Twitter web redesign

While most people are today focussing on the 10th birthday of the launch of Facebook, it’s almost been missed that another mainstream social media channel has undergone a little change.

ImageTwitter has had a bit of a refresh – the web version that is. If you ever use http://www.twitter.com through your PC or Mac then you’ll most likely have already seen the change. But if, as most people do, you only use mobile and tablet apps or Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to access Twitter, then I doubt you’ll even know.

Twitter has attempted to give its web face a more fresh look. The fonts have changed and the image header has moved. To a certain extent it is much easier to view. But how many people will actually notice as I suspect the numbers using the web access are very small in comparison to mobiles and tablets?

Two years on – OMB Communications

Today marks an important day for me and OMB Communications. It is the second anniversary of the business. On this day in 2011 a dream came to fruition.

OMB Communications logoI was finally in control of a business – my own business. The dream began many years ago. In fact it wasn’t the first time I’d run a business. When I was 14 I started what could be considered a communications consultancy. Yes, even in 1987 I was eager to enter the commercial world.

With the support of the Prince of Wales Committee, help from a local organisation that let me have a desk and cupboard in their office from where I could work after school and at weekends, I felt I had made it. Needless to say that dream didn’t last long.

Far from being unsuccessful, I was supported by a number of businesses keen to show support to a local youngster. I even made the headlines myself, being interviewed on Radio 1’s Newsbeat, appearing on HTV Wales Tonight (as it was then), BBC Wales Today, several local and regional newspapers, two nationals and the Times Education Supplement. And then I was named Young Achiever of the Year by the Development Board for Rural Wales (now defunct).

It didn’t mean much to me at the time and, to be honest, I didn’t realise it was a sign of where I would end up. But the business lasted a year or so before at the age of 16 I was offered a job on a local newspaper as a junior reporter. And who could refuse. £6,500 was a lot of money to someone at 16. I spent 10 great years on newspapers in Wales and the West Midlands, rising to news editor and working with some great people and news organisations.

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It’s your reputation, so protect it?

I’m lucky enough to occasionally escape the office and meet up with small businesses and sole traders in Wales and the West Midlands to talk about social media and its value within the public relations and media relations toolkit.

During these workshops I’m not only surprised at the number of businesses yet to appreciate the value of social media, but more so those that fail to realise the potential risk it has on their businesses, products and services.

At the start of each discussion I emphasise three words that they’ll hear a lot: Content, Engagement and Reputation. The last word is the one that more than often gets the first quizzical reaction from the audience. In fact, it’s almost a look of “I’m here to learn about getting ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, not talking about my reputation.”

And there lies my point. Businesses already immersed in social media, or contemplating the jump while precariously standing at the edge of the digital precipice, are all too often looking for the instant wins from social media without considering the pitfalls as they jump off the edge and into the digital abyss. Free-falling into social media isn’t a pretty sight.

Businesses that are dismissive of it risk their reputation, as are those already embracing it. I ask delegates if they have ever undertaken an online search of their business or brand, or even their own personal names (not for egotistic reasons). The answer is generally no. But once you explain and even show what others are saying on social channels, ears prick up and eyes become a bit more focussed (that’s providing they haven’t fallen asleep already).

Setting off that little gem of “who’s talking about you” ensures a sudden shuffle of chairs and scribing of notes. Yes, people are talking about your business. Hopefully in a good way, but possibly in a negative one. But did you know that?  How do you handle it?

And that’s where we go off on a jaunt into the murky side of social media that many businesses fail to appreciate in that search for the most followers and likes.

Brand reputation is a priority for any business using social media or contemplating it. You cannot ignore it. Deleting comments or blocking followers is not the answer. It’ll simply set off an unprecedented chain reaction of negative and damaging comments. It might generate more followers or likes, but for all the wrong reasons. And the reputation of the business will be laid bare for all to see as it progresses virally.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Social media is a great PR tool for gaining great exposure and engaging with new and existing customers. But when you jump off that precipice into the great digital valley, having the knowledge and ability to control the parachute to a safe landing is a must.

Facebook gets a PR ‘unlike’

It’s been another dark day for Facebook. Okay, well not that dark – maybe dull. But in yet another recent PR blunder the social media company that thinks it can gain acceptance from users for any action it implements, the company has decided that everyone should use their Facebook e-mail – but without telling the users themselves.

