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July 11th, 2013

Hazel Butters

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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May 31st, 2013

PromptLondon

Remembering London’s colourful past

Remembering London’s colourful past

LondonLondoner Claude Friese-Greene was the inventor of an additive colour film process called Biocolour, or the Fries-Green Colour Process. In 1927 he filmed one of the first coloured motion pictures ever made, documenting London life when the city wasn’t just capital of England, but remained the centre an enduring British Empire accounting for more than a fifth of the world’s population.

This remarkable film captures a snapshot of hatted Londoners enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the city between the wars. Interstitial captions point out that more than ‘4000 motor busses’ now patrol London’s streets, and that “more than one American has offered to buy our Tower and erect it on Palm Beach as a bungalow!”

By exposing alternate frames of black and white film through a different-coloured filter, then staining the resulting prints either red or green, Friese-Greene was able to project an illusion of genuine colour. The British Film Institute (BFI) has now used the very latest computer techniques to clean up the nostalgic film and reduce flickering so it can be enjoyed by a modern audience.

The results, which we first viewed courtesy of PetaPixel, are fascinating for anyone like us here at Prompt London who work in the city daily, and still walk the same streets, only with very different views. Still, some things haven’t changed – Petticoat Lane market is still impossibly busy, Hyde Park and St. James look just as inviting on a sunny afternoon, and we’re still winning Cricket test matches!

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April 29th, 2013

PromptBoston

Software testing and the PR opportunity

Software testing and the PR opportunity

Part one of six in our new blog series,

Prompt PR Snapshot: Software Testing

software testing PR

As a transatlantic PR and copywriting firm, we’ve worked with high tech clients spanning the globe, from Boston start-ups to key players like Dell and Oracle. Since 2005, we’ve worked with Sogeti UK, one the UK’s leading provider of software testing services, to deliver a powerful media outreach programme, securing coverage in popular titles like Computerworld, ComputerWeekly, Tech World and TEST Magazine.

From our experience in working with high tech clients, in particular the software testing industry, we’ve compiled a Prompt blog series highlighting key tips when reaching out to various types of press covering the sector. Consider this your weekly inside scoop when it comes to PR and software testing, compiled from our media relations expertise dating back to 2002.

Why software testing needs PR

If you manage, market or work for a software testing or quality assurance firm, then you are on the reputational frontline. Your customers operate in increasingly competitive markets and know that the quality and speed of software delivery can be the difference between success and failure. They depend on you to make their businesses work, because when technology fails and transactions stop, business processes halt and customers get frustrated. And when today’s customers get angry, they talk about it online; on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Your opportunity to comment

Business managers are painfully aware of the need to ‘get up to speed’ with testing tools, applications and processes that are of critical strategic importance. This is the opportunity for you to educate, inform, prove, and even entertain – with fresh ideas, expert insights, real authority, fun and enthusiasm for your business.

The media opportunity

Prompt has worked with the media in the US, the UK, France and Germany. These are the countries where our clients operate, where we employ consultants to work in local languages, and where we know the press. We regularly work with all areas of the media in these territories to protect and reflect our clients’ objectives and interests. Join us next week, as we take our first look into some of the different print and online influencers that we advise and target for software testing vendors. We’ll start our series off with the specialist press, which includes the SD Times, Programmez! and Professional Tester.

To discuss your specific situation, targets and activities that will get you traction with relevant press as a software testing thought leader, please email agile@prompt-communications.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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March 21st, 2013

Hazel Butters

The UK Budget (a man called George joins Twitter)

The UK Budget (a man called George joins Twitter)

You may have missed it (if you live on another continent or happen to live in Britain without access to a TV/radio/the internet) but yesterday was the UK budget, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announces the annual taxation, spending and budgetary plans to the British public. If you don’t know George, you may remember him as the man who was booed at the Paralympics in response to the UK Government’s heavy cuts to disability benefits.

