Twitter
Twitter

I am a huge fan of Twitter. Since it was founded in March 2006, this social network has transformed how people communicate and how news is shared. It has connected and empowered people and has created communities around a multitude of subjects around the world. Twitter has become a primary source of news, as well a centre point for reaction to news. But in the last fortnight, Twitter has failed at what it encourages others to do. Twitter has failed to listen. And as a result Twitter has developed a reputation problem.

Twitter is no longer a start-up, though it appears to retain that culture. It is a a channel from where people get their everyday news, from worlds affairs, and consumer and sports, to gossip from friends, family and business colleagues. Twitter forms part of people’s everyday communications channels. And it isn’t just used by the media and creative ‘intelligentsia’, but by people who want to connect and want to be heard. It has become a fantastic tool for campaigners.

Today, Twitter has a reported 200 million active monthly users, over 70% of whom are based in international markets and jurisdictions outside the US. As a result, Twitter needs to show that it cares about the rest of the world, about the different cultures and legal issues.

A few weeks back here in the UK Caroline Criado-Perez, a campaigner who fought to have British novelist Jane Austen on the back of the new £10, was subjected to a barrage of rape threats from people who hid their identity. The attacks against Criado-Perez started after she appeared in the media discussing her campaign to have Jane Austen recognised on the back of this banknote. What followed was, as she describes, a barrage of “about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours” threatening rape and violence.

The campaigner decided to contact the social network’s manager of journalism and news Mark Luckie. He though ignored her Tweets and locked his accounts to stop her contacting him. With the threats in the public domain, Caroline reported the matter to the London’s Metropolitan Police who opened an investigation.

Of course because of her campaigning Caroline had the support from well known politicians and journalists, including Stella Creasy MP and Caitlin Moran. And it was these high-profile individuals who helped amplify her call for Twitter to do something about the threats that she was receiving. Twitter stayed quiet and initially refused to engage with the campaigner or journalists who sought clarification on what the network was doing to manage reports of threats. I have to ask the question, what if you are not followed by high-profile people who can help you gain headlines and public discussion? What then, is Twitter working to help the average Joe or Jane?

Twitter’s unwillingness to engage really did them no good with the media. Politicians here in the UK threatened to call Twitter’s senior management to a Select Committee.

It appeared that they were behaving like a junior start-up with little understanding of public relations or reputation management. They certainly did not show any understanding of how the world works outside of Silicon Valley.

A few days later Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge Mary Beard was the subject of similar threats following a programme she led on the BBC. She decide to stand up to the trolls and eventually got an apology, but again not before the media and the police intervened.

Twitter wrote a blog post entailed, ‘We Hear You’. The post tried to resolve the issue, but from a PR perspective did more damage than their strategy of keeping quiet. If this was a press release, and we can treat it as one given that they were responding to criticism, rather than starting the post by accepting the issue, they start by promoting the great services that they are developing.

Here is their opening paragraph:

At Twitter, we work every day to create products that can reach every person on the planet. To do that, we must take a wide range of use cases into consideration when designing interfaces or developing user tools. We want Twitter to work whether you are trying to follow your favourite musician, talk to others about shared interests, or raise the visibility of a human rights issue.’

Fact is, when trying to fight fire you never bring out your marketing speak. A big Twitter #Fail.

Twitter were forced to put somebody forward to talk to the media. That person was Twitter’s own Senior Director of Trust & Safety Del Harvey. On the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News, the interviews were pure car-crash. There was little sign of media training, little understanding of how the media works in markets outside the US and little insight on solutions to deal with a growing problem for a company that is in the process of going through an IPO. And reputation management experts is what you need at such a critical time.

In separate statements they also kept pushing the line that they need to look to see if people have broken their terms and conditions. So let’s look at these Twitter Rules:

  1. You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any Content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof
  2. All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content … Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk
  3. You understand that by using the Services, you may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive
  4. Under no circumstances will Twitter be liable in any way for any Content, including, but not limited to, any errors or omissions in any Content, or any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any Content posted, emailed, transmitted or otherwise made available via the Services or broadcast elsewhere
  5. Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others
  6. Unlawful Use: You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content
  7. Twitter strives to protect its users from abuse and spam. User abuse and technical abuse are not tolerated on Twitter.com, and may result in permanent suspension
  8. These Terms and any action related thereto will be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to or application of its conflict of law provisions or your state or country of residence. All claims, legal proceedings or litigation arising in connection with the Services will be brought solely in the federal or state courts located in San Francisco County, California, United States, and you consent to the jurisdiction of and venue in such courts and waive any objection as to inconvenient forum

What do you think? Did they? It’s clear that they have, but for some reason Twitter is just not wanting to face the issue. And let me say this, free speech as defined by the US Constitution’s First Amendment does not apply in legal jurisdictions outside the US. Free speech in England and Wales is protected by laws in this jurisdiction.

