Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Social Economy

Benkler, von Hippel, Weber, and many others showed us that the Internet has liberated many economies. One economy is the traditional “commercial economy,” an economy regulated by the quid pro quo: I’ll do this (work, write, sing, etc.) in exchange for money (which is a recognised intangible symbol with an international reputation). Another economy is (the names are many) the (a) amateur economy, (b) sharing economy, (c) social production economy, (d) noncommercial economy, or (e) p2p economy. Even the Bitcoin economy. This alternative economies (however you name them, I’m just going to call them the “second economy”) is the economy of Wikipedia, most open source development, the work of amateur astronomers, etc. It has a different, more complicated logic to it than the commercial economy. If you tried to translate all interactions in this second economy into the frame of the commercial economy, you’d kill it.

Having now seen the extraordinary value of this second economy, I think most would agree we need to think lots about how best to encourage it — what techniques are needed to call it into life, how is it sustained, what makes it flourish. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how to do it well. Those living in real second economy communities (such as Wikipedia) have a good intuition about it.

But a second and also extremely difficult problem is how, or whether, the economies can be linked. Is there a way to cross over from the commercial to second economy? Is there a way to manage a hybrid economy — one that tries to manage this link.

Social Media now has a cousin called Social Economy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Um ..... where did I put that page.

I have been revisiting some sites, blogs and posts this week that I need to keep close to me.

This is meets my eye as I look round my study:

Every student in PR, marketing and economics should have read The Long Tail.
I keep talking about Transparency Porosity and Agency and need to be able to reference this page a lot. Peter Drucker saw what was coming and web 2.0 years before it arrived and is mega relevant today.

Applying Communications Models was an important paper in its day. So was Share This Too and then there is Reputation Economics ... I need to re-read them all.

Blazing Netshine has coloured my thinking for such a long time (and has morphed, I now discover) that I had to look at it again - not too rusty and I still like the title and some of the sentences I user e.g. "The digital riptide flows round historic information gatekeepers" and Prof Anne Gregory's comment "public relations practitioners `will also understand that complex feedbacks within and between systems and environment can create resonances that cannot be controlled and which may diminish or even contradict the desired result of communication.'"

The various versions of Online Public Relations have been interesting experiences too.

But here is a big question. Are the papers and books relevant any more?

So much emerges online and a lot of the real beef is available via mobile, should I be reading books at all.

Take Google Plus as an example.
The top gun is Martin Shervington. He could not possibly be relevant in a book. His subject is too fast moving.

So, I am now going to work on how I can keep up my reading on a mobile phone.

Here is how I can start beginning with Drucker.

Its the way ahead.

Phillips D, 2000 Blazing Netshine on the value network: Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2000, pp. 189±206
Evans, P. and Wurster, W. S. (1999) `Blown to bits', Harvard Business School Press.
Drucker, P. F. (1994) `The age of social transformation', The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 274, No. 5, pp. 53±80.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Rebooting PR - Radical Poroity

In this series of, posts we have already seen how the internet is now making organizations porous.

For a long time people have discussed their employers, friends, acquaintances and    a myriad of other relationships.
I do so, they expose torganizationsons and people to a wide constituency. Information in this way, inadvertently leaks  out.
The work I did on analysis of LinkedIn profiles also shows how people expose their employers to a low deep analysis (see Rebooting PR).

What is happening now is that a lot of data (Big data) available for such analysis. We can automate such proceses and then re-work the findings.

Radical porosity now allows us to identify the common and unique unique skills, capabilities of individual banks in relation to competitors - automatically. We can also use similar capabilities to match LnkedIn profiles with Twitter accounts and get near real time intelligence.

There are many more examples of how apparently innocent activities make oorganizationsmore porous.

Such is the extent of content provided by individuals that if an organization wants to have no presence it creates a hole in the Internet environment which points in the organisation.

From here we learn a lot. There is no hiding place.

We also learn there is a critical need for public relations to manage the effect of constituent's porosity.

Rebooting PR - Internet Agency

The internet can act as an agent.

For example, people can take a message output by an organisation and propagate it with great ease. They are acting as an agent. Re-Tweet, blog post and everything else in between allows this to happen. We have known about this phenomenon for twenty years and it is in the PR literature.

We have known that this form of agency is not limited to people. Technologies do this too. They can monitor websites and alert and broadcast content easily. All the news media monitoring services do this. has been offering this automated service for more than a decade and a half.

But now we are moving into an era when internet agency reprocesses information and prompts action; acquires new intelligence and identifies new knowledge and then provokes action in its own right and without human interference. At the same time, such capability offers a new, different, and for some, threatening future.

