science in Wikipedia as accurate as Encyclopaedia Britannica

The British scientific journal Nature reviewed science entries in Wikipedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica (E.B). Results: few differences in accuracy.

8 serious errors were found, 4 in each encyclopaedia. Slightly more factual errors were found in Wikipedia (163 v 132 for E.B).

See article on BBC

It is pretty remarkable given than Wikipedia is entirely edited by volunteers. It also brings some faith back into the value and quality of open source knowledge, given the recent issues with Adam Curry (The original podcaster :-) and John Seigenthaler Sr.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Martell Cognac Blog: Conversation NOT Flowing!

Today, I read in New Media Age (the paper version) that Pernod Ricard is sponsoring a "blog" on Guardian Unlimited. In that instance, blog is more of a concept. It's just a website with an online competition, tips on serving cognac and two supposedly controversial articles: "xmas shopping, online or high streets?" and "Modern art: love it or loathe it?". Should you care, you are invited to give your opinion. The blog is called "let the conversation flow" but there is no flow in the conversation since you have to email your entries, for them to be selected and posted on the site (there is no conversation either as no one responds to your opinions). A complete let-down for what could have been a great blogging/advertising combination.

Seth Godin on e-marketing

E-Consultancy features an interview with permission marketing guru Seth Godin. Among other things, Seth talks about RSS being the future of email marketing and greater usage of the web for retention and CRM rather than acquisition.

I have been a convert of Seth's marketing philosophy for years but with hindsight, I am now casting a more critical eye on his assertions. Seth predicted that banner ads will disappear in 2000… While paid search is attracting more online marketing budget, "interruptive advertising", be it banners, pop-ups or eyeblasters is still a major eyesore on the internet landscape. Why? Because it works. It gets you noticed and it delivers click through. And conceptually, I don’t see the difference between displaying a banner about the new Jeep on an online automotive magazine, and pushing an announcement about that same car in a subscribed automotive RSS feed...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Opinmind : mostly positive sentiments

Opinmind is not another blog search engine since it helps you "discover and connect with people with similar hobbies and interests". (although it walks and quacks like a blog search engine ;-)

One interesting feature is how it categorises results between positive and negative opinions with a "sentimeter". I typed "bird flu" and the positive results came up with "love", "good" or "awesome" in the sentence while the negative have "hate" or "sucks" or "stupid". It looks like the sentimeter matches keywords according to their proximity in a sentence. Probably pulling from a dictionary of negative and positive qualifiers. This works well for opinions which are expressed “directly” but could miss more subtle comments. There is also a risk that one whole post will be judged based on one sentence. i.e. the whole post is positive but there is one sentence containing "hate" and the term you search for too close together).

Nonetheless, I think that it is great to have a tool like Opinmind freely available. I am sure it will grow and improve with time.

You can read the Opinmind blog here.

via Micropersuasion

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nabaztag, the smartest rabbit on the Internet

Nabaztag should top your Xmas list. It's a rabbit that talks, sings, moves its ears and pulsate with colours. And it is connected to the Internet 24/7 via your WiFi network so you can program it to track and react to stock prices, the weather, your email inbox, SMS ... You can even send messages to Nabaztag owners too via the Nabaztag website.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Consumerist

PR Week US runs an interview with Joel Johnson re: new consumer watchdog blog "The Consumerist". The site is titled "Shoppers bite back" and hope to channel customers' frustation with poor products/services. So far there are takes on BMW, Walmart and Best Buy. It looks like the blog is still finding its editorial line, not knowing whether to become an archive of lame company promotions or the official voice of countless pissed-off customers turned online activists. I wish it was more like

Worth keeping an eye on anyway.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Phelps Group Adds Cedarlane Natural Foods And Whatever To Its Roster And I Am Fed Up With Receiving Your Press Releases

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (December 6, 2005) The Phelps Group, one of the nation's leading integrated marketing communications (IMC) firms, was recently selected by PSI, a leading provider of workforce testing services, and Cedarlane Natural Foods, maker of all-natural frozen foods, to carry out IMC campaigns consisting of advertising and public relations services.Public relations veteran Bill Krenn will lead both accounts. The combined capitalized billings for the two accounts are approximately $3MM... whatever!

This is the kind of email I receive almost daily in my mailbox. No message, just a copy and paste of a press release in an email. This one is from Bahareh Ramin, media contact for the Phelps Group. I was close to put his email address here on the spur of the moment...

I don't know who the Phelps Group is. I bet I am not alone. What on earth is "workforce testing services?". May be Phelps Groups or PSI are famous in the US. But I am based in London. Why should I care? OK, my blog talks about marketing and PR, but mostly from an online perspective. Why emailing me this press release? Does the Phelps Group get the email addresses of all bloggers remotely related to marketing and bombard them blindly with emails in the hope that one of them will say: "wow! how did I live without knowing that! I must post the entire press release at once on my blog and that will certainly attract millions of readers who will join me and the prestigious Phelps Group in celebrating that glorious account win."

If you want to engage me, at least make an effort of being relevant. And a note saying "hi, this is why I am sending you this" will be appreciated as well.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogging the shoposphere

Business Week carries a short story on how online retailers try to tap into social networks and blogs. It features Shoposphere, a new Yahoo! Beta feature where members can display their shopping wish lists. When creating a list, you can search and pick products from a list of suppliers selected by Yahoo! These “pick lists” can even be accessed by RSS feeds.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Million dollar homepage: why didn’t I think of that!

The Wall Street Journal is running an article on Alex Tew, the British student behind the million dollar homepage. If you are unfamiliar with the concept: he divided a webpage into 1 million pixels, and sells them for $1 each. Through clever PR and marketing, he has so far sold $716,900 worth of pixels since August. Advertisers range from online casinos, online communities, discount CDs, domain name hosting and even the Times.

There are now hundreds of copycat websites, some of them with interesting twists on the concepts, other just simple rip-offs. Someone is even selling a script to “create your own million dollar homepage”…

Hats-off to Alex. It is a one-off but will definitely be part of Internet advertising history. On a personal level, AdRants summarises my feeling well in true “Onion” style: “Million dollar homepage causes entrepreneurial depression".

Thursday, November 24, 2005

We are human, after all.

I love this Korean blog featuring a collection of pictures of people from all over the world covering one of their eyes. It is as if they are responding to a signal sent by this Korean artist. A silent hello, a token of acknowledgement, saying: "we are part of it". It is so simple yet so powerful. Seth mentioned about the impact of seeing these half covered faces. These pictures do carry a strong emotional charge. The sum and variety of them gives a feeling of connectedness. People-to-People.

via Seth Godin

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ikea blog: better do it yourself

Great blog from an Ikea "positive fanatic". Nice example of a consumer turned advocate and how blogs can help spread consumer generated brand messages online. It's fun reading too. And there are more like him: Ikea fan in Ohio, Ikea fans website, Ikea Lovemark...

I also found a "boycott Ikea" in Italian to counter balance that.

via Micropersuasion... again... (yes, I do read other blogs!)

Google: click to call adwords

Remember call back buttons on websites... Google is testing "click-to-call" on its search results to connect people and companies automatically. And Google foots the bill too.

via Micropersuasion

Mashups: XBOX 360 inventory google map locator

Chris Lambert has developed a XBOX 360 inventory locator for Best Buy stores. This is a good example of a growing trend of building up applications on top of Google free applications or integrating different online applications and content together (mashups).

See more Google maps mashups on Googlemapsmania.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can you be sued because of what you say in your blog?

You betcha! The Media Law Resources Centre published a list of current US lawsuit against bloggers. (Via Whatsnextblog). There are been some cases too in France (in French) and Singapore (with a happy ending).

Based on my limited legal knowledge, these are the common blogging legal pitfalls I identified:

- Breach of copyright: reproducing someone else content without permission. Grey area since bloggers often reproduce articles to comment on...
- Breach of employer's contract, especially releasing proprietary or confidential information.
- Libel: you are insulting and causing prejudice to someone (the plaintiff must show that he/she occured damages).
- Publishing false or malicious information (for example to get a share price to rise or spreading false rumours about a product being defective to kill a competitor's sales...)

