LinkedIn rolls out new features for business pages

LinkedIn has begun rolling out its new website design for business pages, three months after the initial announcement. The face-lift is intended to lure people into spending more time on the social network and includes a host of new features for business pages. For a long time LinkedIn has proudly kept a retro design, in a similar way to Reddit, but it seems modern functionally has required a revamp.

The website design change comes 12 months after LinkedIn overhauled its tablet and smartphone app experience. Now that Microsoft has secured regulatory approval for its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, the design change is no doubt to prepare for better integration with Microsoft services. Thankfully this has not meant adopting the 1980s-esk blocky metro design theme.

What’s new for business pages?

At the centre of the LinkedIn business page change is a clear focus on recruitment. Whilst LinkedIn proves valuable for B2B marketing efforts, this is mostly achieved through personal profiles, leaving LinkedIn business pages struggling to find purpose. The focus on recruitment isn’t just a design tweak, but shows LinkedIn is investing in a clear HR functionality for pages.

LinkedIn new design, overview

One of the biggest changes by LinkedIn is a ‘life’ page that focuses on showcasing the culture of a company. This provides the option of integrating a featured YouTube video, showing images of the workplace, profiling company leaders, and a spotlight section on what it’s like working in the company. In an age where companies are held accountable by their workforce to reviews on websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn is providing an opportunity for companies to have their own HR voice.

LinkedInLifePage

There is also a separate cultural insights section that uses information from registered employees on LinkedIn to profile seniority, working location, education level, and skills. Hopefully companies choose to profile the diversity of their companies in this section, rather than use higher education as a quality goal in its own right.

Content is still king

The new design change is akin to a Facebook page, as recently published content will appear high on the page. This shows that there is still a big role for content marketing on LinkedIn, beyond publishing content on individual personal profiles. It would be good to see LinkedIn Pulse article integration in the new business page design, but perhaps this is something for later this year.

What is Microsoft’s master plan?

We know that the Microsoft and LinkedIn leadership teams have been in discussions for a few months now and there is no doubt the design change plugs into Microsoft’s plans. Some of the features it has lined up that are useful for businesses are:

  • Extending the reach of sponsored content across Microsoft properties
  • Enterprise LinkedIn Lookup powered by Active Directory and Office 365
  • Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365
  • LinkedIn notifications within the Windows action centre

Read The Verge’s full round-up here.

The new LinkedIn design is being rolled out gradually in the UK and if you are an admin of a business page, you should hopefully be given the option within the next few weeks.

Keep up with 350+ news sources without breaking a sweat

‘Don’t you ever worry that you’ll run out of things to say?’ was a bemused line delivered by a University friend back in 2008. Today it’s amusing; a Public Relations person running out of things to say? Bah… as if! Although oddly, I feel like he was onto an idea that I actually believe in today, if I’m to provide consultancy to organisations then I must have done my reading.

If you work in PR then you’ll relate to this next bit, if not then you’ll soon understand. Explaining what PR is to normal people is tough.

The industry agrees it is primarily about managing reputation but the growth of online has spurred evolution in the industry. Instead of speaking to journalists, the steady growth of social media over the last eight years has changed the way reputation needs to be managed. As a digital account director at Lansons my primary focus is how to manage the online reputations of organisations.

It’s a big job, but I’m thankful it’s not a physical one. The intensity is on the brain and I need to know the pulse of the digital industry including social media news, search engine optimisation updates, and online analytics. Keeping up-to-date about an industry that changes on an hourly basis is challenging and if I enter a client meeting without the latest news then my consultancy will be poor.

So whilst my friend’s innocent question was quaint, it touched on a truth; for every 10% of consultancy I provide it must be backed up by 90% research. In my professional life I treat clients like essays, the hardest part is the learning and analysing, the easiest part is the delivery of information. This balance of knowledge is part of what makes a good or poor consultant; in the agency world this is financial life or death.

Of course there are other factors at play. For instance, you could be the smartest person in the room but a real arse to deal with!

I know for certain that to be a successful consultant then you need to have a timely plan for how to digest and analyse news. This needs to stand tall even when your working weeks go into the interstellar 50+ hour mark. In the PR industry we’ve recently started calling the mixture of internal business cultures and balance of tools part of a business workflow.

