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Archive for May, 2011

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May 26th, 2011

Summer gadgets make fun in the sun a little more bearable

Summer gadgets make fun in the sun a little more bearable

Memorial Day is fast approaching here in the US, and with it comes the unofficial beginning to our summer season. This means there will be plenty of cookouts, going to the beach, more cookouts and plenty of time being outside.

I enjoy the outside as much as anyone I know, but unfortunately my technology doesn’t always play along nicely. For instance, the screen on my phone is absolutely horrendous in direct (or any) sunlight, so much so that I rarely take it out of my pocket even for phone calls. I mean why pick it up if I can’t see whose calling?

Luckily, my phone is not the norm for technology in the summer. There’s plenty of gadgets out there to make the most of your summer fun. And since I love spending a little time perusing the internet for things to buy, I thought to share some with you

– Carrying around a boombox is out-dated, especially if you’re heading to the beach. Thankfully there’s a solution. Built in speakers and the ability to turn itself into a backpack for portability, this multi-tasking beach towel is perfect for tunes anywhere you go.

– I’ve definitely been victim of forgetting to charge my phone or MP3 player before taking long journeys to remote places where an AC outlet is out of the question. But this universal charger makes use of all those free solar rays we get and turns it into energy for your phone so you place that delivery order when you’re camping.

– When the heat really starts to pick up, I’m quite the miserable, sweaty mess. So coming across this personal cooling device definitely piqued my interest. Who doesn’t want the consistent feel a nice cool towel around your neck when the temperature climbs? I know I do.

Unfortunately before we know it though, summer will have passed and we’ll be back to the bleak, depressing cold associated with the changing of the seasons. But that won’t mean I can’t enjoy my summer activities. Thanks to this indoor driving range, I’ll be able to work on my swing after doing some shoveling.

I won’t think about that reality for a while, summer is here and I’m ready to celebrate.

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May 20th, 2011

Kagame vs Birrell – Twitter Rewrites the Rules of Media Engagement. Again.

Kagame vs Birrell – Twitter Rewrites the Rules of Media Engagement. Again.

Twitter is a great place to go if you enjoy seeing powerful people having spats in public. Fans of Lord Sugar and Piers Morgan, for example, are often treated to the spectacle of these two eminences grises bickering and taunting each other over which of them has more followers.

It’s rare, though, to see a head of state get into a public scrap, especially one that’s conducted partly in text speak. But that’s exactly what happened last weekend when Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s controversial president, took to Twitter to address criticisms by British journalist Ian Birrell.

It started when Birrell fired off a tweet calling Kagame ‘despotic and deluded’ for claiming (in an interview with the Financial Times ) that foreign media, governments and aid organisations had no ‘moral right’ to judge him. To Birrell’s surprise, Kagame fired back in person. By the end of the 46-tweet skirmish, Kagame had been joined by his foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, and as news of the spat spread, ordinary Twitterers weighed in too with their own questions and comments.

It was just one more confirmation that Twitter is laying waste to the traditional rules of media engagement. Normally, heads of state talk to the media through layers of briefing documents, message strategy workshops, tightly controlled interview schedules and an entourage of media managers. Unscheduled and unscripted public free-for-alls are somewhat frowned upon.

Kagame’s direct approach was considered so off-the-wall that the Guardian, TIME, BBC and many others thought it worth covering, even though the ‘interview’ itself was pretty unenlightening with regard to Kagame’s alleged mistreatment of Rwandan journalists and critics.

But as Rwandan information minister Protais Musoni told the BBC, there was actually nothing very unusual in Kagame’s behaviour; he regularly uses Twitter to engage with citizens. And it’s that, above all, that underlines how Twitter is changing the game. If journalists – both professional and citizen – can have direct access to a head of state, celebrity or CEO, where does that leave the role of PR?

It’s an important question and one that I’ll explore in our forthcoming Prompt Guide to Twitter for Communications Professionals. Register now for your free copy, and we’ll send it to you next week. In the meantime, do let me know what you think, either in the comments or by tweeting me at @PromptBoston or at @PromptLondon.

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May 19th, 2011

PR agency paranoia: not good for the client or for the firm

PR agency paranoia: not good for the client or for the firm

A great meeting today with a very interesting technology company that provides a diverse range of services and products to clients on both sides of the Atlantic. I want to work with them and whether it takes weeks, months or years I’m going to do everything I can to have that experience.