Apparently, you could be sued because of the comments posted on your blog too...

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a legal guide for bloggers (this is based on US law only).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Advertisers to sponsor podcasts

Following from my post on iPod children stories yesterday and how advertisers could sponsor them, I read that Dixie, a US manufacturer of disposable tableware goods (cups, plates… whatever you don’t fancy washing-up) signed-up a 12 months agreement to sponsor Mommycast, a podcast show targeting young mums and parents. Way to go.

Via Tech based marketing

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Podcasting for children: how bloggers turned into iPod story-tellers

Hugh Fraser from the Angel Blog is launching a series of iPod-friendly children stories. Titled “Storynory”, they feature classic children tales such as “The snow queen” or “The Frog” as well as some modern stories. All narrated by an English actress and ready to download for free.

It is a wonderful idea. Advertisers should get in early with some "embedded and non-intrusive" audio messages as I am sure they will prove popular.

See the storynory website

Does Google know where it is going?

Peter Day runs a column on the BBC website called “Work in Progres”, linking business and technology to wider issues (a bit like Business 2.0 but with less superlatives).

The premise of his article on Google (see “Google searches for the future”) is that Google’s success is due to its lack of strategy. Don’t get him wrong, he is not saying that the company lacks direction but that Google adapts its priorities and focus according to the evolving potential and successes of its countless search based projects. In Peter’s words: “Its (Google) people start things, and then work out how to make money out of them”.

So far Google's PhDs army dabbled into advertising (adwords and possibly print), pictures filing, call/IM, blogs, price comparison, emails, mapping the earth and digitising its books and recently web analytics… Yet, its main (only?) source of revenue is selling ads.

Either Google has a master plan than common mortals cannot comprehend or it is on a fuzzy path to somewhere yet to be determined but promising.

This lack of apparent strategy worked well so far and with every pundit watching Google's every move, generates a lot of publicity. Will Google turn-up as a telecom company? The new E-Bay? The largest media placement agency? Or just the most used and revered search engine in the world?

I don’t know. But it is a fascinating case of reinventing business rules.

If you want more clues at to what Google has in store, you can buy a CD containing Google related patents… (Xmas is approaching fast).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tesco Supermarkets Launch Deal Of The Day RSS Feed

Probably a first for a supermarket chain in the UK. See for yourself and hurry-up to the store to grab that Nicolas Feuillate champagne at 30% off!!!

via NevOn.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Accenture Launch Dutch Blogs

Accenture has launched an employee blogging portal in Holland. Most of the blogs are in Dutch but there are quite a few in English. I took note of some blogs on topics I am interested in such as Geoffrey Stoel blogging on telecom and gadgets, Rieta Aliredjo reflecting on consultant's hectic life, Remco Harmsen on business intelligence and Jort Possel on marketing. Good initiative to showcase the firm's thought leadership and attract talents. Do we expect to see official Accenture blogs in UK or US soon?

Via Micropersuasion, who was tipped by Pablo Halkyard although I could not find his original post on the subject. Nonetheless, I am referencing his blog. Here is why: "The Private Sector Development Blog (PSD Blog) gathers together news, resources and ideas about the role of private enterprise in fighting poverty". Great resources for my forthcoming economy classes!

The League of MBA Bloggers

Thanks to Karibu, a fellow London Business School MBA blogger, I discovered that there is actually a league of MBA bloggers... The site doesn't seem to have been updated since July this year but it is a good resource for anyone considering a MBA and wanting to talk to some students, or to meet MBAs from other schools. I discovered that there are 6 bloggers at LBS (I am sure there are a lot more...) and that I am the only one from the Executive program. I know that some of my classmates are reading this blog so I am sure that there will be more EMBAs blogging soon. I am starting a LBS blogroll and invite students and alumni to do the same.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

First European Blog Survey

If you are a European communication professional, it is likely that most of the research you use to talk about how blogs impact communication practices comes from the US.

At last, the “European Public Relations Education and Research Association” is running the first pan-European survey of who is using blogs and for what purpose.

The project is led by the University of Sunderland (UK), the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg (Germany) and the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart (Germany) with national coordinators in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

You can take the survey here and you will get access to results when they will be published. You can talk about the survey on your blog too to encourage more to repond (we will all benefit from more participants).


IBM to monitor how blogs impact reputation

IBM, in partnership with Factiva and NStein is said to be developing an application called the “Public Image Monitoring Solution” to analyze how discussions on blogs and other websites are affecting corporation's "image". See story on ZDNET.

Via Naked Conversations

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Paris riots: 15% click through on for Nicolas Sarkozy

French politicians are becoming increasingly web savvy and opportunistic. Web agency L’enchanteur des nouveaux media (the new media charmer/wizard) is running a Google adwords campaign with keywords related to the Paris riots. When typing “voitures brulees” (burned cars), “emeutes + paris” (riots + paris) or “racaille + banlieue” (scums/yobs + suburbs) on, a sponsored link brings you to the official website of the UMP, the majority political party headed by Interior Minister (and unofficial presidential candidate) Nicolas Sarkozy. There you are invited to sign a petition pledging support to Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the situation.

According to a ZDNet article (in French), the online petition had 12,000 visitors and 3,000 signatories within 2 days. Average click rate reach 10% to 15%.

CEOs give blogs a thumb (up or down, depending on your outlook on life)

PR Week/Burson Marsteller released their annual CEO survey, including some insights on attitude to blogging. Key takeouts:

- 7% of CEOs are blogging.
- 18% of CEOs plan to host a company blog over the next 2 years.
- 59 % of CEOs think blogs are useful for internal communication.
- 47% think blogs are useful to reach an external audience.

Recognised benefits of blogs included to quickly communicate new ideas and news, providing an informal venue for communication and obtaining immediate feedback. See press release. No online version of the survey available yet.

First seen at micropersuasion

Monday, October 31, 2005

Forbes' Daniel Lyons calls bloggers lynch mob. Bloggers light torches.

Forbes published a controversial article by Daniel Lyons entitled Attack of the Blogs. It opens with “Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.” Since it is the talk of the town today, what to make of it?

Steve Rubel thinks it is a soon-to-be maligned and unbalanced story. Look at the comments on his post and you will see that he is not alone.

Because I am a contrarian too, I preferred Dave Taylor’s post on the subject. He presents good arguments for his case. He concludes with:

“There are so, so many positive articles and books being published about blogging, some of which are just as one-sided in the other direction, entreating even the most illiterate of business owners to quickly jump into the blogging world lest their competitors get there first, that blogging itself "reinvents business" and so on, that perhaps articles like "Attack of the Blogs" are needed just to achieve some sort of balance.”

So before jumping on the Lyons' bashing bandwagon, let’s think whether that would cast us with the bloodthirsty lynch mob decried in his (cheap-shot type of) article.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Media industry 'panic' over Internet but online still not getting fair share of media budget

Speaking at the IAB Engage 2005 conference, Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP’s CEO highlighted how traditional media are loosing ground to their online rivals. He singled out News Corp recent online media “panic buying” spree and the threat to some traditional media’s business models (newspapers classifieds v. Craiglist). His question to media owners: “How can traditional media continue to charge more for less?" Sir Martin Sorrell blamed the failure from traditional media to embrace online on the age of people who run major media/ad groups and a reluctance to change.

I could not agree more. One of my friend from research company Millward Brown (she left since) shared with me some insights on a 2005 survey they conducted titled “Why online isn’t getting a fair share of media budget?”

Here is the situation, figures may vary from studies to studies but it gives a general trend: the Internet is getting only 5% of ad spend while it has a nearly 35% media consumption. TV is getting 40% of ad spend for an equivalent media consumption. Newspapers are getting nearly 35% of ad spent too but for a 10% media consumption.

