Have you seen these blogs? – October Higlights

I have decided to try and do occassional posts on bloggers who have interesting blogs. They might not be your typical “celebrity / A-list” bloggers but nevertheless have their pool of avid blog readers.

Note that these might not even be the usual tech/ pr/ social media folks. At podcamp yesterday, I was inspired by Amelia’s and Preetam’s blogs even though they don’t blog about topics that I usually write about.

I shall start with the ones that I actually know the authors (and they are all Asians and none of them really write about the topics I usually cover). Here are the 3 for today –

1) Siew Kum Hong – He’s my colleague at Yahoo! (our senior legal counsel) and also Singapore’s Nominated Member of Parliament. Although I was never quite into politics but Kum Hong’s blog posts are often inspiring and spur discussions and thoughts from members of the public. At podcamp yesterday, someone mentioned that there are more and more MPs writing blogs and going onto facebook.

2) Pluit Solutions – Herryanto Siatono is probably not an unfamiliar name to many. He’s the founder of BookJetty and recently joined Yahoo! too. As an avid reader, I find Herry’s blog really informative.

3) Timothy Go – Tim is a fantastic friend and a great news anchor on Channel News Asia. We used to blog on Livejournal (he still does) and I moved to wordpress and set up this blog. Expect to find a wide variety of topics in his blog, from behind the scenes of his work to his travel adventure (yes, he travels more than i do) and follow up to some cool events (that he always get invited to the chi chi and glam stuff).

Have you read any interesting blogs recently?

Does celebrity still sell? Part 1

A few months back, I attended a conference in the Philippines and one of the speakers presented on the power of word of mouth marketing. I am a big fan of that but the speaker went on to share how he believed that “celebrity endorsement does not work!”.

This is a question a lot of marketers ask. There are also many thoughts around this question.

In a New York Times article, the journalist wrote about “How nothing sells like celebrity

Using celebrities for promotion is hardly new. Film stars in the 1940s posed for cigarette companies, and Bob Hope pitched American Express in the late 1950s. Joe Namath slipped into Hanes pantyhose in the 1970s, and Bill Cosby jiggled for Jell-O for three decades. Sports icons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods elevated the practice, often scoring more in endorsement and licensing dollars than from their actual sports earnings.

The speaker at the event showed a bus ad of Rain (a popular korean singer) endorsing a hair product and he went on to ask the audience, “how many of you believe that Rain actually use this product?” It is a valid question. I am not sure if I believed Rain does.

I asked my girlfriends (who are in marcomm and PR) what they think over coffee, and as usual, we all have very different views. The thoughts ranged from “depending on who the celebrity is” to “depending on whether the celebrity and the product are ‘believable’. My ex-colleague believes in celebrity slimming campaigns if she can see the before and after results. And interestingly enough, my best friend, Yen who is currently doing her Master degree in Marketing Communications also thinks that celebrity slimming endorsement works for her.

Jonathan, my other half thinks that celebrity endorsement works only for certain brands, mostly for awareness building, for example Maria Sharapova endorsing the the Canon Powershot cameras caught his attention.

GeekSugar.com posted the top 10 celebrity gadget endorsements that works and created awareness but not necessary resulted in purchase.

For me, while I agree with the speaker at the conference about the lack of credibility of Rain using the cheap hair care product he endorses, I disagree that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. I think it does. It depends on the objectives. Objectives of the campaign, the image and message the brand or product needs to communicate and what exactly does the celebrity has to do

My good friend, Walter Lim blogged about similar topic some while back – on VISA’s celebrity ad for the Olympic. Walter’s post was looking at effective ads and the celebrity they used. The ad was effective for VISA because it is a good ad or was it because it has Jackie Chan’s endorsement? Maybe both.

For me? It is about association. If i can associate a brand with the celebrity, it works for me. Kiera Knightley as the face for Chanel caught my attention and i could associate the product, brand and the celebrity together.

I am going to leave other thoughts to next post. Anyone believes celebrity endorsement is completely a waste of marketing/ PR dollars?

Resume 2.0 – Who are you online?

Ok. Yes. I have been neglecting my blog. Being BUSY is totally understated lately.

