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Archive for September, 2012


September 21st, 2012

It’s all about ad:tech

It’s all about ad:tech

Prompt London visits ad:tech London 2012 with Crimson HexagonThe last two days saw the coming together of the digital media community at ad:tech London 2012. Considered to be the number one event for interactive marketing, it brings together a whole host of marketing, technology and creative types under one roof to buy and sell products, exchange ideas and discuss the latest trends and initiatives. So after all the buzz, preparation and organising Prompt London’s visit flew by in the blink of an eye. We networked with many a marketing mogul, and shamelessly directed people to Booth 315 where Crimson Hexagon was demoing ForSight, the leading social media monitoring and analysis platform currently on the market. We surveyed social media types until the early hours of the evening, exchanged cards and drank fruity cocktails shaken by the smooth-talking liquid chefs. All in all, we’d say it was a socially successful ad:tech London.

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September 19th, 2012

Prompt Blog: Germany says ‘verboten’ to IE?

Prompt Blog: Germany says ‘verboten’ to IE?

Microsoft continues to be dealt blows just days after the weekend technology snafu that left several security holes in versions of its Internet Explorer web browser. The latest insult to injury came when the German government announced that its citizens should seek the use of other web browsers and boycott Internet Explorer (IE).

This development is very unusual since governments tend not to decree flat advisories against the use of a web browser or any other popular tech product (well, some have, but that’s another story and a larger conversation about human rights). The route of the concern was IE’s apparent ability to harm computers if users browsed through to a malicious website, ultimately leading to a German government official admitting that he feared the code would spread if German citizens continued to use IE prior to a security update.

 Microsoft continues to try to get the situation put in order. Last Monday, the company released a security patch called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, which is intended to placate users until a full security update can be prepared and released. That security release is expected to be released within the next few days, according to Microsoft’s director of Trustworthy Computing, Yunsun Wee, who remarked that even in the face of international concerns over the consequences of the security brief, in reality there have not been many attacks and the majority of IE users remain unaffected.

As the team at our Prompt Boston office look over to the Kendall Square Microsoft R&D building, am sure they wonder what flurried scurrying of coding must be going on – Godspeed you, Microsoft!

Hot off the press update (20 Sept): On the evening of 19 September, Microsoft rolled out a download addressing this issue and has scheduled a security update for Friday 21 September. 

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Posted in Boston, Microsoft, Prompt locations, Technology | 1 Comment »



September 19th, 2012

What have you started?

What have you started?

Last week over coffee and an insistent inbox, I suddenly became part of two cheering crowds receiving exciting news about our recently funded Kickstarter projects.

In the first crowd I was shown post-production photos of the gleaming Defender Bike Lights rolling off the factory lines at Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries, an innovative cycling parts firm that I helped to fund at the turn of the year. And in another, far larger (and more heavily sequinned) crowd, I received my investor’s extended digital download and artwork for the latest album from Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. It was a big day for my personal investment portfolio!

Which got me thinking. What do readers of Prompt’s blog know about Kickstarter? What do you think about the whole concept of crowd-funding? What projects have you funded to date, successfully or otherwise? Perhaps you even have live Kickstarter projects of your own?

Of course Kickstarter is just the largest and best-known of a relatively new breed of online crowd funding platforms breathing new life into creative projects that need help to gain traction and become realities. It’s been around for over three years now, encouraging people with creative ideas to present their ideas to the global public in the hope of attracting guaranteed financial backing, usually in return for products, services, merchandise or just good karma. There’s no guarantee projects will come to fruition, but as of 22 August Kickstarter had launched 68,224 projects with a success rate of 44 percent.

A core value of the crowd-sourcing concept, is that backers like me must use our judgement in supporting projects that we believe in. I helped fund Gotham after hearing @HazelButters talk enthusiastically about the drive of founders Slava and Brad and reading their story. As a keen cyclist, I didn’t want just branded merch though, I wanted one of the first theft-proof lights they planned to build. So I stumped up the necessary dollars and waited, receiving regular updates on production progress. Gotham needed $18,000 dollars to start building; it received $84,000. The light should be on my doormat at the end of this month.

On a totally different scale, funding Amanda Palmer’s latest album was no risk at all. This alternative musician’s online adventures to replace old school record label and management support with the emotional and financial backing of an international mob of fans connected through her Twitter, Blog, Newsletter and now Kickstarter, have been widely reported. Everybody knew the onetime Dresden Doll would easily get the $100,000 she needed for new album ‘Theatre is Evil’. In the end she secured $1.2 million, the album has been despatched, and the band are now embarking on a world tour – (some of @PromptBoston were also lucky enough to get tickets for her closing night at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club in November).

But what do you think about Kickstarter, and crowd sourcing in general? Is it a good thing? Is it a welcome, innovative new stream of funding, or is it replacing traditional funding mechanisms with a model that provides very little quality control or guarantee of success? We’d love to hear about your own experiences, and of course any projects of your own you’re seeking backing for.

