What is the future for newspapers?

TechRadar has reported that UK based Liquavista is developing technology which could usher in an era where newspapers can finally combat declining circulation by repackaging their website content and delivering it, either through RSS or over Wi-Fi/3G with video and flash embedded right in the article.  In effect, they will be building a full-colour interactive e-paper reader that will resemble an A4 piece of paper and will feature audio and video content. 

The Guardian’s Richard Wray continues: Newspaper editors, grappling with declining circulation and the migration of advertising spending to the internet, have been hoping for years that e-paper will move beyond the drawing board into reality.  The dream is of a device allowing readers to upload a newspaper in the morning, then update editorial content as the day goes on, perhaps using a mobile phone or wireless connection.

However, one rather obvious setback to this devise was highlighted on the Press Gazette by Patrick Smith “Just think of the time and cost of downloading all those hi-res imagines – and videos – clogging up the airwaves.”

Could this be the killer piece of technology that takes e-book technology to the next step or are we just not ready for it yet?

Do you want to make presentations more interesting?

A little longer than I care to admit I was sent a new presentation gadget Papershow to trial and blog about.  Well after looking at the box under a massive pile of paper on my desk for a few weeks and a new business pitch on the horizon decided I would give it a go and boy, am I glad that I did.  This gadget is very cool. 

I had looked on the website which shows the demo above showing a chap drawing on a pad of paper with an actual pen and everything you see on the pad appears on the computer screen and ultimately beamed onto the wall.  When I told some of my colleagues about this they couldn’t believe that it would actually work in this way as fast as shown on the clip.  They were wrong.
It is incredibly easy to set up, you literally pop the dongle into your laptop/PC and away you go.  You simply draw or write on the pad and as you do, it automatically appears on the screen.  The pad of paper you receive has a series of symbols down the right hand side which if you tap the pen on, allows you to change the thickness of the pen, the colour of the ink, delete lines or create perfect shapes.  All very impressive and easy to use.

The range is also excellent – you don’t have to be positioned right beside the dongle.  In fact this is one of the nice features as it is possible to pass the pad around the room or even allow you to stroll around the room while you write.  A feature my boss particularly likes as he doesn’t like to sit still during a presentation.

For those of you who have used flip charts will also be pleased to know that you can save each page directly onto the computer and it is easy to scroll back and forth through the pages should you choose.

An additional feature I have not had a chance yet to play with is the ability to print out PowerPoint presentations onto its paper and as you run through the slides you can then circle around or highlight points you are discussing.

As you may gather, I love this gadget and am quite upset that I have to send it back to them but will definitely be making sure Berkeley buy one when they are finally available.  When it is available you will be able to get your hands on one for around £99.99 excluding VAT and Papershow expect it to be available from www.datamind.co.uk and www.paperiq.com from mid-October, then all leading office stationery suppliers from January.

Professional media training – it’ll be alright on the night

At Berkeley, as at most technology PR agencies up and down the country, we provide media training for our clients.  The main aim of this is to educate our clients as to what makes an interesting story, the importance of knowing your audience and the basic dos and don’ts of a press interview. 

The part that clients don’t particularly like but is always the most beneficial part – when the camera comes out.  We always like to film the interviews.  This puts a little extra pressure on the client so they genuinely have to be on top of their game when answering questions, they also have proof of where they went wrong which can be played back to them.  It also allows them to see the little things we all do which can be off putting during an interview.  The sort of thing I mean is saying um a lot, playing with your hair or generally fidgeting.

I have done this as part of my own presentation training in the past and will put my hands up to say I find it an excruciating experience but always beneficial.  So a big hat tip to Will sturgeon, formally of Silicon.com fame and now at Lewis for being brave enough to post this video on his blog.

It is well worth watching and had me laughing my head off, although be warned his language is probably worthy of a 15 certificate so don’t let the kids watch.  I think I found it so amusing because I have worked on a couple of pitches recently and during the practice runs in our board room have heard myself saying similar things to Will such as “what am I talking about? that is absolute rubbish and damn it I have said that already!.”
That said, I usually find that when the old adrenaline gets pumping everything goes alright on the night.

How do I get the respect of my client?

As a belated birthday present for the brother in law Jon, the wife and I arranged for the family to go on a tour of the Houses of Parliament which I have to say is a brilliant trip and well worth the money if you ever get the chance. The reason I mention this is because something struck me during the tour which was particularly true to my working week.

