London: lost in a digital haze?

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without the internet? I’ve decided that it would be a place of communication breakdown, economic collapse and possible cannibalism. However, turns out I may have been wrong as last week I met an island girl who lives a life without digital distractions.

She lives on the remote island of St Helena (a Keene Comms client) which has a total population of just over 4000 people, no mobile network setup and a slow satellite internet connection. It is an untouched paradise and I’m not just saying that because they are a client – it’s true. If you wanted to feel close to untouched natural beauty then tick St Helena on your travel bucket list.

Saint Helena Jacobs Ladder

I was fortunate enough to speak with our visitor from St Helena, to hear what island life is like. Being a massive technology addict and bore, I was fascinated to hear how she could live without the internet. More importantly, I wanted to understand her first impressions of an extremely digitally switched on London and how this compared to her island life.

The contrast between digital and non-digital was eye opening.

Here we take our constantly data connected smartphones and tablets for granted. If someone sends us a tweet, we expect to be notified immediately. Same applies for emails, if we want to send an image then it should just send. In busy London, money means more speed, speed saves more time, saving time means getting to the next place; rush, rush, rush.

Stop!

Have we, in digitally switched on London, become lost in a digital haze? Try commuting into work without looking at a screen or listening to music – the experiencing is sobering. You become far more aware of the sounds around you, the expressions on people’s faces and just how much of life we miss.

How can I complain though? I have found myself working in an industry which heavily relies upon people to be digitally connected all of the time. My advice? Stay connected but don’t forget to live your life too.

Pot Kettle Black? Oh yes.

When eBay sides with the Troll

I’ve been a member of online marketplace, eBay, for 7 years and have never had any problems. Whenever others have been worried to transact on eBay I’ve always been the first to defend the security and customer service systems it has in place. Yesterday, this all changed.

A user called ‘ilovecarolvickers‘ has been winning items across eBay but not getting in contact or paying for any of his wins. He then proceeds to leave sellers with false negative feedback, usually about the condition of the item. Why? Because he/she is a troll, existing only to waste people’s time on eBay and to making selling impossible.

He has done exactly the same to me:

ebay feedback

Naturally, I have been through the eBay resolution centre to cancel this transaction (which will take me 7 days) and have reported the user as fraudulent.

Here is a copy of my message to eBay:

mymessageebay

I also followed this message by a shorter one stating that since my message, the user has also left me false negative feedback. Want to see eBay’s response to me?

Hello Mike,
Thank you for writing back to us about the negative feedback you received from your buyer “ilovecarolvickers” for the phone (item 300873812812) they’ve won. I understand you’d like it to be removed as it is untrue.

Mike, I reviewed the feedback the buyer left and found out that it does not fall to one of our feedback removal criteria. Therefore, we can’t remove the feedback.

Please understand that for Feedback system to be fully effective, it needs to stay between members. If eBay got involved in Feedback disputes, people’s opinions on buyers and sellers would be replaced by eBay’s opinion. That’s why we’ll only remove Feedback ratings and comments under very limited circumstances – we won’t remove Feedback on the grounds that you think a comment is untrue or undeserved. This is because the feedback was the other member’s overall assessment of how it was to transact with you on eBay.

If you’d like to know our feedback removal criteria, you can copy and paste the link below to a new browser in order to review our feedback policy.

http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/feedback-abuse-withdrawal.html

Though we can’t remove the feedback outright, we have alternatives that are just as effective in resolving your feedback concern.

Your first option will be the feedback revision. Often, disputes involving feedback are best resolved through open and honest communication between members. Once you’ve resolved the issue with the member, you can submit a feedback revision request through us and your buyer will be notified of your request to have the feedback changed from negative/neutral to positive.

This response by eBay was a cop out and if she had read the background to the case, eBay would have know that getting in contact with the other member is impossible. Why? Because he is fraudulent. Here is my very frustrated response to eBay:

Hi Rita,

I’m asking for the feedback to be reviewed as it is wholly untrue. The transaction NEVER happened and his review was over the quality of the phone. He never received the phone because he never paid. He never paid because he is a fraudulent user. Please assess his other feedback.

I understand you would like eBay users to resolve matters between themselves but this is impossible as this user is only on eBay to troll others.

I am shocked that eBay would allow such behavior and not protect the rights of its innocent users.

Please reply to this message ASAP with a resolution to the matter.

In conclusion eBay need to back up its innocent users and properly research each case. This whole mess is making it impossible me to transact on eBay and has left me with an extremely low 66.7% Positive Feedback rating. Not only this but another new user with zero feedback has now bid on my new iPhone 4S listing – genuine? I’m not sure. I have a horrible feeling that trolls are taking over eBay.

Can sellers trust eBay anymore? No.

Does eBay support its innocent users? No.

Will this case be resolved? I hope so and if it does I’ll update this blog post.

Please share and comment on this post. I really want eBay to resolve this issue but so far they seem to be doing nothing.

[UPDATE 18/03/2013: Finally eBay have agreed to remove the false negative feedback on my account and to drop their charges against my unsold item. I’m relieved the situation has now been resolved.]

RIP Google Reader

Earlier this week the world was shaken by a breaking piece of news, not the election of a new Pope but the announcement that Google Reader will be closed 1st July 2013.

While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader.

