Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

H&K Election Predictor 2008 Nails It! … (well, almost)

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Thirty-six days, 72,000 visits, nearly 700,000 page views, and 100+ mentions across various political and media blogs and discussion forums later, and the moment of judgement for the 2008 version of Hill & Knowlton Canada’s Federal Election Predictor is upon us…

As always, there is considerable trepidation when the final voting percentages are added into the system. And as always, it’s for naught. When broken down by party, our calculation (baked in proprietary mathematical goodness) was remarkably close to the end result… In fact, it was off by - wait for it - six seats (6).

Official Results:    CPC – 143 / LIB – 76 / NDP – 37 / BQ – 50 / GREEN – 0 / IND – 2

Predictor Results: CPC – 143 / LIB – 74 / NDP – 38 / BQ – 52 / GREEN – 0 / IND – 1 

Granted, a few discrepancies appear when the data is analyzed at the specific riding level (meaning that a few of the ridings we predicted didn’t match up with the official outcome). Overall, however, the digital team at H&K is pretty chuffed that we were able to play along with the big boys – pollsters, pundits and academics alike – in the seat projection game.

Of course, we’ll let others figure out what this all means, if anything, to the art and/or science of seat projection. From the standpoint of what it means for H&K, however, it’s clearly become a powerful franchise for ensuring the H&K brand remains top-of-mind with target audiences during an election campaign.

As an exercise in social media activation, our respective French and English Facebook pages generated a respectable 700 referrals collectively, while the site itself received positive saturation across the Canadian political blogosphere. Traditional media sites also played an important role with MacLean’s alone driving 1500+ visits (and further amplifying our footprint). And not surprisingly, Wikipedia was a key vehicle for awareness-raising, driving 3500+ visits to the site.

Ultimately, it was interesting to see such a high level of engagement on the site itself – with an average of 5 minutes spent per visit – as well as by bloggers and digital pundits via their own sites. Likewise, it was great to see (where the stats allowed) strong representation by those audiences who matter most to H&K’s public affairs teams – government bureaucrats at all levels, elected officials, academic institutions, competitors, and corporations both large and small.

Oh yeah, and the Conservatives secured another minority government.

The Virtual Conference Mash-up: An Idea whose Time has Come

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Kate seemed pretty excited when she landed on this. I share her excitement.

The virtual / conference mash-up idea is indeed brilliant (and kudos to the team who thought up the idea). Through applications such as slideshare and Youtube, an increasing plethora of content is being made available from a slew of experts across a variety of fields – including presentations such as this (which I hadn’t seen in years).

I can see a number of different applications for smart enterprises, including those looking to:

  • Educate internal audiences without the associated travel and lost productivity costs. I can see how this idea might allow organizations to package and deliver content in ways that provide a significantly more complete context to the subject matter – be it marketing, social media, crisis communications, sales, engineering, whatever… from a stage-setter, to break-outs on more focused areas, and eye-candy in between.
  • Inform external stakeholders on critical issues by aggregating and presenting multiple points of view from experts around the web combined with content created by your own organization and/or your supporters. Again, if appropriately packaged, the presentation will also provide a much broader picture and context that might ever have been possible previously. In doing so, I would also see a much more engaged discussion as experts and others see their content being mashed-up with ideas they may not support or which might contradict their own.

H&K’s Niall Cook brings Enterprise 2.0 to Canada

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Author, colleague, fellow Collective Conversationist and H&K’s worldwide director of marketing technology, Niall Cook, has finally realized where the action is and will be joining the Canadian digital team in Toronto on October 7 and Ottawa October 8 to chat about his new book, Enterprise 2.0.

In addition to speaking to colleagues and clients during his brief jaunt through the colonies, Niall will also be shilling his new book… erm, I mean graciously sharing the insights of his research to interested social media afficianados… over beers at Third Tuesday events taking place in both cities - check out the deets for Toronto (October 7) and Ottawa (October 8).

227 words about Niall Cook (in his own words)

I am the Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology at communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton, with responsibility for the agency’s online marketing strategy and internal systems to maximise marketing and new business efficiency. I created the industry leading blogging policy for the firm and set up Collective Conversation, the first blogging community from a professional services company.

I frequently advise the agency’s Fortune 500 clients on the effective use of technology to support internal and external marketing strategy, having recently worked on projects for Allianz, HSBC and LG.Prior to joining Hill & Knowlton in July 2000, I held positions at the online currency beenz.com, Answerthink Consulting Group, UBS and Reed Elsevier. I am also the founder and chairman of Cogenz Ltd, a company providing social bookmarking software for the enterprise.

