Thursday, 13 March 2008


Last week's Economist highlights a site called Wikileaks, providing a safe haven for whistleblowers material. The process of whistle blowing actually raises a host of ethical issues explored by Clay Shiky. Is the growth of online increasing "our right to know" and encouraging the process of whistle blowing?

Friday, 7 March 2008

Internet censorship

The Economist last week has another example of censorship on the web. This time for putting up a Facebook page about the Crown Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco. 27 year old Mr Mourtada from Casablanca was found guilty of identity theft and imprisoned for three years although by all accounts the Facebook page is fairly tame.

The French NGO, Reporters Sans Frontieres, highlights that there are now 63 cyber dissedents in prison worldwide for "using their right for free experession on the internet". The Group is calling for a day of action next Wednesday, 12th March against six countries which according to the NGO have the worst record against free speech online. These are: Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Erithrea, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Viêtnam.

I am personally interested in exploring the role of PR in defining the boundaries of organisations and of course countries. What is happening in the online environment is that the boundaries of organisations are getting blurred through increasingly networked and global relationships. This is challenging for both PR and for organisations and of course countries. Those which feel somewhat insecure are of course keen to highlight their boundaries or borders, even in the virtual environment, hence the consequences above. I will return to this subject later.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Citizen journalism

Steve Rubel provides a good link to Wall Street Journal and an article on Citizen Journalism or Citizen Paparazzi. An increasing number of pictures being used by the magazines and online media are coming from mobile phone snappers, not professional paparazzi. Apparently the paparazzi are finding that their designated spots at major celebrity events are being invaded by citizen paparazzi. The laws of supply and demand are having an effect on prices as well, apparently they are now coming down from the extraordinary prices which used to be achieved, as was highlighted in the inquest on Princess Diana.

Although hardly a great endorsement of the potential power of online media to enrich the public spere (Habermas); it does highlight this growing trend for collaboration between media and readers; of which the Financial Times social network is an interesting experiment. Do we think it will succeed as it is charging a £2000 fee to join?

Friday, 22 February 2008

US election and having a conversation

The Financial Times carries a major piece this week on Barack Obama and his use of online communicatons at the heart of his campaign. (Obama steals a march with technology.) The article highlights that while Hilary Clinton has made extensive use of online communications, it is in a fairly hierarchical and traditional model of communications. In contrast Obama's team has made extensive use of a riskier but potentially powerful model based on co-collaboration. Note how Richard Edelman has made extensive reference to this concept of collaboration, particularly in a Forrester presentation. The FT quotes "staff and volunteers have the autonomy to make their own decisions.

Friday, 15 February 2008

A National Conversation in Scotland

This week I was in Glasgow running a workshop on social media for the CIPR. Many of those attending were from the public sector and it was interesting to witness the strong interest from public sector organisations to develop their communications online. In particular, the Scottish Government, note now longer called the Scottish Executive, has started a National Conversation about the future of Scotland. The use of blogging by Ministers in Scotland and the strong blogging community around The Scotsman has undoubtedly influenced the way that public organisations are approaching the online environment and the need to broaden the channels of communications with their stakeholders. For example Strathclyde Police is planning to use/or is using online as part of a viral marketing campaign around underage driving and the dangers associated with this.

It would be interesting to trace the development of the idea of "Conversational Communications" as an overarching PR agenda for organisations. Richard Edelman has certainly used it in his blogs over the last few years and his presentation at Forrester is worth looking at in this respect.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Apple follow-up on launch

Just to add in further links giving an idea of how the media rather turned on Apple over its UK launch. Certainly looks as though something of an agenda. Were Apple aware of what was going to hit them? Like the sub-head in the Register - an ironic; I'm a journalist let me through. Supported by coverage in one of the mobile online media showing pictures of all the Carphone Warehouse stores on the opening day hardly heaving with customers.

More significantly for Apple, the mobile phone operators such as Vodafone have made life difficult for them such as in Germany where the courts have forced Apple to open u the system to competing networks. This has now affected coverage in the USA. Certainly it highlights the relevance of the approach taken by the Channel 4 journalist even though Apple did not like it.

We are also now getting the mobile phone industry publications starting to come out with detailed analysis of the sales in the first week or so - and the sales do not appear to be that impressive particularly compared with hype. In PR terms it is worth noting that Apple will have no particular track record with the mobile phone industry media. If the mobile phone industry and media feels that Apple is arrogant towards it, then potentially a difficult road ahead, until consumers really say this is the must have item. Currently that does not appear to be the case in Europe.

Final comment on this little saga. The original Channel 4 piece outtakes on YouTube has now been watched the same number of times as Steve Jobs' piece at MacWorld announcing iPhone.
Take a chance to look at Steve Jobs - he is a master showman!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Apple PR - not good at having a conversation

Apple is an interesting company. Highly innovative and successful although by all accounts particularly in PR terms very controlling. Fortune magazine this week has highlighted the company getting caught out when being asked questions about the iPhone launch by a Channel 4 journalist.

Interesting example of networked story and movemement between mass media and blogsphere. Here is approximate timetable:

1. Apple has major launch of iPhone with set piece press event coinciding with people queuing to get the first units at its Oxfor Street HQ. Friday 9th Nov.

2. Interview by Benjamin Graham, Technology Editor of ITN/Channel 4 News takes sceptical note and highlighting range of concerns. In Apple terms goes from bad to worse with interview with Schiller, Apple VP Marketing when it turns to iTunes and iPhone and monopoly. Interview terminated and Channel 4 team get thrown out of event. Note journalists were pretty sceptical of event - is it because Apple has poor relations with UK technology media. Anyway news piece runs on Channel 4 main news programme at 7pm. Also goes up on Channel 4 web site.

3. Whole interview including outtakes from Channel 4 put up on YouTube by user (what is his or her agenda and background?). This attracts widespread interest, over 20,000 people have accessed this video compared with low hundreds for the other Apple iPhone videos. Video put up on Nov.9th. The interview extract has according to YouTube becomes the most popular video in Germany in Science and Technology section on YouTube.

4. Rupert Goodwin, major UK technology commentator has story on his blog on ZDNet, a major technology publishing and media online operation. He had story on the same day, 9th Nov. and then returned to it again on the 12th Nov.

5. Story picked up by leading West Coast blog site called Valleywag on November 15th. Further 7000 pick up the story from Valleywag.

6. Story also spreads to Dutch technology blog site.

7. Story goes mainstream again on mass media when Fortune picks up (17th Nov)from Valleyway site on its web site. I don't think it is in the current issue of the magazine (European edition) which I get but may be next week.

8. Search on Google News suggests that story is widening. Picked up by Robert Scobie, another influential west coast blogger. Also 17th Nov. Also gone into mobile trade and technical media