Why such a gap for online? Here are the most mentioned reasons:

  • Comfort with the known. Clients are risk adverse and don’t like to make sweeping changes to their media or marketing budget allocation. They will go with what is safe and make tiny incremental changes every year. As a result, they are loosing touch with overall media usage and fragmentation (especially given the speed at which it is accelerating),
  • Lack of understanding and lack of interest. Here is the age gap again… Most marketers think that their consumers are just like them. Company CEOs like to see their ad running on TV and on their favourite newspapers because this is what they watch and read. Younger marketer find that learning new things is time consuming, especially when they are pressured to deliver short-term results. So they go with the safest option: comfort with the known,
  • Marketing services are too siloed. The whole advertising system is biased towards ATL getting the lion share of client’s budget. If you were an ad exec or a media buyer, would you like it to change? Of course no, you would lobby hard to keep it that way. Margins and budgets are too low online to incentivise traditional ad agencies to shift. And clients don’t push hard enough for integration This is a vicious cycle.
  • Interactive is hard work. Yes, you cannot do last minute changes on a program as easily as you can with an ad copy. It needs a bit more planning. The pressure has always been on interactive agencies to be as flexible as their offline counterpart. Would it be a bad thing if traditional marketers were also better planners?

Addendum: if you work in PR, just replace "ad exec" or "media buyers" with "PR professionals" and TV with "media relations". Same mistakes, same punishement.

Dilbert blogs while you should be working...

I blame Scott Adams for most of my early professional life's cynicism towards big corporations. Now he has launched a blog. The first entry sets the tone: “If you’re reading this on company time, congratulations on beating the system. If you’re reading it on your own time, you really need to find a job where they pay you to do this sort of thing.” Time to look at these motivational posters again…

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Googlebase turns bloggers on speculation overdrive

Bloggers are buzzing about Googlebase (I know, it says that you are not authorised to view the page… isn’t it exciting?). Apparently, Google could launch a new “classifieds” service that could compete with EBay, Craigslist and every other classifieds services. Or is it a Quickbase type application? Good summary of what is going on here. There is even a screenshot there.

Kiva offers charitable micro-loans to small businesses in developing world.

Seth Godin reports on Kiva, a service connecting private lenders and enterprises in need of micro-loans, mostly in Uganda (for the moment). The site is the brainchild of Matthew (entrepreneur) and Jessica Flannery (MBA student). You can loan anything from $25 onwards and you will get it repaid by instalment over a period of time. Kiva gets its revenue from donation and keeping interests from loans, if and when interests are charged. See current businesses looking for loan.

The Grameen bank had a similar initiative in the late 90s and is still considered as the largest micro-credit organisation (besides the World Bank). Loan repayment rate is very high (apparently close to 95%). Interests rate charged on micro-credit could reach 20%.

More about micro-finance from the UN.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Virtual Handshake

Over a month ago, David Teten emailed me and asked me to review a new book he co-wrote with Scott Allen: “The Virtual Handshake”. I usually get a dozen email requests per week, mostly press release about some obscure IT company announcing some technical breakthrough or the water conservation board of North Dakota launching a blog. I usually bin them (with all due respect), or if in a bad mood, I reply with an appropriate: “who cares?” But I was enticed by the offer of a free book and David’s email wasn’t the usual hard sell, anonymous stuff I learned to discard in my newfound blogging minor celebrity.

I accepted and received the book 2 weeks later. I felt obliged to read it.

To my relief,”The Virtual Handshake” is not another “Let’s talk about Kryptonite” story. In fact, it is not about blogging but about networking, both face-2-face and online (although the emphasis is on the latter).

It starts by explaining the values of networks and how they have been, and increasingly are instrumental to individual and group success. It then provides with a practical, step-by-step guide on how to build a credible virtual self, build-up a network and sustain it. I found that David and Scott Allen really worked hard to cover all means of connection, including instant messaging, social software, email, company alumni…and of course blogs.

Because the book tries to cover everything associated with networking, readers more familiar with the topic might find it sometimes pedantic. I also find that advice on how to use networks for marketing purpose (from a business pow) a bit light. Nonetheless, the book drives good points regarding sales (don’t sell but help other buy and value relations for their long term benefits instead of going for a quick shot). It is packed with practical advice, I enjoyed reading it, I learned a few things on the way and I plan to put some of its recommendations in practice. Good reference book for anyone interested in the “how to do it” side of networking. You can read more about the book here and make up your own mind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Measuring Blogs ROI: Links, Comments Or Both?

Yesterday, Steve Rubel posted on the links vs. mentions debate between Doc Searls and Steve Gillmor. Steve boiled it down to how best to measure corporate blogs ROI. I will not carry-on the baseball analogy as I don’t understand baseball (it is similar to cricket except that they don’t serve Pimms during breaks I gathered). I am not sure I understand the link v. comment debate either. Surely you need both, whatever your reason for blogging is.

Using links as a measure of popularity is based on the assumptions that if readers like what you write, and have a blog, and are so inclined, they will point to your blog. On the premise that there are more blogs readers than blogs writers, that discards quite a lot of your potential audience. Having lots of links to your blog doesn’t necessarily mean having lots of readers too. I am sure that most people who kindly linked to Beyond PR sometimes over the last year and half don’t religiously turn up to my every post. They could just be reading my feed, or, heaven forbids, have forgotten about my blog. It seems to me, but I wait to be corrected that links are used as a default currency since there are no other easily available metrics to measure blogs popularity. Nonetheless, links send traffic to your blog, maximise your readership and gets you ranked higher in Technorati so others would think you are popular thus worth reading.

Mentions show that someone actually bothered to read what you wrote. It is a good way to start conversation too (isn’t it what blogs were set-up for at the first place?). However a mention without a link puts a barrier for others who would like to join the conversation as they will have to find your your post on their own. Why make their life difficult?

So how about a link + mention combo… I would go for that! But if you want to make me even happier: post a comment or send me an email.

Create your own social application with Ning

Ning is a free online service (they call it “a Playground”) for people to build and run social applications. The code is open source and there are some applications already there for others to use, clone and redevelop. In short, they allow you to create your own craiglist, your own Zagat (restaurant reviews), your own Flickr…

Via Richard MacManus

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Videoblogger? Become an ad producer and earn $100.

In my post yesterday about the video iPod I mentioned that companies will bypass TV networks and produce ready commercials and short clips for podcasts. My question was who will produce these clips? Ad agencies? Interactive agencies? The newcomers in CGM?

coBRANDiT, the “world's first open-source documentary ad agency” produce such clips. I like their approach: “The use of documentary advertising is predicated on the belief that 1) Consumers are interested in seeing their peers interact with the brand or product in real life environments and situations, 2) Consumers are interested in behind-the-scenes information relating to brands and activities they care about, and 3) Consumers want to participate in the creation and marketing of great products and brands. (…) Documentary advertising can be taken one step further by soliciting consumer generated media (CGM) content-- in effect creating what might be termed open-source documentary advertising.”

They are inviting readers to submit their own clips. And will pay $100 for each acceptable submissions. Here are the guidelines: “Make a video about a brand or product you love from one of these categories: Beer, Gear, or Cars, and make it good. We don't want ad concepts--we want a slice of life. Stylized, silly,'s up to you. Keep it real, and keep it clean (no smut).”

Monday, October 17, 2005

State of the Blogosphere: Technorati reports

  • Technorati is now tracking 19.6 million weblogs
  • The total number of weblogs tracked continues to double about every 5 months
  • The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of letup in growth
  • About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day
  • About a new weblog is created each second
  • 2% - 8% of new weblogs per day are fake or spam weblogs
  • Between 700,000 and 1.3 million posts are made each day
  • About 33,000 posts are created per hour, or 9.2 posts per second
  • An additional 5.8% of posts (or about 50,000 posts/day) seen each day are from spam or fake blogs, on average

See Dave Sifry's post.

Video iPod to launch new fame era for podcasters, marketers and reality TV fans.

