Socially aware PR

Picture: Sony Ericsson C901 Greenheart phone

Picture: Sony Ericsson C901 Greenheart phone

Claire Thompson, Waves PR

When Sony Ericcson launched its new environmentally friendly Greenheart phones last week, it used a range of best of breed social media tools to make its launch event more environmentally responsible – a kind of virtual press conference, delivered from a web page. It was landmark in bringing together a range of ‘social media’ tools.

The company announced two new ‘green’ phones. The C901 and Naite are mid-range phones with eco-credentials as well as features aplenty – but notable in both are a Walkmate pedometer, which shows how much carbon emissions you are saving by walking.

For me the mechanics of the press launch itself were interesting.  PR is starting to step up to the mark. Whilst there may be a way to go, it began to deliver the promise of social media: personal choice.  Journalists and others could choose how (and to some extent, when) to access their information.

Kyte was used to live stream a webcast of the announcement (posted below, if you want to watch). It has a text chat facility within it, which allowed people to ask questions by typing them in. The use of Kyte has left a permanent record of the conference and useful point of reference for media and consumers alike.

Ipadio, which allows people to broadcast to the Internet from any phone, was used for people to phone in questions. For me it would have made sense to have the number to call on the same page as the webcast. Considering you had to navigate away from the webcast to find the details (it was on a separate page), a surprisingly high number of people used the medium to ask questions.

And the ubiquitous Twitter was used to take and respond to questions.

Handling a launch this way raises all kinds of PR questions.

Firstly, the information on the phones was available before the launch, so there was only a minor incentive for attending. This is an age old dilemma for PR for listed companies, where information has to be disclosed to markets at the same time. But from the way that the questions were coming in, this wasn’t the barrier that I might have imagined.

Secondly, one of the benefits of old style press conferences was that the media could arrange to have personal time with the speakers, who are generally pretty busy, inaccessible figures, in one place. Not many people like asking questions publicly, as they want their own angles on the story, their own profiles of the individuals.

I wonder, therefore, whether future virtual press events might not also include an ‘on request’ private channel for discussion after the conference, either face to face using a collaboration tool, or simply over an instant messaging (IM)system. Or even, of course, simply with a ‘call me back’ button?

Full marks have to go to Sony and its PR agency for innovating. Let’s hope we can all learn and build on their success.

Now, when is Blackberry going to green its phones?

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  1. WavesPR » Green Gossip — July 15, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

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