29 Sept 07: This week’s highlights

A couple of readers of this blog told me that they enjoyed my posts on the weekend highlights, probably because they are shorter than my usual long posts on various topics.

So, for this weekend, here they are:-

KENZO GOES TECH

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Beside tracking technology, social and new media news, my RSS aggregator is full of fashion and design blog feeds – I do love fashion.

So, when I went to the mall today and saw the Kenzo Ryoko fragrance Collection, couldn’t resist mentioning it here.

Anyone would have mistaken the unconventional Ryoko “bottle” for a pretty computer mouse. The palm-sized “bottle” is sleek and the collection comes in a range of candy colours and moods! Irresistible!

And yes, ok, I bought one. (PS: available for both men and women).

PUTTING THE TECH INTO TECH PR

The friendly ghost, a copywriter in tech PR wrote:-

I know there’s an argument that ‘non-technical’ people (whatever that means) might be better at tech PR because they get a new, fresh angle on what’s good about it, and the mechanics of PR should operate no matter what specialism you adopt.

But I do think there are often astonishing gaps in people’s knowledge which, to my mind, put them below the bar for truly grasping what they’re actually supposed to be talking about.

The question here is, whether or not PR folks who are handling tech products, clients or companies should at least have a certain amount of technical knowledge in order to be able to talk sense when communicating to media and audiences. I’ve given my thoughts in his post, what do you think?

SETH GODIN’S NEW BOOK

Shortly after releasing The Dip – a book that I really enjoyed, Godin is going to launch his next book in a couple of months time. The new book, titled Meatball Sundae “is going to be focusing on Internet and new marketing and the fourteen trends that change everything.”

For those folks who enjoys his book ad can’t wait for the next one to launch, Godin is going to publish a thought piece from the book every Monday for the next few months on his blog. Check it out!

Last week, my colleague, Wei gave me a book – Asian Brand Strategy and autographed by Martin Roll when he was last in Singapore for the Global Brand Forum.

Soon, I’ll need not only a new bookshelf but a new room to accommodate my fast-growing collection of books. And yes, I do read silly chick lits, literatures/ novels and other non-“business/ communications/ PR” books.

Blogger pitches: How and who?

In the last few weeks, I noticed a common topic popping up on my RSS aggregator. A few bloggers have been discussing views on “how to pitch to bloggers?”

Aaron has asked me to do an “interview” for the video show he has been putting together titled “Princessa and the little lamb” on the topic of blogger relations. My mad schedule lately delayed the discussion.

This post contains some readings and thoughts that I have gathered on the topic. I don’t have a personal list of 101 tips on pitching to bloggers but I am hoping to open this up for some discussions from PR folks and bloggers (especially those in Singapore and the Asian region).

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Highlights for the weekend

Four highlights for the weekend:

1) MY NEW BOOKS

A quick visit to the bookstore today and I came home with two new books

Think ASEAN! by Philip Kotler, who believes that ASEAN has tremendous untapped potential to become a highly energetic and profitable market and shows case studies on how companies go about penetrating this region.

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson – I had originally wanted to find Stephenson’s 1992’s Snow Crash (introduced to me by Kevin), unfortunately, the bookstore ran out of stock so I got The Diamond Age instead. When Stephenson wrote Snow Crash in the early 90s, Second Life was non existence and yet there are alot of similarities between the virtual realistic-cyber world that he described that we can see happening in the web space now. I am going to find the book!

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2) Y! MASH – the new Yahoo! Social Network

I am reading with interest, the new social network created by Yahoo called the Y!Mash. Unfortunately, it’s still in its beta stage now and you can only try it if someone sent you an invite. Meantime, here’s the Mash blog to check out the new network!

3) Our First PR Blogger Group Meet-Up

ThePR blogger group finally got together for the first time last evening. Initiated by Walter Lim – a group of us who are in the public relations industry (and blogs!) in Singapore are trying to get together with a simple objective in mind – to have some beer and bitch alot (kidding). We are hoping to share thoughts and insights with one another on relevant issues, topics and “trends” about the industry. Well, we did bitch and have many rounds of beer anyway.

For the first catch up session, Walter, Ben, Melvin, Jason, myself and Derrick (who got stuck somewhere and couldn’t show up) started the ball rolling. There are others in the group who are not able to make it but there’s always next round. So, if you are in public relations/ communications (+ being an active blogger) and would like to join us for some chill-out, drinking/ bitching sessions, feel free to drop Walter or me a note.

4) BLOG ACTION DAY

I first read about the Blog Action Day initiative from my friend, Erwin Oliva, a reporter for the online Philipine news website, Inquirer.net.

Here’s what it is about:

On October 15th – Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind.

In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment.

What Each Blogger Will Do

Bloggers can participate on Blog Action Day in one of two ways:

Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

I have signed up for it too to show a little support to the organisers for the (although not new but worthy causes) initiative

Ads VS Eds – The Blurred Divide

I have been asking friends who are in public relations (based in other countries) if the great divide between advertising and editorial is indeed getting more and more blurred or is it just me, struggling to understand the integrity of some of the local media.

The problem has always existed but recently, it seems to get worse as more and more competing publications pop up, vying for the attention of advertisers and consumers in our small country in Singapore.

I am sure I am going to get some “concerned” emails after this post from some of my wonderful local media friends who are reading this blog but I am open to hear some thoughts.

