Categories
Digital marketing digital pr Featured General PR

The implications of Brand Anarchy (and why you should buy the book)

Brand Anarchy

Don’t bother worrying about whether you have lost control of your brand’s reputation. You never had control of it in the first place. However, there is an opportunity to take command of your brand. But it won’t be easy. And you probably should have started working on it yesterday.

This is a core axiom for Stephen Waddington* and Steve Earl* in their recently published book, Brand Anarchy. It is an ambitious attempt to trace the historical developments that have led to the current state of the PR and media sectors as well as an impressive survey of the major trends and issues that will impact anyone with responsibility for managing reputation today. And in the future.

One of the many things to commend about this book is the breadth of issues raised, analysed and evaluated. The authors don’t shy away from asking the big questions about the definition and meaning of crucial concepts such as reputation, engagement, influence, authenticity, participation, analytics and measurement. What is refreshing is that Waddington and Earl demonstrate their hard earned communication skills by writing in a clear and concise style, thus avoiding the Latinate concatenations of more prolix authors who claim authority in the field of PR and social media.

They also have credibility. These guys know of what they speak. They’ve been in the PR frontline for nearly two decades. Both were journalists. Both built and sold a multi-million pound PR firm from scratch. They continue to create and manage communication campaigns for top brands. But as they cogently argue, the speed and complexity of change within the PR and media industries means there is no room whatsoever for complacency – or for anyone to claim they have all the answers.

Another plus point for the book is the breadth of industry observers and commentators interviewed. The acknowledgements page reads like a Who’s Who of the brightest thinkers and doers in the UK PR sector today (indeed, many are regular CIPR Conversation contributors. As is of course Stephen Waddington himself). Following this lot on Twitter would give you a real time intelligence feed into the best insight in the industry today.

Combining this breadth of insight with the authors own tenacious desire to not just accept commonly held (but often mistaken) beliefs about the real drivers of industry change make a refreshing departure from many recent paeans to the power of digital media. The balance of optimism and healthy scepticism is about right.

Unsurprisingly, the ultimate conclusion drawn by Waddington and Earl is that the PR sector needs to develop new skills. And fast.

So. Should you buy the book?

If you want easy, simple answers, then don’t bother.

However, if you want something that makes you think more profoundly about the future of the PR and communications sector (and by definition, your own career and future within it), then yes, you should.

For the cost of a few pints of beer, I’d wager this may prove to be one of the best investments you could make this year. Or any year.

I started taking not a whole pill but a quarter. After a few days I began to take half a pill and only then I took a https://drbocklet.com/xanax-online/ whole pill. In general, I want to say that I was helped very much.

*Disclaimer: Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl are former colleagues. We all worked together in the mid 1990s in the same large PR firm. Even though we all went our separate ways, we have continued to meet and discuss the state of the PR industry in real life and online ever since. They have kindly given plenty of airtime to my views in the book. Does that make me biased? Probably. I leave it to the individual reader to decide whether my relationship with the authors adds weight to my assessment of the value of the book. Or not.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr Featured General PR online pr SEO

One trick ponies make good glue (CIPR Conversation)

(This post first appeared on the CIPR Conversation).

The debate around PR and SEO refuses to go away. However, recent Google algorithm changes seem to have pushed the discussion to the fore again. A common theme is emerging – namely, that, more than ever, high quality, relevant content on trusted, high authority sites is crucial to good SEO – and PR professionals may be better placed to create that content than many SEOs.

Simple, yeah?

One Trick Pony?

Well, not quite. As ever, reality begs to differ. I was particularly reminded of this by Dr Peter Meyers of the Chicago based firm User Effect who has written some excellent blog posts recently on the subject of SEO.

Specfically he points out that: “Every week, without fail, I hear someone ask where they should put their SEO budget – in on-page tactics or in link-building. Unfortunately, there are plenty of SEO companies and consultants lining up to give them the answer – and that answer just happens (“coincidentally”) to be whatever the company/consultant is good at. When you’re an expert with a hammer, you start to think you can nail anyone (wait, that’s not right).”

And of course, these kind of comments could equally apply to PR. If your expertise lies in media relations, then naturally you’ll find it hard not to recommend to a client that a media relations solution is the way forward.

But I agree with Dr Meyers when he says that the honest answer is: “It depends”.

And of course, that is the answer that no client wants to hear. They want “an answer”. Or more specifically they want “THE answer”. That someone is going to take the pain away and deliver the silver bullet solution.

