The importance of Google Knowledge Graph for online reputation

Google Android garden

Even if you haven’t heard of Google Knowledge Graph, you’ve probably seen it. Google updated its search algorithm in May 2012 to present a box on the right of search to show people, places, and things. So when you search for well-known or popular subjects, you’ll be delivered top-line information immediately.

Google Knowledge Graph, Bank of England

Just where does Google source its facts and figures for this box? This is a critical question if you’re tasked with managing the reputation of a person or an organisation because it’s the first thing people see. What’s more, Google Knowledge Graph appears above Google Business information (also known as the Google Maps listing).

A new paper published by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) entitled “Semantic Cities: Coded Geopolitics and the Rise of the Semantic Web” reveals all; Google Knowledge Graph sources from Wikipedia as part of the Google funded Wikidata project.

This isn’t surprising, Wikipedia has steadily grown a reputation over the years for improved reliability and ever-increasing scale. It’s not just an online encyclopaedia; it is an online community of 25 million users who have created 5 million articles in the UK. The crowd-sourced element of Wikipedia keeps data fresh on the most important subjects.

The danger revealed by the OII is that we can take this ‘linked data’ online information economy of the internet for granted, potentially not questioning the facts and figures presented. If Google Knowledge Graph sources information from Wikipedia, then what happens when that information is wrong? Furthermore, what if that information is politically sensitive?

The focus of OII paper was on the political status of Jerusalem,

“The fact box is titled ‘Jerusalem’ followed by the statement ‘Capital of Israel’. The fact box contains a paragraph about the city, followed by a list of facts about the area size and population of Jerusalem that is cited to UNData.

The political status of Jerusalem has been widely debated in the media and by multiple stakeholder groups. This is because the city is claimed as capital by both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. The city’s borders and governance have changed significantly over the years, most recently after the 1967 (Six Day) war between Israel and the neighbouring states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria when Israel annexed East Jerusalem from Jordan. Despite vehement disagreements by governments in the region, however, there is no widespread international recognition for Jerusalem (as composed of both East and West parts) as the capital of either Israel or Palestine.”

You can read a synopsis of the topic on the OII’s blog.

jerusalem political status

In terms of managing online reputation, the paper by the OII is important for three reasons:

  • It highlights the step between user-generated content to the unchangeable (fixed) content hosted by Google (You can flag inaccuracies but the process is not transparent, immediate or potentially successful)
  • It understands that information isn’t just structured data, some information has an emotive underpinning that requires Google’s ‘deep learning’ to appreciate not all information presented in reputable crowd-sourced sites are factual. There may still be ongoing debates.
  • It reminds us that behind every smart algorithm is essentially a need for a bin of knowledge (The knowledge graph was only possible because of Wikipedia’s extensive database)

Whilst the OII research was based on a location, familiar territory for me due to my experience in managing the reputation of tourism boards, it applies to people and corporations too. Google is attempting to reach a place where it doesn’t necessarily need to drive people to separate websites, links in search. Instead it’s much more convenient to host all the content directly in Google Search; saving valuable user clicks and generating even more juicy page views for advertising.

It’s inescapable that a monotonous challenge of managing online reputation today is attempting to find ways to tell Google that their information is wrong or damaging. Perhaps the development of Google’s Deep Learning software will improve Google Knowledge Graph next year? I hope so.

What’s it like being a blogger?

Writing table

On a blogger panel last week, I admitted my number one pet hate – bad Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) agencies. You know, the ones who constantly peddle meaningless backlinks in return for cold cash. If you blog, then it’s common to receive poorly targeted emails from such agencies.

It’s one aspect that comes with the territory of ‘being a blogger’ and on a panel discussion at Lansons I explained what’s it like being a blogger for the last 9 years. Despite all working in completely different sectors, Gourmet Mum, Lifestyle Maven, Luisa Porritt, and I all had similar experiences.

A proper write-up of the panel discussion is due on the Lansons blog soon, below were some of the answers I supplied. It’s incredibly honest and I hope not too narcissistic to repeat them here.

How did you become a blogger?

Whilst my current blog has an archive dating back to 2009, my first blogging steps happened in 2005 when I set up an atheism based blog called ‘A Superfluous Ramble’. This quickly got me involved with numerous online atheism/humanist/philosophy communities and even angered a few churches! Receiving invitations to church services or choir practices was not uncommon.

