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June 26th, 2009

Michael Jackson’s death is a lesson on social media

Michael Jackson’s death is a lesson on social media

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died yesterday. The tragic news was first delivered by TMZ.com, an internet site known for its celebrity gossip, videos and pictures. From there, it hit Twitter. Or, should I say, it brought down Twitter intermittently as the news came out. The fail whale appeared once again, having not surfaced much in recent months. Very quickly after TMZ posted on his death, the majority of trending Twitter topics were “Michael Jackson”, “RIP Michael Jackson” and even misspellings of his name. People on Twitter have been talking about it ever since, both positively and negatively, and celebrities have even been using it to offer their public condolences.

As Twitter’s popularity has grown, this is the first event that I can recall where the mainstream media has created more than a few articles including celebrities Twitter commentary. It is now very easy for a celebrity to make a statement on their account which the press can immediately pick up without having to contact the source. This is a trend that is just beginning, and it already is starting to have an impact on public relations. As it matures, celebrities and their publicity teams will become savvier about commentary online and will look to leverage popular trends on Google to get their words into the media more quickly and directly than ever before.

Mainstream media is catching up…slowly.

It took awhile for the mainstream media to confirm the reports of his death. I know that I, like many other people, was waiting for confirmation from CNN or another reputable news source before believing the news. Mainstream media, even though it was late, had a chance to really show its value – the credibility that a popular blog like TMZ lacks. As mainstream media outlets shrink, it will be important for credible online news outlets to establish themselves. Mainstream media will have an opportunity to stay in business as long as they are able to leverage their credibility online and be nimble enough to adapt. They have been too slow so far – a gossip site like TMZ should ideally never be able to beat CNN, for example.

Interesting facts on the news of his death:

– Twitter tributes now account for 30% of all Tweets, according to Mashable
– Within an hour, terms related to his death were nine of the top ten on Google Trends, which measures popularity of search terms
– Users on the internet spiked to over 4.2 million per minute yesterday night at 7 pm EDT
– YouTube dedicated a section to him
– A tribute page on Facebook grew to more than 900,000 members in less than a day
– AIM had an outage in the aftermath of his death
– Major news sites slowed significantly: ABC, AOL, LA Times, CNN Money and CBS had load times double – from 4 seconds before the news to about 9 seconds after. Not to mention the smaller ones which went completely offline

I personally will miss Michael Jackson. One of my fondest memories is when I used to listen to Thriller on vinyl with my mom as a kid. And even though he had a lot of strange behavior and questionable decisions in his personal life, I had always hoped he would have his comeback. RIP, King of Pop, the world is your stage right now. Jam on.

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June 22nd, 2009

Microsoft exaggerates features of IE8

Microsoft exaggerates features of IE8

Microsoft has made a great deal of improvements to its browser, mostly due to the innovations of other browsers like Firefox and Chrome which have been eating at its market share. It has become faster at loading pages, more add-ons and it has added helpful features like crash recovery and tab isolation to prevent the loss of data. There are a lot of good reasons to use Internet Explorer 8. For people that are buying new machines and haven’t already installed Firefox, there is also less of an incentive to install other browsers if IE gives the majority of the speed and functionality that most people are looking for.

But Microsoft has launched a smear campaign against Firefox and Chrome and released a data sheet comparing IE8 with Firefox and Chrome with numerous false statements. Webmonkey had a post breaking down all of Microsoft’s exaggerations.

Microsoft says it has superior privacy and that is not true. The fact is that as far as privacy is concerned, they are all about equal. IE8 does not support the amount of web standards that either other browser does. Its claim that it is faster than other browsers due to easier navigation is hilariously untrue, and browser speed tests all confirm that IE is slightly slower. It’s not very noticeable to the average user, but it’s a fact that Microsoft shouldn’t be addressing.

It’s a very strange move by the Redmond-based giant. The company has been trumpeting its increased focus on openness at the same time as it releases a document deriding open source browsers. What Microsoft should do is focus only on the benefits of users moving to IE8. It still is the dominant player in the market, and if it was able to convert the majority of its users from IE6 and 7 to 8, that would be a tremendous coup. Comparing it to other browsers and having its comparisons publicly mocked is not helping.

(Image from Webmonkey)

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June 12th, 2009

Tube strike brings out a little creativity for Londoners

Tube strike brings out a little creativity for Londoners

Last week was quite a week for London! After continual negotiations last Tuesday, the Major of London, Boris Johnson and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transposrt (RMT) Workers leader, Bobo Crow, failed to reach agreement over London Underground workers’ pay, and the great tube strike of London began.