CNN is running an article on how Apple’s video iPod could kick start a wave of amateur videocasts. With the price of digital video cameras dropping, broadband usage and video editing software getting more user friendly, it will not be long before budding directors or reality TV celebrity wannabes start filling up the digital airwaves. The implications for marketers and brands will depend on the scale of this new CGM trend:

  • RSS feeds will include videocasts (see ANT), search engines will index clips (see Google Video) and new service will help you tag them (see blogtelevision),
  • Initially, audience will fragment further thanks to the availability of niche programs, produced by passionates for enthusiasts. Will traditional TV broadcast audience drop as a result? Yes, especially generation Y and X viewers (the former already spend more time on IM and games and the latter on the web - economist),
  • Companies will be keen to trial bypassing TV networks and produce commercials or short clips ready to podcasts. Ad agency and media buyers will compete with viral marketing specialists to produce these pilots,
  • News corporations will need to work in partnership with “the local guy with a camera who just happened to be there” in the networks’ battle for exclusive. Amateur reporters will start selling their footages via online auction sites (EBay?) and get news agencies to bid for the rights to broadcast their work,
  • Everyone will claim her/his 15 mins of fame and that would equals to 78,840 celebrities per year! (this is serious research, based into the cognitive limits of human attention and memory, number of 15-minute fame segments per year, global median life expectancy and current world population).

Sunday, October 16, 2005

AOL acquires Engadget and more

Forbes reports on AOL 's purchase of Weblogs for $25M. The transaction includes 85 blogs such as Engadget and Autoblog. AOL will integrate the blogs into its portal by linking to the best entries and create additional blogs to fit with its channels.

Interestingly, Weblogs gets more than $1 million a year through Google adwords alone.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New Kid On The Blog

I just started a new blog on Consumer Generated Marketing on Hill & Knowlton's blogging platform. Have a look. In parallel, I will continue posting on Beyond PR (more so than less) so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Web 2.0 v. Web 1.0

Computex and the print edition of New Media Age are running articles on P2P traffic, based on a report from Sandvine.

P2P services takes 70% of global bandwidth (BitTorrent is the main culprit). Web browsing is only 8.7% of bandwidth consumption.

I thought this was an interesting figure to add to the Web 2.0 v. Web 1.0 debate .

I read Tim O’Reilly’s seminal article and I agree: the evolution to Web 2.0, for lack of a better term is about attitude and expectation. Whether it is technology that led to a change of attitude, or that a shift in our relation to the web led to new technology is an academic debate which I will leave to the more technically endowed.

In the 90s, the web was driven by companies seeking to turn it into a giant shopping mall. Consumers are now reclaiming the web for what it was intended for: a collective space bringing people together so that they could share experience and information. Just picture this: a collection of mega websites competing to attract eyeballs v. loose networks accessible by search engines, tags and connections where you can share information, engage in conversations and co-create. I am caricaturing here but the change is quite noticeable...

This is how I understand it: Web 2.0. is a different way of looking at the web.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Blogs Make Yahoo News' Headlines

Yahoo announced that it will mix mainstream media news with blogs in its Yahoo News aggregator. The system will be tiered with top stories from mainstream news outlets first then blogs with an option to get more user-generated news, photos and links. Yahoo's General Manager said that the company "wants to fuse professional journalism with so-called citizen journalism to provide a fuller spectrum of content to its members". MSM and CGM will be clearly flagged to avoid confusion.

The BBC covers this story and thinks that "the decision could reignite the debate over what constitutes news reporting and whether blogs are as valuable a source of news as that from professional journalists."

Steve Rubel reckons that it will expose millions of consumers to blogs for news content. I could not agree more and I cannot wait to see on the same page the point/counterpoint of a story exposed by MSM and bloggers. One more thing to worry about for PR officers.

Monday, October 10, 2005

From WOMMA to Cillit Bang to Character Blogs

The WOMMA (Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Association) has launched a new blog. I picked-up on this quote from the WOMMA CEO, speaking at the Word of Mouth vs. Advertising conference in New York : "Ads will never again be free from real people providing real feedback -- and bringing to light the underlying claims of every campaign". See full post here.

There is a post on Cillit Bang too... I caught up late on the whole Cillit Bang blog story and I find it rather sad. As Tom Coates highlighted, it is the unfortunate product of a team's ignorance, incompetence and carelessness. Glad they apologised.

I still think character blogs can work if the ad or PR agency who put it together could stick to simple rules:

1. Your entertainment or information value must be well above average to compensate the fact that you are a "marketing gimmick",
2. Engage in REAL conversations with your readers, be human even if you are not,
3. Let the story and the character evolve with the interactions. Don’t get your copywriter to write 60 posts in advance!
3. Don’t comment on other blogs to build up your network. You start from a very low point on the credibility scale and the only reason you want your link there is to get traffic to your blog. Comments are for conversation, not for advertising. Instead, build up your network from directories, tagging, placements, ads, ect… Let them discover you. If bloggers like your blog, they will talk about it and link (they will talk about it if they don't like it too but it will be worst if you spam them). You need to take the time to do it properly. A bit like a grassroots campaign. If you want fast and loud: do an ad.

Blogger Survey 2005

Technorati and Edelman released an excellent survey of bloggers' habits and motivations. The full results (including the raw data for open-ended questions) are available here. Highlights:

- 1/3rd of respondent blog to be seen as an authority in their field. Less than 5% blog to generate revenues,
- Almost half have never been contacted by a company or their PR representatives yet about 70% would like to receive product samples to evaluate,
- When seeking information about a company or a product, bloggers prefer to interact with company employee who blog,
- When looking for product information, less than 5% of respondent will trust a press release and 6% will trust a corporate blog. As opposed to nearly 63% who will trust other bloggers.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

80% of UK Teens Use Instant Messaging (IM)

According to a Forrester report four out of five 16-17 years old in the UK use instant messaging. This is a staggering figure. MSN is the most popular IM program by far.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Blogging in Frankfurt

Last Friday, I was invited to speak at a blogging seminar in Frankfurt. Russel Buckley, a veteran blogger living in Munich was a co-presenter. He runs the mobhappy blog.

We had interesting discussions with our audience (PR Officers, marketing directors...) about the potential of using blogs for corporate communication. Interestingly, blogs were often associated with crisis, almost seen as a threat more than a tool for consumer communication. May be it’s bad memories from the Jamba v. bloggers story? I had similar conversations while doing workshops in Italy and it seems to be the first reaction once companies realise the scale and impact of the phenomenon.

According to the Blog Herald, Germany (280K blogs) still lags behind Spain (1.5M blogs), France (3M blogs) or Poland (1.4 M blogs) when it comes to blogging. The election might give German bloggers a boost. is listing some political blogs.

If I match these figures with anecdotal evidence, it seems that the German blogging scene is at an early development stage. This is an opportunity for companies to experiment and lead. As I highlighted in my talk, blogs are not going to disappear anytime soon. The sooner you join the conversation, the more you will learn and the better prepared you will be.

Excel Blog

Via Micropersuasion, the Microsoft Excel team launched a blog. Would be nice to get to know the team more though.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

UK consumers trust bloggers' opinions

A survey of 1,100 UK consumers by hosting company Hostway found that 77% use information from blogs to influence their purchasing decision.

Read in New Media Age, 29th of September. Link to full survey results to be updated as soon as I find it...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Firms in the dark over blog threat

The Angel blog published the results of a survey of 50 PR professionals from around the world about how they regard blogs as a business communications tool. The Guardian summarises the findings: "Firms in the dark over blog threat".

Two key facts:

- more than 60% of PR executives interviewed believed that web blogs by unhappy employees or exasperated customers can damage corporate reputations
- More than 80% of US executives admitting reading blogs "at least five times a week," a figures which fell to just 36% in Europe. (This seems quite high to me).

You will have to register to the Guardian site to view the piece.

Apple v. Bloggers: the Nano Story

It looks like a re-run of the iPOD's dirty secret saga which resulted in a class action suit settlement . According to some unlucky purchasers, the Nano screen is prone to scratches and damages. One Nano owner has set-up a website to share his story (warning: some readers may find some damaged products' pictures upsetting) and check whether other Nano customers encountered similar problems. Apple's Nano discussion forum is buzzing with such conversations.

Steve Rubel published a Blogpulse's graph illustrating the increase in blog postings mentioning the problem and The Register ran a story on it.