Several months ago, before its now well documented public flotation, the company did hint that it would implement changes to user profiles that meant the @facebook.com e-mail associated with personal user names would be brought in. But this week the company decided to implement the change without telling anyone.

Facebook logoIn what can only be described as one of those PR failures that just didn’t need to happen, Facebook has come under fire from all directions in the media, on user forums and elsewhere for the decision. And yet it’s something that with a scattering of PR dust could have been needlessly averted.

Instead of implementing something on users without explanation they could have sold it as yet another great Facebook innovation where users can integrate their very own Facebook e-mail into their personal account. Hoorah, no need for lots of other e-mail addresses for those that spend their life on Facebook. “Just one place for your social and e-mail communications.”

But no, they implement it and then everyone goes crazy. Another infringement on privacy (in some sort of way), and lack of consultation with its key people – the users, or rather customers at they’re fast becoming.

Luckily, users can change their personal detail settings and hide the Facebook e-mail, bringing their own personal e-mail back into the box.

But this is yet another example of a company failing to think before implementing what it saw as a minor change. Messing with people’s personal details is not a good idea without consulting first, or at least e-mailing users to say it’s happened.

No matter if your business is big or small, customers don’t like change. And if you have to make some alterations, consult them first and try at least to find a way of selling it as a new opportunity to make their interaction and experience with your product even better.

Hitting the ‘reputation’ beat with a toughbook.

Having been born and raised in rural Wales I’m all to aware of the issues of crime and the difficulty the police have when it comes to covering such a large and rural patch.

An interesting piece of PR came across my desk the other day which demonstrates how a force such as Dyfed-Powys Police can use a good news story to promote how technology and good old fashioned beat policing can make good headlines in the local and regional media and help strengthen community relations.

Owain Betts focuses on police PR and the toughbooks being used by Dyfed Powys PoliceThe force is installing ToughBooks to its fleet of patrol cars in an attempt to keep as many operational officers on the streets and in the communities for as long as possible without having to return to the police station.

While it’s not a new piece of equipment or a new story as such, the promotion of the fact Dyfed-Powys Police is embracing new technology to address the age old problem of bureaucracy keeping officers in the station and off the streets is a good use of PR for the organisation.

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Reputation is everything as online ceases

In our increasingly digital world it seems odd to be writing a post about the demise of an online publication that covers digital PR.

Vikki Chowney, editor of Reputation Online, has today revealed that the site is closing with immediate effect after a sudden reorgansation by owners Centaur. They are also ceasing publication of New Media Age in printed format, instead taking it exclusively online.

Reputation Online and OMB CommunicationsI can understand taking NMA online. It makes perfect sense, although as a subscriber I’m yet to be officially told that I will no longer receive a printed copy in the post. It appears they haven’t even finalised the digital channels for the publication (iPad, etc) other than the conventional website. So all a bit hasty.

What’s ironic about this whole issue is that Reputation Online would be covering the saga if it were another company and the site remained active. The PR thought behind today’s move hasn’t been the most smooth.

As someone who has followed Reputation Online since its inception I can honestly say it will be a loss. I enjoyed its news and ‘blog’ posts from fellow PR professionals. Indeed, I’m now happy that my own post on it will be archived for posterity.

Let’s hope someone takes on the mantle. See you soon Reputation Online. It’s been nice knowing you.

Update.

Here’s a link to nma’s explanation on why it’s going digital only. There’s no reference to ReputationOnline in this piece.

Bad PR judgement for Twitter-threat footballer

It’s difficult to judge if the Premiership footballer at the centre of ‘that’ superinjunction was receiving  joint legal and PR advice or if his solicitors were simply taking legal action against Twitter without considering the wider implications.

Social media networksHowever, if his PR team had been involved then it was a BIG fail. The issue had been brewing for weeks and, as anyone knows, these stories always get out eventually. It would have been better to nip the whole thing in the bud early on, admit to his family about the alleged affair, be transparent to the media and public and move on.

By drawing the whole saga out and then being seen to take legal action against a popular social network was a mistake that could harm his long-term reputation amongst the public. Continue reading