ducks


How social technologies breed solo shopping – at least in the real world

The days of meeting up with friends and going on a shopping spree are long gone. With so much choice brought about by the increasing number of ecommerce platforms, retailers introducing more ranges online, and the growth of social technologies,applications and contactless payment systems, serious shoppers have drifted from the pack and prefer to go it alone.

Today, if you ask – “does my bum look book in this?” – you’re more likely to be ‘BBMing’ a picture to your friends, getting ‘liked’ on Facebook, or checking out real-time personal shopping apps than asking a friend who is actually shopping with you. That’s because any opportunity can be a purchasing opportunity. Whether you’re on your smartphone, visiting a supermarket or perusing Facebook, the opportunity to buy and price-check a range of goods in real-time is at your fingertips making it even harder for traditional retailers to make that initial sell, cross-sell, and most importantly getting customers into stores.

We’ve heard more regularly over recent months about the decline of the high-street and the future need for physical stores continues to be questioned. In recent years online fashion retailers such as ASOS and Net-A-Porter have done a good job of removing what some would describe as the stressful in-store experience and have brought the changing room right into your home – all of which has been done seamlessly, particularly when returning items. This in turn has made retailers think more strategically about the in-store experience and customer service they want to provide for shoppers in order to differentiate from online.

The most valuable part of any fashion store is the window display and the right-hand side of the shop as you walk in as it is what draws people in. These areas need to be stocked with bestsellers, new lines, adverts, packaging and items promoted in the press. Generally anything visible from the front of the shop should be high profit or popular items, and presented in an exclusive fashion so if your size is out it will bring out the animal instinct in you to hunt it down until it’s yours.

Highstreet retailers such as Topshop have also done a lot in recent years to try and keep shoppers in stores for as long as possible by offering different services. In the flagship store on Oxford Street, for example, you can now visit the nail bar, blow-dry salon, have your eyebrows threaded, grab a coffee and buy sweets while also doing your shopping. 

Customer service as always continues to be high priority for both stores that sell on commission and those that don’t. If sales assistants don’t say “hello” to customers who walk into stores like Reiss, Whistles and Hobbs, they’re likely to be pulled up for it. A recent and indeed very irregular visit to River Island, ahem, saw six different sales assistants approach me to ask how my day was going in literally under two minutes of entering. The need to appear helpful and make intelligent cross-sell recommendations is indeed a valuable differentiator compared to online, particularly when the customer feels they are getting that little bit extra when it comes to service.

Personally, from a serious shopper’s perspective, cool mobile apps are great for quick viewing, but online doesn’t have the same buzz for me that walking into a store does. Nothing beats seeing a sea of colours, fabrics, textures, coordinating items and ‘store models’ in real life. Obviously there are exceptions. However, as much as I enjoy the experience of walking into a store, shopping alone is definitely more suited to my patience levels. I’m also quite happy to BBM a picture to my friends and get their opinion that way rather than having them waiting around for me on the other side of a dressing room curtain.

@LucyDesaDavies

It’s pretty safe to say that it isn’t too often that The European Convention on Human Rights, originally set out in 1950, isn’t something that gets cited too often in casual debates around freedom of expression. Yet two particular articles sit at the heart of many debates surrounding the press and, arguably, in many debates around our society in general.

Article 8 states:

“everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

A simple sentiment, but one which sits at the core of the spate of recent super injunction cases and which is frequently winning arguments in court. The sentiment is one which few would realistically argue with; we all have a right to privacy, an essential aspect of a truly free society.

Key to the discussion around super injunctions is the interpretation of this right to privacy as the right to a protection of reputation.

Reputations are legally perceived to have a monetary value and, as dictated by legal precedent in the UK courts, everyone starts with a good reputation – unless proven otherwise. This idea sits at the heart of defamation rulings, the idea that the unfair tarnishing of someone’s reputation can have a negative effect on their potential income.

And yet all too often this idea is emphatically contradicted by the opening line in Article 10 of the same convention:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression”.

 

Essentially, everyone has the right to say what they want, when they want to – and if that is damaging to someone else’s reputation, so be it.

With two such contradictory statements at the heart of super injunctions and defamation rulings, it’s easy to see why cases can last for years following the original comments and/or story.

Nevertheless Article 8 has dominated proceedings in recent years, and a key reason for this is Mr. Justice Eady. If you don’t know Mr. Justice Eady, he is a UK judge frequently appointed to high profile defamation cases.

