Bits and Bytes

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Digital dualism and this week’s bits and bytes


It’s not often that a study in a journal on ethics gets much attention outside of academia, but if your study finds that PR professionals are in fact guiding the ethical decision making in organisations, that’s a different ballgame. In fact, when properly understood and practiced PR is ethical by its very nature.

Another week, another social media meltdown. After HMV it was Applebees’ turn in the US to go up in flames in front of the eyes of the world, in real time. A long post by RL Stollat on his blog, it goes through the timeline of how it kicked off and all the mistakes that the Applebees social media team were making in excruciating detail.

Who doesn’t love to hate corporate jargon? We all do. And I’d argue we’re all guilty of it at one time or another. Econsultancy has pulled together a list of horrors where, I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’d be able to refrain from slapping some sense into the speaker. I mean, ‘phablet’? Really? Apparently this is such a problem in PR, that digital agency Twelve Thirty Eight have created the ‘Buzz Saw App’: a web-based tool that strips out all the jargon, providing you with the total number of buzzwords used and a percentage score.

I have nothing but love for Lego. They just get this social thing. Just in case you didn’t think they were awesome enough already, to celebrate their 55th anniversary, they came up with a series of 55 minimalist posters of nursery rhymes, stories and pop culture references — all in glorious Lego! See how many you can get right – this is not just your average, boring ‘like-bait’.

It’s social media philosophy time – hooray!

Two articles by @nathanjurgenson caught my attention this week. The first is about the phenomena of digital dualism, where he argues that the scale of how people see their interactions with digital extends from one extreme – strong augmented reality, where they see as digital and reality being the same thing – to the other – strong digital dualism, where digital and reality are kept strictly separate. Confused? Read his post and take the digital dualism test (personally, I feel most comfortable at the mild augmented reality end).

The second, is a follow-up piece to the digital/reality scale and the consequence of more and more people living in total augmented reality. Instead of watching your favourite band play your favourite song, you’re filming in on your smartphone to be posted later on YouTube. Instead of enjoying the view from the peak of that mountain you’ve just climbed, you’re taking a photo to share with your followers on Instagram. Instead of having a good old chat with a friend, you’re tweeting that great one liner you just came up with. Nathan argues that like photography before it, social media changes the way we perceive the world. Have you ever asked yourself: “Holy crap, this thing I’m doing/I’ve seen/I’ve heard/I’ve read would look great on my [insert social media profile of choice]? He writes: “social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others”. Or, asked in the form of a question: Are we more concerned by our own social media history, that we forget to enjoy the moment?

The aptly named Creativity Online recently posted a collection of 10 projects from 2012 that expertly combine creativity with technology – while keeping the customer front of mind. The list includes some great examples from retail, my personal favourites would be Red Tomato’s Pizza Fridge Magnet button. The button is given to the only the best customers and programmed with their favourite order – all they need to do is press it and their order is delivered.

Then there’s Hellmann’s Recipe Receipt, where customers in Brazil who bought Hellmann’s mayo at a participating supermarket would get a recipe using Hellmann’s and the other items they’d bought printed on their receipt (HT @cdceniza).

In this week’s videos of the week, the new Mercedes CLK will make you want to make a pact with the devil to get it and all the sexiness that comes with it – but watch the clip before you sign away your soul. Also, my apologies for not already including this last week, but I just had to include it.

Microsoft launched this clever Internet Explorer ad for all the children of the ’90s. The snappy wristband thingies? The 56k dial up modem? The chunky yellow water-proof Walkman? And the pinnacle of awesome, the Supersoaker? I loved them all. Will the clip make me switch to Internet Explorer and turn my back on Chrome? Who knows…

And finally: the best think you’ll read this week (besides this email, of course): Simon Rich’s fantastic short story ‘Sell Out’ from the New Yorker (HT @TomParker81). So good, I immediately bought Simon’s book afterwards.

The increasing power of PR and this week’s bits and bytes

A round-up of my favourite tweets mentioning Sainsbury’s in December kicks of this week’s update. You can check out November andOctober if you missed them.

The must read article of the week comes from Management Today and their look at the increasing power and influence of PRsThere’s a perception in some quarters that PR is just about transmitting a message. It’s not. It’s first and foremost about interpreting reality, reading the Zeitgeist. […] That requires some distance from the status quo. A good PR has to be a bit of an outsider and be prepared to tell people hard truths. I could just quote the whole thing. Trust me. You need to read this.