Fact is, from a reputational perspective Twitter finds itself in a mess, especially given that Twitter is hard at work for the up-coming IPO.

They failed to engage in a professional manner when they are the conduit of abusive communications, something that is against the law in many international markets.

They say that they do not want to censure what people say on Twitter, something that I argue is fair enough so long as they enable others to tackle the trolls. They haven’t.

It really is time for Twitter to grow-up and start acting as the great information network that it is. It needs to:

  • Understand the world outside of not just Silicon Valley but the U.S.
  • Have experience PR and repetitional management professionals that can deliver counsel at guidance in the different global markets in which Twitter has a presence
  • Understand that not taking responsibility is just not an option.

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations hosted last week it’s annual Social Media conference. Focusing on how social, digital and mobile channels are changing communications and business, the #CIPRSM team brought together some leaders from the worlds of mobile, analytics, finance and international diplomacy to discuss the future of our profession.

I attended and chaired the panel on #SocialMedia across international border with Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director for Corporate Communication’s Allan Schoenberg (@allanschoenberg) and Noriyuki Shikata (@norishikata) who is the Political Minister to the Japanese Embassy to the UK.

I put together a review of the conference on Storify (#CIPRSM Share This Conference: A Review). If you are on this network then do follow me.

 


 

#CIPRSM Share This Conference: A Review

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) this week hosted a social media and public relations conference in London. Speakers shared insight on how technology is reshaping pr, reputation management and management consulting.

 
  1. Technology is reshaping the public relations and communications professions. Social networks have connected people, they have empowered them and given them a platform through which they can share their thoughts and opinions. And because of the rapid adoptions of smartphones and tablets consumers and stakeholders are sharing their views from wherever they are.

     
    Delivering the opening keynote to this conference the Economist’s social media editor Tom Standage shared with us the real history of social media, all the way back to Roman times!
  2. Literacy widespread in Roman world & Tom Standage comparing it to social media of the time #ciprsm conference
     
     
  3. Fascinated by @tomstandage keynote at #ciprsm on how social media “has been around since Roman times” pic.twitter.com/HS4nGJn2u7
     
     
  4. What did the Romans ever do for us? Social Media says @tomstandage illustrating his point with a Roman iPad #CIPRSM pic.twitter.com/IDV54Tq11Z
     
     
  5. Tom (@tomstandage) didn’t waste any time in telling us that social media is not a fad. In fact, what social networking channels do is return us to communicating before the recent era of broadcast mass media.
  6. “Coffee houses were the hubs of choice in the past” – nothing changes! @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  7. Fascinating argument from @tomstandage that social media as we know it is a rebirth, cycling back to pre-mass media, pre-19 century #CIPRSM
     
     
  8. “Social media doesn’t cause revolutions but helps them along by synchronising opinion and acting as an accelerant” @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  9. Social media is at least 2000 years old. Mass media in 20th century was an anomaly says @tomstandage #ciprsm
     
     
  10. @tomstandage Brilliant, but a question – should’ve asked, has old ‘broadcast media’ times tought people (orgs) to ignore listening first? 🙂
     
     
  11. @twofourseven Yes, I think it has. When you’re used to one-way/broadcast, it’s hard to adapt to two-way/social
     
     
  12. The conference was then divided into two work streams in the morning, the first of which focused on Mobile Media and the Visual Web. Running concurrently, work stream two looked into Audience and Online Habits.

     
    In session one we had Founder and CEO of Kred Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill) and #CIPRSM’s own analytics expert Andrew Smith (@andismith). The conversation was all about analytics and understanding influencers and the capital that people gain through social networks.
  13. Panel sessions are under way, with @AdParker @AndrewGrill @andismit on ‘Understanding social capital’ #ciprsm pic.twitter.com/imULmiuAPf
     
     
  14. “CMOs want to see big numbers for impressions, it’s b**l s**t” @andrewgrill #ciprsm
     
     
  15. @AndrewGrill says we need to package #social propositions to the C-suite in their language #CIPRSM
     
     
  16. Need to speak C-suite’s language says @andrewgrill – slide showing how ‘Digirati’ organisations 26% more profitable as an example #ciprsm
     
     
  17. As you all know, I am a big evangelist of mobile in communications and business development. Mobile has positioned itself to be at the heart of how businesses and services are developed and delivered. They are also at the centre of how people today share insight and information. Mobile can crunch the time it takes to build or break reputations.
  18. Mobile has changed everything in comms, pr, #socmed and digital @ilicco tells #ciprsm. Of course he’s right….
     
