Wednesday, 2 May 2007


Surfing once again to my favorite U Tube website I found an interesting video about flickr and how it can be used to enhance business endeavour. As I mentioned in the previous post about Web 2.0, flickr is one of the many websites (as U Tube of course) that exist to ‘serve’ online users. For those that might not know, flickr is a user’s generating content website in which you can upload and share personal photographs for free. All you need is to create an account and you will be able to have your own photo repository online. It’s easy, upload, organize or even tag you photographs for others to see. But as you will see in the following video flickr can be more than connecting with friends…

Friday, 27 April 2007

Customisation or Privacy Invasion

Google’s new Web History feature does the job for you. Sites you have browsed, blogs you read, videos you’ve enjoyed once and now you can’t find all are now at your fingertips by just subscribing to this fresh Google feature. As Google will do the job for you by simply recording both your search and browsing history. The key world for this new online service is customisation.

Google’s ‘Search History’ has now been named to ‘Web History’ to offer subscribers customised services to tackle the vast amount of online information. In the past, Search History allowed users only to view past web search enquiries and results. Web History is a new tool with which the user can search and access quickly and easily the web pages he visited in the past or even view any previous online searches he did through Google’s search engine. Likewise, the subscriber can also see its web activity such as the most frequently visited sites or his top online searches just by using Google’s Web History. Lastly, Web History can also offer more advanced search results according to the users past searches and sites visited in the past

So, how does it work? The user must be registered to a Google account such as gmail and have a Google Toolbar installed in their browser with a PageRank enabled. The data will then be available every time the subscriber logs on to his account. For example, say you can’t recall the address of an interesting site you read once but you want to revisit-it happens to me regularly-all you have to do is go to the Web History and search for the site’s name; and you will come up with a list of all your previously visited websites which had this name. Web history can track and retrieve information literally about every site surfed on the Internet.

Despite of its new offering Google’s Web History has created a lot of debate about user’s privacy rights. In fact, it does sound a bit spooky that all your personal information can be now gathered in a single server allowing-hopefully only Google- to make use of them so as to enhance its customer’s experiance.

Google states that the data collected are available only to the user signed in to his Account, and reassures that these will not be given to any third party, as the company complies to the existing privacy policy. In Google’s words it seems that Web History does not change anything from what the company did in the past when collecting information from its subscriber’s Toolbars.

But then again isn’t it true that every single website on the Internet can collect information about us just by using cookies or IP adress tracking.
So why would it be different this time. The conclusions are yours…

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Web 2.0: Some thoughts

Today’s post is inspired by my friend’s Evi’s post on a brilliant video about a Web 2.0 description, “Machine is Us/ing Us”, by Michael Wesch, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. This video, refer to by Technorati as the ‘most blogged video’, captures within five minutes the essence of today’s online communications.

Web 2.0 is said to be the successor of the World Wide Web. And it stands for a new generation of websites which use new technology platforms to allow and enhance collaboration, involvement and sharing of information among its users. In simple words, Web 2.0 is about users generating content and exchanging huge quantities of information. Examples include websites such as Wikipedia, My Space, Face book, You Tube, Flickr, Digg, Blogger etc.

Some people though say that Web 2.0 is nothing but a ‘bubble’, a witty marketing concept for promoting something that has been always with us since the first day of the Internet; as the potential in terms of technological capacity was there from the start of the World Wide Web. And maybe they are right…

Still, the benefits brought to the world of online communications because of the advent of these technologies, whether they are new or just an extension of what the Internet has to offer, are immense.

Now everyone with a computer and an Internet connection is given a space through these websites to become a publisher with his own agenda. Expressing his opinion and thoughts, and exchanging information with people who share similar interests all around the world. And indeed, that’s what matters most!

And that’s what the creator of the “Machine is Us/ing Us” successfully points out in his excellent video. Watch how it all started in the creator's own words...

(Although..a bit shaking but only in the start)

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Second Life

For me virtual reality, at least up until now, was something that exists only in fiction books, expensive Hollywood productions or most recently in the form of popular computer games that drive teenagers mad.

What I would have never thought though is that I would be discussing about virtual reality in a PR context. Well, what can I say…never say never, and always be open for the unexpected!

