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Friday, 23 April 2010

Blogging for Business in East Lothian

word cloud of the blog post on PHPR & Phenomenoodle talk on blogging for business
PHPR & Phenomenoodle talk on blogging for business

Did a presentation today at East Lothian Chamber of Commerce on Blogging for Business with Taryn Willis who runs the delightfully named Phenomenoodle - a dedicated WordPress website service -

Taryn's skills allows businesses to skip over the more rigid and inflexible traditional website format for a more Google-friendly and easier-to-update blog-based website. Perfect for some of the non-techie people who were there this morning: some whom had not yet managed to get their businesses online. And her tagline emphases she's aiming at exceptionally creative people: the sort that benefit from being able to easily upload photos and video. With East Lothian's focus on attracting more creatives into the area, she is well placed to help them.

My bit of the talk covered the general PR context: why businesses need to engage with social media: can your business afford to ignore sites like Facebook whose membership is so large that, if it were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world? (Thanks to the inestimable Stef Thomas at No Red Braces for pointing me towards that cracking statistic at his excellent social media workshop for in Edinburgh yesterday). And showed how it all linked-up: engaging with people in 1-to-1 conversations and relationship-building to create niche communities by posting and cross-posting between sites such as Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook and your blog.

Both Taryn and I are big fans of taking that cross-linking a stage further and integrating your blog and website at your own domain name. That's because blogs are easier to update and get much faster results on Google than webpages. This blog is integrated with the PHPR website to give me the best of both worlds thanks to Simon Allen at

Taryn neatly drew an important line between likability and competence. She rightly points out that blogs are a great way to demonstrate expertise and trustworthiness online.

As we ran through the benefits and gave some examples, you could see lightbulb moments going on across the room. At the end, an accountant rushed off leaving me with the parting shot that he was off to "give it a go". Brilliant!

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Public Speaking - Edinburgh

Toastmasters International's Edinburgh Speakers Bureau did their first gig yesterday - book speakers at

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Monday, 19 April 2010

6 Tips to Make Your White Paper Interesting

picture of a word cloud made from the blog post - PHPR recommends Content marketing with White Papers
Content marketing with White Papers
So many people without an original thought in their head re-hash other people's thoughts and think this is enough to create 'thought leadership'. Not surprisingly, many white papers turn out to be very dull.

At least The White Paper Pundit is doing something about it.

In 5 Ways to Create a more Engaging Introduction (, he returns PR and marketeers to the basics of good journalism and writing: remember to engage the reader.

The tips are familiar to most journalists and editors.

They include:

1) creating compelling headlines,

2) recruiting authoritative sources to back up your position, and

3) relate the heading to that expert endorsement.

4) use graphics to underline your point - and get your key message to those that skim, rather than read. And the more visuals that do that, the merrier.

5) Plus a highlighted sign off that encapsulates your key message.

6) I'd add using sub-headings and captions to echo the key points, but that's probably implicit in the earlier points.

As ever in communications, it's a case of picking one line through a story and making everything else serve that line. Broadcasters do that all the time, even when they show two opposing sides of a question.

You will have spotted that I've just done a re-hash with a little extra content from my own editing experience. But hey - this is a blog, aiming to pass on thoughts from the coalface rather than any pretensions of 'thought leadership'.

I'll save that for the white paper...

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Look out for the Giant Avatar of Portobello!

Photo of PHPR's participation in the Garden Gallery, part of Big Things on the Beach
PHPR in the Garden Gallery, part of Big Things on the Beach

Being a creative agency, it's great having The Big Things on the Beach public arts project on our doorstep to stimulate our senses.

PHPR has been a garden gallery host in one of their previous events (see picture) and we are always intrigued by their installations. Now a 6 metre high inflatable sculpture that 'captures the spirit of Portobello" is on its way. It is Grennan + Sperandio's Giant Avatar of Portobello - the second of three Imagine Porty Prom public arts commissions by Big Things on the Beach for their 2010 offering.

The giant Avatar launches on 1st May at 2pm at the Portobello Public Art House at the foot of King's Road - EH15 1DX. It will appear the following day on the beach 2pm-6pm at Pitville Street. On Monday 3rd May it will be outside the Bank of Scotland in Portobello High Street from 10am - 2pm. If the weather is poor it will be inside the Portobello Town Hall.

The first Imagine Porty Prom commission earlier this month was Michael Pinsky's Stroke - projected images on the Portobello swimming pool at night. It was an ethereal experience, made all the better for involving a host of local people.

PHPR provides up to one week's time a year in support for the arts, education and community projects as part of its CSR policy. Our MD is a volunteer adviser for the Travelling Gallery, arranged through A&B Scotland's Board Bank.

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Friday, 2 April 2010

Chrometa's Intelligent Time Logging Keeps PHPR on Track

screenshot of Chrometa time logging software that PHPR uses Chrometa to run the PR agency
PHPR uses Chrometa to run the PR agency

Whether PR is billed on results, ROI, profit share, PR for equity or whatever (and we have been known to selectively engage with all of these), somewhere along the line a timelog is needed to underpin those arrangements.

We do think it important to offer clients a timelog as PHPR is committed to operating on a transparent basis - we also pass on expenses at cost. But when it comes to putting the timelog together, we've tried various systems and they've all needed quite a bit of intervention from us and I suspect that we have missed a lot of small details over the years. It has to be said that most PR people, being creative, are not filled with enthusiasm for routine administrative tasks and we are no exception.

There's also a motivational issue, because we know that a timelog does not adequately reflect the value we deliver, so there's resentment if it takes a lot of time to do.

Sometimes the biggest results in PR come from one crackingly well-handled phone call made at just the right time to someone we've interacted with for years (and even if you wanted to, can you imagine the hassle of logging that chain of relationship-building?).

Well Chrometa's time logging ability doesn't extend to a backlog of personal interactions, but I'm really glad a friend suggested I took a free trial. It's rare that you find a program that really does significantly improve an aspect of your everyday working life, but for us, Chrometa is that rarity.

It seems to log absolutely everything I do on the computer (and a few moves made automatically by the system that I can filter out as not relevant to my timelog).

If I haven't moved the cursor for a while it will prompt me to log the time spent away. But most impressively of all, it doesn't just tell me how long a file is open. It tells me what percentage of the time it was being actively used. Great when you forget to close a file after working on it, or you are switching between various jobs.

The detail is excellent, across all sorts of programs, plus individual emails and files, plus online activity. Streets ahead of the old MS Outlook Journal.

All I have to do is drag and drop the activity into client folders that I set up very easily. I don't have to key anything in at all. Then I export it to a spreadsheet. Brilliant!

It is looks clean and simple to use, and it is. Plus the help files genuinely communicate solutions usefully. There are no signs of conflict with the 80 or so pieces of software I run. I did have to accept a license for SysInternals, a required Windows component for Chrometa, but that was just a click.

I was about to buy the program (a one-off $99) when I discovered that I could have it free for life if I blogged about it. So here you are. I am very happy to do so. I hope that you do too as this little gem deserves to gain recognition.

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