Brendan’s recent post shows this blog declining in activities, (currently at spot 39, declining at -20… ) but an increase in “sociability” This just means, I still “socialised” online somewhere, just that I did not update my blog!

Two weeks ago, I was also reminded by a call from an event organiser about my neglected blog. The organiser was trying to invite someone from my company to speak at an event and he went to my colleague and then for some reason, did some search on me and found my blog. In our first conversation over the phone, he said, “ah! i did my research and read from your blog that you are a very busy girl….”

And I went … “erm….”

Although this blog is totally public and nothing scandalous to hide, it suddenly felt strange that people are searching for you online before doing business with you. It reminds me of the fact that people DO search and read up on you nowadays online. Employers do. Recruiters definitely do. Employees do too (I searched for my currently bosses before I met them for interviews), together with many known or unknown people who are online.

I was reading Daryl’s blog post on “Your Online Identity (Or Is It Okay To Have Party Pictures On Facebook) and Brian Solis’ posts on The socialization of your personal brand Part 1,2 and 3.

Brian wrote:

… Truth be told, any search engine, whether social or traditional, is the resume – it’s the Wikipedia entry for the rest of us. It’s no longer what we decide to curate onto a piece of paper or onto one traditional one-page digital resume. It really is moot in a world when anyone can practically piece together your story without the help of a document designed to shape and steer our perception.

In Daryl’s post, he highlighted that in a class of 459 people, 75% of them said yes to using Facebook to screen prospective employees if they were an employer.

That leads me to think, perhaps in the near future, there is no longer a need to submit formal and properly crafted resumes but to send over links of your social networks for employers’ reference. Better still, assume that the recruiters and employers have “done their homework” to have searched for you online and by the time they called you, they have a fairly good idea of you are


Other very interesting read:

Your Brand vs. the Brands You Represent by Brian Soli

No Flaming. Just Good Old Intelligent Posts

Recently, the local blogosphere is acting up and started some entertaining “flames”.

Wikipedia: Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users.

I was “entertained” for a very short while and decided that, time will be better spent reading some good old intelligent posts. Going through my hundreds of RSS feeds had been something I did on a daily basis some months ago. Work has taken over those time and I can only scan briefly over some news blogs lately. Today, I managed to get home earlier than usual and spent some time in front of my netnewswire.

Something crossed my mind, I remembered how mummy used to say to me when I was young, “read good books. read the classics. leave out the junk and those with bad writing.” When I grew up, she said, “Some magazines are worth the time, others obviously not. Don’t waste your money.” I totally love trashy chick-lits and the gossip magazines. BUt I have been good, I have got piles of C.S Lewis and George Eliot on my shelves, together with many other great books (all thanks to Jon, spoiling me and filing the shelves with books). If only mummy is more tech savvy, she would be telling me now to “go to bed and not waste time reading silly blog posts.”

For some reasons, I find that this blog is read by mostly communications students, PR folks and lecturers (I know, because you guys are nice enough to comment and email me) – both locally and in other countries. So, I thought, perhaps it might be good to share a couple of great blogs that have great writing and unique views (that mummy would have approved) and that I have enjoyed reading:-

Here goes…

Jeremy Pepper’s POP! PR JOts. One of my favourite posts in his – What does the P in PR stand for?. It was a fairly old post but READ IT!

Brendan Cooper, the friendly social media planner. All time favourite is his monthly PR blog index. Imagine those great effort of analysing and pulling together 100 PR blogs every month and ranking them. (And yes, my blog has been slipping every month, heh.. can’t blame anyone except for my lack of posts and activities) but otherwise, this guy has got some real cool stuff (social, new media and PR) in the blog.

I enjoyed almost everything in Brian Solis’ PR 2.0. Enough said.

I found David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now after I read his great book and have been a big fan of his ever since. So, check out both the blog and the book, esp. if you are into communication, new media or marketing.