Numerous publishers have bones to pick with him and it’s rumored that champagne corks were being popped around Fleet Street (metaphorically speaking, at least) when he announced that he was standing down, and it looks as though his replacement might be somewhat more liberal towards freedom of expression, meaning we could see some change in precedence over the coming years.

The phrase “in the public interest” is frequently bandied about in defamation cases. This is the happy compromise between the two articles; you can only impact on someone’s reputation if it’s in the public interest.

So while it might not be in the public interest to know that Princess Caroline of Monaco goes out to dinner with her kids, (unsurprisingly, she received compensation over photographs published of just this), but that it might be good for the public to know about the less-than-wholesome life Tommy Sheridan (then an MSP) was leading; a case which only gets more extraordinary the more you hear about it.

Reeling out 17 witnesses, Sheridan initially won damages from the News of the World over claims that he was visiting an illicit club; five years on and he’s serving jail time for perjury, though one suspects we haven’t heard the last of it yet.

However, the “public interest” argument is also a pretty flimsy and arbitrary compromise which represents the only middle ground between the two. It’s frequently sullied by the press stretching the definition of public interest to, say, knowing that a premier league footballer had relations with someone they shouldn’t have.

It’s also quickly worth mentioning the increasingly prominent trend for “Libel Tourism”, wherein cases can be brought about in territories which have no bearing on the original comments or participants. This, as you may have guessed, is because the internet is ubiquitous and as such as long as you can prove that a comment made in America has been seen in the UK, then proceedings can be pressed in UK Courts – as seen with King vs. Lewis in 2004. Article 8 makes it easier to win damages in defamation cases (and to win super injunctions) in the UK than it does in the US, meaning that this is a trend which isn’t going anywhere.

This has interesting implications for PRs and the use of social media, as it’s increasingly becoming vital to ensure that social media policies are rigid and right, and to ensure that you watch what you say on social networks – either by yourself or on behalf of a client.

Article 8 is currently winning over Article 10 in the UK, so while you’re free to express yourself, you basically can’t express yourself too much. Or something like that. Even if only one person sees a defamatory comment it could be prosecuted.

It’s also worth remembering that Clients taking legal action in order to protect their reputation isn’t always A Great Thing. In fact, it’s pretty much very rare to see any real benefit. See McLibel, which ultimately had a damaging effect on McDonald’s brand. Looking at the reasons that McDonalds originally took action it could be argued that the head honchos at Google would be within their rights to consider similar action against Facebook and BM, yet I believe they are intelligent and perceptive enough not to.

The interpretation of these two articles sits at the heart of one of the key debates around the media at the moment; it’s important that as PR practitioners we fully understand what they stand for.

@tmbrntt

 

Lets talk DERTy

Another week, another round of DERTy Talk, a day later but who’s counting.

So what has been happening in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology space this week? Well…

Digital Entertainment

clip_image002Dirty Derty

If any of you have stumbled across this week’s edition of DERTy talk and are somewhat disappointed by the lack of actual dirt, then this one might be for you. And if you are just interested in regular digital entertainment this might be one of interest too. This week has seen the release of the world’s first 3D porn film. The film apparently cost £2m to make and has caused Chinese fans to flock to Hong Kong in the hope of seeing the uncut version. The first of many eye popping films? Who knows, as long as it doesn’t become 4D…

Cats own the interwebclip_image003?

Worried about how many people currently follow you on Twitter? Perhaps a lowly cat could help, or perhaps just add some amusement to your day. According to a recent list compiled by Shortlist, the animal with the most amount of followers is @sockington (not an Edelman client), with 1,482,735 followers. Sockington is owned by tech-historian Jason Scott. The domestic cat turned twitter legend was originally found as a stray but has since received fame on Twitter and has even had a spread in People Magazine. Others on the list include the Bronx Zoo Cobra which we featured last week and an array of animals ranging from ducks to parrots.

clip_image002

Pirates on the high seas of Web Connected TV

YouTube’s senior director of content partnerships for EMEA has said that an increase in web connected TV’s will not result in “random ads running across the screen” and a lack of quality control. Piracy has been identified as the biggest threat as more people will be tempted to watch pirated material. BBC.com and global iPlayer MD Luke Bradley-Jones has said that video is the single most exciting area in terms of traction with 50-100% growth in use of video across BBC worldwide per month.