As I have dyslexia, blogging allowed me to perfect my writing style – a deeply personal achievement as I wouldn’t be able to live without writing (paraphrasing the words of the late Christopher Hitchens). Today I’m known as a PR blogger, which only began after one of my lecturers at University recommended I start a PR based blog in 2008.

The blog has had a few reiterations but today stands as (crap name); audience tends to tread a line between seasoned practitioners and students. In reality though, the growth of the blog was a complete accident and exists merely as a hobby. My income comes from full-time PR consultancy.

Do you make money from your blog?

I would argue that the peak of this blog existed at University when I had spare time! It was then that agencies were willing to pay me between £100 – £150 to publish sponsored posts on this blog. Often these posts were completely unrelated to the topics I was writing about, as a result this paid content probably lost me a few visitors. Still, being a student meant money was tight.

As well as accepting sponsored posts I was involved with a couple of affiliated marketing programmes, receiving small amounts of commission for referral links. Whilst I’ve always had some form of advertising on the blog, this has typically been a low money earner – many bloggers can’t generate enough page views to keep blogging as a full-time occupation.

Today I’m less focused about monetising the traffic on my blog, it’s much better for me to use my content as a hook for new business and building personal profile.

What is your experience like of working with businesses/agencies?

Bad email pitches come with the territory of blogging; I suppose I should be thankful that people want to pitch in the first place! On the day of the blogger panel I read out a few of the terrible pitches I’ve received and the agency who sent it – I’ll be kind online and not mention by name.

The best pitches have all been book review based ones. For instance, a new book surprising me at my work address by post and a note from a publisher/author requesting that I review it on my blog. These sorts of pitches feel good and I always review the book in detail (I’m a relatively fast reader). Once I was invited to a mansion for a blogger party – it’s amazing what this little blog has done for me.

How do you find the time to blog?

I’m currently writing this post very late at night! This tends to be a trend, writing at the unsociable hours of the day – perhaps that’s because I can be completely focused on the task. However, balancing a demanding full-time job with keeping a blog going is difficult.

This month alone I’ve had 10 day publishing gaps which is not good enough to maintain high levels of web traffic. The sad truth about blogging is that we’re technically in competition with news sites for Google Search positions; for one person to rival professional industry publications is not possible (for most).

Give us your final tip about blogging

The best tip is start a blog! It’s amazing how many PR professionals don’t blog.

What’s it like being a blogger?

Busy. It’s a commitment for some of the reasons I’ve outlined above, but incredibly rewarding. Blogging over the last 9 years has allowed me to experiment with different writing styles and experiment with web hosting.

Scandinavian countries boast best data access

What is your internet connection like? Chances are it’s not as good as Scandinavian countries, as a new study has found they are technologically ahead when it comes to accessing computers, mobile phones and the internet.

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have produced the first global map of data poverty showing where in the world people have the best and worst access to information technologies.

Iceland, Norway and Finland top the list of 189 countries which feature on the map. The United Kingdom is ranked 17, ahead of Germany, Japan and Russia. While Yemen, Myanmar and Burkina Faso are at the bottom of the list.

Leidig_Teeuw_map of global data poverty

In order to create the map the researchers considered internet speed, access to hardware, mobile-device availability, internet usage and education.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Teeuw, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: “Since the 1990s there has been concern about the ‘digital divide’ between the data-rich and data-poor – those who have and those who don’t have – access to computers, the internet and other technologies.

“Information technologies can play a key role in sustainable development, improving our quality of life without damaging the quality of life of future generations, and reducing disaster risk. ‘Data-poor’ countries do not have easy access to digital maps and other data needed for disaster preparation, early warnings and emergency response.

“This map highlights where in the world support is needed for improving access to the internet and mobile phone networks in order to build resilience to the impact of disasters.”

Co-researcher Mathias Leidig used data from the World Bank website to produce the map and found that the level of data poverty does not necessarily correspond to a nation’s wealth.

Mr Leidig said: “Italy, Antigua and Barbuda, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago are among the World Bank’s high income countries, but they’re not leading the way in terms of data wealth. This is largely due to the countries’ slow download speeds, compared with other high-income nations.

“However Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Lebanon scored better than one might expect for data poverty, considering their income class.”

The paper is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The Sun scraps newspaper paywall

I wonder if Rebekah Brooks’ announcement to staff that The Sun’s paywall would be coming down on 30th November was received by cheers or worried silence. The decision by News UK was inevitable as The Sun has been losing web traffic. During the election this happened at the same time their free-to-access political site SunNation flourished. Also, their purchase of video ad company Unruly was a hint the paywall would be lowered; otherwise how could The Sun generate enough pageviews to fuel advertising revenue?