However, for IT professionals or any PR practitioner who considers him self a tech- savvy the idea of virtual reality and particularly Second Life is not at all new. In fact, from the little research I did, I think that Second Life is here to stay and stay for good.

Professionals nowadays discuss constantly about the impact of and how to capitalize on new technologies whether it is about social networking, podcasting, RSS or any of the so-called Web 2.0, or even for some Web 3.0 platforms, and how these affect communication. But, what’s next? Which do you think would be the future of the Web in the years to come? Paul Anderson, Technical Director of Intelligent Content Ltd., says that the "next step in the development of the Web is advanced 3D graphics...and Second Life is currently the easiest way to explore the implications of 3-D at an early stage."

From a PR perspective Second Life also offers great opportunities for businesses and institutions to capitalize on. Product development and testing, building brand awareness, advertising, product placement, market research are some of the aspects that Second Life can provide.

Some of the innovative businesses that are starting to explore the potential of this world are Adidas, Nissan, Reebok, Reuters, and CNET Networks.

Check out the 'reality' of Second Life...

More on Second Life

Reuters Second Life

Apple's Second Life

Business Week

The Coming Virtual Web

Big Spenders of Second Life

An "e-fluential" Force

When Threats can become Opportunities...

A new buzz word for online communications and viral marketing comes from the US and it’s called ‘e-fluentials’.

Burson-Marsteller has identified a group of online movers and shakers who shape the beliefs and attitudes of the cyber community. The idea behind is grounded on viral marketing, and involves the opportunities opened by the massive use of Internet-based communication.

Nowadays, Internet-based technologies have opened new channels of communication that overcame the boundaries of time, and place and allow people to stay in touch with daily life in a way that has surpassed even the wildest human imagination.

Mobiles, computers, Internet-based technologies, and especially online communications such as emails, blogs, podcasts, chatrooms and forums, make communication between individuals far more easy and fast resulting in an unprecedented rate of information exchange.

Internet users can now be connected with anyone around the world, and exchange ideas, opinions and experiences on products, services, brands or business activities that corporations can not control nor should ignore.

Indeed, that’s what e-fluentials do! This group of men and women represents 10 percent of the online population (around 11 million users) who reaches more individuals on more topics than the average online user.

E-fluentials make up most of the buzz created about products and services, and they can be segmented psychographically rather than demographically.

So as reliable sources of information on products and business issues they make waves by disseminating their opinions far beyond the range of their personal social networks.

E-fluentials are news seekers, powerful information ‘banks’ and opinion leaders who communicate with other individuals either online or offline whilst diffusing their knowledge about companies and brands.

They read and reply to corporate websites, blogs, use e-mails, newsgroups, bulletin boards, listservers or any other online communication tool to gather and exchange valuable information about purchasing decisions.

Burson-Marsteller recent research showed that the power of e-fluentials lies on the six key points:

E-fluentials are “Infectious”

They are as likely to spread word of mouth online as they are offline. On average an E-fluential passes on information to 14 individuals. The numbers talk for themselves. As 93 per cent of E-fluentials will share with others an experience with a company or its website either in person or on telephone, while 87% of them will email to friends.

Power of Negative Experience

E-fluentials share a negative experience on a product or brand with more people than with a positive one. Research reveals that on average 11 people will get informed about a positive experience, whereas, 17 in the opposite case.

Gender Affects E-fluential’s Surfing Motives

Men and women have different motives and interests when they go online. For instance, men usually look for views and consult others about technology issues, whereas, women tend to search for information related to health, food issues, or other women’s issues.

Corporate Websites Magnetize E-fluentials

Corporate Websites are the primary tool used by E-fluentials when seeking information about brands, products or services, while their interest is usually spread among a wide range of sectors such as retail, automotive, technology, etc.

E-fluentials Seek for Hidden Facts

Research reveals that 84 percent of E-fluentials have read product reviews or other people opinions on product related features prior to any new purchase they make. In fact, seven out of ten E-fluentials state that they will double-check either online (69%) or offline (72%) the legitimacy of an opinion if they have doubts about its truthfulness.

