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PeopleBrwsr – A gift for brand managers

It is not very often that an idea translates into an effective communication solution which blows you over with its simplicity. PeopleBrowsr is one such platform which promises to provide quick access and a unique browsing experience that only an true social media enthusiast can appreciate.

Incidentally, I came across Brian Solis’s post on the browser when I was looking for a solution which would take care of my social media interface needs.

Mr. Solis introduces this application on his blog as follows:
Introducing PeopleBrowsr, an attention-centered dashboard for managing your online relationships and communication in Twitter and across multiple social networks.

At its foundation, PeopleBrowsr is a first of a kind meta-network for social networks that works with Mozilla FireFox 3, Safari 3.1 or Google Chrome – no download or plug-in required. It essentially turns your Web browser into a simple, visual social media dashboard. While there are many third-party tools for Twitter, PeopleBrowsr brings the best features from all of the popular add-on services into one solution – without requiring a download or a browser plug-in.

If you are a heavy social media user or a brand manager / analyst, it is a dream come true.

I will leave the comparisons and analysis with other similar applications to the Techies. As a user and a communications consultant I am more than overwhelmed with this application.

It is still in alpha and I would encourage you to go ahead and take it for a test ride. You will be blown away.

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 unhesitating, 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.

Connect with me at:
E-mail ID: hemant.morajkar@adfactorspr.com
Gmail ID: hemantmorajkar@gmail.com , G-chat ID: HemantM
Twitter: www.twitter.com/HemantM
Blog: http://diffused-thought.blogspot.com

Guerrilla PR



A form of ‘guerrilla warfare’ against big budgets and larger brands, ‘guerrilla PR’ is an effective tool to combat peer group branding activities.



The concept of guerrilla advertising and guerrilla marketing has been around for a while now. The practice essentially comprises of targeting specific focus groups through a controlled effort by initiating spurts of high intensity campaigns sporadically keeping in mind the industry scenario and peer group activities.



The result in terms of brand association and end-customer engagement has been encouraging. This is music to the marketers in a sluggish economy that a broader impact can be achieved with a minimal budget!



We see examples of this on business pages everyday where a small banner of a capital market listed company is placed in the centre of the article which talks about biggest stock gainers of the day with associated tag line ‘Biggest gainers choose …’



Contextually placing ads to leverage content for a brand is a common practice in the digital space. Google along with many Social Networking Sites (SNS) have monetized their business and made a fortune by offering user profiles and activity details which help in placing contextually relevant advertisements.



Public relations thrives on user connect and third party endorsement which makes the maxim ‘influencing the influencers’ a functional necessity. In PR target audiences and media based on client brief are defined at the strategy and planning stage.



Niche audience targeting is a more specific and precise science than the general ‘spray and pray’ method generally practiced. Can traditional PR practitioners develop messages and campaigns which can be leveraged at key moments in a company’s business cycle keeping in mind the organizations environment and arrive at a viable business proposition viable to the company?



Here, social media can be a handy tool to conduct sporadic campaigns which are targeted specifically and engineered towards maximum consumer engagement. Brand building and sustenance of perception through consumer engagement has become a flatter process for organizations as they can initiate contact with a consumer directly rather than relying on an influencer to carry forward their messages.



A form of ‘guerrilla warfare’ against big budgets and larger brands, ‘guerrilla PR’ is an effective tool to combat peer group branding activities.



The nature of the medium aids in implementing simple, tactical digital media practices to leverage a brand for a short-term and long-term, as well. For instance, during crisis when a negative link to a company appears on the first search page on Google, a new positive release is disseminated online to bury the link in older pages. This is just indicative of the broader possibility and is already practiced by many traditional PR firms.



Guerrilla PR can bring about a sweeping change in traditionally accepted PR practices and redefine the communications business. In times of an economic slowdown where advertising and PR budgets are taking a hit across the board, can the business offer customized solutions which are cost-effective and help the company to achieve its branding goals.



The change is just around the corner. Are we there yet?





As newsprint prices undergo steep rise, is digital the final solution


Business Standard has carried a story today which says that due to rising newsprint prices leading publication houses are deferring their new edition launch plans and increasing their advertising rates.



Newsprint prices have risen by 50% over the past 6 months which mirrors the global scenario of the print sector. Until now, India was an anomaly to the global trend of decreasing newspaper circulation and ad rates. India, a booming media market, with market projection predicting bullish trends for the next two quarters may undergo revision.



Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has asked its members to reduce its newsprint usage by 20%. This downward trend puts a serious question mark over the proposed plans of many mainstream publication houses in India, as the report suggest.



It has been long suggested that the newspaper in its current form will soon be extinct and be replaced by other digital mediums like mobile, internet, digital kiosks and tablets, etc. This may be an early sign.

