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September 24th, 2007

Comedy and current events, a recipe for success?

Comedy and current events, a recipe for success?

The social media event held last Thursday in Boston, ‘How Corporate America is Using Social Media’, brought together a not only knowledgeable but also entertaining panel.

One panelist in particular, Dan Lyons, senior editor at Forbes Magazine, sparked my interest when talking about his widely read blog, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. Posing as Steve Jobs and commenting on current events, Lyons brings humor to every post.

So it got me thinking about mixing news with humor. I think in general, people want to be informed but at the same time are looking to be entertained. The evening news on television tries to rope in viewers with sensational stories. Similarly, newspapers tend to have quirky, unusual, or controversial front page headlines. Lyons also noted the popularity of TV shows like the Colbert Report and John Stewart’s The Daily Show.

Maybe the best way to attract readers is to incorporate more humor. After all, bloggers are giving journalists a run for their money, sometimes luring more loyal readers. The trick would be establish oneself as reliable and credible and yet as an entertaining source.

Similarly, humor can be incorporated into corporate blogs or websites. One of the best examples brought up at the event was ‘Will it blend?’ from Blendtec. I personally enjoy these videos and periodically return to see what’s new. I think this is a great way to bring customers back to the website and to communicate the product’s durability.

The balance between fact and comedy is a difficult one. But what it comes down to is that after a long day’s work, I don’t want to read or watch dull, depressing news about us killing the Earth (and each other) or about some company’s new hire. For me, a little entertainment can go a long way.

I am an account executive at Prompt and this post reflects my personal views, and does not necessarily represent those of Prompt Communications or its clients.

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September 14th, 2007

New Prompt client brings social networking to pet owners

New Prompt client brings social networking to pet owners

We’re excited to announce that Prompt has signed a new US PR client, SNIF Labs.

SNIF Labs is headquartered in Boston and was formed by graduates from MIT’s Media Laboratory. It has developed the world’s first pet accessory that combines wireless sensing and social networking technologies to enhance the lives of dogs and their owners.

The SNIF Platform blends real-time activity monitoring for dogs with online social networking for humans to improve insight into the lives of dogs while enriching owners’ relationships with other pet enthusiasts.

Prompt will service SNIF Labs from its Boston office, with an account team headed up by Prompt divisional director Maryellen Cronin.

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September 11th, 2007

The price of fame

The price of fame

Bands are free from the shackles of the record industry and can now find fans online, cutting out the middle man. So the theory goes, in any case. Back in 1999 when I was writing a column about this sort of stuff for Making Music magazine, I noted that despite the vast number of independent music websites and the spread of peer-to-peer file sharing, we still hadn’t seen a major hit originate online.

Now we have, of course. Arctic Monkeys and Nizlopi are among the acts that built up a following online and turned it into music industry success.

But how easy is that model to replicate? Rhodri Marsden, who plays keyboards with Scritti Politti, set out to find out. He cut a single, made a video and put it on Youtube. Here’s his song:

Marsden reports that his film was at one stage the most watched video on Youtube and it reached an audience of over 250,000 viewers. How many sales did that translate into? 58. Which means he made one sale for every 4310 people who watched the film. (Leaving aside the probability that there were multiple views included there, because we have no way to measure them and they’re unlikely to significantly distort the figures).

In terms of record sales, the experiment failed. It used to be that the video was there to promote the single, but now people are happy to just consume the video. Any time they want to hear that song again, they can just go back to youtube and replay it. Many people can as easily rip the song from youtube as buy it from iTunes, if they want to play it on other devices.

However, in terms of web promotion, the experiment has been a massive success. The video only cost £870 to make, £300 of which was the fee for using the location in the video. That means it cost a third of a penny per viewer. It’s hard to imagine any other way someone could find a quarter of a million viewers for a song they recorded in their bedroom. Anyone who’s ever written a song would love to have even a fraction of that audience.

The internet does enable bands to shortcut the music business. But this experiment suggests it might also mean giving up on the ‘business’ side of that and being content to focus on the ‘music’. The price of fame is cheap, but online fame is fleeting and unlikely to lead to commercial success.

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September 7th, 2007

Prompt lands GenSight account

Prompt lands GenSight account

And a quick bit of company news: Prompt has been appointed as the public relations agency for the GenSight Group.

GenSight is a leading provider of Enterprise Portfolio Management (EPfM) solutions that enable faster and more focused new product development and improved ROI in project-intensive organisations.

EPfM is an exciting new market space and Prompt will be working with GenSight’s management team on analyst relations, media strategy and increasing visibility in key vertical markets.

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September 7th, 2007

New tool rates Wikipedia trustworthiness

New tool rates Wikipedia trustworthiness

Tech gossip-blog Valleywag reports on a new tool that rates the trustworthiness of Wikipedia entries down to the level of individual words and phrases.

The University of California at Santa Cruz’s Wiki Lab has developed the Wikipedia trust coloring tool, which monitors which words and phrases are changed most frequently, and highlights them in various fetching shades of orange.

The more times a word or phrase is changed, goes the thinking, the more contentious it is, and therefore the more likely it is to be biased. Statements that have never been altered display normally, instantly highlighting the most stable – and therefore most trustworthy – content on the site.

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