“I recently shared with you the future priorities for the company and am excited today to tell you more about our plans for the first of these: growing the Sun’s audience. This will mean setting the Sun predominantly free in the digital world from 30 November. By happy coincidence, this is also Cyber Monday, one of the best-performing days of the year for online retail.” – part of Brooks’ email to staff

Now that the paywall will be lowered The Sun will be able to benefit from higher traffic from internet search engines and social media. Both crucial components of running any sort of website. As I reported in my blog post from Social Media Week in September, leaving The Times due to its social media limited paywall was a key component in Heidi Blake’s move to Buzzfeed.

The U-turn by The Sun is an awkward reminder that whilst the importance of digital marketing is widespread in the media industry, finding a business model that delivers is still trial and error. eConsultancy tells the story behind The Sun’s decision through statistics; the estimate for lost digital revenue is eye-opening.

The Sun, predicted digital revenue

The truth is paywalls are too simplistic as revenue drivers, blocking search engines, drastically limiting social media sharing; therefore, lowering the effectiveness of online advertising. If a reader hits a paywall then they’ll visit a competitor media outlet. An already difficult situation to contend with considering BBC News’ publicly funded reporting tends to snatch 40 million unique visitors a week.

Now the wait is on… how long before The Times scraps their paywall? It seems News UK are not ruling anything out at this stage.

Download #FuturePRoof book: The biggest conversation around the future of PR

I’ve got a lot of time for a book that begins,

“There’s never been such a good time to work in public relations.”

Yet it has become clear that no matter how I write this blog post it will not properly represent the sheer breadth of knowledge, wisdom and insight found in the crowd-sourced #FuturePRoof book launched today. The book presents the largest conversation around the future of public relations to date; I’ve been absorbing and dissecting chapters for a few days, resisting the urge of spurting out spoilers before the agreed embargo.

No matter if you’re a practitioner, academic, or student, if your business is public relations or another facet of marketing, get #FuturePRoof today. It is available as a free download and copies are priced £25.99 from Blurb.


Explore the book’s colossal 33 chapters that describe emerging areas of practice such as PR’s move towards paid, mapping workflow and freelance business models, as well as cover more traditional topics such as measurement and evaluation, ethics and stakeholder management.

It’s received a multitude of endorsements from high-profile figures across the industry, including the ‘father’ of PR 2.0, Brian Solis; Director General of the PRCA, Francis Ingham; Partner/Editor-in-Chief of The Holmes Report, Arun Sudhaman.

“PR = Public Relations, which means people are at the centre of everything. Sarah reveals how the PR world is changing and why the time is now to advance your work in communications.” – Brian Solis

It’s no easy feat crowd-sourcing a 200+ page book so a special acknowledgment goes to PR consultant and agency owner Sarah Hall who edited and curated the project. Also don’t miss the foreword by Ketchum’s Chief Engagement Officer, Stephen Waddington, who hints at a possible #FuturePRoof working community in the future.

In the next few days I will publish my own unofficial #FuturePRoof chapter on this blog as a means of continuing the conversation that the book will inevitably start. For the moment though, find a list of the contributors’ chapters below, with some familiar names from the also recently launched #PRStack 2 book.

#FuturePRoof chapters and contributors

  1. The purpose of public relations Mike Love

A view on the purpose of public relations. What it’s for, why we do it and how PR can contribute to the success of organisations and the people who work in them.

  1. Communicating with conscience; influencing organisational leaders to do the right thing Professor Anne Gregory

Why the public relations industry must prioritise people over process, profits and power.

  1. The opportunity for public relations Dr Jon White

How public relations advisors can help business, political and other leaders deal with increasing complexity in the challenges they face.

  1. Defining competency and skills in public relations is a critical issue Stephen Waddington

Why competency frameworks are critical for benchmarking practitioners and continuous professional development.

  1. The value of PR Andrew Bruce Smith

The value of PR can and must be calculated in terms of its contribution to meaningful economic and societal impact. Anything less risks, at best, the marginalisation of PR or at worst, its

  1. Reputation and the digital plc Mary Whenman

In the era of the digital plc, reputation risk is now the biggest risk concern in the boardroom. UK businesses need five set attributes to be fit for purpose.

  1. Building a PR team that works Ross Wigham

Building a successful team that gels together and performs well is an intrinsically difficult
task. Following key principles can ensure you have the right mix of skills, roles and responsibilities in a fast changing world.

