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June 27th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #6: Geneva, Switzerland

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #6: Geneva, Switzerland

C CERN 2008

C CERN 2008

From Walldorf it’s a short road trip through Strasbourg and Basel to Geneva. We know that the twelve universities of Switzerland are all extremely high-tech (particularly the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne). We also know that Swiss smarts were behind new theories in calculus, rational numbers, atomic theory, LSD, thermochemistry, superconductivity, DNA and even, Velcro. But on this tech trek there is only one place we’re headed for the moment we cross the border and smell the Toblerone – it’s CERN or bust.

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Established in 1954 it is an international organization based on the outskirts of Geneva, and home to some of the smartest thinkers from 20 European member states. The laboratory itself is home to 2,400 full-time employees, 1,500 part-time employees, and host to 10,000 visiting scientists and engineer representing 608 universities and research facilities from 113 nationalities. CERN is the heart of European science and technology, the belly button of boffins, the garrison of geek.

The World Wide Web as we know it was born right here at CERN. Initially called project ENQUIRE, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau built upon the concept of hypertext to create an entirely new collaborative research environment. The first web page went online in 1991, and today more than two and a half billion people around the globe can surf, tweet, like and watch as many cats playing the piano as they desire. But as phenomenal as the web is, the biggest tech tourist trap at CERN today is undeniably the Large Hadron Collider. Up to 175 meters underground, with a circumference of 27 kilometres, and a computer grid connecting 140 datacentres in 35 countries, the LHC particle accelerator is quite simply one of the greatest technology facilities and scientific milestones in the history of mankind. We have a picnic of holey cheese and gaze in wonder.

The hills are alive with the sound of bosons – next stop, Italy!

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June 26th, 2013

Prompt Boston launches weekend WordPress training courses

Prompt Boston launches weekend WordPress training courses

Here at Prompt Communications, we like writing, blogging and writing about blogging. Of course, when it comes to blogging, you have one important decision to make: which platform to use. We have a leaning towards WordPress, which has really come a long way since the days when it was a merely a basic blogging platform – now it’s a kick-something (we’re sure you can think of the word) content management system behind tens of millions of web pages.

As a technology PR firm we find that an increasing number of our clients agree with us, and WordPress is being used by a large number of companies – small or large –  to host blogs, websites, and more.

We’re spoilt to have our very own WordPress developer, Malachy (aka ‘Max’) McConnell, who really appreciates and understands the PHP lurking behind WordPress, and is eager to pass on his knowledge.

Whatsmore, Max will be paying a visit to Boston very soon to help us launch the Boston-based version of our ‘(Successfully) Wrestle with WordPress over a weekend‘ course. Having mastered the workshop at our London offices, Max will offer Boston attendees the know-how needed to utilize the site seamlessly from the ground up, over the course of two short days.

Why should your company learn WordPress? A few reasons include: ease of use, SEO enhancement, seamless social media integration, new media sharing, improved security, and the ever-convenient post scheduling.

Interested in learning how to improve your busniness’ web presence? Join Max for the ‘(Successfully) Wrestle with WordPress over a weekend‘at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA on July 13-14 or July 20-21. Limimted tickets are available via the Prompt Communications website or Eventbrite

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June 25th, 2013

Technology PR Viewpoint: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #5: Trier, Germany

Technology PR Viewpoint: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #5: Trier, Germany

With rucksacks full of travel rations and well-connected mobile devices following our stint in Luxembourg, we definitely looked the part as we joined the throngs of InterRailers heading across the border. Founded in 16 BC Trier is the oldest city in Germany, and home to the University of Trier since 1473. Germany’s renowned network of universities and scientific state institutions, such as the Max Planck Society and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, are the buzzing incubators of raw scientific and technology talent that drive the German high-tech industry.

Historic inspiration is never far away if you’re a science student in Germany. In fact it must be pretty overwhelming. Johannes Gutenburg gave us the printing press, Hans Geiger measured radiation, Einstein, Planck, Born, Fuchs, Heisenberg and others reinvented physics, Karl Benz designed the modern motor car, Konrad Zuse built the Z-series of programmable computers, Heinrich Hertz discovered electromagnetic radio waves, Erhard Kietz stabilised video signals, Ralph Baer is seen by many as the father of video games consoles, Karlheinz Brandenburg invented the MP3 audio format. Then throw the likes of Fahrenheit, Bosch, Mach, Daimler, Wankel, Zeppelin, Bunsen, Ritter, Junkers, Doppler, Kessler and Reis into the crucible too.

