Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Ever noticed that the spell checker in Microsoft Word knows names like IBM, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba and Sony but struggles with Google, Facebook and MySpace? Makes Word look like the parent that can't quite speak like a teenager. Funny though that the spell checker in Google's blogger doesn't question any of the names...
Seems a notable PR blogger that writes under a nom de plume in the US is looking for a job in Europe. They're presumably hoping to cash in on their social media prowess by helping beef up the skills of the firms over there. There is a challenge with this though. Good PR blogs, like many good industry blogs, are irreverent and tend to poke agencies in the eye when they do or say something stupid. In truth they poke at agencies most of the time, whether or not they've been stupid because that's what make them an interesting read. In other words, the very skill that makes them good at their job as a blogger makes them harder to hire in the industry they watch. After all, if you are agency X and have been roasted by a blog for the way you handled something, are you likely to want to hire the blogger? The answer is going to be no in most cases as quite simply most agencies would struggle to admit that the blogger was 100% correct. That's because they weren't 100% right... 85% maybe but not 100%. This is of course a shame but it's human nature even for thick skinned PR folk. Of course I'm not suggesting that bloggers soften their style so they can get agency jobs. It would be a shame to lose the edge that these blogs have developed just so the poeple writing them find it easier to get a job in PR. Instead it probably calls for these blogs to be prepared to be a little more willing to listen and for the agencies to accept they're not perfect.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Word on the street is that Google is looking to hire some 70 PR people at its head office in Mountain View in the near future. If true this could have quite an impact on the tech PR industry. At its simplest level it will tighten an already tight labor market and potentially drive up salaries as people try and compete with the search engine giant. Nobody would argue that Google has built an impressive brand in recent years but there are a couple of questions that I’d put out there. First, why is Google doing this now? Is it because they believe they are starting to see sentiment move against them much as it did with Microsoft when they became wildly successful? If so, then being a PR person at Google may be a less enjoyable task than in the last few years where editors have eaten up every news story, no matter how trivial. The second question is what has happened to Google’s stock? Last year the stock soared and then… soared. This year it spent most of January around $500 and has since drifted off to around $475. Could it be the new army of PR people is being brought on board to try and get the stock price moving again by airing more positive stories about the business? It’s worth considering that Google has historically been able to attract some pretty hot talent thanks to its soaring stock price. I wonder if the relatively poor performance this year is starting to hurt these hiring efforts…
I was reading a blog entry the other day that asked what had happened to the Microsoft Zune, the much touted rival to the iPod. Given the money Microsoft spent promoting the product it is a good question to ask. One way I sought an answer was to look on eBay and see what price these were now selling for. In essence I wanted to see if there was a big market for them and also what had happened to prices. It then occurred to me that eBay in effect offers a great tool for people wanting to track the life cycle of a consumer product. You can pretty easily take off the current pricing of products (highest and lowest) and also the volume available on a daily basis and thus plot the rise and fall of these products over time. This is the sort of data that usually required expensive research. Thanks to eBay it is essentially free if you can get someone to pull the data, or if you create a tool that automatically takes off the data. In the case of the Zune it did sell at a small premium to start with and can now be bought for around $180, which is about a 28% discount. Taking my theory another step I'm pretty sure you could use this kind of data to predict when you need to release a new version of a product in order to prevent the sales price sliding too far. Of course you could also use it to predict when your competitor should be releasing a new product.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
A couple of days ago Reuters made an announcement that appears to have been ignored by the PR industry. Essentially they announced the introduction of technology that would scan news for sentiment on particular companies and issues. If, as a result of these news scans, sentiment went above or below user defined limits, then an automatic trade would be executed. It's another form of algorithmic trading and will likely become a key target for PR consultants wanting to drive the price of a stock up or down. Presumably, if you know how to play the sentiment game, you will in effect be able to force your client's share price up and its competitor's down. A pretty scary thought but just as there are companies that have built a business optimizing sites for search engines, I suspect there will be people optimizing content for this Reuters technology.