I hold an honours degree in Typography & Graphic Communication from The University of Reading and live in Suffolk with my wife, daughter, two Hungarian Wirehaired Viszlas, one Tibetan Terrier, two cats and five chickens.

I am a frequent speaker and author on the topic of social media and social software, and was invited to address the Singapore Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts in 2006. I have also led the Ark Group’s Social Software in the Enterprise Masterclass. Other speaking engagements include the Institute of Fundraising’s national convention and the 2nd Annual Internal Communications Measurement Conference.

About Enterprise 2.0

Social software has taken the Internet by storm, fuelling huge growth in collaborative authoring platforms (such as blogs, wikis and podcasts) and massive expansion in social networking communities. These technologies have generated an unprecedented level of consumer participation and it is now time for businesses to embrace them as part of their own information and knowledge management strategies.”Enterprise 2.0″ is one of the first books to explain the impact that social software will have inside the corporate firewall, and ultimately how staff will work together in the future. Niall Cook helps you to navigate this emerging landscape and introduces the key concepts that make up ‘enterprise 2.0′. The 4Cs model at the heart of the book uses practical examples from well known companies in a range of industry sectors to illustrate how to apply enterprise 2.0 to encourage communication, cooperation, collaboration and connection between employees and customers in your own company.Erudite, well-researched and highly readable, this book is essential reading for anyone involved in knowledge, information and library management, as well as those implementing social software tools inside organizations. It will also appeal to marketing, advertising, public relations and internal communications professionals who need to exploit the opportunities social software offers for significant business impact and competitive advantage.

 

David Jones talks Digital PR and H&K’s Approach

posted by Brendan Hodgson

My colleague David Jones is in Vancouver this week on behalf of his client Molson. He also made time to speak at the traditionally any-day-but-Tuesday Third Tuesday social media gathering (lovingly organized by Tanya, the Netchick herself, and Monica).

Gathering from what I’ve been reading from some of the bloggers in attendance – thanks in particular to Rebecca and Tris for their insightful summaries - he appears to have given a good showing, and articulated a number of important points with respect to how H&K approaches the social media space on behalf of our clients such as Motorola, Intel, Molson, Overlay.tv and others, including:

  • the importance of continuous learning within H&K itself,
  • the challenge of communicating in an environment where every employee is now a potential communicator, whether they know it or not,
  • the fact that social media is rarely, if ever, a ”quick fix” or a campaign that can just be turned on and turned off (and we ensure our clients understand as such), and
  • that listening to and making sense of the conversation is more about hard work versus relying too heavily on the myriad shiny new tools that might only do half the job…

Ultimately, it’s about getting past the hype, and focusing on what’s real, achievable, and makes sense to our client’s business or issue… and it’s something that Collin, David, and myself attempt to evangelize every day.

Another Federal Election in Canada means another H&K Election Predictor

posted by Brendan Hodgson

As had been rumoured for a couple of weeks and confirmed this past Sunday, a snap federal election is now on the agenda. Which means that Canadians will be going to the polls on October 14, 2008. And, of course, during these past few weeks – and secretly hoping against hope that the call would never come - we’ve been working furiously to prepare the latest version of the 2008 Federal Election Predictor (http://predictor.hillandknowlton.ca).

And with only a few minor bumps and scrapes, along with the most ill-timed server outages EVER, it’s here!

What’s new this year? A simpler interface for one. More importantly, we’ve also launched our new mobile version (www.mobilepredictor.ca) for those who wish to make and share their election predictions on the fly via their Crackberries or iPhones. And we’re back with the team blogging on digital trends in politics and other insightful miscellany.

As always, we try to keep mum on the inner workings of the predictor, other than to say that for past elections – federally, as well as for recent elections in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec – the predictor (and its provincial brethren) has shown itself to be almost frighteningly accurate. That said, the goal of the Election Predictor franchise has always been – unlike other sites that offer predictions – to provide a fun and interactive way for armchair pundits to view the numbers, and to test how shifts in voting patterns might translate into actual seats.

We hope you’ll enjoy this version as much as you enjoyed previous versions, and we look forward to your thoughts, comments, and critiques of the tool and it’s results.