Rights

Do you know your data rights?

We wrote ages ago about the new dicdataship and how Data Brokers and the profit being made from digital data. This is a lovely infomercial video explaining how data brokers gather personal information and how they are using your information – whether you know it or not. Brought to you by the organisation Reputation.com – its thought provoking stuff.

 

 

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A working group headed by Ed Vaizey has suggested creating a body that will resemble website watchdog the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), however this has been slammed by digital rights campaigners, the Open Rights Group. In part the group has been proposed to find an alternative to website blocking, compromised ISPs and rights holders. Currently there are problems with clauses within the Digital Economy Act around how web site blocking would occur and who would be held responsible if illegal content were downloaded on free public Wi-Fi. The full article is published here and it is set to be an issue that will run and run. After all currently if your website gets blocked there is no one to complain to.

Technologies

Minority Shopping Report

A very impressive customer service/ technology initiative from the clever people at 3 (though almost certainly an April Fool). Basically Minority Report meets online shopping WITH customer service. In terms of how businesses offer content, software and technology as a service – this is an interesting hypothesis of how customer support *might* look in the future, practical joke or not.

Watch it here – http://vimeo.com/21968394

Tweets from the team

@LukeMackay: I might go to Legoland California JUST to see thesehttp://bzfd.it/g0fvA3 #starwars

@GLeney: All I want to do is check the weather! #bbcwebsiteisdown

@AJGriffiths: V nicely done video from Desperados RT @becksr: Wow – this is very cool. http://bit.ly/dJW7cf

@LukeMackay: The Governator. Utterly inspired RT @_mip_ Arnold#Schwarzenegger launches The Governator at #MIPTVhttp://bit.ly/hsluJ8

@AJGriffiths: The @FT refuses to give up subscriber data to Apple. A fair stake in the groundhttp://on.mash.to/h6vfvL

As a Premiership manager who goes to extreme measures to avoid the inconvenience of post match interviews and who has refused to even speak to any reporter from the BBC for last 6 years, Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson would be an unlikely source of advice for PR agencies. But in a sector whose principal assets arrive in the morning and leave at night, football can provide some remarkable insights on the management of human capital, or “talent” as it is otherwise known.

The Financial Times – no less – drew attention to the techniques employed by Sir Alex in his management of highly paid stars in a recent Lex column. The piece draws parallels to the management of talent within the banking sector.

PR agencies are not protected by patented machinery, capital equipment or (as in the case of the banking sector) high speed technology and layers of regulation; all that´s required to conduct a PR campaign today is a telephone line and an email account. The performance of a PR agency really is driven by the talent at its disposal.

As in football some agencies or teams pay staff higher salaries than others, but – as with football – a higher salary budget does not automatically lead to greater team success (cue gratuitous jibe about the number of years Manchester City and Newcastle United have remained trophyless). The key is in the management.

In PR agency terms, this is typically summed up at the recruitment or review stage; does it make sense to recruit (or remunerate) the team “star” or the team “worker bee”? As Lex puts it:

“The tension is created by the conflict between bureaucracy and charisma (in the words of sociologist Max Weber). Bureaucracies are efficient, but dull and prone to run out of imagination and energy. Charisma is exciting and effective – it scores goals, both literal and metaphorical – but can be disorganised and disruptive.”

In practice, agencies need both; creative risk takers and reliable process implementers. The key is to understand which, what level of each role is required in your team and who is best equipped to play it.

The same is true of football, no team could compete if made up exclusively of charismatic stars (cue snide asides about The Netherlands never having won a World Cup); or in other words, the reason why John O´Shea has four Premiership and one Champions League medals (as this group helpfully remind Liverpool fans). You can blame it all on Max Weber.

This here is an interesting campaign and advertising medium being rolled out by an advertising agency in Amsterdam. RAINCAMPAIGN® is an environmentally friendly technique that consists of “pavement adverts” – ultimately the images appear on the pavement only when it rains, disappearing as they dry. A percentage of profits from each project will be donated to an international rainforest project.

In my humble opinion, it’s pretty cool that even in the somewhat money-grubbing world of media; something environmentally friendly and charitable is still possible without being boringly unoriginal. A couple of brands have already used the technique for their own campaigns as well – including Continental Tires

And yes, I have considered that people are more likely to hurry along in the rain rather than mosey about checking out the pavement but sometimes it’s the concept that counts.