I completely understand why Google have decided to announce the retirement of Google Reader. It is a product that stands aside from Google+, pushing it further would require investment, yet its audience is slipping. Just think of the potential Google Reader could have had though.

RIPGoogleReaderMessage

One of the biggest movements in Digital PR is the term “Content Curation”. Essentially, once you have collated a bunch of information, how should this then be organised? Popular analogies include how a curator in an art gallery organises how art should appear on the walls. Information overload is a by-product of communication technologies; curation helps organise what we consume.

We can then apply this idea to Google Reader, a service which only ever aggregated information. Whilst RSS feeds could be organised into categories, it never featured inbuilt methods to curate articles delivered or useful social options. In my eyes, this would have been the next step for Google Reader.

For bloggers the retirement of Google Reader should spark concerns about the future of RSS technology. In September 2012 Google shutdown AdSense for Feeds, a way for website publishers to place adverts in their RSS feeds. This was followed a month later by Google shutting down the FeedBurner API. Bloggers, be warned, our beloved FeedBurner is on a death watch too.

For me, the closure of Google Reader is a complete pain in the arse. I use the product every day to keep up-to-date with PR blogs, travel bloggers and friends. With the service now closing I will be forced to look for alternatives (a few can be found here). A petition against the closure of Google Reader now has 100,000+ signatures but will Google listen? Probably not, their decision has been made.

RIP Google Reader.

Interview on Travel Coffee Break

Lights, Webcam, Hangout!

Earlier today I fumbled with my notes, held my breath and joined Travel Coffee Break (#tcbhoa). Travel Coffee Break is a ‘live’ Google Hangout which gives travel writers, tourism representatives and PRs the opportunity to chat about any travel related topics which come to mind. Whilst most episodes have a particular topic, some can be used as an open forum.

It is hosted by Editor of Travelllll.com and Travel-Lists, Alastair McKenzie. He is one of the top online travel journalists and is even Webmaster & Vice Chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers. In fact, he is so good that he has agreed to moderate Australia Northern Territory’s live Google Hangout which we are running in collaboration with Travel Bloggers Unite. Good man!

I joined the broadcast in my role as a Consultant at Keene Communications and covered Tourism NT news, touched on some digital issues facing the PR industry and mentioned a couple of other clients. For those interested, I have embedded the video below.

Would you like to join me for a live Google Hangout in the future? Leave a comment!

Life is Your Stage

Yesterday I patiently sipped my cup of Nero coffee at Waterloo station waiting for the official photo-shoot to start for Tourism Australia’s relaunch of “Best Job in the World Campaign”. As Tourism Northern Territory (NT) is a client of ours (Keene Communications), it was necessary to highlight the job on offer in the NT.

Their stage was set, a crowd was building holding their camera phones and it was soon time for the act to commence. As a graduate from a media based campus at University, I know one thing for certain. Life is our stage.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” – William Shakespeare

At University a day wouldn’t go past without film students rehearsing their latest script on the grounds, photographers snapping the scenes in life we tend to miss and art students dressing up a park bench. Heck, even the public relations students made a stage for themselves online.

Look to the very clients we manage; requesting conferences, photos, films, press coverage, online discussions, newsletters, books… the list is endless. The traditional definition of public relations would make new comers to the industry believe that PR is all about reputation management. Today, in our high content production world, it seems reputation has just become part of the mix.

Life is a stage and social media has made us all the actors. Our scenes may vary in length and reviews may be mixed – we still produce content for the world to witness. We all want to be noticed but sadly we aren’t all very good actors.

Some businesses who know they aren’t good actors hire a PR agency, others try learning themselves and some companies mistake their act for a dress rehearsal (enter advertising!). There is no such thing as a good social media agency, only good social media people. The constantly changing state of digital communications requires a genuine enthusiasm for technology and a desire to push the envelope further.

Life is a stage. Now is your time to act. Are you ready?

New Beginnings

It was Richard Bailey who gave me the idea to start up a PR student blog and what good advice that was. For the last five years I’ve been happily posting to mikewhite.co.uk but today that all changes.

For the last year I’ve been working in the PR industry as a (hopefully) upcoming professional but I’ve found that my PR Student blog never really survived my transition from further education to working life. Its audience has been brilliant but alas diminishing – students have become graduates and the blog’s goals have become confused. The real world is bigger.

The Nonsuch PR blog has been launched today to hail a new era in my life as a PR practitioner, with refreshed goals. I am not looking to grow an audience the size of ProBlogger, republish similar content from intelligent professionals such as Neville Hobson but to instead provide completely unique content related to my everyday PR life.

This blog will:

  • Share the latest innovative tech hitting the PR industry
  • Transparently share how-to approaches to digital PR
  • Tell stories based upon real experiences

Having said that, this blog is currently a blank slate which I will grow organically. Hopefully it will survive the test of time. Everything’s a bit more mature, more content focused and cleaner. Don’t let that put you off though – articles will soon build.

Before I finish this introductory post; one thing. I’m aware blogging can seem self-obsessed, even arrogant at times. This is not the aim of Nonsuch PR, only 10% of this blog exists for my own self-promotion, the rest is about providing you with knowledge and the right set of tools to grow your own understanding of digital PR.

  • Share yours thoughts on the back of Digital Connoseur Weekly. Ill share the best thoughts or stories in future blog posts
  • Get in touch if you have any questions, comments or advice.

Right, time to start blogging all over again! I hope you can join me in this new adventure.