Will the Arts lead the Web 2.0 Wave?
November 26, 2008
The Arts Council ran a thought provoking conference yesterday in Dublin Castle entitled New Media New Audience. The attendees ranged from small theatrical organisations to service providers. It was positioned as a thought platform but the organisation went beyond that to a full scale programme with a variety of different experts. The arts sector has great potential to exploit the benefits and opportunities of online but there was a general initial reluctance due to lack of awareness of the tools, the size and nature of online audiences and concerns about artistic integrity.
Dr. Martin Mansergh TD introduced the conference talking about the boundaries that arts organisations have always worked within and the challenges and opportunities in expanding these to the online world. Theatrical companies have worked within the physical boundaries to date but virtual presences with video casting of performances can extend this to new audiences but care needs to be taken in maintain artistic integrity.
The conference kicked off with a lively and eloquent debate between Charles Leadbeater and Andrew Keen. Both inevitably agreed that communication has changed and the landscape is hugely different but differed huge on the value of the change. Charles Leadbeater argued that change is positive and that we now live in an era of Peddles and Bolders. Bolders being the larger broadcasters such as the BBC and Peddles being the nimble online players from bloggers, online communities and social media sites such as You Tube, Facebook and Flickr. Leadbeater opened up his section with a You Tube video by funtwo which has received over 52 million views to date as an example of how content can be developed without the need for permission, low production values yet reach a huge audience. He then walked through the route that one would have to go through to make it fit with a bolder like the BBC. To him this movement best represents the Bolders/Peddles analogy. The analogy is not static and bolders can utilise peddles and spoke about Obama being a Bolder who did peddles and reach a huge community. Arts organisations need to develop a more user centric view and acknowledge that the role of the artist in challenging the status quo and environment.
In defining the role of new media he spoke about personal example of going to a match being only one part of the experience and blogs and other new media allow him the capability to express views and talk about the experience. Enjoy, Talk and Do helps classify how people engage and the change to the Enjoy being higher with younger audiences.
He finished his section by talking about how his son interacts with technology and how it has changed from his own childhood experiences. From his memories of spending Sundays evenings watching Songs of Praise he recalled how his son recently shocked him by going online one Sunday evening and creating his own animated series from scratch without help.
Andrew Keen has a contradictory view of the value that democratisation of the web has brought and indeed if the web is now more ‘square’ and less democratic.
He questioned how much money has been made by people on You Tube, has it made them any better despite the huge viewership figures and if these experiences has made the arts any richer in terms of integrity and quality of content.
He presented a view that cultural authority is being destroyed by You Tube and that self publishing on the internet is a cultural assault on authority.
He maintained that the personalisation of culture does away with standards and that “Cultural authority” like the BBC are a good and necessary force. He cited his own experience of self publishing where worrying about production etc meant he delivered a poor product and when he used the infrastructure of the BBC he was paid for what he did and the product was better.
There is a crisis in professional media business and that is may be noble to give away your IP for free but it is foolish not to monetising talent.
He maintains he is in favour of internet and acknowledges there is not going back but the monitising question is one of the big issues. He also questioned the distribution power of You Tube who he maintained can only sell advising against 3% of their invertory as the rest in either stolen or inappropriate
He asked the question that if copy is free does creativity because valveless and that physical presence is all that can be exploited. He cited that in the music industry that concerts are the main revenue generation and that this has made the artists less accessible and that the music has become more about marketing than the art itself.
He asked what happens to the shy artist in this environment where marketing becomes everything.
Eoin Purcell chaired a follow on session with a panel looking at New Media in practice where Consistency, Constraint and Quality of content were key themes. Sheila de Courcy from RTE shared her views about what works with younger audience citing games, video, photos, getting a behind the scenes experience and something edgy helping to keep them engaged. Too much text was mentioned as a turn off.
She also spoke about collaborative content they had generated with younger audiences and presented a mock send up of Primetime. One of the attendees questioned the help that was given in generating this content, a view which was shared by Nicky Gogan in the panel that professional help was needed to ensure quality and that scripts were written in collaboration and that without help content was less likely to be developed.
The use of online tools to create art was also discussed in addition to using services such as Amazon to self publishing and monitise the content.