Last week I mentioned that I was looking for the top PR stunts of 2012 – well, here are some that caught my eye:

  • The BBC put together a look back at the top memes and viral videos of 2012, and of course we were chuffed to see that Giraffe Bread made it onto the list. Interesting to see the imbalance of planned vs. reactive – clear indication that you don’t make something go viral, it just happens.
  • One of France’s leading marketing bloggers Gregory Pouy pulled together a great slideshare deck of the best digital campaigns of 2012. It’s 82 slides long and includes videos as well as a key take away for each campaign so make sure you have a cup of tea ready before you tackle this bad boy.
  • Rich Leigh over at @GoodandBadPR did a brilliant job at pulling together his top 20 PR stunts and campaigns of 2012

What’s going to happen in 2013?

  • @AndrewGirdwood  pulls together 9 observations of where digital is headed in 2013. Point 9 sums it up nicely for me: In this increasingly complex digital landscape – a landscape that is evermore intertwined with offline – people, especially the crowds, are inherently unpredictable. Good marketers will recognise and adapt.
  • Meanwhile, The HuffPo looks at predictions for retail and mobile – note the schizophrenic nature of our relationship to our smartphone. It allows loyalty programmes access to people’s pockets but at the same time gives customers the ability to ‘showroom’.
  • 7 social media trends from Luke Abbot’s excellent blog
  • Vice magazine looks at the age-old journalistic practice of using event anniversaries as story hooks. Prepare to read the 2013 headlines today.

And as ever, for every positive summary, there seems to be twice as many ‘top fails’ compilation. Adweek put together the 20 biggest brand fails of 2012 and you have to admit – from Amazon spoiling a key plot point in a book, the Bic ladypen to Nestlé using a bear that looked suspiciously like ‘paedobear’ – there are some crackers. I wouldn’t have put the AMC theatres/Oreos cookies in myself though, that was just a bit of a banter between two branded Twitter accounts. Still, this is very much a top 20 things not to do in communications.

Through sheer luck, I came across a video by Minute MBA about the top three HR mistakes companies make (no handbook, withholding criticism or praise from employees and ignoring the competition) which led me on to another of their videos about what you can learn from Valve’s Employee Handbook. If you don’t know, Valve are the people that developed probably one of the greatest and genre defining games of all time: ‘Half-Life’. They went on to develop the gaming platform Steam and another mindbendingly brilliant game ‘Portal’. In 2012, Valve’s employee handbook was leaked and caused quite a stir in the gaming and HR world. So I found myself sitting at home, on a Saturday morning, totally enthralled by a employee handbook for a company that I wasn’t working for. Not only does the handbook do a great job at outlining what their company culture is like, it is really very funny! They promote a total lack of structure to promote creativity and to empower their employees to follow and create what they believe has value. A brilliant bit of work, well worth the read and I’m sure that handbook and company ethos is a big reason why they attract some of the best game designers and engineers in the world (the handbook has a prominent place on their homepage, in high and low res pdf).

Always a relief to see when your principles of dealing with negative customer comments online is mirrored by third parties. Social Media Today provide this great 12 point checklist on how it’s done.

Do you know what the world’s most active Twitter city is? Nope. Not that one. It’s Jakarta.

And finally: feeling the January blues? Then head over to the nicest place on the Internet and get a hug:

3 weeks in and loving it, training for a half marathon and back to photography

The new job with Sainsbury’s is now three weeks old (and I am still loving it!), which also explains the relative quiet here in my personal blog. There are a ton of things that the amazing team in the press office deals with on a day in, day out basis. On top of that, we’ve had the President of South Africa visit our eco store in Greenwich, London; our CEO Justin King ran 32 miles around the UK for Sport Relief, and we’ve opened more than a dozen new stores around the UK.

Continue reading “3 weeks in and loving it, training for a half marathon and back to photography”

Trying something new today: Digital Media Manager at Sainsbury’s

Today was my second day at Sainsbury’s. After 2 1/2 exciting and incredibly rewarding years at AOL it was time for a new challenge and the Digital Media Manager position at Sainsbury’s perfectly combines two of my passions: all things digital and public relations. I will be supporting the Corporate Affairs team led by Mark Rigby to help communicate the Sainsbury’s story through digital media channels such as blogs, Twitter, Foursquare and many more.

It’s still early days but here are some amazing facts about Sainsbury’s to give you an idea about why I am so excited about starting this new job:

  • 18,000,000 weekly customers
  • 150,000+ employees 
  • 30,000+ products 
  • 2,000+ suppliers 
  • 792 (and counting!) supermarkets and stores

You can learn more about Sainsbury’s in the 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report.

So from having mail I’m now going to try something new – and if my first two days is anything to go by, I’m going to love it! 

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