The dominant player in German telecommunications and internet service provision today is Deutsche Telekom, a massive firm that also has significant operations in the US and most European countries with its T-Mobile and T-Online brands. Siemens is still a big noise in communications, electronics and renewables, although sales and restructuring have seen it dip in and out of a number of high-tech markets over the last five years, notably selling its IT Solutions and Services division to Atos. But probably the most notable German technology provider for any readers working in enterprise business must be SAP, the ERP and data warehousing specialist headquartered in Walldorf.

We fail to find an apple, walnut and celery salad at SAP’s HQ, then head for Switzerland!


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June 24th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #4: Luxembourg

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #4: Luxembourg

We could have taken another three-hour train ride from Brussels to Luxembourg’s only city, but at under €5 a ticket, we decided to take the bus for a change of pace. With a population of just over half a million citizens living in an area of under 1000 square miles, Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe (179th out of all 194 independent countries in the world), but one of the richest (highest GDP per capita in the world) thanks to a complex geographical, political, and industrial past.

An historical reliance on a powerful and secretive financial sector has served Luxembourg well, but today its government is working to secure a more diverse and resilient future by promoting technology and building Luxembourg into a European IT centre. Attractive tax breaks have notoriously already lured the likes of Amazon, Apple iTunes and Skype here where they have built their European headquarters. High levels of investment into fibre networks have also made Luxembourg one of the best connected locations on the continent, attracting online gaming giants Zynga and OnLive. But the future of technology in Luxembourg will undoubtedly revolve around data and the cloud.

Today the country’s leading technologists and businesses are translating skills and lessons learned as a financial haven, into secure, confidential data management. With more global businesses looking for a safe harbour for their cloud data under the protection of a stable government, Luxembourg is preparing to cash in as a major European data hub.

Just time to replenish supplies at Place Guillaume market – then on to Germany!

MAP_Luxembourg in red

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June 20th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #3: Brussels, Belgium

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #3: Brussels, Belgium

A three-hour intercity train journey from Amsterdam proved the quickest and most convenient way to reach the Belgian capital Brussels, where we quickly got to work investigating the country’s beer, seafood, chocolate… and technology!

Belgium is a wonderful country with a unique culture and identity all of its own. As well as being home to the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Belgian scientists played a major role in the Industrial Revolution, global imperialism and numerous scientific and technological advances.

In the 1860s Ernest Solvay revolutionised the production of soda ash with techniques that remain central to the industrialisation of glass making, paper making and water treatment. In 1873 electrical engineer Zénobe Théophile Gramme invented the direct current (DC) dynamo. At the turn of the 20th century Leo Baekeland invented Velox photographic paper and Bakelite, the first modern plastic. More recently Georges Lemaitre hypothesised the expansion of the universe and the Big Bang Theory, while Edouard Van Beneden revealed the secrets of mitosis cell division and furthered chromosome research.

Today, Belgian technologists and scientists are central to modern advances in space travel, biochemistry, climate research, sustainable energy, medicine, digital imaging, semiconductors and wireless networking.

Waffles for breakfast – then it’s on to Luxembourg!

MAP_Belguim in red

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June 19th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #2: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #2: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Yesterday, we took you to London. Today, we are on a train from the east of London to Harwich on England’s east coast, then a ferry sailing due east once more, which sees us arrive at Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, and only a short train journey from Amsterdam, the country’s capital.

The Netherlands’ sometimes turbulent history has resulted in a modern breed of technologists with an understanding of the values of pragmatism, collaboration and intense research – values that stand up well in the modern high-tech sector. Today the country is known across Europe as a hotbed of R&D, with a booming high-tech sector that employs over 400,000 people in a population of fewer than 17 million. Huge technology business parks dominate industry in Eindhoven, Twente and Delft.

Historically, Dutch ingenuity was behind the development of the submarine, microscope, the automatic gearbox, the sawmill and the screw pump. In more recent times the Dutch have invented pivotal technologies that have changed the ways in which we connect, work and play every day. Victor ‘Vic’ Hayes, born in the Dutch East Indies and a senior research fellow at the Delft University of Technology, is globally acknowledged as the ‘Father of Wi-Fi’ and was central in establishing the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN standard we’re all so familiar with today. Earlier, probably the best known technology business in the Netherlands, Philips, introduced the audio cassette, the home VCR, the compact disc, the DVD and the Blu-ray (with a little help from Sony in Japan). Today the Netherlands is a centre for research into communications, medical devices, nano-electronics, renewable energy, embedded systems and semiconductors.