Using online to find peers and create links and foster relationships especially for collabaoration was also discussed.
Over all there was an appreciation of the power of Online for Promotion, despite a nervousness about the quantity of time needs, loosing IP but very little focus on the collaboration potential.
Damien Mulley presented another session on Web 2.0 and New Media where he gave insight into the interests and behaviour of digital natives and online users. In a recent poll almost half a class of third level student reported download programme series rather than watch on TV. This emerging group also use online peers for recommending new shows and trends. In discussing the speed of news dissemination he pointed to live Twitter feeds beating news services who were slow but whose reports contained more detail, if somewhat delayed. A centric world of ‘if news or products are worth knowing then they would make their way to user through their channels’ was also explained.
On a positive side he discussed the power of creating online evangelists.
A flash back to early web experience of Yahoo and searches comprising of directory listings gave a good back drop for the positioning of Web 2-0 being about connecting people while Web 1 was connecting people to web.
Finding out where your audiences are: ie on boards.ie or Bebo was of equal importance to approaching them in the right manner and using similar styles (writing and video).
The power of building a network was supported by the Nike/Apple collaboration where real relationships have been developed with the creation of Super Fans. Feed back on the quality and potential improvement through these networks has resulted in the development of better running shoe and building of online evangelists. Online connections and friends can be fickle and mean a lot less than off line relationships but Damien pointed out that even weak connections can take root and that Familiar Strangers can be converted to friends over time.
A relatively low number of attendees admitted to understanding blogs and the potential of blogs to increase SEO, becoming a recognised expert, improving your message, free R&D and creating interaction were pointed out as reason to utilise this medium. Fear of comments were countered by a note that it is better to have people discuss you on a platform you have access to and that you can change someone who complains about your product to someone who is favourable to your company.
Damien finished by discussing social media and the ability to target very exact groups on Facebook (300,000 Irish users) according to interest areas and demographic details e.g. targeting engaged women with wedding products. He also discussed a Taxi company in Galway who have utilised their 500 friends on the Bebo network (1 million Irish users) and offer discounts for Bebo users.
LinkedIn as a professional social networking platform is one that is underutilised but new services are allowing people to leverage the 20 million audience.
In the research session RTE and AMAS presented some interesting figures on online audiences including that 2% of adults listened to a podcast in last month with over 67,000 downloading the Mairan Finucane interview with Nuala O’Faoilan.
Aileen O’Toole discussed the power of silver surfers and the growth of marketing budgets going on line.
Over all a lot of good sharing of content but some of the most interesting debates were off line which was one of the objectives. One of the final sessions one ‘New Media- Old Audience’ contained some great examples of what the Royal Shakespeare Company are doing. Speaker Mark Ball spoke about putting plays and other catalogue items online something that there was a general reluctance to do amongst the audience. In a Q&A session he spoke about the dual aims of their strategy of creating links with a new audience who will never visit their theatres as well as enhancing the experiences of those going to these plays, something that was echoes by Fiona Kearney, (Director of the Glucksman Gallery).
In a stark example of the difference between digital emigrants and digital natives moderator Stuart McLaughlin (Chief Executive, Business to Arts) spoke about going to plays with his 5 year old son. Before he goes to any play he wants to see some of it online first, then following the play he wants to reenact and upload his version of the play.
Stark new realities on the way communications are rapidly changing and a general message of better to ride the wave, even if uncomfortable, than being swept under.
Online PR Presentation from Search Marketing World 2008
April 17, 2008
I finally managed to work out how to post presentations through slideshare. Great tool. The presentation below is one I gave at Search Marketing World 2007.
Here are the notes to help make sense out of the slides.
My name is Eoin Kennedy and I am an Associate Director of Slattery Communications and a director of the Irish Internet Association. We would fall into the category of a traditional PR company but we have started to grow our online offering to blend in with the regular offline campaigns that we run.
Today I will talk about the experience of growing campaigns online:
What is holding back adoption?
Some of the reasons why companies have been slow to embrace the opportunities that online presents.
What PR has to offer
Building on this I will look at how well positioned Public Relations companies are to grow their offerings online.
Why the rush?
