Fullrun’s Blogger Roundtable

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I went off to the swish Soho Hotel last night as we sponsored Fullrun’s Consumer Blogger Roundtable.  The boss is  always up for sticking a bit of money behind a bar. 

The event kicked off with a panel of five, Michael Parsons from CNET, Chris Price and Katie Lee of Shiny Media, Mat Toor of Dennis Publishing and James Rivington from Tech.co.uk, and was hosted by Peter Kirwin of Fullrun.

There was a run down on how each of the sites likes to be pitched to (send an email, don’t phone them – especially if it’s just a standard pitch, include quotes and unique pictures, use an interesting subject header), followed by a lively discussion on whether there is a difference between bloggers and journos (some of the panel felt bloggers had more principles than journos…. they shall remain nameless) and how the immediacy of blogging requires a good wireless connection and the press releases to be held off until after a press launch.  Don’t forget to provide some food at a launch either, Michael Parsons is particularly keen to fill his tummy and stop that free champagne from sloshing around his insides.  His poor liver is suffering.  Of course, that’s assuming that you can get a blogger to a launch in the first place – they are self confessed un-socialites. 

"Is blogging dying?" was a question that reared its ugly head once more.  As the panellists work for blog sites, it was unlikely they’d say yes, but there was a general consensus that the blogosphere is platauing (80 million blogs – the vast majority not regularly updated) and as huge amounts of information hit our RSS feeds, as consumers we’ll become more selective about what we’re reading.

There was lots of nodding and muttering among the delegates when the subject of measurement came up.  "Clients aren’t convinced by the audience numbers, or how they’re measured" was the cry from the audience.  On the contrary, said the panel, metrics are now easier to measure than ever.  Unique users and page view stats can be made available to PRs and they can be much more reliable than some of the more measurements used by more traditonal media.  Can they be fiddled?  Probably.  Can traditional media stats be fiddled?  Most definitely. 

So off we trotted to the fabulous Swirl Room for drinks, courtesy of Indigo Red, and some light banter.  I bumped into one of my PR agency clients who is "new to this blogging stuff" and asked me to recommend some PR related blogs to have a look at, so off the top of my head came Drew Benvie, Simon Wakeman, Stephen Davies, The PR Monkey, Strumpette and The World’s Leading.  Those are the blogs that are obviously stuck in the forefront of my consciousness, so sod what Technorati says, they rank highest in my little world and don’t look to be dying any time soon.

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If you snooze, do you lose?

Sleeping_on_job_5

Louise Triance’s post about UK workers wanting a siesta coincided with a report from Reuters yesterday, that Hungary may be undergoing a referendum on whether or not an afternoon nap becomes a legal requirement for the workplace.  I’m not sure that Hungary’s employers should be too worried yet though, since the fall of communism in 1989 there have been plenty of referendums and only two have passed – joining NATO and the European Union.

Still, it highlighted the work/life balance issue once more.  Back in January, This is Money reported that Britons work the longest hours in Europe.  Our continental cousins work far less hours, in France the average is 38.2 per week, in Germany it’s 39.9 and yet in the UK it’s 43.5.  As a nation, we have a culture of unpaid overtime, and being the last to leave the office can be seen as a badge of status – I’m the busiest person here, I can’t possibly leave on time (although you could argue if you worked smarter, and got your job done during the core work hours you wouldn’t need to stay behind).

Some of the more enlightened employers are now actively encouraging their employees to go home on time instead of burning the midnight oil in the office. 

As a recruiter, when I interview candidates and ask what they would like from their next job, work/life balance comes at the top of a lot of lists.  Flexible working, working from home, 3 and 4 day weeks are all regular requests.  Those employers who are keen to get the best talent, and retain the best people, are aware that offering these benefits can be a huge draw and are often more highly valued than a pay rise.

Still, an afternoon kip would be nice.  Wonder if I could nip off to the boardroom and have a cat nap?

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Q. When is a review not a review? A. When it’s censored

A friend of mine recently had a bad experience in a restaurant.  She and her husband only WENT there because it came highly recommended on a restaurant review site.

So, after complaining at the restaurant and refusing to pay for part of the meal she decided to put her own review on said site.

