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Look forward to seeing you soon.
An offshoot of the Podcamp discussion was Blogger code of ethics. There are pages on it when you do a Google search. So what’s the big deal about bloggers and ethics? Why so much fuss….?
The discussion began during Brian Koh’s session at Podcamp Singapore and a question rightfully asked by Melvin Yuan….’Ethics are ethics. What’s so different about blogger ethics? Why hype it so much?” The next question was “Why are agencies saying different things? A PR agency proactively comes with a big list of ‘cannot do la..!’- no financial implications, no discounts/ freebies etc while the Marketing/ Advertising arm of the same firm may come with financial benefits for writing about their client.”
Why such confusion?
To understand why agencies behave the way they do one needs to look at the way they function.
The function of communication be it advertising/marketing/direct mailing/events/PR is to reach out to people that matter. The most common medium used to do this is media: print/television/radio/new media. So the vehicles are the same…but the route to reach out to customers is different.
Public Relations believes in ‘influencing the influencers’ by building relationships. They provide material, arrange for client meetings and hope that information will result in coverage. In the end what is covered is the sole discretion of the writer. PR has strong policies against what they term as bribing. For them media and message cannot be bought and I guess that is why people still believe in the credibility of the press. By initiating code of ethics they are simply trying to maintain the way PR fundamentally works.
Advertising/marketing has always worked on the concept of buying media space. They usually plug client fed information in the space that they buy and this is most commonly known as ads. Since traditionally they have been doing this, they continue to offer financial benefits for the write-ups.
Though traditional agencies have separate departments for each function and are able to avoid confusion- it is not possible to replicate the format with blogs. That leads to mixed messaging.
So what can a blogger do?
1. Ask questions and be upfront to first know who you are talking to…PR or Advertising
2. Define the path you want to take and make it clear to the agencies upfront. You may consider writing a disclaimer in your blog that clearly clarifies your stance on PR/Advertising.
3. If you do not want your write-ups to be influenced and still want to earn, try adding an advertorial section to the blog
4. Consider external links so there is no messing up with your content
Have more ideas…please post them as your comments.
Many of my co-attendees (Claudia, Derrik… to name a few) have already covered the entire camp or parts of it….so no point going through the series again. What I would like to share however are the ‘good’ and the ‘can do better’ parts of the event. Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments.
The good stuff…
1. A great initiative in getting together like-minded people, who were trying to contribute by sharing insights and learnings and trying to crack the thoroughly webbed new media space. I liked the sessions of Coleman Yee and to some extent Brian Koh ….for their ability to stir some healthy discussion. There were no answers…but it definitely set the thoughts rolling.
2. What I missed and really regret is the Charlie Pownall session on Online Influencers. The last bits that I caught were on Obama and how he magically used ‘word of mouth’ to his favour…got to know some more from Claudia’s blog post.
(…so now you know…my next reading will be trying to analyse Obama’s success secrets from the communicators perspective…and maybe later…if I get the opportunity, discuss my thoughts with you, Charles.
3. Another session that was reasonably good was Preetam Rai’s on twitter. Though purely by selection of topic…I was attending Brian’s session, Preetam…what I heard about you from fellow bloggers and liked- was your idea of networking and understanding (not just superficially) about how bloggers/writers in other markets work. Good stuff..you are surely working that extra mile to bridge the gap between markets and people.
4. My comments will be incomplete if I did not mention the Tech 65 guys and Joshua Nair. You guys truly rock and it was a pleasure having you around. Joshua, a special mention to you….you were the youngest of the lot and very well prepared. I wish you luck and am sure you have a bright future.
5. The next best thing about the event was the presence of a lot of PR people…the presenters and the attendees(…Weber Shandwick, Burson Marsteller, Text100…to name a few) which talks about the seriousness and the lead that PR people are trying to take in the new media space. I may have missed many…but must mention the presence of two …great guys- Shalabh and Melvin. Melvin was also one of the keynotes speaker at Podcamp. Sunita, Su from Text 100 and Daphne Maia great meeting you too.
How it could be better….
Content overall could have been more in-depth. Its great to have a discussion but there should be some key take away from the session. Some speakers got a bit too carried away about personal achievements. So maybe a little balance on that front could make the sessions more fulfilling.
