Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh Bloggeration

Following my attendance at the recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) I met a number of other researchers, academics and practioners interested in the field of blogging and its use as a PR tool.

I entitle this piece "Oh Bloggeration" because that's a similar phrase to the one I uttered when I found out about NewPRWiki and GlobalPRBlogweek. These sources contain a great deal of information about PR and blogging as does Philip Young's excellent blog Mediations (see links).

I met Philip at the conference, where I presented a paper concerning a case study of Nokia and Blogging. This paper will appear on this site in the next two weeks. It followed on from information I gathered through the Adrants network. I had struggled to find research papers about blogging, but I was looking in the wrong place, academic resources, rather than searching cyberspace itself.

A question about traditional academic research and publishing in cyberspace came to mind.

For academics researching dated definitions and debating long-standing theories text books and academic search tools may be relevant, but for academics writing about, researching and commenting on the issues of the day I ask - Have traditional forms of research publishing become redundant?

Is it better to be published in a journal that is controlled by an editorial team of academics who could have an agenda of their own or to make your material available for comment on a blog?

A recent discussion about the Research Assessment Exercise in the UK made me aware that cross-referencing other academics' papers lifted a researcher's ranking and so the finance his/her institution received. This "nepotism" reduces the validity of this exercise.

I propose that academics establish blogs and take comments from fellow academics in cyberspace for discussion and comment on our work. Forget about blind reviewing by peers and introduce a system that utilises the technology of the day. The 2-3 year waits for publication lead to reduced credibility and out-of-date material when publication eventuall happens.

Let's open up the debate - post our research on the web and change the current assessment system to fit today's world.

Advertising in the Apprentice UK

Last night in BBC2's "The Apprentice" the wannabes had to develop a short advertising campaign for one of Amstrad's new products. The product was a ten CD changer for £99 with the working title JB1000. It's difficult to understand in an age of small, portable MP3 players why the product would appeal to the mass market, especially given the design of the product, the size of the product, the levels of PC penetration in the UK and the huge increase in music downloading legal or not. In a very quick assessment of the market and the environment around the music player market I can only believe that the price would need to be the whole focus of the advertising campaign.

Before I comment on the programme I did search for the product on the Amstrad website and I could n't find it. If it is an actual product I think the Amstrad may have missed a trick, 60 minutes of product placement and all you can see is the video phone, although the phone always features several times (without seeing any video image) in the programme and that is the first product on the landing page.

One team produced a plausible effort with a tag line of "The Jukebox is back" the other team tried to sell two JB 1000's per household. Not surprisingly the team that fragmented into two cohorts; tried to sell two machines per household; used a print ad with product copy that needed a microscope to read; offered a TV advertisement with hardly any product shots and minimal visible product use ( music played but it was not clear that it could accept 10 CD's); and had an extremely embarrassing pitch - came second in the two horse race.

I was intrigued by the fact that we did not see all of the winning team's 20 second commercial, perhaps some copyright issue?

One thing was certain though neither group are yet ready to threaten the small, medium or large ad agencies, although the smooth leadership of Miriam's team and the calm professional presentation by James was very good indeed.

This really is a fascinating programme because if someone had told me that I would be watching a job interview using role play on TV for 12 weeks I would have denied that it would happen.

Sir Alan Sugar is fantastic as the boss, and for the most cringe worthy moment of the week - Rachel's Dancing - I felt that Sir Alan made the right decision.

I did love the gag -
I've written books on advertising. ....................Cheque Books!

This was delivered with timing and in the bluff, pugnacious style of Sir Alan, a fabulous line.

It's definitely an idea I'd like to use in for a seminar task during the next academic year.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Virality in Marketing Communications

The current confusion over the leak or not of the latest Doctor Who illustrates two things (at least)
1. The level of interest in Dr Who despite the long absence from our TV screens.
2. The power of viral communications over the Internet. The news of the leak spread very, very quickly and the BBC and its Canadian partner are all denying any fault.
The question is: Why are they concerned? The amount of coverage has been huge and the BBC have gained a hype even beyond the round of interviews for Billie Piper. Some sites talk about heads rolling, I think its bonuses that the leakers deserve! See wired for a great discussion.
As for me it brings back memories of hiding behind the settee when the Daleks came on.