Friday, February 17, 2017

Internet of Things Public Relations

Most of us have heard of the Internet of Things, but few have considered the role of IoT in PR.

In 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things defined IoT as "the infrastructure of the information society. The IoT allows objects to be sensed and/or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in 'improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.'

When IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.

Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.

We recognise IoT in simple devices like Alexa or Google Home and Virtual Reality Headsets. A simple credit card sized device like Trackr turns your phone into a detective to find your car or handbag.

Padma Warrior is the CTO and Chief Strategist of Cisco, quoted a Cisco study placing the value of IoT as a $19 trillion opportunity for her company. It struck me that the PR industry should be investing some of its thinking about the future into IoE too.

So how can we have such a thing as IoT PR?

Really it's simple. We have to think about IoT devices as media. For Example, it is possible to offer information or services that can be integrated into Alexa or Google Home and they can be delivered with cloud-based infrastructure.

My Android phone has the 'OK Google' facility provided by Chrome. In an instant, my phone is a powerful computer that can book appointments and phone my wife. It sets up alarms and tracks my car (no more hunting around in big car parks).  The service has a wide range of capabilities. The exciting thing is that you can design services for mobile phones that can sit on a phone or intelligent companion as an app or service.

Messages, lists of products, pictures and video can all become an instant service on a mobile or computer.

Other IoT devices

The health of elderly relatives can be difficult to track, but it’s even more difficult when they live on their own. Fortunately, you can now rely on IoT devices like Lively to help. It is just the sort of device a Pharma company might like to sponsor. Where you are and what you are doing can be monitored by the clothes you wear or can be offered to help busy mum's track their children and the dog  (what a great way to deliver safety messages). When you start looking there are all sorts of opportunities

It comes down to thinking of IoT devices as media in their own right. Seeing what IoT devices are out there and then working on how they can deliver enhanced relationships with the client requires a creative mind but the impact can be huge. 

The evolution of the Internet of Things into more advanced application in the Internet of Everything is the next step. But more of that later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Secure Online - A PR issue

The NCSC - part of intelligence agency GCHQ - says the UK is facing about 60 serious cyber-attacks a month. There were 188 attacks classed by the NCSC as Category Two or Three during the last three months.

We are under attack. This is a PR industry issue as well.

Let me explain...

Here is an example, attacks on the NHS quadrupled in the last four years!

In the digital era, new points of entry are opening up for most business from email to cloud environments, from mobility to applications, from the payment gateway to the data centre and much more.

UK organisations are putting their reputation, customer trust and competitive advantage at greater risk by failing to provide their staff with adequate security training.

In response, the UK government’s latest National Cyber Security Strategy requires businesses to have a detailed understanding of the risks to their information systems and raise standards to mitigate them.

This is not just the nation and business, it's PR practitioners and their clients as well. The CIPR and other PR institutions, as well as the recognised undergraduate courses, should be considering their response. We 'must be prepared'. A cyber attack is a reputation issue like Marley's Ghost waiting for every organisation that is not prepared.

Cybersecurity teams are losing the fight against cyber crime and the user education approach has failed, according to According to Ian Pratt, co-founder and president of Bromium. We have to up our game.

We need some PR focused responses.

The launch of NCSC coincided with the Financial Conduct Authority, (a regulatory body of the UK government), granting London-based Blockchain startup Tramonex (a Small Electronic Money Institution) registration. This effectively opens the door for the launch of a Blockchain-based currency within the UK.

The approval of Tramonex marks the first case of a Blockchain technology company receiving an EMI authorization from the FCA.

At the core of this permission is ONLINE SECURITY.

The security is made possible because of the use of Blockchain. Blockchain security can be applied in many ways. Not least, it is a technology to secure the ownership of digital content.

For the PR person, this means there is potential for online security for content such as images, podcasts and other sounds, word content including press releases and, really important, contact reports and briefing.

It is important, for example, to secure email exchanges and Blockchain technologies offer such capability.

This suggests that #CIPR could consider getting a similar licence to Tramonex for Blockchain secured communication by members and recognised by authorities such as the FCA.

Working with the leaders in the field, CIPR could register a broad range of secure communications tools. Examples that come to mind are Accenture. But there are many more organisations offering services.

The capability can even extend to Internet of Things PR (more later). IoT consultant, John Soldatos, has written at length about this. He argues that since “The 100.000.000 units of the Bitcoin are programmable and can be linked to digital properties other than currencies such as credits or digital votes. This gives rise to the use of the Blockchain for supporting IoT applications. Instead of auditing the exchange of units of a digital currency, the Blockchain could audit the validity of digital transactions between machines and things."

This form of security is attracting added security from organisations such as BT.

Now is the time for the PR industry to consider digital security.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Enter the Virtual PR Studio

Perhaps I need to explain what I think public relations will look like in the near future, a few months away.

It will be heavily mediated by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and will use Augmented Reality to aid evaluation, decision making and relationship management.

Perhaps it's I should speculate on what I anticipate in a PR office of a very busy organisation.

My imagining looks at the office set up to manage the Government's PR around Brexit. It is a very busy office.

I take you to the morning conference between the press officer and the Prime Minister.

