Friday, May 30, 2008

Prime Minister's charm offensive...

Thanks to Nicknack Paddywhack for bringing this to my attention.

According to sources close to Downing Street, Gordon Brown's latest profile improving campaign involves cold-calling members of the public who have written him letters. The objective is to 'humanise' the Prime Minister as his popularity continues to fall faster than FTSE share prices.

I'd be intrigued to listen in on a conversation between Mr Brown and a Corby (for example only) resident who has been hit by the consumer recession resulting in an additonal 600 GBP deficit in the space of a few months.

"This call contains strong language and references to brutal violence that may not be suitable for most!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Broadcaster losing his cool

This video clip of Bill O'Reilly amused me. It shows that news anchors are actually human and do have emotions…lucky this wasn't live and thank the lord for YouTube!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

PR = Propaganda Retailers?!

I attended Web Wednesday Social Mixer last night, an event founded by Napoleon Biggs the MD of Palava Digital. I was in the company of some of the finest Asian digerati as well as Thomas Crompton (the ex International Herald Tribune and New York Times journalist) and Oiwan Lam (Editor of Global Voices - a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School).

The focus of the session was how the Internet has become a battle ground for the Beijing Olympics, both within and outside China. Both speakers track this stream of information on a daily basis and have the journalistic experience to give a measured insight into recent developments.

I found the event enlightening, especially when we looked more closely at the anti-CNN and anti-Carrefour sentiments from China's citizens, and the use of propaganda by the China government to rally it citizens to 'support' the Olympics. For those of you who are a little hazy on the details, you can experience a brief glimpse of the engagement here (anti-CNN website) and here (anti-Carrefour movement).

However, I was left with one question un-answered in my mind.

We, as PR professionals, represent corporate organisations attempting to harness the internet to educate and inform consumers. The issue is that social media is 'un-regulated' (as it should be) and is seen as too much of a risk to embrace. Social media is considered a weapon for the consumers to use, at will, to generate mass attention for a particular cause or issue. Any activity conducted by a corporate is frowned upon and seen as propaganda. How, therefore, can we as PR professionals 'tame' social media to be of benefit to the companies we represent and use it as a tool to inform and educate consumers without being misconstrued for dealers in propaganda?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sometimes bad things are good.

A belated Happy Birthday to spam, which celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this week. In this BBC Online article, it states that "spam has grown into an underground industry that sends out billions of messages every day."

Spam for products you have zero interest in are a nuisance, even worse are those that contain malware or phishing scams.

I have worked for a number of anti-virus / anti-spam / bandwidth monitoring clients and have been in numerous briefings where the company spokesperson discusses the profile of perpetrators of such activities. I have heard how they are cunning, devious and ever more sophisticated criminals who have a greater online arsenal to dupe unsuspecting consumers. No more are they the geeky, spotty teenager spamming from their bedroom.

These companies and executives hired my company (and me) to educate consumers and corporates on how to protect against spam, viruses, Trojan horses, DDoS attacks etc…but yet the 'underground industry' seems to be thriving.

Here is what got me:

Should I, whose job it was to educate people against the 'underground industry' and ultimately 'put them out of business', see myself as a failure since after 30 years it is doing better than ever?

Or, should I be glad that it is thriving, as without it, there would also be no need for anti-virus / anti-spam / bandwidth monitoring companies to hire the likes of me?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hong Kong PR industry is thriving...

I am in the process recovering from last night’s ‘First ever Hong Kong PR network social gathering’. The event bought together PR professionals from all over Hong Kong, in house and agency, and from all levels.

It was a fantastic success, with over 60 participants taking time out of their busy schedules to enjoy a few drinks with their industry peers. The event, sponsored by the cPRFHK, bought together like minded people who, I believe, will be the drivers of the industry.

David Ketchum, chairman of the council, made a very interesting welcome speech, which I thought is worth mentioning.

He started off declaring that PR as it is today in Aisa will be dead and buried within 5 years and that social media will be the future of the business. He went on to say that all our clients will be looking towards PR consultants to advise and implement campaigns based on interactions with the audience rather than relying on traditional media. (This is a summarized version of his speech!)

Although I agree with him 100 per cent, my cautious side is kicking me in the shins and reminding me not to forget about the bread and butter of our industry. We are in a position where huge change is on the horizon and we are accelerating towards it at 150 mph, but as any one knows, you shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch. But I wonder whether it is exactly this cautious side of people that is holding back the true power of social media.

One of my colleagues gave me a fantastic analogy to capture this change and it went like this. Traditional media is the horse and cart, whereas Web 2.0 is the motor car. When the motor car first came onto the scene people were very dubious – they saw it as dangerous, traveled too fast, expensive, a risk. At the tipping point, it became clear to all what the advantages of the car was. Look what happened, where is the horse and cart today?

So, to wrap up and give my head some rest:

- The Hong Kong PR scene is alive and well
- Integrated PR campaigns (traditional and online) is here and now, you can’t ignore it anymore
- Free booze will always pull in the crowds