Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Orange Balloon race is on!

Here's an interesting viral brand campaign. Orange have commissioned this fantastic social media project where you can race a balloon across internet miles and the winner gets a VIP trip to Ibiza with some mates.

The graphics and execution of the race are superb, and the team at Poke have done a great job on it, though I think it is seriously aimed at techies as there is little instruction on how the thing actually works for the layperson. It feels like they got so caught up in the clever trickery of making it all work that someone forgot about the user experience as there is little to help you through some of the registration and starting stages - it seems to assume you already know how it all works already?!

However, an innovative viral concept from which Orange get a rich stream of prospect data and huge amount of brand presence in exchange for interraction with a truly innovative and fun application!

You get to choose a balloon, then steer it over websites along the course (that you can also submit, so other balloons can visit your site, too) and friends and contacts can give you a boost to help you on your way.

We've joined the race, so search out the "preview" balloon and give us a boost! You can see the progress of our little blimp in the panel on the right of this blog.

Hurry, there's less than 6 days to blow our sleek dolphin (yes, I did that on Porpoise!) balloon along!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Get your press releases up to scratch

I was forwarded some information on an intriguing application recently - Hubspot's Press Release Grader.

(hat-tip @mikeashworth) "A friend of mine has developed a tool which evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score. This score is based upon basic factors from public relations experts including the language and content of the release, plus advanced factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimisation characteristics."

Sounded interesting, but the email sat in my inbox for a few days until I had a chance to write something appropriate (conveniently, I was then asked for something on Go4Fresh's launch to go out to the wider vending and retailing community)

Now, I don't pretend to be an expert copywriter, or indeed, a PR guru, but my experience in marketing has given me an insight into what my target audience is likely to want to see, and in my opinion, the chance that a PR expert is going to know about MY skill, product or service as well as I do is slight, so I am better placed to draft or write the initial release at least. However, since I don't do this every day, it is still a case of learning as you go as to how to construct a press / news release.

So, I duly wrote about 250 words and structured the document as I would for a news release, conforming to expected formats for contact and the level of technical detail. I was happy with it, and without the grader application intervention, I would probably have sent it on for release as it was.

The application is really simple to use, intuitive and helpful - a good start.

It assumes no technical knowledge or PR expertise (so probably will bother PR professionals - though I think that gaining an understanding of how an expert does something helps you to better engage their services; there's only a minority who would want to take it all on and cut the expert out)

The fully-automated report takes moments to come back with a decently organised and well-structured report on your release. I was shocked that I only achieved 32/100 on my first pass, but easily fixable things including; slightly too few words (I needed over 250), I'd missed off some contact details (easily done!) and a slight restructure to provide the information in a better hierarchy, quickly gave me a more respectable 60/100.

The great thing for me (apart from the service being free at the moment) is that it provides a great opportunity to have someone else (something else?) proof-read the document without fear of them rewriting it totally. It is very easy to miss something obvious, or to forget to structure in a certain way.

It is very online-savvy, so helps to create releases that are social media friendly and, if I were using a PR agency, they would now be getting something from me that is virtually ready for them to distribute and work on immediately..

I suppose the only downside is that there is a danger that releases could start to look too similar if all were parsed through this software?

But that's a way off, so try it for yourself (whilst I go and try to eke out another 30 points at least before I distribute it), let me know what you think.

Social media analytics meets Big Brother 9

Now, I am NOT a big fan of Big Brother these days, but I found this very interesting.

We use the clever guys over at to help us "listen" to online conversations, the sentiment and relevance of where and how people are talking about people, products and brands so that we can assimilate the information into a social strategy and advise clients how best to engage with them, and feed the findings into other media campaigns and so on.

However, this application of the software is fun and high profile (in the UK at least); London newspaper Metro feature a chart on all the BB9 competitors and how the public feel about them.

This is not a poll or direct-feedback mechanism, rather a results list indexed by brandwatch scouring the data in over half a million English-speaking sites and rating the views with a score derived from the sentiment towards the person, combined with the number of times they are mentioned, and the profile of those sites on which they are mentioned.

What I find interesting is that, despite this measuring online data only, it is already showing how relevant that monitoring is as a barometer of general opinion. It will be interesting to see if a clear pattern develops between those who are evicted and what the index says - ie do we keep those who we talk about the most or we like the most or maybe even we dislike the most?

Downside to finding this is that I shall now have to keep half an eye on BB9 now...

see the barometer and read more | digg story