Tomorrow – beautiful Belgium!

MAP_Netherlands in red


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June 18th, 2013

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #1: London, UK

Around the technology world in 80 days: Day #1: London, UK

Yesterday we promised you a trip around the technology world in 80 days, and today we’ve set out on our travels and arrived in London!

No longer the bustling centre of the British Empire that it was in Verne and Fogg’s day, London still remains a thriving city of diversity, and one of the world’s pivotal hubs of finance, culture, politics, education, arts, science, entertainment and of course technology.

Over the last 2,000 years or so, London has been the birthplace of far too many notable fathers and mothers of technology to mention (including Prompt London!). But if we were to assemble a select crowd of notable historical figures to send us off on our travels, we would definitely have to make room for Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace, Edmond Halley, Jonathan Ive, Tim Berners-Lee and many, many ‘plus ones’. And let’s not forget all the notable technologists travelling from the rest of the UK, including Frank Whittle, Robert Watson-Watt, John Logie Baird, George Stephenson, Percy Shaw, Christopher Cockerell, Thomas Wedgewood, Joseph Swan, Alan Blumenlein, Alexander Graham Bell and more than enough fellow geniuses to pack out the platform at Liverpool Street station.

So, with the electric motor, trains, cat’s eyes, jet engines, photography, stereophonic sound, light bulbs, radar, iPods, television, telephones, computing and the world wide web pretty much covered before our first embarkation, it’s definitely time to brush over the UK’s other technology luminaries in order to leave a few discoveries for our other destinations.

Like Phileas Fogg, we’re proud of our London roots, but we expect to find other countries contending some of the UK’s claims during our expedition.

Next stop – the Netherlands!

MAP_UK in red

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June 17th, 2013

Prompt’s virtual technology PR trek: Around the tech world in 80 days

Prompt’s virtual technology PR trek: Around the tech world in 80 days

In 1873 author Jules Verne published ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, an adventure novel in which wealthy British bachelor Phileas Fogg sets off to win a wager and prove that it is possible to travel around the world in just 80 days. Accompanied by trusty French valet Passepartout, his pocket watch, carpet bag, and timetables for trains and steamboats, Fogg battles fate and fortunes in the attempt to win thPrompt tech PR around the world: Jules Vernee bet (along with the hand of a women he rescues en route).

While Prompt’s technology PR consultants will not be getting on any cross-Atlantic steamers, transcontinental trains, friendly elephants or even the local bus, our team – which includes American, French, German, Austrian, Portuguese, Scottish, Welsh and English consultants – has become increasingly curious about which technologies characterise which countries. So we thought we would launch our own blog adventure, virtually travelling ‘Around the Technology World in 80 Days’ while mapping notable inventions, exciting innovations and indispensable ideas from each country that we pass through.

Just like Phileas Fogg, we’re going to start out in Great Britain before looking windward and travelling east in a happenchance route around the globe. We’re not going to follow Fogg’s route (which had the first port of Egypt), and at times we may strike out at tangents in pursuit of technology gems off of the beaten track. But we’ll be spending each day in a fresh country, just as soon as we manage to leave Prompt London’s headquarters…

Tomorrow we start our tech journey. Our starting point? London!

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June 12th, 2013

Prompt Boston attends Mass Innovation Night, #MIN51

Prompt Boston attends Mass Innovation Night, #MIN51

As a group of technology-savvy PR consultants, we’re fortunate to be located in a city full of innovation. With offices in Kendall Square, right across the river from the heart of Boston, we regularly brush shoulders with innovative individuals, start-ups and groups who are looking to launch a new idea into the marketplace that could completely change the way we think and act.

One event in the area that does a phenomenal job of gathering such innovators together is Mass Innovation Nights (MIN). Launched in April 2009, the monthly event showcases ten comMass Innovation Nights MIN51panies, and the community turns out to visit vendor booths, promote the products via social media and sit in on pitch presentations. In the last two years alone, MIN has helped launch more than 475 products and connect many job seekers with hiring managers.

