Are you a digital media expert?

God give me strength. Just been spammed by a “digital media expert” offering a training course on “New Digital Training”. Here it is verbatim:

“As the world of new media continues to explode, I’m writing to introduce you to our new training course: Digital Marketing & PR.
“This in-house course gives a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of new media. It shows delegates how digital techniques can be simply and successfully integrated with more established PR strategies to generate new revenue streams for your agency.
“Who is it for? PR professionals with a basic knowledge of new media, wishing to advance their skills, speak the language with confidence and sell more digital work to their clients.”

Oh Dear. I am not sure that new media is exploding nor do I know what a “digital technique” is – I wish I had one though.
The curious thing is the person who sent the email – obviously blind CC’d to all the unfortunate recipients – has not got a clue about social media. Otherwise, she/he would not have spammed me in this manner. Meanwhile, their online presence is decidedly Web1.0 – no blog, no social networks, no Twitter.
I’m finding that a lot of PR companies which have, up until recently, ignored the possibilities of social media as a medium for communications – and in some cases even derided it – are now putting themselves forward as experts on social media. All this on the strength of a month-old blog and a Twitter account with five followers.
As with traditional media relations, the sloppy agencies which gave the industry a bad name with the media, will tarnish us with same brush with their backward approach to social media.
There are some excellent agencies out there doing some fantastic work through social media – but now that others have spotted the bandwagon they threaten to turn it over as they struggle to get on board.

Learning about social media from an old fart

Now this story might appear a bit crude, but it really happened, and inadvertently provided a wonderful metaphor for understanding new developments in communications, particularly social media.
Picture the scene: I am in a busy Edinburgh pub, crowded with delegates from conference.
At the end of the evening, me and some acquaintances were still talking shop at the bar, with one delegate airing his view that he ‘really didn’t see the significance of this social media thing.’
One senior delegate patiently sought to explain how social media was not just another channel for communication, but required a different mindset. And then, without announcement, surreptitiously, slipped away from the bar.
His new found friend at the conference, an Irish guy then declared in his Dublin brogue: "Someone has farted - and it’s not me!"
I reassured him that it genuinely wasn’t me either. The absent friend seemed prime suspect.
The episode instantly provided me with a metaphor:  This is how social media is different. You see, normal communications is telling the world what you want to say. Social media, is picking up conversations which may be about you, and may, in many instances not be instigated about you. So, you would not issue a press release for the equivalent of ‘You have just farted’. The fart, however, is a reality for those out there. And is more likely to be picked up as a conversation piece, regardless of your embarrassment.
If you’re not out there listening, and appropriately responding you are in danger of living in an artificial, You-Centric world, and not being part of the real conversation. That’s the real difference with this social media thing.
The metaphor seemed to work in making his new friend understand the different mindset of social media. It’s funny, how an ill-wind can bring new insight.


Raise a glass to NetConstruct for making the DADI Awards

Congratulations to our client NetConstruct for beeing short listed in the prestigious Drum Awards for the Digital Industries (DADI) for its work with one of our favourite brewers Theakstons. Masham-based Theakstons, one of the region’s oldest brewers, has been nominated for two DADI Awards for Best Consumer/Retail Website and Best Use of Visual Design alongside award-winning digital agency NetConstruct. Other companies in their categories include Sony, Samsung, Glenmorangie, XBox, Doc Martens and Visit Scotland. The winners will be revealed at an awards dinner at Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium in November. Wetherby-based NetConstruct, one of the top Kentico developers in the UK, was commissioned by Theakstons to design and develop a website that captured the company’s values as a family brewing company which takes pride in its track record as a craft brewing innovator. NetConstruct’s Director of Development Jonathan Healey says: “We’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing the new Theakstons’ website. We sent a team of 25 over to the brewery to ensure that we truly understood the values that stood behind Theakstons’ famous ales and that is reflected in the new website’s design. “We have also integrated a lot of interactive features including an ale selector so visitors can select their preferences from the ale characteristics and an interactive history of brewing in Masham from 835AD to today. Other features include an online shop.” Since its launch the new website, which is built on the Kentico content management system, has seen a significant rise in traffic, and a rise in trade enquiries and bookings for brewery’s popular tours. Victoria Bramley, Consumer Marketing Manager at Theakstons, says: “As one of the oldest family brewing companies in the country, it was important for us to work with a digital agency who truly understood the heritage and tradition behind Theakstons. “From our initial meetings to the design and implementation of our new website, NetConstruct has appreciated our brand values and the integrity of our company. We are absolutely delighted with the result and these nominations for a DADI Award underscore the quality of the work.” The DADIs, now in their sixth year, bring together individuals and companies at the forefront of digital technology and aim to recognise and reward digital excellence in design and development. The Theakstons’ website, which is powered by the world class Kentico content management system, was officially launched at the Internet World 2012 exhibition in London where visitors were in for a refreshing surprise on the Kentico stand. In contrast to other stands Kentico and NetConstruct were offering tasters of Theakstons’ legendary Old Peculier ale. “The juxtaposition of a bar stocked with Old Peculier on the Kentico software stand was an opportunity too good to miss,” said Director Simon Theakston. “It was the perfect way for us to launch our new Theakston website and online shop and enjoy some good, honest ale.”