Signing off statement: Great initiative guys. Keep up the good work!!
I dedicate this post to the PR agency that was and still is my most favorite. If you haven’t heard of this one.. means that you know nothing of PR in Asia and India. Log on to http://www.genesispr.com
The best in India?…. Naaa…. APAC?…Naa…….
Genesis B-M, there is none like you…… and with every passing day you make us more proud…..
The recent Holmes report card- the first one for APAC, names Genesis Burson-Marsteller the India consultancy of the year. A very well deserved recognition for a firm that has created some of the finest professionals in the industry. After having almost lived in Genesis-BM for 5 yrs (which sadly went by in a jiffy), I know this to be an extremely well deserved recognition.
A place where every individual in the team is groomed to be an efficient business manager and every client is treated with tremendous respect. It’s a place where every initiative is reviewed and every quarterly performance is analysed and road maps are created for the way forward. It’s a place where the firm and all its members ensure that the varied geographies do not impact the flow of a campaign. No matter which part of the country you are in, the same standard of service is maintained. In the Genesis- BM language it is called ‘One team, one experience’. Such efficacy is ensuring service excellence is not easily heard of. What I talk of is just the tip of the iceberg. No wonder Genesis-BM is offering service excellence to some of the finest multinationals in the country.
Prema, Ashwani, – you are amongst the very few professionals who have the courage and determination to ‘walk the talk’. Your service excellence standards are not easy to reach and that makes you unmatched not only in India but in multiple geographies as well. Bhuvnesh-you interviewed me, you were my mentor…an excellent professional and a fantastic human being; Regional Market Leaders, members of the Finance, HR, Knowledge, Training teams, Partners, Associate Partners, Senior Consulting Associates, Consulting Associates, Senior Associates, Associates, Admin staff, Office help staff…Vinay Ji, Dattar ji, Media tracking partners….Congratulations to each one of you for making Genesis-BM see newer heights of success.
I repeat- You are the finest examples of Public Relations not only in India but in many more geographies. You guys truly rock!!
Recession is a natural part of the economic cycle. The markets, the consumers and the products will still be around once the economy has corrected itself. Do not cut the tools that could help keep your head above water; instead make them more accountable.
How digital can help..
Understanding buyer behavior: moving from monologues to conversations and making use of a unique opportunity to speak to consumers and garner thoughts and feedback ‘real time’.
Rising above the clutter: Reaching out to customers beyond the cluttered traditional media. This further helps enhance innovation and look for interesting options to engage customers in the new media space.Here’s what Clinic Plus did on youtube. The adv is called ‘Chulbuli’. Its in Hindi- a perfect language to reach out to the millions of Indians… The children love it….and what a fantastic way of saying that Clinic Plus is good for hair and should be used everyday.
Small spend; low cost; high ROI: Digital approach is not only more accountable but also has a substantially low cost per reach. Furthermore, their ability to rise above the buzz and reach out effectively can have a higher impact on the ROI.
Tracking results: New media initiatives can be effectively mapped and tracked thus allowing companies keep track of what ‘clicks’ and what does not.
Hard to say what came first …Chicken or the egg… or better still…in today’s age Communication or Globalization. ‘Mass’ to ‘individual’ are the commonly used terms as communication has reached new dimensions. What happens is transmitted across channels and news wires in a matter of seconds. Consider this to a scenario in 1865. US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Reuters News Agency reported it first…. 12 days after the event…!!
Force of change
Muscle power, Horse power, Wind power, Steam power
Hardware-from steamships and railroads to telephones and mainframe computers
Software and new applications, creation of global fiber optic network
A peek into the changing times. Source: Think ASEAN!
It is interesting to note how globalization has changed through the years and the power to change that was once in the hands of the powerful is now in the hands of those who have the knowledge. Change is no longer driven by nations or by huge multinationals. Individuals today drive change. Those who have the knowledge, are connected, and dare to share drive change. Similarly, easy access to information has transformed the average man on the street into a knowledge based world citizen. Empowerment of masses has made it all the more important for corporates today to use tools that are end-user centric.
Philip Kotler’s book Think ASEAN, shows some interesting observations on Globalization, its impact and future trends. Immensely impressed by this book, I will focus on some of the observations from this author and the relevance (cause and effect) of this with the changing times.
