According to the renowned Excellence study, public relations is a management function that focuses on two-way communication and fostering of mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and its publics. One might argue that one can't aim to please (benefit) everyone, so it might be more appropriate to emphasise mutual understanding rather than mutual benefit, as indeed the CIPR's current definition of PR does.

Despite the common association of PR with spin (spin a yarn, make up a story), the PR professional focuses on symmetrical communication based on truths and understanding. Indeed, I like to say that whilst 'perception is reality' may have been a dominant axiom for 20th Century practice, the 21st Century professional acknowledges that changes to media, communications technology and societal expectations now renders 'reality is perception' more appropriate.

But what is truth?

Don't worry, I'm not going to get philosophical here, just sharing some thoughts based on the conversation at an event I chaired this week. The event's core focus was the 'new web' – the web beyond the content, ecommerce and social manifestations that we know today – and the issue of truth cropped up within the first half hour.

During his keynote and subsequent Q&A, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web) presented his aspirations for the Web of Data, a vision describing how the Web becomes a universal medium for the exchange of data, information and knowledge. But where there's data, there may be false data. And where there's information, there may be misinformation.

Knowledge may be defined as the result of structuring or organising information in such a way that it helps to form a framework for the incorporation of further information and aids the evaluation of the world, accruing experience, expertise and know-how. In which case, structuring and organising misinformation will create a flawed knowledge base.

A primary challenge for the new web therefore is the ability to identify or qualify truths. This in turn requires attention be paid to components such as provenance, sincerity, identity, authority and validation; all significant technological challenges.

Separately, I had the pleasure of chatting with Andreas Cohen this week, Chairman, I-COM (International Conference on Online Media Measurement). We invested some time discussing so-called 'big data', what some describe as the 'exaflood' – an eventuality where we have more data at our fingertips than we ever dreamed possible. Andreas and I agree without a flicker of doubt that future marketing and PR professionals will need fluency in big data, in new web technologies, in truth.

Truth be told.

Best regards, Philip and The Conversation team.


Duplicate Content & Your Website

by Paul Greenhalgh of Searched, Designed, Developed

If you present your site to an SEO firm and they tell you that you have a "duplicate content issue" or you have "content duplication issues", they will tell you it in a world-weary way.

This is because duplicate content is the bane of most SEOs' lives (there are forum discussions about it going back as far as the 1990s). However, they might not explain why it is a problem.In this post, I will attempt to explain the issues and discuss how to avoid them.

How Google Works

In the UK, Google holds around 90% of the search market share. More...


Tackling copyright confusion and why Google isn't a British firm

by Stephen Waddington of Speed Communications

The intellectual property (IP) laws in Britain are knackered. They simply aren't fit for purpose and the danger is that if current legislation remains unchecked it will throttle the creative industries in Britain.

Professor Ian Hargreaves delivered his report this week on the UK’s IP framework. You can download the full report here (PDF).

Hargreaves, who holds the chair of Digital Economy at Cardiff University and who himself has an impressive track record in the creative industries, was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to set up an independent review in November 2010. More...


Signs of the times for the future for e-books

by Neville Hobson of

I have a Kindle, the digital e-book reader from Amazon who launched the third-generation model last year. Actually, my whole family has Kindles. We also have stacks of printed books. We’re not especially wedded to format, more the content and that content being available to us in formats we like, aren’t too expensive and are convenient to use.

Basically, we’re big on books and other content – which includes magazines and blogs – however they’re offered, not platforms and delivery formats. More...


Profile of Mobile Location Check-In Service Users

by David H Deans of Digital Lifescapes

comScore released the results from a study of mobile social networking check-in service users. The study found that 16.7 million U.S. mobile subscribers used location-based check-in services on their phones in March 2011 -- representing 7.1 percent of the entire mobile population.

About 12.7 million check-in users did so on a smartphone -- representing 17.6 percent of the smartphone population. The study also found that they showed a high propensity for mobile media usage, including accessing retail sites and shopping guides, and displayed other characteristics of early adopters -- including a higher interest in tablet devices and accessing tech news, when compared to the average smartphone user. More...


You Can't Measure What It Is You Do Not Value

by Brian Solis of

ROI is as popular an acronym in social media as OMG or LOL is in TXTING. No matter how much you believe in social media, the reality is that management needs to know what is the ROI of Tweets in “the” Twitter or Likes in “that” Facebook thing that all the kids are talking about? Kidding aside, the future of social media within your organization and the value your customers experience in their networks of relevance is in your hands.

No one said this was going to be easy, and if they did, they didn’t report to the management infrastructure where you and I operate. More...


The future's bright, the future's IC

by Rachel Miller (nee Allen) of

This morning I joined around 15 other professional communicators for a research briefing session hosted by Melcrumin London called The Future of Internal Communications (IC).

It was hosted by Aviva at their stunning offices in the City and apart from being wowed by the incredible view from the 23rd floor, I found the conversations generated by the research and the networking opportunity useful.

Attendees were from various organisations including BSkyB, Gazprom, Kingfisher, RSA, Vodafone and BAE Systems. More...


Dancing With Digital Natives

by David Meerman Scott of David Meerman Scott

"Stop listening to music and playing on Facebook. Do your homework."
I am doing my homework. But I work better when I multi-task.

"Did you email your friend to see if they want a ride?"
No. But I texted her.

"Twitter is not allowed on work computers."
Okay. Then I'll just have to go into the restroom with my iPad so I can tweet with my business followers.

Every day, miscommunication happens between "Digital Natives" (those born since the availability of today's technologies and therefore have native fluency in computers, mobile phones, and social networks) and "Digital Immigrants" More...


Why Mark Zuckerberg is right about the under-13s

by Graham Jones of Internet Psychology

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has caused a wave of controversy by saying that he wants to fight for the right of children under the age of 13 to use Facebook. At the moment it is illegal in the USA for social web companies to allow registrations of those under the age of 13. Here in the UK, it is simply a code of best practice, but not illegal. The law, though, is ineffective; around 7.5m children under the age of 13 already have Facebook accounts which are used regularly.


There is a powerful lobby against children using Facebook. More...


How to Close an Online Community Without Hurting Your Brand

by Vanessa DiMauro of Leader Networks

There have been plenty of recent blog posts and articles about starting an online community, as a wide range of organizations have begun to realize the value of this social business tool. Some newcomers to the social media scene may not realize well-established online communities have operated for many years -- a few in excess of two decades!

While many online communities have evolved and adapted to changing business and member needs over time, sometimes a community has to shut down. The reasons vary: More...


The changing of the guard

by Michelle Allison of Industrious Ltd

Amongst the thousands of articles written about the superinjunction/Ryan Giggs debacle, one woefully out of touch article from The Guardian stood out. Written by Richard Hillgrove, who is described as a 'business and political public relations consultant', the article seems only to emphasise the divide between the old and new guard.

Many of the below the line commenter's make the point that regulating what people write on a social network is nigh on impossible. Indeed, a couple liken the article’s point to the Royal Mail being sued for something they have written in a letter to a friend, or the fact the Twitter is somewhat analogous to a phone network. More...


Glympse: a glimpse of the next wave of political technology innovation

by Mark Pack of MHP Communications

Although many election campaigns and candidates are still rather old-fashioned in their approach to technology, the bundle of services that a cutting-edge campaign uses has rather settled down for the last few years, in particular since Twitter and Facebook have grown to dominate their niche and push their rivals into obscurity. What people do with these tools still sees plenty of innovation, but the range of tools has become rather standard.

However, that may be about to change as geo-location based tools spread. More...