27 April 2012 - Public Relations
With reports recently surfacing that more companies are turning their backs on blogs, in favour of Facebook and Twitter for their ability to quickly relay messages to core markets and worldwide audiences – HROC PR looks at the likely reasons companies are dropping blogs, why it’s a bad idea and how not to get bogged down in blog town!
Why are companies giving blogs the cold shoulder?
Reports have indicated that one of the main causes for companies not wanting to maintain a regular blog is the perception (misguided as it is) that blogging is a lengthy process, involving finding an appropriate subject, researching it extensively and then writing a blog about it. Most companies don’t want to give up that much of an employee’s time for something they have little ability to quantify.
With the emergence of Twitter so too came micro blogging – the ability to blog without the fuss of writing a full post. This is great in theory and can be used as a quick hit way to target key demographics without taking too much time. So it’s understandable that companies are favouring Twitter and other social media channels over blogs, right? Er, wrong!
Twitter and Facebook may be the premier forms of engaging through social media, but the problem with these platforms is distinguishing a single voice or opinion against a sea of noise – and sometimes with the extra challenge of doing so with a limited number of characters.
By having a blog to fall back on, you have three ways of having your opinion heard (throw YouTube into the mix and you have four), which not only results in establishing yourself within the framework of a conversation but also drives traffic to your site.
But blogging does not have to be long winded – in fact, the average blog reader only stays on page for an average 96 seconds, so it’s better that your blog is concise and shows a succinct argument that in some way asserts a positive opinion of your company to the reader.
Where blogs differ from other social media channels is that they have the unique advantage of positioning a company at the forefront of an issue within their field.
The blogs you will find on our website are about creative, digital, PR and advertising issues because it’s what we know and do day in day out. By having an engaging opinion on something you stand out from the crowd and blogs allow you to convey this better, and in more detail, than some other channels.
Twitter and Facebook are great for quick messages but should always link back to a blog, website or some other anchor, and be used as a secondary method of spreading news as opposed to the primary.
Don’t get me wrong, blogs are not easy to maintain. We do it for a number of our clients and it can be hard work, but one of the primary reasons that companies cease blogging is because they underestimate the time blogs do take and set unrealistic blogging calendars, whilst overthinking their posts.
A blog post once or twice a month is more than enough to get you noticed by search engines along with your key audience and the sooner you realise you are not writing ‘War and Peace’ the better your ability to blog will be.
Blogging helps SEO
The more a company can update their blogs, the more search engines will take note of the constantly updated content and rank you higher in searches.
By effectively using Twitter and Facebook to promote blogs you can help build the mentions of your company on search engines but this alone is not enough.
Once the post is written and uploaded you need to spend some time developing relations with the blogging community by commenting on other articles that relate to your subject matter. This is in the hope that those you comment on will then link to your blog (if they like the content) and help promote it. This link building is one of the most important aspects of increasing SEO and fundamental to good blogging – more links equals more mentions which in turn equals better rankings.
Better search engine rankings can mean the difference between page one of Google and page two – incidentally, studies have shown that 94% of internet searches click a first page result with less than 6% making it to the second page. Something to consider before you pull the plug on your blog!
Final thoughts (in the guise of Jerry Springer)
Blogging is a vital (and mostly free) tool for companies to assert their position on key industry issues, share news stories about their company (in particular growth etc) and generally raise awareness.
Blogs should be over 250 words and less than 1000 words (250 to register as new content with search engines and less than 1000 so readers don’t doze off mid way through). While the temptation is to use Facebook and Twitter only, by eliminating blogs you lose the use of one of the most influential platforms for generating awareness of your company…effectively cutting off your corporate nose off to spite your face.
Take care of yourself and each other!
27 April 2012 - Digital
Google has unveiled its new customer service that offers up to 16TB (yes, terabytes) of virtual storage space for online content such as photographs, music and films.
Labelled Google Drive, the product will challenge the supremacy of established cloud service providers; Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
Google Drive initially offers 5GB (gigabytes) of free storage space to users. Customers can then pay for more space on a rising scale.
And although experts have questioned Google’s late arrival in the market, they are still expected to mount a huge challenge to established companies already providing this service.
16TB of storage can hold up to four thousand DVD quality feature length movies.
Live Your Life in the Cloud
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of [Google] Chrome and Apps, released a blog post stating: “Today, we’re introducing Google Drive – a central place where you can create, share, collaborate and keep all of your stuff.
“Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive.”
Users will be able to upload, manage and access photos, videos, documents and all other forms of digital paraphernalia to the virtual cloud.
Google Drive can be installed onto a PC or Apple Mac or downloaded to an Android phone or tablet. Google is working on an iPhone app for the Apple mobile operating system. They anticipate it being ready within weeks.
Users who are visually impaired can access Google Drive with the aid of a screen reader.
Hanns Kohler-Kruner from tech research company Gartner said:”Google Drive will hit some competitors very hard and shake up the market.
“It will also create another stream of more focused and potential ad revenue for Google around the content of personal files on Google Drive.”
Movies that have been uploaded to Google Drive will become available on Google+ boosting the appeal of the fledgling social network.
Fully Searchable Drive
Drawing on its search engine expertise, Google will hope to differentiate the service from others.
