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July 26th, 2013

WordPress tip: Everything but the kitchen sink

WordPress tip: Everything but the kitchen sink

In some of our WordPress posts we may tell you to ‘head to the kitchen sink’. No, this is not a basin of dirty pots and pans (of course, your kitchen sink may be empty and gleaming) – it’s a handy WordPress button.

It’s nicknamed the kitchen sink because it hides a miscellany of other buttons, kind of like ‘everything but the kitchen sink’.

Not sure where it is?  Well, if you are adding a new WordPress post and you can only see one line of buttons, like below, then press the kitchen sink button at  the end:

kitchen sink button

Once pressed, the button unveils a new row of options, yours for the taking – or the pressing.

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Still have questions?  Join our weekly Google Hangouts every Friday at 2pm EDT.

 

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Posted in Technology, WordPress | Comments Off on WordPress tip: Everything but the kitchen sink

 

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July 23rd, 2013

Reaching out to your audience – PR lessons from the Tour de France

Reaching out to your audience – PR lessons from the Tour de France

Tour de FranceA sultry Sunday evening in Paris was the spectacular setting for the end of the 100th edition of ‘La Grande Boucle’. The epic tour saw 20 teams compete over 3,404 km of picturesque French landscapes, arduously climbing up and down peaks in the Alps and the Pyrenees that would send most of us scrambling for the nearest cable car.

The Tour de France is an endurance event, and it has certainly had to endure a lot over its 110 year history. Drug cheat Lance Armstrong stripped the Tour of seven winners in recent times – the same number of races lost to the Second World War. As a result even this year’s whiter-than-white winner of the overall General Classification, Brit Chris Froome, had to deflect a now familiar shower of scepticism before receiving the trophy in his ‘maillot jaune’ on the ChampsÉlysées. Throughout the tour, French newspapers and magazines routinely questioned Froome’s integrity, and all were batted away comprehensively with volumes of data supplied willingly by his loyal Sky team (we’ll talk more about how that was handled in a separate post).

If you’ve ever watched a stage of the Tour de France you’ll know that the spectacle of riders and supporters is unmatched in any other sporting arena. It’s not just the athleticism of the cyclists that catches the eye – it’s the enthusiasm, engagement and frightening proximity of the crazed fan base. Thousands of fully-grown men run alongside the stream of high-speed bikes sporting very little apart from their pride and a few well-placed flags. One spectator at this year’s race was holding a stuffed hog under one arm and a duck aloft with his other.

If the route of the Tour goes through your own town or city, then it is considered a very prestigious event. Locals and visiting spectators alike – as many as 15 million people may have watched this year’s Tour – embrace it wholeheartedly. Fans camp at roadsides to gain the best vantage point before the cyclists pass. Spectators lean in to shake flags directly in front of cyclists. It’s not unknown for there to be injuries caused by this fervour, and there are moments watching it when I find myself shouting at those who appear dangerously close to cyclists – endangering themselves and potentially interfering with the momentum of athletes who may have cycled thousands of miles to reach that point. Well-meaning supporters even stretch out and back-slap tired competitors to help fight gravity on those final killer-climbs.  Although the last kilometre of each stage may be railed off, the rest of the course is completely open to its supporters.

There are so many sports in which spectators are charged a fortune and then kept at a great deal more than an arm’s length away, but not in this sport. The result of this openness  is a passionate and strikingly diverse base of supporters who feel genuine empathy with their heroes.

So here are some lessons that we might all learn from the Tour de France:

  • If you are accessible, people will love you for it. Audiences engage with individuals, groups, companies and products they feel they know, but you need to be open and honest to make this happen
  • It’s crucial to give your fans, whoever they might be (and whatever they might be wearing) recognition for their support. The cyclists of the Tour embrace the swathes of spectators and regularly thank the immense fan base they have, and their contribution to the sport
  • There is huge value to be had in listening to your audience. In 2010 the UK Sky team, home to the winner of the last two Tours, decided it would maintain a ‘closed’ area at the beginning of each stage to help cyclists focus. An immediate backlash from fans led to the team’s sporting director apologising before folding up both the idea and the barriers
  • Let your audience be the way they are. One thing I love about the Tour is that fans and supporters are not corralled, dictated to or limited. They are celebrated for the way they are, and as a result make the sport more fun, thrilling and engaging for  it
  • If you are honest to yourself and to your supporters then it doesn’t matter if you crash and suffer a few bruises from time-to-time – someone will help you back up and tell you that you can be a winner
  • It’s okay to appear on TV in your underpants with your stuffed hog and get away with it
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Posted in France, Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices | Comments Off on Reaching out to your audience – PR lessons from the Tour de France

 

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July 19th, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #10: Budapest, Hungary

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #10: Budapest, Hungary

Photo courtesy of: http://www.budapest.com/

Photo courtesy of: http://www.budapest.com/

Determined to travel to Budapest by Blimp, we visited Bad Vöslau airfield south of Vienna, and sweet-talked some balloonists into taking us across the Hungarian border in some style.