UPDATED: Apple's response, courtesy of an anonymous reader.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Consumer Generated: from Mayhem to Marketing

Why WOM is back on marketers’ agenda and how to make it work for their brands.

A 2004 Intelliseek study 1 (PDF) found that consumer–to-consumer recommendations—even online consumer postings to forums—carry a higher trust factor than virtually all other forms of advertising, including TV, radio and print. That did not come as a surprise to many long established businesses. In fact, one of them always understood the value of consumer recommendations; its entire sales strategy relies on turning customers into brand ambassadors and capitalising on their social networks to influence others to purchase. That company is Tupperware and it made a fortune by understanding word-of-mouth’s power 50 years ago. Since then, WOM has been reengineered as “Consumer Generated Marketing” and thanks to blogging, its persuasion power is making business media headlines again through a series of high profile customer relations disasters. Let’s review what the forces driving consumers’ propensity to whine back on marketers’ agenda are and how marketers could reclaim WOM to engage into productive conversations with consumers.

Read more at Global PR Blog Week 2.0

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Google Defends Google Print And I Promote Project Gutenberg

Good post from Google defending its Google print project in the face of a lawsuit by the Authors Guild. I think that the project can only benefit authors, especially those less published by encouraging people to discover their work.

I found the post on Always On.

If you are interested in the topic, you should go to Project Gutenberg and read about their philosophy:

"The Project Gutenberg Philosophy is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms a vast majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search. This has several ramifications: The Project Gutenberg Etexts should cost so little that no one will really care how much they cost. They should be a general size that fits on the standard media of the time . The Project Gutenberg Etexts should so easily used that no one should ever have to care about how to use, read, quote and search them..."

They work with copyright free materials (copyright has expired) or with authors' consent.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Global PR Blog Week 2.0: How PR Should Change in the New Era of Blogging?

The second edition of Global PR Blog Week has officially started. This online event will be held from today till the 23rd of September and bring over 50 influential PR practitioners and bloggers in to discuss how public relations and business communications are changed by new communications technologies.

Full programme available here. Check out today’s article from Niall Cook on how Hill & Knowlton went about setting-up its own blogging platform. I contributed a piece on consumer generated marketing to be featured on the 21st.

Please join us and contribute. To paraphrase the event's welcome message: "All you need is a little bit of curiosity, an open mind, and the desire to learn new things and share your experience and knowledge with other people. Skeptics are welcome, too."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Search Blogs: The End Of Bloggers' Influence?

Google launched its dedicated blogs search engine. Many have reported on it and I did not feel that I had anything of value to add to the chatter. However, this morning I came across this old article from "The Register while looking for more information about Google's blog search features.

The article's premise was that a dedicated blog search could prompt Google to remove blogs from its main search index, thus "improving" the quality of its search results. This speculation was based on Google removing Usenet postings from search results after acquiring

A graduate interviewed for the article commented "The main problem with blogs is that, as far as Google is concerned, they masquerade as useful information when all they contain is idle chatter".

The issue: trackbacks. "The low information quality of blog-infested Google results is a consequence of bloggers' attempts to introduce community aspects to what remains a solitary activity. The auto-citation feature 'Trackback' is frequently fingered as the culprit: many search results Google returns are trackbacks."

The article ends by pre-empting bloggers reactions: "One group is likely to protest long and hard, however: and that's people who have taken advantage of this quirk to use Google as their primary promotion channel or reputation creator. "

Putting the genie back into its bottle?

I won't speculate as to whether Google will remove blogs from its main search engine or not but if it did, I suspect that it will remove a big chunk of bloggers' ability to influence others with their views and opinions. If I were Land Rover and the second highest link in a search on my latest car model was a catalogue of disasters told real-time by a desilussioned owner, I will be pressured to react as I would know that millions of prospective buyers search for infos online before purchasing. If this legitimate rant was self-contained within a "blog" section, I may think that there is less pressure to act as it is "not mainstream" and most would not come across it. Food for thoughts.

Would love to hear some views on that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why less blogging?

Some of you have noticed that I did not post as frequently as usual this past 2/3 weeks. Fear not, I do not suffer from blog fatigue yet. I have started some part-time studies and I am in the process of purchasing a propery abroad. That and my work commitments left me with little room to sleep, let alone blog. I am getting better organised now and I am back to help spreading good words about why we are at the start of a media revolution (way beyond PR...). I even found time to contribute an article on "consumer generated marketing" to the forthcoming Global PR Blog Week event.

Thanks to whose who kept reading!

More to come...

Yahoo Hires Blog Journalist for Conflict Coverage

Yahoo hired Kevin Sites, a seasoned multimedia journalist (text/audio/video) and blogger to provide a more personal and interactive approach to reporting on conflicts (and compete for attention with mainstream media outlets).

"Yahoo plans to create media-rich packages that put the stories in context. For example, a story about Iraq could include links to other news stories on the conflict, maps of the region and a nod toward other blogs that discuss the war. (...) such multilayered coverage will likely attract younger people to its programming."

Story on

I think that this is a brilliant move and a significant milestone in reshaping our stale media landscape.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Blogs and Free Content Are Hurting B2B Publishers

Because of blogs and freely available content accessible through search engines, user spending on B2B content fell 15% between 2001 and 2005. This translates into less ad revenue per user for publishers since online ads command less of a premium than print ads.

See article from Information Week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

P&G: Always Success on Habbo

New Media Age (paper issue) reports on how Procter & Gamble successfuly sponsored a virtual competition Big-Brother style for its Always brand on Habbo hotel leading to 13,000 teenagers responding. P&G is now conducting focus groups to assess change in perception towards the brand. I am a strong believer in immersive branding (in game or online community environments) and I hope that the focus group's results will be made public.

PS: I am back from my short-break. Cornwall has outstanding beaches and sceneries, certainly the nicest I have seen in the UK so far. I found Penzance rather dull but highly recommend the coast road going to St-Ives.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I am on holidays...

... which means no posts for the moment. I am going down to Penzance, testing my poor driving ability to the limit. I will be back next week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Forrester On Podcasting In Europe

New Media Age (paper version) carries an article from Forrester Research about Podcasting.
It contains interesting stats:

- 28% of 16 to 24 years old in Europe have a MP3 player,
- 20% of Europeans downloaded software or audio content last year,
- Apple says that 5M consumers subscribed to its podcasting service within 3 weeks of its launch on iTunes.

Forrester predicts that the next big thing will be videocasting thanks to MMS phones.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blogging closer to Tim Berners-Lee's web vision

The BBC website carries an interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee where he reckons that blogging is closer to his original idea of a read/write medium.

"The idea was that anybody who used the web would have a space where they could write and so the first browser was an editor, it was a writer as well as a reader. Every person who used the web had the ability to write something. It was very easy to make a new web page and comment on what somebody else had written, which is very much what blogging is about. "

The interviews has a few cheap shots (the obsession with online porn) and at time it looks like Mark Lawson is interviewing the father of the A-Bomb. Good read from one of the true visionary of our time otherwise.

H&K launch employee blogging community

We just released an online self-assessment tool to help our colleagues worldwide decide whether a blog would be the best way to express themselves. The idea is to increase awareness about blogging internally, encourage our colleagues to blog and ensure that we cut a good compromise between quantity and quality of our company blog output.

Take the test and find out whether you should blog or not:

We kept it light in tone. Depending on your score, you will be offered some advice to get started on our new blogging community or more training on blogging (that is if you are an H&K employee of course).

Monday, August 08, 2005

French Town Rennes Offers Free Phones, Free Blogs

The city of Rennes, France lends free 3G mobile phones and invites its inhabitants to write about their life in 43 landmark areas through a free collective blog.

Blogs And RSS Not As Popular As Everyone Thinks

According to a Forrester Research study, only 6% of Americans read blogs and only 2% use RSS. The report recommends to leverage early adopters (i.e. bloggers and blog readers) for viral activities. Find influencers and use them to spread the word. Sounds very much like PR.

