Archive for November 12, 2008

Indian bloggers now acknowledged as consultants to media firms

Afaqs reports the launch of Livemint radio today with Business Standard to follow suit. These well established media firms are now looking towards veteran bloggers and established new media practitioners to set up their digital initiatives.

Well known blogger Kiruba Shankar is to aid the BS initiative while Kamala Bhatt, of the popular The Kamala Show is associated with the livemint radio.

This follows a pattern observed globally wherein established bloggers are sought by major corporate firms and media companies to guide their way through the untrodden territory.

Also, it is typical for top bloggers to get the recognition and the moolah while there is virtually no trickling down to the resilient masses. This too is expected as Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest holds good.

The trend of new media specialists partnering with corporate firms to set up their digital platforms is a welcome one from a communications perspective . Some bloggers have been able to make that transition to Mainstream Media (MSM). This definitely is a good sign for the social media business.

(Article link)

Continuing the Obama v. McCain social media initiatives series


An article in Mint today with the headline “What we googled for during the US elections” (link) details the various keyword searches across the globe. The interesting bit is how many corporates directed traffic to their websites and web properties by purchasing these popular keywords from Google.

Mahesh Murthy, Founder, Pinstorm Advertising, claims that Indian searchers predicted the Electoral College results. Obama-related searches outnumbered McCain-related searches 2.3:1, nearly the same as the Electoral College results, the article states.

The IT heavy areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu surfed for keywords BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), H1B visa alluding to the visa application process for NRIs, an expected phenomenon due to uncertainties of regime change.

Also it might be useful to see my previous post on the topic:
(Link)

Social media warfare: Obama vs. McCain

The social media strategies and tools used by now President-elect Barack Obama and his opponent John McCain is an interesting paradigm shift from the heavy reliance on Main Stream Media (MSM) outlets to the grass root level and democratic social media platforms. It would be interesting to analyze the various modes of digital communication incorporated by the two in their campaign.

Here are two of the top articles which provide a scorching insight into how one can leverage social media and digital platforms by both the candidates.

1) Barack Obama and John McCain – Social Media and search engine scorecard (Link)
Courtesy Brain Solis for his tweet which gives the link.

2) Windchimes, a Mumbai based social media agency is running an analysis, a two part series on this topic on their blog (link to part I), (Link to part II)

If there are any more analytical blog posts of this kind that you have come across, please share the link.

3) Update: Mint article which detail search engine trends across the globe during the time period of the election. Also, it informs how companies managed to drive traffic to their web properties by purchasing popular keywords.
Link to article
Link to my post

IRS 2008 R2: Update


The .pdf version of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2008 Round 2 conducted by the Media research Users Council’s (MRUC) can be downloaded here

IRS 2008 R2 released…Readership declines

The Media Research Users Council (MRUC) has released the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) round 2 ratings for the year 2008. Following global trends, total Indian readership is reported to have declined as compared to IRS R1 2008.

Amidst boom time in Indian media markets, there is an increasing trend of readers moving online which is also observed in developed markets. May be an integrated press room is in order.

The top five English newspapers by total readership are: The Times of India, the Hindustan Times, TheHindu, TheTelegraph, and the Deccan Chronicle.

The top five Hindi dailies by total readership are: Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Hindustan, and Rajasthan Patrika.

The below graphic (courtesy Livemint) provides a broader overview of the readership patterns.

IRS R2 2008 Graphic

Pimp my PR

Simple digital tactics which add that little extra ‘oomph’ to your traditional PR campaign



1) Disseminate press releases on free news wires

Free online press wires can prove to be a handy tool to reach out to target audiences. These distribution services offer a simple solution to generate coverage online.

A brief registration process and few hours of wait is all it takes to publish your release directly on to these platforms. The wonder of push button publishing ensures that the process is relatively hassle-free and 99% confirmed.

Most free PR wires have a respectable web reach with updates searchable on Google, Blog searches, Yahoo and other search engines along with certain blogs and websites which mirror this content. Also it can be used to increase traffic to a website by search engine optimization (SEO).

