pfizertwitterThe results of the 2011 Young PR Professional of The Year Award, organized by PR Week magazine, will be announced today.

Among the young PR professionals waiting to hear those results is Jen Kokell at Pfizer (a WCG client).

In this WCG ThoughtLeader interview, Jen talks about what she’s learned in her career to date, her contribution to helping make Pfizer’s Twitter account the best in the industry and shares some insights on today’s fast-changing communications world from a young PR professional’s perspective.

About Our Guest

jenniferkokellFor the past six years, Jennifer Kokell has worked as a Specialist in External Affairs and Communications for Pfizer Inc., the world’s leading research-based biopharmaceutical company.

Jen is the editor of the Global News Roundup, an internal company-wide daily global news service she created to provide colleagues access to industry news from around the globe. In addition, she is responsible for the company’s media monitoring, global press release distribution and serves as a media liaison in the United States for Pfizer’s Global Health Fellows and Corporate Responsibility initiatives. Jen played a key role during Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth as well as numerous corporate and leadership announcements working closely with policy, legal, regulatory, investor relations, marketing, sales and internal communications to ensure a consistent and appropriate message platform. She also manages and serves as the official face of Pfizer’s industry leading corporate Twitter page @pfizer_news.

Jen is a member of the Social Media Business Council and the Hudson Union Society. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Public Relations and Corporate Communication at New York University.

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In countries around the world, it’s no longer the TV set in the home that’s the primary way people consume video. According to new research from market researcher Nielsen, just published, how people consume audio-visual content today embraces many different methods.

It’s seems clear that evolving video consumption habits keep pace not only with new viewing platforms that have emerged – mobile video, for instance, and tablet computers like the iPad – but also new leases of life for traditional television in some countries with compelling developments such as 3D TV and internet-connected TVs.

We’ve been saying for a while that there is evidence to support our view that video is increasingly popular from a consumer perspective as a preferred means of obtaining information, and learning.


Nielsen questioned more than 27,000 online consumers in 55 countries, asking simple questions about how they watch video to build up a credible picture of cross-platform video consumption amongst global online consumers today.

From the business perspective, there are some very interesting metrics among Nielsen’s findings that we should pay close attention to. First, though, here are the overall conclusions from Nielsen’s research:

  • Television: a universally-important platform for video consumption, with consumers in many markets now spending 4+ hours per day watching television.
  • HDTV (High-Definition TV): improving the TV viewing experience for as many as 30% of global online consumers. Adoption is highest among older consumers and in North America, where HD content has proliferated.
  • Online Video: approximately 70% of global online consumers watch online video; but North Americans and Europeans lag in adoption. More than half of global online consumers watch online video in the workplace.
  • Mobile Video: already used by 11% of global online consumers: penetration is highest in Asia-Pacific and among consumers in their late 20s.
  • Tablet PCs: expanding the definition of mobile video. Globally, 11% of online consumers already own or plan to purchase a tablet PC (such as an iPad) in the next year.
  • 3DTV (Three-Dimensional TV): 12% of global online consumers own or have definite intent to purchase a 3DTV in the next year.
  • Internet TVs: televisions with internet connections are gaining interest. About one in five (22%) global online consumers owns or has definite interest in buying a television with an internet connection.

What struck me especially from these findings are the implications for organizations, and workplace issues.

Nielsen’s research shows that 57% of respondents worldwide report having watched online video on their computers at work – higher amongst younger consumers, says Nielsen, who have grown accustomed to accessing video whenever and wherever they want it.

That’s the average percentage; mileage varies from country to country. Take a look at this chart:


Clearly, if you were thinking about communicating with consumers in the workplace in China, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia or Colombia, video ought to be high up on your tactics list. Not so, perhaps, in Denmark, Japan, the UK, the USA or Hungary (also some of the countries where the rate of organizations blocking workplace access to video is high).

Consider, too, three specific platforms: online video, mobile video and tablet PCs. As with online video, mobile video and tablet PCs are already commonplace in the workplace, never mind (or, maybe, because of) employer blocking.

They have one thing (at least) in common – each provides the user great convenience for grabbing and consuming content, on the user’s terms: on demand, whenever they want and whenever there’s a network connection, whether that’s wired, wifi or cellular.

