Posts tagged: Digital Britain

Where does the line fall for PR people?

BM thrived on the 'crisis' attention

By Claire Thompson, freelance PR and social media consultant, Waves PR

PR company Bell Pottinger is again under the spotlight, along with lobbying, and will probably remain so for a while. (For anyone who hasn’t seen the story, Stuart Bruce pulled together a great Storify timeline yesterday.)

Like Burson Marsteller before it with its Facebook/Google story scandal, Bell Pottinger will be squirming uncomfortably, but, like Burson Marsteller, Bell Pottinger is already taking on difficult, often unethical clients, and this kind of publicity will encourage more of the same kinds of clients.

And like Burson Marsteller, it will probably revel in the publicity for what it’s doing, and even use it to build it’s crisis management practise as its name becomes associated with the word crisis, and all those linking to it inadvertently help push it up the search engine rankings. And it’s certainly flushed out that the company has friends in high places within the establishment, making it attractive to more of the same.

Bell Pottinger’s latest ‘sin’ has been to use Wikipedia (Article in Independent, Thursday December 8, 2011), and some of the things it’s ‘accused’ of doing online leave me uncomfortable. I’m hoping that it might spark a sensible debate here around what is, and what isn’t acceptable. Now I’ll stick my hand up and say I’ve done some cackhanded things online before now, and I’ve been called on them, and I’ve apologised. The spotlight was uncomfortable, and hand on heart I’ve always tried to remain ethical whilst serving my clients the best way I can.

But ethics are a tough subject (see the open v copyright debate), and the Independent’s Wikipedia editing article highlights just that. Bell Pottinger tried to put a comment from a client  The Prostate Centre on a cancer related page. Without seeing the comment, my initial thought was that if I had prostate cancer, I might be pleased to see that information. Adding Professor Roger Kirby as an expert? If he’s a professor and has genuine credentials in his field, I would have thought that was fair.

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White Space communications


Image via Wikipedia

Ofcom has announced today how “white space technology”, the new form of wireless communication,  will work.

An earlier consultation explored the potential of the technology, which could be used for a wide range of applications such as linking up different devices and, vitally to the tech industry and to the people living there,  enhanced broadband access in rural areas.

“White spaces” is the unused spectrum between channels used for TV and wireless signals, and use lower frequencies than have traditionally been reserved for TV – they travel further and more easily through walls, which is music to my ears (living rurally and in a 35 ton steel construction. If I’ve understood correctly, it’s like WiFi – but stronger.

For me this is important on two counts: the first is the potential for better mobile broadband (do I need to add that this means online nd mobile specific communications become even more important) and the second is the potential for innovation.

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Be careful on the way up…

Claire Thompson, Freelance PR Consultant, Waves PR

I recently organized and event where I was impressed by one of the speakers. I had given him a platform to speak to people interested in his specialism, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. I’m fairly certain that he got business from the event. And as his service/product is both exciting and relevant , I thought I’d introduce him to a client. One of my best clients at that.

Very bad move that turned out to be!

He mucked me around several times over dates and times, booking things and changing them, until he finally delivered the ‘sucker punch’. He wanted to charge us his travel and time to come to a sales pitch, unless we guaranteed an order.

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The Hargreaves Report

Charter for Digital Rights

Image by tuija via Flickr

There’s so much being said about the Hargreaves Report that I scarcely need to repeat it here, but if you’d like to read the original, here’s the link:

And here’s the press release announcement.

There’s lots of online comment, most of it positive. But, as with all things, there will be winners and losers. For me, one of the most  interesting things that’s being discussed is digital rights direct payments. Thinking this through, this could have an additional impact on micropayments for journalism if implemented – as well as those artists – including photographers – who currently use third parties (like istock) to sell on their wares if they want payment.

This could absolutely change the face of paid journalism and create an egalitarian market where good quality work is sought after and rewarded.  It will be interesting to see where this pans out. If I was Twitter, one of the content distributors but still looking for a revenue model, I might be keeping a very close eye on this potential lifeline.


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