I always enjoy hearing about what companies do, how they do it and what differentiates them. It’s a passion of mine and I’d like to think my enthusiasm permeates through Prompt and what we do as a company. We appreciate all the clients we contribute to and work with, from MIT start-ups to the likes of Dell and Oracle. Technology is the most fascinating market to work in, and even having the chance to speak to individuals with a focus and dedication to the same market we do is, well, a treat.

One area of the conversation that I feel strongly about is how agencies deal with their clients and journalists. We’re there to advise and consult on the right influencers – including the press – that would be interested in a particular news item or story. In the deep dark heart of media relations, this is what it’s ultimately all about. But we are certainly not there to act as in-betweeners, to stop direct contact between our clients and the press. Yes, we’re ready to assist and to ensure that the press get the resources and spokespeople they need in time for what can often be tight deadlines. We’ll also help busy clients by being their press agency. But we are not there to prevent direct contact – it’s a team effort.

I am not so paranoid or worried about the ‘value add’ we deliver that I think with a few editorial contact details our clients are going to flee and start doing their own PR. We add lateral thinking, momentum, creativity, compelling content and great feedback from the ‘PR coalface’ to this equation. We have our clients’ backs. At Prompt the value we add goes beyond pressing ‘forward’ on email or passing on a request.

This is what makes our jobs interesting, our clients engaged and the market we work in just the best in the world.

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May 19th, 2011

London PRs and hotel lobbies

London PRs and hotel lobbies

As a PR based in London you get to frequent hotel lobbies for press briefings. There are alternatives such as the Institute of Directors (IoD) – but that has a dress code in one area and the ‘newer-jeans-allowed’ part is always packed. Bars can encourage excess alcohol consumption; restaurants present a challenge for the journalist that can’t eat and write at the same time – and the spokesperson that wants to explain a new product whilst cracking crab claws.

This week we’ve had several briefings with various clients. Of all of the hotel lobbies, executive lounges and generally free press-friendly locations I’ve worked from during the week, one stands out – The Landmark Hotel, which has to be one of my favourites. Where else in London can you do business amongst huge swaying palm trees in a light filled atrium; yes, I could buy a small car for the price of a bottle of champagne there and the coffee is costly but for sheer glamour (and peacefulness for meetings), the Landmark is hard to beat.

 

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May 17th, 2011

London's bike map gets organized

London's bike map gets organized

Check it out — designer Simon Parker has created a polished, colorful and more importantly — organized map of London’s often confusing and poorly marked bike routes.

A Fast Company article highlighted the new-and-improved map (designed after the iconic London Tube map) this week and it’s up to the City of London to choose whether to adopt it. What do you think of Parker’s idea?

Be a part of the conversation and sign the petition today to gain the City of London’s support for the map’s official adoption.

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May 12th, 2011

You are what you create

You are what you create

The concept of video games is escapism. You do it to be surrounded in a world not your own. Whether it’s due to boredom, entertainment or in my case, a true love of them, we leave where we are behind and drop ourselves into a virtual world that we can shape in some form or another. Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) are perfect examples of changing who you are entirely.

I’ve dabbled in the genre, but not to the extent of other games where you control an avatar (Call of Duty anyone?). However whenever I do engage in creating a new persona for wherever my video gaming travels take me, I try to mix it up. Think outside the box. Make me, but not exactly me. Get what I’m saying? I look at myself in the mirror every day, perhaps more than most others (I mean, I love myself!) but just because I can stare longingly into my eyes, doesn’t mean I want to control an exact replica of me whenever I dive into a new game.

Many others feel the same way, and as a result someone in real life who may be only 5’10” and 180 lbs, could create a superhero that stands 7’5” and weigh 500 lbs. Or an Asian woman may decide she wants to play as a bronco bustin’ Caucasian cowboy. As long as games give us the right to choose, we’ll make just about anyone or anything to represent us.

I stumbled across the gallery of a photographer who captured 20 different gamers and displayed and their own avatars next to them. A few are below, and one truly shows how games provide those less capable with an outlet and a means to communicate and socialize with others they otherwise may never meet.

All images are from Robbie Cooper’s Alter Ego series of photos:

Robbie Cooper’s full gallery is here

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