Online PR and digital media have been around for sometime but now with the growth of broadband and some really useful tools it is moving very fast and the landscape is changing quickly.
Tools you can use now
Despite some of the things that are causing delays in adoption there *are* some things that communications people can and should engage in immediately.
What is possible?
I will then look at some of the areas where, with some investment, PR companies can begin to work the online environment.
I will then finish up by talking through some examples.
1. Fear of technology. Many PR people never really get beyond using word processors. Using audio and photo editing software needs new IT literacy skills and many do no invest. Although most software has become increasingly intuitive it still takes time to master rapidly evolving tools like blogs. Add the almost daily new applications that appear on facebook and you have a very different learning curve.
2. Exposure. PR people are very comfortable with supplying content to journalists and even happier when the journalist uses their bi-line on the article. Not all are so happy when their names appear in print. Similarly we are happy to prep and push out spokespeople but less happy being on the front lines ourselves.
3. Feedback. People rarely feedback on articles they read in the traditional media world. By the time they have found pen and paper, envelope, bought a stamp, the enthusiasm to reply has worn off. In addition written letters rarely get printed. Not so the blogging and social networking world. Instant and perhaps less thought out feedback is common. Many companies and PR people feel very uneasy about this.
4. Time. Researching, monitoring and implementing online campaigns sinks a lot of hours. Few executives in PR companies sit idly at their desk and with pressure to record billable hours means that the value of online campaigns can be over looked and seen as unproductive use of time.
5. Age profile. Most senior management in PR can be defined as digital emigrants at best. The emerging new class of younger PR excutives who have grown up in an exclusive online environment have very different skills and agility. Senior managers can feel very exposed and are sometimes negative about online PR as a result.
6. Networking. Evening events and social events have always been the feeding ground for PR executives to hand out business cards and flaunt their expertise. Building online networks from Facebook to LinkedIn means spending equal amount of hours on a PC to ensure that you are connected to the new online influentials.
7. Information Overload. I see on a daily basis busy PR executives struggling to even read the daily selection of newspapers. Add the countless blogs, twitter entries and flow of online news feeds and people stuggle to manage the information. Combine this with the huge number of user names and passwords and many just give up. Tools like FeedDemon help but are still underutilised.
8. Fear and Ignorance. One of the most negative barriers to PR companies is the lack of understanding of the power of good online campaigns. Fear can be a double edge sword – for some it causes them to dismiss the opportunities but now that critical mass has been reached in terms of numbers online and the reliance on the search engines for finding information on companies, the fear is starting to drive action. With over 1 million registered Irish users of bebo and over 127,000 new Irish users on facebook in a 9 month period last year there is a growing feeling of an emerging tsumani of online users who will want their content presented in a different way than articles in the Irish Times.
9. Definition. Traditional PR services differ hugely amongst communications companies. What one considers PR, others consider as promotion, hence the confusion in defining the job role of a public relations consultant. This gets even more confusing in the online world where the options are vast. In addition the parameters are being roughly draw up and are still vague at best. For example at a recent Ketchum Leadership conference I attended in London, one of the affiliates spoke about running campaigns on Facebook and the clear line between providing engaging content and infiltrating the community. Hiring online influentials to spread the word was seen as beyond acceptable behaviour.
The list of reasons for not fully engaging goes on but what is clear is that if PR companies do not invest in their capabilities that someone else will appear and eat their lunch. The traditional media has constricted and those who do not change will find themselves in a shrinking and competitive market.
· Content – one of the areas that PR excel in is the generation of good quality content. This is usually very use focused, clear of marketing speak and engaging. This ranges from press releases, articles, speeches, newsletter, TV notes, briefing pack etc. Unfortunately much of this is aimed squarely aimed at traditional media and much resides on servers after it printed.
· Engagement – whether its dealing with community groups, trade association, events or political entities pr campaigns aim to engage an audience. Online offers the potential to extend this level of engagement to new levels
· Debate – PR is rarely one sided and seeing both sides and making judgement call is key to good pr
· Dialogue – one of the crucial areas of PR is ensuring dialogue – either between a company and its publics and normally through the media
· Monitoring – the days of paper monitoring has gone to online key word search
· Ear to the ground – PR has always been excellent at taking the pulse of what is happening in the eco system.