Look at the growth potential in mobile video use. Separate research earlier this year predicted a compound annual growth rate of more than 117% for mobile video use in the USA alone.

And the iPad tablet computer as well as iPhone – notwithstanding Apple’s refusal to support the universal Flash video format (what the vast majority of web-based video is currently delivered as), iPads in particular have already attracted much corporate attention as a serious business tool.

Consider, too, that platforms like these are also creation platforms – this is not just about passive consumption but also the empowerment of individuals to create their own content – and that so-called ‘user-generated content’ is often video or other visual content: presentation decks, for instance, shared publicly in places like SlideShare (see Bob Pearson’s post last week for more on SlideShare).

These are all viable platforms from which to connect and engage with consumers, employees and others where we as communicators provide the content. If we have the answers to what people are looking for, it makes sense to enable them to find our answers on their terms.

That means video, too.

See Nielsen’s full report: How We Watch – The Global State of Video Consumption. Free download (but registration required).

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Four years ago, Silicon Valley blogger and ex-FT reporter Tom Foremski famously declared, “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!

Central to Foremski’s passionate argument that the demise of the press release would be welcome – indeed, should be encouraged – was a simple journalist’s view:

[…] Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists.

Whether you agree with Foremski’s views or not, his post unleashed months if not years of debate among many in the PR community, online and offline, about the effectiveness or otherwise of the press release, asking: If it’s so useless, what should replace it?

Spurred by Foremski’s rant, Todd Defren pioneered the concept of the social media press release in 2006, offering a template as an open source contribution to the debate.

The social media release was broadly designed to reflect an evolution in the usefulness of how reporters and editors might prefer to receive announcements, geared more to copy-and-paste and useful links to rich related content elsewhere online than just providing narratives that they ignore anyway.

So what’s happened during the past four years other than debate? Did the press release die? Many experimented with the social media release. Businesses sprang up offering distribution services for such releases (which always seemed slightly oxymoronic to me: publishing your social media release somewhere online is the distribution).

It didn’t really take off, for reasons as varied as because there is no consistent structure or presentation format, lack of understanding on how it is meant to work, and huge lack of interest from journalists.

pressreleasessurvey So far from dying, the press release flourishes. Indeed, a credible survey by the Oriella PR Network shows that nearly 75 percent of journalists questioned  – over 750 in 15 countries during May-June 2010 – said they like to receive email press releases if the content is “high quality and well targeted.” Nothing new there!

Does the social media release have a role in the communication toolboxes of PR pros?

I believe it does, depending on many factors including the measurable objective you’re trying to achieve where an announcement of some kind communicated some way (eg, via a press release) plays a key role in you achieving your objective and the recipient of your announcement achieving his or her objective.

Rather than try and replace the traditional press release with a social media version – something that quite a few in the PR community strongly advocated when Foremksi’s post created the initial kerfuffle – I suggest using both in a complementary fashion.

That way, you’ll meet the needs of those who want to receive traditional press releases by email as well as those who will benefit from the interactivity of the social media version.

And who knows – if you offer high quality and well targeted content in both, you might start something evolutionary.

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For increasing numbers of people around the world, Facebook is their social network of choice.

Not only has Facebook gathered huge numbers of members – half a billion at the last count – but the social network has also become the number one social presence in many countries, displacing some home-grown social networks.


A glance at the world map of social networks 2010 you see above – click it for a full-size view – shows a clear picture of the colonization (for want of a better word) of Europe, for instance, where Facebook has displaced its competitors in France (Skyrock used to be #1) and Germany (StudiVZ, although they might argue the rank).

Map author Vincenzo Cosenza provides an additional view, showing the top three social networking sites (SNS) in nine countries:


An interesting aspect is how Twitter appears in this list: in second place in Australia, Canada and the UK and third place in France, Spain and the US. I’ve always seen Twitter as a social network as opposed to simply a micro-blogging tool; it looks like many others do as well.

Equally interesting is the positioning of LinkedIn: third place in Canada and the UK, and no mention as a top-three choice in any of the other markets. The business social networking site, which says it now has 70 million members in 200 countries, announced yesterday a major upgrade to its groups feature with likes, follows and more.

