disruption humour pr

The world’s hardest PR task

I’ve mentioned before a couple of examples where big companies have failed to understand internet culture and ended up paying the price.

Usually in these cases, there is a web-savvy way to deal with the wild west of social media, but in the case of the viciously satirical fake BP PR twitter account, I confess I’m at a loss what I’d do. Sample tweet:

We honestly didn’t think this was going to be a huge deal. No one cares when this happens in Nigeria

Not that I have any sympathy with BP over this, but if you were given the brief of responding to this (and assuming you’d accept the gig), what would you do??

disruption productivity

Should you buy an iPad? My experience so far…

I’ve been lucky enough to have an iPad for about three weeks (a rarity in the UK), and if you’re thinking about getting one, here are my thoughts so far.


  1. It’s a great sofa computer. It looks fabulous of course, and it storms for browsing, looking stuff up and casual email.
  2. It’s also a great work netbook. It’s small and light enough to have in every meeting, and fits in smaller rucksacks. No more ugly corporate laptop bags. It’s excellent for presentations (and not just as a novelty)
  3. It’s a terrific media player. Both for wandering around the house playing WiFi radio (5 Live Sports Extra and Indie 103.1), and also as a temporary kitchen TV (for iTunes purchases)
  4. Apps are the key. The early ones aren’t perfect – developers are feeling around for what works – but it’s surely where this machine will fly. And not just games – I can’t wait for Remember the Milk HD.
  5. Great for reading. MyTimes is an elegant feed reader and InstapaperPro looks fantastic.I’ve used the iPad to read some lengthy PDFs (thanks to Goodreader) and it’s preferable to having 50 sheets of A4 to carry around


  1. It’s not so much a mobile device as a portable device. it is the wrong shape to use whilst actually moving. To type on it, you need to get yourself comfortable. The biggest accessory sale is going to be something that lets you prop it up at a nice angle to type on. Meanwhile, I hear rubber doorstops work well(!)
  2. Correcting typos feels more awkward than on an iPhone and often knocks me off my train of thought. It is possible to type up notes and actions during a meeting, but it’s certainly slower than a keyboard. In fact, I think I can type faster on an iPhone as its narrower screen allows double thumbs action!
  3. It’s not a primary workhorse. Numbers has poor Excel compatibility, Google Docs editing seems limited and of course Photoshop and the like aren’t (yet) available.


I love it, but it’s not essential in the way my iPhone is. And I can’t see it replacing my laptop anytime soon (indeed, it’s telling that it didn’t even occur to me to type this post on it).

But if you like shiny new mac stuff, and you can afford it, you know you’ll get one anyway.

And btw – it’s not going to save the newspaper/magazine industry. But that’s for another post…

disruption get famous invention likeability product staying relevant strategy viral

The social web just got go-faster stripes

When it’s easy even for non-techies like me to add social plug-ins to websites, we better get ready for an explosion of ‘Like’ buttons, activity streams and friend recommendations all over the web.

Google must be thinking very hard tonight.

advertising disruption e-commerce

Did Apple just landgrab the mobile ad market?

When I heard that Apple had bought a mobile ad company, I was quite surprised – it seemed a bit run of the mill for a ‘magical’ brand like theirs.

So watching Steve Jobs introduce the iAd platform at yesterday’s iPhone 4.0 preview yesterday, I wasn’t expecting much.

But it’s just possible, as Del Trotter might have said, that “they’ve only gone and bloody done it”.

And it is pure testament to unconstrained thinking. Audaciously, they’ve not only decided to get in the mobile ad game, but redefine it. And do better-than-TV along the way. AND suggest that search driven ads (hello Google) don’t work for mobile.

Check out the video. What do you think?

Full video here

disruption staying relevant

Microsoft’s creative destruction

This is a great insider’s-view article on how Microsoft lost its creative and innovative spark.

Internal competition is common at great companies. It can be wisely encouraged to force ideas to compete. The problem comes when the competition becomes uncontrolled and destructive. At Microsoft, it has created a dysfunctional corporate culture in which the big established groups are allowed to prey upon emerging teams, belittle their efforts, compete unfairly against them for resources, and over time hector them out of existence. It’s not an accident that almost all the executives in charge of Microsoft’s music, e-books, phone, online, search and tablet efforts over the past decade have left.

disruption pr strategy

Champions of search neutrality – how Google might win the PR war against Murdoch

Rumours abound that Murdoch and Microsoft might team up to make Bing the only place where News International content can be found in search.

As a stick to wield at Google, it’s pretty much the only one Rupert has. And as they trail by miles in search share, Microsoft won’t miss an opportunity to team up and gain an edge either.

It must be tempting for Google in turn to consider exclusive deals with Murdoch’s competitors.

