The Friendly Ghost PowerPR Index for June 2007

Results below, details below results:

fgpowerindex2.gif technorati_reactions.gif yahoo2.gif google.gif blogpulse.gif total.gif
1 Micro Persuasion 10 10 10 10 7 10 10 10 77
2 Online Marketing Blog 10 10 10 10 6 9 9 10 74
3 Center for Media and Democracy 9 9 9 10 7 10 7 9 70
4 NevilleHobson.com 7 9 9 8 6 9 9 7 64
5 a shel of my former self 8 9 8 9 6 9 9 5 63
6 Strumpette 9 9 6 4 5 9 7 6 55
7 On Message Wagner Comms 8 9 5 5 6 6 9 5 53
8 PR Squared 6 9 5 5 6 9 7 6 53
9 PR 2.0 Silicon Valley 6 9 5 5 6 6 7 7 51
10 Pop! PR Jots 5 8 5 7 5 6 9 5 50
11 Communication Overtones 6 9 5 5 6 5 9 5 50
12 Todd And – the power to connect 8 9 5 4 4 6 7 6 49
13 Media Orchard 4 8 5 6 5 9 7 4 48
14 Canuckflack 7 9 5 3 6 6 7 4 47
15 Web Ink Now 5 9 4 5 6 6 7 5 47
16 Spinwatch 4 7 4 5 6 9 7 4 46
17 PR Blogger 4 8 4 5 6 8 7 4 46
18 Marketing Begins at Home 5 8 4 5 6 6 7 4 45
19 PR meets the WWW 5 8 5 5 5 5 7 5 45
20 A PR Guy’s Musings 4 8 4 5 5 6 7 5 44
21 Paul Gillin’s blog – Social Media 5 8 4 4 6 6 7 4 44
22 Strategic Public Relations 5 8 4 5 5 5 7 5 44
23 Pro PR 5 8 4 5 5 5 7 5 44
24 Tech PR Gems 4 7 4 4 5 5 9 5 43
25 Bad Pitch Blog 5 8 4 5 5 4 7 5 43
26 IndiaPRBlog! 4 8 4 4 4 6 9 4 43
27 Media Guerrilla 4 8 5 3 5 7 7 4 43
28 New PR, ranked by readers 4 6 4 4 6 9 5 4 42
29 Drew B’s take on tech PR 4 8 4 4 6 5 7 4 42
30 Blogging Me, Blogging You 5 8 4 4 5 4 7 5 42
31 PR Works 4 7 4 4 5 5 7 5 41
32 New PR 5 8 4 4 5 3 7 5 41
33 PR Communications 4 8 4 4 5 5 7 4 41
34 Common Sense PR 5 8 4 2 5 8 4 5 41
35 ….the world’s leading…. 4 7 4 4 5 5 7 4 40
36 Cooler Insights 5 8 4 4 4 4 7 4 40
37 PR. Differently 4 8 4 3 5 5 7 4 40
38 PR Studies 4 8 4 4 5 4 5 4 38
39 Glass House 3 6 4 4 5 6 7 2 37
40 Buzz Bin 4 7 3 2 4 5 7 5 37
41 Murphy’s Law 4 7 4 2 5 5 6 4 37
42 Piaras Kelly PR – Irish Public Relations 4 7 4 4 4 5 5 4 37
43 Corporate PR 4 7 4 6 4 5 3 3 36
44 bitemarks 4 6 4 4 5 5 5 2 35
45 Client Service Insights (CSI) 3 6 4 3 5 3 7 2 33
46 KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog 4 6 3 3 5 3 5 4 33
47 Onalytica – analysing online buzz 4 7 4 2 5 4 4 3 33
48 Heather Yaxley – Greenbanana PR 4 7 3 3 4 2 5 4 32
49 Alan Weinkrantz PR Web Log 3 6 2 2 4 4 6 3 30
50 PR Place 3 6 3 2 4 2 7 3 30
51 Young PR 0 0 4 4 5 5 7 5 30
52 Active Voice 3 6 3 4 4 3 3 1 27
53 Wadds’ tech pr blog 2 6 2 2 4 2 7 2 27
54 PR Voice 3 6 3 2 4 1 4 3 26
55 Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi 4 6 2 1 5 3 2 3 26
56 Friendly Ghost 3 6 2 2 5 2 3 2 25
57 Thicket 3 6 2 1 4 5 3 1 25
58 Naked PR 3 6 2 1 4 4 2 2 24
59 Tech for PR 3 6 1 1 5 2 3 3 24
60 Valley PR Blog 3 6 2 1 4 3 3 2 24
61 Clogger 2 5 2 1 4 1 7 1 23
62 nerd-in-residence 2 5 2 1 4 4 2 2 22
63 Don’t eat the shrimp – Josh Morgan 2 5 2 1 4 3 2 2 21
64 Indian and Global PR 2 6 1 1 5 2 2 2 21
65 Tech PR War Stories 2 5 1 2 5 1 2 2 20
66 New Marketing 1 2 3 1 5 3 4 0 19
67 DummySpit 2 5 1 1 4 1 2 2 18
68 point being: 2 5 1 2 4 1 2 1 18
69 Fusion PR Forum 2 5 1 1 4 1 2 2 18
70 First Person PR 2 5 1 1 4 1 2 1 17
71 All Things PR 2 5 1 1 3 1 2 1 16
72 Teaching PR 0 1 2 1 4 2 3 2 15
73 A communica-holic’s view of PR 1 4 1 2 3 1 2 1 15
74 Corporati 1 2 1 3 3 1 2 1 14
75 The Jive Man 1 2 1 1 4 1 3 1 14
76 Small Business PR and Marketing 1 3 1 1 4 1 2 1 14
77 PRactical P.R. 1 4 1 1 3 1 2 1 14
78 72 Point Blog 1 2 1 1 4 1 2 1 13
79 The last man in Europe… 1 0 1 1 3 1 3 0 10
80 PR India Post 1 1 1 0 2 1 2 2 10
81 On the face… 1 2 1 1 3 1 0 1 10
82 Spudgun 1 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 9
83 Public Relations Rogue 1 2 1 1 0 1 1 1 8

