Four reasons to stick with Java

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

Java remains a critical technology that attracts intense interest and passion, as testified by the droves of developers everywhere in the world. Following are reasons why Java should remain a premier software platform for years to come.

Strength: Java is a staple of enterprise computing

Nothing says long-lasting like being found everywhere, and that’s Java’s greatest asset. Its near ubiquity will keep it around for many years to come.

Anecdotal evidence suggests 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Java, IDC analyst Al Hilwa says.

RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady agrees. “I expect Java to be with us for a long time to come, much as its detractors might wish otherwise,” he says. “It has substantial traction in enterprise applications, big data, mobile, and so on.” Even if Java is not as popular as it once was, it remains “enormously popular,” O’Grady says.

Scott Sellers, president and CEO of JVM technology vendor Azul Systems, sees nothing less than a seismic shift required to doom Java to irrelevance.

“Given the prevalence of Java and the 10 million [Java] programmers that exist today and its widespread use, something will have to come along that is significantly better to cause people to change,” Sellers says, noting the wide variety of open source libraries and frameworks based on Java. “There’s a huge amount of momentum behind it.”

It’s little wonder then why Java always is at or near the top in monthly programming language popularity indexes.

Strength: Java anchors Android apps development

The many Apple iPhone and iPad fans may not like this cold reality, but Google’s Android mobile platform is the No. 1 mobile platform in the world. To build apps for Android, developers predominantly use their Java skills and the Dalvik VM.

Android captured nearly 62 percent of tablet sales worldwide last year, followed by Apple’s iOS with a 36 percent share, according to Gartner. Android had nearly 82 percent of the smartphone market worldwide in the second quarter of this year based on sales, with iOS trailing with 11.7 percent, according to IDC.

Java skills find value everywhere Android goes -- TVs, refrigerators, you name it. With that kind of traction, it’s hard to see demand for Java developers waning anytime soon.

Strength: Java continues to evolve

Java may be perceived as the programming language your grandparents cut their teeth on, but Java is only 19 years old, and it is by no means standing still. The platform continues to add new features, such as the inclusion of lambda capabilities in the standard edition of Java 8 earlier this year. Java 9, due in 2016, will feature modularity, JSON APIs, and much more.

“Java the language is a little behind the times, but with the addition of closures (lambdas) in Java 8, modularity and native function calls in Java 9, and hopefully features like co-routines and tail calls soon, I think it can hold its own versus other systems-level languages,” says Charles Nutter, a key proponent of JRuby, which puts the Ruby language on the JVM. (JRuby is one of many new language options on the JVM, furthering the platform.)

Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 is also in the works and is expected to focus on supporting the latest Web standards, ease of development, and cloud support.

Strength: Java developers are in great demand

People with Java-related skills are a hot commodity in the job market. A recent search for “Java” on the tech job website turned up more than 17,000 opportunities. A report in May concluded that Java development was the most desired software-building skill by a wide margin.

With employment a paramount concern to everyone, the abundance of Java jobs will keep the language and platform in vogue. Critics suggest that Java development has mostly gone offshore and Java developers earn less than other developers, but it's hard to see any lack of opportunity in the United States based on’s listings and data.


Hiring managers advise job seekers to contribute to open-source projects

Posted in Tips on 03 March 2015

Contributing to open-source projects can give software developers an edge over other applicants in the competitive IT job market, say hiring professionals.

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"The phrase we use is 'code is the new resume,'" said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. "Open source has truly become a juggernaut as of late. Within the last five years in particular it's just become the dominant form of development."

Open source, he noted, is behind Google's Android mobile OS, which is based on the Linux kernel, and open-source programs like Hadoop and NoSQL play key roles in the data-science movement. With open source in the mainstream, contributing to a community gets the attention of hiring managers.

"It is a frothy, hot market," Zemlin said. "I suspect if you participated in these projects and got code into it you'd be highly sought after by a large number of companies. There's just all upsides to participating in these projects, which is why you see so many people doing it."

Working on one of the 10 million open-source projects posted to popular code repository Github, for example, allows developers to demonstrate coding skills, collaboration abilities and technology interests. For hiring managers, open-source communities may offer better perspectives on technical and soft skills than a reference.

Developers who lack an open-source presence won't find themselves passed over for jobs, though. Given the tech industry's need for programmers, whether a person has an interest in open-source software doesn't matter to companies.

