Monday, March 30, 2015

William Ward offers this insight into the demographics of the US population use of social media.

Being as, I am, in that minority to the right but for the UK, it says a lot that most of my US friends are of that extreme right group as well. Knowing for so long so many of the 10% or less suggests that long before social media became so significant, we already sensed a lot about the future of the media a few decades ago.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The post-Social Media economy - and a big role for PR

I admit that I have been remiss in writing blog posts of recent months and it is because I have been thinking about the next evolution and the human process that we are beginning to see already.  It will affect PR as much as social media has done and more.

I am prompted by this article in MIT Sloan Management Review:  

"Social media is now replete with examples of companies enabling knowledge integration outside the confines of traditional organizations. Wikipedia and open source software are perhaps the classic examples, where groups of volunteers come together to create products that directly challenge commercially produced competitors." 

There are examples. Services such as Zen99, which helps workers handle their taxes, services to access accounts from a Mac, PC, tablet or phone with full transparency for accounting professional to manage accounts. There are services that provide valuable real-time advice stand alongside virtual services to check driving records as in Checkr and Task Rabbit,

Online customer-support communities, such as those created by SAP and Dell, allow customers to share knowledge. 

Social media increasingly allows knowledge integration to occur outside and across traditional organizational boundaries, it  is beginning to change fundamental aspects of the firm and how it is managed and professor Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, is happy to promote such ideas

Globally, the sharing economy’s size in five key sectors was approximately $15 billion in 2014. It’s projected to reach $335 billion by 2025. The success of Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit isn't a fad -- it’s a new way of doing business, reports Entrepreneur.

The divide between the actual, virtual and digital is diminishing.  CamCard is a way of using your mobile phone to turn  business cards into digital data in your address book. 3D printing goes the other way to print along three axis. In China, a 3.6-metre-long, 1.63-metre-wide car has been printed with low-cost composite materials in five days and then assembled for a test drive. The vehicle is powered by rechargeable batteries and can travel at 25 mph

Britain’s digital economy is booming outside London, with 74pc of digital firms now based beyond the capital, and Bournemouth, Liverpool and Brighton emerging as the industry’s runaway success stories.

In fact,we are on the cusp of something much bigger. The digital economy, digital banking (with the "PayPal Here" invoicing app) is well equipped to work without high street banks.

Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security are big issues and the growing role of the digital economy in daily life has heightened demand for new data and measurement tools.

The UK government is a bit po faced but on board:  "Europe’s electronic communications landscape has transformed into a digital world. A world dominated by internet platforms, constantly altered by new and at times disruptive technologies, and full of opportunities for start-ups that pay no heed to geographical boundaries when creating new products and services."

American Baroness Shields was appointed technology adviser to the Prime Minister last year and now holds dual citizenship.  She has a large role to play in this new form of economy.

“12.4pc of our GDP is attributed to technology and digital business, that’s the highest in the G20,” she told The Telegraph. “We are the most digital nation in the world and it is important that government policy makes the most of this enormous potential.”
The FT reports that  "The transformation of the workforce is rapidly expanding as the UK embraces the digital economy, with about 1.8m people — 6 per cent of workers — now employed in a type of job that did not even exist in 1990.'

In the UK, marketers are plunging more and more resources into bolstering the online profile of their brands via PR says Marketing Profs.

Rather begrudgingly and narrowly they highlight reasons why:

  • The Public Relations Consultants Association recently found that 72% of PR agencies are now offering SEO services.
  • The most in-demand services were content creation, outreaching/engaging with influencers, and social networking strategy.
  • More than 60% of agencies have increased their digital marketing budgets, with a particular focus on monitoring, SEO, content creation, and PPC/online advertising.
  • Compared with 12 months earlier, agency revenues from digital sources have increased significantly.
  • Businesses in Britain are increasingly devoting resources to social media; though most of them are keeping this activity in-house, a significant portion are splitting responsibility for social with an agency or completely outsourcing altogether.
  • In the vast majority of cases, responsibility for content creation and social media is handled in-house by the PR and communications team.
  • There's also growing confidence in the ROI gained from social media, with levels nearly matching those of traditional PR activities.

As the economic impact becomes more evident, this activity will draw the PR sector more and more into a new intangible economy and the time look at what this means is now.

What the PR sector thought was its role in social media is now open to question. It now has a much bigger role and I will be exploring it over the coming months.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This is a very useful micro lecture for PR students

I have known Peter Wilson for many years. When he says he has a good service online it is time to take a very close look.

You're doing all the right things. You have a content marketing strategy that's more than a work of fiction. You're putting aside time to produce useful content which you're placing on quality sites as well as your own. Google Analytics tells you that you're getting plenty of traffic and where it's coming from. And you're capturing leads in exchange for valuable extra content. But how do you know which of your leads are most engaged?

Converting leads can be a slow  and time consuming and you could do with some help sifting through all those leads you've been building to know which might be more receptive to your overall proposition.

It turns out that CommsBox gathers quite a lot of information about your leads: when they return to your site (by whatever means), which emails they click through from, which forms they complete, all your contact reports. A lot of data. The trick is to use that mountain of data. Thank you Peter - Here is how:

Monitoring my G+ activity...