Collin Douma joins H&K Digital

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Finding smart people who fundamentally ‘get’ how digital and traditional intersect, who have ’real’ experience  consulting with some of the largest brands in the world, who are both thinkers and doers in the social media sphere, and who have a fetish for steam punk and soviet-era posters, has never been easy.

In recent months, my colleague David Jones and I have realized just how difficult it is to find (and then recruit) that right blend of talent to add to the digital team. We’ve interviewed some very smart and uniquely experienced people who for, a variety of reasons, either didn’t quite fit the bill or were snapped up before we could make an offer. As of this week, however, we’re breathing a little easier. We’re certainly still looking - because we know the business is there – but we’re glad to welcome a new addition to the digital team in our Toronto office.

Given that many of you already know this individual, I won’t tax your patience. His name is Collin Douma. His blog is Radical Trust. And his experience, depth of knowledge, passion for digital, support for the social media community, and portfolio of work speak for themselves.

Both David and I are pretty chuffed to be able to bring his skills to bear on behalf of our clients – despite his dubious cultural addictions.

Welcome to the team, Collin.

 

Toxic Shower Curtains… or a sign of things to come?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Woke up to find a link to this New York Times story in my inbox.

Albeit a tad depressing given the context, it’s also an important reminder of the “art of strategic word selection” as a means to grab the attention of media and influencers via both the newswires and the search engines. Equally important, however, it highlights the rising “sensationalist” tide that pervades today’s media environment, and the potential for damage that it can cause.

“With varying amounts of credulousness, other outlets ran with it as well, including U.S. News & World Report, The Daily News in New York, MSNBC.com and The Los Angeles Times. The gist of some of the coverage was that it was all a tempest in a bathtub, though other reports took the information at face value.”

While this story about toxic shower curtains appears to have been successfully debunked by most mainstream media from the outset, the fact that even some took the information at “face value” is worrisome. Quite simply, the potential for other questionable research to cause significantly greater and longer-term damage to an organization or industry given the rush to publish, appears to be increasing, particularly as stories are picked up and shared across the social web. Vigilance will be critical.

On a lighter note, however, I agree fully with one PR expert’s assertion – cited in the same article – that such dreck as “solutions,” “leading edge,” “cutting edge,” “state of the art,” “mission critical,” and “turnkey” are, without question, the kiss of death.

Friday Digital Miscellany: Crisis, activism & a behind-the-scenes look at what IT is really up to?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Summer in London may not be springtime in Paris, but at least it didn’t rain last week for an internal digital and crisis conference I attended with fellow H&K crisis practitioners from across Europe, North America and Asia.

The key learning of the two-day event – other than to not let Cy Twombly’s art truly aggravate you: digital can no longer be considered an afterthought when preparing for, or executing during a crisis. It must be burned into the system from the outset - the technology, the people and the processes. It must become an integral part of the training regimen, be designed to support various crisis thresholds and provide sufficient flexibility to evolve as the crisis evolves. And not only is it simply about launching a “dark site” or adding a line item to a manual. It is also about guiding employee behaviours online, assessing how and when to respond (and not respond) to misinformation and speculation that may be bubbling throughout the social web, considering new ways and formats to deliver content and messaging, and working with other functional areas (per my last post) to ensure the ‘machine’ operates seamlessly.

Developments on the activism and social media front and the impact of the citizen journalist on the newsmaking process also caught my eye this week. In Canada, much like what happened recently in the U.S. over downed cattle resulting in one of the largest beef recalls in history, activists using a hidden camera were able to reveal what many consider to be questionable practices related to the slaughter of horses. And while the footage generated considerable media coverage, it also raised a number of questions related to how the industry is regulated. Not only is this further demonstration of the increasing levels of transparency now being imposed upon organizations through the use of technology and the rising importance of video and images to communicate in a way that text never could, it also demonstrates how easily such footage can be taken out of context, according to one industry expert: 

“…Shanyn Silinski, executive director of the Farm Animal Council in Manitoba, an animal welfare group, noted regulations govern the slaughter industry… Silinski cautioned against drawing conclusions about a particular facility based on clips of camera footage.” 

Finally, and on a more humorous side, props to Churbuck for Thewebsiteisdown.com, one sick video that, in the words of Homer Simpson, is funny cuz it’s true.

Effective digital PR reaches beyond the Comms Department

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Before jumping on a plane to London last night, I was invited to speak to the senior legal officer of a major Canadian corporation. The point of the meeting was to discuss the impact that digital communications, and social media in particular, was having on organizations as a result of the heightened transparency being imposed upon them - both from within and without.