Next, a very good friend, Kevin Lim directed me to Paul Stamatiou’s blog last year. Paul’s blog is not exactly into PR or marketing but more on tech. If you are into web 2.0 and new technologies, this 22 year-old blogger is definitely worth checking out! My favourite post recently is his review on WALLLLLLL….EEEEEE. I love Wall.E

And not forgetting my dear friend, Kevin Lim. He covers almost – EVERYTHING. His blog covers mainly technology, but be surprised and find different interesting observations from kevin! BTW, my blog is set up with huge help from him! Theory.isthereason is probably one of those blogs that I spent most time reading and commenting on. A search in his blog for my name, finds previous posts and stuff we discussed and commented on. He is currently in Buffalo and many of us back in Singapore is looking forward to him coming home!

That’s all for now! Happy reading!

Bloggers: Quantity VS Quality

Blame it on work. I have been unable to do much outside of work. Now that I am taking a short break, I can start writing..

Several topics and thoughts went through my mind the last few days and I shall try to jot them down in this and next couple of posts.

One of my colleagues came to Singapore from Sunnyvale to work on a project with me and we had a chat about how different the bloggers are in Singapore VS those in the U.S . He was highly amused at the “type” of bloggers that show up at events and the things they blog about.

I was discussing the same topic with another friend who commented that, perhaps the blogosphere here is not as sophisticated and generally still revole around recreational writing rather than niche blog posting. For example, I have always been trying to find influential technology experts who blog and have a healthy traffic in Singapore. I can only think of, perhaps 2-3 right now. If i am a client, trying to reach out to tech bloggers here, i have extremely limited options and would probably end up raeching out to tier 2 (and slightly less tech-savvy) bloggers.

I guess, this post is also directed to the social media consultants who are constantly advising clients to include bloggers outreach in PR/ marketing campaigns. It is definitely more than relationship building with the bloggers, we need to also know what we want to tell and WHO we want to tell it to.

Why would I want a popular food blogger (who might have 20,000 readers) whose interest is in food, restaurant reviews and receipes to try force a new high-tech application launch to his face and get him/ her to write about it?

If i am announcing a business strategy, why would i get a 17-year-old blogger (regardless of how popular his blog is) who writes in broken English to review our announcement?

Reach is one thing, influence is another. Quality (as in targeted audience and type of blogs) is definitely key. As a client, if i were to hold a bloggers outreach event (ie: in the office), to launch a new product, I would probably love to read/ hear about what the bloggers think of the product, ask intelligent questions about it and even if the post is controversial/ negative, at least it helps the client /company understand what users are thinking. What a client probably doesn’t necessary need is the blogger’s thoughts about the furniture, the carpet, the toilet signboard or the noodles he/she ate during the event and no mention about the product. When this happen, I can’t help but wonder where the problem lies.

Some interesting blog posts:-

Brendan Hodgson wrote about “There’s more to digital PR than social media

Brian Solis on “Making Mistakes and Amends in Blogger and Media Relations

Kevin Lim’s (non-social media post) but a hot topic on iPhone in Singapore

The Social Media Strategists – Do we need them?

Last week, I replied to a list of questions that Kevin posted on the topic of “would you hire a social media strategist?” . It’s an interesting question, – one that many of us in marketing, communications, PR, new media field are questioning.

I’ve given my replies to Kevin and looking forward to his next post on the compilation of thoughts from different people on the topic. (part 2 of his post was updated here) Meantime, I am gearing this post to a different direction. I am more interested to understand what the “social media strategists” themselves (and here, I mean, those who do it for living and not bloggers who blogs for fun or passion and charging people for attending event, calling themselves experts) think of their value to companies and the audiences.

Are they merely the connector between the clients/ companies they represent and the audiences? Will the role be a “stand-alone” or an integrated one , meaning this person will at the same time, manage other forms of communications ie: marketing/ traditional PR?

Are social media strategists in our midst explaining their roles clearly to us (the employers or even the mass audience). They are another layer of (for the lack of better word) “barrier” between companies and the audiences now, and if so, what does this layer do?

Steve Rubel presented an interesting post on his views about “3 internet careers that soon won’t exist” and one of them is a social media manager/ strategist.

Jeremiah Owyang, responded in his post “The need for the social media manager” . However, he also agreed that “social media skills will eventually become a normal bullet point in nearly every marketing resume…”

As far as I know, most of the social/ new media experts are sitting in the same offices and integrated into public relations agenciess that runs a digital department.

