Online PR in Ireland – Are Irish PR companies too busy ringing about their press releases to notice?

(BTW: This is an Online PR course we’re looking to provide)

Definition of PR from the PR Institute of Ireland:

Public relations – The dissemination of purposefully planned and executed messages to selected media and publics to enable an organisation (or person) establish and build relationships founded on trust, and to enhance and safeguard its reputation.

E-Consultancy in the UK released a great report this week on Online PR and the attitudes from agencies and their clients about it.

The favoured definition of Online PR from that report is:

The most popular definition was “maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third party sites”, indicating that current Online PR objectives are more outreach and engagement-based than identifying, listening to and understanding stakeholders.

Some of the other definitions offered were:

  • Maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third-party sites.
  • Using new technology to effectively identify and create a dialogue with stakeholders.
  • Extending reach and awareness of your brand.

And over in Eire…

If you look up the definition of Online PR on the website of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland you won’t actually find one. It’s not in their glossary which I guess is endemic of what is not happening in Ireland in terms of Online PR. Neville Hobson has been over a few times now to bash their heads together, good for him, people like Neville are needed but I wonder is he seen as some kind off curiosity instead of the saviour to their industry?

This is an industry that needs saving according to the figures from PRII and Drury’s Paddy Hughes. 20% decline in business in 2009? 2008 seeing 0% growth? Ouch and ouch. As the Online PR industry in the UK and around the world is thriving too?

turkey, before
Photo owned by nayrb7 (cc)

Most Irish PR firms are just not getting Online PR here. Too many are into “harvesting” email addresses off blogs and then sending the usual old shite they send to journalists. If a journalist isn’t going to read your useless unengaging press release, the blogger you’re spamming will have less interest again. As will a Beboer, a Facebooker or a LinkedIner. Bloggers are not being paid to file copy and fill up space so they might just be pickier than a journalist and their audiences certainly differ.

A recent digital marketing firm (not PR now mind) spammed a load of Irish bloggers about some ill-fitting product and when I took this up with them they said the client dictated it. Now with even less balls, it’s online relations!

Getting it/not getting it

So do the main PR companies get online? Not sure they fully do. Looking at some of the PRII Council Members and their companies let’s see what we get: (I got depressed after looking at these few and didn’t bother looking at the rest)

Drury
Blog? No
RSS feed for their news items? Yes.
Social Bookmarking options around their press releases? No
Search Engine Optimised releases? No
Additional content around the press releases? No
Date of last news item? May 18th, 2006

Saying that, Drury have been very proactive with me for HP one of their clients. Sending me review gear the odd time and inviting me to HP events. To

Gibney Communications
No to all.
Date of last news item? Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Murray Consultants
No no no.
Last news item. 31st October 2007

Bespoke Communications?
Well they have a Facebook Fan page which is pretty monumental for an Irish PR company. Well done on that.
No to the rest.
No news page.

However when it comes to pissing off bloggers, they’re very good at it. Below is a stupid email Bespoke Communications sent to me about a blog post on broadband prices in Ireland. Despite the fact I met their boss at a BT Ireland event and chatted to him I got a cold impersonal email suggesting I am somehow making BT look bad.

To whom it concerns,

On behalf of BT Ireland, we would be grateful if you would please refer to BT Ireland’s official website, www.btireland.ie, for all official pricing details. …

A number of recent reports on broadband prices in the Irish market have included incorrect price details for BT Ireland. Therefore, we would be grateful if you would reference the BT Ireland website for any future references to BT prices for broadband in Ireland.

Dictating anything to a blogger is not going to go down well. Suggesting to the blogger they are being communicated AT because of issues with incorrect prices is downright insulting. For once I was civil with such a reply. Most bloggers would not be and an email like this could have easily ruffled enough feathers for bloggers to blog more on the issues, not less.

Depressing. You can check out the other PR companies from the list and see how they measure up if you want.

There are a few shinier lights though.

Hope without Obama

Edelman get it. They would what with being an International powerhouse. They blog, kinda. Piaras Kelly is in their Irish office and is well known and respected in the Irish blogging community because he’s part of it.

Slattery Communications are getting it with both running Facebook events and creating their own Facebook Creativity Application. And a blog! They have staffers who blog too. Eoin Kennedy for example.

Thinkhouse PR (Disclaimer: we have an unfortunate history) are getting it too.

Are there more examples of Irish PR firms getting it?

Minimals

Should a PR company not have at a minimum the following if they are to get Online PR?