"The market is so strong for software engineers right now that even if you care nothing about open source and never want to get near it there's still plenty of opportunity for you," said John Graham, director of software engineering at open-source software vendor Red Hat.

However, developers who shun open source may be missing out on opportunities to entice potential employers.

"The more you can do to demonstrate your ability to code, your work ethic, the types of technology you have experience in, the easier it's going to be for a hiring manager to assess you," said John Nagro, director of engineering at HubSpot, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, company that develops a cloud-based inbound marketing software platform. "You're not necessarily at a disadvantage but you're not taking full advantage of the resources you have available."

Since open-source software has a variety of uses developers must consider the range of their work, a skill companies find "very valuable," said David Gruber, vice president of product management at Black Duck Software, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

"The way you think about building software tends to have a broader perspective than a developer who was writing a piece of code that was used for a single-use case in the context of an individual company," said Gruber, whose company offers consulting services for enterprises looking to adopt open-source software.

Enterprise adoption of open-source software means that working on such projects is no longer the domain of hobbyists who code in their free time. For many developers, their day job involves working on open-source programs.

"Many organizations are highly dependent on open source and have their employees engage with the open-source community and contribute fixes and report bugs for the open-source software that they're using," said Gruber.

Zemlin already sees open source becoming the primary form of software development and predicts this trend will increase. Open-source code will comprise 80 percent of an enterprise software stack, he said, and the remaining resources will go to customizing the software for a particularly industry or product.

Another plus to open-source participation: the opportunity to develop skills and acquire experience that can be used to break into a hot area of IT. Developers who want a job in data science but lack the appropriate background could become involved with an open-source project connected to big data. Their code contributions and comments from peers on their work could be used to close the skills gap.

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"You put that on your resume and you say, 'Look, I know I haven't worked in this area, but I'm a member of this community and this is what they say,'" said Graham.

Programmers interested in getting involved with open source should find a project that intrigues them -- even if they lack experience in it -- and find an open-source angle, said Graham.

"You're probably going to do it on your free time," he said. "You want to be interested in it. It shouldn't be a second job."

All open-source projects need contributors, but developers who join communities should not expect to instantly take on key development roles. This is especially true in popular projects or selective communities like the Eclipse Foundation and the Apache Foundation where the mass of contributions makes standing out a challenge, said Graham.

"Generally, any open-source project -- even if it is something of the scale of the Linux kernel -- needs help," he said. "It doesn't mean you're going to own the next version of the Linux kernel two weeks after you show up. But you can contribute fixes, clarification to the documentation. Any community appreciates that."

Developers should instead focus on how they engage with and contribute to a community, which outweigh the type of projects they select. Contributions are especially important and each holds different value to hiring managers. Filing bug submissions and asking or answering a question in an open-source forum serve as good starting points. The next and preferred level of involvement entails submitting code that adds features to the software and improves the program.

"Anyone who has a project out there, especially one that utilizes a piece of our open-source software in a meaningful way, we're going to be very impressed with how candidates present that," said Nagro of HubSpot, which posts projects to Github and uses the repository as a recruiting tool.

Developers looking to work on open-source projects shouldn't sacrifice quality and commitment for quantity. While more involvement is preferred, mediocre contributions and short-lived commitments don't impress hiring managers.

"I'll often see a project has 50 contributors and I'll look at the contributors and 30 percent have submitted one bug fix and that's all they've done," said Gruber. "They probably used a piece of software that had one small bug and sort of offered it up but really didn't contribute to it and stick with the project."

His ideal open-source resume shows a developer who has contributed to a diverse number of projects and has a high level of engagement to at least one project and "reasonable commitments" to others.

The soft skills developers acquire from working on open-source projects are applicable to enterprise IT careers. Companies want engineers who can work together and share project feedback with colleagues, traits that are essential to successful participation in open-source communities.

Collaboration "is an increasingly important skill in today's job environment because software is being built outside of a firm," said Zemlin. "Someone who can collaborate within their company and across different organizations is highly sought after."

But businesses looking to hire open-source talent and open-source developers who are contemplating job offers should perhaps give some thought to the changes that would be necessary to work in a closed-source environment.

"I've known cases where open-source developers who got work at closed-source companies because they're experts in their area and they don't like that because a lot of the freedoms they've become used to are now severely curtailed," said Graham. "That transition has to be taken with some thought. One isn't better or worse."