Landing near Lake Velence, we quickly cobbled together our collective knowledge of Hungarian technology. Our list largely consisted of inventors and their creations: Ányos Jedlik’s electric motor; Leo Szilard’s nuclear reactor; Edward Teller’s hydrogen bomb; József Petzvál binoculars; plus of course László Bíró’s pen and Ernő Rubik’s cube.

But no Hungarian has ever had quite the impact on technological progress as John von Neumann; mathematician, polymath and, crucially, the inventor of the Von Neumann Architecture of computing. His paper ‘First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC’ described an electronic computer comprising processor, logic, memory, storage, and I/O. His ideas inspired the first computer laboratories in Cambridge University, Harvard and Princeton, leading to early ground-breaking programmable computers such as the Colossus and ENIAC, and ultimately practical business machines like the LEO.

Today Hungary still nurtures a number of notable innovators and high-tech companies. Perhaps most famously, Budapest law student and computer scientist Gyula Feher teamed up with two of his best American customers to found UStream and launch a string of succesful internet video streaming brands. His firm now employs 100 people in Budapest and a further 75 in the US and beyond, servicing 60 million users a month. Hungary also as its own thriving social networking platform called iWiW with 2.6 million registered users, and numerous other successful tech companies, including: WinDirect, VirusBuster, Synergon IT, and Puli Space Technologies (which plans to build a spacecraft by 2014 and inspire a new generation of technologists and scientists while getting there!)

Goulash for dinner, then a Twighlight flit to Romania!

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Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #10: Budapest, Hungary

 

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July 16th, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #9: Vienna, Austria

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #9: Vienna, Austria

From Zagreb to Vienna. We walked in the cold air. Freezing breath on a window pane. Lying and waiting…

Photo courtesy of: www.raileurope.com

Photo courtesy of: www.raileurope.com

Oh all right then, our journey was nothing of the sort. The train journey was warm, sunny, very pleasant and there wasn’t a New Romantic to be seen. We quickly arrived in the cultural and political centre of Vienna, more famed for its musicians, artists, psychologists, philosophers and economists than its technologists. Over the years engineers and physicists like Ferdinand Porsche, Wolfgang Ernst Pauli and Victor Francis Hess have been dwarfed by giants in other disciplines, such as Mozart, Mahler, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, Klimt, Fuchs, Freud, Wittgenstein, Popper, Menger, Mendel and, erm, Schwarzenegger.

But Austria is home to a number of successful information technology companies, not least Telekom Austria which operates not just here, but also in Slovenia and Croatia where we have just arrived from, as well as Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Belarus and Liechtenstein. Content management system (CMS) specialist Fabasoft is well-established, and has recently also become a rising star in the cloud computing market. CISC and AMS operate in the tough semiconductor and ASIC sectors, while Austria can also boast a few successful full computer systems producers, led by Gericom.

However, despite domestic success, these names remain largely unfamiliar to many outside of their home country, which is partly why Austria, like many forward-thinking European states, is now ploughing investment and resources into a new generation of technologists. In 2010 the Vienna University of Technology, Graz University of Technology, and Montanuniversitaet Leoben were united to form TU Austria, a 440 million euro institution employing 8000 people to train 42,000 students each year in the varied disciples of technology, science and engineering. Proof, if needed, that high-tech means a lot more than nothing to the people of Austria.

Our next destination? Budapest by blimp!

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July 15th, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #8: Slovenia and Croatia

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #8: Slovenia and Croatia

 

Photo courtesy of: www.slovenia.info

Photo courtesy of: www.slovenia.info

An overnight train from Rome to Trieste leaves us with just a short bus hop across the border to Slovenia, and on to the capital of Ljubljana. This beautiful city of bridges, parks and squares has endured a difficult few years during the recent economic slump, with austerity taking its familiar toll on business growth and development. But there is now a renewed sense of optimism in the air, and even talk of Ljubljana as a future technology hub for this crossroads in Central Europe.

Attractively high salaries for web and mobile OS developers have spurred a surge in interest in technology careers among Ljubljana’s student population. Longstanding software developers like ComTrade have now become the model for modern Slovenian business – court outsourcing contracts from the rest of Europe while the local economy continues to recover. Road and rail links, especially those with neighbouring Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary, plus regular cheap flight connections with Europe’s larger capitals, are not only boosting Slovenia’s outsourcing opportunities, but encouraging a burgeoning start-up community specializing in web technologies, telecommunications, online marketing and of course software development.

