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There’s a common founder myth (read 'cliche') that goes something like this:
“From a young age, I found myself fascinated by how things worked. Once I took the TV apart to see how the little people got inside. Just like Steve Jobs, this is why I think the back of the cabinet/ inside of the device must be as beautiful as every other bit.”
Having previous talked about the important responsibility of influencers and journalists in helping PR evolve, this time I want to focus on a quite different (but quickly growing) group.
In a sense, I’d describe them as “every other bloody agency type in the universe.”
And it starts with a bubble.
There’s nothing worse than shying away from your responsibilities. And don’t get me wrong, much of the PR industry’s weakness at the moment has come quite duly from the lack of initiative and competence of its many many members.
But PR is a market highly dependent on its ecosystem and interconnected stakeholders. I’ll never forget the moment as a young account manager, when I realised that the best work I’ll ever do will be defined by what clients sign off.
I’ve written before about the difficulties of the word 'content'. It’s too often bandied around in discussions that lose sight of its meaning to viewers versus its importance in their strategy. And that blindness is costly.
But you quickly find yourself drawing on it because it’s the common reference. Much of the time, that will remain true.
Sometimes, however, it’s worth thinking again to see if there’s another descriptor more suitable. Perhaps another descriptor that can focus on a different detail and a different priority and help you concentrate on what matters.
We all use email differently so here’s my context: I run Inbox Zero + a simple Getting Things Done policy to my email and task list. I’ve been using Mailbox to triage and smash through my inbox, both on mobile and with the new desktop beta.
I’m a firm believer that if you read an email and don’t take some kind of action with it, it festers in your unconscious.
Inbox by Gmail appears to be made for me -- and indeed anyone who appreciates that improving your most common processes pays dividends every day.
So what’s it like day-to-day?
It’s a long time since a tweet meant just 140 characters and a little metadata for location.
It’s time to start asking what happens when Twitter Cards become little units of web in their own right.
With the launch of Audio Cards, we’re seeing one of the most distinct demonstrations of this potential so far.
While previous Cards could include sign-ups for email newsletters or allow you to play content directly in your stream, the new Audio Card has added a whole new function, and hints at a whole new dynamic.
At one stage, I worked with an email marketing company founded, in part, by a clever Croydonite called Tink Taylor.
And one of the biggest things I discovered is that there are dozens of lessons in email that can be applied to smart, modern PR campaigns.
Think about deliverability, for example. Between Gmail’s multiple inboxes and overzealous spam filters, how suicidal does an agency have to be to risk its domain not reaching inboxes by spamming out messages indiscriminately?
And how many activate authentication systems like DKIM, just to be safe?
One of the sad things about Twitter becoming part of the establishment is the homogeneous and self-aware behaviour it has bred among us.
Compared to the early days, everyone’s sharing ‘engaging links’ and ‘thought leadership’ and they know what the etiquette is.
Many of the glimpses into people's true nature that used to shine through are filtered in favour of the familiar, sanitised ‘Twitter voice’.
However, every now and then, a new tool pops up that reveals some of that natural behaviour beneath the surface again.
Product Hunt is brilliant. People share new products they’ve found and, in the manner of Reddit and HackerNews, the crowd of readers vote the best to the top.
You know that guy/gal you follow on Twitter who always seems to be a source of neat things? These are the secret places they spend their time.
Because there are plenty of startups watching, one category of product that shows up fairly often is PR tools.
Young companies that aren’t eager to spend thousands on a retainer still realise they need to get their story out to the people who count.
But, based on the selection of tools showing up on ProductHunt, you’d think the future of PR was press releases and spamming media lists.
I'm as keen as anyone for journalism to become financially sustainable again.
But every time I click an interesting link in a tweet and smash up against an inflexible paywall, my heart rather sinks.
It's a prime example of an interface challenge for an imperfect system. And crucially, it stems incoming traffic and good will.
If the saying goes that content is King, today’s warring agendas, varying competence and vulgar chaos would put Game of Thrones to shame.
In the effort to rule their industry, almost every player has ended up churning out the same old slurry by neglecting a key element of creating great stories.
It comes down to this: the world doesn’t need more content, it needs better editors.
A good editor establishes a fair, consistent point of view. They bring priorities, standards. They understand when to say no -- and why.
It’s a concept that (forgive me) Steve Jobs brought to Apple, and rings through its most heartfelt advertising.
There is nothing sadder than reflecting on the earlier days of a community or service and complaining about how much things have changed.
So let’s just take it for granted that there’s an element of that in this but not dwell too much.
Instead, I’d like to focus on something more important: how you shake things up when the timeline that used to delight and inform you begins to feel saggy and boring.
Think of it like marriage-counselling for a tool that many of us spend more time with than our significant others.
(If you have your own tips, let me know.)