Marketing Technology » Uncategorized Combining marketing and technology to develop new markets and grow existing ones Tue, 11 Jan 2011 16:47:54 +0000 en hourly 1 Note to self… Tue, 07 Sep 2010 07:04:17 +0000 admin …don’t tell the world you’re going to start blogging again, then disappear off on holiday. The two don’t mix.

In fact, I had a very social media free two weeks and you know what: I didn’t miss it one bit. At no point did I feel the need to contact my “friends” (unlike the vast majority of the teenagers on the campsite I was staying at). The only technology I really couldn’t have done without was my personal email.

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Announcing Hill & Knowlton’s New Social Media Principles Wed, 23 Sep 2009 17:53:32 +0000 admin Almost a month ago, I asked for help to update Hill & Knowlton’s social media principles.

This afternoon, our CEO sent out the final version to all staff worldwide. We’ve already updated our public principles on our website, but I also wanted to share the full document here and explain a little about the process we’ve been through, what we’ve changed and why.


Our principles are split into three sections: personal use of social media; professional use of social media on behalf of our company and clients; and use of our official social media platforms. You might say this separation isn’t necessary, but we have found that not all of our staff operate in all these spaces so we want to make sure they can quickly identify the bits that are relevant to them.

You might also say that this makes them too long, and the only guideline should actually be “use your common sense”. That is undoubtedly a valid approach but if we are talking about being accountable to ourselves, our clients and the social media community, that simply doesn’t wash.

Our principles are centered around encouraging staff to participate appropriately not restricting their ability to do so. As communications professionals, it is essential that we are able to explore, understand and participate in social media in order to credibly advise our clients how to do the same.

A few other things worthy of note:

  • We have a 24/7 email hotline – as well as our extensive digital practice – where staff can ask questions about what is/isn’t appropriate. Again this is designed to help, not hinder.
  • We have defined a complaints procedure designed to be fair to everyone. Too often, we see knee-jerk reactions that don’t look at the issue objectively.
  • Unlike version one, this time we have asked all staff to click a link in order to confirm that they have read and understand the principles.

The Process

For those of you trying to conduct a similar exercise in your own organization (or with clients), you might be interested in how we did it. If not, skip to the next section. Bear in mind that this was an update to existing guidelines not creation from scratch.

  1. We put the existing guidelines on our internal wiki platform and invited everyone to edit or comment on the different sections.
  2. Someone took all the feedback and created an updated version of the guidelines
  3. This was circulated as a draft to that community, socialized with senior management for comment and shared externally on this blog
  4. Final feedback was incorporated (mainly clarifications) before being signed off by the CEO, COO, CMO and digital practice head.

The Principles

Links to the text of each section of the principles can be found below.

Please feel free to use, copy or adapt these principles as part of your own social media policies. It would be nice if you could let us know if they’ve been helpful too.

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Helping executives get things done Mon, 25 May 2009 10:05:22 +0000 admin Over the last three weeks, I have had as many conversation with senior executives about how they can cope with the constant barrage of incoming information, mainly via email.

In various lengths of windedness, I tell them rather smugly that my inbox is empty 95% of the time. Not because no one ever sends me anything (although that may well be true) or that I just delete it, but because since January 2008 I’ve followed David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system.

Now I don’t know why it works for me. Maybe it appeals to the left side of my brain, maybe I just like process, or maybe it just works. But I highly recommend it to any senior executive whose inboxes control them rather than the other way around. If they can get it working (and you do need to work at it for a couple of months) I can guarantee they will feel more productive, less stressed and more in control.

In fact, I think there’s such a big internal market for this I’m considering offering one-on-one coaching to H&K’s elite.

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Calling all business marketers Fri, 24 Apr 2009 14:15:59 +0000 admin Not content with burning myself out last Christmas finishing my first book, Enterprise 2.0, I have just signed a contract to write my second. And this time on an even shorter timescale!

For this next title, I’ll be focusing on consumer marketing’s ugly step-child, business-to-business marketing – and specifically the application of social media principles to what has in many cases becoming a rather formulaic aspect of the communications mix. Yet when you consider that roughly one-third of searches on Google are business-to-business in nature and more than 50% of Google’s and 39% of Yahoo’s advertisers are business-to-business companies, then the importance of the Internet in the purchasing cycle cannot be overstated.

It follows then that it is no longer an option for business-to-business marketers to dismiss social media as a consumer craze, and my aim with this book is to raise the profile of successful business-to-business use of social media and help companies discover, select, integrate, exploit and measure these techniques as part of an integrated marketing strategy.

Wish me luck! And if you have any great stories of business-to-business social media marketing you would like to share, please feel free to comment.