Still, in global domination of online social networks, it looks clear that Facebook reigns supreme.

Is that true of readers of this blog? Tell us – which social networking site do you use? (If you use more than one, please choose your primary network.)


(A version of this post was originally published at

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With keen insight on how business is changing as we emerge from recession, Kathy Cripps, President of the New York-headquartered Council of Public Relations Firms, considers how companies are leveraging social media in their overall PR efforts. She offers some perspective on the actual impact of social media and the results companies are achieving.

The conversation with WCG’s Neville Hobson includes discussion on the social media objectives of the Council with their Firm Voice blog and presence on Twitter and social networks, and addresses the question of who owns intellectual property created during a new business pitch – increasingly a hot-button issue in today’s marketplace, Kathy argues.

To automatically receive future episodes as they are published, subscribe to the RSS feed. You can also subscribe at iTunes.

About Our Guest

kathycripps Kathy Cripps is president of the Council of Public Relations Firms. The Council is the first trade association to represent the interests of the US public relations industry. Since becoming the Council’s second president in 2002 she has created many educational programs for member agencies, developed benchmarking studies and helped to create industry best practices.

Most of Kathy’s career has been in the public relations business, on both the agency and client sides. She has been named a “Public Relations All-Star” by Inside PR and to the “Top 50 Healthcare Agency Executives” list published by PRWeek.

Before joining the Council, Kathy was executive managing director of the US healthcare business for Hill & Knowlton, building the practice in key US markets and working closely with colleagues around the globe. Prior to Hill & Knowlton, she created SCIENS Worldwide Public Relations (division of Nelson Communications), a founding member of the Council of Public Relations Firms. Kathy served as president/COO of SCIENS for 10 years, during which time she served on the Board of Directors of the Council.

Kathy has served on the Board of PRSA’s Counselors Academy and was the 2000 Chairman. She has served on the Board of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, and on PRSA’s Honors & Award Committee, as its chair in 2002 and as the Silver Anvil Chair. She is on the board of The Lagrant Foundation and is a member of PR Seminar.

Kathy earned a BA in Food/Nutrition from Queens College and an MBA in Marketing from Fordham University.

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Do you have a comment, question or suggestion about this episode of WCG ThoughtLeaders Podcast? Feel free to let us know what’s on your mind – leave a comment in this post for inclusion in the next episode. If you wish, you can email your comment, question or suggestion as an MP3 file attachment (max 3 minutes / 5Mb file size) to

Podsafe music from Moving On Swiftly by The Smallvilles.

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stillregrettingA bit of a kerfuffle blew up last week when Twitter engineer Alex Payne tweeted some insider views on what’s cooking at Twitter – his workplace – regarding forthcoming usability features on the Twitter website.

Payne wrote, “If you had some of the nifty site features that we Twitter employees have, you might not want to use a desktop client. (You will soon.)”

As TechCrunch noted in its blog post, such a comment – now deleted – had some third-party Twitter application developers worried.

Payne clearly realized the impact his original tweet had when he tweeted an apology on March 1.

Still regretting wasting everyone’s time this weekend over nothing. Learn from my mistake: talk about your business carefully.

It’s a good example of what the consequences could be when you engage publicly in conversation and where you don’t apply all your common sense to what you’re saying. It also illustrates the value to everyone of an organization helping employees be clear on what they should or should not discuss publicly by providing clarity though guidelines or policies. If Twitter doesn’t have those, they ought to.

But it’s not only the obvious consequences that arise from an act like this: it’s also the collateral effects as expressed in this comment to a post on GigaOm reporting on events:

[…] Because of this event Alex’s behavior has changed, his approach to the very product he helped to create has shifted- he will now police himself, his tweets now need a layer of approval in his own mind before charging out to the web. Maybe they always had this layer of approval going on, but now it has a new DEFCON 1 process being applied to it.

All of this results in Alex’s true thoughts revealed on twitter to be less authentic, natural and free. Alex isn’t the first to have something like this happen to them. Over time more and more people will police their tweets. This will impact their participation in these networks too.