It would not surprise anyone to find an exchange that would provide data on the relative value of Avious Points, Tesco Clubcard points and Bitcoin. This would be a new form of financial exchange based on new forms of wealth and currency.

What we would see is an internet capability to buy things that stepped round existing currencies. 

What is more important is that it would have crossed national and currency boundaries as well. 

True international currencies with global exchange rate could be a reality. Such ideas go much further than just the crypto currencies. Such an activity can take place without any recourse to existing currencies, governments, cenral banks or regulators. Their success is completely dependent on international trust, goodwill and reputation.

With such benefits they can also also interact with the existing currencies.

It may be worth having a look at: The idea already exists. We have already entered into such an economy. The idea of radical agency is with us already.

For traditional PR people this is something of a problem. Interactions with the Wikipedia world is beginning to have some sensible resonance with the profession (and less so for the cowboys). This is a good thing because and automated system of creating corporate presence in Facebook based on the Wikipedia profile is happening now. A lot of companies did not lift a finger and yet find themselves with a Facebook presence in their name. These forms of radical internet agency are becoming ever more sophisticated.

The intermediaries of a bygone day no longer have exclusive rights.

The idea that 'publics' form round issues or that there are groups of people who own a 'stake' in organisation even if they are not shareholders is now of a distant age. The 'organisation' is now a number of value added, if intangible, content assets that it may not have had a hand in creating. If you like, computer generated assets.

Radical internet agency is an interesting area for PR practice. It is part of reputation management and management of intellectual assets that even the organisation may not be aware of.

Rebooting PR - Radical Transparency


Once, it was cool to propose that organisations be transparent and that secrecy was commercial and political suicide. It was an idea that caught on. 

Greater transparency led to higher profits for those who had access to the information about the relevant tax rate; transparency in Government, democracy an politics has many advantages and made governance accountable to the electorate. Increasingly governments around the world are experimenting with initiatives in transparency or open government. These involve a variety of measures including the announcement of more user-friendly government websites, greater access to government data, the extension of freedom of information legislation and broader attempts to involve the public in government decision making.

Bennis points out why and how digital business strategy is an important transformational issue for leadership. He argues that information driven transparency will forever change the way that power it derived by top leaders and that leaders need to embrace this new transparency.

Making information available to help inform, enthrall and educate people who are customers and prospective customers also informs competitors, vendors and employees. They too can see the product and its pricing online.

Until recently agency was easy to understand:
  • Had email for fast delivery of information  - That could be circulated easily to anyone.
  • Created websites which showed off: products, services, Director’s names, locations and much more - To everyone!
  • Then came discussion lists, blogs and Social Media - The constituency read added value content and could interact.
So far so good but now we can see new developments. People tell each other about the products and prices, they rank, rate and review about all these products and services and add intangible values. 

Alongside these people are technologies that help spread the word and aggregate the information. They compare several competitors and seldom miss ones out (despite the claims of the advertisers).

Today there is:
  • Competitive pressure to make more information available to develop competitive advantage
  • Competitors see the nature of competition and respond to remain competitive (example - supermarket pricing - PwC publish research papers for free and so all competitors have to do it).
  • Transparency via multi media including ‘social media’ words, pictures, video. Lots of automation to spread messages etc etc
  • Content available across many devices from PC to mobile to digital window displays
  • Content provided by many actors - e.g. social media authors as well as many other company ‘faces’.
  • The network effect means the information available and provided by the organisation constituency potentially reaches many generations from the first view and crosses from one medium to the next and the next and also jumps platforms (PC, Tablet, Mobile phone, game machine and even down to the fridge). Transparency is now also a matter of multimedia distribution.
Radical transparency requires the PR practitioner to develop content for many media, devices and outputs, to monitor the reach and identify the extent of the added intangible value.

Sophisticated computer algorithms help automatically understand human-generated text. A growing field within NLP is semantic analysis and its application to social media content is just starting to mature beyond labs and classrooms. Semantic analysis is capable of providing valuable insight into the meaning behind social media content.

Its like finding that your content has been located to where you wrote it! This is added value and more of the intangible value being developed online. To understand it we need universities able to teach this as part of a PR curse and the profession to include in continuous development programes.

The rate at which the move to online content is being used is not hard to see (see Unilever below) but being adept at optimising transparency is harder than just being seen in Facebook and the machines now have a strong hand in all of this too.

Unilever is a classic example:

Leadership in a Digital World: Embracing Transparency and Adaptive Capacity
Warren Bennis. MIS Quarterly Volume 37, Number 2 — June 2013

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Rebooting PR - Part 2

Public Relations is changing and has to change and the theory behind it has to change too.
The change is radical. 