@GabiGarb

Two weeks ago I crowd sourced the question about the changing nature of influence within the technology sector and how this was impacting on analyst firms specifically. There was tremendous response from which three key themes emerged that are illustrated below with some of the most relevant comments.

1. A New World of Influence

Clearly from your comments there is a new dynamic of influence within the IT sector. James Boike highlighted the fratured nature of influence away from the traditional sources specifically analysts.  He said, “Just based my experience in enterprise tech, influence on IT adoption has become highly polarized. If you think of Chris Anderson’s “long tail” concept, the most effective analysts and influencers have scattered to the far left and far right of the axis – influence is being polarized.

“That means top influencers increasingly work at extremities: either at “A Big Firm” or as vocal, prolific specialists in their trades.” The vast middle is no longer a fruitful position for analyst shops in enterprise tech. Tier-2 firms and independent freelancers who are not in the top decile of self-promotion are glossed over – they are more easily disregarded. More specifically, on the left pole I see Gartner, influential venture capitalists like Tim Draper/DFJ and Fred Wilson/Union Square Ventures, and key executives like Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon (and until recently, Jonathan Schwartz at Sun). On the right pole I see folks like Anil Dash, Ray Wang, Dan Gillmor and Dave Winer, who seem to speak less for their organizations, instead voicing their own perspectives which are heard by thousands of IT decision-makers globally. Big caveat: much of the above influence does not fall into traditional industry analyst role, but that’s the point – the role of tech influence has scattered from the space formerly occupied by industry analysts.”

2. New Influence is Driven by Engagement

The nature of influence in this new world is driven by engagement Fred Broullard explained. “So, to our influencers. There are 2 things to be considered here :

A : Exemplarity: the opinion is driven by the status or relevance of the influencer. For instance, a designer will clearly influence for a technology product on style, design, good taste, but not really on technology. His influence varies by the topic and level of his engagement with the product.

B: Usage, or proven track of record: increasingly, as we have less time and far too much information, the picture says it all, so to speak. If the demo or the usage of a product / a solution has been successful, it will clearly influence. It might therefore be a shift from documentation to demonstration or engagement

Who they are ? … hard to tell, and increasingly so. I think that in each industry / organization / association, often the geekiest and most engaged person will definitely be the one who will be known and given credit.”

3. Engagement and Influence Originates In Micro-Communities

A major trend has been the growth and development of micros communities. These communities by their nature are formed from those engaged and it seems this is the source of great credibility and the source of influence.

Andrew Howard highlighted this fact: “I engage with global privacy stakeholders very closely—everyone from advocates to academics to policymakers. I’ve managed engagement with this community on behalf of a number of Edelman clients. These individuals are playing an increasingly prominent role in technology adoption as they influence consumers via the media and policymakers via lobbying efforts. Privacy is complex, highly subjective and poorly understood; as a result, privacy stakeholders can seed fear, uncertainty and doubt in the market. I believe there’s a new privacy engagement imperative for tech companies introducing products and services that push data boundaries (think location-based services, social networking, health IT, etc.).”

These micro-communities are important because the key idea starters on specific conversations and topics as Andrew highlights for privacy issues. It also highlights another question I was asked on a global training session this week what is the difference between and engagement strategy and a traditional communications approach. I came across a quote from Andrea Di Maio Gartner’s leading analyst on e-Government issues earlier this week that explains it well. “Using social media to communicate means to expand a multichannel communication strategy to encompass new channels. It used to be the counter, the telephone and the web site: now you have the Twitter hashtag or the Facebook page, but these are just channels. Of course people can engage, retweet your information, post on your Facebook page, and so forth. So it would appear that simply setting some ground rules about what people can and cannot do and how the moderation policy works would go a long way toward moving from simple communication to engagement. But “real” engagement is something else. It is about figuring out where people are already having conversations that your organisation needs to be aware of. It is about bringing information and dialogue to places where people want that dialogue to happen: their blogs, their Facebook groups, their Twitter streams. In essence, an effective communication strategy is likely to be almost the exact opposite of an effective engagement strategy. The former chooses and controls channels, while the latter joins somebody else’s channels. The former determines rules of engagement, the latter follows somebody else’s rules. The former assumes that people reach out to your organisation, the latter is based on your organisation reaching out to communities and groups.”

As James Boike pointed out Gartner analysts still dominate at one end of the axis but I would love to hear thoughts from all points of influence.

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