technorati_reactions.gif yahoo2.gif google.gif blogpulse.gif total.gif

This time I initially tried a different approach: treating the blog scores as a normal distribution so that I could apply the same, proven and statistically sound methodology to every range of numbers and have standardisation across them. This involved calculating z-scores based on the mean and standard deviation, then creating rankings out of ten for each range of z-scores. It sounds simple and I tried to get it to work but it proved fruitless, probably partly because I’m not a statistician but also, I suspect, because it’s not a valid approach anyway. I will however look into this in future.

One of the reasons I think this approach proved so hard was that there are some monster blogs that throw the calculations, namely the top three, Center for Media and Democracy, Online Marketing Blog and, the big daddy, Micro Persuasion. These three in particular, and in fact the next 10 or so blogs, really did throw a lot of the calculations out.

On further examination I noticed that they tended to have a Technorati Authority of 300 or above, so I was tempted to create a ‘super league’ of bloggers to accommodate this. I thought that might prove too controversial and that really we need to have them all in the same table but I do wonder whether I’ve identified two separate populations of blogs within the PR blogosphere: the people like me who tippety-tap away at the end of a hard day’s PR-ing (or, in my case, mostly copywriting), and the ‘super blogs’. What accounts for them? Perhaps they’re run more as an online journal or profit-making enterprise or business; they could have multiple contributors making for a high turnover of quality content; they may have an element of automation that generates traffic; or they may simply be the blogs of people with great clout in the industry who have been around a while, who carry influence that is directly reflected in their scores.

So I’ve decided to stick with my previous method of using percentage bands to create scores with, as far as possible, the same bands used. At least this is standardisation of a kind, but I would very much like to use something closer to an academic approach. If anyone knows a way to do this then please contact me: ideally I would be looking for an Excel spreadsheet into which I can just slot my figures, then it will calculate z-scores for a normal distribution and convert them into rankings out of ten.