Changes in the traditional media environment have been relatively slow. The biggest changes have been media going online. Now the focus of power has changed with Citizen journalism and the control has started to become a fallacy. Lets look at some of the numbers:
· Bebo claims over 1 million with 600k being a more accepted number. This is a lot of 16-24 year olds that are outside of a lot of traditional pr campaigns
· Face book is around 131K users. This grew around 127K in 9 months last year.
· Technoratti report over 112 M blogs and this is growing daily. Even if a fraction is relevant to your business it still a huge number and the search engines love then
· You Tube has over 69m videos, most of which are in the 2-5 minute category and they are emerging as the most desired medium for Digital Natives.
· We ran a viral video over Christmas which featured our staff putting themselves through torture in the name of charity and over a 2-3 week time frame we saw an increase of over 2,000 unique visitors to the site. More interesting was the number of places they visited after they watched the video.
So why else should we take notice
• The Traditional media as we know it is constricting. Titles are merging. The landscape is becoming more competitive
• Some of the Channels we previously used are now not relevant to many new target groups. The search engines are the preferred medium for information search and often the places where we placed stories do not appear in these searches.
• There is still plenty of scope for the trusted press release and photo but online users demand more Media Rich content and this is missing from the arsenal of pr companies
• Finally these demands will be met and if not by the pr industry then by a growing number of more nimble niche players and believe me Others will eat our lunch
· So what should PR companies be doing immediately. I am amazed by the number of companies who still do not post their press releases. This means that they are relatively invisible to the search engines. The search engine optimisation of press releases – ie posting them on one of the many online free news distribution services, hyperlinking keywords and optimising the words so that they are more attractive to the search engines is a must.
· Setting up a blog takes roughly five minutes if you are slow. Once the rational and logic of the blog is thought through these provide an excellent medium for putting out messaging, never mind the engagement they great. They are also highly visible to search engines.
· Photo sharing sites such as Flickr are being used more and more to present a more media rich view of an organisation from press launches or functions or creating a new use for expensive photography. Many of these sites have also incorporated social networking principles so you have the added advantage of creating new and exciting opportunities to communicate.
· The new range of applications and the networking potential of social networking sites such as facebook, myspace and bebo are excellent opportunities for interaction. The events application with facebook (although abused by some) almost replicates the event management expertise that consumes a lot of executive hours.
· Finally. The online chatter and rapid emergence of news, stories, scandal is almost instantaneous – both good and bad. We effectively monitor the newspaper and less so broadcast but how can we advise clients if we are a day late. The volume of information is endless but Google alerts and tools like Feeddemon mean we can reduce this manageable proportion and make it relevant to the people we represent.
With some extra effort
· By investing some extra resources – time and new skills the new areas that can be explored is immense. Podcasting requires some additional software and some new tools but is within the scope of pr practitioners and is a powerful medium to work our way through the clutter. Quite often we also find that in generating radio ads that bolting on a podcast when the studio time is booked is a very cost effective way of generating extra content.
· Utilising stories and pushing them wider through social bookmarking and tagging through Digg and Delicious is also possible by investing time and energy and looking for new opportunities to increase the visibility and debate about stories
· Finally you tube. Again new equipment needed and imagination but by looking into the range of tools we use there could be great scope for viral video, which can also be posted on company websites and blogs can create enriched perceptions of an organisation
One of the companies we represent is RedMere. They recently presented at CES and we ran a campaign around their attendance locally through in-depth pieces in the Sunday Business Post and the Irish Times. We also ran a more international programme through liasing with the key blogs and international online sites such as EE Times. In addition we utilised the business wire circuit to reach media that are beyond the normal scope of a Dublin based agency. Finally we also posted the release on, in this case Newswire Today. This was picked up by google within a few hours.
One of the piece of coverage we received during this campaign was a piece in Silicon Republic which we pushed further through Digg.
I mentioned the viral mail we did instead of Christmas gifts. Outside of the extra traffic it turned out to be a really good team building exercise for the company and we received more feedback from clients that we ever did from hours of picking the present that were not always appreciated. Not having to sign hundred of cards was also a relief.