Software developer shortage transcends international boundaries

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

The dearth of software development talent isn't an issue restricted to Irish businesses. Finding programmers, especially to fill positions in the growing field of health IT, is a global challenge, said speakers Tuesday during a panel discussion on developing a health IT workforce.

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"The lack of software developers is not just in health IT. It hurts the global economy," said Mary Cleary, deputy CEO of the Irish Computer Society, at the EU-U.S. ehealth Marketplace and Conference in Boston.

Technology can help health care, but there's a worldwide shortage of developers who can create the necessary applications, said Colin Reid, CEO of TotalMobile, a Belfast company that develops mobile software. The U.K. National Health Service uses TotalMobile's software and the company counts health care as one its largest markets.

"This is too important to be left to HR. It's really a business issue," said Reid, who added that the technology industry lacks female employees and could improve its efforts to reach underprivileged youth who may be interested in a software development career.

To increase people's interest in programming careers, TotalMobile sponsors the Belfast chapter of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit that is trying to increase the number of women in IT, and CoderDojo, which runs coding clubs for children and teenagers, as well as holding hackathons.

Getting children engaged with programming is especially important and the government can play a role in developing this interest, panelists said.

Reid noted that children love technology-related classes in school, but don't show the same enthusiasm for learning how to program. Attracting children to programming as they get older is challenging because they tend to avoid the discipline since they don't understand it, he said. Governments, he continued, can help remedy this by adding programming courses early in the education process.

"What young children have is no fear. They're not born with the ability to code. They need to learn technology," said Cleary.

In Massachusetts, the state's public schools introduce science and technology curriculum in the fourth grade and especially try to pique interest of girls, said Therese Murray, president of the state Senate.

"Starting from schools is really the answer," said Marwan Abdulaziz, executive director of TECOM Investments' Science Cluster, which operates a Dubai business park for life sciences companies and another for businesses in the alternative energy and environmental industries.

Employee retention is a challenge in Dubai since many United Arab Emirates workers are expatriates who plan on returning to their home nations in five to 10 years, he said. To counter this issue, the country is looking to develop a tech workforce from its native population.

But more science and technology education may not solve the tech industry's hiring challenges if the curriculum isn't relevant to the issues businesses face, said the panelists.

Abdulaziz became involved with the committee that plans the syllabus for colleges in the United Arab Emirates since it lacked business input and "was a bunch of universities talking to each other."

"At the end of the day you want your graduates to work in these companies," he said, adding that the committee now includes more business perspectives.

The United Arab Emirates isn't the only government incorporating business voices into higher education lesson planning.

Classes in Massachusetts community colleges are "tailored" to meet the IT needs of the state's businesses, said Murray. The state sought industry input on what skills would be needed over the next five to 10 years, she said.

In Ireland, Cleary's organization is auditing health care providers to ascertain what health IT skills and occupations are required and which ones are needed. The plan is to create a database that allows providers to better assess their health IT technology and staffing situations.

"We're trying to map out health IT skills," she said.


Goodbye, SEO: PR is the new king

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

Remember when you would search for something and come across a website riddled with nonsense words?

Those Wild-West days of SEO are now recalled with a chuckle and an eye roll. The websites were never pretty and often full of junk and viruses, but they always seemed to pop up on top.

That’s why Google has gone out of its way to come up with new ways for people to get what they want when they search. Its engineers know people don’t want to search for something and get a barely related website in return. They want rich, authentic material that excites them and expands their worlds.

As a result, Google has slowly made PR the focus of online search, and it’s up to you to capitalize on it.

The old ways

Gone are the days of SEO kings. Though many of them have succeeded in the past few years, Google’s latest update, Panda 4.0, has quietly shanked them. It’s so intense that many online are crying over the death of SEO and PR as an industry.

But savvy PR pros know that changing with the times is part of the job. The old ways just aren’t going to cut it anymore. When it no longer worked for websites to blast out keywords, the businesses that adapted survived.

Did your campaign heavily rely on SEO? Hopefully you also concentrated on solid writing, because those who know how to do that are soon to be the true kings.



It may be a little frustrating from a PR perspective, but Google is making strong writers the real heroes of the new online world. More than ever, the focus is on what’s interesting—funny, weird, horrifying or uplifting—rather than a bunch of arbitrary words that don’t have anything to do with your brand or business.