Using Feedly to make news digestible

I’m dependent on Feedly, an online platform and app that delivers me the latest news from every blog, magazine and newspaper I choose to follow. Without Feedly most people would struggle to keep up-to-date with one newspaper, let alone that and 349 other news sources!

Feedly, overview of topics

As social media sites have progressed, Feedly has been a reliable tool to return to. Twitter has become too noisy, Facebook prioritises old viral videos, and Google+ is near extinct. For in-depth news my first visit is Feedly; on iPhone during commutes and via the browser whilst at work. It’s even played a small role helping position myself professionally in the industry through the Feedly app’s ease of social sharing.

Feedly finance

Whether you’re new to the industry or an old-timer, Feedly remains a simple and free way to keep up-to-date with the news. After having used the tool since the closure of Google Reader in 2013 I’m beginning to consider pro features such as collection sharing to help inform my client teams. As it’s my source for news, it has helped me maintain relationships with fellow bloggers and has been integral to the consultancy I’ve delivered for the last five years.

So my honest (unpaid!) advice for PR professionals is to consider Feedly as part of your PR workflow. It will only help make you smarter.

 

 

A stiff few minutes on Page 3

No More Page 3 Michael WhiteMay I just take a few minutes of your time to erect an argument that I hope you find titillating? I first need to preface my argument with these few words: I adore boobs.

I believe that Page 3 should be removed from The Sun or alternatively, that The Sun is treated as a top-shelf magazine. The Sun is without question a newspaper of world-class journalism; I don’t question this. My issue is with Page 3.

Page 3 was born of a different generation and now a new generation has bravely started a campaign against the feature. @NoMorePage3 which was founded by Lucy-Anne Holmes, has been campaigning hard since 2012 and has collected over 195,000 signatories on change.org to date. In addition, a number of people and organisations have supported the cause including Girlguiding UK, Unison, The Scottish Parliament and Mumsnet.

To compete with The Sun in the 1970s The Mirror (among other red-tops) used to feature topless girls, before removing the feature in the 1980s because it was considered demeaning. In fact, it was only until 2003 that models in The Sun had to be at least 18 years old! Page 3 was born of a different generation, for the simple purpose of selling newspapers through shock tactics. When Page 3 first launched it gained impressive circulation levels by, oddly enough, being banned from public places.

In No More Page 3’s own words:

When we show a passive, naked available woman in a family newspaper, what are we teaching young boys about how to respect women? What are we teaching little girls about where their value lies?

As a business The Sun has the right to continue Page 3 and the models have already made their choice. However, with two million copies of The Sun being sold each day it’s of no surprise that this newspaper is found on-shelf or disregarded in public places, often in the presence of children. Just in the same way that pornography is restricted, I believe restrictions should exist for The Sun newspaper carrying Page 3. Soft porn is not news and to say that Page 3 is just boobs misses the point entirely. It is reinforcing the sexualisation of women in public, especially as the rest of the journalism in The Sun is seeking to (mostly) be of service to the public.

I believe a serious debate is needed about the role of Page 3 in today’s society. Questioning the purpose behind the feature and if The Sun should be classed as a soft porn publication for as long as the feature exists. It’s interesting to note that when The Sun gave away 22,000,000 free copies of the paper last week, Page 3 was excluded. Perhaps Sun Editor, David Dinsmore, understands Page 3 may have become slightly controversial over the last couple of years?

I appreciate that in the world there are bigger things to worry about and my belief on this subject is not popular with most industry peers, especially those who enjoy PR coverage in The Sun. I’m standing up for change though.

I love boobs. I enjoy reading The Sun. I do not enjoy or agree with Page 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

VineLogo

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.

Pirate Party UK: Liberators of free speech or media stirrers?

In April the High Court ruled that Swedish file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay, must be blocked by UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This was a result of heavy lobbying by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and has meant internet censorship for all of us. If you try accessing the Pirate Bay today all you will get is “Website Blocked”.

To counter this, minor political group, Pirate Party UK (PPUK) launched a proxy server which allowed users to bypass the ISP block of  the Pirate Bay. The new proxy was praised heavily, touting internet freedom for all. However, this proxy was not to be. Over the last few weeks elected members of PPUKs National Executive Committee, along with their head of IT, received letters from lawyers acting for the BPI threatening them with legal action.

