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!

Ipsos Mori Hong Kong - Reporting Live From The Future
Ipsos Mori Hong Kong – Reporting Live From The Future.

PR, communications and advertising professionals have a battle on their hands as audiences become increasingly connected, more demanding and informed, according to research by Ipsos Mori Hong Kong.

In a report released last week, the global research firm sees innovation and creativity as essential skills to bring increasingly disloyal customers onside.

The report, which has a focus on the Asia-Pacific markets, identifies a number of key points that will affect in business in Europe, North and South America, Middle-East and Africa.  These include:

  • Convergence of disciplines – public relations, marketing and advertising
  • Rise of creativity for improved audience building and engagement
  • Increase usage of digital data in campaign development.

Convergence of Disciplines:

Audiences do not care about how brands are presented to them.  Far too often, the planning processes bring together siloed professionals that think of the integrated outreach from a singular point – advertising, marketing, public relations.

As I have argued many times, these disciplines are blending into one with the lead in campaign development being taken by communications professionals that understand the behaviour of audiences and individuals.  This in turn will force organisations to break down the internal barriers to ensure that their propositions are developed to ensure that digital maximises traditional channels.

Importance of Creativity:

Creativity, even in B2B, is becoming a must for brands and companies.  In the report, Ipsos Hong Kong found that , ‘Creative quality accounts for 75% of variance in campaign success‘ and that ‘strong creative can achieve higher recall in-market with less support that weak creative with a higher level of media support.’

Improving the creativity will help position messaging at the front of the audiences decision-making process.

Digital Data:

Social networks and media have gathered together data that empowers not just the audience, but marketeers and communicators.

At numerous conferences and speaking engagements I have stated that today’s PRs have to think in a forensic manner, understanding the audience and planning the delivery of messaging to create a response that will generate engagement.  Everything must be planned and accounted for.  From the concept, to the launch, to the touch points.  It is a journey that needs to be planned by PR, brining together disciplines to ensure that the audience engagement and journey is seamless.

Today though, PRs have data at their disposal.  Data that gives the business decision-makers better insight into audience behaviour.  Data that should rid us of that useless Advertising Value Equivalent.

Audiences are more disloyal than ever before, especially if they perceive that they are treated like the individual next to them.  Social networks makes people into individuals, empowering them to be unique and more demanding.  And it all starts with the listening and learning.

Research unveiled today by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reveals how smartphones are starting to ‘play a significant role in the consumption of news.’  The institute’s 2012  Digital News Report (#risjdigital2012) tells how more than one in four of those questioned accessed news stories via a mobile device or tablet.

While traditional journalism providers like the BBC, Sky News and individual print outlets remain central sources amongst consumers of news, the size of the audience getting their news from unverified sources is growing, especially amongst the 16-24 age group.  The report additionally reveals how outlets in the UK have been ‘relatively quick to innovate, with developments such as live blogging, social media, and data journalism – leaving little space for new providers.’

These findings not only put questions on how news organisations deliver content to the public, but how, through public relations, governments, companies and other organisations can better engage and communicate with their respective audiences.  Traditional PR in this 21st Century is no longer an option.  Reaching the audience has to be done by understanding where the public is and when and what they want to receive.

Considering the speed of news dissemination through Facebook and Twitter, especially when content is verified, it is becoming essential to change the approach that brands use to engage with their individual publics.

Newman also reveals in the report how news spreads through social networks, with 78 per cent saying they were more likely to click on a link from friends and other people they knew if they had shared content during the past week.  Newman adds in the report that Facebook is still key to disseminating of news online, with 55 per cent using this platform, against 33 per cent using email and 23 per cent using Twitter.

Further details can be found in the report, which will be unveiled at MSN this evening, 11 July 2012 from 18.00.  Follow the Hashtag #risjdigital2012 then for comment and discussion.

Reuters Institute Digital Report 2012

Twitter is going to ‘change forever.’ That is according to Pankaj Gupta (LinkedIn), who leads the platform’s Personalization and Recommender Systems group. While he said that the changes would be seen today he shared little information on the changes to Twitter’s search offering, which have been derided by users.

 

As a channel, Twitter’s strength lies in the data that it gathers from people worldwide, ranging from influential political leaders and journalists to the general public. Yet, while it’s deep integration with Apple’s iOS enabled it to grow as a platform it is yet to fully structure it’s database into a diary that allows people to register themselves by not just name, job and location, but subjects of interest.

Only during the last fortnight I have shown clients how to find individuals on Twitter that haven’t declared that they work for specific organisations. Anonymity is good, but authority is only built on the reputations that you have offline. Perhaps this might be a reason why Twitter has separated itself from LinkedIn. With the changes due to be announced soon, what changes would you want to see from Twitter?

UPDATE: Twitter have just announced on their blog the introduction of ‘search autocomplete’ and and ‘People you follow’ search results to twitter.com. In a post by Twitter Software Engineer Frost Li (LinkedIn), Twitter unveiled how after entering the search users will find ‘the the most relevant Tweets, articles, accounts, images and videos for your query.’

 

The move takes the platform in the right direction, enabling users to find content and conversations in real-time.  Auto complete will be available outside the US shortly.

Find out more in their blog post here.

Data and analytics is shaping the media landscape.  That is the message that came from the speakers at the first day of this year’s FT Digital Media Conference in London.

While Jimmy Wales opened the two-day media gathering with insight on the power of the community, it was the FT’s CEO John Ridding and AOL Huffington Post Media Group VP Noel Penzer who pushed the importance of data in knowing your audience.

John Ridding said, ‘I didn’t think that when I went into journalism 20 years ago I’d get excited about data and analytics.’  And data is becoming as central to the media landscape as making the content seamlessly available across platform.  Ridding himself added that HTML5 is a big deal for publishing as making content available across multiple platforms is very expensive, something that HTML5 resolves.  This move to HTML5 highlights the growth of users receiving content while on mobile devices – phones and tablets.  And it is this that gives the kind of real-time data that enables us to better understand the audience.

Many of the platforms that are becoming essential to those in media are funded by venture capital and it took Index Ventures Partner Neil Rimer to say that Facebook might not have yet exploited it’s full potential, before adding that it could become more valuable than Google.

Balderton Capital’s Dharmash Mistry provided the strategic and focused insight by stating that Facebook’s strength is as ‘a powerful distribution network.’  Mistry gave the example of Spotify, who grew in the US by making the decision to embedded itself into Facebook’s open graph.

The audience has gathered in one place and it’s just a matter of time that this benefit is fully utilised by those in media and communications.  I am not talking in a marketing sense either.  I’ve been making this point for the past 12 months, about how a connected community can bring together an audience.  This, together with using micro payments on Facebook, such as it’s credits offering could see revenues for publishers as for gaming companies like Zynga.  Dharmash Mistry himself said that the future for Facebook is with micro-payments.

Data is no longer dull, but a currency that can help not just business understand their audience, but help the audience find the content that is of interest to them.