Another item mentioned on Forrester's summary page I picked up was that "Households with a laptop and home network watch three fewer hours of TV per week and read the paper an hour less per week than offline households do."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Factiva launches blog monitoring service

See article on Revolution. Given Factiva's reach in the corporate world, it is definitely an acknowledgement of blogs' growing influence. Alan Scott, chief marketing officer of Factiva, said: "There are millions of blogs and message boards worldwide and any one of them can affect your organisation or brand." The article reports that Factiva will monitor 4 millions of the most active blogs and message boards.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

UK MSM embrace citizen journalists

The BBC reports on how the traditional media establishment is embracing citizen journalists, with the media treatment of the London bombings beeing the centre piece of the article. It raises valid questions (but doesn't answer them): "(...) about privacy - if you're a victim do you want your picture plastered over the front pages? authenticity - how can you tell the images are genuine? and possible interference in the course of justice ". Conclusion? the mobile phone genie won't return to its bottle.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Yahoo takes on Google with blog ads network

Yahoo will display contextual ads on websites and blogs and the model will be pay-per-click (like Google). Yahoo's service will differ from Google in that it will add human editorial judgment to the selection of ads for content pages while Google is fully automated. See story on CNET.

Friday, July 29, 2005

One in every 200 web visits are to blogs

According to a research from Hitwise. It represents a 130% increase over the last year. See article on Revolution.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Email Is For Old People

A Pew Internet and American Life Project study found US teenagers prefer instant messaging rather than e-mail to stay in touch with each other. 75% of US teens have used IM.

This survey echoes a post from engadget (dated 29 Nov. 2004) commenting that "over two-thirds of students there rarely or never use email" and young people "think of email as something overly formal that you use only for business purposes or to communicate with your less tech savvy parents or grandparents who are still stuck in the Nineties".

Meegos rule!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Measuring blogs popularity: Yahoo v. Technorati v. Google

I picked up from Steve Rubel that Yahoo was preparing a "Technorati Killer". Steve is referencing another blog confirming that rumour.

While looking for more information about that, I came across that stunning post from Tristan Louis, a French expat to the US who is studying how Technorati ranks blogs. He evaluated a selection of blogs and looked at their number of links (now recognised as indicator of a blog popularity) in Google, Technorati and Yahoo. He then benchmarked the results against one another: Technorati v. Google , Technorati V. Yahoo and Google v. Yahoo (scroll down on that page).

The conclusions so far: Technorati is getting a fourth of links Google can locate. Yahoo does a better job at indexing the blogosphere than Google. "Smaller blogs seem to have a better chance of being recognised by Yahoo! than they do of being recognized by Google".

Tristan is looking at benchmarking all of that with MSN now...

Forbes lists best blogs

As the blogosphere matures, I think that it will consolidate (the 80/20 rules when it comes to traffic and popularity). Forbes magazine released its "Best blogs hall of fame". Many familiar names here.

Hat tip to El Blogador who sent me this link.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cats can't taste sweets, vampires threaten impregnation

My friend Richard recently launched the work avoidance blog, originally a newsletter. It is a selection of weird and funny stories, tech and geek news (all interchangeable).

Godin On Publishing

Many bloggers are aspiring journalists and many journalists are aspiring authors.... I am stretching it a little here… but if you fancy yourself as the next Dan Brown of the e-book world, best selling author and master self-publicist Seth Godin gives some practical advices worth reading before you leave your day job.

Monday, July 25, 2005

"Open source" radio uses blogs

Marketing Vox carries this story about a radio station using a blog to co-create its programs.

Listeners can talk to the producers, input on programs, suggest a show, comment live, ect.. See how this works and look at their blog.

You can hear it stream here or subscribe to their podcast.


Friday, July 22, 2005

ET Blog Home

Mindcomet offer to broadcast your blog musing to space via a commercial satellite. Register for free at Bloginspace.

The site comes with a handy disclaimer:

"Bloggers who use this site are urged to keep their blogs devoid of any language, comments or content that might offend, taunt or provoke alien life forms in any way. Let's not start an intergalactic war :) "

See original article on Vnunet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Vores Ø: First Open Source Beer

Students from the IT University of Copenhagen have created the first open source beer. Christened "Vores Øl", meaning "Our Beer", it is available for everyone to brew and profit from thanks to a recipe published online under the Creative Commons License.

Original idea to apply the open source model beyond the tech industry. Vores Øl may be remembered as the Linux of the beer market. Cheers.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is France ready for a new revolution?

Apologies but this is not related to blogs or online PR at all. It is Bastille Day and the Guardian is probing why France is in no mood to celebrate.

I could not help myself post this article as a reference for all my friends who don't understand why I, like many young French people left the country and why an increasing number of us has no intention to come back.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Sun Takes Tabloid Format To Online TV

The print version of UK magazine “New Media Age” reports on the Sun becoming the first newspaper in the UK to offer an online video news service. The self titled “TV news bulletin” will provide breaking news and weekly entertainment. The paper plan to generate additional revenue through TV style ads on its site.

With broadband becoming commonplace, we should see more newspapers, magazines, radio stations or consumer brands launching their own online TV channels. I can see FCUK being one of the first movers here (they already have a radio station). B&Q could make a great DIY/interior design TV channel. All of these shows could be repackaged for mobile videos and streamed to subscribers. Talk about media fragmentation…

Monday, July 11, 2005

Citizen reporters: the tipping point?

The Guardian is carrying an article on the media coverage about the London bombings. Most of the pictures and video footages screened on TV or printed in newspapers originated from commuters' mobile phones, including the harrowing clip inside the tube carriage or the pictures of the “minute after” the bus bomb. The article talks about a tipping point for citizen journalism. News directors from ITV, Sky and the BBC are in agreement.

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Unbowed.

Yesterday was testing for all Londoners. We had no idea of what was happening as our journey to work became more chaotic. I was stuck in a tunnel for 15 mins on the Piccadilly line, before the station was evacuated. The news was that of a power outage in King’s cross station bringing the tube network down. I caught a bus in Gloucester Road among hundreds of passengers who thought London underground was failing them again. The bus didn’t go very far and we were told to leave. While walking in South Kensington, I heard that all buses to Central London were suspended. I saw a mass of people looking at a TV screen in a shop. It wasn’t a power outage. I was amazed by how calm people remained. I couldn’t call my wife nor my office as the mobile network was down so I decided to walk to Soho where I work. The day went on eerily, checking if friends were fine, reassuring families and friends abroad. We were all upset. The emergency services did an amazing job. Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone made thoughtful and defiant speeches yesterday. They are right all the way. Any blow that doesn't kill us makes us stronger. My thoughts are with those who suffered most from this senseless tragedy.

Korean Dog Poop And Blogs Power To Shame

My colleague Ted sent me this amazing story about online vigilantism published in the Washington Post.

A woman in South Korea let her dog relieved itself in the subway. She didn't bother to clean up and a row started with her fellow passengers. Someone took pictures of the incident with a camera phone. Within hours, accounts of the incident and the incriminating pictures were online. New information about her identity, her life and her past were added in real-time as acquaintances got involved and others started to play detectives. The dog poop story even made it into the national news. She is now known as "Dog Poop Girl" and is said to have quit her university in shame.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Jeffrey Sachs Blogs The End of Poverty

Jeffrey Sachs (economist, author and UN advisor) started a blog yesterday on the FT website. I love the content (I have always been interested in economy and geopolitics - even if I don't understand a lot of it) but the format is typical of a journalist's first grip with blogs: no comments, no trackbacks and a very long article that will not be out of place in the Economist but somehow looks a bit too "written" for a more intimate media like a blog. Worth subscribing to the feed anyway... Well.. I am sure they will put one in place soon ;-)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Blogging Policies Needed For Schools, Universities?

Liberation (in French only) runs an article today about a high school student facing expulsion for defaming her French teacher on her blog.

“E” (the anonymous student from a small town high school) posted a nasty comment about her French teacher in her blog - roughly translated as “I hate this crap teacher” - on the 29th of May. A week later, a lecturer in the same school, who was curious to find out if his school was mentioned on the blogosphere came across the infuriating post. He forwarded it to E’s French teacher, who complained to the school principal. The matter escalated to the regional academy who advised the school to take a firm stance. Despite E’s apologies, she will face a disciplinary hearing that could result in permanent expulsion. The student and her family are said to be devastated.