Much legal advice and fundraising later PPUK has decided to shut down the Pirate Bay proxy. As a member of the party I find myself stoic to the email I received which read,

“Dear Member, …it is however with a heavy heard that I write to inform you that the proxy server which the Pirate Party UK initially provided in solidarity with other parties in Europe, but later as an anti-censorship resource for UK users, has now been removed and will stay down until either the law is changes or the orders against the ‘Big 6’ ISPs are removed.”

I never agreed with the Pirate Bay proxy and the whole media uproar surrounding the matter has made me embarrassed to be associated with the party. To think PPUK raised thousands fundraising the Pirate Bay proxy issue whilst hundreds of alternative proxies are available elsewhere.

What was the party thinking? Nuts. The party needs to re-consider their arguments and direction. This all starts with the notion of free speech.

Internet Censorship VS Free Speech
One of the biggest events in internet history happened early 2012 when the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) protests took places. This saw major websites, such as Google, blackout their web services and dozens of more companies wrote letters to key members of the US Senate and House of Representatives saying that SOPA posed a serious risk to innovation and job creation, as well as cyber security.

Essentially SOPA would allow copyright holders to challenge the use of their content in any form on the internet. The outcome of which would certainly end file-sharing websites (such as the Pirate Bay) but could also close social networks due to their high use of shared material.

The enforcement of copyright would inevitably lead to the point of censorship. Something which would certainly end the organic growth of the internet, could lead to online policing and the death of social networks. Scary stuff.

SOPA raised some interesting debates which highlighted a linked but distinct difference between internet censorship and free speech. For ISPs to block the Pirate Bay was a matter of internet censorship but not free speech.

According to the Oxford Dictionary:

Free speech [noun] the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint: it violated the first-amendment guarantee of free speech.

As per this definition I do not believe the blocking of the Pirate Bay poses any risk to our free speech on the internet. It is true that continuous censorship could lead to sites that actively celebrate free speech, such as social networking websites, being blocked but it is an outcome which seems highly unlikely. Not even the BPI has enough power to block sites, such as Facebook, operating in the UK!

PPUK’s first principle in their manifesto states,

“Our society is built upon the sharing of knowledge, ideas and culture. It is furthered by freedom of thought and expression, and protected by the role of law. The Pirate Party exists to ensure the preservation and development of these foundations”.

I know that the Pirate Bay operates by giving users the platform to share files between each other – the majority of which is copyrighted. Anybody who clearly thinks anything other than this has not used P2P file-sharing before. Yes, this material is the outcome of knowledge, ideas and culture but is produced material by large media companies.

The UK is becoming a digital economy and cannot operate at full capacity with material being shared freely – sometimes censorship on the internet is required (although totally ineffective…). Individual users should not be accused of copyright infringement but the platforms which allow sharing should be seriously looked at.

Purchased or Public Domain?
Does a consumer first purchase content or is content made available first in the public domain? This is a chicken or egg argument that industry bodies such as the BPI need to consider seriously. Much content made available in the UK across file sharing websites can be downloaded before the ‘legal’ product hits the shelves. This happens for all sorts of reasons; release timings across different countries or beta versions of software before the full article.

Sharing content is the heart beat of the internet and the BPI needs to consider their marketing tactics rather than accuse file-sharing of the demise of their industry. Have they measured the positive effects of YouTube for artists? Popular artists such as Justin Bieber and Gangnam Style have all come to fame through YouTube.

Social networks helps makes musicians money and can certainly provide fame.

Back to the Proxy

I can understand why PPUK wanted to raise the Pirate Bay proxy; it’s an easy media stunt which provided a massive splash. However, the act also almost killed PPUK of all funds and was essentially pointless as plenty of other proxies already exist on the internet.

Instead PPUK should create lots of little media splashes; commenting on social networking developments and stories that deal with internet privacy. This media hijacking could see PPUKs media coverage to be far more positive and introduce plenty of new members to the party. The public needs to take the party seriously, as technological educators who exist to inform the old boys club of how the digital world works.

This is why when I saw the below confirmation from BPI I smiled.

“BPI has today received signed confirmations from Pirate Party UK executives that they will remove proxy access from their website to the illegal site The Pirate Bay,” they said. “BPI welcomes this development. Provided Pirate Party UK complies with the confirmations, no legal proceedings should be necessary.”

