The CIPR’s Social Summer season kicks off next Thursday, May 26th, at Russell Square with a session presented by yours truly on the subject of What Has Google Ever Done for PR?
This is an updated reprise of the presentation I gave (twice) last year. The main thrust of my argument remains the same – that the PR sector has a lot to thank Google for, not just in terms of the technology it provides for free, but how we can learn and be inspired by its business approach and culture. I hope you can make it along.
On other matters, one of my recommended books this week is Douglas Hubbard’s Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities.
I’ve waxed lyrical in the past about Hubbard’s earlier book, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business. In this latest, he explores the opportunity offered by massive and publically available Internet data sources to help better understand customer sentiment and opinion – or as he calls it, The Pulse.
As Hubbard says: “The Pulse actually is a far faster and cheaper predictor of economic activity and public opinion than traditional methods in many respects and it is also often a better one.”
Given that one of the aims of PR is to shape public opinion, we ought to devote more attention to the biggest and best source of sentiment ever available.
Hubbard also makes the salient point that most of the big Web properties such as Google, eBay and Amazon provide APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow anyone with a modest amount of development skills to access immense amounts of valuable data for free. Why should PR people be interested in this? He cites the example of being able to analyse sales data on Amazon as a predictor of economic trends – it is this kind of data driven approach that PR needs to get its head around.
However, let’s not get too carried away. A more cautionary view is taken by Douglas Rushkoff in his latest book, Program or Be Programmed. He argues that that we are in danger of sleep walking into a world where we are programmed by the technology we use rather than the other way round. He makes a passionate plea that we need to better educate ourselves about how these technologies are really being built or programmed – or else we will be programmed by them.
As he puts it: “We are intimidated by the whole notion of programming, seeing it as a chore for mathematically inclined menials than a language through which we can re-create the world on our own terms. In a digital age, we must learn how to make the software, or risk becoming the software.”
You have been warned.