In a similar vein, people sometimes view training as a quick fix. Send someone on an SEO training course and they’ll come back with “the answer”.

Clearly, you have to start somewhere – and for PR professionals, the CIPR already offers workshops and webinars that will provide a rapid fire introduction to SEO basics (as well as other areas of the digital marketing mix such as social media and analytics).

But this is merely the first part of the journey. You can spend your entire life just reading about SEO or attending training workshops. However, there comes a point when you actually have to start doing it.

So rather than waste our energies arguing over whether SEO firms should be doing PR and vice versa, the only real way to find out is as Dr Meyers so eloquently puts it: “Do The F*cking Work.” Sticking with the same core set of skills that may have worked in the past is no longer an option. As I’ve opined before, one trick ponies are going to be a liability. Or as Dr Meyers more colorfully puts it: “One trick ponies make good glue”.

No single blog post or one day workshop is of itself going to solve all your problems. This is your profession and your career. Not only is continuous learning and development a pre-requisite, actually making the time to apply it is mandatory. Even if you can’t immediately find opportunities within your own work to apply these things, then make the opportunities yourself. It costs next to nothing to create your own blog, install Google Analytics and set up a Google Adwords account. Don’t just read about SEO and nod sagely when people stand up at conferences and say that PR professionals COULD have a valuable role in SEO. Actually do it.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr General PR marketing online pr

Channel 4, LinkedIn, Staffs Police, Synthesio: the social reputation debate at #smwf 27/3/12

I’m very honoured to be moderating a great panel at tomorrow’s Social Media World Forum Europe at Olympia, London on the subject of managing your company’s online reputation via social media.

The panel participants will be:

Colin Smith, Director of Marketing Solutions UK, LinkedIn

Colin Watkins, Digital Communications Manager, Channel 4

David Bailey, Neighbourhood Communications Manager, Staffordshire Police

Catriona Oldershaw, Managing Director UK, Synthesio

If you are attending Social Media World Forum around 3.50pm tomorrow, please do stop by. It promises to be a cracking debate.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr Featured General PR online pr tech pr Technology PR Web/Tech

Why conversion segments in Google Analytics are sexy as hell for PR (#pranalytics, #CIPR)

I had the pleasure of presenting at the PR Analytics Conference in London last week along with a number of big names in the field including Pleon’s David Rockland and Jim Desler, Worldwide Head of PR for Microsoft.

There was a large audience of senior PR folk in the room. My presentation was about how PR pros could use Google Analytics (GA) to better effect. I had 25 mins to cram in as much as I could.

One of the things I highlighted in my talk was the use of multi-channel funnel analysis in GA.  In simple terms, it allows you to determine the direct and indirect contribution that various digital marketing channels make to your site conversion goals.

However, I didn’t have time at the  conference to go into the use of conversion segments.

Which was a shame because they really are very sexy (no, really).

Here’s a simple explanation for those unfamiliar with the concept.

GA allows you to see what mix of site interactions deliver a conversion eg sale of a product, video view, whatever. It also shows you the value of those interactions relative to the conversion.

Here’s an example. This is for a small (but real) e-commerce site selling a simple £11.99 product (normally you’d have a whole range of different products and different prices – but hopefully you can extrapolate from this).

Converstion Segments in Google Analytics

For this particular web property, it would seem that the most common conversion path for a sale is for people to arrive via one single search before purchasing. There are more complex interactions (not least #8 here which saw the person revisit the site 18 times directly before finally buying something!).

As part of my PR Analytics presentation, I talked about the problem of attribution in marketing and PR with relation to goals and objectives (most sales or comms processes have multiple steps – but which one should get the credit for the final transaction? Should the first step in the process get 100pc of the credit? Or the last step? In the absence of giving fair credit to all relevant steps in the conversion process, many people have opted for the last step ie the step immediately before the conversion.)

In PR terms, that typically means that much PR work would get no credit – because it rarely contributes the last step in the process. Its role is generally assistive to the overall process. However, the introduction of multi-channel funnels into GA last year allowed marketeers (and PR pros) for the first time to see both the direct and indirect value being delivered in relation to a defined goal.

SlingshotSEO recently produced an excellent whitepaper which showed how you can combine conversion segments with a multi-touch attribution analysis to determine which channel you may be overvaluing or under valuing if you are using a last attribution model.