Wednesday was also, quite bravely, George’s first day on Twitter (check him out @George_Osborne), which resulted in a huge number of, er, let’s say less-than-flattering and rather strongly worded tweets directed at the Chancellor. He’s not been discouraged though, and has now stated on a British TV interview this morning that he wants to get more followers than his Labour counterpart Ed Balls (@EdBallsMP).  As things stand, George Osbourne has 34,717 followers at this moment (after a momentous four tweets) while Ed Balls has 78,006 followers (after 3,000+ tweets).

Of course, followers don’t mean that people like you, agree with you, or even want to listen to you.  Twitter is a very powerful way to communicate; while followers are an indication of some level of influence, it’s also important to consider reactions — in the form of retweets, replies and mentions.  To get a clearer outlook on how an individual is regarded, you need to analyze sentiment and go beyond keywords by interpreting irony, sarcasm and humour (there was a lot of each of these in reaction to George and his handful of tweets).

One of my favourite tweets was from comedian David Schneider (who gained a lot more retweets than George):

David Schneider Twitter

From a press perspective, the London regional paper, the Evening Standard, kind of stole the headlines. Even before George had stood up to make his speech, the newspaper had gone to press with a front page that detailed the key points of the budget. Poor George had to make the speech with Ed Balls standing opposite him in the Houses of Parliament, waving a copy of the newspaper.

Daily Mail

Though the most disturbing front page goes to the Daily Mail, which, in a supportive gesture to reflect how the budget mirrored Margaret Thatcher’s core conservative values, mocked up this montage on its Thursday-edition front page, using inspiration from Thatcher’s famous ‘This Lady’s not for turning’ speech.

 

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March 4th, 2013

Prompt Communications wins Ipswitch File Transfer international PR account

Prompt Communications wins Ipswitch File Transfer international PR account

 – Specialist comms agency to drive international PR programme for leading secure managed file transfer & B2Bi solutions provider –

 Prompt Communications, a PR and communications agency specialising in innovative markets including sustainability, technology and healthcare with offices in Boston, San Francisco and London, has been selected by Ipswitch File Transfer to lead its international media outreach programme.

With offices across the globe, Ipswitch File Transfer offers secure managed file transfer solutions that are enterprise-class, user friendly and easily implemented.  The company’s solutions address needs from person-to-person transfer through to enterprise-wide B2B integration, giving corporate users and businesses security and safety of information.

The company’s provides file transfer solutions to support the range of organizations’ requirements including basic file transfer capabilities (WS_FTP), end-to-end Managed File Transfer (MOVEit ), and a B2Bi MFT platform to support sophisticated workflows, integration with systems and applications and data translation. 

Ipswitch File TransferSophie Pellissier, director, International Marketing for Ipswitch File Transfer said: “We are a leading player in the secure file transfer and secure collaboration market, with over two decades of experience in providing B2Bi solutions.  We’re looking forward to working with a team that understands our business and our customers’ needs. Prompt will promote our media relations campaign and advise on how to maximise our editorial opportunities in order to further build our brand reputation and thought leadership across the international markets. We look forward to seeing our international programme of thought leadership evolve and expand.”

Prompt Communications CEO Hazel Butters said: “We’re excited to be working alongside Ipswitch File Transfer to support the company’s continued growth across the globe.  There’s a growing demand for secure, professional, business-orientated file transfer platforms as businesses operate across multiple sites and time zones, so we are looking forward to spreading Ipswitch File Transfer’s core messaging to an international audience. No modern organisation can risk the exposure of critical files falling into the wrong hands, and we are delighted to be working with a company that places such emphasis on the safety and security of business data.”

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November 29th, 2012

Hazel Butters

Uk Public Relations viewpoint: The British press needs regulation

Uk Public Relations viewpoint: The British press needs regulation

As a public relations consultant I think today is a landmark day for the British press, with today’s publication of the Leveson report and a call for legislation to regulate press practices and ethics.  Press freedom, Leveson, Leveson inquiry, view from Prompt Communications: copywriting and tech PR firm

The 2,000 page report is an unprecedented examination of the British press, resulting from the much-publicised inquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson and launched by the British Prime Minister in July 2011.The inquiry itself was prompted by what can only be described as atrocious acts of phone hacking by a section of the press of a number of individuals. Of paramount public concern was the hacking of the mobile phone of murdered 13 year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, which gave her family false hope that she might still be alive. The culmination of these events led to the closure of The News of The World newspaper by the News International media group.

