Canapés and Cock-Ups for Phoebe Cripps

canapes and cock A spectacular typo and evidence, if it were needed, of the decline of the sub-editor. Caterer Phoebe Cripps was featured in the Suffolk Free Press in anrticle about her venture specialising in canapés and cocktails not, er well, you can see for yourself.  She has seen the funny side, tweeting “What could only be described as an unfortunate printing error…. #foodtruck #Suffolk #vintage #catering”. However there may be an upside for Phoebe as she’s about to be famous and that might be good for business – we have it on good authority that the Daily Mirror is planning a piece about the cock-up. The post Canapés and Cock-Ups for Phoebe Cripps appeared first on

Mirror Sock-Puppet & the Real Sophie Wittam

Ex Tory Minister Brooks Newmark is a fool at best,but his entrapment via social media sets a pretty low bar for journalism.  A supposed freelance journalist created a fake Twitter account in the name of Sophie Wittam, a twenty something Tory PR girl, and started to pursue MPs with a view to persuading one of them to drop their trousers on WhatsApp.  Mr Newmark duly obliged.  The reporter was a “carrying out an undercover probe into claims by sources that MPs were using social media networks to meet women”.  In this case though it seems that it was “Sophie” who was trying to meet MPs rather than vice-versa.  The Twitter account has since been deleted but I found the cache and you can see it here. We know very little about the journalist responsible other that he used a fake ID and profile picture.  There has been lots of speculation as to whose picture has been used.  A number of tweeters have suggested that it is Lisa Kimble but the G+ account looks fake.  A little more likely is Maria Stotskaya a 24 years old Russian with a VKontacke profile that uses the picture.  I’m pretty sure the picture is actually of  a Swedish model called Malin Sahlén.  A reverse search of the image leads to her WeHeartIt page.  The original has been removed but there are lots of other images of her and the likeness is pretty strong. Sophie Wittam Malin SahlénWhat is far more interesting of course is the real identity of the journalist behind the “Sophie Wittam” Twitter account.  The web leaves lots of clues even if you attempt to erase them.   There are certainly staff at the Mirror who know. Reporter Matthew Drake who was bylined on the Mirror article must be an individual close to the source.   There has also been convincing speculation that Sophie is in fact Guido Fawkes Reporter and Sun contributor Alex Whickam.   He appeared to know about the sting before anyone else and has written about being on the receiving end of unwanted attention from MPs. The post Mirror Sock-Puppet & the Real Sophie Wittam appeared first on

Murdoch and The End of Press Power

The Sun Front Pages There has been an enormous amount of speculation in the final days of the Scottish Independence debate as to whether Rupert Murdoch would use the front page of The Scottish Sun to back Alex Salmond’s Yes campaign.    Bruised by the phone hacking scandal the newspaper mogul appeared to be set to back Scottish Independence and aim a missile at the Cameron premiership. The BBC’s Andrew Neil, who is a former editor of The Sunday Times and confidant of Murdoch tweeted: “He thinks the hacking scandal was revenge of the British establishment on him. Break up of Britain would be his revenge.” Neil also reported that Murdoch and Salmond spoke a week ago about a swing in the polls in favour of independence. Up until 2009 The Sun had consistently backed the winner in UK general elections but by that year press power was already visibly on the slide. In 1992 after Kinnock lost to Major the headline screamed “It Was The Sun Wot Won It’, Tory MPs acknowledged that The Sun contributed to their election triumph and Kinnock himself blamed the paper for his failure to win the election.  Today the sun has finally set on that level of power and influence.  The Sun’s front pages in both England and Scotland reflect the mood of the public without attempting to influence it.  The Scottish Sun echoes the uncertainty of the vote with its blank page and in the rest of the Union a story about Prince Harry and his girlfriend makes an unsubtle nod to the overwhelming sentiment south of the border.  Whatever the outcome we should celebrate the end of an era where one man can change the fortunes of a nature by deciding on a headline. The post Murdoch and The End of Press Power appeared first on

Moto 360 – the 1st Mainstream Smart Watch ?

Motorola today unveiled a Smart Watch that people actually might wear.  The secret appears to be that it actually looks good.  The Moto 360 will work with all smartphones using Android 4.3 or higher.  Unlike most devices on the market, it’s round, like a real watch. “When you go back through modern civilisation time is represented by a circle” said design chief Jim Wicks design chief. It comes with leather and metal straps too.

During a somewhat delayed Google Hangout (embarrassing when time is literally of the essence) we could see Jim swiping the watch to manage the user interface and if the stills are anything to go by the user experience and the design aesthetic both look good.  The information is contextually relevant so when you are using maps it will help you see where you are going and it has voice activation.  “We are creating a device with mass appeal” said Wicks.

In fact the Moto 360 appears to do most of the things that Google Glass has promised minus obvious drawback of looking like a “glasshole”.  The other plus being that watches are glance-able.  It appears that the technology developers have finally come to the realisation that wearable tech will only be worn if it is well designed and looks right.

There’s no price available as yet or indication of the battery life although a good life and imaginative approach to charging have been hinted at . The Moto 360 will be available in globally in Summer 2014.

Here’s the full interview with Jim Wicks.


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The Prince of social media

Prince and 3rdEyeGirl - Manchester 21st Feb (2)

Prince and Social Media are two things which have been hard not to notice and have caused quite a stir in the UK recently.

Prince has been in the country performing a series of ‘pop-up’ concerts, promoting a forthcoming album and, if speculation is to be believed, working on some summer festival deals.

It’s not just the concerts themselves, taking place in small venues in London and Manchester, that have reasserted Prince as a man who stands out from the crowd in both talent and approach, but the way those concerts have been promoted.