Other points to note:

  • I didn’t like the way Alexa lacked figures for quite a few blogs. It seemed unfair to penalise them just because they didn’t use the Alexa toolbar. So, I’ve taken Alexa out. You can see where I was missing data – that’s where you see a score of zero.
  • My Technorati figures are out of ten because, unlike Todd And’s figures, I don’t see the point of making them out of 30. However, I have tried bringing in the rank and blog reactions figures because Technorati seems pretty comprehensive.
  • I’ve included Blogpulse, because the Bloginfluence calculation does. Same with the Yahoo links.
  • I’ve also brought in Google hits and Google Blog hits. I haven’t seen this used before and I don’t understand why not. I think Google hits (looking for the address minus the http:// identifier because that usually returns just one hit) shows a good idea of how much you’re linked to or referred to in the general web world, very like the Yahoo hits score, while Google Blog hits is similar but within the blogosphere. Again, there is data for virtually all the blogs, which is attractive.
  • I realised just before publication that I haven’t hyperlinked all the blog names in the table. You can click them in the PR links blogroll to the left of this page instead.

So what’s wrong with this index? You could say that:

  • It’s unashamedly a home-brewed approach but at least I’m trying to get meaningful figures together.
  • Entry to the list is via my blogroll – which I have built up over months using a combination of recommendation, discovery, and hits from Google news and blog feeds. Over the past few months, if you’ve commented on PR generally, or on my blog specifically, then there’s a fair chance you’re on it. If not then I can add you.
  • It’s not automated so it will go out of date. Strumpette is particularly fond of telling me this.
  • I’m not a statistician, so I’m using basic analysis here. I’m sure someone with more expertise could draw more inferences and arbitrate for some of the difficulties in the data.
  • It doesn’t give any indication of quality. You could infer that quality posts attract high figures but there could be some real gems in there that don’t for whatever reason.
  • In a similar way this also doesn’t show influence. Broadly you could say that popularity does equate to influence but I would expect an analysis of direct and indirect citations using serious automating sentimenting techniques could draw a different picture.

What’s good about it?

  • This time around I’ve tried to make it more consistent. I’ve tried standardising on my analysis and I’ve used metrics that should work for virtually every blog. That’s why I abandoned Alexa this time around and Bloglines last time, because it just didn’t seem fair to mark blogs down if they didn’t have these figures.
  • It uses publicly available metrics that other sites use too. Bloginfluence makes calculations using Technorati and Yahoo links, Google Page Rank is a nice indicator and the Blogpulse data also seemed comprehensive.
  • It doesn’t use any subjective scores based on my personal preferences.
  • It’s very pretty.
  • Finally, whatever you think about my approach or whether or not you like tables, it’s interesting to see who’s where in the PR blogosphere. Well, I think so anyway. Then again perhaps I’m dull. 

There is probably much more to be said on this topic, so I’ll add the disclaimer that I can’t be held responsible for any inaccuracies in this information, or for any consequences if you act on this information, and stop here. You can say the rest! I’m going on holiday.

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Dark matter hits

Friendly Ghost has just passed the 5,000 mark! That is, this blog has been viewed more than 5,000 times in total.

Now, I know this is pitiful – pitiful – compared to most blogs out there. And I know that some of the hits are a bit bogus – for example some people come here looking for crack babies (and probably even more after having typed that) – and I know some blogs get that number of hits every hour, but it’s a milestone nonetheless.

But, an interesting thing. I noticed I was on 4,999 hits so kept refreshing my browser. And occasionally the 4,999 changed to… 4,998. Then back to 4,999. Then back to 4,998.

How is this possible? Can you revoke a hit? Is there a statute of limitations on web views? Can there be people out there sucking up the web like virtual superdense roving dark stars? Or do some people count as fractions, and the WordPress count was dithering between them? Can you really round people up? Or, more worryingly, down? I thought people were discrete, if not discreet. I put it down to dialectic physics.

Quite frankly FG doesn’t care. I’m going on holiday the day after tomorrow so this is my one post in which I allow myself to be frivolous, if tenuously linked to the subject of social media.

So, from Saturday onwards there will be no posts from Friendly Ghost until 9th July. But as a parting gesture to my 3 readers – and it is still a core 3, even if they’re busy readers - I shall be updating the Friendly Ghost PowerPR index tomorrow, with more metrics and a statistically balanced approach…

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Blatant toadying

I don’t think I’ve blatantly just pointed my readers to another posting before but I have to draw the attention of all 3 of them to this great piece on copywriting.com – the 7 traits of a good copywriter. It’s all there – and the blogger, Miguel Alvarez, is on the ball because there was a typo in it that he fixed within minutes of me pointing it out… ;)

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Add this to your media training – now

What is a website? Lots of things to lots of people but if you’re an interviewee it’s the best way to pre-arm yourself before an interview.