     
  19. LBI’s @ilicco discussing digital dualism at #ciprsm – we are the same online as we are offline. @Pontifex agrees: precisebrandinsight.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the…
     
     
  20. The big debate came with regards to how mobile is used – an essential question that is often ignored. Ilicco Elia (@ilicco) highlighted the case of Starbucks that has started to pull people from across departments to work on solutions for their customer base. Of course, for us, the consumer, we don’t see them as solutions. I see seemless interaction as common sense!
  21. How many departments need to be involved with mobile? All of them – @ilicco #CIPRSM pic.twitter.com/jYpg2yxZXk
     
     
  22. #socmed engagement forces organisations to collaborate internally to to deliver a better consumer experience -insight from @ilicco #ciprsm
     
     
  23. The brilliant @illico talking about mobile at the CIPR social media conference #CIPRSM
     
     
  24. Meanwhile 33-Digital’s Peter Sigrist (@psigrist) discussed the rise of wearable technology. Sigrist says that PR agencies need to stop recruiting art graduates or those with a PR 1.0 degrees, a point that I’ve been echoing for 3/4 years.

     
    I’ve been arguing that our profession needs mathematicians, coders, designers, analysts, data scientists. Yes, like 20 years ago it was all about social psychology, today it is about understanding our audiences and designing experiences that resonate with how they have been conditioned.
  25. @psigrist now up at #ciprsm talking about mobile and the future, wearable tech and how information flows fast and free.
     
     
  26. The public does the talking in today’s world of media campaigns says @psigrist. Linear 1-way broadcast is ineffective. Damn right #ciprsm
     
     
  27. “PR firms need to better understand data and start employing mathematicians not art graduates” says @psigrist. #CIPRSM
     
     
  28. After lunch we had two further work streams. As an International PR Social Media Consultant and Digital Strategist I brought together two leaders in their respective fields, Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Executive Director for Corporate Communication’s Allan Schoenberg (@allanschoenberg) and Noriyuki Shikata (@norishikata) who is the Political Minister to the Japanese Embassy to the UK. Up for debate was how to use social media across international borders. An essential point given that social channels today cut straight through borders and jurisdictions.
  29. For Financial Services, China matters on social, says @allanschoenberg. Deliver local language content there. #CIPRSM
     
     
  30. @CMEgroup‘s social media timeline. Innovation is what @@allanschoenberg does in terms of comms. #ciprsm pic.twitter.com/awcTkNx6Hw
     
     
  31. Importance of using the right platforms in different regions vital to success in financial markets says @allanschoenberg #CIPRSM
     
     
  32. Following Allan we had Noriyuki Shikata, a leader in eDiplomacy. Nori shared with us his insight on how social networks were used by the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan following the great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. For the government of Japan it became an essential tool in engaging with the international community.

     
  33. @norishikata talks about Social Media strategy for Japan and fitting this with western concepts and crisis comms #CIPRSM
     
     
  34. Social media is one important element of public diplomacy, global comms and global comms engagement. Totally agree with @norishikata #ciprsm
     
     
  35. Lessons from @norishikata on international crisis comms in aftermath of Japan Tsunami – put data in context, use 3rd party voices #CIPRSM
     
     
  36. “Effective social media use in crisis management from CEO/leaders could be way to demonstrate leadership” @norishikata #ciprsm
     
     
  37. @norishikata talks about combining traditional and social in international comms. Not understanding cultures cannot be an excuse! #CIPRSM
     
     
  38. Really enjoyed hearing @norishikata – has a calm, measured way of presenting & is gently persuasive: powerful combination! #ciprsm
     
     
  39. The session following ours focused on digital and social commerce. Speakers focused on using social and digital channels to support sales and how sales should be owned by everybody in an organisation, especially with the influence of social channels.
  40. To use social as part of sales process you need to understand customer behaviours says @katyhowell #ciprsm
     
     
  41. Rounding off the conference we had Nick Jones (@NJones) from Visa Europe. A former head of COI.
  42. #ciprsm Keynote @njones ‘BAU is the things we do again and again that make money’. Social Media BAU
     
     
  43. Liking the phrase “business as unusual” from @njones #ciprsm
     
     
  44. At #ciprsm @njones cites @brands2life research that says more and more journalists are being measured on social media sharing of content.
     