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Innovation, London, Technology, Twitter | Comments Off on What have you started?



September 12th, 2012

Spotted: Wizards on broomsticks in the city of Boston

Spotted: Wizards on broomsticks in the city of Boston

As a copywriting, media relations, and digital communications firm located in the bustling Kendall Square, we love venturing out into the city scene and discovering all that the streets of Boston have to offer.

You never know what you’re going to find – street performers playing great beats on bucket brims, vendors selling the latest Red Sox apparel, and wizards and witches playing Quidditch in the Boston Commons.

Four years ago, Emerson College (Prompt Boston’s neighbor, located on the other side of the Charles River) formed its own Quidditch club based off the hit novel-turned-movie series, Harry Potter.

However, this past weekend, Boston.com reported that city park officials swept the broom players out of the Common, banning the students from using the public space for games and practices until a permit is obtained. In the past, the college has secured a permit, but miscommunication barred the Quidditch club from getting the magic pass this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter -isms, Muggle (non-magical humans, like the majority of Emerson College students) Quidditch consists of two teams of seven players, who run (‘fly’) with brooms between their legs as they toss around a deflated volleyball (the ‘Quaffle’scoring ball) through hoops that act as goal posts. As if that didn’t sound distracting enough, two other balls (‘Bludgers’ – like a kickball aimed at your face) are used to disrupt scoring.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of the city with nothing to do (which is near impossible), we recommend trying something new like joining a Quidditch league – you may just be the next Muggle champion of Quidditch.

To stay up to date on the latest media and city happenings, be sure to ‘like’ the Prompt Boston Facebook page or follow the Beantown team on Twitter: @PromptBoston.

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September 7th, 2012

Prompt tip: Tell it like it is

Prompt tip: Tell it like it is

 Great business communications must always combine engaging content with transparency and clarity. Never be tempted to muddy your marketing messages with vague values if you genuinely have something of real significance to shout about. Somebody important might miss your point.

It can be very frustrating to see businesses consistently producing written materials that could give customers, prospects, partners and media contacts the impression that they are being deliberately ambiguous about the benefits of their products and services. This is especially true if those businesses actually do have exciting success stories to tell, with impressive customer testimonials and measurable results they could be sharing.

So where possible, always be specific, and tell your story as openly and directly as possible. Potential clients and editors of industry press titles will never appreciate what you do unless you tell them clearly, quickly and relevantly. For example, which of these statements do you find most compelling? ‘We develop industrial workflow solutions that accelerate sales pipelines while delivering a significant return on investment’ or ‘We make mobile software applications that have already helped UK manufacturers such as Acme get their products to market twice as quickly while typically reducing costs by 75%’?

Teams of experienced copywriters, PR professionals and marketing consultants like the ones working here at Prompt will help you tailor your messaging so that it is as effective as possible. Just give us a shout and tell us what you need, and we’ll get straight to work.  But in the meantime, here are some quick and dirty tips for that next PowerPoint slide or customer email:

– Never use catch-all terms like solution, service or offering, if you can just as easily say spreadsheet, helpline or smartphone

– Only use generalisations like leading, significant or considerable if there is no way of using specifics such as second largest, £6 million or 45%

– Practice explaining what your business is and what it does in just one sentence that an average executive would understand, rather than a techy

– If you can name customers and shout about the business benefits they’ve had thanks to you, then always do. If you can get them to say it, well that’s even better

– Read all your communications objectively out loud, or ask a friend for honest critical feedback before going public

– Never be afraid to ask for help

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September 4th, 2012

Why should companies blog?

Why should companies blog?

Why should a company blog? This is an increasingly important question for marketers considering the best ways to reach wider audiences and fully utilize the web’s visibility to promote a brand.  Maintaining a blog can seem a tedious task, however, if used consistently and imaginatively, it can be a very useful business communication tool.

Marketing software company Hubspot conducted a 2011 survey on inbound marketing which indicated that blogging is now a must for businesses that desire an online presence. The survey showed companies that do not invest time in maintaining a blog are not only in the minority, but they are falling behind their blogging competitors in reaching audiences through social media.

So, why blog?  A few reasons off the top of my head:

1. Increasing your company’s visibility is one of the best reasons to be blogging – the more active you are online, the easier it is for your company to be found and the more credible your company appears.

2. Blogs are more interactive than a website, which allows you to portray a personal element of your company through informal communication between you, your clients and community. This encourages client feedback and gives a unique ‘voice’ to your company.  You can show your company’s culture, add dimension to products and services, talk about your market and share your knowledge.

3. Maintaining a company blog, using targeted keywords and tagging in blog posts will aid your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts.

4. A blog can help direct traffic to your other social media platforms and company website.

5. A blog is a great platform to update clients or supporters with news about your company or events that your company is involved in.

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