But what do consumers want? Imagine a world where you have to know “I can find this kind of content on Google but that on Bing, or that on Google but not on Bing”. It’d be awful. Like having to dial 118 118 for these phone numbers, but 118 247 for those phone numbers.

We want everything in one place.

I wonder whether Google would open up a PR front championing “search neutrality“? i.e. position themselves as wanting to bring you the whole web and de-position others as wanting to fence it off.

disruption productivity

Hey you, get off of my cloud

A friend of mine who works at a respectable FMCG company was recently trying to find a solution for collaborative working on an international project. He’d heard that Basecamp was perfect for the job – web based, secure, trackable, low cost and fast to get up and running.

His IT department declined and offered their preferred large-scale business apps solution – which would be ready in 15 months. He patiently stated that the project was due by Xmas and he’d like to try Basecamp.

The IT guy played his joker: “we don’t support it”.

It seems that line can be pulled out by IT departments anytime. It’s the desktop guy’s Get Out of Jail Free card. Along with “It introduces risk”, it’s a no-comebacks special designed to end the conversation.

But not being supported by IT departments is the very point of cloud applications. The hosting, maintenance and developments are handled remotely and cost-effectively.

The opportunities created by web apps is too great to pass up. Certainly start-up competitors will have no issue using newer, low-cost alternatives to organise themselves. But it’s no surprise there is fear and protective behaviour at work – IT departments are getting disrupted too.

As Nicholas Carr explains in the excellent Big Switch, continuing to deploy and support big desktop systems feels like running your own generators rather than plugging into the national grid.

disruption productivity

How about a cloud apps pack?

Microsoft often comes across as unlovable, but back in the early 90s they were a much more likeable company. In particular, Office bundled together a suite of applications that actually worked well together. This was a big deal, as before then you might have used Lotus 1-2-3 for spreadsheeting, Wordperfect for writing documents and Harvard for graphics – none of which were easily compatible.

Flash-forward to 2009 and there’s a new bundling need – this time in the Cloud. I’m a big fan of web-based services and have become a heavy user of:

I love these services. Recently, my five year old Powerbook appeared to die (it came back eventually) but restoring my data life was a hassle-free experience involving setting up a new profile on my wife’s machine and simply logging in to each of those services. Hey presto, everything’s there.

I like these services so much I feel I ought to pay (and I’d like the extra functionality). $10 a month or whatever is a good price, but $10 per month per service starts to add up. I wonder if there’s an opportunity for these services to get together and offer a Cloud Pack?

branding disruption Misc strategy

Will people pay for content? Wrong question

Far better to ask – will they pay for my brand?

Are you thinking hard enough about what you really provide to them – rationally and emotionally?

Is it really only news you sell, or is it reassurance? Or a signal for other people of your status? Is your magazine selling entertainment – or is it a way to pass the time? Or feel connected? Or feel good about yourself?

How can you take these underlying values and translate them into other product forms (guide books, insurance services etc)

I’ve previously written about my view that people will pay for content if you make it easy. But if they won’t pay for your brand, you really are in trouble

disruption e-commerce monetisation

How to get people to pay for content: make it easier

The web is awash with reaction to Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for newspaper content online. Is he a rare voice of reason or does he just not get it?

I think people will pay for digital content – if it’s easy enough.

The problem with handing over £0.99 to read a newspaper online is not the price – it’s just too much hassle. You have to fill in your details, confirm your email address, enter your credit cards etc. Urgh. Simple micropayments have never been cracked on the web.

Apple have shown the way forward. No-one was buying digital music till they made it easy. No-one bought mobile apps till it became a breeze to do so. The sweet integration of device (iPhone), content (apps, music, tv) and store (iTunes) removes all the barriers. They’ve made it almost fun to spend.

When paying for good content on the web is this easy, people will do it.


btw, would anyone have bought iFart on the web using a credit card?

advertising disruption

Advertising to the ad avoiders

The New York Times reports that TiVo is showing still ads to people fast-forwarding through the ad break – or pausing what they’re watching.

This is smart and in direct recognition that people don’t mind ads as long as they don’t get in the way.

“By catching them at a time when they’re pausing the program, when they’ve finished with a program,” said Tara Maitra, vice president and general manager of content and advertising at TiVo, “the viewer’s main reason for being there isn’t being interrupted.”

Seems so much more civilised than a 30 second spot. And you can easily imagine Google wanting a piece of this action.

TV AdWords anyone?

(Thanks to @adbroad  for the tip)



I wonder whether the jailing of the Pirate Bay founders will actually have the unintended effect of increasing file sharing?

Suppressing things there is a huge market for rarely works and the publicity around this verdict will likely produce copycat services and spread the awareness of bittorrent technologies further into the mainstream.

I heard a great line attributed to Cory Doctorow “P2P is a demand signal from the market”.

More power to forward-thinking business models such as Spotify, gaming tie-ups and ad-funded services.