So, back to Kevin’s question, what qualification does a social media strategist need? I believe, to answer that, we need to ask, “what is the exact role of a social media strategist?” and from there, we can see the skill sets required.

To me, right now, this person should be a voice for the people/ audiences and at the same time, an evangelist for the companies/ agencies they represent. This person, shouldn’t be just an expert in technology or the “new” media. How do you actually know what’s NEW when you have no experience in the “old”?  For a start, i have a strong urge to say, a bullet point in the social media strategist resume should be “communciations skill” and being a strategist will also require him/ her to have some business sense. Otherwise, why would a company hire you if it’s not making a difference to the business?

Heh, i can see my social media strategist friends sending me hate mails soon. 🙂



PR and Social Media in Asia

I stumbled upon this wiki on social media when I was doing random surfing this morning about PR in Asia. It is really quite interesting and I believed it is put together by some university students.

I’ve been invited to a couple of social media events/ gatherings and the discussion topics have always been focused on which tools/ networks/ channels/ methods are best to reach out to the audiences. I realised there is always a tendency to generalise too much and assume that what works in US will work in Asia when we discuss marketing communications, public relations and social media.

The last couple of months, I’ve been traveling to different parts of Asia and spending time, trying to understand the different markets that I am managing in Asia Pacific region. It’s interesting to note how diverse and unique each Asian market is when it comes to managing PR/ communications in each country. It is even tougher to come up with a regional campaign that works across several Asia countries. When we talk about Web 2.0, PR, communications in general, at times we forget that there is the cultural element. Communications in an emerging market versus communications in Latin America will obviously be very different. How consumers in different market consume information is also very different and that should affect the way we plan our communications campaigns. As much as we have all heard that in the Web 2.0 world, it is all about the people, the online communities gathering together, sharing information, contributing to conversations, everything is becoming  more globalised. However, as I’ve observed and agreed with the students who wrote in the wiki, i think we’ve missed several points.

So obviously despite the market’s globalization process, there are differences between countries …because of cultural factors…which are partly responsible for the marketing environment in that market. Asia is a region with many layers: different languages, different cultures, and different technology preferences….all in a region filled with different countries, laws, etc. It does pose a tough challenge, not only for inter but also for Intra-national communication.

These observations are quite accurate. There are a lot of so called “social media experts” out there who sometimes called me up and said, “hey, we can offer you help on regional campaigns using social media….”

My immediate thought is, do you really know how people in India consume information? Have you stepped into Bangalore and understand the language difference? Do you understand the technological great divide between different cities in India or do you know what’s really big in Vietnam right now? Do you know that, web/ PC penetration is so much lower than mobile phone penetration in many Asia countries? So, it makes me wonder at times how companies and agencies hire their “experts” who hardly step out of their own country and hardly understand communciations on the web, let alone the 2.0 or the ability to reach/ engage consumers out there in Asia. Sure, some of us may understand how the web2.0 and how PR works (in general) but to put together some really successful campaigns, it takes much, much, much more than that.

In HK for instance, there are three primary communities in Hong Kong. The expatriates, who favor English, the local Chinese whose first language is Cantonese and the increasing numbers of mainland Chinese immigrants who use Mandarin. These differences are important to businesses as based on their target audience; their medium of advertisement has to change.

While we raved and make a huge fuss about Facebook, nobody really bothers about it in countries in Asia. In China, Korea and Japan and other emerging markets, there are some really big and powerful social networks that are locally relevant to the people.

When it comes to PR, it doesn’t really matter if Techcrunch or New York Times are raving about a certain product or website, if i’s not locally relevant to ie: Thailand or Vietnam, (that are not even english speaking markets) or big markets like Korea, India and China, honestly, the key media there don’t really care.

I have always hoped to find more great bloggers, influencers and thought leaders in Asia who cover topics on social media and communications, especially those who have not only in-country knowledge but cross-cultural, cross countries expertise. If you are one of them, please do drop me a note. We’ve heard so much from the US and UK folks, I think it is time to hear from Asia’s point of view on the topics of Social Media and new media. (honestly, it’s really not about knowing how to set up a second life account and far more than using facebook to set up an event invite).