What makes your story unique and newsworthy? If you’re writing a press release on your new line of hats, ask yourself why people should care. No longer can you get away with cramming words in the release, hoping people will get tricked into noticing your story. You have to write a great press release about your hats so it spreads around the web on its own.

For example, you can concentrate on how strong the material is and how it makes your customers’ lives easier in wintertime. Or you could show off how fashionable the hats are by showcasing all the times it’s been featured on the red carpet.

Remember to find what’s truly interesting about your piece and ask yourself if it’s it really news, or just puff. If you don’t, you’ll find out soon enough when your press release spreads or flops.

This is how Panda 4.0 will eventually make online PR better. PR pros have to come up with solid ideas rather than falling back on old tropes. You can do it; we’ve all adapted before, and we’ll do it again with this development.


12 ways to make the most of your LinkedIn company page

Posted in Tips on 03 March 2015

When it comes to social media, lately I've surprised myself by how often I turn to LinkedIn.

With the addition of LinkedIn Publishing, there seems to be more outstanding content on the business social network than ever before.

I'm not alone. LinkedIn has more than 347 million users worldwide.

We've written before about best practices to make the most of your LinkedIn marketing, but I've recently discovered even more vital facts and statistics about the social network, particularly about making the most of your LinkedIn company page.

For instance, did you know that 80 percent of LinkedIn users say they want to connect with companies? That's great news, because users are almost 50 percent more likely to buy from a company they engage with on LinkedIn.

I thought I would share all the stats I've found in the hope that we can fine-tune our LinkedIn marketing and improve our LinkedIn company pages together.

Here are three surprising LinkedIn company page stats:


1. Only 57 percent of companies are using pages.


You can help your company stand out by taking maximum advantage of your company page.

Although LinkedIn reports that more than 3 million companies have company pages, many do not.

Forbes reported that company page use jumped from 24 percent to 57 percent in 2014—which means a growing but still relatively small number of companies are reaping those benefits.

"It is crazy to not create and use a LinkedIn company page," LinkedIn consultant and expert Wayne Breitbarth says in the Forbes article, calling it "free money" for small to mid-size companies. (It's a big win for search engine optimization, because Google crawls LinkedIn company pages and generally returns them in the first few page results.)

A look at the company page features that marketers are using most shows similar opportunity in terms of taking advantage of all the functionality LinkedIn provides:

2. LinkedIn generates social media's highest lead-conversion rate.

In a study of more than 5,000 businesses, HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74 percent—about four times that of Twitter (.69 percent) and Facebook (.77 percent).

LinkedIn's conversion rate also outranked social media as a channel overall—meaning that of all the traffic to these business' websites via social media, .98 percent of that traffic converted into leads, compared with LinkedIn's 2.74 percent.

What it means: Though LinkedIn may not drive the most engagement on social media (see below), it does seem to drive targeted and qualified traffic interested in doing business.

3. Company page updates see an average engagement rate of .054 percent.

Forrester analyzed the top 50 global brands' activities across social media platforms to determine that LinkedIn has an engagement rate of .054 percent. (Engagement rate is users' interactions with a brand's posts as a percentage of that brand's followers.)

That's less than Facebook at .073 percent and Google+ (.069 percent), but greater than Twitter at .030 percent.

Six data-backed company page update tips


LinkedIn has shared that the company page updates getting "the most action" are branding updates such as inside looks and interviews, followed by job postings, tips and fun facts.

Beyond those overall content categories, there are cool, specific ways to boost your engagement rates. Here are the six best data-backed tips I was able to unearth:

1. "Top content" numbered lists get shared more.


A LinkedIn study of company updates with at least 1,000 impressions showed that updates that included the words "top" and the numbers 3, 5, 10, 25, 30, 50 or 100 got almost 40 percent more amplification.

2. Link posts get higher engagement.


LinkedIn has determined that updates containing links get up to 45 percent higher follower engagement than updates without links.

3. Questions get double the comments.


On average, status updates that contain questions receive almost 50 percent more comments.

4. Images get 98 percent more comments.


Posting images has been shown to result in a 98 percent higher comment rate.

5. Employees are 70 percent more likely to engage.


LinkedIn found that employees are 70 percent more likely to engage with a brand's company updates. Don't forget to include and encourage your whole team in your social media strategy.