I have just come across this site. It gives a record and analysis of my Google Plus site

It keeps a record of My G+ activity.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Transparency and Leaks the Fayre of Today and Tomorrow

Corporate Affairs Managers are in it up to their neck.  

Transparency issues and leaks from the organisation how companies are now as porous as a sieve.  Its a PR Nightmare in the making for you all.

Ever more digital intelligence adding two and two on a big data scale is now swaying corporate stakeholders once so benign and now so demanding. Daniel Newman in Forbes says "Social and PR are integrated, and so are search and content–we can’t and shouldn't think of one without the other." I take that many stages further.

 To add to such ills are corporate directors and senior managers caught wrong footed by the nature of digital impact on their area of expertise and responsibility. Many are not armed with the intellectual tools to rationalise the current and future extent of  change and rate of exchange.

 Perhaps this is the most significant issue for corporate management and then there are the functional aspects. Here I offer insights into all these aspects of current corporate evolution.

 It has to be said right up front: ‘If you are not being affected and  challenged by digital influence take the pension while you can.’

I will also add that the PR industry has to consider the wider ethical issues. What if your organisation's product could be sentient. Would that be a 'good thing' and deserving the vote at the Board meeting?

If you were a car manufacturer these issues are relevant today. "An autonomous car will have to decide between crashing into the person crossing the road with a pram, surely killing the person and the baby but probably not the occupant of the car, or into a wall, surely killing the occupant of the car. These are not easy decisions to make and require ethics to make well," says Professor Toby Walsh.

 Senior managers have always needed to be able to spot the key events of the day from a forest of briefing documentation. This has not changed. What has changed is the extent to which employees at every level are now challenged by the extent of rich and relevant information that is becoming available in rich abundance. They too now use many systems for keeping competently,  if not over informed. The availability of devices that can bring them insights from the office work-station to home PC, tablet, mobile phone and a growing range of public and personal devices offering information.

 These devices attached to capabilities that extract new inferences by processing divers data sets, is, as we shall see,  now becoming common place. Then there is the network structure of digital relationships that include the many interests of many, now connected individuals acting on the data. This is now a multi-dimensional soup of dynamic relationship values and other data values. Many of these values are shared between employers, employees and clients as well as a wide range of other value holders. For many these values are very real assets. No wonder there is a  level of bewilderment among senior managers. 

 Once, the organization had both physical walls and  limited, often local community, exposure through employees. No longer. The nature of sub contracting across all areas of activity is a common reality, furthermore, the information value/asset intersection requires some considerable mental gymnastics to comprehend.

 It is only the naive who pretend that it is possible for an employee to  lock the office door and leave it all behind.

 Much of the information about organisations is made available as part of corporate and government ‘transparency’ activity.

 Each of such actions often seem quite benign. However, they bring great benefits and significant threats as the transparency action of one organisation is combined with the transparency action of another. already uses an artificial intelligence provided by Narrative Science Inc to generate automated news from a range of live public data sets and content harvested from previous articles. What makes it possible is that business news content tends to be formulaic and data-heavy, listing places, stocks and company names. The LA Times, meanwhile, uses robots to report on earthquakes: the organisation relies on an algorithm that pulls in data on magnitude, place and time from a US Geological Survey site and matches it with information from ‘The Cloud’. Studies show that ‘automated journalism’ is quite acceptable in tests with readers.

How soon then will it be before organisations also generate ‘news’ automatically. Such content might be available to employees, local communities, the political audiences or vendors etc as part of a plan to create a corporate information cloud.

There are some people with less exciting views. Microsoft's Eric Horvitz, who recently predicted humanity would never lose control of AI contradicting Stephen Hawking, told Fairfax Media Hollywood has given many people an inflated idea of how close we are to developing a truly sentient system.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Twenty years ago - How good were the online predictions?

In 1995 Dr Reginald Watts, Dr Jon White, Tom Brannan and I explored the future in a Public Relations future gazing symposium for the, then, Institute of Public Relations.

I was reminded of my contribution earlier today. After 20 years, I don't think I want to change any of the words:

‘The new media will enfranchise the individual with more one-to-one, one to many and many to many communication which will be easy by personal ‘phones, E-mail and video conferencing. Person-to-person-to machine and database communication will be more important, electronically managed and more global.

'Increasingly this broth threatens brands and corporate reputation and needs professionalism to immunise (our organisations) or doctor the effects of the brew.

‘In its most perfect form, reputation management sustains relationships with publics in a state of equilibrium during both evolution and in crisis. This enhances corporate goodwill (a tradable asset).

‘The big change is that many-to-many global communication brings with it loss of ‘ownership’ of language, culture and knowledge and that there is a breakdown in intellectual property rights, copyright and much plagiarism. This is already a major problem.

‘News now travels further and faster and is mixed with history, fantasy and technology. Reputation in crisis is even more vulnerable. At a growing rate, the new media uses reputation as ‘merchandise’, stripped from the foundations which created it, then traded for pieces of silver - and at a discount. ...'