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August 26th, 2011

Serious offer, or PR strategy?

Serious offer, or PR strategy?


People have been left wondering: “Serious offer, or PR strategy?”, after Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay members of the MTV popular reality show ‘Jersey Shore’ if they would stop wearing its brand.

In a statement, the company claimed that Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino’s association with Abercrombie & Fitch could significantly damage its image.  The company put out a press release saying: “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”

However, Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch has admitted: “We’re having a lot of fun with it”, which raises questions about the seriousness of the offer, and has had many characterizing it as a publicity stunt.

Since the news came out last Wednesday, Abercrombie & Fitch has received a huge amount of media attention. If the true goal was to get publicity, it’s worked. But the question remains: was this a good PR move, or a bad one?

On the day of the bizarre offer, Abercrombie & Fitch’s stock price dropped nearly 10 percent. ‘The Situation’ himself commented on the dip, noting that Abercrombie & Fitch has gotten itself into a ‘situation’. Wall Street Strategies Analyst Brian Sozzi found the offer to be “counter to everything the company stands for,” and suggested it might be a publicity strategy for back-to-school. The offer’s timing certainly fits that theory.  The coverage has been pretty impressive too.

But perhaps Abercrombie & Fitch didn’t expect the backlash from Jersey Shore fans, reviewers and bloggers. If so, how unfortunate. Unless its offer is very serious, how will it amend ‘the situation’?

 

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August 24th, 2011

The Last Post?

The Last Post?

The news that the Irish Post, the UK’s best-selling Irish community weekly, has gone into liquidation could be interpreted as another sign of the terminal decline of print newsmedia. It seems that with dwindling circulation figures and plummeting advertising revenue, the paper’s publishers were left with little choice but to call in the liquidators. But as the chaos continues after the recent scandals that put an end to the most popular paper in Britain, at least the Irish Post can be laid to rest with dignity.

 

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August 22nd, 2011

If software makes the world go round, then software testing makes sure it’s going in the right direction…

If software makes the world go round, then software testing makes sure it’s going in the right direction…

TestExpo is one of Prompt’s favourite events. It’s held twice a year in London, and on 22 September 2011 it’s going to be at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.  If you haven’t been there before, it’s a great venue, and a spectacular location. The subject of the event is software testing and Quality Assurance – basically, how to develop and deliver great software.

As a hi-tech PR and copywriting firm we think that if software makes the world go round, then software testing makes sure it’s going in the right direction.

We’ve worked with Harreet and the TestExpo team for several years and it’s great to see this event go from strength to strength. We’re welcoming new sponsors and exhibitors this year, including HP and Microsoft, and adding new opportunities for the hundreds of attendees to get involved. These include the Innovation Panel debate; keynote speakers and industry luminaries highlighting opportunities and sharing industry best practices. This year’s media sponsor is Professional Tester, a publication we really enjoy working with.

So, if software testing or QA is your thing, then register for free now.

 

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August 19th, 2011

Thanks Twitter – it's been a riot

Thanks Twitter – it's been a riot



It’s been more than a week since the London riots, and it’s still hard to process what happened that night. Like most people who live in the city, I was transfixed to the news, watching impotently while friends’ neighbourhoods were torn apart and set ablaze. I sweated nervously as the looters moved ever closer to my flat. And like many, I struggled to reconcile feelings of sadness, fear and, strongest of all, seething rage.

With so many emotions running rampant, it’s unsurprising that the blame game started almost immediately. People pointed the finger at everything from music to video games (don’t worry – I’m not jumping on my pro-games soapbox for once). But particularly under fire was social media.

Facebook and Twitter were accused of enabling the rioters to co-ordinate their actions. The same charge was levelled against Blackberry Messenger (BBM), which allows users to free, private messages to multiple people, so long as they also use the service. Questions were raised – should social media sites be blocked during times of crisis? Should Blackberry allow the authorities to view private messages sent via BBM? Would the chaos have spread so rapidly without the ability to communicate so easily?

Honestly, I don’t know the answers. Even now, I find it hard to understand how it happened, or even how so many people were capable of such savagery, thoughtlessness and utter stupidity. But whether social media exacerbated the situation or not, it also proved to be a tremendous force for good.

On the night itself, Twitter proved to be an invaluable source of information, providing up to the minute details of trouble where the news could not. This really helped some people – for example, a friend was travelling during the chaos and was able to sidestep one of the biggest trouble spots thanks to Twitter.

Twitter and Facebook also fostered a strong sense of community, with people organising next day cleanup activities or, for those inclined, prayer meetings. At a time when people’s faith in human nature was tested, it served as a welcome reminder that the majority of human beings are decent folk. And, of course, it served a practical purpose, getting people organised to clean up the mess (and there was a lot of mess to clean up).

Hopefully, it will be a long, long while before we see violence flare up like it did last week (touch wood). Time will eventually clear heads, and identify the role social media played.  But there’s one thing I know right now – I’m jolly glad it was there.