Each century has seen its media revolution and blogs are clearly the media revolution of this new century. Thanks to advances in technology that have made it incredibly easy and virtually free to create them, turning both the communications and PR measurement world upside down. More and more independent bloggers — be it journalists, experts or just irregular bloggers like me — are taking to the Internet to put forward their views to anyone who will listen. A new blog is created about once every two seconds. But despite its strong growth, blogging is not yet a very widely used medium.
People in the business of communication envision this as yet another medium to address stakeholders and PR researchers work hard on strategies and innovative approaches to leverage blogs. The problem with measuring blogs is not how to do it, but rather that the nature of blogs renders management impossible. You simply can’t “manage” what 10 million independent-minded, opinionated people are going to say. Age old thoughts of counting the volume of conversions or the number of trackbacks is one indication of the size and scope of the network surrounding the blog. Examining the credibility and authority of the people who are commenting and/or linking to the site is another way to assess the impact and importance of the blog. One needs to look beyond just quantity of postings or links to the quality of the dialog. Dennis G. Jerz of Seton Hill University has categorized blogs in the following manner:
- “Coverage” — The number of times your brand or issue is mentioned.
- “Depth” — How deeply does the posting discuss the brand?
- “Interaction” — What was the nature of the interaction? Was the posting designed to solve a problem, compare different brands, or simply allow the author to rant?
- “Discussion” — What was the nature of the discussion? Was it a true dialog with extensive exchange of ideas, or was it just bantering back and forth.
To determine what readers are taking away from a blog, the medium offers several interesting opportunities for measurement. What your customers say about you in the chat rooms, news groups and blogs presumably reflects what they think about you. So in essence, paying close attention to what is being said in the blogosphere is a great way to get inside your customers….
(Inspired by Katie Delahaye Paine and Andy Lark, The Measurement Standard)
Public Relations is more important than it used to be, because there is a perception that the world today is more media-driven than it used to be. People are virtually inundated by media, 24 hours a day, in every conceivable environment. While there has been an explosion of media outlets in the past decade, there is also far more competition, and many more organizations vying for finite media access.
Public Relations is an expensive indulgence. While it may not matter so much for large corporates, and the budgets come from worldwide resources, it definitely does matter for the smaller companies with limited budgets. Are the column centimeters worth cost? Are the spurts of coverage enough to create and communicate the message and sustain the impact? Barring a few campaigns like the Nokia music phones campaign or the Dell Inspiron, there is little that one hears of that can be recalled as top of mind.
So, how much is enough and how much budgets should one keep aside for a successful campaign? Strangely, budgets are not directly proportional to campaign success. A clearly defined campaign, a clearly underlined target audience, a sound strategy and a consistent approach are the four flavors that work like magic when applied together. Though these are well acknowledged tools, how often are these used? More often what really costs is the implementation of the campaign….and this is very often a ‘no brainer’….and people end up paying volumes to outsource this function.
I call it Influencing the Influencer. And this ‘Influencer’ could be just anyone. A company decides who it wants to get in touch with/inform/influence and also decides what kind of image does it want to create in the mind of this stakeholder….Well…as I write this, I am sure there is one more step that was the most critical…as in…why do I want to create this image? Is it in line with what my competition is doing? Is it based on what the industry needs today? How will it grow the bottom line? Whatever it is…the basic homework needs to be done and the need is to be established. Once this is set, comes the next step of defining the stakeholder and ensuring that we are seen, heard, talked about in a manner that we want to be known.
Public relations often operates under the radar screen when marketers identify ways to promote their wares. For many marketers PR does not hold the same allure when compared with the creation of an advertising campaign. Many perceive PR professionals as only handling nuts-and-bolts communication activities, such as issuing press releases and handling calls from the news media. But in reality, in the age of excessive advertising, where the average consumer is inundated with thousands of advertisements and promotional message each day, public relations is one of the most powerful methods for cutting through promotional clutter. Public Relations offers the credibility that advertising fails to achieve.
A true Public Relations professional is one who is with you from the start of the process to finally deciding what should be your communication strategy and then ensures that the results are met.
Communication my friend…is far more than what you see and hear. It’s a management tool that should be used as an integral part of your business and communication strategy. If you do not see your agency as your communications partner, be assured that your journey together will take you no where.