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 Lemonde.fr. 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

www.punditpal.com 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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Top 20 Singapore blogs

From Singapore's first and finest satyrical website. Your blog may fit under several of these categories.

Blogger template update

Thank you to Anton who solved the problem with my template. One of my post contained too long a word (a spoof URL) and Blogger couldn't break it so pushed the sidebar at the bottom to give space to the post. Problem solved.

What's wrong with Blogger again?

Im a struggling with the Blogger.com template again. This time, my profile and all the links on the right hand sidebar are automatically pushed to the bottom of the page. It happened overnight and I cannot find anything wrong with the template I use... I republished several times to no effect, then raised a help ticket. It is a free service so I shouldn't complain too much. Have you come across similar issue? I couldn't find anything related in their help section.

Dutch blogging scene

It's very alive and kicking according to my colleague Anton. I am including a link to his blog in my blogroll.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Google offline for 15 mins!

and there are 78 articles indexed by Google news on that earth shattering news.

Gizzoogle brings work to a standstill

My friend Tristan (no blog so no link) sent me this new version of Google which has the amazing ability to bring work to a standstill for an average of 5 mins while inducing uncontrolled giggles.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Blog revolution? “Give me a break” says Nick Denton

A pretty controversial but thoroughly enjoyable interview with Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media is being widely reported because of his blog hype bashing. See the article on CNET.

Let's add more oil to the fire by commenting on some of these statements:

Nick says that a blog is "much better at tearing things down--people, careers, brands--than it is at building them up".

While I agree with the subversive impact of blogging and the fact that blogs, more often than not make the headlines by getting people fired or landing companies in reputational limbos, one has to look at how successfully companies like GM or Monster.com have integrated blogs as part of their communication drive. This is hardly about bringing a brand down. Instead, blogs act as a catalyst to foster better and more open relations between a brand and its stakeholders. Scobleizer is a perfect example on how blogs have helped put a human face on an otherwise often decried corporation and gave another dimension (positive) to a brand. But this doesn’t get the same amount of coverage that the scare stories of course.

Nick says that "The hype comes from unemployed or partially employed marketing professionals and people who never made it as journalists wanting to believe (…) They want to believe there's going to be this new revolution and their lives are going to be changed." (…) "If you take the amount of attention that has been devoted in the last year to Web logs as a business and something that's going to change business and compare that with the real effect and the real money, it's totally disproportionate."

Blogs reflect fundamental changes in the way we consume media and the way we engage with society at large. Too much attention is better than none if it put pressure on companies to understand that. Yet, I too think that there is too much hype over blogs and that could be damaging.

First, the flipside of overplaying blogs’ potential as reputation breakers leads to many companies have difficulties seeing how they could use blogs in a constructive manner.

Second, adding a blog to the mix could creates more damages than good if communication strategy, guidelines and infrastructure is not reviewed in accordance beforehand. HP David Gee's story on the vanishing comment is a good example. Anyone who sees blog as the only answer to all communication problems has way too much vested interest in the industry.

Finally, the share of attention vs. share of wallet brings the welcome issue of blogs ROI. While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence I think that the real metrics are still in the making. It’s easy to measure popularity but much harder to measure influence.

Nick says "There are too many people looking at blogs as being some magic bullet for every company's marketing problem, and they're not," (…) "It's Internet media. It's just the latest iteration of Internet media."

It’s Internet and there is no denying that a media ( r ) evolution is happening. The hype could contribute to make it a self fulfilling prophecy and that wouldn’t be a bad thing after all. What strikes me is that it took so long for it to materialise.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The most boring blog in the world

I am a great fan of the self titled "dullest blog in the world" and noticed that they resumed posting after a 6 months break. An extract: "I was in a room carrying out some routine activities. I began to consider playing some music on the stereo system. I looked at some compact discs for a while, but didn't put one on. "

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Vespa takes the fastlane

Vespa is launching two lifestyle blogs in the US. The program will be managed by Steve Rubel following CopperKatz's appointment to manage US PR for the brand.

More details on the program: http://www.vespablogs.com/

See Steve's announcement.

Hats off.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Google to rank sources reputation?

My friend Niall sent me this article from the New Scientist highlighting Google’s plan to rank its news search results according to the credibility of the sources.

At present, results are ranked according to a complex formula including relevance, popularity, date and keyword occurrence. In the future, Google plans to fact in the number of stories issued by news sources as well as “average story length, number with bylines, and number of the bureaux cited, along with how long they have been in business. Google's database will also keep track of the number of staff a news source employs, the volume of internet traffic to its website and the number of countries accessing the site”.

ZDNET India: “The company goes on to describe how content published by news outlets such as CNN and BBC, or companies that are "widely regarded as high quality sources of accuracy of reporting, professionalism in writing," may be of greater interest to its customers, and therefore should top news search results.”

And that could be extended to search results too:

The patent also reveals that the same system could be roped in to rank other search results, not simply news.”

It is good news for companies who struggle to protect their online reputation (the likelihood of bumping into
www.boycottdelta.org will be more remote). EBay does use sellers’ reputation successfully and it forces everyone to behave. It’s about transparency and it’s an increasingly valuable currency.

But I am not too sure if I like this idea…

It will prevent newcomers and start-ups to compete on an equal footing with large established business. On the blogs side, it means consolidation where established blogs will take most of the visibility, making it harder for new bloggers to be seen and heard. It also means that established media will keep their stronghold on news and information and that whistleblowers and independent media will be pushed down the rankings.

At least this is my initial reaction, pending further information on what the formula to measure authority and credibility entails.