  • A blog.
  • An RSS feed for news items. Bloggers might just subscribe to technology press releases or social.
  • A Facebook presence either officially via a page or via PR staff inviting people to events created on Facebook. There are 400,000 Irish on Facebook, reaching out to these active people is crucial.
  • Staff on Twitter
  • Releases dedicated to the online communities that exist.
  • Events tailored to those online communities.

I’m sure the usual excuses will pop up. They pop up in all aspects of life. It’s like this though: The boat is sinking and you can either learn to swim or you can die.

One example: How have telcos reacted to online negativity?

Looking at telecoms for when it comes to Online PR in Ireland you can see how the companies and their PR agencies are missing out. Three Ireland have a complaint thread on Boards.ie that has been viewed almost half a million times (449,285), it’s 379 pages long! Where’s the Online PR here? Boards.ie would (I’m guessing) love to have someone from Three to come along and engage constructively about this.

O2 did nothing about the rantings over their Paddy Tax and then when they treated potential and existing customers like crap and there was an online backlash, they still did nothing.

In the UK, O2 have their own Twitter accounts and real people who respond to issues. But not in Ireland.

And how many Irish PR companies have been to Measurement Camp? Measure what? Yeah.

Death by Internet

2009 is going to be very interesting for those who have forseen the growth of online and are geared up to tackle it. If the whole industry is going to tank by 20% though, it might not be so rosy for others. Death by ignoring the Internet.

"The Nick Jonas FANCLUB!"
Photo owned by Ezy Brenizzle (cc)

The business case for asking for a business case

Please stop asking for the business case for blogs or Twitter or Facebook or all these digital tools. Is there a business case for people reading the Irish Times in the office? Or listening to Morning Ireland?

On Friday night I was in London. On Friday night a local furniture store in Cork burned down. My Cork friends in London and myself watched what happened via my mobile and Twitter. Feck the notion of “how can we use this for business” before we allow it through our web filters. Just allow it. These are some of the pics we saw from London.

Pictures via Sam Kidd who was on the scene.

This is the aftermath:
Cork Fire North Main Street

What exactly is your justification for blocking the outside world from hearing from your company and sharing with your company?

Business Cards and the Mulley Communications business philosophy

I got asked the other day at the it@cork (their writing style enforces no capital letters) business conference whether I’d be toning down my brashness/style now that I was a serious business person. It got me thinking about this and it’s a popular enough question. Personal comes first, then business. To me. Business people are people first. To me.

If my personality has to suffer to get more business then I’m doing this wrong. I get into a lot of trouble for what I say and do and I wouldn’t be in these interesting places if I was some toe-the-line sycophant. At the same time I needed to get new business cards as I’ve run out of my current cards. To reinforce my philosophy of taking risks, the new cards will probably make some people choose not to hire me from the cards alone:

Mulley Communications

As always, the cartoons and doodles have been designed by Hugh MacLeod.

Hijacking a Brandjack – How would you do the Pat the Baker campaign?

Brand-jacking is the idea of taking a brand and without permission going off using it to promote yourself. Here’s another definition:

Brand-jacking happens when a third party hitches a ride on a brand’s fame, positioning and slogan and uses them for its communications’ own purposes – whilst undermining the brand’s reputation in the process

At the recent BarCamp, Alexia Golez and Pat Phelan had decided to take a few brands and build a whole online marketing campaign for them, whether they liked it or not. There is nothing malicious in this, the idea is to actually get more coverage for a brand but the ambassadors doing it are unofficial. I like that idea. You see many design and photoshop challenges getting people to redesign sites or logos and it is a way of people showing off their abilities. So I’m hijacking this great idea.

You may have heard of the Pat the Baker Bebo campaign, apparently me blogging about it made people buy sliced pans.

MySpace Music Party - Bryan Thatcher of Empressr and Michael Birch Co-Founder of Bebo
Photo owned by b_d_solis (cc)

If you were to run the Pat the Baker “online marketing ” campaign, what would you do?

With all the tools out there now, many of them free, what ways would you engage with the public? Blogs, Facebook, Bebo, Google Ads, special games, advertising or clever hook-ups with websites like Boards.ie and Rollercoaster.ie?

There is no prize for this, no reward except showing off your knowledge and skills here. If this works, well I might turn it into a regular thing on this blog. I’m sure many companies might volunteer to be the mark for the brandjack.