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Here comes the recession… and B2B spam! Tue, 07 Apr 2009 19:47:58 +0000 admin Spam is obviously a fact of life these days, but I can’t help but notice a subtle increase in the amount of unsolicited email hitting my work inbox.

And it’s not just the quantity that is grabbing my attention, but the content too.

You see, this isn’t the usual Viagra or Rolex material but people – I’m guessing salespeople – desparately trying to hit their lead generation quota.

Now I have every sympathy for anyone trying to make a decent living in such uncertain times, but sending unsolicited and untargeted email actually has two effects on me.

Firstly, it’s annoying. Business-to-business marketers think they can get away with email marketing tactics that have been pretty much outlawed for self-respecting business-to-consumer equivalents. Even in this market (the UK) there are some gaping loopholes that allow emails marketing products and services to other businesses a free ride. If we don’t have a relationship that I initiated, then you shouldn’t be sending my email. Period.

Secondly, it’s irrelevant. By casting your net wider I pretty much guarantee that your response ratio will drop. I have no plans to review my developer headcount (none suits fine, right now) or upgrade my IP telephony. Just because your product might save me money doesn’t mean I’m going to be hitting that reply button.

Business-to-business marketing needs to learn a few lessons from its consumer marketing brethren, and realise that its market is in control when times get tough. And that means spending less time selling, and more time listening.

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Destination: Canada Wed, 01 Oct 2008 09:49:38 +0000 admin In the words of my hosts, I’ve “finally realized where the action is” and will be taking the Enterprise 2.0 roadshow to Canada next week.

In what promises to be a whirlwind tour I’ll be speaking to Hill & Knowlton clients and staff in Toronto on Tuesday 7th, followed by beers at Third Tuesday that same evening. On Wednesday I fly to Ottawa and do the same thing all over again, with Third Tuesday in Ottawa on a Wednesday (these Canucks are crazy guys, aren’t they).

It’s a while since I was last in Canada, but seeing that both the literature review and foreword authors for Enterprise 2.0 are both based there, it seems like a fitting place to begin the tour.

The rest of the year currently sees the roadshow moving on to Paris and Finland in November, and Sweden in December.

Promises to be a busy end to 2008.

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Take back the truth! Wed, 10 Sep 2008 11:12:00 +0000 admin That’s the rather audacious (trademarked) call to arms from the new website and software tool, SpinSpotter:

Spin doesn’t belong in the news. It’s like putting motor oil in the mojito. We have tremendous respect for journalists, but who would argue that the media circus isn’t out of control? A full 66% of Americans think the press is one-sided. Now there’s a website and software tool that exposes news spin and bias, misuse of sources, and suspect factual support. At SpinSpotter, you’ll experience the news in a profound new way. Yes, the truth is back in town.

After installing the free “Spinoculars”, SpinSpotters can see, share and edit suspected spin on any website. After visiting a few of my regular news haunts, I haven’t yet seem any “markers” to indicate spin. I’m sure that’s more to do with the lack of users than the lack of spin, though. In fact, the only markers I have seen are on the company’s own home page.

I like the fact that it’s not just a free-for-all commenting tool. SpinSpotters have to categorise dubious claims using one of the service’s “Rules of Spin”:

  • Lack of Balance
  • Reporter’s Voice
  • Passive Voice
  • Biased Source
  • Disregarded Context
  • Selective Disclosure
  • Almost all of these would allow a level of subjectivity, which seems an odd way of trying to make things more objective. For that reason, it’s hard for me to see how this service can be relied on, but I suppose its mere presence might just hold journalists and those who feed them news to account and increase the quality and quantity of unbiased reporting.

    That said, I think the company needs to add more (or even some!) international members to its Journalism Advisory Board in order to ensure that a US-centric view of media objectivity does not get imposed on the rest of the world.

    Take it for a spin (ahem), and see what you think.

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    What do you think? Tue, 25 Mar 2008 14:48:53 +0000 admin Flicking through the TV channels last week, I came across the following sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Show that I first heard on radio (as always, a much funnier medium).

    It’s a fantastic parody of mainstream media’s attitude towards user-generated content. Almost as good as Jeremy Paxman’s outburst at the end of Newsnight:

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    The worst social media of 2007? Wed, 12 Mar 2008 10:57:34 +0000 admin At South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), a panel of judges has just chosen the winners (or should that be losers?) of The Suxorz – “the Worst of the Worst in Social Media Marketing for 2007″.

    As some of the companies nominated are clients and I do not know whether we were involved in any of the campaigns (I know we weren’t in the UK), I’ll point you to Scott Monty’s round up of the contenders.

    I find a few things interesting about this.

    Judging Criteria

    This included:

    • Advertisers acting like asses
    • Out and out lying to customers
    • Corrupting authentic voices

    The Conclusion

    Steve Hall ( “It’s not hard to tell the truth; if you don’t, it’s just a matter of time before the public finds out.”