This week  CIPR South West heard from Adam Lewis of Immediate Future, one of the leading figures in the online PR space. Practitioners were very mindful of the significance of 'social media'. 

The BledCom, this week is about "Digital Publics: New Generation, New Media, New Rules" is a festival of internet mediated public relations research from round the world.

To Reboot PR we have to watch our language.

We use expressions like 'social groups', 'stakeholders' and 'Publics' and in order to recognise people and technologies that might slip through the net of terminology, I would like to use a catch-all expression 'constituent'. This will mean I can include constituents that may otherwise be defines in exclusive groups such as voters, employees, customers, prospective customers, audiences and so forth. All of them are constituents of some kind. 

The nomenclature of 'the media' has to change as well. Once it was a descriptor for, mostly, the press. In a time when one's mobile presents you with emails, websites, sms messages (or G+ messages), Facebook comments, essays by or shared through your acquaintances in a variety of digital resources via LinkedIn and  synced appointments via Google Calendar which mirrors your office one. All these media and almost none of them have a print or even broadcast counterpart.

Media to me is the means for distribution. Each has unique attributes as much as the newspapers and magazines of old. Today the prospective reach is, by comparison huge; the content can morph and can explode on the hurricane of Twitter or amble through email.

The tenets of online public relations are focused on transparency, Internet agency, organisational porosity, richness and reach of content. They were laid down in 2001 by the UK PR industry internet commission and have not changed a jot - until now.

To reboot PR we have to recognise the huge influence of the internet. Very little PR is undertaken without it being mediated by the internet.

It is a space where some long held and much loved ideas have to be massively modified.
Before we go further, I would like to morph some of the icons of PR language into a form of words that can work on line.

Today, we have to consider the evolution of such ideas.

These tenets have morphed. Today we have radical transparency, porosity, agency,  richness, reach.

Over the next few weeks, I shall look at each in turn to see how much work we have to do with each in order to Reboot PR.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Rebooting PR - part one

The value of public relations mediated by the capabilities of the internet is huge. But to access this value, the industry has to change.

The extent to which we are beginning to understand the contribution intangible capabilities make in the creation of wealth is growing every day.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO)  put it this way
"Whereas, in the not too distant past, the majority of business investment was in people or physical things like premises and machinery, today the majority of business investment is in intangible goods, in ideas and creativity. Making sure that our entrepreneurs, innovators and creators can translate their investment in the creation of intellectual property assets into value is key to the UK’s long term growth prospects. In the last 12 months, the Intellectual Property Office has done much to increase the likelihood that British businesses understand the importance of managing their IP effectively."
The IPO showed that it needed  strong PR to allow the UK to get at the real value of IP.

Inngot and Valuation Consulting Limited reported that:

The role of intellectual property and intangible assets in facilitating business finance” found that knowledge assets were not appreciated in mainstream UK lending and that IP was therefore a missed opportunity with millions of pounds worth of business assets whose value was not being leveraged at all, or only being leveraged inadvertently
It seems that a very large part of the worth of the nation is in dire need of some good PR.

We can begin to see why such strong PR is needed so that, for example we so can use our currency. The Bank of England put it this way:

The words "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five [ten/twenty/fifty] pounds" date from long ago when our notes represented deposits of gold. At that time, a member of the public could exchange one of our banknotes for gold to the same value. For example, a £5 note could be exchanged for five gold coins, called sovereigns. But the value of the pound has not been linked to gold for many years, so the meaning of the promise to pay has changed. Exchange into gold is no longer possible and Bank of England notes can only be exchanged for other Bank of England notes of the same face value. Public trust in the pound is now maintained by the operation of monetary policy, the objective of which is price stability.

The value of your pay packet comes down to 'trust'.

It also comes down to reputation:

The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has said he doesn't see any reason why the Government should inject more cash into the economy, in comments which have given a big boost to the value of the pound.
Is that all? Is the intangible value of what we earn down to the comments of the Governor of the Bank of England?

What about advertising and marketing... they much have a role in this debate.

In advertising Nigel Hollis of Millward Brown struggles but begins to show what is at stake. He writes:

My attempt to explain that advertising could add intangible value to a product experience was met (by friends at a dinner party)  with blank incomprehension at best. Creating intangible value seemed to be equated with duplicity. Advertisers cheated people by creating erroneous beliefs about the quality, efficacy or value of a product. It was unethical. So maybe you can help me come up with a better and more compelling argument?

