Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

Archive for September 2007

Puppets, muppets and blogs

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Buying the Blog

Sometimes it seems like we live in a permanent cycle of crazes. No sooner has Leonardo sheathed his Ninja sword on his turtle shell than Dr Who brandishes his sonic screwdriver. The hypey world of technology and social media is no different. No sooner has Friends Reunited faded than Facebook comes along and so the cycle continues. It can be difficult to work out which is the puppet and which is the muppet.

Twelve months or so ago, blogs were at the “peak of inflated expectations”, to use Gartner’s Hype Cycle metaphor. But blogging was then a mainly consumer activity. With a few pioneering exceptions, businesses weren’t blogging. Simply put, its value as a business tool was not proven. Then some US studies started to examine the case for business blogging, some books on the subject were published and it seemed the business community was waking up to the power of social media.

But, while the US can be a good indicator of future UK behaviour, there are enough differences between the two countries to see the need for a UK-centric view of business blogging. How many UK businesses are involved in blogging? Do they see it as a valuable business tool and if so, in what ways?

At Inferno, we wanted to know the answers to these questions and rather than wait for someone else to do it, we decided to research the matter ourselves. So, we asked Billy Hamilton-Stent at Loudhouse Research to look into the matter for us. The result was a research report called “Buying the Blog” which we launched at the Lords Media Centre last week. It surveyed 300 managers from UK companies of more than 250 employees on their views of blogs and blogging.

To help us launch it were Hugh McLeod, Neville Hobson and for an overview of the research findings, Billy Hamilton-Stent. The audience of senior PR and marketing practitioners were raving afterwards about how valuable and interesting they found the event – so thank you guys!

Reaction to the results themselves varied. I was surprised that as many as 50% of UK companies are now involved in blogging, but others were less surprised. What was clear though, is that a full year or more on from the peak of blogging hype, those UK businesses that took a more cautious attitude to business blogging are now ramping up their involvement in the blogosphere. The survey found that 64% of UK corporate blogs have been launched in the last 6 months. And, perhaps most encouragingly 86% of companies that have a blog credit it with generating more business opportunities for their company.

So, the trend is clear – UK businesses see the value of blogging and are now experimenting with how it can add value to their businesses. As we said at the launch, the risk is that businesses rush headlong into blogging without thinking and start to behave inappropriately. A blog is not the place to sell, it is the place to start genuine relationships that offer indirect value to their businesses. Some will need some help to get the balance right, which is where businesses like Inferno will be needed.

We thought you may like to see some of the presentations that Grant, Billy, Neville and Hugh gave at the event. The video highlights are posted below (if you are using a reader scroll down to see the four separate posts). There are also some great photos which can be viewed on Flickr.

An overview of the research report’s findings can be found on our website. If you would like to see the full report with all the different nuances of data, then drop Grant Currie (Inferno’s MD) a line at grant.currie@infernopr.com and we’d be delighted to take you through it.

James

Written by pilotlight

21/09/2007 at 5:35 pm

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Inferno’s Buying the Blog research launch 1

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21/09/2007 at 5:32 pm

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Inferno’s Buying the Blog research launch part 2

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21/09/2007 at 5:32 pm

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Inferno’s Buying the Blog research launch part 3

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21/09/2007 at 5:31 pm

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Inferno’s Buying the Blog research launch part 4

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21/09/2007 at 5:31 pm

Castigate Shortsighted Responsibility programmes

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Uh-oh

Today I received my first Christmas card in the post!! As I opened the envelope to reveal the scene therein (a typical English winter countryside – tree bereft of leaves and covered in snow), with the salutation ‘Season’s Greetings!’, my blood began to boil. Who had been ridiculous enough to have sent a Christmas card at this time of year??? What was the world coming to? Would we soon be seeing decorations in shops and on streets in March!? I mean, it’s not even as though we’ve managed to have ANY summer this year, I don’t want to be thinking about Christmas already… Oooh some people…

I then opened the card. It is from a project called Carbonsmart and is, of course, focused on getting businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and generally think about what we are doing. My ire vanished and I ended up thinking – what a very clever piece of direct marketing. It’s just a tacky Christmas card at the end of the day, the sort you get from many suppliers and companies over the festive period. But they got the timing just right – long enough before the Christmas season to gain a passionate response (undoubtedly anger in most recipients, like me) but not stupidly long enough before to have people see straight through it as marketing. Of course, once you are emotionally engaged with something (even if that emotion is anger) you just *have* to open it to find out who it’s from. Which I did. Once I’d found out that it was marketing (the point being, of course, that the season’s are being shifted due to climate change – something that anyone sitting around London for the last 6 months can very well attest to), I was then still hooked because my anger had turned to a bit of admiration.

So I pottered over to the website to see what it was all about – again the marketing people must be patting themselves on the backs for driving through my traffic! On the website I was informed that there was a 6-point programme for companies to carry out to help them examine and deal with their carbon footprint correctly. “A six point plan? How splendid”, I thought. Then I looked at the plan and they (the marketers) lost me. Guess why it’s a SIX point plan? No go on guess. How many letters are in the word CARBON?

Yes, that’s right, the whole exercise was promptly trivialised by the marketing (and PR) world’s seeming obsession with coming up with plans and programmes that spell out names. C – Calculate (hmm, yes good start, like it); A – Audit (when is a convenient ‘A’ near the start or end of a word ever anything other than audit??); R – Reduce impacts (hmm yes, probably a bit early for you to ‘report’, so reduce is good); B – Begin…action (a bit late in the programme for us to start, surely? But then of course it wouldn’t have fitted anywhere else), O – Offset (ah yes a critical word for any carbon-programme – it’s just lucky its not spelt ‘carban’ or we’d have been in trouble), N – Network (I think they just ran out of ideas by the end…).

It just left me feeling that the whole exercise had no value, that it was marketing puff and another example of CSR run by and for marketing. Such a shame, they HAD me there for a minute…

Grant

Written by pilotlight

17/09/2007 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Business, PR, Uncategorized

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