It’s time for PPUK to re-visit their media tactics and get some positive public sentiment on their side.

Review of Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7 is Google’s first attempt at introducing Android to the tablet market. Logically you would have thought that their main competitor would be the iPad, but oh no. Google labelled their official competitor as the Amazon Kindle Fire which has still not greeted British shores. The Google Nexus 7 is the result of a collaboration between Google and Asus – it worked.

Boasting a 1.2 Ghz quad-core CPU, 416 MHz Nvidia GeForce ULP with 12 cores, 1 GB DDR3 RAM and a battery capable of 9 hours of usage, this is a device for me. It clearly outperforms the unbranded tablets sold in abundance on eBay whilst at the same time keeping to a price tag starting at £159.

Making the decision to purchase Google’s first tablet didn’t take me long – it is a better version of the Amazon Kindle Fire.

This 7-inch tablet is a pleasure to use; it can be picked up with one hand and weighs just enough to feel well-built but not so heavy to be uncomfortable after long periods of use. As a Windows and Apple user the Google Nexus 7 introduced me to the Android UI for the first time and at this stage I must confess the Jelly Bean OS feels far superior to iOS. It is quick. So far the only lag I have experienced has been on content heavy web pages. In terms of everyday use this tablet just makes life easier. It is the first tablet computer I have owned and I can proudly profess to have fallen for the form factor.

That doesn’t mean to say it is the first tablet I have used. The iPad is a superb piece of design but I practically find the device clumsy to use. Its weight makes long reading sessions uncomfortable and attempting to type anything of great length is a frustrating experience. The screen on the iPad is its one redeeming feature but you would expect this from a price tag upwards from £400. Whilst Steve Jobs may not have approved of 7-inch tablets I personally find them far more convient to use.

The Google Nexus 7 has already served me well as an eBook reader, newspaper reader, portable video player and games console. It was designed for consumable content. Although, strangely, this is what refrained me from purchasing a tablet PC up until now.

As a heavy content creator tablet devices have never really interested me. Frequently I used to draw comparisons between netbooks and tablets, finding netbooks the desirable middle ground between consuming and creating content. Now that I have found an affordable tablet simply consuming content isn’t a problem.

There is a downside to the Google Nexus 7, the Google Play store. So far the majority of apps are still optimised for smartphones only. In fact the official Skype app flags the Google Nexus 7 as untested and unsupported! If Google’s new tablet proves to be popular then expect developers to pay more attention to optimising apps for tablets. At this stage the Google Play store is only a partial let down to an otherwise brilliant tablet.

The Case Against Richard O’Dwyer is Ridiculous

When Richard O’Dwyer was 19 years old he set up TVShack.net. An online directory which linked to hundreds of websites who provided popular films and TV series for online streaming. The website was a huge success, he began accepting advertising and then the US Justice Department seized the domain June 2010 for “violations of Federal criminal copyright infringement laws”.

What came to follow was a series of heavy handed events which included police visits, IT equipment being seized and then finally a request for Richard to be extradited to the US under the Extradition Act 2003. Today TVShack.net exists as a US Justice Department warning, followed by a rather ethically muddled video attempting to explain copyright infringement ethics.

The path of Richard O’Dwyer isn’t that of a criminal, he isn’t a “data pirate”, instead he is simply an undergraduate student. It is common for many IT literate students to spend time on various website projects (I’ve had around eight different ones). This is a student who has never visited the US, owned a website which did not host any copyright content but is being processed for extradition by the UK government.

Why?

Not only has he not committed a US crime but the crime wasn’t even committed in the US! Essentially Richard O’Dwyer has become a scapegoat for those industries who have been suffering in the digital era. Not because online file sharing exist but because they have not yet perfected a business model that can cope with the technicalities of online sharing.

Although I don’t wish for my reasons against Richard O’Dwyer to be miss construed. He is not a file sharer. TVShack.net existed to hyperlink copyrighted material but based on other websites. Thus fulfilling the same function (but less sophisticated) as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engines all link to copyright material but are we seeing these giants in court?

No.

Instead Richard O’Dwyer is fast becoming another causality in the “war against piracy”. A confused notion, commonly voiced by those who have little understanding of the digital age.

You can petition against the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer by adding your signature to change.org. So far 219,517 have shown their support. Despite this the UK Home Office has openly suggested to ignore the petition and bend over for America.