Niall Harbison on the benefits of Twitter and Blogs and Vids

Very good talk at Connector by Niall Harbison

This is a very good talk giving a layperson’s guide to how blogs, videos, social networking etc. can help a business and how to go about doing it. Like how Niall warns that success is not going to be overnight. It won’t be. Remember too Niall is a trained chef that came into this area from that business and I think with that background is probably more qualified to talk to businesses on what to do that those that claim their experts just because they have a blog. (I’m looking at you here Mulley)

Pat the Baker campaign on Bebo – An analysis

Pat the Baker on Bebo

For those unaware of it, it appears that Pat the Baker has decided to market itself on Bebo, of all places. Not sure how Bebo was chosen as a place to market since this is where the average age is below 18 and a space where the ones that make the bread buying decisions would not be hanging around on that space. Perhaps it was to influence the people that pester the mammy to buy the bread? Someone knows.

Irish companies that are running campaigns on Bebo are apparently dropping €30k to €50k on their projects. Figures for these campaigns and the breakdown of them are not public and don’t seem to be available but I would guess that for your money you’d get promotion to the front page for your profile, a specially designed skin (a template that the kids can install), promotion of the skin on the skins section and banners ads to be displayed around the site. This is pretty much what Pat the Baker has had.

So the profile was created in September and what are the results?

  • 2878 friends on Bebo.
  • 19811 views.
  • 334 love hearts.
  • 3638 skin installs.
  • 45 pages of comments. 20 comments per page. 900 comments.

Pat the Baker on Bebo

Pat the Baker on Bebo

So what about mentions in other places?


So if this campaign cost €30k, what were the costs per “engagement unit”?

It all depends on how things were measured. Are comments the measure of success or page views or Luv Hearts or skin installs? Taking only one of these factors as a measure of success:

  • 2878 friends on Bebo. So that’s €10.4 to acquire each friend. But getting friends on Bebo is dead easy.
  • Look at how many “shared the luv” which is more of an engagement. You can “share the luv” 3 times a day now. Yet they only got 334 love hearts. 90 quid for an engagement of that sort.
  • 3638 skin installs. €9 per skin install?
  • 45 pages of comments. 20 comments per page. 900 comments. €33 euros per comment.
  • 19811 views since September. €1.51 a view. Perspective: Mulley.net did 146k pageviews in the same time period.

Adding up all “engagements”
If we add the number of comments, to the number of friend adds to the number of Luv hearts to the number of skin installs we get 7750 engagement “units”. That works out at €3.87 if we use the magical €30k number.

The level of engagement if you consider the “Sharing the Luv” action is low. If you consider this blog post that asked people to comment about their favourite sandwich it only got 15 comments. Out of 2800+ friends?

Summary
Marketing bread on Bebo is probably not the best place for it. There was nothing innovative in this whole campaign either. Take yor picture with a sliced pan? Jesus. Singing to the theme song on YouTube is ok but is a very very expensive method of brand reinforcement.

Also, some advanced SEO work would have been good. The first result in Google is full of grammatical errors. Capital letters and apostrophes please.
Pat the Baker on Google

So what would I do? Not go on Bebo to sell bread. Hit mommy bloggers up and those who buy the bread and use the bread. Or if you wanted to get to the kids then actually sell them something more appealing but which makes them buy your product. You know like chocolate spread, peanut butter and jelly spreads etc. etc.

Facebook Ad campaigns now generate more data to help you

Facebook yesterday announced that they are now providing more data to advertisers
Over on Mulley.net I’ve covered creating Facebook Ad campaigns before and in some detail. Facebook allows you to target people based on their profile data and you can get very granular with the data. Facebook sent out a notice yesterday letting advertisers know that they’ve added more metrics to their ad campaigns:

control
Photo owned by mudpig (cc)

“Responder Demographics” report: Facebook users spend a lot of time
connecting with friends and family on Facebook – uploading photos,
writing on each others’ Walls, posting notes. Now you can find out
who is interacting with your ads. This report provides the aggregate
age, gender and geographic location of the users who have clicked
on your ad.

This is good. It gives you more feedback on how your add is performing which will allow you to write even better copy for the ads that you have.

“Responder Profiles” report: In addition to age, gender and
geographic location of the users who have clicked on your ad,
we’re happy to provide psychographic information of these same
users. This data is aggregated from user profiles and shows common
interests, favorite TV shows, movies, books and music.

This is probably a bit scary but you will now know more about the group of people clicking on your ads and will know that an ad that mentions X is liked by people who like Pearl Jam and The Wire etc. Like the above, the more data you have on these people, the better you can make your ads which gives value to you and those clicking on them.