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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Edinburgh PR Agency's Red QR Code says PHPR in more ways than one!



We now have a rather jolly red QR code to go with our corporate image. Must admit, I rather like the look of it. It's a cut above the usual black code and I'm assured it contains enough contrast to work on more basic phones' bar-code scanners.

But what does it do?

QR (Quick Response) codes join up the physical and online worlds. Makes it easy for people to load up our basic info online using their phone's barcode scanner wherever they see our QR code - biz cards are so last year dahling!
More importantly, it gets digital info to people fast when they're out and about with their mobile phones and tablets, before the thought has gone and the moment is lost.

Why bother?
Well, QR code scanning increased by 4500% last year. Mainly people scanning for discount coupons or deals and additional information on product packaging (like ingredient lists you can actually read). QR codes are mostly scanned by women using iPhones. Very few Blackberry users seem to scan.
And if you want people to be able to see your website on their phone, you can make a QR bring up your website when the code is scanned by a phone.
And QR generators are free, so why not?

Extra Visual Value
If you really want to cut a dash, maybe a coloured QR code isn't enough? That's when to reach out for Microsoft's own MS tags which can incorporate your logo or graphics. However they can only be read by the MS tag reader.
This is MS tags own tag for their MS tag reader app:


Value-Added Success
As ever: add value with useful, entertaining, extras or money-off content.
You could add 'how to' advice for instance, or a glimpse 'behind the scenes.'
Get people to sign-up, or use QRs to allow people to capture your contact details.
The trick is to set up a special landing page so you can track activity rather than direct someone to the homepage. As a tiny company, that's one we've ignored for now.
Where?
Use QR codes to make print interactive, whether it's your own marketing materials or in your adverts.
Turn your physical world digital with QRs in shop windows (for out of hours contact info, or just to save to their phone for future use?), on shopping bags and receipts.
Use them in direct mail, on name tags (our QR code comes with optional personalised stickers, posters and postcards, even a tee-shirt).
Or display on exhibition stands. You could supply your entire product list on a QR, but please design it to be mobile phone-screen friendly.
Plus, sneak QR codes into digital media. For example, embed QR in a PowerPoint presentation so people can capture your background info from the back of the room with their bar-code scanner. You can even use QRs on YouTube videos or TV ads.

Flex that Code
We've got a flexible QR code so we can set it to display more or less anything at any time. Apparently some QR code generators don't allow you to change the info. Most suppliers have a free entry level, but shop around and have a look at the optional extras and constraints.

How Do I Read a QR?
Help people read your QRs by telling them what to use to they don't have a bar code scanner app on their phone. Our supplier recommends using Redlaser for iPhone and Barcode Scanner for Android. i-nigma is also popular on iPhones.
What Do We Get?
As a QR code user, we get quite detailed analytics re where people are finding us and we can set it so that people can SMS us. We're mainly looking at it as another comms channel to give people more options, matching more people's comms preferences.
And it's a nice looking piece of design to add to our photo library - for a service company selling intangibles, that's always a welcome bonus. Used well, and it could become a valuable part of PHPR's intellectual property.
PHPR's QR Info
Given most people are using their bar code scanners on smart phones' little screens, we've taken the advice and kept our info short n sweet. Well, short anyway.
Our splendid-looking red box is just carrying basic info just now:
Penny Haywood Calder - PHPR Ltd
penny@phpr.co.uk
Status: Busy getting clients noticed online and in the media to drive new enquiries & boost their businesses.
Twitter: PennyHaywood
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/phprltd
Website name: PHPR - Edinburgh PR agency
http://www.phpr.co.uk
Penny's Blog: http://news.phpr.co.uk

How Do QR Codes Work?
And for those of you that like the techie bit: a QR code is a 2-D matrix bar code that stores up to 4,290 alphanumeric characters or 7,089 numbers. Invented in Japan (makes sense: they're brilliant at making things smaller) they were first used to track vehicle parts in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary, who kindly do not exercise their patent rights so everyone can use it.



PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: http://www.phpr.co.ukPHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtvPHPR Ltd on LinkedInFollow PennyHaywood on Twitter

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

PR Contributes £7.5bn to the UK Economy: PR Census

The PR Census 2011 is the first industry-wide census. The project is a partnership between the PR industry trade publication, PRWeek and the Public Relations Consultancies Association (PRCA) which has traditionally represented the larger agencies, although that remit is changing.

Martin Bradley, senior research executive at the independent market research company involved, Harris Interactive, put the figure in perspective: the gambling industry contributes £6bn to the economy.

I don't know about you, but my mother always taught me not to compare myself with the worst. She encouraged me to benchmark myself against the best. From that perspective, it seems to be a bit of a PR own goal to align ourselves with gambling. Especially coming at a time when we have made good strides to increase professionalism through the relatively recent chartered status of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

The Census reports that the £7.5bn figure for PR was achieved by the 61,600 individuals in PR – compared to 100,000+ people in gambling.

Is it just me, or is that comparison somewhat odious? You hardly need a strategic bent to deal with issues that can make or break a company's reputation if you work in the gambling industry - unless you are in the PR director or the CEO's chair. Re-stocking the fruit machines, while not without risks and responsibilities, is really not a comparable career choice to PR.