  1. Understanding the basic business model for a ‘time-based’ professional service Neil Backwith

Only by understanding the connection between fees, time and resourcing can you properly control your profitability.

  1. The principles behind managing a successful comms department Ruth Allchurch

How to maintain best practice and profitability in a constantly evolving business landscape.

  1. Everyday professional ethics for PR: trusting discomfort Johanna Fawkes

Being ethical in PR needn’t be about who you work for or how you handle major conflicts, but can be how you go about your everyday work. This section looks at ethics in practice.

  1. #FuturePRoofing a public relations agency or communications team Jim Hawker

How PR professionals can equip themselves with the tools and mindset that the modern day practitioner needs, not just to survive, but to thrive.

  1. Client relationship management: many happy returns? Steve Earl

We need, want and should even relish negotiation, budgeting and contracts, because they’re central ingredients in achieving happy clients and happy agencies.

  1. What clients look for from a comms team Alistair Smith

Navigating the client satisfaction challenge – how to agree shared goals, deliver on target and build a lasting relationship between a client and agency.

  1. Stakeholder management: nobody likes surprises Liz Davies

Ten top tips for good stakeholder management that will stand the test of time.

  1. Budgeting: why the time has come to look beyond hours Alex Myers

The key for the future of PR is not simply to predict and measure resource requirements better, but to reject the hourly-rate myth and use a new, ground up budgeting process.

  1. Measurement and evaluation John Brown

Communications reports that go beyond coverage numbers and share of voice in the media are far more useful documents to the C-Suite.

  1. Technology, tools and workflow: making sense of the maze Angharad Welsh

How to determine which technology, tools and work-flow are right for you and the organisations you work for before the smart work begins.

  1. How automation changes PR workflow Scott Guthrie

Use automation to increase the amount of time you have to be human.

  1. What value does paid media hold for the PR industry? Stella Bayles

Paid media presents a huge opportunity for the future PR team if it’s part of an integrated paid, owned, shared and earned model.

  1. Agile working Betteke van Ruler

Moving away from traditional planning processes can help practitioners become much more agile and deliver greater success with PR programmes.

  1. Business development: how to embrace digital disruption and develop new services to meet changing client requirements and grow revenue Darryl Sparey

How the #FutureProof PR can utilise all the technology and tools that are both established and emerging right now, to get in front of their new prospects, tell a compelling story and win business.

  1. Investing in sustainable professional development Heather Yaxley

Sustainable professional development is essential in an increasingly complex world. This chapter offers practical ideas and tools to create a learning culture, develop a learning and development strategy and demonstrate sustainable return on investment.

  1. How to generate more leads and work through your network Jonathan Bean

How to build and utilise a network to generate new leads and work.

  1. Working across international borders Toomas Kull

What to consider when expanding a communications business internationally, opening a new office in a foreign market and when engaging with international clients.

  1. Developing a creative movement Simon Shaw and Richard Millar

From Bauhaus to Google; each are creative movements of their time with famous creative cultures, a magnetism for talent and unique and unexpected outputs. How can we develop our own Creative Movement for today’s communication landscape?

  1. Communicating in ways that drive business growth Gini Dietrich

Learn what should be included in your communications plan that can be measured against business growth.

  1. Practising inbound PR: how comms teams can practise what they preach Iliyana Stareva

Inbound PR is not just about the media, it’s about you doing your own PR with your own content on your own channels.

  1. How to attract the right talent for your business and hang on to them Sarah Leembruggen

Learn how to achieve a clearly defined recruitment strategy and the processes needed in order to attract, hire and hold onto the cream of the PR professional crop.

  1. The freelance economy: from revolution to evolution George Blizzard and Nicky Imrie

This chapter explores the growing economy of freelancing and its impact on the global communications landscape. It covers the drivers behind this new ‘third way’ and how to manage dispersed teams, as well as practical tips and helpful technology.

  1. Building a motivated team: the dream HR manifesto Jack Hubbard

If you want your employees to put their heart and soul into the company, the company must put its heart and soul into its people.

  1. Surviving and thriving in PR Claire Murphy

How PR practitioners can develop more healthy and sustainable ways of working.

  1. The business case for diversity Farzana Baduel

Businesses wanting to secure competitive advantage need to embrace diversity. BME inequality, gender imbalance and a lack of opportunities for the less fortunate are all issues the PR industry needs to get to grips with.

  1. Mind the pay gap: how to achieve parity in PR Sarah Hall

Ten steps we can all take right now to make parity in the workplace a reality.