Why aren’t more people talking about Dermandar?

Taking panoramic photos isn’t new but I believe sharing them socially is – I never see any of my friends post any. For over the last 10 months I’ve been playing around with an app called Dermandar which allows me to easily create panoramic photos by simply swiping my smartphone across a scene. Like with all panoramic functions, it can sometimes be quite difficult for the software (and human) to make sure each individual image is correctly aligned. However, once they are the results are quite stunning. Below is a photo I took on the top of Leckhampton Hill in Cheltenham about 8 months ago.

Apart from personal curiosity I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate Dermandar into digital public relations campaigns. As you can see, each shot can easily be embedded into a webpage (with both a flash and javascript option). For some of the tourism clients I do work for Dermandar could lead to some really interesting content.


Travel Technology Europe 2013: Key Takeaways

For the last day and a half I’ve been wandering around (and tweeting rather heavily about) Travel Technology Europe 2013. The exhibition and conference designed for travel technology buyers to source, learn and network with each other. I attended in my capacity as consultant for Keene Communications who heads up their digital PR and social media strategies. It’s good exploring where the travel industry is currently at and where technology is heading.

Whilst all conference materials were based around tourism, many themes were universal. The internet has created a gigantic splash across all industries but travel has their own challenges.

Google is a Threat
Guardian Technology Editor, Charles Author, kicked off the conference with his talk “Google: Organising the world”. He explored how organisations cannot beat the internet but have to join in. In particular, whilst improvements can be made to SEO there is no escaping Google’s fascination with improving their own travel real-estate. Their takeovers of ITAZagat and Frommer’s indicate that travel is obviously one their key development areas. This is best shown through Google’s very own search results where, no matter how personalised search results may be, Google’s real-estate will appear at the top of listings.

On the second day of the conference I was pleased to have the opportunity to question Nate Bucholz, Industry Head of Travel at Google directly about this occurrence. He admitted that Google wants consumers to come to them but they are not interested in transaction services. An observation that Charles Author had made the day before after Google’s poor track record of handling customer relations.

Google is a goliath across every industry but for travel, the company has started to take the power away from online travel agents. Just how far will Google go? It is a question that more of the technology buyers attending the conference should have questioned Google more heavily about. Plus, plenty of antitrust questions should be asked.

Whilst Google are not evil, they have to walk a very difficult line. For the travel industry, Google is a threat.

The conference also explored changes happening in SEO. Frequent changes being made to Google’s search algorithm means the SEO industry has to face huge changes every few months.

February 2011 – Google introduced Panda
November 2011 – Fresh Update
January 2012 – Google search plus your world
April 2012 – Google introduced Penguin
June/July 2012 – 86 search algorithm changes

Google is making their search results more credible and personal. In turn this is making it much harder for SEO agencies to deliver results for their clients because traditional link building exercises are not effective in the same way.

Traditional SEO was about search engines.
Modern SEO is about being people centric.

One of the biggest factors affecting Google search results today is social media, especially Google+. SEO agencies have begun involving social media activities as part of their responsibilities so that they can deliver clients better page ranks. The PR industry is already experts at creating diverse content, we are experts at starting conversations but unless we become good at SEO, we may start losing clients.

We know that a valid Google+ profile helps search results but we still don’t know much about how Google influence is measured. The latest industry knowledge indicates that the influence of a Google+ user is measured on the basis of:

–          Their +1s
–          Amount of comments per post
–          Amount of search queries
–          How many people they have circled
–          Number of circles they have
–          Engagement levels
–          Average page rank

Any website at the centre of an SEO campaign needs to involve a Google+ profile. Especially with the introduction of Google Author Rank. A subject which I hope to learn more about at Stephen Waddington’s #CIPRsm talk later this month.

Working with Bloggers
One of the most interesting sessions of the conference was how to work with bloggers. Increasingly PR agencies are looking at spending less money with journalists and instead turning attention towards bloggers instead. Especially for online campaigns this can really help:

–          Raise awareness
–          Target customers
–          Amplify marketing activities
–          Increase website referrals
–          Deliver Quality content
–          Supporting SEO

However, each blogger is very different. One of the best travel bloggers out there is @mrsoaroundworld but she believes that bloggers should not be handled like journalists. Whilst PR agencies may pay for a journalist to visit a destination, it may be wrong for a blogger to accept the same treatment as it removes them from being editorially independent. I’m not too sure what I think about this yet but the idea of PR becoming weird advertorial activity actually makes me feel slightly queasy.

Essentially agencies need to consider the KPIs of using a blogger in the first place and understand a campaign’s overall objectives. In turn, bloggers need to sell themselves more to agencies by selling on the stats they can deliver. Digital PR and social media is completely driven by big data – looking at the results of a blogger outreach campaign should be no different.


As always, let me know your thoughts and thank you Travel Technology Europe 2013 for such a brilliant set of talks.

Introducing Vine, a social video app

A new social network has spread across the social universe at an astonishing rate. Vine, which is owned by Twitter, allows users to create 6 second videos which can then be shared across Twitter and Facebook. Having only launched last week Vine has made it to the top 10 apps available for download in the Apple Store and now almost half the videos shared on Twitter have come from Vine.


Quick success wasn’t possible without glitches though as Vine delivered hardcore pornography to the majority of its user base. The popularity of Vine has come at a time when animated gifs have seen resurgence across the internet, particularly on Google+.

With a new social network comes a wave of digital PR advice; three days after launch Stephen Waddington posted “10 ways brands can use Vine” and Neville Hobson recently published “Six reasons why Vine is worth your time”. Many people across the blogosphere are touting Vine as the Instagram of 2013.

I’ve personally enjoyed mucking around with Vine; recording videos of my guitar, fish and making a cup of tea at Keene Communications. It’s an exhilarating feeling seeing users get used to creating content in 6 seconds; some of the stop motion videos are incredible. Yet, just over a week into user adoption I couldn’t help but tweet:

Vine could play a significant role of integrating rich media content into Twitter strategies, especially when it comes to fashion brands. Wouldn’t it be great to see a 6 second video of a model showing off a new clothing range? (Ann Summers could take Twitter by storm!). Heck, Vine will probably become a valuable resource for some of our tourism clients at Keene but… not yet.

Whilst Vine has attempted to curb the pornography issues, some videos are still filtering through (I had a nasty shock last night whilst exploring for new content…). As a person involved working with government entities, a pornography mishap during a campaign could have disastrous consequences.

Vine is still in its infancy and over the next few weeks we can expect many changes to be made. For a start it would be nice if Vine could include support for front facing cameras. Such a small tweak, when it eventually happens, will likely adapt the sort of content being shared across the whole network. People will be showing their faces, not the objects in front of them.

Despite Vine’s young nature some brands have produced some impressive content for Vine. The best videos I’ve seen come from Trident (although a bit gross) and Twitter. For those of us working in digital PR and social media, it is worth trying out Vine and watch how the social network develops. I’ll be using the app occasionally and will always be thinking of ways to use it in upcoming campaigns.