Here, I am not even debating about the difference between advertorials and editorials, I am just looking at how some media are asking us, PR consultants to get our our clients to advertise in their publications before they even consider our pitches. And here, I am talking about newsworthy stories that we crafted but got rejected because our poor clients do not have enough advertising budgets to spread across all key media.

It sounds unbelievable? “Where is journalistic integrity?” you ask and it’s the exact question I am pondering over.

Some common comments I got from journalists:-

– “oh, your client is a competitor of one of our biggest advertisers, so even though it’s a new launch, it is not nice for us to feature it. Even if we do, can’t do it too big” and that usually ends with “ask your client to advertise with us! then we can maybe do this and this and that too..”

I wonder what is the root of this problem. Is it the need to survive, profit pressures, thus causing publications to try push and increase ad sales by any means? It is not that bad if the question on ad buys comes from the sales folks but we get that from editors and writers/ journalists as well!

Perhaps, the companies/ marketers have a part to play too. The understanding of the difference between advertising, PR/ editorials is all confused. Every other day, we have clients telling us “I’ve already bought ads in XX publication, please ensure we get some editorial coverage in that publication.”
Because of that increasing pressure, and despite endless explanation to clients that it does not quite work that way, PR folks are getting tired and some gave up and went to the media and said, “well, our clients bought these ads in your publication, you should support us by featuring this and this…”

Vicious cycle!

At the same time, I am also observing the blogosphere and how some bloggers are blogging endlessly about their “sponsored” gadgets and would only blog about restaurants who advertise on their blogs.

Again – the blurred divide. But it’s a new space and there are alot of movements and changes, I shall have to keep on observing before more comments can be made.

Meantime, I have to start preparing myself for questions from clients asking ,“I spent $XX, can we get coverage of our latest product launch in the Christmas issues!?”

PS: maybe if the products are like the iPod Touch or the Nanos, there is absolutely no need to worry about getting editorial coverage in any Christmas supplements?

Future phones, and no it’s not an iPhone

This post is going to side-track a little from the usual PR/ New media topics and take a quick look at some really cool “phone” designs (and No, it’s not about iPods, iPhones or the touch).

Recently, I have been searching on mobile related topics – it’s a growing market (the whole bringing online content and social networking into mobile phones)! I was speaking with Jason Coates, Senior Comms Manager of Yahoo! SEA, and he was telling me about the explosive growth and opportunities in mobile development (especially in the Asia markets), usage and what users can now do on their phones nowadays. In August issue of Marketing Magazine, it also mentions that the global mobile advertising market will rise to S$17.13billion in 2011.

With Steve Job’s recent announcement on iPhone, new iPod touch, the mobile market is going to explode into alot of opportunities for marketers and users. Again, I am not going to go into details into the mobile research.

What I am highlighting today is six amazing FUTURE PHONES (that are not exactly phones) – developed by product design students at the University of Dundee’s College of Art, Science and Engineering. The brief was to create “Phones to support intimacy and sensuality.” Got the lead to this from Kevin Roberts’ latest post. Thought they are pretty cool.
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The above is called the m:ssage handset, built to send soothing massage at anytime, to a loved one, anywhere in the world.

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The Aware is created to allow communication between people on their personalised network. When someone on your network is nearby, the leds will pulse and send tingling down the users spine from the vibrators down to the back. (targeted at teens).

Three interesting posts for today

Three quick interesting posts I picked out for the day-

1) Steve Rubel thinks Geek Marketers are the next BIG thing! And I can see that happening, even in the little island here in Singapore. I know of a few such people here who fit the role Steve described, perfectly.

2) Next, I read with interest, the news of Kit Chan (yes, our local songbird/ celebrity) joining global PR agency, Hill & Knowlton as campaign strategist. It is an interesting move for Kit (am not sure of her experience in marketing/ public relations) and some wonder if it’s just a publicity stunt of H&K. However, as I mentioned in my last post, it could be a case of having someone who might not have all the necessary experience in a job but has great creativity and definitely – INFLUENCE. Again, interesting move for both!

3) Well, this is not interesting – this is GORGEOUS AND BRILLIANT! Apple’s “The Beat Goes On” event, announcing the new and coolest Apple products like a brand new iPod nano with video *gasp* and the iPod touch *double gasp*.

PR, back to basics

Recently, I have been a little annoyed and at the same time, amused by the fact that many marketing managers who also oversee public relations for their companies and brands have absolutely no idea what public relations is all about and how PR can work for their companies and products. Sometimes, it makes me wonder why they are put in that position, but that’s not my topic for this post.

First of all, PR is not just about “publicity stunts” and definitely not about roadshows or promotions. I am sure PR agencies get alot of the weirdest requests from clients to (1) get media down to their event – which usually means roadshows that have nothing “news worthy” and not carefully thought out to reach out to the target audiences (2) have a BIG press conference to announce their erm, website launch that often looks like any other websites (3) insist of doing “publicity” stunts that are totally not relevant to their products or company.

Yes, it is then the job of the agency to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE! the clients that there is really no way any media or consumers who would pay attention to what they want to do. Unfortunately, many consultants fail to do that for various reasons. At times, the clients fail to listen to advices. The result – a bad relationship and a lot of money wasted on a bad “PR activity”.

I have been in both agency and in-house positions and i know of many clients who complained about their PR agencies all the time and consultants in agencies curse behind their clients every other day. So, this post has nothing to do with new media and nothing 2.0 but it is going back to basic as I ponder and read some experts’ views on how the two can better work together to achieve better results.

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