Lara's Log

Bellwether = Goat with Bell

The latest Bellwether report from IPA/BDO has shown that PR has not escaped a down size in budget for Q2.  PR has suffered in Q2 budgets alongside all main categories in the Bellwether report with direct marketing and internet being the only exceptions. This down turn in budget follows the slight upturn in Q1 and is representative of a fragile UK economy.

“The downward revision to marketing budget in the second quarter is disappointing as it fails to build on the return to growth seen earlier in the year and highlights the fragility of the UK economic recovery,” report author Chris Williamson remarked. “Companies are exercising increased caution in their expenditure in the face of likely slower economic growth in the second half of the year. However it is encouraging to see that marketing spend is still set to increase for the year as a whole compared to 2009, albeit to a lesser extent than signalled in the first quarter.”

PRCA chief executive Francie Ingham said PR professional should retain a sense of perspective when looking at the latest results because the PR sector is not looked at in depth.

“Our own quarterly tracking will be out within the next ten days, and should add more PR-centric market intelligence. Before then, it’s much too soon to be talking about a PR double dip”

In related news, WPP Chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, discusses about the PR industry: http://www.prweek.com/uk/news/1015425/TV-radio-newspapers-shares-drop-favour-PR-PA-says-Sorrell/

In quite unrelated news, the term bellwether refers to anything that predicts future occurrences. The term is from Middle English and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (aka a wether) leading its flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight. So now you know!

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In Yahoo!’s own words;

“So what the heck is The Upshot? Eight people, six reporters and two editors, working each day to tell you what’s happening in the world with short bursts of reporting and analysis…Our goal is to be blunt narrators of the day’s news, to cut through the noise and misinformation and get to the heart of what’s important and why.”

Seeking to differentiate itself from Google, Yahoo! sees its strength as providing relevant, interesting and entertaining content to its community. Yahoo! wants to move away from being a search provider to a content provider and The UpShot is the first concentrated effort in delivering this service.

How will this work? News articles will be picked up by the UpShot team by monitoring what search terms are trending (popular), so in effect their news stories will be generated from users searches.  Where the difference will show is ‘the human factor’ of the UpShot team, which to me, reads that essentially, Yahoo! are offering their own journalist service.

But why? The idea behind this is that concentrated yet popular news will deliver concentrated news readers. This in turn means more targeted marketing and advertising and hopefully more revenue.

With it only being launched on the 6th of July, we’re still in early days yet. Personally I think this could work as it capitalises on Yahoo!’s personal touch and community feel. These are areas that Google has had trouble in creating as evidenced with their failures in Orkut, Buzz and even Google Wave.

Only time will tell!

Facebook Logo

Facebook Logo

As the din of vuvuzelas subsides, the repercussions of this years’ World Cup are stronger for some than others.  Most notably, the Nigerian football team who were originally banned from playing any international football for two years by the country’s president Goodluck Jonathan.

This ban has been rescinded following a campaign which included former Nigerian presidents, FIFA officials and over two thousand comments on Goodluck Jonathan’s facebook page. Last week, he posted:

“I read your comments and took them into account in the government’s decision to rescind the suspension of Nigeria from International Football. I had a meeting with the NFF today and conveyed my disappointment and those of Nigerians on this page and received assurances that there will be positive changes which will be institutionalized to make for a better team and better preparations for future events. To Suleiman Musa, Nwanze Francis Uchenna and Ifade Udunayo Peter and the hundreds of Nigerians who appealed to me on this page, I have listened to your voices and those of others and we must now work together to make sure that the NFF and our players do us proud in future events. GEJ”

However, I suspect the fact that FIFA threatened to expel Nigeria if the government interfered with the team may have had more an affect that the Facebook petitions. Still, nice bit of PR for Goodluck thanks to Facebook.

Goodluck Jonathan’s not the only one using Facebook to speak to ‘the little people’. Closer to home, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been in talks with Prime Minister David Cameron about polling users to solicit their opinions regarding the downsizing of the state.

Facebook has developed a Spending Challenge Channel specifically for the initiative, which functions as an extension of the pre-election Democracy UK pages already in existence. Users will be able to make suggestions regarding the budget directly to the government ahead of the spending review.

Chancellor George Osbourne:  “You pay the taxes that fund our public services, so you should also have a say on how we improve public services.”