They also had some great insight into the most common conversion paths (based on an analysis of over 23.5m transactions).  Two organic searches seems to be the most popular conversion path with two or more interactions. And referrals and organic search are consistently undervalued as conversion channels.

Which brings me back to the relevance to PR (at least online PR coverage).

Traffic from links in relevant online editorial coverage fall into the referrals bucket. If referrals are consistently being undervalued on a last attribution basis, it does seem to lend credence to the theory that PR does contribute indirect value – and now we have a way to determine exactly what the value of that contribution might be.

But here’s the thing. You have to define at least one goal in order to make this work.  No goals, no insight.

Brings in to sharp relief the fact that without defining concrete goals, you are almost certainly creating unnecessary pain and heartache for yourself. And your online PR efforts are almost certainly not getting the credit they deserve.

I’ll be looking in more detail at multi-channel funnel analysis and conversion segments in my strategic management presentation at CIPR headquarters, Russell Square, London, on Wednesday 28th  March on using web analytics to inform communications strategy and planning.

Categories
Books Digital marketing digital pr online pr tech pr Technology PR

Influence Engine Optimisation (IEO): the future of PR?

(This article first appeared on the CIPR Conversation)

Mark Schaefer’s recently published book – Return on Influence – is a good primer on the emerging world of social scoring. He looks in great depth at the various social scoring platforms such as Klout, Peerindex and Kred as well as some case studies about how brands and individuals are using (and misusing) these new tools.

Schaefer’s view of social scoring seems to be that – love it or loathe it – it isn’t going away.

As he says: “The implication is that a numerical marker of authority such as a Klout score can have a legitimate impact on people’s opinions about status and influence even if the score doesn’t necessarily reflect offline reality or the system can be gamed. The whole philosophy is that your online reputation, or your capacity to influence, your probability to influence, is going to be increasingly defined by metrics. There’s no doubt about that trend.”

He advocates that although Klout and its ilk are by no means perfect, they are getting better all the time. And it ill behooves those in the worlds of PR and marketing to ignore it.

He also has an interesting definition of online influence as measured by Klout. Namely, that a Klout score is a reflection of an individual or brand’s ability to move content and initiate action amongst an online audience.

He uses the example of Justin Bieber. Many critics point to the fact that Bieber has a Klout score of 100. Barack Obama by contrast scores 91. Does that mean the young entertainer is more influential than the President of the United States?

No, says Schaefer. It simply means that Bieber’s ability to move content through his online network is supreme. When he says click, his audience clicks. The President’s audience doesn’t quite respond in the same Pavlovian manner (which may be no bad thing).

Whether you accept this definition of influence, it does perhaps suggest that it would be unwise to dismiss the concept of social scoring out of hand in this context.

But what if we take this a step further. Klout has been described as an Influence Engine. Schaefer muses in the book about the potential rise of “Klout coaches” – individuals or agencies who will provide services to help improve your Klout score. In which case, will we see the emergence of Influence Engine Optimisation consultancies who will perform a similar role to an SEO agency in the world of natural search rankings? Will PR professionals be tasked with managing reputation via influence – and thus turn themselves into Influence Engine Optimisation specialists?

Or is it the case as Brian Solis argues this week that Klout and PeerIndex don’t measure influence at all?  You decide.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr General PR online pr

Is PR still living in the 1980s?

(This post first appeared on the CIPR Conversation site.)

Someone showed me the slide deck for a new business pitch from a very well respected PR firm this week.

The thing that surprised me was that other than one token slide about SEO (which clearly betrayed a lack of understanding of the subject) and a reference to blogging, the kernel of the proposition boiled down to writing press releases, pitching stories to journalists, and organising press meetings. Social Media? What’s that? (I was also bemused that nearly a quarter of the budget was going to be allocated to “account management” – even though there was absolutely no detail as to what that actually meant or entailed for the prospective client).

This proposal could have been written 30 years ago – maybe even longer.

But is that necessarily a bad thing?

On the plus side, the agency concerned is clearly doing well (as attested by their recent financial performance).  And if this pitch proposal is representative of their approach, then it would seem there are plenty of client companies out there still happy to consider this kind of traditional PR approach.

So are skeptics right to argue that they don’t need to be paying attention to the calls from people like me to invest more in new skills based around social media, SEO and analytics?

I think the honest answer is: no.