We all know that getting media coverage can be a bit of a punt on any specific day. The editor's job is to select the best stories available by his deadline, so much it depends on the other stories that break by that point and no-one can predict that with total certainty. But the odds are evened out by PR professionalism and that would include (but is not limited to):
  1. good media contacts and knowing the angles to pitch to their interests
  2. the ability to come at the story from different angles (we have a jealously guarded PHPPR check-list of 20+ different ways to promote a story) to give us more shots at success
  3. playing a longer numbers game with several quality releases, so the eggs are not in one basket
We also guarantee a minimum of 40 pieces of online coverage that significantly impact on the client's position on Google search results.

Despite the unpredictable nature of individual PR efforts the industry has a good record of achieving results. And I'm still not comfortable with the comparison of professional PR performance with the gambling industry - an industry that would detract from a Corporate Social Responsibility position. I would have counselled against it if I'd been involved. In fact, I'm quite shocked that this was sanctioned.

Is that an over-reaction?

If you are a PR professional, what do you think?

If you're not in the industry, does the comparison with gambling alter your perception of PR? Or does it not matter?

The PR Census involved an online survey, which generated more than 1,300 responses, and desk research using Government, ONS, PRWeek and PRCA data."

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: http://www.phpr.co.ukPHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtvPHPR Ltd on LinkedInFollow PennyHaywood on Twitter
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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Google+ Social CRM For the Enterprise Web?





If Google dominates the information web and Facebook the social web, is Google+ going for the enterprise web? Several leading commentators think so.

It certainly makes the commonly expressed doubts about people being unwilling to switch social networks from Facebook look pretty irrelevant. After two forays into collaborative working and social media, Google must have learned a lot. Digging further into the SME market looks more congruent with their information and ad sales offerings.

LinkedIn is the obvious player in the enterprise web space, connecting people together for career or commercial advantages. But despite some bells and whistles, it is primarily a messaging and CV display system, whereas Google+ has:

Circles - which let people organise contacts according to different relationships: friends, family, work colleagues etc, and exert different levels of privacy for different Circles. Privacy is a well documented bugbear with many Facebook users. By providing a lot of privacy controls, Google+ has played a very powerful trust card that should be particularly appealing to commercial users.
Google Huddle - for group conversations - looks good for organising events. Not to be confused with the UK-based leading enterprise cloud collaboration and content management company called Huddle.
Hangouts - spontaneous video chats when you can “hang out” with friends on web cams
Sparks - interesting material you might like, a bit like links posted by contacts on Twitter
Instant Upload - does what it says on the tin: upload a photo in an instant.

Google+ and Marketing

Tristan Rogers, CEO of Concrete, points out, "To video chat, aggregate content, share content and build groups of people that you can define rules against is a fundamental requirement within any established organisation. These are fundamental building blocks for organised communication across a disparate workforce."

Although commercial pages aren't available yet on Google+, Jeff Huber, Google VP of local and commerce, has said: "We will have (SMB) business profile pages on Google+... I can't announce a date yet, but we want to make them great, and we're coding as fast as we can."

Sarah Evans, owner of Sevans Strategy, and a contributor to the Eloqua & JESS3 The Social Media ProBook says "Brands could leverage people who have Circles in their target demographic as opposed to trying to awkwardly fit in."

Niklas de Besche, executive director at Meltwater Buzz says, "Essentially this is social CRM – the next big leap for social media: finding relevant consumers and topics, identifying influencers, 360 degree profiling of them, and then building online communities."

Google+ & Search

PracticeWEB's search marketing manager, Frankie Wallington, puts Google+ into the search perspective: "...at the Distilled Link building seminar a few months ago, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz spoke about social media playing a much bigger part in search results, essentially the more people like something or the more they tweet about a product or a site the better it will perform in the search results.

"As well as this, we had Google’s Panda update which started to use machine learning algorithms. What this update allowed Google to do was take sites that people said they did or didn’t like using a set of quality raters such as “would I trust this site enough to give my credit card details?” and scale that to every other site on the web. You’ve ended up with search results that aren’t just based on content that is optimised for search terms that get linked to a lot, which can create search results full of sites that you don’t really want to see but have been manipulated, you have search results that should throw up great websites with interesting content, great design, positive user experiences and less spammy ads.
"Couple this with what the Google+ project will allow you to do with sharing user experience and opinions. Essentially you’ll be able to “like” certain sites or AdWords ads and put a comment next to why you like them. So, if I do a search for a product or service and I see that one of my friends has +1’d one of the search results I’m far more likely to go on their recommendation."

The combination of search results, ratings, privacy, collaboration, recommendations and control looks like a potent combination over the longer term, although other sites may well adapt to the challenge. One thing is for certain: social media sites rarely end up exactly as they started. Google has deep pockets and is likely to have a few more tricks up its sleeve. Worth watching.


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: http://www.phpr.co.ukPHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtvPHPR Ltd on LinkedInFollow PennyHaywood on Twitter
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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Edinburgh PR in Lady Gaga Face-Off on Twitter!



I couldn't resist Visual.ly's Twitterize tool, offering a chance to have a face-off with a celebrity on Twitter. I got Lady Gaga randomly assigned and was surprised to see that I'm more social, but she is a tad more popular!

Joking apart, Visual.ly is a brilliant tool for producing excellent-looking infographics as this Anatomy of the Mobile Phone proves. Visual.ly is in private beta at the moment. To get an invite to try it out, see http://visual.ly


PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: http://www.phpr.co.ukPHPR TV Channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PHPRtvPHPR Ltd on LinkedInFollow PennyHaywood on Twitter

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