     
  45. Fact is that reviewing this conference, we can see that the communications landscape has already changed. It has changed because people have adopted technology, they have turned to social networks and mobile devices to share more, to discuss and debate, all through channels that we can listen in.

     
    Organisations though still retain their 20th Century broadcast mentality. They talk and expect you to listen. Yet the more that people talk, the more that people share the more empowered they become. The faster they expect answers and service, let it be from the private or public sectors.
     
    As a result, business has to change, the delivery of public services have to change. Digging your heads in the sand only goes and creates opportunities for others. And those that are risk averse have more to gain.
     
    Public relations today is more than just about reputation building and management. It is about business development. People who work in public relations need to remember that it is our skill in understanding the public that sets us apart. Let’s change how we work.

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Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak
Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak

The London Evening Standard came under fire today for breaking the strict embargo placed on the 2013 Budget, as the newspaper published details of the Budget on Twitter before George Osborne took to the dispatch box.

The Standard shared a picture of it’s front page that detailed the 2013 Budget on Twitpic, an image that was picked up by MPs in the House of Commons and Journalists that were covering the 2013 Budget.

While the image was quickly deleted from the social network, the damage was done. Research from Topsy.com (select cached Page) reveals that over 2,000 viewed the image. It also got retweeted by Sky’s Adam Boulton (@adamboultonsky), The New York Times Sarah Lyall (@SarahLyall) and other influential journalists and bloggers.

The paper’s Political Editor Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) was forced to issue an apology on Twitter even though it was certainly not him who shared that image. Editor Sarah Sands meanwhile issued the following statement, ‘An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.’

For some reason Osborne’s advisors chose today, when all eyes would be on him, to unveil his Twitter account. An odd choice of day given the Chancellor’s unpopularity in the polls and how the public share their views online. A very bad call in my opinion.

Twitter is a news channel, one that because of today’s real-time digital age can inflict greater damage. And while embargo’s have been a traditional tool in the armoury of PRs, in today’s digital world it is a public relations professional job to maintain total control of the story, especially a story which contains market sensitive information. Twitter and digital are hard to control. Conditions on the sharing of content online must have been secured.

It’s been a bad day for HM Treasury’s PR team, but a worse one for the Evening Standard.

Twitter is changing public relations. It’s making media outlets more competitive. As some on Twitter have said, The Standard’s story was just ‘too hot off the press’. Don’t take it for granted!

Google Author Rank - Own Your Content
Google Author Rank – Own Your Content and Share Your Expertise

Last year Google quietly began to support ‘authorship markup’, which the search engine giant described as ‘a way to connect authors with their content on the web’.  Initially, the authorship markup was seen as exclusively benefiting journalists and bloggers.  Google stated in it’s blog post that, ‘if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page.’  But, what about the content that PR professionals write? What about the press releases, features, briefing documents, blog posts of industry influencers?

Public relations professionals are responsible for developing and writing content that pitches a story to specific communities and audiences. More often than not, this collateral is nameless and as such acts as background for respected writers in the public domain.

So, What Is Google Authorship Markup and Google Author Rank?

Google Authorship Markup is very simple.  It is a basic coding procedure that allow authors to connect to their content online.  The purpose is to help people find and ‘read content written by credible and knowledgeable individuals.’

Meanwhile, SEOmoz state that AuthorRank is how Google will assign authority based on a number of key criteria:

  • Average PageRank of an author’s content
  • Reciprocal connections between high AuthorRank authors
  • The level of on-site engagement – comment’s, responses, etc
  • Third-party authority indicators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, presence on Wikipedia
  • A Google +1‘s of author’s content
  • Number of people in your Google Circles and proportion that score a high AuthorRank

When you put it all together you start to see the importance that AuthorRank delivers individuals with real world expertise – thought leaders.

Writing plenty of posts is no longer a way of getting up Google’s rankings.  What you willneed is the support of a network of influencers to see and read your posts and give them a ‘+1’ endorsement.

How is Google Author Rank relevant to my brand or company?