For a start, the agency above are clearly an exception not the rule – certainly in the sense of continuing to be profitable by ostensibly selling the old wine of traditional media relations in a new bottle (with a thin digital label).   The more prevalent message I hear from the world of PR consultancy is that clients are shying away from media relations-only solutions – or at the very least, they aren’t prepared to pay as much for pure press relations as they might have done in the past. Digital expertise and integration is needed now – and the demands on PR consultancies and in-house teams will only get ever greater.

Perhaps some in PR are suffering from what psychologists call hyperbolic discounting:  taking what you see as the sure thing in the present (media relations) over the caliginous prospect some day far away (biting the bullet on digital). Or perhaps the affliction is “present bias” – being unable to grasp what you (your clients) want will change over time, and what you (your clients) want now isn’t the same thing as what you (your clients) will want later.

Either way, I strongly suspect that the kind of new business slide deck I saw this week doesn’t have as long a shelf life as some might think (or want).

Have a hyperbolic weekend.

Andrew Bruce Smith and The Conversation team

Please note, this Conversation Roundup is written in my own capacity.

I am not a spokesperson for the CIPR.

 

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr General PR marketing online pr tech pr Technology PR

PR = reputation management. Really? Who are we kidding?

(This post originally appeared at the CIPR Conversation).

The launch of the VMA Group’s Business Leaders in Communications (BLCS) 2012  study stirred up some heated debate this week. Much of the ire was directed at the apparent lack of interest in social media by senior communications directors. According to the survey, a miserly seven per cent of these senior PR people felt social media was a major communication challenge and less than 15 per cent seek social media skills in candidates.

Speed’s Stephen Waddington blogged about the survey results and his excellent Storify round up of live Tweeting from the launch event captured the flavour of attendees views on the attitudes in the room.

Simon Francis was so incensed he issued a call to arms to have these comms “dinosaurs” outed.

And yet, isn’t this turning into a cracked record?

Peter Morgan, Head of Communications at Rolls Royce was also labelled a dinosaur back in May 2010 when he (in)famously declared that “social media was a waste of time”. He subsequently recanted – but only after Rolls Royce had endured a major comms crisis that caught the company on the back foot with regard to social media.

And as Si Francis also reported from the BLCS 2012 launch event: “David Bickerton from BP admitted his organisation was left reeling from the social media impact of recent events. And, he added, as a result, the company was now ensuring ALL staff have a role to play in the reputation management of the company on social media.”

Is it the case that comms directors only begin to appreciate the need for taking social media seriously when they suffer a major communications crisis?

But if the potential threat from a comms crisis isn’t enough incentive for action, what about the latest Edelman Trust Barometer?  According to Vikki Chowney at EConsultancy: “This year UK CEOs again face a major hurdle in convincing the public that they should be listened to: they were the least credible public spokesperson for a business or organisation, with only 30% of respondents finding them reliable. More credible were academics or experts (by 73%), followed by a ‘person like me’ (60%), a technical expert (56%), or a ‘regular employee’ or ‘financial/industry analyst’ (55%).”

“People like me” are increasingly to be found having conversations on social networks. Does that not suggest that social media might need just a modicum of attention?

However, the thing that irked me most about the BLCS survey was the fact nearly two in three communications professionals see reputation management as their most important function.  I had to stifle a yawn.

Reputation management has been ranked the number one priority for years now. Matthew Freud was quoted in The Economist in January 2011 as saying that “the future of PR is bright because of the growing importance of reputation management.”

In which case, if reputation management has been so important for such a long time – and PR is supposed to be about reputation management – why is PR and comms representation still largely absent from the board room of UK plc?

According to the BLCS survey, a third of respondents say that advising the board/CEO is one of their most important roles, Which means two thirds don’t. And fewer than half report having a major influence on board level strategic decision-making.

If reputation management really is that important then perhaps we need to up our game in terms of understanding how reputation really is mediated today. And proving our value to senior management and the rest of the business. Taking social media more seriously would be a start. As would a more robust approach to measurement (as Stephen Waddington noted, the subject appeared to be absent form the BLCS survey).

Or perhaps we should stop talking about PR being all about reputation management.

Have a reputable weekend.

Andrew Bruce Smith and The Conversation team

Please note, this Conversation Roundup is written in my own capacity.

I am not a spokesperson for the CIPR.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr General PR online pr

Is Google turning evil?

(This post first appeared on The Conversation)

Google’s announcement of Search Plus Your World on Tuesday this week certainly got the digerati talking.