Last night, Prompt Boston attended the 51st MIN at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (better known as the NERD Center). As soon as we entered and put on our flashing #MIN51 pin, which read ‘I helped launch 500 new products!’, we got the chance to learn more about some up-and-coming local innovators, including:

–       Agency Spotter: This integrated platform makes finding a creative agency a quick and easy process. Simply enter the type of agency you are looking for, and voila! In minutes, a refined search appears, taking the search process “from months to minutes”.

–       Delightfully: If you’re an online shopper and like sending e-gifts, this interactive webpage is just for you. Think of Delightfully as digital gift wrapping, where you can compile your favorite photos and content to present a customized e-gift.

–       Equiso Smart TV: This thumb-sized device plugs into TV screens and projectors to create a smart, interactive viewing experience. From Angry Birds, to Pandora and Pinterest, the Equiso Smart TV gives viewers access to 700,000 apps in the Google Play Store – right on a large HD TV screen.

–       Fuzzycover: Want a fun, creative way to protect your tablet, e-reader, iPhone and spiral bound notebook? Fuzzycover’s protective covers are the perfect solution, and are available in animal prints, cool colors, fuzzy or leather-bound material.

The event also featured delicious drink samples from Izze, and was topped off with Equiso Smart TV receiving the most votes as the best product at MIN51. It was a night full of innovation, networking and support for local start-ups, and we hope to relive it all again next month.

For more information on Mass Innovation Nights, be sure to visit the website here or read founder Bobbie Carlton’s round-up of the event on MIN’s blog. For those on Twitter, be sure to read all of the event’s tweets by searching #MIN51 or read the corresponding Storify piece here.

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June 10th, 2013

Technology PR recap: The software testing industry

Technology PR recap: The software testing industry

The final entry in Prompt’s blog series,

Prompt Technology PR Snapshot: Software Testing 

Over the past six weeks, we hope you’ve learned a lot about the software testing industry, and ways to maximize your PR efforts. We’ve walked you through the various types of press, including IT publications, business journals, and newspaper journalists. Even if it seems near impossible, there is a way to make it into your favorite publication – all it takes is the right angle.

As your company’s spokesperson, it’s your duty to protect your business’s reputational frontline and reach target audiences. Through PR, media and analyst relations, these goals are achieved, along with boosting sales revenue and industry thought leadership.

So, whether you’re a well-known global company, or a small software testing start-up, reaching the press follows the same tips as discussed in our blog over the past month. In case you missed it, Prompt has compiled them all into one free, handy download – all you need to do is fill out the form below.

Ultimately software testing makes a significant and concrete difference to customer confidence, corporate reputation and that all important bottom line. And PR should be doing just that for you too.

To speak to one of our PR consultants, please contact us today. In a short time, our expert team can discuss your specific situation and some activities that will get you traction in relevant press as a software testing thought leader.

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June 7th, 2013

Prompt Boston hosts successful ‘Office Hours’ at Venture Café

Prompt Boston hosts successful ‘Office Hours’ at Venture Café

At Prompt Boston, we’re fortunate to work near the hub of technology and innovation, with our offices being walking distance from MIT, Harvard and more. In fact, right in our office building, the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), these techies come together every Thursday night for a networking social better known as Venture Café.

Last month, Prompt CEO Hazel Butters hosted ‘Office Hours’ at Venture Café, where an array of technology start-ups stopped by to discuss future goals, technology PR strategy, thought leadership and the nature of the press with us. Meanwhile, otVenture Cafeher Prompt team members hit the event floor – with surveys in hand to ask some of the latest hard-hitting questions in tech and PR.

With Prompt specializing in media relations and press training, we thought we’d start our round of questioning by asking attendees, ‘Who is the greatest tech spokesperson of all time?’ Not surprisingly, the most popular response was the legendary Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple. Other notable mentions included Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle Corporation, and Nikola Tesla, Croatian inventor, engineer and physicist best known for his contributions to air conditioning.

Our next question was even tougher. As part of our media outreach and news pipeline creation, we’re constantly reading the latest trends and news in technology. With so many outlets in publication, it’s hard to pinpoint our all-time favorite newspaper or magazine. But we just had to ask, ‘If you were stranded on a desert island with access to only one source of technology news, what would you choose?’  The New York Times topped the list, but a slew of other well-known publications also caught our attention, including Mashable, Engadget, VentureBeat, TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal, and perhaps the most resourceful in real-time, Twitter.