Some of the popular PR wires are IndiaPRwire, 24-7 press release, PR.com, Sane PR, Newswire Today , etc.



2) Create SMS channels

Social networking has hopped, skipped, jumped and landed on to the dazzling mobile phone. Services such as SMS Gupshup and Google SMS Channels allow you to create a SMS stream catering to a specific topic, sector or company.

So by creating an ‘IPL updates’ group or channel open to subscription, one can forward messages to every constituency of stakeholders with a mobile phone like journalists, analysts, important influencers, etc.

For instance, a day before a major press conference one can just type in the details on the platform online and send it to the entire community which subscribes to the channel as an SMS. Most journalists would gladly be a part of such groups.



3) Video / Photo uploads

This is the often repeated, much abused advice that any social media user will offer in order to increase brand awareness – “Upload your damn videos on YouTube!!”

Now the tricky part is to choose videos you want to put out there, in line with the corporate identity, open to scrutiny and acidic comments within a social eco system.

The same can be done on photo sharing websites such as Flickr, Picasa, etc.



4) Share documents

A journalist or an analyst will forever be indebted if you took up the job of managing client documents for him/ her.

Online document sharing platforms such as DocStoc, SlideShare, Scribd, etc. can act as a repository of documents, a one stop shop for press releases, backgrounders, boiler plates, profiles, etc. for a corporate or individual.

Content sharing is many times done on the corporate website itself, but web 2.0 platforms provide the added advantage of a community and a social network for user comments, feedback.



5) Cross promote links by e-mails

Most conversations which amount to an activity between an urban PR professional and a journalist or an analyst takes place through e-mail. Attaching a client dossier to every email will not only overload the journalist’s mailbox but also, and most importantly, irritate him or maybe hurt his much cherished ego.

So instead of a heavy file, paste a link to documents, pictures and videos from any of the above platforms so that they can be accessed from any location and without much load on the mailbox. This ensures that the endless wait due to limited bandwidth or document size is evaded.

These are just the basic steps that one can take to added a bit of digital pizzazz to traditional PR practices. The digital medium is limitless and the possibilities endless. The only real barrier is initiative…


Pimp my PR

Simple digital tactics which add that little extra ‘oomph’ to your traditional PR campaign



1) Disseminate press releases on free news wires

Free online press wires can prove to be a handy tool to reach out to target audiences. These distribution services offer a simple solution to generate coverage online.

A brief registration process and few hours of wait is all it takes to publish your release directly on to these platforms. The wonder of push button publishing ensures that the process is relatively hassle-free and 99% confirmed.

Most free PR wires have a respectable web reach with updates searchable on Google, Blog searches, Yahoo and other search engines along with certain blogs and websites which mirror this content. Also it can be used to increase traffic to a website by search engine optimization (SEO).

Some of the popular PR wires are IndiaPRwire, 24-7 press release, PR.com, Sane PR, Newswire Today , etc.



2) Create SMS channels

Social networking has hopped, skipped, jumped and landed on to the dazzling mobile phone. Services such as SMS Gupshup and Google SMS Channels allow you to create a SMS stream catering to a specific topic, sector or company.

So by creating an ‘IPL updates’ group or channel open to subscription, one can forward messages to every constituency of stakeholders with a mobile phone like journalists, analysts, important influencers, etc.

For instance, a day before a major press conference one can just type in the details on the platform online and send it to the entire community which subscribes to the channel as an SMS. Most journalists would gladly be a part of such groups.



3) Video / Photo uploads

This is the often repeated, much abused advice that any social media user will offer in order to increase brand awareness – “Upload your damn videos on YouTube!!”

Now the tricky part is to choose videos you want to put out there, in line with the corporate identity, open to scrutiny and acidic comments within a social eco system.

The same can be done on photo sharing websites such as Flickr, Picasa, etc.



4) Share documents

A journalist or an analyst will forever be indebted if you took up the job of managing client documents for him/ her.

Online document sharing platforms such as DocStoc, SlideShare, Scribd, etc. can act as a repository of documents, a one stop shop for press releases, backgrounders, boiler plates, profiles, etc. for a corporate or individual.