Initially, reaction was quite positive. The idea that Google was explicitly acknowledging social signals as a ranking factor and giving people the opportunity to view either personalised or “objective” results was seen as good.

But it didn’t take long for dissenting questions to be raised.

You know something is up when Danny Sullivan (a real SEO expert and long time Google defender) starts talking about “alarm bells”.  As he puts it: “What the hell are you doing, Google?”

But more to the point, what has all this got to do with PR?

As I’ve been saying for some time, search and social media are becoming ever more entangled. Indeed PR, search and social media are combining in ways we are only just beginning to discern. This latest Google announcement merely adds fuel to that fire.  The long term implications for PR relate to skills. Now more than ever, the modern PR pro needs to develop additional strings to their bow beyond the traditional smarts of writing and press handling.

As Google web analytics expert Avanash Kaushik says in his latest post, “one trick ponies are going to be a liability”. In other words, 100pc specialisation is no longer a route to success. He talks about a 70/30 ratio: “At one time, it was okay to be 100% good at one thing, and only one thing. But today companies with people who are 70% magnificent at one thing and have filled the remaining 30% with being good at everything in the periphery of their jobs will rule this world.”

Or as E-Consultancy recently put it, there is a massive demand for (and short supply of) T-Shaped Individuals: “Within the context of digital marketing, T-shaped people can be interpreted as those staff who have a strong, vertical digital skill, but have either a breadth of experience outside of this vertical area or at least a useful level of understanding and empathy with other vertical digital channels and notably with traditional marketing practice and techniques.”

For PR, that means broadening one’s skill set to encompass search and social media expertise at the very least.

And the CIPR has recognised this. There are a whole host of training workshops and webinars lined up in 2012 covering these topics from a PR perspective – from complete beginner through intermediate and advanced. Wherever you sit on the spectrum, I’d strongly urge you to have a look at what the CIPR has to offer these areas.

It may be one of the best investments you make this year.

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr Featured General PR online pr SEO Technology PR

A 10 minute guide to SEO and PPC for PR people

I deliver training workshops and webinars for both the CIPR and PRCA. I cover subjects such as SEO, social media, analytics and overall digital marketing – but always in the context of PR.

It is gratifying when attendees tell me that I’ve helped demystify many of the concepts around SEO and PPC – and to help them see how they can either start doing this kind of work themselves – or at least be better placed to evaluate which 3rd party partners may be more appropriate to work with.

I thought it might be worthwhile to have a quick look at how any PR person might go about sanity checking what do with regard to SEO optimisation around keywords.

Let’s take some example seed terms (PR training, social media training and SEO training) and see what tools like Google Insights, Google Keyword Tool and Market Samurai tell us about demand – and guidelines for PR and marketing approaches.

Google Insights

Google Insights is a great (free!) tool for getting a general sense of keyword trends. Is relative interest in a term rising or falling. What are the likely search trends in the future? (if Google has sufficient data to make a reasonable prediction).

Here’s what the chart looks like for our seed terms (in the UK):

Google Insights for PR Training, SEO Training and Social Media Training

A quick caveat – just because the general trend lines are downward, it doesn’t mean absolute search volumes have fallen. It just means that relative to the overall universe of search terms, interest is relatively lower.  To see absolute search volumes, we need to use the Keyword Tool (see next section)

Unsurprisingly, SEO training only appears on the scene in late 2006. Social media training emerges in mid 2009. Though both appear to have overtaken interest in PR training. And the forward trend for SEO training is upward into 2012.

Again, we should treat this data with caution. We are using Google search data as a proxy for intention ie that someone typing in the term PR training is indeed looking for information on PR training – or seeking to buy PR training services. Ditto the other terms.

GI also shows that in terms of regional interest, all three are largely concentrated in London.

Google Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool provides insight into the number of times a particular keyword term is searched for every month – both on a global and a local basis. It breaks down figures based on broad, phrase or exact match (go here for an explanation). It is important to understand these distinctions. Too often I have seen PR people quoting broad match figures when they really mean exact match.

Looking at our seed terms, it does seem to bear out that interest in SEO and social media training is currently higher than PR training (assuming search volume is a proxy for interest).

Google Keyword Tool

Who currently ranks highest for natural search on these terms and why?

This is where you would now turn to a tool like Market Samurai to analyse who currently ranks highest in Google SERPs for your respective terms (using the SEO competition module).