Today, she received this email:

>Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2007 16:55:35 +0100
>
>Thank you for your recent review of Gurkha Grill
>
>As you may have noticed, it has not yet appeared on Sugarvine’s Reader
>Recommended section.
>
>
>
>The aim of this section of the site is for people to recommend restaurants
>they have enjoyed to other people — we have tried to make this clear both
>in the title (Reader Recommended) and in the FAQs box (Our policy on Reader
>Recommendations). We don’t post negative reviews for two reasons — legally
>we have been advised we are on unsafe ground posting potentially libelous
>comment unless we have actually visited ourselves and also we have no way of
>differentiating between ‘genuine’ poor reviews and malicious reviews from
>jealous competitors, disgruntled staff etc.
>
>We do, however, forward these reviews to the restaurant concerned,
>explaining that whilst we are not going to publish what has been submitted
>to us, this is legitimate customer comment which they might wish to take on
>board.
>
>
>
>I do hope you will continue to write restaurant recommendations for us.
>
>
>
>Yours,
>
>
>
>
>
>Daniel Coffey
>
>Administrator
>
>Sugarvine

Is it just me that doesn’t get it?  You can submit your reviews, but only if they’re good.  In which case – what’s the point of the reviews?  You don’t get a full picture of what all the customers really thought, you just get the few that thought it was fabulous – which is misleading surely?

Imagine if you could only say great things about anything you ever bought.  Imagine if theatre critics could only say good things about the plays they see, or food critics only publish rave reviews for restaurants they’ve finished. 

Criticism is an essential part of building a business.  How do you change those things that people don’t like if you don’t allow them to criticise?  In this age of online reviews and word of mouth marketing, this sort of censorship is not welcomed by anyone I know of.

Come on Sugarvine, there must be a better answer than censorship. 

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Vlogging

On Tuesdays, I work from home.  This means I don’t spend 3 hours of the day in my car (hurrah!) and getting work done in a quiet, uninterupted environment – unless you count the cats fighting for space on my lap.  My boss is convinced that I spend every Tuesday in the pub, but my local doesn’t move with the times enough to have a wifi broadband connection so alas, I’m sat at my dining room table with my laptop and a pile of paper. 

It’s a great place for me to work on my latest projects – all will be revealed soon – which has resulted in me spending hours trawling through the internet looking at how social media has been used for marketing initiatives and recruitment solutions.  I’ve seen some really really bad examples, and some really really good ones, but this in particular made me smile:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=GooooTube

Well done Focus PR!  Engaging and light hearted, eyecatching vlogging at it’s best.

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Four Poofs and a Cock Up

Currently I’m reading Citizen Marketers which is an interesting insight into how social media has made word of mouth easier and how companies ignore their customers at their peril.

Then today, I stumbled across this:

http://forums.confetti.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=93532&st=0

In case you don’t want to read it, basically a bride to be wrote to Noel Gay, the management company of Four Poofs and a Piano, of Jonathan Ross fame, asking how much it would cost to hire them for her wedding.  The email was duly forwarded on within the company, resulting in an email response to the bride. As follows:

Bride’s email:

"We are getting married on Sunday 30 September 2007 at Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Every week when I tune into Jonathan Ross I say it would be great if they could play at our wedding so here I am to see how much an appearance from 4 poofs would cost. I expect its out of my budget but at least I’ll know I’ve tried!

Look forward to hearing from you."

From ‘Jane’ to ‘Lou’

Dear Lou

Oh dear!

Another …Thank you.

Jane

From ‘Lou’ to ‘Catriona’

another bloody wedding – what’s wrong with people?

Thank you

Lou

From ‘Catriona’ to the bride:

Dear Karen,

Thank you for your interest in 4 Poofs & A Piano. This date looks to be feasible. The boys usually go out for around £4,000 for this sort of thing.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Kind regards,
Catriona

The bride, outraged, posted it on a public forum – full of other brides (and presumably potential customers) who were also outraged and quite rightly she replies saying she really didn’t think they meant to leave the insults on there, and includes the link to the topic in the forum.  Someone from Noel Gay comes on to make an apology (which most of the readers don’t buy) and the damage is done.

Then I write about it on here and who knows who will read it after that?  Which is a perfect example of how powerful word of mouth can be.

I certainly won’t be using Noel Gay next time I need four poofs.

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PR Job Watch takes off!

Pr_job_watch Our Facebook group, PR Job Watch, is really taking off.  We now have over 100 members and with recruitment consultants and PR agencies signing up to advertise their jobs there there may finally be an easy place to see what’s happening in the PR job market.  You don’t have to join if you’re worried about your boss seeing you belonging to a job focussed group – just bookmark it and come back when you need us. 

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Flashing Farce

The London 2012 logo has been unveiled.   If it’s not enough that the vast majority of people hate it (I was at a conference today where we were asked who liked it – 3 people raised their hands) – it’s now having to be removed from the website amid fears that it can trigger epilepsy.

On the BBCs Sports Editor blog, Clare Stocks asks us to give it a chance.  The 53 comments on her post so far don’t seem that gracious about it.

I saw it and thought "eurgh" – and how dated will that look by 2012?  I’m waiting for it to grow on me.

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