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Coffee Cup Communications

A is for Apple (Not the Fruit)

Earlier this year, I read an article about a recent study that showed kids between the ages of 2-5 are more likley to be skilled in in the ins and outs of a smartphone, than they are with the ins and outs of tying their shoes, which in past generations was a learning/development milestone.  So when I saw this image this morning, I chuckled. Signs of the times!! How ancient our childhood joys must now seem!

The 2011 method for teaching kids their ABCs?

The Evolution of Evaluation...or is it?

On 21 April 2007, GlaxoSmithKline started a communications revolution when the pharmaceutical giant became the first company listed on the FTSE 100 share index to send a tweet.

Eight months later, on 5 December 2007, Carnival Cruises set sail on its Facebook adventure, becoming the first FTSE 100 company to establish a presence on the social networking site.

Today, 67 members of the FTSE 100 index are actively engaged in social media.

three [d] Digital and Social Media,

In an earlier blog entry, I decided that PR evaluation is often overlooked in theory and in practice and thus came my topic for my Master's dissertation. Organisations are using public relations (PR) as part of their “problem solving and change processes” (Broom, 2009, p. 285), and while many practitioners are implementing a myriad of campaigns by which to do this, there is still widespread debate about PR, and its effectiveness and value from a business perspective.

Amidst the continuing debate about the evaluation of PR, the rise of new media technologies, notably social media, offers a new challenge to PR practitioners as it relates to evaluation. Many trade associations such as the CIPR, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Association of Measurement and Evaluation for Communication (AMEC) have consistently been asking the question, “How do you get started in measuring social media and what are the relevant metrics?” (CIPR, 2011).

My study will explore what PR practitioners across the FTSE 100 companies expect to achieve by integrating social media into their ongoing programmes and campaigns, and more importantly, how well they evaluate these objectives and what are the prevailing metrics, methods and tools used across the industry.

I have already had the opportunity to interview a few PR practitioners from large UK companies and gained some fantastic insight from them. However, I am still looking to deepen my understanding of how social media evaluation is being carried out by PR executives in the UK. 

I am hoping UK-based PR practitioners will be willing to assist me in my research by agreeing to a short interview. The interview should not take longer than 45 minutes, and I am more than willing to meet with you at your office or a location convenient to you, or alternatively interview you via telephone.

I can be reached via email at, and you can also find me on LinkedInI genuinely appreciate your time and willingness, especially in light of professional commitments.

Thanks a lot everyone, for your support and assistance! 

References cited:
  • Broom, G.M. (2009) Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, 10th edn. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc
  • CIPR (2011) Social Media Measurement Guidance. Available at: (Accessed: 2 April, 2011) 

JetBlue Continues to Differentiate its Brand

With the simple tagline of "If you wouldn't take it on the ground, don't take it in the air", JetBlue has been attempting to differentiate itself from its competitors. The ads which are clearly YouTube-ready are simple and challenge some of the unpopular airline policies which many travellers complain about - simply by transferring them to the random chore of taking a NY taxi or buying a soda. It really makes you think about what we put up with in the air, and JetBlue is positioning itself as the clever and reasonable alternative to the other airlines, in a fun way, using the amusing and totally relatable reactions of real people caught on hidden camera.

Having never travelled on Jet Blue, I really cannot speak to their service but their ads are classic and the Asian guy in the taxi ads is brilliant. My winner today!

How Do You Measure PR?

PR Measurement is critical and not an option!
I have found recently that in doing assignments, with limited word counts, that one of the shortest sections, if not the shortest section is usually the Evaluation and Measurement section. Much goes into the strategy and tactics sections, with details going into the appendices, but the poor Evaluation section suffers.

In real life, it shouldn't and it is the reason I have decided to look at PR measurement, specifically social media in PR measurement for my dissertation. Evaluation is nothing new, but with all the buzz about social media, all the hype and gloss, many people are interested in the question - how do we measure this thing? I am interested in it.

Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs)
have no place in PR measurement
There are still so many nebulous areas where measurement is concerned and not enough standardisation. PR Week recently announced it would not considering AVEs as a measurement criteria for its annual awards. The Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has also been steadily campaigning to do away with the AVE as a standard for PR measurement.

Evaluation and measurement of PR is nothing new, so why has the PR industry taken so long to make its own mark on evaluating what it does, rather than using metrics from other disciplines as a benchmark? And like my assignments, why do we shy away from research and evaluation, while paying a great deal of attention to tactics? I would think that one would lead to the other and to the other - A to B to C.

And now with social media, which may still come across as fluffy stuff to some senior executives, that we have now really been focusing on proving its value and showing how it can be evaluated, the whole question of measurement of PR in general seems even more critical. The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles was released in June 2010, and for the PR industry, it is a good first step:

  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR programme
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quality and quantity
  5. AVEs are not the value of PR
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

So it is in honour of my abbreviated evaluation sections over the past few months, and out of a genuine interest to see what my peers are doing in real business cases, that I will be pounding the library and the doors of industry to find out, what are we doing, how are we doing it in terms of PR/social media measurement.

Rock the Red Pump

I ran across the Red Pump Project a few weeks ago while blog hopping and thought it was such a fun and creative way to get women talking about HIV/AIDS. I mean really...what do most women love, if not shoes? I think having an excuse to wear a pair of red heels is great on a normal day. Wearing your killer ruby reds to raise awareness about how HIV/AIDS affects women and girls around the world is just a fantastic idea. It just takes the standard red HIV/AIDS ribbon to another level - reaching out to women using what is most familiar to them. Not to mention most fierce.
Every year, the United States recognizes March 10th as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). It’s a nationwide initiative to raise awareness about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women & girls and encourages ladies to take action. While progress has definitely been made in the areas of AIDS prevention and treatment, women still represent 27% of all new AIDS diagnoses, with African-American women accounting for 66% of that group. This year focuses on this statistic, “Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. - Rock the Red Pump website

March 10 is Red Pump Day, so ladies, if you have a pair of red pumps, tomorrow is a great day to take them for a whirl around town. The group will also have a Twitter townhall starting at 1.30pm CST and you can follow them - @RedPumpProj and join the conversation by using the hashtag #redpump.

I just love this idea and love that groups are being creative with the ways in which they support causes such as HIV/AIDS awareness, because the reality is, to stand out among the clutter of messages out there, one really has to be. Good luck, Red Pump ladies.

Master's Dissertation and the Increasingly Vast Communications Word Cloud

So you've gone through one full semester and part of a second and you have been exposed to theories and case studies and group projects and brainstorming. You have gotten excited over parts of a module and depressed over an entire module and it all leads up to one defining moment.

The selection of a dissertation topic.

It is probably the single most stressful moment of your academic career. And while you know you must select a topic that you are interested in or passionate about, there is also the other side - how much literature is available around your passion? Do you have a firm jump off point? What is already known about it - where are the areas of debate? And of great importance to an already stressed out student - what are the likely problems one can anticipate in planning to explore this topic?

My dissertation word cloud
There are a lot of ideas swirling around my head - a couple core concepts that I am exploring. Getting feedback from others is always a great way of drilling down from the general to the specific. The communications word cloud is expanding every day, challenging established theories and creating new modes of doing things. It's exciting as a practitioner, and maddening as a student on the brink of selecting a topic for a Master's dissertation. My personal word cloud - my dissertation word cloud - looks like this, and I need to drill down and be both passionate and practical. Easier said than done.

I am still soliciting feedback and suggestions, based on the topics floating around there in my word cloud. I have been reading and contemplating and speculating and planning and lots of other -ings. It should be pretty demanding and exciting to say the least. But should also include tonnes of learning.

Lights. Camera. Fashion. And the evolution of media relations

Photo credit: AP Photo/Andrew Burton via Yahoo News
Hair. Makeup. Couture.
Press. Publicists. Bloggers.