6. Share videos for double the amplification.


Much in the way video is growing a ton on Facebook, it's gaining on LinkedIn, too. Links to YouTube videos, which play directly in the LinkedIn feed, can result in twice as many amplification actions ("likes," shares and comments) and a 75 percent higher share rate.

One more great resource: Check out LinkedIn's slide deck of the best company pages of 2014 to get more tips on what tactics and strategies work best when it comes to company page updates.

Three overall LinkedIn marketing stats

Finally, here are a few statistics that might help guide your social media strategy on this important network:

1. Users are spending more time on LinkedIn.

Users spend an average of 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month.

Then I discovered that more than 50 percent of LinkedIn users spent more than two hours a week on the site in 2014-a figure that's up about 10 percent from the previous year.

It seems there are two types of LinkedIn users: infrequent-check-in type and the very engaged, almost daily user.

This makes sense to me. At different stages of my career and work responsibilities, I've been a member of both groups. Have you?

2. Groups could be decreasing in popularity.

Another element of the survey I mentioned earlier, reported by Forbes, focused on the popularity of groups.

In 2013, some 60 percent scored LinkedIn groups as one of their favorite features of LinkedIn.

In 2014, "Posting and/or participating in group discussions" was cited as helpful by 42 percent of those surveyed and "Searching for people in groups" only by 26 percent.

Based on this survey, it seems groups are losing popularity. Have you noticed this?

3. Recent graduates are LinkedIn's fastest-growing demographic.


Have you ever wondered who's not on LinkedIn? I sort of assume that everyone is already on the ubiquitous site, but it's adding two new members per second.

So, who are these newcomers? Well, many are from outside the U.S.—the source of more than 75 percent of new members in the last quarter of 2014.

LinkedIn's fastest-growing demographic is students and recent college graduates. More than 39 million of them are on the site now.


What makes a piece of writing successful?

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

Why do some novels work and others don’t? Is it better to write fast or slow? Should students be tested on writing? Can I work at HBO? All questions whose answers seem closer this week. "Fifty Shades of Grey" success explained: Why did "Fifty Shades of Grey" succeed so wildly as a novel? Why does any book? For all the tips and tricks and classes and guides on how to publish and sell your work, it might just come down to luck. That's what GQ contributor Drew Magary thinks:

I've written stupid internet blog posts for nearly decade and I still have no idea which ones will get decent readership and which ones will be ignored. I have published three books, and anyone who tells you that they can guarantee a book will be a bestseller, or claims to be able to explain why a surprise bestseller becomes a surprise bestseller, is a LIAR.

There's a good chance that's true for novels. Word of mouth and the way tastes travel through networks is a fairly unpredictable thing. However, for blog posts, headlines and distribution effort have proven to be decent indicators for how well a post will do.

Does speed-writing have merit?: Each November for the past 15 years, thousands of writers have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The idea is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. Some well-known works have come from submissions to the contest. Mark Hay writes in Good that despite criticisms that the contest trivializes the art of writing a novel and has launched a cottage industry of advisers, it's ultimately a good thing.


"Despite accusations that non-writers just aren’t dedicated, not everyone has the privilege to drop everything and scribble away on a whim," Hay writes.

Who's to say only those with lots and a couple grants should be the only ones to produce bestsellers? On the other hand, publishing success is mostly luck anyway.

Should writing be tested?: Graded, yes. But tested? As in, sit down and complete this writing test in an hour, and we'll tell you how well you did? Wyoming's state legislature has proposed removing a required state writing test for elementary and middle school students because it "wastes time and money" The bill's lead sponsor holds the same view as many popular writing guides:

I firmly believe you learn how to write by writing. And if you took the same amount of class time that the teachers have to spend on this test and just spent that block of time writing, editing and showing the kids where they went wrong, we’d all be better off.

What you can't write: Typically, I try to find stories that cover trends or the writing craft. But in the story about a Telegraph writer resigning in protest over his paper's refusal to cover a scandal involving one of the paper's sponsors, there is a news element and a writing challenge that most of us have encountered in some form.

In writing regular stories, posts and other content, whether journalism or ad copy, we're ultimately selling a product. The product might be the writing itself, or ads it sits next to, or the subject of the writing. In each case, there is a struggle between compelling writing and writing that sells. Most writers would rather not give up too much of the former to achieve the latter. It's a delicate balance, and one that Telegraph lead political writer Peter Osborne felt tipped too far in the favor of sponsors.