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August 18th, 2011

Prompt appointed by TestPlant to develop media relations and customer programs

Prompt appointed by TestPlant to develop media relations and customer programs

Prompt to develop in-depth customer reference and case study programs to profile market leader’s success with defense, media and gaming, healthcare and finance customers

Boston, MA and Boulder, CO – August 18, 2011 – TestPlant, the developer of tools which automate software testing and validation, has appointed Prompt Communications as its public relations consultancy to run its news and customer case study programs.

TestPlant‘s flagship product is eggPlant, an innovative software testing tool which automates the traditionally manual process of screen-based software testing. A robotic non-invasive test tool, eggPlant can be ‘trained’ to interpret screens in the same way a human eye would, enabling its 500 customers organizations to reduce the time and cost of software testing.  TestPlant has a development center in Boulder, Colorado, and offices in Washington D.C., and London.

Prompt is a digital and PR communications consultancy with offices in Boston, San Francisco and London. Formed in 2002, and with a strong technology practice, Prompt provides clients such as Adeptra, CEO Express Corporation and Oracle Corporation with PR, copywriting, social media and marketing initiatives to improve brand recognition and drive sales.

Prompt will be working with TestPlant’s management team to create and execute a tailor-made PR and copywriting strategy to communicate the benefits of TestPlant’s products and services to the press, industry influencers and analysts. Prompt will drive the company’s messaging through a comprehensive news-driven media relations program, and through development and placement of customer success stories.

George Mackintosh, chief executive of TestPlant, said, “We are looking forward to working with the Prompt team – they are well-versed in technology, able to create compelling and relevant copy, understand technical deployments and drive visibility. We have a large number of high-profile customers and I’m looking forward to getting our messages, based on real user success, out to the market.”

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt Communications, said, “Our US team is really excited about working with TestPlant and being part of the drive to increase awareness of their brand throughout the industry. We have a real passion for the software testing sector, and TestPlant has the perfect combination of people and technology: they have innovative products, driven by an inspired and inspiring team, and backed by an impressive customer base.”

About TestPlant www.testplant.com

TestPlant is an international software business with an established customer base of leading IT and media corporations and defense and security organizations using eggPlant, the world’s leading GUI automated test software tool. TestPlant is headquartered in London, with offices in Washington DC and a development center in Boulder, Colorado.

About Prompt Communications

Prompt is a communications agency that enables marketers and entrepreneurs to increase their sales and marketing effectiveness. Specializing in innovative markets including sustainability, technology and healthcare, Prompt helps its clients communicate effectively and authentically with core audiences online and offline through PR, media relations, copywriting, webinars, market and industry analysis, social media, video content and customer reference programmes.

Founded in January 2002, Prompt Communications has European offices in Chiswick, London and US offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California. Prompt’s current and former clients include Adeptra, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Aperture, Barros Technologies, Corizon, Dell Compellent, Foviance, Genesys Telecommunications, GenSight, IBM, jovoto, KANA, Oracle Corporation, smartFOCUS and Webtide.

Sign up for Prompt’s free ‘tech therapy’ Boston workshops at: http://tech-marketing-therapy-boston.eventbrite.com/

Sign up for Prompt’s free weekly tech, marketing and social media newsletter at http://www.prompt-the-crowd.com/newsletter-sign-up/

Follow Prompt on Twitter @promptboston and @promptlondon.

For more information, visit www.prompt-communications.com

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August 15th, 2011

Google+ marches on: Launches games

Google+ marches on: Launches games

The social networking battle has begun: Google+ is gaming. The new social networking platform, launched in late June, has rolled out Google+ Games including recognizable titles such as Angry Birds, Farmville, and Bejeweled Blitz. Google+ launched gaming this morning and Facebook is already in hot pursuit, rolling out new features to their games only hours after Google. So will the rivalry ever end?

Google+ was created with the goal of making social networking more like how it’s done in real life. It has already scored millions of users, becoming the fastest growing social media site ever, attracting die-hard Googlers like flies to honey.

Zynga, one of Facebook’s primary gaming platforms, was a sure in with Google+ considering Google is invested in the company, making the partnership a no-brainer. But unlike Facebook, Google+ allows users to keep gaming private from newsfeeds—something Facebook took a long time to put into place.

So will users bite? Google doesn’t need any help gaining users, but it seems as if people will soon be picking sides. Many argue that Google+ is so successful because they fixed the problems the Facebook and Twitter had before it even lauched, alleviating user headaches and frustrations.

In a blog post, Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president of Google engineering and developer of Google+ said, “If you’re not interested in gaming it’s, easy to ignore them.” He continued by saying streams would remain focused on the conversations and people you care about.

The social networking war is waging because different sites offer different pros and cons and users are afraid of choosing sides. No one quite knows what Google+ will roll out with next, but one thing in undeniable: sites will continue to battle for the newest, coolest features, and who can release them to the public first.

