What do you call 900 lawyers on Twitter?

23 09 2008

A good start!

In the wonderful, organic way that is Twitter, somehow I ended up following @paulmckeon, which led me to find that he was tweeting for the law firm Deacons (@Deacons). They’ve a FriendFeed, too, and social bookmarking buttons on their news items. On his blog, Paul writes about video podcasting for law firms.

This 2.0 thinking is impressive for an Australian outfit full stop, let alone a law firm. Back in the day when I was helping with PR for Clayton Utz, it was a big deal to get them to consider for a moment that there was more to PR than debasing themselves applying for cornflakes-box awards from the trade press. (They were quickly overcome by the possibility of winning a shiny thing.)

To have got them online as part of the conversation as much as Deacons is would have been impossible. Even a couple of years later as an external consultant, I tried talking to Clayton Utz and other law firms but hit a brick wall: they were happy mailing out newsletters written by clerks in the names of partners (some of the more cutting edge places were emailing newsletters). This was as much “value” as they were prepared to “add”.

If law firms can embrace these new communications media and understand the benefits of talking with, not at, their clients, why not other conservative organisations like, oh, I don’t know, financial services providers?


If you’re not blogging, you’re an idiot

22 09 2008

Tom Peters, Management Consultant

“If you’re not blogging, you’re an idiot,” management uber-guru Tom Peters told hundreds of attendees at the 27th annual Inc. 5000 conference in Washington DC. “No single thing in the last 15 years has been more important to me professionally than blogging… It’s changed my thinking, it’s changed my outlook… it’s the best damn marketing tool and it’s free.”

– From Debbie Weil’s great blog


18 09 2008

From The Guardian:

“I heard about this two hours ago,” says Meghna Nayaka, 23, holding a beer. “I was going to meet a friend for a drink anyway, so I thought, why not make a statement while we do it?” Meghna and Becky, 24, are CarrotMobbing. They and others have swarmed, as part of a virtually mobilised group, on a small business to reward it with their custom. Tonight the business is the Redchurch, a bar near Brick Lane in east London, the owners of which have promised to spend 20% of the day’s takings on environmental upgrades on the premises. In return, trade is brisk – unprecedented, says the owner, for a Tuesday evening in September. Next time the mob will pick somewhere different to reward – maybe a corner shop or a pharmacy, the type of high street store they might frequent anyway.

How could we do this at work for, say, a colleague who goes above and beyond? Use the internal tool to nominate him/her for an award and ask everyone else to carrotmob their support in the comments section?

Has Yammer hit the mark?

14 09 2008

A fellow employee* sent me a link to Yammer recently. Yammer is a well-endowed Twitter for the enterprise — online app, Blackberry app, iPhone app, email, SMS, all the features. I am trying it out and it’s great but there are some serious questions that I think will prove fatal without good answers:

As Julie Delaforce points out on Laurel’s post about Yammer, the site is silent on “security and how they guarantee that only people on your email network are able to access your posts.” Also what are they guaranteeing in terms of up-time? For $1 per employee per month, these are questions you’d want answers to as the amounts aren’t trivial for a company with thousands of employees.

Also, who owns the data? A company might have an obligation to retain messages. How do I get my messages out of Yammer? In a presentation captured on Ustream (thanks, Laurel), the CEO of Genie, makers of Yammer, talks about Yammer replacing email for some uses. That makes it a key knowledge tool, which mandates a need for backups. Genie is a 30-person start-up, it might not be here tomorrow. What of my data if it isn’t?

What about interrogating the data the way I want to. There are ways to search Yammer now and use tags but, if I were rolling this out to 3,000 people, I’d want to decide how I was going to search and organise the data. That will presumably come with the api but until then…

* I’d hat tip but company policy prohibits public acknowledgement of thought leadership in order to protect employee privacy — you know who you are and thank you.

When will the lawyers learn?

4 09 2008

Back in the dark past of my days as a journalist, I remember writing about Hotmail’s terms of use. The included a fun clause that gave Microsoft joint copyright over anything you sent through Hotmail: email someone your screenplay, Microsoft can make a movie. Thankfully some people do read these things before clicking “Agree”; there was outcry; and the clause was quietly withdrawn.

Here we are, what must be 10 years later, and Google puts a clause up with Chrome that, according to the Sydney Morning Herald,

… stipulated that Google had a perpetual right to use any content entered into the browser – quickly earned Google a slap on the wrist from early adopters.

The search giant quickly did an about-face, modifying that section of its terms of service to say the user retained all rights to the content.

It said the issue arose because Google liked to use the same set of legal terms for all of its products in order to keep things simple for users. Sometimes that meant some terms did not apply well to the use of a specific product.

Sure, that makes sense: thrifty Google recycling one legal document to use on something else. Brilliant. I might save some money on lawyers by using my lease as my will. Smart.

Hurricane-force communications

2 09 2008


A family evacuated to a shelter

A family evacuated to a shelter

A colleague pointed me to an article in IT News about the social media and networking sites used by New Orleans residents, aid groups and the media in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Gustav.


They included:

If these tools can contribute to the organisation of a whole city in a time of mass crisis, what could they do for your business?

Web 2.0-focussed comms role with Australian financial services blue-chip

13 08 2008
Position Title: Communication Manager

Location: Circular Quay

Hours:  Most likely 3 days/week

Do you have a blog? Are you a podcaster or YouTuber? A Twitterer? Is your social network growing online? Do you think technologies like Facebook and Twitter could drive business value? Would you be comfortable sharing your online identity with us before meeting you?

Join a close-knit team of innovative communicators working to bring collaborative, social tools and channels into an iconic, highly-respected financial services organization.

You will be a team player with an inquiring mind and a passion for the web and online collaboration, which you will be able to translate into business value. You will be able to handle the challenges of introducing change to a large company, using your strong inter-personal skills to network for influence.

You’ll be based in Circular Quay as an Internal Communications Manager, handling traditional and cutting-edge approaches to communication. You’ll have excellent writing and content creation skills – text, video, audio… You’ll lead by doing and you’ll be challenged daily.

Contact me if you know anyone… 02 9257 2817 or leave a comment here.