First, let me state that I am all in favor of developing products that deliver a tangible and positive experience for their users. This is the first step of creating a strong brand. Advertising can serve a useful role simply by informing people of the existence of a product that might serve their needs better. But that does not preclude creating an even better experience through the creation of intangible benefits. Just as placebos can produce a positive response in patients, so too brands can create a more positive experience for their consumers.
What he was saying is that adverting can add value but after the event and is limited in what it can deliver.

But something does add value and a lot of it.

The added value of a brand to an engineered product like a motor car is an example. But there is a lot more going on.

If we go beyond advertising to 'brand' values we see big numbers emerging.

In 2012 Brand Finance published a study on the Monarchy as a ‘brand’ to coincide with the 

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. They valued the Monarchy from an economic perspective and as a brand with an impact of £44 billion on the UK Economy as well as assessing the emotional, political and constitutional arguments for The Royal Family. 
The Monarchy’s contribution to the UK economy is considerable and  Brand Finance estimated the revenue uplift to the UK economy was £2.4 billion offset by costs of £1.4 billion giving a net uplift of £1 billion to GDP. 

UK businesses also benefit from Royal Warrants and Brand Finance valued the scheme at £4 billion and there is also a significant reputational benefit to individual UK businesses from the Monarchy once they have been granted a Coat of Arms which Brand Finance valued at £400 million. 

The question one may ask is, which management discipline is charged with defending and exploiting and developing the tangible benefits from intangible (reputation, trust, employment, social development, profit, etc) an idea which in itself is as intangible as the Monarchy?  This goes beyond brand management because it needs the ethical and social engagement of a broad constituency.

Investing in this asset has such a high return that we need to know who can deliver the required servicing.

 Perhaps we can see how the intangible converts to money to gain a view of the new intangible economy according to an recent article in the Economist:

FACEBOOK, Amazon, Twitter and a host of other big companies in today’s “data-driven economy” share one thing in common: they make a living from harvesting personal data. Some of this data is freely given, perhaps too freely. More than 1.3 billion people have donated some of their most valuable personal information to Facebook in return for the ability to “like” and “share” cat photos. Amazon knows almost as much about its customers as they do. Twitter knows what you think and when you think it.

The article follows the adventures of Jennifer Lyn Morone  (JLM), who is collecting the growing amount of online data JLM is amassing and which will be visible on her website—although as Ms Morone gains more control over her data she aims to transform this transparency into opacity; only she will collect the data, and only JLM will decide how and where it can be viewed, used, sold, bartered or donated. This may be challenging: some of JLM’s most valuable data, such as financial transactions and health records, are by definition controlled by other organisations (such as banks), although Ms Morone will be able to re-package and resell them (data can be sold many times without losing their value). 

Turning something as intangible as a Facebook 'Like' into money is an interesting idea. Turning the data aura surrounding and individual or a group of individuals into assets seems like alchemy.

The significance of transparency is now coming home to roost. There is a big economy out there where intangibles visible from transparency are becoming very valuable in many directions.

It extends beyond the individual.

I looked at the big data that is LinkedIn. Here I saw how porous organisations have become. This porosity also has value and is also a resource for many disciplines.

It is possible to view about 60% of the UK banking industry employees in LinkedIn. This means we can see how long they have been employed in the industry and how long with a specific bank. We know the skills that they bring to banking and the skills the banking industry needs to run its businesses. In addition we can view if there are more of fewer people being employees and what is the employment employment churn rate between competitors, what are the skill (service) differences as between banking competitors over time. We can plot this over time and much more. This is an organic map of an industry with data not provided by the organisation or the traditional media but by its employees using social media. This is, as the CIPR Internet Commission put it 15 years ago, internet porosity.

This is a picture I created of the skills, and especially, the intangible human resource of 14% of Nationwide Building Society employees:

From this you can see how much of the bank is driven by intangibles and, indeed, the word map is, itself is an intangible asset.

From this one data set, it is possible to monitor and view whole industries and LinkedIn ".... will eventually become an "economic graph" that "maps the global underpinnings of the global economy." Says its CEO Jeff Weiner

We are seeing elements in this mix that include trust, reputation, assets of functions, assets encapsulated in features and assets available through the activities people and every time we look at intangible assets, they are bigger than anticipated and depend more on public relations than any other management discipline.

My thesis is that the PR industry now needs to play to its strength.

It has the capability to lever value and to enhance the value of that part of the economy which is bigger than any other - intangibles.

It is mandated to be ethical and to be open about how the client can develop trust and a reputation for trust worthy dealings and it has the power to and place to say to the Marketing Director and the CEO what has to be done to access value.

It is by no means a low cost activity and it has issues and crisis management to add to its activities online.

We even have a map to take us from here.