New York Fashion Week is on and what I love about this is how the media landscape has changed from a few years ago to what it is now. Social media has changed the face of media relations across the PR industry. Gone are the days when having a by-line in a newspaper made you the most important dude to a PR exec. Now with a laptop and an opinion, you can catch the attention of PR teams, whose eyes now have to scan new forms of media to gauge opinions about their brands and to build their brands.

Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer via Yahoo News
I love that Tumblr has sent 24 of its fashion bloggers to NYFW. Just regular people with a love for fashion, who have a great following and who have the power to influence their readers.Great strategy for Tumblr, which is a favourite platform for photogs and fashionistas.  One of their Tumblrs is only 16 years old - from Devon, England. She will be rubbing shoulders with Oscar de la Renta and top fashion editors, and "reporting" live from one of the premier fashion events in the world. A 16 year old can open up the world of high fashion to an audience that may yet be untapped by traditional media. It's pretty damn awesome.

Media ownership now goes way beyond conglomerates. It lies in the keyboards of the citizens of the world. Media relations strategies now have to include and consider social media influencers in promoting the personality and image of the brand - making brands so much more accessible to so many more people. It's really fantastic how quickly things have changed.

I regularly follow one of the 24 Tumblrs - Jessica Quirke - and she is having a remarkable experience. She and the 54,000 people who follow her religiously. Amazing.

Valentine's Day - 2011 style

I found this great video by the always great Socialnomics, and it was too cute not to share.

Also a rewind to the past.

Public Relations - Does it Make Cents?

While doing research on a project over the past week, I realised that the question of budgets for PR was a nebulous one in the literature. So of course I went to the real world via Twitter and the feedback was not that surprising.

In my own experience, over the course of a few different jobs in both the private and public sectors, the process around PR budgets varied. In one role, we had a flat budget annually. There was no negotiation - take it or leave it. Somehow we had to make this stretch across advertising, stakeholder engagement, CSR activities, internal comms activities.

Most of the time though, the budget process was simply around what I call "submit and pray". You planned the year's activities, plotted the financial resources required for said activities, submitted the budget and hoped to God the powers that be would see it your way. They often never did. Budgets came back slashed by 30, 40, 50 percent and still you were expected to make the organisation and its brand shine like a new shilling.

And between reponses from my Twitteratti like "what budget?", "PR what?" and "Budget? LMAO", I realised that the PR professional in many cases suffer the same fate I did, in that somehow the PR budget is at the bottom of the cash money food chain. Even in my last job, most of the money we eventually got, was pillaged to get advertising spend.

So what is the reason for this? Is PR still the bastard child of the organisational family? It really all comes down to how PR positions itself within the organisation and how valued it is, how valued its people are. It's a circle of life that starts with people and power and perceptions. Until those things are in alignment, then the tweets like "PR budgets exist?" will continue and then that is truly a blow to the work that we try to do.

Return of a PR Superstar

I must first apologise to everyone for being such a bad host. I have been beyond busy and the blog was a victim of my new life.

But I promised that 2011 would see me doing much better so please accept my apologies and give me another chance!

I guess I should tell you that I am now a full time Masters student in London - in what else? Communications (with a lot of Marketing as well). I have been here since September - hence the date of the last post. It has been a maddening pace. Maddening. The transition from corporate lush to library-beating student was not that traumatic - mainly because I was not a corporate lush. Part of any good employee's job function should be to constantly stay in the loop with the latest trends and developments in their field. This blog allowed me to explore some of these trends and to meet people who allowed me to see what they were doing in their roles, in their countries. So getting into a formal setting where we were being taught about what's happening - not that much of a stretch.

I have been learning a lot and often, contributed much more. Having job experience - and not just summer job experience - but considerable and hefty real-life corporate experience, has made this even more illuminating, because you can start applying stuff in your mind to real life experiences.

It's almost dissertation time and I am leaning towards a dissertation on sponsorship, but being the social media maven that I am, I want to maybe look at it from that angle. Suggestions?

My 2011 resolution is to be a better communications blogger. That sentence in itself is a bit of a contradiction. By way of being a communicator, this should be a non-issue. But sometimes life just gets in the way. I hope to see you guys more often this time around.

Happy New Year and welcome back to me!
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