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.