HBO Fellowship: Interested in writing some high quality TV? Have eight months to spare? HBO's new writing fellowship might work.


3 times the British royal family worked through PR crises

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

Part one of the BBC’s "Reinventing the Royals" aired in the United Kingdom a little over a week ago, and it illustrated how it’s the British monarchy’s PR team that are the true defenders of the realm.

Aptly subtitled "Crisis," the program revealed how Britain’s most famous family has dealt with everything from unpopular second marriages to pot-smoking Princes. Overcoming a PR crisis (and in some cases prospering from it) often relies on one’s ability to create new narratives, and rarely is this more evident than in the case of royal crisis communications, three of the best examples of which we examine here:

1. Queen Elizabeth II speaking as a grandmother

Let’s be very clear: nobody won from the tragic and untimely death of the "people’s princess," Diana.

What’s more, many hold the press directly responsible for Diana’s death, as it came when her driver was trying to evade a pack of pursuing paparazzi. It's a poignant reminder not to reduce Princess Diana’s legacy to a media narrative. As Steve Hewlett, writer and presenter of "Reinventing the Royals," says: “For the Royal Family...private tragedy [turned] into a public relations crisis of historic proportions.”

In the aftermath of Diana’s death, Queen Elizabeth was not just out of reach (she was away in Balmoral, Scotland) but out of touch with the popular mood. The Royal Family epitomized the British "stiff upper lip" philosophy, and in times of crisis you might think such steely resolve would be a good thing, but not in this crisis. The British public was in mourning and wanted to know their Queen cared. She got the message and returned to make an unscheduled address to the nation, with the key line: “What I say to you now as your Queen and as a Grandmother, I say from my heart."

The inclusion was the brainchild of Alastair Campbell, the then Press Secretary to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He believes it was a game-changer. He describes how after the speech, when he was walking back from the palace to the prime minister's residence, “it was a different mood.” The Queen had traded the royal for the human touch, and the British public was appeased.

2. Prince Charles, single parent and caring father

Prince Charles had reached crisis point  when the press had labeled him a bad father and an unloving husband. The public was incensed by his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. In short, and as Robert Jobson, Royal Editor of the London Evening Standard, put it: “Prince Charles’s public relations were at rock bottom.”

The man, who by all accounts had very little concept of media relations, needed help. Unlike the Queen’s speech, the reputational damage incurred by Prince Charles required a longer-term strategy. It began with a royal tour of South Africa. There, accompanied by his son Prince Harry, Prince Charles would show the world his lighter side. He was "chatty" with journalists on the flight over (something he wasn’t usually) and could be seen sharing a joke with his son when the pair were welcomed by a traditional dance courtesy of (topless) South African tribeswomen.

The press lapped it up with the Daily Mirror headline, “Your Royal Ha-Ha-Ness; Wisecracking Charles shows off his new sense of humour.” The article went on to explain how "since Princess Diana's death, senior royal aides have been privately trying to restore his image and shake off a public 'misconception' that he is unemotional and distant.”

The real test, however, hinged on whether the British public would ever accept Camilla Parker Bowels as Prince Charles’s new love, let alone future wife. The nation’s affection for Princess Diana far exceeded anything felt for Charles, and one of the enduring memories of the Princess was an interview she gave to the BBC in which she said, “It was a husband who loved someone else, yes”. Camilla was the someone else.

"Operation PB," as it was apparently called, meant making Parker Bowles part of the Royal set-up in such a way that wouldn’t lead to national outrage. First came a leaked story about how Prince William had met Camilla (the exact source of which is still unknown). It was a way of testing the public reaction. Then came the showpiece: a private party to celebrate the 50th Birthday of Camilla’s sister at the Ritz hotel in London. Prince Charles and Camilla arrived separately, but, crucially, left together in front of the assembled media scrum. As Arthur Edwards, Royal photographer of The Sun, said: “It was choreographed in its design to introduce Camilla to the world.”

The delicately staged exit worked, and the public mood towards the pair softened. The PR guru behind this, Mark Bolland, later arranged for the couple to be seen out in public with Prince William and for his continued efforts to make the relationship more palatable. Bolland was named PR Week's 2001 PR professional of the year. He was given the award because “his [had] been a difficult campaign to run especially at a time of decreasing sympathy for the Royal family. To get Charles and Camilla back to some form of respectability show[ed] a commendable long-term strategy.”