The regional academy is now working on a leaflet to be distributed in all its schools next year to give guidelines on acceptable blog usage in line with schools’ code of conducts.

I suspect that this is not an isolated case. Many see blogs as a personal diary and forget that there are publicly accessible. I can only see the number of such incidents increasing in conjunction with the increase of self-publishing tools.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blinkx search podcasts, video blogs

Blinkx now allows search queries on podcasts and video blogs. See article on Yahoo. A natural evolution for search engines in an increasingly rich media online environment.

Talking of which, Blogger finally included an image upload facility in its blog post template. I always found uploading pictures via Picasa's Hello then sending them to my blog to be a real headache at best. I started to become envious of my more pictorially enabled colleagues (who use TypePad) and mocked my austere text only blog. Blogger: it's about time! But thank you anyway.

Beyond PR featured in PR Week

Beyond PR has been featured in an article about blogs in the UK edition of PR Week. The article, titled "Blogs cast a shadow" provides an overview of blogging and its impact on PR and compare companies who have embraced blogging with those who shy away from it. Not available online I am affraid but I thought I should mention it out of pure self-promotional interest.

Monday, June 27, 2005

10 years on, Internet transforms modern life, my car.

CNN Technology carries a special feature to celebrate 10 years on the web. The lead article, "The Internet transforms modern life" reflects on how much our society has changed since the time people needed to lick a stamp to send a mail. It is worth emphasising how the Internet empowered a new generation of consumer and citizens by giving all an access to knowledge previously controlled by the privileged few.

That brings me to a personal anecdote: my beloved car (an old Daihatsu Sportrak - a best seller in Indonesia and the Philippines) needs a new radiator and my local garage took a month talking to his preferred supplier to tell me he couldn't find what he needed. Last week I learned that my initial quote of £150 would have to shoot to £350 (at least) as their only recourse was to get their part from the official Daihatsu supplier. Within 10 mins of online research, I found a supplier of Japanese 4x4 spare parts in Manchester who sold me a new radiator for £75 only.

I called my garage to let them know. They were surprised. 10 years ago I would have been ripped-off…

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hollywood Recruit On Instant Messaging

Production companies use instant messaging (IM) to quickly recruit teams for their projects. Freelancers looking for work are customising their IM status from "away from my computer" to "need work" or"wrapping up shoot". See article from Wired.

If you want to be noticed, forget the adress book, you need to be on the right "buddy list". I am sure that an entrepreneur somewhere will soon offer to tailor your CV or portfolio for IM...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

BBC Newsnight starts Gleneagles G8 Blog

Newsnight, the thinking man news program just announced tonight that they are commissionning Paul Mason to blog the G8 summit. The blog is available at

That one goes straight to my blogroll. Way to go!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Journalists read blogs, don't trust blogs, corporations and each other...

According to a survey by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University:
  • 51% of journalists use blogs regularly and 28% read them daily (compared to 11% of the US population reading blogs),
  • 70% of journalists read blogs for their job, mostly for story ideas or researching,
  • 33% read blogs to uncover scandals or breaking news.

The survey points to a trust crisis among journalists and between journalists and corporations:

  • 49% of journalists have lost trust in corporations over the last year,
  • 76% said that corporate candidness is poor in time of crisis and 66% said the same about transparency,
  • 45% are less trusting of their colleagues' professsional behaviours,
  • 93% are less trusting of colleagues who are paid to act as spokespeople.
And the beauty of all of that: only 1% of journalists believe blogs are credible... (So why do they read them, use them for their work and all that... duh!)

The survey is not publicly available yet but Yahoo carries the press release.

Thanks to Anton-Jan who pointed me to this study.

First French Blogger In Defamation Suit

Christophe Grebert becomes the first blogger in France to be sued for defamation. His blog, (a small town in Paris' suburbs) is keeping Puteaux' city council accountable for the town's management and its related expenses. Not to the liking of the town mayor though. See article in Liberation (in French). There is a mention of the case in this BBC article about blogs censorship.

That follows from the Singaporean blogger case I was mentioning in April.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wimbledon blog

BBC sport service announced a Wimbledon tennis tournament blog to bring gossips and live comments to fans and office workers across the world. You can contribute via the “Five live message board” or via text message. I must say I am bit confused as to whether the link to the official blog brings you to the official blog (and I searched…). I saw Dot Rees blog on Wimbledon but the officially titled Live Wimbledon blog fell short of my expectations. Where are the live pictures? the facilities for comments? the blogs writers’ backgrounds?… I hope that it is early days and that the action will really kick in later as it is a great idea.

On a personal note, I am back in London after an eye-opening training course organised by WPP in sunny Connecticut. I feel all pumped-up now and probably gained 2 Kgs (I blame the snacking culture and the blaming culture for blaming the snacking culture). It feels good to be back blogging.

Friday, June 10, 2005

No updates... are you bored?

No updates lately and none for next week as I will be away, locked up in a training workshop. I have been busy preparing for that these past few days and missed up on blogging.

While waiting for my return and if you are bored you could:

- Phone someone in the office you barely know, leave your name and say "Just called to say I can't talk right now. Bye"
- Leave your zipper open for one hour. If anyone points it out, say, "Sorry, I really prefer it this way"
- Walk into a very busy person's office and while they watch you with growing irritation, turn the light switch on/off 10 times.
- Play the same CD on every stereo in the house at once. Try to synchronize them.
- Sit on the front porch with a bottle of scotch. Yell abuse at pedestrians. Say nonsense. Wave your arms. Yell. For bonus points, colour a tooth black beforehand.
- SCARE YOUR PETS!!! Then cuddle them. THEN SCARE THEM AGAIN!!! Then cuddle them. Ahh, a nice, quiet cuddle--SCARE!!! No baby, it's okay... SCARE!!! If they run away, they'll be back, for food; make sure you're ready for action when they return.

If you want to read more of these, go to It made my day.

And don't forget to vote for BeyondPR for the Marketing Sherpa's blog awards at:

If you would prefer another PR blog to win, think of a different way than voting to show your appreciation. Maybe you could just post a "well done!" note on their blogs instead?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

China Bloggers Must Register with Government

Bloggers have until the 30th of June to provide their full identity to the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry or be declared illegal. Story on BBC and BusinessWeek.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Young web users turn up the heat on MSM

The Sunday Times is carrying a great article today on how mainstream media is increasingly under threat from the online news revolution of late.

This is especially true with younger Internet users. Two interesting quotes:

  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York reports that 44% of Americans aged 18 to 36 access their daily news online but only 19% read newspapers.
  • A forthcoming survey from the Oxford Internet Institute found that 28% of Internet users watch less television.

The article sees a double whammy attack on established media by:

  • The popularity of news aggregation services (a logical consequence of information fragmentation). Traffic to Google News increased 90% over the last year while traffic to the New York Times website fell 23%.
  • The rise of “non-mainstream” news sources (think blogs or independent online news outlets like the memory hole).

The article concludes by noting that while we are entering a potential information minefield online, the man in the street will need to sharpen his critical judgment to weight stories accuracy.

It is an interesting era where the success of self-published news is driven by an increased distrust in established media – i.e. a quest for unbiased news and paradoxically by the increased popularity of opinionated news sources.

Friday, June 03, 2005

GSK Launch Blog

Niall pointed to me this morning that GSK recently launched a blog titled "Avenir de la Sante" (Future of Health) in France. I too applaud the initiative. The blog is run by Véronique Delvolvé, Public Affairs Director for GlaxoSmithKline (in France). It aims to stimulate constructive discussions about the understanding and acceptance of risks/benefits of medicine in today's society and about how the pharmaceutical industry should evolve to respond to these complex challenges. I like the fact that it allows comments and that rules for postings and discussions are clearly laid-out. That sets a precedent.

Dukes of Hazzard blog, it's fun but is it transparent?