Content sharing is many times done on the corporate website itself, but web 2.0 platforms provide the added advantage of a community and a social network for user comments, feedback.



5) Cross promote links by e-mails

Most conversations which amount to an activity between an urban PR professional and a journalist or an analyst takes place through e-mail. Attaching a client dossier to every email will not only overload the journalist’s mailbox but also, and most importantly, irritate him or maybe hurt his much cherished ego.

So instead of a heavy file, paste a link to documents, pictures and videos from any of the above platforms so that they can be accessed from any location and without much load on the mailbox. This ensures that the endless wait due to limited bandwidth or document size is evaded.

These are just the basic steps that one can take to added a bit of digital pizzazz to traditional PR practices. The digital medium is limitless and the possibilities endless. The only real barrier is initiative…


Like, stuff and thing


Corporate communication on new media platforms must transcend the ‘blah’ and transform to the ‘quirky and incoherent’.

If every alternate phrase that you speak is not interjected with either of the above three words, namely, ‘like’ stuff’ or ‘thing’ you may find the following a little difficult to digest. For the rest, it’s show time!

This is not a comment on the vocabulary skills, or the lack thereof, of the Indian cosmopolitan youth who is touted to be the future leader and more importantly an active participant in the economically fundamental process of currency flow. Namely, he or she will be the future decision maker, the new consumer which makes this entity an important stakeholder.

The drudgery of going through 15 years of higher education and a B-school or a finishing school after that chips away at the very instinct that craves to exclaim ‘awesome dude’ at a job well done. These foot soldiers enter the corporate world with the pressure to suppress every impulse to talk in their erstwhile lingo and adopt a somewhat uncomfortable formal tone which is mostly and at times rightly rewarded with a pat on the back.

This is indeed a necessity, if you wish to be taken seriously in the corporate world. But with time, the habit of parroting taught speech pattern has left an entire corporate level clueless as to how to communicate with the audiences engaged in virtual markets that communicate, buy, sell and create products and ideas on new media platforms.

Every communications professional worth his salt knows the importance of adapting to new lingo and cultures to get their message across. In public relations, this skill becomes even more crucial as our bread and butter and the all too vital umpteen mugs of industrial strength filter coffee depend on it.

Amidst the corporate cauldron of formal conversations you are most likely to run into a paunchy jovial guy in mid 40s, cracking dirty jokes and discussing the latest version of Halo on Xbox with fresh recruits in their early 20s. While the rest of us wonder what makes him click with the ‘cool’ crowd, the young ones already have a ‘rock star’ to worship.

Social media platforms have changed the face of influencers in our globalized economy. Ideas are not restricted to geographies, markets are no longer a physical universe and paper is no longer the currency. In this space, conversation and relationships are the new forms of currency.

A blogger may not respond to a formal pitch note which says ‘…please publish this after due consideration…Thanking you in anticipation…’ and as such. Instead, try leaving relevant comments on his blog posts and telling him that his blog is ‘way too cool’. Engage him on a social networking site (say Facebook) about his likes, dislikes and interests. You may find that he is much more receptive about the idea of receiving your company updates and eventually writing about it on his blog.

Social media marketing’ or ‘conversational marketing’ is about interacting with your target audiences. The key is to make every conversation personal and at the same time relevant to a mass audience. It is necessary to immerse oneself in the community, be an active participant and then expect acceptance of your thoughts and views.

Adapting online cultures, assimilating oneself in its evolving ecosystem provides that valuable insight which lends to the communication structure best suited for the environment.

Be warned, that every individual is different and a single solution cannot be used as a yard stick for all digital communications queries. Think on your feet, innovate and be creative in your replies and posts. Importantly, be unhesitant, persistent and relevant.

So for a lot of us who spent a lot of time blogging, commenting on fellow blogger’s posts, hopping from an Orkut to a Facebook to a twitter and generally whiled time on digital and social media platforms that came to be collectively known as Web 2.0, there is still hope! The rest need to catch up.