As Econsultancy’s David Moth points out, “the ‘guerilla’ shows are part of Prince’s policy of avoiding middlemen and traditional marketing.”  Famously (infamously, perhaps), Prince has given away new albums with UK newspapers and was part of a long and well-documented dispute with his former record label, Warner Bros. over creative ownership and control.

And so, no one was really surprised that the man who once said “the internet is dead” promoted the recent spate of gigs almost entirely through Social Media, not only prompting queues thousands-long outside the venues but also gaining print and broadcast media coverage, most notably through Woman’s Hour and Newsnight.  As noted in The Sunday Times’s profile, “when a current affairs news show takes notice, you have got an event.”

Prince’s management and PR duties fall to CEO of Kikit Ltd. and Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, Kiran Sharma, and the aptly named Purple PR.  Ms Sharma was very visible throughout the campaign, using her personal Twitter account to make announcements and share comments from fans and Prince’s current band, 3rdEyeGirl.  The PR company, however, seemed almost invisible.  And that’s where the success of the last few weeks lies.

The perception was that Prince and his troupe had arrived in the UK and were looking for some small venues to play, with no real planning.  On the red carpet of The Brit Awards, a member of 3rdEyeGirl said, “we don’t know until the morning where we’ll be playing that night.”  This sent fans into a frenzy, connecting via Social Media from across the UK to try and dig out and share any vital information on the gigs.  The hashtags #princewatch and #princearmy appeared, seemingly from the fans, and a fan-run account @PrinceWatchUK was set-up specifically for this purpose.

Kevin Costner was once told “if you build it, they will come” and here was an excellent example of this at work.  The hashtags trended, there was 24 hour engagement and this all seemed to be coming just from the fans, with a few pieces of input from Ms Sharma and 3rdEyeGirl (for example with official YouTube clips from the gigs).

Clearly there was more going on behind the scenes than was presented.  In order to move that many people around London, let alone the UK, this had to be well-planned.  There’s even been suggestion that, on the night that tickets rose from being £10 to £70 and fans created the #10poundprince hashtag as a backlash, prompting tickets to be reduced again, it was actually Purple PR hard at work creating some trickery to gain yet more attention.

Whatever mastery was at work, this was a unique event, promoted in a unique way.  This was a utilisation of modern media, the like of which has not been seen before, purely relying on the word-of-mouth generated by Social Media output to sell-out each show played and generate a huge amount of valuable mainstream exposure. (They even turned Manchester Town Hall purple for the occasion!)

What has all this done for Prince’s reputation?  Certainly there has been upset from those who don’t regularly use Social Media; has he alienated a large amount of people?  Those who are disabled and unable to queue all day outside gigs have also been challenged by his tactics.

I would suggest that Prince’s team will be more likely asking the question, “Has all this helped us achieve our goals?”  If those goals were indeed to pre-promote the new album and secure that lucrative summer deal then only time and album sales will tell.  For a few days near the end of February, though, one didn’t have to look far (be it online on the radio or on the newspaper rack) to read word of Prince, hear his new music and see fans going crazy!

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Is Zuckerberg a Human Rights Champion?

Mark Zuckerberg has just released a white paper announcing a plan to connect 5 billion more people in the developing world to the Internet. It’s called Is Connectivity a Human Right?, is a partnership with six other companies, Ericsson, MediaTek , Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to “develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments”. The plan is to get the world online and that means connecting two-thirds of the global population who are not yet connected.

Zuckerberg is well placed to lead such a charge but is he right to claim the mantle of human rights campaigner?  Whilst cogently argued the paper is didactic.  It lapses into the repetitive style more commonly asscociated wth propaganda and the last five paragraphs before the conclusion all begin with the words; “This is good…”.

The Facebook founder may be strong on connectivity but is he credible on human rights? His former colleague Charlie Cheever, who went on to start Quora has said; ”I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping-stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”

Maybe privacy isn’t a right but a privilege.  Either way as Robert Hofs says in Forbes today “I can’t help wondering why these companies feel the need to trot out such idealistic concepts. Ultimately, there’s only one reason all these businesses are involved with this project: money”.

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Social media cafe Manchester – smc_mcr – logging out

Social Media Cafe Manchester – or smc-mcr as it morphed into – came along at the right time to meet a ravenous appetite for digital communications.

But now, it’s no more.

I’m grateful to Tom Mason for bringing the news to my attention and for his affectionate “eulogy” to this rather modest and yet highly influential fixture in Manchester’s calendar of digital creativity. For the definitive insight into why smc_mcr is logging out, check out co-founder, Martin Bryant’s post on the smc_mcr website itself.

So, what made it special?

In the digital sector – one that has now become big business for learning seminars, training courses, day-long conferences, etc – smc_mcr offered collective insight from real-life practitioners (often early adopters of digital technologies and communications platforms) at no cost to the participants whatsoever. All those great brains in one room, willing to pass on their knowledge because, well, they were passionate about their subject and the sharing ethos seemed to meld well with the social media milieu.

At times, smc_mcr was unapologetically and hilariously shambolic in its structure and organisation. But that was more than compensated for by the wealth of interesting people and topics you could expect to encounter over a couple of hours on a Tuesday night, once a month.

On a simplistic level, it was networking with people you also had a relationship with online; but it was really so much more than that.

And, it supplied a regular flow of great material for PR Media Blog which, at the time, was itself trying to make sense of the ever-quickening revolution in digital communications.

Normally, an institution coming to an end is a sad affair. But smc_mcr has done its job, if ever it had a “job description”. It wasn’t its style to have some sort of “manifesto”; that would be far too bloody organised.


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