Late in the day, it takes us just an hour and a half to drive the 85 miles from Ljubljana to Zagreb in Croatia – once home to Eduard Progovecki, Jospi Vucetic, and Nikola Tesla. We arrive amid mass firework-lit celebrations to mark the country’s induction as the 28th member of the European Union (EU). Although many citizens remain understandably wary of the move amid more economic turmoil, it’s certainly going to make life easier for fledgling businesses working to expand by trading across borders.

Technology entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses now hope their government will listen to their pleas for reduced regulation and bureaucracy – until recently it was illegal for any business to be named in any language other than Croatian – and afford their enterprises every chance to grow and be successful.

Next stop? Ohhhhhhhhhhhh Vienna!

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July 12th, 2013

Results are in: The most creative way to ‘connect the lots’ between CIC buildings is..

Results are in: The most creative way to ‘connect the lots’ between CIC buildings is..

As we mentioned in one of our earlier blog posts, the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), our Prompt Boston home, has expanded and we’ve made the move from One Broadway to 101 Main Street. As a technology PR firm, CIC is an ideal setting to work in, with hundreds of start-ups and technology-focused companies.

While getting settled into our new office building on 101 Main Street, and frequently traveling the 200 paces between both buildings, we asked our readers to share some of their creative solutions for connecting the two CIC buildings.

CIC is filled to the brim with innovators. So the great responses we received were no surprise. Some of the best #CICWalkway replies we saw were:

– Rebecca wanted to sail through the skies with a Tramway, ‘a la Roosevelt Island’
– B-Social Law was also looking for a view, wanting to turn the well-known CIC British phone booths into ‘ski gondolas’, and also suggested Pteronodon Flyers ride for a dinosaur-themed thrill
– Geoff Mamlet, a Harry Potter enthusiast, suggested the magic of floo powder
– Mitchell Bragg suggested sled dogs during the Boston winter and then magic carpets in the warmer months

CIC Phone boothAfter much deliberation, the Prompt Boston office has made its final choice. The winner of some great local eats from our two favorite establishments on our walk between buildings – Dunkin Donuts or Firebrand Saints – is B-Social Law!

We had an office-wide secret ballot to vote for the winner. With London counterparts, and an urge to soar (plus we could make phone calls at the same time!), we couldn’t resist the idea of hopping into a phone booth ski lift to get from our office to CIC’s Venture Café. A huge thanks goes out to everybody who had some fun with us, and we look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as we settle into our new home.

B-Social Law – claim your prize today! Reach out to us via  Twitter, Facebookemail or phone at (617)-401-2717! 

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Posted in Boston, Prompt locations, Technology | Comments Off on Results are in: The most creative way to ‘connect the lots’ between CIC buildings is..

 

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July 11th, 2013

Greenpeace #iceclimb hits social media heights

Greenpeace #iceclimb hits social media heights

Greenpeace

Anybody working in technology PR and blearily tapping away at their smartphones this morning for the day’s news, was met by the sight of Greenpeace campaigners scaling the outside of Western Europe’s tallest skyscraper.

Six experienced female climbers began their ascent of The Shard at 4am to protest against, and raise awareness of, oil company Shell’s continued drilling in the Arctic. By 1pm Victo, Ali, Sabine, Sandra, Liesbeth and Wiloa had not only reached the 155 metre halfway point in their venture, they had also soared past their target of 31,000 fresh sign-ups to the campaign, thanks to a high-profile live video stream and audio commentary of events, plus fervent trending on Twitter.

@GreenpeaceUK has literally taken public and media awareness for its Arctic campaign to new heights, capturing the imagination of office-bound social media fans and journalists on this sunny day. Its Twitter army of followers is climbing quicker than you can count, currently chasing 60,000 and beyond. Celebrity tweeters including @AnnieLennox and @ThomYork can also be seen applauding the efforts of the pressure group amid the crowds on the #iceclimb tag timeline.

Whatever your feelings about large-scale publicity stunts, pressure group activities or drilling for gas and oil in the Arctic circle, it’s well worth your time following Greenpeace’s efforts on Twitter, Facebook or the live-feed page. We’re particularly enthralled by the emotional live-tweeting of lead climber Victoria Henry (@victohenry). Why not tweet her and the Greenpeace UK team as they continue their ascent? Here is a flavour of the conversation from the face of The Shard!

• Months of training and secrecy end here. I’m scared but incredibly excited about today #iceclimb
• Raise your hand if you have sweaty palms! Oh, unless you have ropes to hold :)
• Thank you so much for the supportive messages. Is someone cutting onions up here? #iceclimb

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Posted in Social Media, UK press | 1 Comment »

 

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July 8th, 2013

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

wordpress logoWe’ve already blogged about the importance of establishing a company blog.  You may be considering which platform to host your blog on – and we would recommend your answer be WordPress – and here’s why.

