Showing posts from November, 2009

SideWiki Less Cool Than it First Appeared: Ten and a Half Reasons Why

In a recent posting I expressed my disagreement with an article published in the Guardian newspaper suggesting that Google Sidewiki could mean the end of PR as we know it (see ) At first I said that Sidewiki was cool, but simply that I did not think it was any threat to PR as we know it. Indeed I believe it creates more opportunities. Looking more closely, though, I now think that it is clever but I am not so sure that it is such a good idea. Here are ten and a half reasons why: 1. Users need to know it exists and website owners are not likely to put a button saying ”click here to see uninvited and possibly hostile comments on this site” 2. You need to install the toolbar to see it, at least for now. 3. You need to remember to turn the Sidewiki on. 4. Turning it on slows down page loading so you turn it off. 5. Controversial sites will block it. 6. Well managed sites will find ways to bury bad comm

Culture, Innovation and the Curious Case of Pandora Internet Radio

Most people seriously underestimate the impact of cultural and social factors on innovation. Very often excited inventors roll out a product that is objectively “better” only to find that it bombs in the market for reasons that are perhaps obvious only to an anthropologist. Take, for example, the stubborn resistance of European drivers to automatic transmission, which is an almost universal standard in the US and Asia. Most vehicles sold in Europe still have a manual stick shift and if you admit that you like automatics people look down on you. Your European friends will rationalize all sorts of explanations about safety, economy and performance, but the reality is that they are afraid to seem inadequate. Drivers of automatics are perceived as being incapable of driving properly and deep down they are considered unmanly, regardless of gender. Pretty much the same hostility slowed the introduction of footrests on saddles, wheels on luggage and countless other improvements. Sometimes al

SideWiki is Cool, but Reports it Spells the End of PR As We Know It are Exaggerated

In a world where there is an exciting new web tool practically every day of the week, Google’s new “SideWiki” toolbar did not quite make the impact it deserved when it emerged about a month ago. Effectively it answers all the people who have become so used to adding their comments on Facebook posts and newspaper articles that they feel frustrated when they read an old time one-way web page with no comment space. SideWiki adds a column on the left of any web page where users can write comments and read the comments of others. Though the idea is not entirely original it will be more successful than earlier attempts simply because Google is a strong brand and has a broad customer base. When Sidewiki catches on it will be another useful way of interacting with websites, and I expect that it will soon become a standard browser feature, though there is likely to be a battle for control of this space because of the possibilities of generating revenues from ad space and paid links. But some o

Stockholm’s Rabbit-Fueled Heating: Why Some Things Are Just Not Good Ideas and How to Rescue “Hopeless” PR Cases

Competent PR professionals can deal with any emergency. It’s their job and it is why we have crisis plans. But there are some cases where even seasoned veterans must wish they had better customers. One that springs to mind is the use of real human cadavers as crash test dummies about a generation ago. Objectively most reasonable people could accept that this testing could make cars safer and benefit humanity. But the same reasonable people also think that it is perhaps a little too ruthless and you will need more than just careful spin to make it palatable. Just recently the city of Stockholm, Sweden, found itself in exactly this kind of situation. News reports in local media revealed that rabbits culled in city parks were being burned to heat homes. Predictably the coverage in media worldwide was universally negative, especially when it was revealed that these were not wild rabbits but descendents of abandoned pets. Twitterers, bloggers and journos across the planet pushed each othe