Here are the screen shots for the respective terms:

PR training

Without going into the nitty gritty detail on each element (why not come to one of my workshops if you want fuller insight?), areas coloured red suggest that these pages have some optimisation advantage – it could be the age of the domain, the number and quality of backlinks, the number of referring domains, etc. The point being, you can see very quickly what you are up against.

For example, if I was starting a PR training site today with a brand new domain, I’d be competing against these current incumbents. You’d certainly have to allow time, energy and effort to outrank these pages and sites. And think of the likely click throughs you would get even if you were to rank highly. Based on current search volumes, the number one ranked page could expect to get around 1000 click throughs a month (this is based on assuming the number one ranked page gets around 42pc of the total broad match search volume. And I fully appreciate that many out there in the SEO world dispute this figure today. Even so, the fact is, the number one ranked page is going to get the lion’s share of the click throughs. So anyone thinking of trying to rank highly for the term PR training needs to understand the competitive landscape. Or  as I constantly remind people, what is the point in ranking well for a term that no one is looking for?).

What about Google PPC?

What if I can’t expect to naturally rank number one for PR training overnight? (Or for whatever your chosen keyword phrase is).  What about paying for attention via PPC?

Again, Google helpfully provides a tool to allow you see what kind of money you’d have spend to gain the impressions and hopefully, click throughs, based on the term(s) you are interested in.

If we take PR training as the example, we’d see that we could expect to pay a CPC of £1.36 on a broad match basis and we might see around 4 click throughs per day. There is a lot more to be said about PPC, but suffice to say even the PR newbie to PPC can quickly grasp where they are likely to get more bang for their buck

PPC Competitive Intelligence

Wouldn’t it be great if you could also see who else is bidding on your keyword terms, what they are paying and what kind of ad content they have been trying? Well, you can. Step forward SpyFu.

In simple terms, SpyFu allows you to quickly see who you are competing against in Google PPC and what kind of ad content others are using. Perhaps more importantly, who are the advertisers that are testing different ads and sticking with formats that work?

In my experience, service suppliers to the PR sector generally don’t seem to test ad content or are largely unimaginative in terms of copy. Which may explain why most dip their toe in PPC and then give up, assuming that it hasn’t or won’t work.

This is just a cursory look at some basic approaches that PR firms can take to beefing up their SEO skills (hint: this should give you a clue as to why many of the claims made about press release optimisation are completely bogus). We should also bear in mind that search is essentially about fulfilling demand rather than creating it. PR clearly has a role to play in helping create demand in the first place – and we shouldn’t forget that.

However, at the very least this first look should help PRs to have more informed conversations with clients and colleagues about what are realistic starting points for planning and discussion around SEO and PR.

And don’t forget, if you want the full nine yards on SEO, Social Media and Analytics in relation to PR, then please do have a look at the workshops and webinars I will be delivering over the next 12 months here and here.

Of course, please feel to comment on any of the above!

Try Market Samurai For Free!

 

Categories
Digital marketing digital pr marketing online pr tech pr Technology PR Web/Tech

Using Zendesk to power a PR consultancy website

Anyone who has looked at the escherman site recently will have noticed it has changed.

We’ve ditched Squarespace and taken the bold step of using Zendesk as the framework for the entire site.

Why did we do this?

Zendesk is a brilliant web based helpdesk software product (disclosure: client).

However, the more we looked into it, the more we realised that the help desk metaphor could be applied to many familiar aspects of both traditional and online PR. So we thought we’d go the whole hog and build our entire site around Zendesk. We’ve been very pleased with the results so far.

Here are some of the things we really like:

Easy customisation: Zendesk provides a very easy way to customise both the look and the functionality of the site. Adding extra functionality via widgets is very simple. We particularly like the ready made integrations with a variety of 3rd party products such as Salesforce.com

Social media integration. We can monitor Twitter within Zendesk – any relevant Tweets can be instantly converted to a ticket – and assigned to the appropriate individual. Or can form the basis of an instant comment thread that can be posted in an appropriate forum.

Voice integration. We are beta testing Zendesk Voice.  Already available in the US, this will be arriving in the UK in the not too distant future. In simple terms, it allows us to have an integrated call handling system set up in minutes. Imagine PR firms being able to have a complete and automatic log of every journalist call and interaction.

From a training perspective, being able to hear how account execs and account managers deal with journalist enquiries could be very valuable. Or experienced media handlers could share how they deal with journalists on the phone.

The possibilities are endless. We’ll keep you posted on how we get on in the coming weeks.