Technological innovation has changed the media business time and again. As Marshal McLuhan famously proclaimed, ‘medium is the message’.



Social media, the much abused yet little understood term, may be the next big wave to define the way we imbibe and consume information. This virtual congregation of masses to connect and share thoughts, ideas with each other will perforce necessitate that news dissemination also undergoes a change to cater to these new media audiences.



With these changes inevitable, the business of engaging with the media will also change. This is where specialized new media practitioners will enable entities to engage with a tome of dynamic, coagulating yet disintegrated mass.



The writing is on the wall, it is time we start preparing.


Social media divide: User versus observer

In the ever expanding social media space, there is an inevitable chicken and egg question? Do you need to be a social media user to devise online brand strategies or would suffice being an online media observer?

Public Relations practitioners in the traditional media space need not be active participants. Most PR firms are keen to have ex-journalists on their roll, as they have the real world knowledge of actual practices in media. It is easier for an ex-journo to conjure all possible story ideas and sector updates which could be carried in news during lean news days. Also, a media relations as a function becomes relatively easy as most of them share a level of camaraderie and bonhomie with the media.

But, this is not the case with most PR professionals. They are merely observers or at best consumers of mass media with no active involvement in the process of creating content or the real world experience of working in a media firm or a publication house.

New media professionals can merely observe and implement brand strategies by imbibing dispersed knowledge across the web. But is it necessary for them to be active participants and users of web 2.0 tools?

Being an interactive medium, it is relatively easier to be involved with a broad spectrum of platforms and tools in social media space. So, PR persons can acclimatize to the new world order by engaging their audiences themselves.
Also, being a part of the community would help in greater acceptance amongst peer group, communities and potential influencers making PR component an extension of the online persona.

One is clued into new technologies and emerging avenues of message dissemination by being in the know rather than merely accept redundant tools which are no longer effective.

The benefits of being an active participant rather than merely being an observer are obvious. At the same time it is very simple to be a poser in new digital space as the general discourse is easily available.

What defines the two is quality. This will differentiate the posers and pseudo practitioners from the real users and knowledge experts who are clued in. The quality will determine the eventual pay out and survival of the lot.

Big Pharma f*ck-ups



Amidst the chaos caused by serial bomb blats in Bangalore and Ahmedabad over the weekend along with the continuing onslaught of torrential rains in Mumbai, the lead story in Mint today completes the trinity of morose news here in India.



The headline reads ‘India fails to report drug side effects’ with the following summary – No adverse reactions to any drugs reported from 2005-07; govt concedes drug makers aren’t reporting either.



This may not come as a shock to those tracking the Indian Pharma story beyond the high profile deals and the ‘immense growth potential’ which most media and analyst reports harp about.



With a severe talent crunch affecting the so called booming Indian Pharma industry, knowledgeable gatekeepers of good policy are few and far between. The Indian judiciary system and policy makers must be credited with the fact that they have held up the independent nature of Indian Pharma Co’s at crucial junctures (the Glivec patent challenge is a case in point).



But, the fact remains that we have not invested enough in resources or infrastructure to ensure that all drug manufacturers adhere to what is known as ‘Good Clinical Practices’ in industry parlance.



India might be the most lucrative opportunity that overzealous Big Pharma is orgasmic about due to its huge population which makes it a thriving petri-dish of a multitude of diseases. To conduct clinical trials in this geographic constituency is the most lucrative business option that Pharma companies have.



But, isn’t it a reason more so for the governing bodies to protect its citizens from the most obvious harm. What we are talking about here is merely a side-effect to drugs not being categorically reported and documented. Such adverse reactions are believed to be the fourth largest cause of mortality and morbidity globally and that simple act, as the report suggest, could aid in saving millions of lives.



‘Drugs typically throw up newer side effects than were known during clinical trials once they begin to be administered across large groups of patients. Collecting this data is crucial for patient safety as well as fine-tuning medical research.’



It’s time that the DCGI takes cognizance of this fact and adequate measures, processes are put in place to correct such a gross oversight.



Mint article link


The purpose of fragmented opinion

Voices in MSM (Main Stream Media) seem to rise in unison on issues which may be acceptable to a social dynamic.

Various opinions surface on blogs, which may be nebulous in their understanding, but within those limitations dare to transcend beyond convention. A bastion of rebellion, or so it may be perceived, descends into opinions which may not be purposefully relayed in the mainstream space.

Hunter Thompson famously said, “There is not enough room for dissenting voices…” May be this medium can offer that elusive outlet for a thought which may change the world.

P.S. Small post, think at will

Thought for the day

There is nothing more tragic than the silent demise of a dream

Thought for the day

‘In a developing free market economy, an intellectual is someone who prefers Camembert along with his scones and freshly brewed coffee even if he can’t make rent.’