Anonymous Love Messages, Habermas, Faustian PR Deals and Rupert Murdoch – it can only be SocialMediaCamp London

socialmediacamplondon It seems like only five minutes since I was at SocialMediaCamp London 08 but apparently it was over six months that I toddled off to Wallspace St Pancreas, which was what I did again this morning for SMCLondon09. For a change I was on time and caught @Vero‘s welcome before wandering upstairs for my first session of choice which was SmackMyTweetUp, a 24 hour Twitter case study from @Kai.

In short but sweet summary, Kai took us through how the idea for being able to send anonymous valentine tweets came about, (tweet from @Poppy), the time scale involved (a mere 48 hours) and the success (pretty damn good).  Part of this success was down to a tweet from Mashable which caused a massive spike in activity and a prompt falling over of the service as it rapidly exceeded the Twitter API call limit.

Interestingly the service wasn’t really promoted and it was suggested that if it had been run by a brand, such as Match.com, that perhaps it wouldn’t have had the success it did. I disagree I think that it would be perfectly feasible for a brand to develop such a service, it would need to be very lightly branded and handled but that is feasible. I guess we find out next year if someone more corporatey takes up on the idea.

The second session I wandered into was called  ‘What if Habermas used Twitter?’, which was a discussion led by Lauren Fisher about the intervention of the state in the public sphere which had overtones of privacy and right to expression, all of which is obviously made rather tricksie by the wonder that is social media. Although it was pointed out that it was ever thus, and in days of yore when everything was truly hyper local with everyone knowing everyone’s business then you knew where to get the information you needed, just as you do today. The main exception is that you are mow more likely to be spilling the beans on yourself as it were, I also think that it makes Google the modern day equivalent of the village gossip.

It was also during this talk that I think I coined a new word, publicable, when I was waffling on about how people need to be aware and take ownership of what they say online for it is both public and searchable. Except due to general tiredness and lack of caffeine it came out as publicable, which I’ve decided I shall used for the online world just as actionable applies to the offline world.

prbunny2 The third session was a must-attend for me, led by Vero, the very organiser of SMCLondon it was called ‘PR Agencies want your soul’. I was obviously immediately concerned when I saw that on the board as I thought, damn our secret is at last out. For it is true all PR Bunnies are after your soul. This is mainly because it is delicious, especially when filleted and served with a delicate lemon sauce and in season new potatoes.

OK it’s not true, as pointed out by @Jaylett before we entered the session, souls have a terrible exchange rate and very little practical use. Fortunately the session wasn’t a tirade about the evilness of the PR world, not that I expected it to be, but rather a discussion led by Vero on good and bad approaches by PRs to bloggers and what we could do to improve it.  The initial focal point was Vero’s post from 08, An open letter to PR Agencies, which highlights three different approaches she has received – the lazy, the psychopath and the foreign agency, and those in the room came up with several more. There were a couple of tales of PRs friending people on Facebook using that as a medium to harangue, or indeed stalk, bloggers and of course of blanket emails.

We then discussed how people would like to be approached, during which these points were raised.

  • Ask yourself what is in it for the person I’m targeting
  • Don’ts see it as an exchange in currency terms but as building a relationship
  • Make it relevant ie READ MY BLOG!!
  • Get the name right!!

All of which are common sense, which unfortunately seems to be an increasingly rare skill in some PR agencies. All in all it was an excellent discussion which covered how bloggers could but if they should help PR bunnies improve their skills. As we scurried out towards the fantastic  lunch I tweeted a link to one of my posts from last year on how to approach a blogger, asking for feedback – all of which is still very much appreciated.

The final session I attended before skipping out early* was ‘Why wont Rupert Murdoch publish my comments?’ which was actually on how the TimesOnline live blogged and moderated G20 content. It was fascinating and deserves a fuller post of its own and in the meantime you can watch the video.

*I didn’t want to but its the first time the Quins have ben in with a sniff of a top four finish in the Guiness Premiership, let alone being in with a chance of a home semi…:)

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