    Carrot or Stick

    I’m still on the fence over whether it’s better to applaud good behaviour or berate bad. In my experience, the latter is far easier to do (and indeed is what some of the panel have built their own reputations on). My concern is that it stops brands who want to do the right thing from even trying, just in case someone decides to turn on them. It serves to reinforce the corporate perception that I encounter all the time; that social media is just one big lynch mob.

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    Pot calls kettle black Thu, 06 Mar 2008 10:13:00 +0000 admin UPDATE: Rainier PR’s Stephen Waddington chips in with ‘Flat Earth debate disappoints’ (Great first comment too)
    UPDATE 2: Press Gazette has now published their write-up (no doubt they were checking their facts and quotes, unlike us bloggers) and Guy has posted his thoughts.

    I spent yesterday evening at the London College of Communication for the Flat Earth News debate organised by Press Gazette.

    On the panel were Dominic Ponsford (Press Gazette), Francis Ingham (PRCA), Malcolm Starbrook (East London Advertiser), Sally Costerton (Hill & Knowlton), Paul Charman (chair), Nick Davies (author of Flat Earth News), Peter Preston (ex-Guardian), Andrew Gilligan (Evening Standard) and Michelle Stainstreet (NUJ).

    Below follow my hastily typed notes from the main panel discussion. I’ve tried to tidy them up without losing their spontaneity. There was some Q&A afterwards, but this unfortunately descended into less questioning of the panel and more assertion from the floor.

    Nick Davies opened proceedings by saying that the negative response against his book is not representative of overall feedback he has received. The core argument he presented was that ownership of the media has changed, and the resulting commercialism has undermined the media. The time taken away from journalists because of this is making them vulnerable to manipulation from companies and public relations. He appeared to be blaming PR for the fact that journalists don’t check facts. They miss stories because they rely on PR and newswires. He wants to stop PR people making judgements about what stories and angles get carried.

    I was quite surprised to hear from a journalist that PR is quite so powerful. I wonder if someone could tell our clients…

    In response Peter Preston urged a sense of reality. Newspapers are commercial. Its not all awful, but there are things we need to do. He had his day in the Q&A session later.

    Michelle Stainstreet took the somewhat predictable ‘told you so’ stance. It’s all down to job cuts, long hours, poor pay deals, etc. Journalists are tied to their desks, churning out stories. It’s not the journalists fault, she suggested, it’s the owners in pursuit of profit. Of course, she finished, they should all join the NUJ.

    Sally Costerton disagreed with Nick’s point that readers and viewers are being misled. She argued that PR people are enablers who need to understand journalists’ agendas. Nick represents PR on a polarised level in his book – all lobbying and stunts. But the vast majority of what PR does is not that. Transparency is key – staff at Hill & Knowlton for example are bound by numerous codes of conduct. She also raised the issue of the explosion of channels – in particular, the spiralling of content on the internet which is not going to go away. Journalists are also bloggers – wearing two hats. This is new territory, how do PRs and journalists engage together? At the end of the day both parties want to stand up for the truth.

    Malcolm Starbrook took issue with Nick’s interpretation of figures. Fewer journalists and less time doesn’t mean worse journalism. The world is just moving faster. In addition, access to sources has been restricted that means that some of the old ‘bread and butter’ journalism simply isn’t possible today (e.g. defendants/witnesses can have journalists removed from court). Also, churnalism is not the same as sloppy journalism. It’s just the result of bad editors.

    Francis Ingham was probably the boldest critic on the panel. He said that the picture painted about PR in the book is “partial, unfair and misleading.” In possible the best quote of the night he said, “PR isn’t that powerful, journalists are not that lazy, and the public are not that stupid.” Argued that PR companies live or die on the strength of their reputations. Once their credibility is gone, its gone forever. A few gasps from the audience when he summed the book up as good entertainment: “Like a Jeffrey Archer novel. Good fun to read, but not to be taken too seriously.”

    By this time, things needed cooling down (including the lecture theatre which appeared to have no air conditioning). Dominic Ponsford pointed out that in his opinion the standard of journalism in regional press is generally excellent. But there is no doubt that PR material is a handy form of copy.

    Andrew Gilligan – who arrived fashionably late, first in his cycling gear (some of the audience later said they thought he was the pizza delivery boy) – said that he was a nuanced supporter of the book, given his own experiences of being both story-writer and the story itself. Focused on the web: “The web has transformed my productivity as a journalist.” Also argued that the web is the ultimate definition of churnalism. “All journalism is judgement.” You have to include which facts to leave in and which to leave out. The two things journalists want are stories and follow-up.

    In all, an interesting evening. Not much of a debate, to be honest, and not really sure whether the overall motion was passed or defeated.

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