The opposition Labour Party has maintained that the cuts are based on ideology rather than economics.

See a YouTube video of Cameron and Zuckerberg pat themselves on the back here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5Bbzi7s1Ko

Google China

Google China

Google’s license to operate in China has been renewed after a stand-off since January, which had looked like Google may have been forced to pull out the world’s most populated country.

But how did it get to this state?  A quick look back:

  • China Google was founded in 2005 with a Chinese-language interface developed and Google.cn launched in 2006, with results censored by the Chinese government.
  • In March 2009, China blocked access to Google’s YouTube site; access to other Google online services is denied to users on an ad hoc basis.  Google’s market share decreases to rival Baidu.
  • January 2010, Google announces it is no longer willing to censor searches in China and may pull out of the country.
  • In February 2010, hacking attacks on Google are traced to mainland China.
  • March 23rd, 2010, Google redirects all visitors to Google.cn to Google.com.hk thereby bypassing Chinese regulators and allowing uncensored Simplified Chinese search results.
  • March 30th, searching via all Google search sites (not only google.cn but all language versions, e.g. Google.co.jp, google.com.au, etc.), including Google Mobile, was banned in Mainland China. The ban was lifted a day later.
  • June 30th, Google ends automatic redirect of Google China to Google Hong Kong. Instead a link to Google Hong Kong is added. This done with the hope of appeasing the authorities in order to renew their ICP license, though it was not certain that this would be seen to be enough of an effort.

On Google’s Blog post today:

“As a company we aspire to make information available to users everywhere, including China. It’s why we have worked so hard to keep Google.cn alive, as well as to continue our research and development work in China. This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self censor and, we believe, with local law. We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn.”

Looks like they got away with it as today, Google has confirmed that the Chinese government has renewed its ICP license in the country, after the search giant made concessions to comply with Chinese law.

As the number of tweets grows to more than 65 million a day from just short of 200 million users, the problem of how to harness all this information becomes greater.  In order to address this, Twitter has acquired a group called Smallthough Systems, the groups responsible for Trendly, an application that lets web sites find out more about the usage and traffic data that is collected by Google Analytics.  More important than the technology however, the new employees “have joined…[Twitter’s]… analytics team and will focus on integrating ideas from Trendly into. ..[Twitter’s]…  current tools and building innovative real time products for ..[Twitter’s]… future commercial partners,” according to the official Twitter Blog.

Interestingly enough, at an Online Measurement and Strategy seminar I attended recently, they were discussing the rise in companies investing in people rather than technology. It seems this is being reflected in the larger companies also.  Looks like the analytics industry is set to develop and evolve.

I still keep tabs on my parents’ web site, www.freightfox.ie – find freight information fast with Ireland’s premier freight directory! (sorry, shameless plug there). Anyway, I keep an eye on the comments. Most of which are complete spam. A lot of which are quite hilarious in their quite blatent spamminess.  I thought I’d post some for all to enjoy :)

Lancome Gift with Purchase says:

Marvellous article you have induced here! The web is full of horrid authorship and I was grabbed by your limpidity. Your stopping points are dead-on and I will forthwith subscribe to your rss feed to stay up to date with your up future day postings.

Juan Merrit says:

Read the landlord’s post, I fell into serious reflections.

This is in response to IIFA Shortlisted for CILTI Awards 2010

So, I’m now writing this from my new pad just off Broughton Street in Edinburgh. Pete and I moved in to the new place this weekend and so far, so good! The rooms are huge, the beds are soft, and the private gardens are gorgeous – there’s even a slide! Photos will be uploaded as soon as possible.

Facebook – what’s left to say, eh? Facebook changes settings without consulting anyone, people get angry, Facebook says sorry…rinse and repeat.  Don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit bored of this dance. Next tune please!  I’m not saying what they did was right – I think the settings should be automatically set to private, including not allowing even friends and family see anything. That way people will be forced to figure out how to use the settings properly! – however, how do people think companies can exist if not from advertising? Google Mail reads your emails and shows relevant ads for pete’s sake!  Anyway, I’ve said nuff on this.  Here’s what Mashable says.

Other bit of news since last update – LOST has finally ended! And the major thing that I thought after watching it was….where’s the polar bear?
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