3. Prince Charles, protector

Prince Harry seems to have a hearty disregard for how things will play in the media, whether he's photographed at a party wearing a swastika armband two weeks before Memorial Day, filmed using racist language against his own army comrades, or snapped playing strip billiards in Vegas. To say the ‘Playboy Prince’ lacks subtlety is an understatement.

From a young age, Prince Harry showed a remarkable gift for courting negative publicity. He was 17 when he admitted to smoking cannabis, and though the story could have been disastrous, from the depths of despair emerged Prince Charles, who, under the advice of his PR people, took his teenage son to a drug rehab clinic. The one-off visit which introduced Prince Harry to recovering heroin addicts achieved two things: It showed the young Prince the very real dangers of serious drug abuse, and simultaneously showed Prince Charles to be a protective, concerned father.

The Royals often get it wrong. To see just how wrong readers might be interested in consulting Time magazine’s "Top 10 Royal Family Gaffes." It makes the job of their PR team that much harder, but in light of the evidence, you have to say they are doing a sterling job.

In the opening sequence of "Reinventing the Royals," Sandy Henney, Press Secretary to the Prince of Wales from 1993 to 2000, said, “Nothing can prepare you for what it’s like to work for the Royal Family. They are the policy, they are the brand, they are flesh and blood.”

The British Royal Family is certainly a unique client with a PR team who, by necessity, are uniquely skilled in effective crisis communications.


Report: Visual and mobile marketing more important than ever

Posted in News on 03 March 2015

If brand managers or execs aren’t fully convinced that visual content geared to mobile devices is the way to go, recent data might finally turn skeptics into believers.

Snapchat’s “Discover” feature, which was launched at the end of January, has been “driving millions of page views per day for its publishing partners,” according to TechCrunch.

That’s not all the new feature is doing. Data released Monday morning from analytics firm 7Park Data revealed that mobile data consumption for an average U.S. Snapchat user grew from about 100 megabytes per week (before the launch of “Discover”) to now more than 600 megabytes per week. U.K. users now consume more than 400 megabytes weekly.

It’s not all about pictures, either. Marketing Land reported 72 percent of ad agencies think online video advertising is just as effective as—if not more than—television advertising, according to a recent BrightRoll survey.

The 120 agencies surveyed said client interest in video ads grew nearly 89 percent over the last three years, and 60 percent of the agencies said they expect mobile video ads will receive the biggest budget increase in 2015. Another 48 percent felt video ads on desktops would receive an influx of marketing dollars.

Those numbers correlate with Facebook’s Feb. 24 report that more than 2 million businesses are using the social network’s advertising services.

Facebook highlighted those numbers by announcing a new Ads Manager app, which will help marketers manage, monitor and create Facebook ads.

A pervasive trend

Facebook is not the only social network offering new features to help meet the needs of brand managers and help them stay on top of social media marketing.

Along with Snapchat’s “Discover” feature, Pinterest and Tumblr now offer promoted pins and features for longer Tumblr posts. Medium also recently announced a new editor for shorter posts, and LinkedIn added a notification center for company pages.

With LinkedIn’s recent update, community managers can now get an overview of how many “likes,” comments and shares the company page has received, along with every public mention of your company on the platform. Users can also “like” and comment on company mentions as a company representative, not as an individual LinkedIn member.

These features offer marketers and community managers more efficient or effective ways to use the social media platforms, and some—such as LinkedIn’s new dashboard—offer metrics to help measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns.

If the social networks don’t offer the necessary tools and features themselves, outside companies might step up instead. Wisemetrics is a social media campaign optimization tool, and according to TechCrunch, marketers paid an average of 30 percent less for Facebook ads after using the service.


5 tools for more effective PR campaigns

Posted in Tips on 03 March 2015

News reporting is increasingly moving online, forcing entrepreneurs and larger businesses to refocus public relations efforts on digital journalism or risk falling behind more connected, tech-savvy competitors.

Fortunately for business owners and PR practitioners, a number of mobile and web-based innovators have arrived with new tools that make managing public relations in the digital age a better, faster and easier endeavor.

