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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Picture of a pile of newspapers and magazines celebrating PHPR's new daily newspaper online at Twitter
PHPR's new daily newspaper online - find it at Twitter
Have started using the ingenious - a free service to set up a daily PHPR 'newspaper.'

The clever bit is that I don't have to write a word. The online newspaper is automatically created out of the links posted by people I'm following on Twitter. Most of them are posting tips on boosting business or useful business tips generally.

Apart from being a much nicer way to read the content of my tweet-stream, my daily newspaper is promoted on Twitter to c2,000 people I'm following. And a post about the newspaper is generated every day to my followers.

So with my former magazine editor's hat on, I want to ensure people who read my newspaper have a good experience. And that means a big tidy-up of my tweet-stream to boost the quality of the content. And watching out to see whether someone is a one-post wonder before committing to following them.

It's an ongoing process, but I'm working on it to create a newspaper composed of the best tips from people I've found online - especially people with online PR and marketing ideas, but also posts on sustainability and things I've found really useful generally. Or a quote that 'spoke' to me.

Hope you enjoy it. Have a look at and go to to set up your own!

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

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Friday, 22 October 2010

DIY PR at 4Networking

Picture of Penny Haywood Calder with her best-selling book DIY PR (1998)
DIY PR - how PR and online marketing are converging  online
Great questions from the 4Networking group this morning at my talk on DIY PR at Edinburgh South. Hopefully they will follow through on using PR, marketing and sales techniques to get the combined benefits working for them.

Tools like make that so much easier to achieve - posting to lots of different types of social media quickly gives you a PR boost and gets your marketing messages across.

DIY PR rule no 1: never write something once, when you can adapt it for all sorts of purposes: for example: news releases, blogs, ezines, micro blogs, status updates, forums and social bookmarking sites. Loads more impact for very little extra work, thanks to - it's free, so why not try it?

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Thursday, 21 October 2010

More Spin than Substance in Article Spinning

Picture of a snake oil salesman poster backing up blog post on article spinning being bad content and bad PR
Bad content makes for online PR
I enjoyed reading Peter Hoggan's piece "Why Article Spinning is a Complete Waste of Time."

Article spinning tools purport to create lots of unique articles from one piece of text. This may sound tempting to a journalist who wants to sell a piece to more than one outlet. But most people who favour spinning articles are interested in SEO. They do it to escape a "duplicate content penalty" from Google. Indeed, I'd heard this so often from people selling online money-making systems that I believed it myself. Until I read Peter's piece. He says there is no evidence that Google apply a duplicate penalty.

Peter runs SEO Scotland and he clearly knows what he is talking about. So it is entertaining and instructive to watch him demolish the arguments put forward by various people in the months that followed his piece, creating a veritable wake of comments.

I had noted that the enthusiasm for article spinning among the commentators seemed to be in direct proportion to their displayed lack of spelling and grammar skills.

Having played about with some article spinners, I believe you would have to be insensitive to the nuances of language to be comfortable with most mechanically altered text. Altering it to the point where you think you might just get away with it won't do.

Language is an incredibly subtle matter, to the extent that we each have our own unique voice. Linguists have actually created software that can analyse different texts and determine whether they have been written by the same person. They can do that because we all display slightly different patterns in the way we use language. Our writing styles are therefore as unique as a fingerprint.

So when a machine starts churning language it is not surprising that people can easily tell whether a real human brain has been at work.

I'm not doubting that an article spinner may speed up the production of distinct articles in the hands of a skilled writer. And goodness knows, journalists need every advantage they can get as newspapers increasingly replace writers with standard press agency copy. But the articles would have to be substantially re-written to display the human touch. A good journalist can churn out 5,000 words a day. One article spinner was proudly claiming to create 2,000 words using a spinning tool. Journalists would probably find it easier just to do a straight re-write. And sadly, there are plenty of talented writers available just now.

5,000 words a day is what a good journalist can produce... arrrgh!

Peter Hoggan is generously offering a free starter SEO course here, created with input from educationalists to help you absorb the lessons.

Image: graur razvan ionut /

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Repeated comments

I've noticed a couple of people pasting the same comment on 4 articles at a time.

Perhaps they want back-links?

While comment is welcome, I'm taking the decision to remove all duplicate content, but to leave the first post standing, provided that it is not spam or offensive IMHO.

Making a point once is fine, but four times is tedious.

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Beware the Next Big Thing Social Media Syndrome

picture of hundreds of Social Media Logos
Social Media Logos

I get asked all the time at networking events for advice on which social media to use for a business. I do try out a lot of sites looking for outlets to recommend to clients, but when I answer: "Follow your key target audience." This tends to be met by a blank stare, closely followed by a disappointed expression.

I'm giving people the best advise I can give anyone, but that's not what they want. They're all fired up by social media hype and really want to know which one specific social media platform is the magic wand.

So when pressed I suggest as a starting point for B2B (businesses selling to other businesses) business:

  1. Linked-In +
  2. Twitter +
  3. Blogs (integrated into the website & your own domain to make it easy to add fresh content onto your website) +
  4. to help pull it together

Then they say: "I'm on Linked-In and Twitter, but what about Facebook? It's massive."

"Yes", I say, "but massive can just be a bigger haystack in which to find your proverbial needle - key target customers. And you may not need a massive amount to make a major difference. Plus Facebook is very different."

There's not point in treating Facebook to blanket postings of business-facing blogs, tweets and linked-In updates. You'll reduce your audience massively if you talk too much business on Facebook - we try to average nine useful or entertaining tweets for any one light business mention, so we have 'earned' the right to a reference re what we do.

FaceBook is brilliant for online advertising as it can be so targeted.

It is also great for projecting your personality: letting people see your personal interests - great conversation openers when you meet up.

I find it helpful to think of Facebook as the online equivalent of the pub near the office. A place to have fun and gossip, maybe touch on work but not in a serious way. Plus, of course, check out the other side of key client staff and potential recruits, so you know what sort of things they like to chat about.

If there's not much difference between a product or service on offer, people will buy from people they like. Social media is 1-to-1, so it's all down to the personal touch and the ability to establish rapport when it comes down to most B2B sales.

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