E-fluentials are Geared up to Enact

E-fluentials “respond to direct email campaigns.” A significant 90 percent of E-fluentials state that they have read unsolicited emails from known sources they trust. In other words, the familiarity of a brand is what motivates them to act positively. A 39 percent also states that they have visited a new website after reading such an email, whereas 21 percent have subscribed to a newsletter or forwarded the email to someone else.

More on E-fluentials:

Check out: Are You e-fluential?

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

What is Podcasting?

Podcasting is the next big thing among the techie community. But what exactly is podcasting? The word itself was derived from a combination of Apple’s “i-Pod” and broadcasting, and it’s a way of publishing files, mostly audio, to the internet that can be then downloaded by anyone around the world.

You can easily think of a podcast as a radio show on demand. As it consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to when ever you want either on your computer, MP3 player, or just directly from your web browser.

However, podcasting is more than a radio show. Podcasts can be easily downloaded automatically, usually for free, using software capable of reading feed formats such as the RSS feeds. In simple words, when you subscribe to a podcast, you actually subscribe to a reader’s feed which supplies the podcaster, author of a podcast, a link to that feed. As a result the reader can then check the user's subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user. The only difference between podcasting and a typical RSS feed is that the former contains an audio file in it.

Therefore, listeners can benefit from podcasting as it allows them to be always up to date since the RSS feeds makes the process of monitoring audio updates much more efficient.

But what’s even more interesting about podcasting is that anyone with a microphone, a computer and an internet connection can publish audio shows that can be listened to by people anywhere in the world. And although it was established in 2004, it is rapidly becoming a popular way for people to share audio shows primarily because of its very low barriers to entry.

Podcasting offers to both its listeners and users a great range of categories that can be used for. Podcasting examples include the creation of personal audio blogs, interviews for enhancing news coverage, music shows, audio tour guides, educational content that depends on audio, or even in-house news updates of a company. Therefore, whether you are an individual or a company it makes no difference, as if you have a brilliant idea about a podcast, you might as well do it!

Check out:

Friday, 9 March 2007

Concerns of a PR postgraduate student

Ancient Greeks used to say that the fortunate in life are those who are intellectually ignorant; that is, life is sometimes easier when you know less.

But nowadays, in a world that has become more and more complicated and demanding, this adage sounds a bit trivial, at least to me.

In fact, when it comes to technology and its ongoing advances it seems that exactly the opposite exists: the less you know the less ready and 'armed' you are to deal with the challenging and highly competitive field of business communications.

As a public relations postgraduate student, and nearly in my 30’s, I would never have realized before how far I have been left behind in terms of ICT’s knowledge. And if it wasn’t for my first PR &Technology course at the University of Stirling, I would still be in the dark.

Maybe, it’s the Generation Y syndrome, I don’t know. What matters is that this course is an excellent starting point to ‘meet and greet’ with ICT concepts and actually learn something useful and up-to-date that books alone can’t teach.

My journey to technology and public relations is still at its start but at least now I know for sure that the terms blog, podcasting, social media press releases, RSS etc are no longer part of an unknown realm to me.

However, moving a step forward to being less ‘intellectually ignorant’, at least in terms of ICT, I must also admit that now I am more concerned than ever about the development of Public Relation practices for the years to come.

In a world that constantly changes and where news is disseminated throughout within seconds, via the World Wide Web, can Public Relations practices remain as they are? Or should it be altered, reinvented even, to fit ‘new’ circumstances?

How can we still discuss corporate image and branding, crisis communications practices, organizational culture or employees motivations without considering, for instance, the massive expansion of blogs, forums or podcasting? Moreover, should we keep on implementing public relations strategies and campaigns to reach target audiences through the use of traditional communication vehicles when the structure of the communication itself, has changed throughout the years because of the internet?

These questions are not at all new to several practitioners and academics, especially in the UK and the US. And definitely there are no straightforward answers to these questions.

Whilst there is still much room for progress, in terms of both practice and education, the significant impact of information communication technologies to Public Relations cannot be underestimated.

Yet, it would be more comforting and promising for the future of public relations to see more universities adding to their curriculum courses that address these issues so as future pr practitioners can benefit in the years to come. And that comes from the mouth of a postgraduate student…