In my role as a media relations professor and PR agency founder, I am constantly experimenting with any new publicity tool I can get my hands on. Most do not make the cut past the first day; even fewer make it a full month.

Here are five tools that passed my test and can help move the needle on your PR campaign:

1. HARO.

Help A Reporter Out is a fantastic email subscription service that connects reporters in need of sources to individuals who are actively looking for press coverage and who have relevant stories or expertise to share.

HARO, which has been around for a few years, has reached a tipping point with more than 30,000 participating journalists—many of whom report for top-tier outlets.

A free subscription delivers reporters’ queries three times a day. A paid subscription grants access to premium services like getting a head start over those who opt for the free service.

2. Talkwalker Alerts.

Social-media analytics company Talkwalker offers a free alternative to Google Alerts for monitoring news on companies and industries. These alerts could provide you near real-time email updates on your company's latest relevant mentions across the web.

I recommend using both Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts for redundancy, as neither services catches 100 percent of mentions. Both can sometimes be delayed and they are both free, so why not sign up for Talkwalker Alerts as well?

3. Foap.

When running a PR campaign, stock photography expenses can pile up fast and your image library can grow stale even faster.

Enter Foap, which offers a next-generation inexpensive stock-photography resource that taps into hundreds of thousands of photographers through their smartphones and delivers relevant, high-resolution photos on demand for just $10 each.

Buyers receive the rights to each photo purchased, Foap gets $5 and the photographer retains $5. Consider searching the Foap photo database, buying photos and downloading the Foap app.

4. Muck Rack.

Most journalists are active on social media. After all, it's where their stories get shared. Though social-media platforms are terrific for news sharing, that doesn't mean it's easy to use them to identify appropriate reporters to engage with and pitch.

Muck Rack helps PR practitioners navigate through the clutter of social media to discover and connect with journalists who are actively discussing topics relevant to an industry, product or service.

Muck Rack sends out a free daily email called Muck Rack Daily that gives its readers clear insights into news trends and journalists with traction. There are also premium service plans that provide the ability to create and save media lists, as well as to set media alerts based on keywords.

5. Analytiks.

Google Analytics can be incredibly helpful for understanding the impact that PR activities have on a website by monitoring the traffic driven by press coverage. Analytiks is an easy-to-use app that makes Google Analytics even better by serving up key data points on mobile devices.

Analytiks’ clean user interface relays real-time page views, referral information, demographics and bounce-rate data immediately upon launching the app. Analytiks is free for monitoring as many as eight separate domains but available for iOS devices only.


Digital Assistant Graduate Roles

Posted in Jobs on 27 February 2015

OMD is one of Australia’s biggest media agencies and the first in Australia to have ranked in the BRW Top 50 Best Places to Work in Australia for six consecutive years. Living up to its vision of ‘The Best Place to Work and the Place Producing the Best Work’ OMD was also named Adweek’s 2014 Global Media Agency of the Year for the second consecutive year.

OMD is dedicated to delivering sharper insights, smarter ideas and stronger results to its clients. With its technically savvy and creative team at the forefront of it all. If you believe you exude the OMD values of team first, authenticity and challenging conventions and are a passionate, energetic and self-motivated individual with an eagerness to join the media industry, you will not want to miss this opportunity. 

The Role:

We are looking for recent graduates to join our team as Digital Assistants providing administrative support and working on huge accounts including McDonalds, Telstra, Virgin Money, Bose and Johnson & Johnson.

OMD’s Digital team is a fully integrated digital media planning and buying division offering services across all digital channels, from display and mobile to DSP trading and in-game advertising. They development of cutting edge digital marketing strategy and implementation for our clients.

Key Responsibilities:


  • Implementation of media plans such as collating insertion orders, loading buys and trafficking
  • Collating industry news and updates on digital trends and keeping abreast of publisher news
  • Updating the digital trading sheet in a timely manner after each plan is booked
  • Managing relationships with clients, digital team, internal planning team, creative agencies and publishers
  • Loading buys into the finance system for invoicing and responding to queries generated from the finance team
  • Creating live reports, collating screenshots to ensure campaign is live and monitoring campaign delivery on a weekly basis

Essential Criteria:

  • Passionate about technology and innovation
  • Interest in marketing and advertising
  • Digitally savvy
  • Confident using Excel
  • Numerically minded
  • Attention to detail
  • Team player
  • Creative thinking

Please apply here.

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