 

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August 12th, 2011

Complete reliance on GPS system could be a fatal matter

Complete reliance on GPS system could be a fatal matter

It’s impossible to deny the advantage my generation has had because of technology. Changes have taken place that have made even the simplest task automated. However, this has caused a new problem where many are depending too much on their technology and thinking, what could go wrong?

Well, a story I read on NPR http://n.pr/rhgjSW gave me food for thought. It made me realize the great advantages of technology, but also about the potential problems. Especially when it comes to the traveler’s best friend, the GPS.

The story about a death in California’s Death Valley because of the overdependence on GPS by the driver is very astonishing. A similar occurrence took place two summers ago under the same circumstances, when a boy and his mother died after they got stuck for days on an abandoned mining road having trusted their GPS. It’s believed that cause of the mishaps were that the GPS companies in did not update their maps and therefore still had roads that have long been inexistent or are very isolated.

At first, you might think this is a fault of the GPS companies since they haven’t updated their systems. But are they only ones to blame?

Though the GPS companies are incorrectly leading travelers in especially dangerous areas such as Death Valley, a certain percentage of the fault seems to be on those with over-reliance issues. The GPS is very helpful of course, but drivers must be more aware of their surroundings especially when traveling in places they aren’t familiar with. Tourists and those oblivious to their surroundings will drive through isolated roads they have never been on because they trust the GPS, and unfortunately it may cost them.

Until people learn to control their faith in technology, deaths as bizarre as these will unfortunately remain a reality.

 

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August 3rd, 2011

Apple worth more than the US government

Apple worth more than the US government

It says something when a technology company is worth more than the richest country in the world, doesn’t it? Apple apparently has more available cash than the US government. Apple’s latest figures show that it has reserves of $76.4 billion whereas the US treasury department revealed an operating cash balance of $73.7 billion. The legislation to prevent the US defaulting on its loans has just been pushed through the House of Representatives, mere hours before Washington was due to run out of cash. The US still faces a possible downgrade of its AAA credit rating. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse recently rated Apple with an ‘outperform’ rating, predicting huge growth for the company in the next two years; 50 percent annual growth at the top line, with 46 percent growth in profits.

The US has been spending around $200 billion more than it collects in revenue every month whereas Apple’s net income is currently 125 percent higher than last year, with the firm reporting record quarterly profits. Sales of the iPhone and iPad have more than doubled; Apple sold more than 20 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads in this past quarter alone.

It seems fitting then, that we could recently add one more name to the growing list of iPad fanatics: President Barack Obama. Speaking at a town hall in Washington back in March, Obama disclosed that he owned an iPad but also remained very attached to his BlackBerry. “I took my BlackBerry off for this show, because I didn’t want it going off. That would be really embarrassing,” Obama said at the Washington meeting. News anchor Jorge Ramos (no relation to our own Rob Ramos), then asked the president if he had an iPad. “I do have an iPad,” Obama replied, but would not disclose which model he uses or what he uses it for.

Supporting their commander-in-chief, reports also claim that the US military has now begun testing field use of iPads, in addition to both the US House of Representatives and the British House of Lords opening each of their respective floors to iPad use. It looks like Apple’s plans for world domination haven’t only accrued sizeable funding, they’ve also secured some extremely powerful territory! Let’s hope those plans also have some provision for boosting the prospects of the rest of the global business landscape, which continues to struggle with debt and slow economic growth (and that’s despite touchscreen access to Adele and Angry Birds…)

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August 2nd, 2011

Post something out of this world

Post something out of this world

NASA astronaut Ron Garan captures Space Shuttle Atlantis leaving the ISS for Earth for the last time

One of the problems some people encounter while trying to maintain a hectic social media schedule is that they quickly run out of interesting things to share. Businesses and individuals often start with good intentions of posting on their blogs daily, tweeting frequently and regularly updating their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

 

But what if the daily grind takes over, you find yourself tied to your workplace and the only thing you have to stir your creative juices is the world outside of your window?

Not a problem for Ron Garan who has been sharing his own unique view with thousands of followers on Twitter since the start of April. Ron is a NASA astronaut, part of the crew for Expediton 27 on board the International Space Station (ISS) and has plenty to tell the world about his work, the equipment he uses, his space walks, and his refreshingly distant perspective on Earth ecology, regeneration and relief projects.

Ron says he is “connected via comm link to a remote PC in Houston which is connected to the internet -Cool!” He also has at his disposal 11 Nikon digital SLR cameras with which he documents his adventures before posting dramatic images of the earth below him, the moonsets and other extraordinary vistas all around, or even visiting spacecraft…

If you’ve got social media block this week, then why not follow @Astro_Ron and take some inspiration? The images he sends daily are stunning to say the least, while his documentation of the final voyages of Atlantis, the last space shuttle, were genuinely moving (and not just for space geeks).

But remember – Ron leaves the space station on 8 September so you now only have a month to convince him to take a snap of your part of the world or to give you a ‘shout out’ from orbit!

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