Red pencil and questionnaireWhat we really wanted to know, though, was how these technology-invested, business-minded individuals would rate themselves on their own spokesperson skills. At Prompt, we ensure our newly-acquired clients go through media training, to get company representatives press-ready and confident. Intimately, it comes down to the age-old PR question: If the Wall Street Journal called you tomorrow, would you know what to say? So we asked Venture Café guests, ‘How good of a media spokesperson do you think you are?’

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61%) expressed an air of confidence when speaking to the press, despite the nerves that accompany such certainty. Others believed they could handle a press interview, just as long as any “trick questions” aren’t thrown into the mix.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, media training fortifies your public speaking abilities, which is crucial when jumping on the phone line with a journalist. Even seasoned speakers go through such training, to avoid any ‘oh no’ moments or damaging blunders. If you’re interested in media training, and transforming your company representatives into properly trained press spokespeople, please contact a Prompt consultant today.

Interested in attending the next Venture Café? Take a look at the upcoming event and speaker schedule – we hope to see you there!

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June 4th, 2013

Read all about it! Are print newspapers fated to fold? (continued…)

Read all about it! Are print newspapers fated to fold? (continued…)

Perhaps the most obvious sign of changing times for stalwart newspaper readers has been the increasing pervasiveness of online ‘paywalls’.

It’s likely that most of us first started bumping into paywalls after reading a few articles in The Times, the FT, The New York Times or the WSJ. It’s that familiar sinking feeling when a pop-up window demands your cash payment or subscription before you’re allowed to flip to another visible page. But paywalls are nothing new – the WSJ was actually introduced the first newspaper paywall back in 1997 (and pretty effortlessly gained over 200,000 subscribers within a year – most likely with a lot of help from business expense accounts).

Today more than 400 US papers have erected paywalls, and there are more announced every day, with even the holdout Washington Post succumbing. In the UK the Telegraph announced its paywall plans in March , and News International confirmed that the Sun would go down a similar route to stable-mate the Times this summer. But despite this rapid adoption, a digital-only, paywall-dependent vision isn’t an inevitable future for all newspapers. Some highly-regarded figures in the global newspaper industry now regard the paywall as an intermediary solution – a short-term patch for declining traditional revenues that will not be here for the long-haul.

In the UK the most notable hold-outs to date are the Guardian, the Observer, the Mail, the Mirror and the Express – newspapers that believe they can still produce sufficiently attractive open content in print and online to lure readers that advertisers will pay to target. But John Paton, CEO for newspaper management specialist Digital First Media is perhaps the most outspoken in his opposition to a paywall future. He says: “I don’t think paywalls are the answer to anything. If we’re swapping out print dollars for digital dimes, I think paywalls are a stack of pennies. We might use the pennies in transition to get where we’re going.” However, that doesn’t mean that he sees any future at all for print: “Newspapers in print are clearly going away. I think you’re an idiot if you think that’s not happening. I don’t think that news organizations are dying but are newspapers going to stop running in print? Yeah. Absolutely.”

So are there any ‘idiots’ left to support print, or does everyone believe that the printed newspaper is doomed already? Rather interestingly, US business magnate Warren Buffet has been buying newspapers up as if he is on a personal crusade to save print, recently acquiring more than 80 titles, including 28 major newspapers, for more than $340 million (£210 million). He now owns the whole Media General empire, as well as much-loved individual titles such as the Omaha World-Herald, and the Allentown Morning Call, and is candid about his love for print. Of course there are still plenty of other publications out there crying out for new owners, that haven’t attracted their own Buffet. As well as the Boston Globe, notable US papers up for sale include the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, while in Europe publishing giants such as Mecom must be bought, split or closed for good.

Producing newspapers is a costly business– if you’ve never worked in publishing it’s enough to just imagine the physical process of printing and distributing millions of printed papers each day, when compared to the cost of publishing online news. And that’s before you even begin to take into account the huge logistical costs of such large and distributed professional workforces. So next time you pick up a paper at the station or your local newsagent, bear in mind that the distribution model alone that ensured your news arrived on time, probably accounted for around 40% of the total cost of that newspaper.

How do you see the future of the printed newspaper? Will it continue to thrive in niches, serving traditionalists, as well as regional and specialist markets? Will printed papers complement digital editions, albeit far less publically and affordably than we have become accustomed to? Or is all print doomed now, in our lifetimes?  

Take our Prompt Poll now: 

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