The Drive will be fully searchable by keyword and file type, activity or user. The service will also use OCR (optical character recognition) to recognise text in scanned documents.
This will allow users, for example, to search a scanned newspaper clipping for specific words in the newspapers articles.
Image recognition will also be possible in Google Drive.
“If you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip to Drive, the next time you search for Grand Canyon, photos of it will pop up,” said Sundar Pichai in the blog.
A user will get the first 5GB of storage free of charge.
After that customers can upgrade to 25GB for $2.49 (£1.50) a month, 100GB $4.99 a month, 1TB for $49.99 or 16TB for $799.99.
When users upgrade to a paid account, their Gmail account storage will automatically expand to 25GB.
Microsoft offers maximum yearly subscriptions of $50, this will buy 100GB of storage.
Dropbox customers can purchase up to 100GB at a rate of $19.99 per month or $199 per year. They also offer larger amounts of storage to groups of people. The amount of storage and costs are determined by how many users share the space.
Will Facebook Join the Fray?
As people look to access their digital content from a variety of places and devices the cloud service market place is likely to become ever more popular.
Dropbox pioneered the storage cloud concept, but now runs the risk of being undercut by its competitors.
Principal analyst at research company Ovum, Richard Edwards, commented that Google was “very late” to get on board but that its move could encourage others.
“Facebook doesn’t have a cloud service but this may prompt it into an acquisition,” he said.
“If Facebook was to buy Dropbox that would be a game-changer.”
As news of Google’s intentions spread, existing cloud providers overhauled their own systems.
Dropbox began to allow its customers to grant non-members access privileges to their files via email links. Before this both parties would have to be signed up to its service and share common folders.
Microsoft’s SkyDrive has now integrated the virtual drive into Windows Explorer and Apple’s Finder so that it can be used as an extension of the desktop.
Microsoft has also improved the capability to access content stored on the drive from iPads and iPhones as well as Windows Phone-based handsets.
13 April 2012 - Digital
With just a little over a month to go before the new EU cookie law comes into force, a recent survey has found that 95% of dominant United Kingdom corporations still do not conform to the rulings.
As from May 26th 2012, the European Union’s Privacy and Communications Directive will mean that websites have to seek permission from their visitors before they can drop a cookie onto their computer’s hard drive.
Despite the impending deadline, when KPMG scrutinised the websites of 55 UK corporations, many of whom are FTSE 100 businesses, they found that most were still to implement the required changes, meaning that they run the risk of receiving a heavy fine that could be as much as £500,000. It was also disclosed by the IT manager’s association Socttm that public sector bodies and councils would also find it incredibly difficult to comply with the rulings.
Stephen Bonner, a partner in the Information Protection and Business Resilience business team at KPMG, told Computer World UK: “With less than 50 days to go before enforcement, our analysis has found that the majority of UK organisations still need to complete substantial work to their websites.
He continued: “Organisations now need to focus their efforts on establishing an inventory of their websites and the cookies currently in use, before evaluating their purpose and establish a pragmatic plan to ensure compliance.”
KPMG has encouraged organisations to make a start by implementing requests for consent that are related to registration, log-in and other comparable processes.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said that it is ‘vital’ that corporations start to make changes to abide by the legislation, and have recommended new guidance by the International Chamber of Commerce UK.
“The results of this survey show that many websites still have work to do,” an ICO spokesperson said.
“Last week the ICO welcomed the UK guidance launched by the International Chamber of Commerce. We recognise that this guidance provides organisations with a good starting point from which they can work towards full compliance.
“We are also receiving positive feedback from websites who are already implementing new and innovative approaches aimed at making their websites compliant with the changes. We will be updating our own cookies guidance to ensure that best practice advice is shared across the industry.”
As well as established businesses, the legislation will affect anybody who has an affiliate website, displays Adsense adverts or runs third party analytics on their site to track user behaviour and visitor statistics such as Google Analytics. It is yet to be seen what the full impact of the legislation will be, but the digital team at HROC will be keeping an eye on developments and will update the blog with any further news regarding the EU ruling.
13 April 2012 - Public Relations
HROC PR is celebrating after winning a Golden Hedgehog Award for Best Use Of Research for its Dirty Cash campaign.
The inaugural awards, in association with leading media analysis website PR Moment, celebrate the best and brightest talent within the PR community. Split into two regions, the award events were attended by more than 400 representatives from some of the best PR agencies in the country.
The award, which was for the Midlands, Wales and the South region, follows another trophy win for Best Campaign £10,000 and Under at the CIPR Pride Awards in December 2011, along with numerous other nominations.
Steve Sherran, Managing Director of HROC PR, comments; “To be recognised by our peers is a great honor and we are extremely proud of our Dirty Cash campaign.
“The campaign shows what can be achieved by some creative thinking around a low interest category and is also a credit to the talented team behind the scenes of HROC PR, who pride themselves on getting under the skin of every client and building great campaigns on their solid foundation of knowledge.
“We look forward to winning more Golden Hedgehog awards over the coming years.”
The campaign achieved an ROI of 450:1 for client BioCote and gained extensive media coverage in the UK and internationally, including features on CNN and NBC. The extent of the coverage firmly solidified BioCote’s reputation as leaders in the anti-microbial field.