As the PM arrives she puts on a VR headset and is immediately transported into a huge room. It is a virtual studio as big as a Warehouse. It is a complete transformation from the slightly chaotic PR office. As she puts her hand out, she can see it and can point with it. Alongside her is the press officer.

They both begin to look round them

They can see flocks of things moving like a murmuration of starlings. These are clusters of spots in the Augmented Reality sky. Are yes… here is another murmuration. It is a different colour and the shapes of each dot is different. There are more. A timeline shows the time scale being considered. 

Four hours reflects the 60,000 citations (that the rate of citation observed by Google at present) in the clusters that include items in newspapers, radio, television, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and dozens more online media Brexit citations.

As the briefing begins the practitioner offers different perspectives. The flocks swirling round the virtual studio include changes in colour and represent other factors such as the nature of the content, pictures, words, emotions and place. The swirling movements offer a view of what images, words and emotions are driving content; uptake in different media and over what timescales.

The complexities of modern communication are presented in a way that the mind can comprehend. 

Off to the right, high up, is a cluster showing the outputs of the Media Office. It interacts with the practitioner. 

In a second the practitioner and Prime Minister are transported to a command centre with a number of experts. 

Here, she can add content and will see its impact in almost the same instant among the other actors in this scenario. Interactive PR is a big part of what happens in this studio. In a virtual workshop, members of the team create content that can be inserted into the Brexit media universe. In addition some of the messaging can be for different interaction. Leaflets are produced with embedded monitors to see if they are read and events and meetings with lapel badges for attendees equally fitted out with Internet of Things sensors. These too can be displayed in the VR studio. As can the information apps offered by the PR team to download to phones, watches and other devices.

Of course, the practitioner needs to be sure that the material she provides is not hacked or changed between her office and the medium involved.

Behind her screen is a sentinel, unblinking and making sure that the activity is securely recorded and implemented. This is the PR blockchain solution. Safe, secure and unhackable. Trusted by journalists as well as Twitter and Wikipedia to mention a few.

The Virtual Reality studio is only part of the activity in her office of which more at another time.

What is key here is being able to understand what is happening across the media today. At present we cannot comprehend it in its complexity.

At best we get a feeling for what is being said and felt by the public. In my circles there is a mass view of Donald Trump. I hear almost nothing from his supporters. I need my virtual studio to be able to evaluate and effectively impact the public view.

We need good PR tools and they can be available soon. 

It is not hard, it is not new technology. Everything offered here is already used in other applications.

A brave new media world.

This then is my view of PR at the end of the dec.ade

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Future Is Almost Here

It is almost too easy to imagine a progressive evolution of technologies for public relations.

The evolution from noticeboard to Facebook was all too simple. From newsletter to Blog or community gossip to Twitter, the evolution of communications used by the PR professional has change slowly if dramatically and has been reasonably manageable.

But this rate of change and range of technologies that are about to influence the practice of PR is about to have a massive impact on practitioners.

This is an introductory lecture touching on a revolution in PR practice. It examines communication.

I shall explore other areas of practice in this series of lectures.

The communication and content security, audited relationships and associated relationship and reputation changes and much more are now part of PR in a shape never before explored. Such developments now affect capabilities through applications of communication technologies, big data, blockchain,  the Internet of Things and relationships and more.

These are now part of the PR scene. They are the engines of PR practice. They are the elements of PR practice we all need to understand and deploy such capabilities for our clients large and small (even small clients can have big data).

They are part of the syllabus to be learned and the activities being part of good good practice that the PR associations need to observe.

We can expect a lot of practitioners to be caught out through ignorance of these developments but that is no worse than discovering that reputation busting tweets can rampage all over the world. Frightening!

So now it is time to look at some examples. We will begin with Ink on our fingers, or “who writes the press release?

What a failiure

Walking the dogs this morning, my wife and I have a greed that I can go back to work.
I will start with more Blog posts because what I have to offer is controversial.
It will be a demonstration of what I think is key for big organisations.
Meantime, I shall start with some elements of automated PR.

Fun stuff


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Retirement - or something like it

This is a very hard post to write.

I have to withdraw from PR and most of my other activities.

It will  be hard to do.

For 18 months I have suffered from severe depression followed by Nocturnal Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

The pills make me very tired ... albeit the side effects are fun.

The work on Automated Public Relations has been sporadic and I hope, one day, to return to this area of research and to teaching, which I enjoy.

Meanwhile, listening to the racing results formulaic announcement of the winners of horse races is an interesting activity.

The racing authorities have to provide accurate and timely results (it's a PR job) and from it gambling practitioners pay out winnings and journalists develop stories ready to publish. This is the data used by betting offices world-wide. It is the sort of information that automated editorial can use instead of the journalist and PR practitioner. It can be used for automated payments and many other applications.  If the data is late or inaccurate, the effect is dramatic and has a ripple effect.

In the past one might have had time to correct an error. No more. The computers are faster that people.

This has has a huge impact on PR. The need to be ethical in the delivery of such data is critical. The information has to be timely and precise. If not, the value of PR is as nothing.

The same could be said of many other, if not most PR activities. This affects wealth in many directions.

PR has to be timely, precise and ethical.

The role of PR organisations such as CIPR has changed. Now, it has a policing role and to become a member may be a much harder in the future.

I shall, of course, watch, even if it is from the sidelines.