On day one, Londoners faced their first hurdle – could they make it home before the strike started? The online TFL journey planner crashed at around 4pm, nice and timely for the 7pm strike, but despite the inconvenience, most people managed to get themselves safely home. Fears of a hectic day 2 and 3 kicked in.

Most people, unless they were lucky enough to be able to walk to work, had to set their alarms to the crack of dawn and look at alternative ways to get around the city. Here in Prompt’s offices, we pulled out all the stops, using buses, overground trains, the occasional still running tube, bikes, walking and even water-taxis.

The water-taxi was my personal favourite. After being left no other choice, I jumped aboard the Thames water-taxi to find my way to the nearest overground train station. The journey was livened up by a tourist guide pointing out historical monuments, and Big Ben chiming in at 9am. What a way to see in a Thursday morning.

The strike has also highlighted some useful online services, for example, ‘tweetbike’. A motor cyclist has set up a free service ferrying commuters around south London. He tweets is exact location on Twitter to let people know here he’ll be and if anyone wants to hitch a lift they can track him down. Another service that has proven useful is walkit, which tells commuters the best ways to walk between stations.

And when and if they got to work, commuters frustrated by the strike could visit Punchbob, offfering them the chance to vent their frustrations on the strike’s figurehead.

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June 5th, 2009

To Kindle, or not to Kindle?

To Kindle, or not to Kindle?

The Kindle, Amazon’s flashy e-reader, has divided opinion since it launched. Whether they love it, or hate it, people love to argue about the device. In fact, punch the name into Google, and you’ll be greeted with just under 6,000 news hits about it.

I recently got the chance see one with my own two eyes. I can’t lie – I was intrigued. I found myself unable to look away. But when I started to think about it, I found myself becoming less and less sure about the Kindle. I had concerns, and like most things, they came down to money.

From the hefty price tag, to the idea of people spending more time with an electronic device, I just don’t seem to be able to get on board with the Kindle. There is a satisfaction that comes from physically turning the pages of a book- one that can’t be replicated by dragging a scroll bar.

I understand the idea behind the technology and how it could simplify people’s lives, but I do find it unsettling to ditch printed books for e-content. Perhaps I’m in the minority on that score, or soon will be.

Recent research from Forrester found that around 14.9 million US households regularly buy books online. Analysts predict that there will soon be competition aplenty for Amazon as other e-readers are developed alongside e-book retailers willing to offer content at increasingly affordable price points.

An announcement from what appears to currently be Amazon’s most significant competitor had the Kindle creators quickly falling in line. Since Google announced its move to create a marketplace for e-books, Amazon was driven to unveil the official launch date of the Kindle DX, which is due to hit the market on 10 June for a stomach-curdling $489 per handset.

Should we expect the Kindle to do the same for the publishing industry that the iPod has done for the music industry? I certainly hope not.

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June 2nd, 2009

Is advertorial on the rise due to the recession?

Is advertorial on the rise due to the recession?

I’m going to move away from all things techy for my latest blog post chaps, and actually lift up the lid on the PR / press industry as it stands in June 2009.
We PR folk are thick skinned, but there are a few words that will cause a shudder to go down one’s spine.

These are: ‘Advertorial’ and ‘paid for editorial’

Now I can’t find an exact set of numbers and figures to prove my point here, but this year it has become apparent that these two things are on the rise. I find it preposterous that this is what print editorial has been reduced to. It’s not journalism and it sure as hell isn’t PR.

Websites are still having their boom days, but it seems there are more people out there who like to earn a quick buck by setting up a small (but perfectly good) publication but then exploiting what they can now do with it and niche sectors. They have realised that the supply of money available to be thrown at advertising is now precious so where do they go from here? They create sponsored features and advertorial of course.

As a PR you have to thrive on pitching in stories, have a good instinct and build up relationships with journalists to know what they love to write about. Now PRs are being told that a client will be used in a feature if they want to sponsor it and we are increasingly put through to sales departments wanting to know how much money our client is willing to part with.

I want to be able to get on with my job and not be faced with these barriers. Please can someone at least let me know that they are just as frustrated as me on this? I’ve looked around the internet trying to find a link with this to the recession but can’t really find one so far – but this must be one of the reasons.

Journalists turning into Sales people? Not really good for the soul is it?

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June 2nd, 2009

Corizon appoints Prompt as UK PR consultancy

Corizon appoints Prompt as UK PR consultancy

Prompt to represent Corizon to generate awareness in UK media including business, technology, trade and key vertical press.

London, UK – 02 June 2009 – Communications agency, Prompt, has been appointed as UK public relations agency by Corizon, the enterprise mashup platform market leader.