Measurement is always tricky business for PR campaigns but the level of detail that logs provide give you an instant picture of how a campaign worked. This is the log from traffic on our own site. The spikes are from when we sent out the link for the viral mail.
One of our clients Bombay Sapphire ran an event with an internationally renowned design expert. We ran with our regular invites and follow up but also utilised the network that executives had on Facebook to present a more interactive and media rich experience of the event. It also acted as a great medium for post event follow up with people who attended and also a platform for feedback.
Finally Repak is a producer responsibility scheme who run recycling awareness campaign in addition to other activities. We set up a blog for them to create more flexible means of communicating than their website. A lot of the content is reworking of content that we generate through campaign we run for them and supplement other activities such as conferences and newsletters. It has also enabled us to reuse photography that we have commissioned and an outlet for podcast material.
We also organise the Repak Recycling Week that runs during the first week of October. The campaign always generated a load of column inches – last year alone we generated a huge number of newspaper clippings and broadcast interviews. We also run a school programme for them but felt that we needed to create a new level of engagement with younger recyclers. We had good contacts in bebo who were supportive of the campaign so we researched and build a bebo profile for the campaign. Bebo utilising a template model but there was load we could do once we matched the content, language and enough areas for interaction with the bebo community.
We built our own skins, put a lot of energy into widening the friends network, organised competitions, polls, a survey which we have previously build for use in print media to see how good a recycler someone was. Part of the traditional campaign featured a material per day so we mirrored this on the site with news, facts and figures on the recycling of glass, aluminium, plastic – again reworking content that we had already created. We also organised for a college to Bling Bring banks that we positioned around Dublin (Grafton Street and other areas). One of the bring banks was themed around Tetras and the students generated a video simulating the Blinging process frame by frame. We hosted this and we also hosted the ad that Repak generated during for the week.
So how did we get on.
• 11,000 visitors over about 3-4 weeks.
• 41 Entries to our competition. Some of the entries were pretty elaborate and you can play back how they drew them
• Over 760 Friends which is now around 900
• 200 Comments – some of which were one liners but some were queries, some were supportive
• 307 Quizzes taken
• Over 500 Polls
• International hits – accidental but showed the international interest
• Over 100 Views video
• Unsolicited endorsement on an independent site praising the profile
• 10 Entries on Blog
• Media Coverage through national media
So in summary online pr has come of age thanks to broadband penetration, the dominance of search engines and new online tools. The critical mass is now there to warrant investment. PR is well positioned to use these tools once we can over the mental and skills barriers.
Experiences with Bebo
February 27, 2008
We have been running pr and media relations programmes for Repak for a number of years now. Every year it extends a bit further and we include something new. This year we wanted to start engaging a younger audience having previously run the ‘Cash for Cans’ programme and other initiatives from education packs for school to targeting special supplements.
During Repak Recycling Week we built a Bebo Site for them with white board drawing competitions, polls, quizzes, advice section, photos, videos and a blog. To keep it fresh we updated it daily with information on a different material to be recycled and invested a good bit of energy in building the friends network.
Offline we had also engaged a school to customise or Bling some BringBanks for us that were placed around the city as street art. One of the BringBanks was given a treatment of Tetris and a frame by frame video was made of the process (the background tune still sticks in my mind as it mimics the game) which we also posted on YouTube. We had also developed a separate Repak Blog which was much more corporate in language but using similar content. Some of the results surprised us:
• Site exceeded 11,000 visitors after 3 weeks.
• 41 Entries to the online drawing competition.
• Over 760 Bebo Friends registered.
• 200 Comments
• 307 Quizzes taken
• Over 500 polls taken
• International hits from USA, UK, Germany and France.
• Over 100 Views of You Tube video
• Irish Independent and Silicon Republic Coverage of the site
We also got some nice external eendorsement of site on other peoples blogs. What particularly interested us what the level of engagement/interaction and the amount of time that people spend on the site. We keep it up to date with follow on campaigns such as Repak Green Christmas and the launch of the Carbon Calculator. Once the content is tweaked for the audience it gives it a better afterlife than sitting on a file server or wrapping fish and chips.
Finally the biggest spike in traffic was when we changed the sponsored link from the logo to a photo of models we used at the launch.