WordPress really has come a long way since it was considered a basic blogging platform. With plug-ins, new features and other enhancements, it has become the premier content management system, with over 68 million pages on the Web run on WordPress today.

Three reasons why we use, encourage our clients to use, and train people on WordPress:

Ease of use:  The best advice has always been to keep it simple. WordPress does this fabulously – allowing users to post content in visual or HTML text version. Whether you’re a diehard coder or an amateur, these options are designed to cater to all levels of experience.

Enhancing SEO:  WordPress’ blog code attracts Google robots and other magnets, helping boost your SEO and webpage traffic. With the right setup and plug ins (we like Yoast SEO), the platform will tell you just how high you rank when it comes to search terms and keywords, and where you can improve.

Seamless with social media:  With the right plugins, WordPress can post new content directly to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As a PR firm with experience in social media, we can’t stress the importance of cross promoting on social networks, and this WordPress feature now makes it easier than ever to do so.

Want to try it for yourself? Then head to wordpress.org to install WordPress. Want some pointers?  Then join our  Google Hangout tomorrow at 2pm EDT or, if you’re in the Boston area, sign up for our ‘(Successfully) Wrestle with WordPress over a weekend‘ courses.

More reasons to follow tomorrow!

 

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Posted in Boston, Prompt locations, Training, WordPress | Comments Off on Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

 

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July 3rd, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #7: Rome, Italy

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #7: Rome, Italy

Photo courtesy of: www.turismoroma.it

Photo courtesy of: www.turismoroma.it

It’s a bit of a dogleg down the boot of Italy from Geneva, but a very cultural one, so we catch an overnight plane to Rome for a hundred euro or so, and wake up smelling the strong Italian coffee.

I speak from experience when I say it’s hard not to be consumed with history in a city like Rome – the Romans and the Renaissance are literally around you, and then modern-day Rome around that.  Wherever you are you end up with one eye on the past as you walk  by the Coloseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Forum Romanum just to get an ‘espresso e cornetti’.  Meanwhile techies here stand on the shoulders of Galileo, da Vinci, Volta, Luria, Fermi, Meucci and the amazing Guglielmo  Marconi [sidenote: I highly recommend ‘Signor Marconi’s Magic Box’, it is the most brilliant book].

But what about the present and future?  Well, the Olivetti brand is one great example of the Italian presence in the market. Founded as a typewriter business in 1907, Olivetti built PCs and Unix boxes in the 1980s and early 90s before a crowded market forced an end to computer production. But in 2003, Olivetti became the office systems subsidiary of Telecom Italia, and today it specializes in interactive touchscreens, public terminals and a new line of tablet computers with their own app store – all as sharply designed as you would hope and expect.

But what other Italian players are tackling the tech market? There’s some great innovation – for example Beta Renewables is an interesting venture producing cellulosic ethanol for biofuel production. Digicom manufactures and OEMs devices for the gaming and home networking segments. Reply is a consultancy and systems integrator specializing in networking and digital media. And Assobiotec represents more than 120 biotech-related companies and science & technology parks operating in Italy. We think the Italian tech industry is interesting, so we will be back to visit again soon – perhaps to attend the country’s next Technology Forum, which is sure to focus on innovation and growth in the sector.

It’s ciao time, before the rosso and pasta take their toll – next destination, Croatia!

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Posted in London, Technology | Comments Off on Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #7: Rome, Italy

 

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July 1st, 2013

Boston technology PR team ponders: How to ‘connect the lots’ at CIC …

Boston technology PR team ponders: How to ‘connect the lots’ at CIC …

Cambridge Innovation Center has recently expanded its business location, One Broadway, to a new building on 101 Main Street, just around the corner.

The technology PR team at Prompt Boston used to be based in the old building at One Broadway, but we can’t resist the lure of a new, shiny building, not to mention an amazing 14th-floor view of the Boston skyline and the Charles River (see below).  Plus, we’ll be back in close proximity to some of the amazingly talented individuals and brilliant companies that we got to know while they were based in our old building.

Boston view

Earlier this week, while we were making the increasingly frequent trip between One Broadway to 101 Broadway, we got to thinking: seeing that the CIC community is all about innovation, what are the most innovative ways that the two buildings could be connected? Zipline? Secret underground passageway?

We’re open to suggestions, and the person who comes up with the most fun suggestion wins a $50 voucher to one of the eateries* we pass on our Broadway-101 commute (I say commute, it’s about 200 paces). You can add your suggestion to our Facebook page, or tweet it to us at @PromptBoston with the hashtag #CICwalkway.

* So that’s Dunkin Donuts or Firebrand Saints!

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Posted in Boston, Prompt locations | 2 Comments »