The tour guide explained that when votes are made within the house of commons this has to be done in person and manually rather than take advantage of technology. There are many reasons for this but one of the most important ones is the opportunity it presents to junior or members of the house who are lower down the food chain to actually meet and discuss their ideas with cabinet members. It offers the chance for a lesser known politician to raise the concerns of his constituents to the powers that be, in an attempt to get it on their radar as much as winning the respect of his own constituents by being able to say he has spoken to X politician and they will be looking into it.

In a week where I spent Tuesday on the road visiting a number of journalists, went for drinks in the evening with a new client to get to know the team better, took some journalists to the excellent Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House and attended a black tie dinner and party for an other client with some journalists I have again seen the value in face to face contact.

I have always been someone who prefers to pick up the phone rather than just send an email as it helps build that relationship. Unless you have spoken to a journalist on the phone or met them how can you answer your clients question of “what is X like then?” It would just be impossible to give a true and honest.

Some of the best journalists I deal with on occasions are particularly aggressive during interviews and take the stance of being argumentative. I always like this as it shows they are being professional, have done their research and are looking for a story which will be more interesting than just writing up the press release. But, this is the sort of thing I can only know from having met with them in the past, or have spoken to them on many occasions. I would not know this just from reading their work….well in most cases anyway.

But meeting face to face is not just important with journalists. Meeting clients to exchange ideas, show them the sort of person you are and to give them faith not only in your ability to generate coverage but also in your ability to represent their company as a whole.

A common moan I hear from PR professionals is X client doesn’t respect me. Well, respect has to be earned and if I was going to be paying a retainer fee I would want to feel comfortable in the abilities of said PR professional to represent my company and manage my relationships with the media in a way that won’t embarrass or hurt my company’s reputation.

Technology is vital when it comes to communicating, but in exactly the same way as at the Houses of Parliament, meeting face to face to exchange ideas, build relationships and win respect for your clients or yourself is also unbelievably important.

Oyster phones – conspiracy theory or cashless society?

Picked up a copy of tonight’s Evening Standard and saw a report about how Londoners could soon be able to using their mobile phones as both Oyster and credit cards.  Following trials by O2 and Transport for London at the O2 (dome), west end theatres and the Wireless music festival a consortium of phone makers and payment companies and transport for London to run the project.

Apparently 500 testers spent six months using a mobile wallet and made more than 50,000 tube journeys as well as buying items from shops such as Eat, Yo Sushi and my favourite Krispy Kreme.

A TFL spokesperson said it was hopeful the system would be in place soon and a 2012 Olympics spokesperson confirmed it was looking at the system for the London Games.

According to Claire Maslen of O2 “You will be able to pay for small and large items, and have the phone act as an electronic ticket for both concerts and major events. 

Is this the next step towards a cashless society?, or the next thing for conspiracy theory experts out there to get hot and sweaty about? Is this just another way to track everyones movements or just an inevitable way of making our lives easier.

I am leaning much more towards the later and am quite excited about this announcement although while reading the piece it did make me think about a more sophisticated version of the You Tube video I recently saw on Wadd’s blog about how you can remove the chip from an Oyster card and attach it to something else such as a watch.

PitchEngine – Beta social PR network

While reading ZDNet I saw a piece by Jennifer Leggio about a new beta social PR network called PitchEngine that is looking to provide simplicity for social media savvy PR people and a potential route to help us engage better with the media and reduce their number one gripe – unsolicited pitches.

The three key features of PitchEngine that it’s promoting are the social media release builder, social media newsroom and pitch feed.  How do these tools work?  According to the post on ZDNet in the following way:

Social Media Release Builder — PR pros can build SMRs with a very quick tool that allows for publishing via the PitchEngine site as well as in an iframe on a corporate site. These releases can be posted directly to Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook from within the actual SMR and can include multimedia.

Social Media Newsroom — Automates the corporate newsroom development and maintenance process.

PitchFeed — Allows bloggers / reporters to choose which pitches they will receive based on a customized RSS (it even allows the media to block brands that might be spamming them).

This all sounds great to me.  Social media is all about people having conversations online which is an obvious extention to our work in the PR industry so I am definitely going to have a look at this new tool in greater detail.  As we know the basis of good PR is relationships, with one of the most important being the one we create with the media so anything that will encourage a dialogue with them I feel should be embraced. 

I have registered to this social network tonight and intend to experiment with it over the next few weeks and will keep you updated on my progress.  I would love to hear from anyone else out there who is either actively using PitchEngine, or like me is dipping their toe into the water for the first time.