Every action has a consequence, some you couldn’t anticipate.

(Via GigaOm, cross-posted from

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googlebuzzsymbol The buzz about Google Buzz has been huge since the new service was announced by Google yesterday.

Google Buzz gives you a social network built into Gmail, Google’s web-based email service (known as Google Mail in some countries including the UK). You can watch a Google video to get a good sense of how it works.

Some people say that Google Buzz is a killer service to take on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Others say it’s more of a “social content aggregator” and only another milestone along the road where Google is travelling (I was sorely tempted to call that the “information superhighway”). It’s also being called “a social Swiss Army knife.”

Whatever you decide it is, there’s one big thing it is about – search. Apart from anything else, it gives you the ability to search your social graph and find the content that interests you, filtering out the stuff that doesn’t.

Here’s an insightful view on that aspect from Jyri Engeström, the founder of Jaiku, a Twitter rival snapped up by Google in 2007:

[…] The game is no longer just about “what are you doing”. As microblogging has become more popular, the stream has become more busy, and people are getting tired of sifting through the noise. So, now that pretty much everyone has shown up for the party, the value is moving to discovery, context, and relevance. The question we increasingly feel our social inbox should answer better is: “given what you know about me, look at everything I subscribe to, and show me only the updates I care about most right here, right now.” In one word: Search. And who has the advantage there? We know who.

There’s more, though – mobile. According to Engeström:

[…] You don’t need a crystal ball to know that mobile is becoming the primary (in some cases the only) interface to daily social media. Facebook’s and Twitter’s mobile clients? Let’s be straight, they’re lame feed scrollers compared to what they could be. Nobody has come even close to harnessing the full power of mobile. Which of the three companies has its own mobile platform: Facebook, Twitter, or Google? Again, we know who.

Detailed information on the Google Buzz mobile page. This looks pretty compelling.

Such a picture of disruptive possibilities!

I don’t “live” in Gmail so I find it hard to see how I would use or benefit from Google Buzz, although mobile access looks very appealing. But I’ll keep an open mind at least until I’ve tried it out myself.

How do you see this evolution from Google?

(First published at

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connections If you’re looking for credible information about social networks – information that will help you better understand the scope and scale of communication and engagement online from your business perspective in particular – look no further than your closest newsstand or online and The Economist.

This week’s edition of the news magazine includes ‘a world of connections,’ a special report on social networking that dives into online social networks and how they are changing the way people communicate, work and play.

Such changes are mostly for the better, says Martin Giles, the report’s author. You can listen to a podcast interview with Giles in which he adds some distinct commentary about the subject matter and his research, nicely complementary to the report itself.

The report is divided into sections so you can zero in on topics of interest:

  • Introduction: A world of connectionsThis special report will […] argue that social networks are more robust than their critics think, though not every site will prosper, and that social-networking technologies are creating considerable benefits for the businesses that embrace them, whatever their size. Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster than ever before.
  • The dominance of Facebook: Global swap shopsThe most important reason for [the phenomenal growth of social networks] is something called the “network effect”. Originally coined to describe the rapid spread of telephones, this states that the value of a communications network to its users rises exponentially with the number of people connected to it. This implies that the audience of a social network will grow slowly at first, then explode once it passes a certain point. Jeff Weiner, the chief executive of LinkedIn, which now has some 58m members, says it took the company 16 months to reach its first million users, whereas the most recent additional million came on board in only 11 days. Facebook has had a similar experience. It took almost five years to drum up its first 150m users, but just eight months to double that number.
  • The challenge to Facebook: Twitter’s transmitters[Twitter founder Biz] Stone says he sees Twitter as more akin to an outfit like Google than to Facebook. He describes the business as “an information company” whose users are keen to find out answers to what is happening in the world. The billions of tweets that Twitter is gathering up could certainly be the basis for a vast, searchable archive. The challenge facing Mr Stone and his colleagues is to find smart ways of transforming those raw data into profits.
  • Monetizing it all: Profiting from friendshipSocial networks have a better chance of making money than their critics think. […] Advertisers are being drawn to the leading sites by their sheer scale. “Facebook’s audience is bigger than any TV network that has ever existed on the face of the earth,” says Randall Rothenberg, the head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Another thing that has attracted companies is the networks’ ability to target ads with laser-like precision, thanks to the data they hold on their users’ ages, gender, interests and so forth. Although there are still lingering concerns about brands appearing next to racy content, firms seem more willing to run this risk now that the networks’ advertising proposition has become more compelling.
  • Small businesses: A peach of an opportunityA survey of 1,000 heavy users of social networks and other digital media conducted in August 2009 by Razorfish, an advertising agency, found that 44% of those following brands on Twitter said they did so because of the exclusive deals the firms offered to users. […] social networks are arguably having an even greater impact on small businesses than on the big league. By giving entrepreneurs free access to their audience, services such as Twitter and Facebook are putting corporate tiddlers on a par with behemoths such as Starbucks and Dell when it comes to broadcasting messages to a mass market. They have also created what Steve Hasker of Nielsen calls “the world’s biggest, fastest and most dynamic focus groups”, which can be a boon to entrepreneurs without fat research budgets.
  • Firewalling Twitter: Yammering away at the office[Social networks] are part of a growing trend known as the “consumerisation” of IT. Thanks to companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook, people now have access to communications devices and web applications that are often far superior to those offered by their employers. And thanks to cloud computing, which allows all sorts of computing services to be delivered via the internet, they can use these devices and applications pretty much wherever they like, including in offices and factories. This trend is accelerating as more digitally savvy youngsters enter the workforce with their iPhones at the ready. Moreover, as people become increasingly used to sharing and collaborating outside the workplace, they are coming to expect firms to be more open and collaborative places too.
  • Smart hiring: Social contractsIn many ways the world of commerce is a perfect place for a social network to flourish. Doing business, after all, boils down to managing a complex web of relationships with customers, suppliers and others. Professional networks make it easier for people to maintain such relationships and to forge new ones. LinkedIn, for instance, has over 500,000 groups—some better than others—on specialised subjects that people can join to share ideas and make new contacts. Such connections may prove useful later on: research has shown that the more distant members of people’s networks are often the best source of new job leads.
  • Hot topic: Privacy 2.0If there is one thing that could halt the ascent of social networks, it is the vexed question of privacy. This is controversial because it goes right to the heart of the social-networking business model. In order to attract users, sites need to offer ways for members to restrict the information about themselves that gets shared with a wider public. Without effective controls people would be reluctant to sign up. But if a site allows members to keep too much of their information private, there will be less traffic that can be turned into profit through advertising and various other means, so the network’s business will suffer.
  • A future: Towards a socialised state[Nothing] will be remotely as important as the mobile phone. Using a web-enabled phone to post status updates and send messages is still a niche activity in many countries, but it will rapidly become a mainstream one as mobile-broadband services overtake fixed-line ones in a few years’ time. One estimate by eMarketer suggests that just over 600m people will use their phones to tap into social networks by 2013, a more-than-fourfold increase on last year’s 140m. This shift has big implications.

Equally useful is Giles’ list of sources and acknowledgements with links to further research-based and other content about social networks. Equally credible.

If you’re a paying subscriber to The Economist, you can download the complete report as a PDF.

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Welcome to the first episode of The WeissWatch Podcast: talking points for clients, colleagues and friends of the WeissComm Group. To automatically receive episodes as they are published, subscribe to the RSS feed. You can also subscribe at iTunes (coming soon).

In This Episode:

  • Bob Pearson, Chief Technology and Media Officer, and Neville Hobson, Head of Social Media Europe, discuss social media guidelines in light of the FTC announcement last week, with a focus on three steps organizations can take: 1) create a social media policy, 2) have an effective training programme, and 3) listen to your customers.

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Download the Podcast (MP3, 7.89Mb, 17:12)

Do you have a comment, question or suggestion about this episode of The WeissWatch Podcast? Feel free to let us know what’s on your mind – leave a comment in this post for inclusion in the next episode. If you wish, you can email your comment, question or suggestion as an MP3 file attachment (max 3 minutes / 5Mb file size) to

Podsafe music from Moving On Swiftly by The Smallvilles.

Enjoy the show!

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