The damning report published today details the need for press regulation, sparking immediate consequences. Leveson concludes that a tougher form of press self-regulation should be imposed, backed by appropriate legislation necessary to uphold press standards. British PM David Cameron broadly welcomed the principles for change recommended in the report, but has expressed “serious concerns and misgivings” over the concept of statutory regulation. The PM articulated concerns over the curbing of Britain’s proud tradition of free speech and a free press, when he told MPs today: “For the first time we will have crossed the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land. We should think very, very carefully before crossing the line.”

The Leveson recommendations do put the PM in a rather tricky position, with many media and public observers concerned that this might be the start of some kind of slippery slope as far as British press freedoms are concerned. Mr Cameron’s concerns also put him at direct odds with his deputy Nick Clegg, who made his own statement claiming the recommended changes in the law were “the only way to guarantee” the press remains in check in the future. This sentiment echoes that of opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is today urging the government to adopt all the recommendations of the Leveson report by 2015.

As Brit, I’ve always been very proud of our press freedoms, and the acutely balanced edge that this has encouraged. But no-one can deny that the much-publicised phone hacking scandals, highlighted by the awfulness and moral wrongness of hacking Milly Dowler’s phone, revealed a need for restraint. Like many others, I had assumed to this point that publishers and editors would continue to serve as moral compasses for their own publications. However, since the phone-tapping accusations and the arrests that have followed, my view has changed, despite my sadness at the very thought that any legislation is required to underpin the regulation of the practice and ethics of our press.

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November 2nd, 2012

Can I get some PR with my coffee?

Can I get some PR with my coffee?

Earlier in the week, one of our favorite neighbors in CIC, CEOExpress, sent us a link to this story about British department store Debenhams offering a ‘plain English coffee menu’, or a list of drinks that describe caffeinated goodness in the simplest possible terms.

It prompted (geddit?) much discussion in our Boston, London and San Francisco offices, and across the Atlantic, as from @PromptLondon to @PromptBoston we have varied coffee drinking tastes. Debenham PR coffee menu

From a copywriter that, regardless of the menus in coffee shops, always orders a black coffee and not an Americano – because if he does he is then asked if he wants milk.  He says a black coffee is a black coffee:  it’s direct and descriptive.  Although if he wants an espresso, he’ll order an espresso, as that’s what it is called, and the most understandable term for what he wants.   Meanwhile we have Boston-based PRs that love the range of lattes available at Voltage, the awesome local coffee shop near the CIC. Some of our favorites at Voltage are the ‘Paper Plane’ (cardamom-flavored and rosewater), ‘Atticus Finch’ (vanilla with burnt sugar) and ‘Beyond the Sea’ (caramel with a hint of sea salt).

Then there’s the coffee station on every floor of the CIC. Take your pick of flavor shots – from the standard hazelnut and French vanilla, to seasonal pumpkin and Irish cream. As if that weren’t hard enough to choose, then you have the choice of coffee to drink – 50/50, Columbian, or café mocha. Yum, one of each please!

Whatever our coffee preferences are, I think we’re in general agreement that the repeat of ‘really’ in Debenhams’s new coffee signs could be interpreted as a little, well, patronizing.

You could argue that this is also very clever PR on Debenhams’s case – from speaking to PromptLondon-ers, a lot of Brits remember going to town centre department stores like Debenhams, C&A, British Home Stores, and Co-Op as children, and stopping halfway through a tiring shop to get a cup of tea or coffee in the in-store ‘caff’.  And renaming products may ring a chord for Brits, and garner some sympathy (and custom) for the shop.

This could also be seen as a reaction to the continued drowning influx of global coffee shops brands into the British retail segment.  If you go to any town centre today the reality is that you’ll find a Starbucks where once you would have found ‘Poppy’s Coffee Shop’, and although it’s just one more inevitable change in a global retail world, it doesn’t mean that everyone in small town Britain, or anywhere else for that matter, sees it as progress or evolution.

