Horses for Courses

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Well done the Creation Trust based in Aylesbury for their clever use of text messaging ( See Guardian article here ).

One of the big temptations in the communications business is to be drawn to the latest, most shiny toys to get your message across. Yet often the old ways are the best.

In this case the Creation Trust used text messaging to promote their work with great success, a positive result they would not have obtained had they used other channels like Twitter or Pinterest perhaps.

Communication is all about understanding who you are trying to reach. Understanding your publics is not however just about shaping the messages, it’s also about identifying how to reach them. Often the old ways are the best and we can even extend this back to the tools we used before the digital wave broke over the industry. Events, face to face contact, leaflets and media work all still have a role to play. Certainly they may be used alongside digital tools, but it is the focus on the audience driving the mix of channels that is important.

Some of my chums in PR think I’m a dinosaur when I question their automatic focus on digital tools when formulating a communications strategy. It’s not that I am against the new tools we have at our disposal, but that I question whether they are always suitable for the target publics. We have choices and our choices should be based on who we are trying to reach, not what we enjoy or are excited by.

Horses for courses.


Microsoft drop the big one

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When on line self build web sites started to appear Microsoft were (unsurprisingly) one of the first on the market with their Small Business Offering. This gave small business es the ability to create and maintain a web site without having to rely on a web designer. This is a fantastic way to get an online presence , and the beauty of the Microsoft tool was that it was absolutely free.

About 18 months ago this all changed. First Microsoft stopped taking new registrations – without notice. Then they announced that existing accounts would be transferred to Microsoft’s 365 tool – a paid offering online access to a range of products on the cloud – including web design and management.

And this has been where we we’ve been at for around a year. Now the change is imminent – all sites must either be transferred to Microsoft 365 by the end of april or they will be closed. The only other option is to build the site again in another tool and transfer the domain name.

It’s a lot of “faff” for small charities and not for profits who have built up sites in Microsoft small office, and even the transfer to 365 isn’t straightforward. I know quite a few who have – I helped them set their sites up, but there is nothing in the Microsoft changeover information to help not for profits with this change.

BT have a great free web tool for not for profits and Moonfruit is a great tool which costs less than Microsoft. I’m recommending all of my contacts change to one of these.

I’m sure Microsoft won’t notice, but ownership of a site is important.

There’s nothing new in the world of PR

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Today’s hit is a bit of research a friend passed to me about social networking from Brian Solis.

It strikes me the Social Networking bubble may be reaching its popping stage for commercial use. This blog by new media guru Brian Solis reveals the emerging limitations to the “click on like” “become our friend” culture of most social networks that means organisations may be getting far less benefit than they hoped.

But should we be surprised?

Another top guy from the new media world, Paul Adams of Google published this slidshare presentation a few months back.

As someone who has always advocated the importance of keeping people at the centre of our thinking when we try to communicate on behalf of organisations, this really struck a chord with me.

He states “New technology doesnʼt change how our brains work. Social networks are not new. For thousands of years, people have formed into groups, built strong and weak relationships with others, formed allegiances, and spread rumor and gossip.
The emergence of the social web is simply our online world catching up with our offline world. As technology changes the tools we use to communicate, we still use the same behavior patterns that we evolved over those thousands of years.”

What I take from both of these pieces of comment is; focus on the people you want to engage with, before you focus on the means of engagement and the technology you can employ.

We’re always guilty in PR, marketing and advertising of fetishising technology, we’re drawn to the new and shiny gizmos of communication when what we should first consider are human factors that are many millenia old.