Google Authorship Markup and AuthorRank are going to transform the way in which niche thought leaders and experts are found online.  If it is your job to help build the reputation and authority of individual industry, political or academic individuals then you are going to need to know about how Google is changing the search game.

Reputations are built on authority.  Those with increased authority command a higher share of voice in the communities that they are members of.

You have to remember that online there are many voices fighting for the attention of individuals that in a quick second make a decision based on the authority and credibility of those that they read.

Companies, organisations and individuals compete every day to stand out from the crowd.  They do this by sharing knowledge, expertise and solutions.

Look within your own organisation and you will see individuals with specific insight.  It doesn’t have to be expertise at a global level, it could just be at a local level and within a niche sector.  Audiences are everywhere and it is by understanding how to best deliver your experts that you will meet the needs of your employer and audience.

Owning that authority online today is as important as owning it in offline media. This requires specific strategies that position spokespeople as leaders in their individual areas of authority.

Ok, so how do I help build authority online?

Firstly, continue to write good content.  In fact, great content that demonstrates expertise and gets people to share it within their own circles and communities.

Asses the material that you currently write, such as press releases and features.  Traditionally they are seen as ‘announcements’ written for the media.  Move away from a stale style of writing towards an engaging style for your audience that better resounds with the community you are working to position your expert in.

Remember to attribute copy to experts within your business that you are trying to position as thought-leaders.  It’s what newsrooms do, which is why you should.

Consider using brand ambassadors who have a presence online to guess blog.

As a PR, don’t let SEO’s, IT staff and web teams promote your content online.  Learn their skills and keep remembering the strategy and bigger picture.  Coding and SEO are a must-have skills for 21st Century PRs.

Oh, and you are going to need a new social network.  There is no if’s or but’s, you need to link your content to a authored Google+ account.  While Google remains the number one search engine, Google+ is going to become the must participate network for everybody who has expertise and wants to be seen online.

Google is changing business and communications.  Authorship markup and AuthorRank is a huge opportunity for PR.

Will all this make a difference to search rankings?

SearchEngineLand.com confirms that ‘there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status.’  This being that if you click on a ‘authored story’ in Google search results, go to said site, read the story for, say, two minutes and then return to the search results, you will see a ‘more by the author’ area with 3 extra stories.

So how do I get a verified author status?

Simple, click on this link and follow Google’s simple instructions to get your author profile.

If you need to know more get in touch by email and we can talk strategies and solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Middleton in Singapore (creative commons Tom Soper Photography)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have instructed lawyers at London firm Harbottle & Lewis to start proceedings against Mondadori, publishers of Closer France, after they printed topless pictures of Kate Middleton taken while she and her husband were on a private holiday in Provence.

The images were taken by a local paparazzo photographer who sold them to the French celebrity ‘people’ magazine.

Italian gossip magazine Chi, also owned by the Berlusconi owned Mondadori group, has also published the pictures in Italy.  The same Italian magazine was at the centre of controversy in 2006 after it published a black and white picture of Princess Diana receiving oxygen after the fatal car-crash.

The royals are seeking a criminal conviction with prosecutors in Paris as the images breached France’s Criminal Code.  Punishment for a criminal prosecution can be up to a year in jail and a fine or up to €45,000.  The couple are also seeking an injunction in the civil court in Paris to ensure that no more pictures are published in print or online.

Such are the penalties for breaching privacy in France that editors and their publishers cynically factor in the fines when considering if they should run sensationalist content.  That said, with the rise of the web and the fact that one of these titles has a social media editor that hypes up the content on Twitter and other social networks that civil action could be taken in UK courts, where damages could be more substantial.

Reputation today is a cross-jurisdictional issue.  The 21st Century Reputation Consultant doesn’t just have to have understand the workings of the world wide web.  They also have to have an understanding as well as a lawyer alongside them that can build a case in the various legal jurisdictions that stories today reach.

While statements have been made by the publishers that there was nothing wrong with the publishing of the images, that is incorrect.  In France alone doing so is a criminal offence.

While there are individuals, celebrities that make a living from the gossip magazines, the signal has been sent that the Prince and Princess are not celebrities.  It is a brave move, but one that in my opinion needs to be taken.

Certainly editors should have considered the past surrounding the late Princess Diana when making a risk assessment of whether they should publish said picture package.  Common sense would have dictated that given the history the response by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is certainly not, as Closer Editor Laurence Pieau said, “disproportionate.”