It’s not all about the half-and-half vanilla skinny mocha latte than it is about friendly service, a smile and a chat with a familiar local face over a cuppa.

One of the biggest changes we’d like to see in coffee shops is the refusal to serve people who say “Can I get a…”  – it’s not self-service. It’s “May I please have…” – and don’t forget to say thank you. Take that for a personal PR tip.

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Copywriting, London, Media, Opinion, PR Practices, Prompt locations, UK press | Comments Off on Can I get some PR with my coffee?

 

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October 10th, 2012

Prompt appointed by Crimson Hexagon to drive UK public relations

Prompt appointed by Crimson Hexagon to drive UK public relations

As a transatlantic copywriting and public relations agency with offices in London, Boston and San Francisco, Prompt works with an array of clients in the technology industry – an innovative sector that is both thriving and constantly evolving.

Our latest appointment by software company Crimson Hexagon proves no different. Headquartered in Boston, MA with offices in London, Crimson Hexagon provides big data analysis software focusing on social media posts and other data sources to global organizations, including well-known companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, for insight into social sentiment and improved  business intelligence.

What is most exciting about this new client is its state-of-the-art ForSight™ platform, which was originally developed at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. The platform breaks the traditional social media monitoring mold by relying on both human judgment and computer scalability. The platform currently holds an estimated 175 billion social media posts in its database, and adds an additional 1 billion posts to its database every two days.

Prompt will work on Crimson Hexagon’s UK public relations campaigns, which includes targeted media relations, opinion placement and securing editorial opportunities to support the company’s sales to B2C and B2B marketers, data specialists and business strategists.  Prompt will work on campaigns targeting marketing, business, retail, and consumer publications.

The Prompt team is looking forward to working alongside one of Fast Company’s ‘Top Ten Most Innovative Web Companies’, and has already begun working with top-name press on coverage and editorial opportunities.

For more information on Prompt’s appointment by Crimson Hexagon, read the press release here. To learn how Prompt Communications can produce the most effective communications for your sales and stakeholder value, email info@prompt-communications.com.

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February 24th, 2012

Hazel Butters

Coming soon to a British news stand near you: The Sun on Sunday

Coming soon to a British news stand near you: The Sun on Sunday

Unless you’ve been visiting another planet for several months (one of those far-flung ones that doesn’t have internet, TV, Twitter, Facebook or newspapers) you surely can’t have failed to have read about the demise of News International’s The News of the World.

But if for any reason you did miss out, and now find yourself pining for both the drama of the British newspaper industry and your weekend dose of celebrity-fuelled tabloid updates (without any allegedly-sourced-by-phone-hacking stories, naturally), then don’t worry, you can run out and buy the first issue of The Sun on Sunday, launching this weekend (26 February).

As soon as the launch was announced on Sunday night (and plastered over the front page of Monday’s The Sun), there was profuse speculation as to what the new publication would look like. Will it be a standalone paper, or just another day’s edition of The Sun, making it a seven-day newspaper?  And more importantly, will it still have a Page Three model?

James Alan Anslow, a lecturer at London’s City University who was a long-time journalist for both The Sun and The News of the World, explained in an interview with the Huffington Post that: “They’re not launching a newspaper, they’re launching an edition of a newspaper”. This would imply that there’s no new commitment and, by extension, guarantee of Murdoch’s backing of UK newspapers, which alongside The Sun includes, The Times and The Sunday Times. Anslow concluded that the launch was:  “a desperate last throw of the dice”.

And should we read anything into the timing? On Thursday singer (and fellow Welsh countrywoman) Charlotte Church finally settled her phone hacking allegation case with News International, after threatening to pursue it to the High Court. She was the final celebrity to settle, and would have been the only individual to go to
such lengths. So far all other celebrities, including Jude Law, Steve Coogan and Danii Minogue have settled out of court.

As the father of the newspaper/edition-to-be, Rupert Murdoch is reported to be staying in London for the week to check that the new arrival is happy and healthy. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the new ‘baby’ and report back to you.