With thousands of employees potentially speaking on behalf of the corporation through blogs, social networks or other online channels - willingly or not, and appropriately or not - the level of exposure faced by many organizations is daunting.

Which makes our job that much more exciting – if not extraordinarily difficult – as the reputational implications of the social web bleed into other functional areas of the corporation — be it HR, Legal, IT, and the c-suite. It reinforces the need for communicators to become increasingly knowledgeable about all aspects of an organization, not simply communications or marketing.  And it is an area of opportunity that – if approached correctly – will allow PR to extend its reach beyond the traditional grey areas currently being fought over by ad firms, digital shops, and PR consultancies.

As the Arthur Page Society’sAuthentic Enterprise” whitepaper sets out, communicators must now become stewards of reputation rather than owners of it. Which means that tomorrow’s communicators must be trained not only to learn about the craft of communications, both traditional and digital, they must also learn about how organizations function beyond the narrow silo in which we currently operate, and be able to strategically apply their knowledge to supporting the challenges these functions now face. They must be able to guide and shape the behaviours of the organization, recognizing that virtually every employee is now a potential avenue – frightening as it may be to some – to communicate the organization’s messages, and perhaps do so better than the c-suite or PR department ever could.

I often ask organizations if they’re ready to embrace the changes being forced upon them as a result of the social web – but perhaps we need to be asking ourselves that same question.

Employees, Social media and Reputation… A Month of Discussions

posted by Brendan Hodgson

June was never going to be an easy month, yet we’re nearly half-way through and I’m starting to breathe a little easier. Two conference presentations down, and two more to go – although the latter two will be more internally and client-focused which tends to make life a bit easier (he says, knocking wood).

Over this past week, Amanda Brewer, H&K Canada’s director of internal and change communications, and I have spoken at two events: the first being the 2008 CPRS National Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the second being to the Council of Human Resource Executives in beautiful Quebec City (currently celebrating its 400th anniversary – I suggest you go. I hadn’t been to QC in years, and it’s as stunning as ever).

Although slightly different in their focus, the general theme of the presentations were the same: that social media and Web 2.0 is transforming the role of the employee as “brand guardian”. And while this transformation is creating opportunities to drive greater transparency and bring employees closer to those upon whom the company relies – customers, communities, partners, potential employees etc., it is also highlighting a number of potential risks and challenges with respect to employee behaviour online and the consequences that could follow, intentional or no. In the presentations we highlighted examples of companies who have done it right, and we explored examples of what happens when employees take it upon themselves to communicate on behalf of the organization through social media, to both positive and negative effect.

At CPRS, we dived deeper into how organized labour has adopted social media in their efforts to communicate their stories and messages beyond traditional media filters and mobilize their membership and supporters, and considered how corporations are (or should be) responding. In Quebec City, we explored how organizations could (and should) help to guide employees in their use of social media – realizing that the workforce of tomorrow will have grown-up using these tools as part of their daily lives. Both are areas of increasing innovation in public and private sector workspaces, and judging by the level of discussion that ensued, it’s an area of increasing concern to those who practice in these areas.

Interestingly, I also see these discussions as an opportunity for organizations to further bridge the silos separating HR and internal and external communications departments given the increasing visibility of employees as brand advocates. And, as always, when we talk about “tomorrow’s employees”, I started off by showing this video – in my view, a creative and powerful perspective of the changes taking place in our society and mindset. (kudos to Dr. Michael Wesch at Kansas State University)

Next week, I will be in the U.K participating in an internal conference on crisis and digital, and working with our network of senior crisis practitioners to ensure our counsel and strategies reflect the digital dynamic and the potential for digital tools to support organizational communications when the stakes are highest – much as we’ve seen during the California Wildfires, and recent campus shooting. Interestingly, the area of crisis is another where the potential for employees to both support or, unfortunately, harm an organization’s communications efforts is becoming increasingly important.

The week following, my colleague Boyd Neil and I will be in Vancouver (I get to spend a whole 16 hours in Ottawa in between, yay!!) where I hope we’ll be able to take some of the learnings from the UK and apply them to a joint presentation to a global corporation (and client) on reputation, issues management and the impact of digital and social media.

Then Canada Day… and then a long rest.

If you’re in London and are able to get together on the night of the 20th or 21st, do get in touch.