Corizon develops an enterprise mashup platform that combines business applications into an integrated desktop for improved end user productivity. The unique Corizon approach separates the design and creation of the end user application from the underlying IT systems. IT rapidly creates and maintains visual application building blocks. These components can be easily used and re‐used by business operations (under the safe supervision of IT) to modify and build user centric applications free from complex and hard to use IT systems.

Prompt is a digital PR and communications consultancy with offices in London, Boston and San Francisco, and a network of partner agencies across EMEA. With a strong technology practice that has provided PR, copywriting and other sales‐focused activities for large and small vendors such as Oracle Corporation, Openbravo and Sogeti, Prompt helps companies gain thought leadership and improve brand recognition.

Prompt will work with Corizon to raise awareness of the company’s technical innovation and expertise in the enterprise mash‐ups and customer experience delivery spaces. Working with Corizon’s management and marketing teams, Prompt will design and execute a media relations strategy that complements the company’s sales activities across UK and EMEA.

With its strong heritage in technology, Prompt will promote its enterprise mashup software amongst the national, IT and business press. The team will deliver press releases to gain coverage in the press, engage with audiences, participate in conversations and drive traffic to Corizon’s website. Prompt’s media team will work with Prompt’s professional writers and team of former journalists to copywrite articles for media and marketing purposes.

All PR activities will balance Corizon’s marketing communication activities to increase understanding of the benefits of enterprise mashups and the awareness of Corizon’s expertise to decision‐makers in the IT and business functions.

Corizon is headquartered in London and customers include BT, Homeserve and KPN. Its partner network includes major systems integrators (SIs) such as Logica and Accenture and rapidly growing resellers in Europe and the UK including Sabio, Systemation and IEI. Corizon’s enterprise mashup platform transforms the economics of end to end customer experience delivery.

“We found that Prompt had the right blend of technology expertise and understanding, and industry reputation for getting strong results that tied in well with our integrated communications campaign. In Prompt I have found a team that can deliver against our strategic objectives and we have already seen some fantastic results from the team. I am confident that the communications programme from Prompt will help us achieve our goals and drive direct value to the business.” said David Davies, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, Corizon.

Hazel Butters, CEO, Prompt Communications, said, “With enterprise mashups set to be one of the top strategic technologies throughout 2009, we will ensure that Corizon leads the debate on composite application and desktop application integration issues. Corizon is a fantastic win to our strong client base and we look forward to taking Corizon’s communications strategy to the next level.”

About Corizon

Corizon enterprise mashups transform the way enterprises create composite applications and deploy major CRM and customer service programmes.

Enterprises struggling to integrate all of their operational applications into a single CRM system can use the Corizon Platform to fully support business tasks and guide users through best practice business flows with a single interface. Enterprises increase productivity up to one third by streamlining agent and back office processes at the point of use, while reducing costs and increasing the speed of CRM programme deployments. Once the Corizon Platform is deployed, enterprises can expand the scope of web selfservice simply and effectively.

Corizon’s approach is based on User Interface Services, reusable visual ‘building blocks’ that enable a shared language and shared visual interface for analysts and business users to achieve the necessary single application that enterprises have been crying out for. Unlike portlets and gadgets, UI services can be fully configured to the business and user requirements. Corizon provides the security, governance and management frameworks required for enterprise scale applications.

Corizon is headquartered in London, UK, and works with systems integrators and partners across Europe including Oracle, Accenture, Sabio and Logica. Corizon is used by organisations including BT, KPN, Student Loans Company and Homeserve.

About Prompt Communications

Founded in January 2002, Prompt is a PR and digital communications agency with European offices in Chiswick, London and US offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California.

Prompt offers expertise across all marketing disciplines, teaming its consultants’ extensive knowledge of start-ups, technology market with experience of pan‐European and American media, analyst and marketing campaigns. Using highly targeted marketing, PR, analyst relations, social media and corporate copywriting initiatives, Prompt helps its clients gain the visibility they need to achieve their business objectives, from increasing sales to enhancing reputation with stakeholders. The company has five business divisions: PR, Analyst Relations, Copywriting & Creative, Marketing Services and Social Media.

Prompt’s current and former technology clients include Adobe Systems Incorporated, ApacheCon, Aperture, Barros Technologies, BMC Software, Colosa, Concursive, Corizon, Foviance, Genesys Telecommunications, GenSight Group, Hippo, IBM, KANA, Openbravo, Oracle Corporation, smartFOCUS and Webtide.

For further information:
Prompt UK
Becky Cheers
Tel: +44 20 8996 1650 / +44 7780 687813

Prompt US
Laurie Santalucia
Tel: +1 617 401 2716

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