 

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Posted in London, Media, Prompt locations, UK press | 1 Comment »

 

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December 22nd, 2011

PromptBoston

Media bytes: Channel 4 News appoints science editor

Media bytes: Channel 4 News appoints science editor

Tom Clarke has been appointed as the Science Editor for UK station, Channel 4 News. With a background in scientific reporting, Clarke is the first person to be appointed to this role, which was created to strengthen the programme’s specialist journalism.

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November 4th, 2011

PromptBoston

‘Do a barrel roll’ sounds like a failed dance craze

‘Do a barrel roll’ sounds like a failed dance craze

We’ve written before about the benefits HTML 5 brings to the web. Google has demonstrated the unique features of HTML 5 through its daily doodles. One such feature debuted yesterday. At the urging of my colleagues, I Googled ‘do a barrel roll’ in the Chrome web browser. A white page appeared and lo and behold, the Google search page “rolled” into view. It was a nice trick, but entirely useless. Wake me when HTML 5 can aggregate the best shopping options online for a bicycle on one screen so I’m not jumping around from page to page.

That was just one news item that caught our attention this week. Here are some others we think you should be aware of:

– Do we call this ‘Battery-Drain-Gate’? Apple’s iPhone4S has battery issues, and blames iOS5

– Why did CBS turn down a deal with Apple TV? Doesn’t CBS know that Apple basically prints money?

– Right before the glut of big holiday game releases, GameStop launched its own tablet based platform this week

– I’m sure you saw the tweet, but in case you missed it, AOL somehow added 200,000 users to its existing 3.5 million dial-up user base.

– The top 25 US newspapers in September

– New internal memos might mess up James Murdoch’s ignorance claim about phone hacking

– On our way to Thanksgiving, here are some food myths that have been debunked by science

Follow us on Twitter in the US and UK for more stories like this that we find throughout the week.

 

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July 11th, 2011

Hazel Butters

News of the World closes: A can of political, media and legal worms opens

News of the World closes: A can of political, media and legal worms opens

Yesterday saw the last edition of the ‘News of the World’, with a double print run and a promise that all profits would go to charity. The paper’s closure was announced earlier in the week by Rupert Murdoch, the CEO and chairman of News Corporation, in reaction to escalating stories of illegal news-gathering tactics used by the paper, including phone-hacking on what is now being called an ‘industrial scale’, as well as bribery of police officers. The alleged phone-hacking targets include celebrities, politicians, and even 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler, in which case it is alleged that messages were not only accessed but also deleted from her phone.

The story goes beyond the closure of Britain’s largest-selling Sunday newspaper, which had been printed for 168 years. There’s a whole set of legal and political battles to come, including the control of UK satellite broadcaster Sky (BSkyB).  Some other points for consideration:

* The Independent on Sunday reported that UK Prime Minister David Cameron had received a “personal guarantee” from Rupert Murdoch that the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was a safe bet to take on as press chief for Downing Street. After Coulson’s recent arrest, there is speculation that he may be one of the central figures in the scandal. He says he will not “carry the can”.

* Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner John Yates gave a public apology for the failure to uncover the scale of the phone-hacking and letting down the victims. Scotland Yard launched – and closed – an investigation of phone-hacking in 2009.

* Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, the British newspaper publisher owned by News Corporation, stated “I know nothing”.  There have been calls for her resignation and she faces questioning by police.

* There are calls for the Government to increase press regulation, a challenge to the historic freedom of the UK press.

The scandal is also disrupting Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of BSkyB, Britain’s largest commercial broadcaster, as well as damaging his standing with the UK Government. This morning in the UK, analysts reported that the takeover was “all but dead”, and there’s even speculation that News Corporation will be stripped of its existing 39% share of BSkyB. Meanwhile, the company’s shares have plummeted. This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Rupert Murdoch should “do the decent thing” and reconsider his BSkyB bid.

Now the British press – and the British public – are trying to piece together who knew what and when. The twists and turns of the last week have been like a movie plot. Expect the sequel this week.

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Posted in UK press | 1 Comment »