CNN Money reports that Country Music Television hired its own blogger to promote the "Dukes of Hazzard" weeknights at a cost of US$100,000...

It is said that more than half of the jobs our children will do have not been invented yet. Looks like Corporate Blogger will be added to that list (it's an imaginary list as it hasn't been invented yet). Salary package is not bad either... It won't be long before blogging courses tout punters with claims like "tired with your job? feel undervalued? yearning for the lifestyle you truely deserve? Become a blogger and earn over US$100,000! No experience necessary. All training provided."

Steve Rubel thinks that CMT pulled a clever PR stunt but raised questions about transparency.

He is right. I have no moral dilemna about bloggers getting paid to blog, as long as they reveal their cards. It is up to the informed readers to decide what amount of credibility they would give to paid bloggers. The keyword here is "informed". Would you ask a LandRover salesman for advice on what 4WD make you should spend your money on? Probably not. But that is because you saw the LandRover logo hanging above its desk. Things are not that clear cut in the blogosphere.

You wouldn't expect anything too controversial in Hazzard county anyway. It is designed by fans for fans. Pure entertainment. But I would hope that Christopher Nelson (that's the chosen CMT blogger name) will state upfront that he is paid by CMT.

I leave you with the Dukes of Hazzard theme song, courtesy of :

Just two good old boys, never meanin' no harm...Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the lawSince the day they was born.Straightenin' the curves, flattenin' the hills...Someday the mountain might get 'em but the law never will.Makin' their way, the only way they know how...That's just a little bit more than the law will allow.Just two good ol' boys, wouldn't change if they could,Fightin' the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Boeing Launch Worldliner Blog

Lifted from NevOn: Boeing got its engineers and test pilots to write about the new 777 Worldliner in a brand new dedicated blog: Flight Test Journal.

Are Online Shoppers Naive?

64% of American adults do not know that it is legal for online stores to charge different people different prices at the same time of day for the same product. More than two-thirds of people surveyed said they believe online travel sites are required by law to offer the lowest airline prices possible.

The PDF report is available for download on the Annenberg Public Policy Centre website. CNN ran an article on it.

For the least price aware among us, Kelkoo is a good first step towards finding the best online deals and epinions is another step towards finding out what others think of these deals.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Yahoo! releases employees blogging guidelines

Jeremy Zawodny gives access to the PDF version on his very own blog. Does your company provides blogging guidelines to its employees?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Chain stores killing UK high streets? Shoppers love it.

Sorry for this off topic post but I had to get it out of my chest. The Evening Standard is featuring this report saying that 8 out of 10 shoppers in the UK believe that chain stores and supermarkets are turning high streets into bland, carbon copy of each other. The report found that 87 per cent feel locally-owned shops offer greater diversity...

Interestingly enough, a local Tesco has opened in my street a few months ago. As a result, business to the "treasured" local corner shops has more than halved. One of them will certainly close down before the end of the year. Where are all the wishful thinkers, complaining about boring high streets, invading franchises and the demise of the local butchers and fishmongers? Not in my local corner shops anymore.

There is a great saying in English: put your money where your mouth is!

60 million blogs... counting Germany?

I am lifting this interesting link from Micropersuasion. This is an attempt by "the Blog Herald" to estimate the number of bloggers per country. The stats come from various sources but it ads up to over 60 million blogs worldwide.

In Europe, we have figures from France (thanks to Skyblog - see article there) but nothing much elsewhere.

I just came back from beautiful Berlin (where I ran a workshop on new communication trends) and I am now curious to find out how many bloggers are there in Germany. I found this page stating 14,500 bloggers as of June 2004 and this one counting 42,000 German bloggers in 2005. Seems pretty understated. Or may be not?

On the same page, David (?) gives us the 10 reasons why Germans don't blog. These are my favourites, mostly pearls from the comments section:

- Humour
- The 42,000 German blogs fill the Web's hard-coded "umlaut" quota
- The would-be bloggers are too busy translating Wikipedia articles into German (apparently not a joke)
- On the internet, no one cares about someone's Dipl-X or Doktor

Sunday, May 29, 2005

French reject EU constitution

Preliminary results from 85% votes counted and 55.18% said no (at midnight). I am ashamed to be French tonight...

Friday, May 27, 2005

MSNBC Seeks Citizen Journalists

Steve Rubel reports on a forum organised by PR Newswire on journalists' relationships with bloggers. (see Steve's post on MicroPersuasion). Interesting but all the panellists are either bloggers or pro-bloggging, which makes the conclusions quite predictable.

The question as to whether blogs are a threat to MSM is still in the open. My opinion is that blogs will continue to rock established media and keep them accountable. However I do not see the mainstream media disappearing anytime soon. They will however integrate a more collaborative approach to news reporting and distribution and are already transforming in that direction.

Look at MSNBC’s citizen journalist’s initiative.

Beyond PR Nominated For Marketing Sherpa Blog Awards

Gosh... I should put a bit more effort into it then....

Thank you for the nomination and thank you for reading my rants. I'll make sure to up the quality and frequency of my posts. As the weather gets warmer in London, I thought I would suffer from a bout of blog fatigue but that gives me a good reason to carry on.

If you want to vote for me:

If you don't, no hard feelings. There are 6 great blogs entered in the PR category. Being nominated is already a great honour. From now on, I pledge that I won't delete these Marketing Sherpa's e-newsletter anymore and will make sure I click on all the links they care to offer.

Find Your Experts Online is an online directory of experts, available for comments on a wide range of issues. The service is accessible via a free registration, but limited to PR professionals and journalists (there is a vetting process).

Friday, May 20, 2005

Hill & Knowlton releases blogging guidelines

We released our blogging guidelines yesterday to encourage both our staff and our clients to make better use of the medium. See the post on our guidelines on my colleague Niall's blog.We already had some coverage on Steve Rubel's Micropersuasion blog.

Below are the key points of our guidelines:

In connection with any blogging, please be mindful of the following:
  • Most weblogs publish RSS feeds that others can subscribe to, so remember that others, including your colleagues, may be actively reading what you write.
  • Think of what you say in your weblog in the same way as statements you might make to the media, or emails you might send to people you don’t know. If you wouldn’t include it in those, don’t post it on your weblog.
  • Never disclose any information – including textual or visual material – that is confidential or proprietary to Hill & Knowlton, or any third party that has disclosed information to us (e.g. clients, journalists, suppliers, etc.). Your existing contract in any case prohibits this.
  • There are many things that we cannot mention as a publicly-owned company. Talking about our revenue, future plans, or the WPP share price will get you and Hill & Knowlton in legal trouble, even if it is just your own personal view, and whether or not you directly identify yourself as an employee of Hill & Knowlton.
  • You should make it clear that the views you express are yours alone. You may want to use the following form of words on your weblog, weblog posting, or website: The views expressed on this [blog; website] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

In addition, we included some tips on how to write for and promote blogs.

Looks like I will need more space for my blogroll :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to order food in a restaurant?

Jason Kottke compare tips from bestselling social trends gurus (think Blink or the "wisdom of crowds"). Sent to me by Guy. It reminds of an article I saw in a French satirical magazine ages ago that compiled various dieticians advices into one ultimate, easy-to-follow, guaranteed to slim you down diet. Eat only eggs. But don't eat the yolk, it's full of cholesterol. Don't eat the white either as it contains too much albumin. The shell should be fine though, it is full of calcium. Bon appetit.

Italian blogs scene growing since Calipari

Last Friday, I went to Milan for the second edition of our blogging workshop. I had the pleasure to meet again with Luca De Biase, an Italian journalist and blogger and Paolo Valdemarin, CEO of e-vectors (and blogger too).

From a previous post, you know that I am collecting European blog stories. Well, it seems that bloggers came to the forefront of the Italian media scene during the Calipari tragedy. When the official US report on the circumstances of his death was released, it was heavility censored. A blogger, Macchianera managed to reveal the missing/hidden text, to the delight of the mainstream media and bloggers alike. More infos on this from Blogs of War.

Needless to say that the Italian blog scene is burgeoning.