This morning, on Today on Radio 4 – yes, I listen to it lots – I overheard an interview between the rottweiler of a man John Humphrys and, it turned out, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cooper-Coles. A short way into the piece, with Humphrys trying his best to put him off his stride, my ears pricked up because Cooper-Coles (or ‘Sir’ to his friends) suddenly said “You only to have to see your own website this morning where quoted on it is an Afghan villager on a superb feature on the BBC website saying the Taliban is the biggest threat to the future of Afghanistan.”

“That’s brilliant,” I thought. “He’s saying ‘this is what you’re broadcasting on your own site – and I’ve been prepared enough to read it. I’m using your own techniques against you.’” To my mind it seemed to phase Humphrys who could only grunt in response. No mean feat.

You can hear it for yourself, a minute and 30 seconds into the interview here.

I have never come across this before. I know interviewees can use all sorts of bridging and blocking techniques but this was different. Both the form and the function were pretty devastating. He managed to wrap it into his speaking so well, and it was highly effective in bringing absolutely relevant and up-to-date information to an interview as well as showing preparedness and initiative.

I told our Media Director about it this morning who also heard it, and we agreed it would make a great addition to any media training. The message: if you have a spare moment before an interview, check out the interviewer’s website/ blog/ forum/ chatroom. You might just find something to your advantage.

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Three superb videos on influence

A colleague of mine directed me towards this superb series of videos the other day – actually,  it was just the one video but a whole series seems to be developing.

They are small but perfectly formed 2/3 minute presentations given by the large and perfectly formed Ted Smith, a research fellow at CNET Networks (BNET’s parent company). He seems to take the approach that the ‘atom’ of the network is the interaction between two people and from that, a topology of trust forms.

The three I’ve seen so far are:

  • Motivations for Influence – New Insights - talks about the cycle of information sharing that stimulates confidence, both in the sharer of information and the recipient. Being influential is not necessarily about being the smartest guy in the network, but the one who shares information the best. (Wasn’t this one of Jack Welch’s ideas, that his job as CEO was to ensure information was shared among the people who needed it?)
  • Activating influence – Who vs. Where - shows how, by sharing good, unique information you can become an influential member of a group and that it’s not necessarily who you are but where in the network of influence.
  • Creating Influence – Avoiding the Backlash - demonstrates how and why there is a backlash when someone infiltrates a network and, by not being who they claim to be – for example a paid blogger – violates the social contract. The real damage comes when people may act on the false supposition that they’re being given unbiased information and as a result they lose trust.

Anyway, go and have a look.

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Copywriters aren’t telepaths

Why is it that PR people still expect copywriters to write their press releases for them?

I don’t have a big problem with it generally but sometimes you just know the account manager is being plain old lazy. No matter how quick you are at getting up to speed or how insightful or well-trained you are, you will inevitably be too far from the account to really offer valuable input.

It’s strange. People seem to treat copywriters as if we’re telepathic. They think that we should just know all about their account through some weird osmosis. They think we find writing somehow ‘easy’. We don’t: we just do it better than them, but the information-gathering stage is just as hard, in fact harder for us because we really have to read around a subject to familiarise ourselves with it.

There is generally a tremendous amount of knowledge about an account that goes into producing a press release for it. I’d say it’s the return of the old nutshell about commonsense: it takes a lot of knowledge to acquire it. There’s nothing common about it at all.

And apart from anything, isn’t a press release a core PR competency, not a core copywriting competency?

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What was that about logos again?

This morning, on Today – yes, I listen to it a lot on the way into work – I heard an interview with some fool who was associated with the London Olympics logo, discussing the possible change to the Barclays ‘eagle’ logo if it were bought out by Dutch Bank ABN AMRO on account of it having Nazi associations.

The main thrust of his argument seemed to be that ‘the eagle doesn’t have Nazi associations’. Well, he might think it doesn’t but maybe a lot of other people do. Isn’t this precisely the same arrogance as displayed with the London logo, that design-wise it ticked every box (it doesn’t btw, see below) but they forgot whether people would like it? Talk about forgetting key stakeholders…

Which leads me back to the London logo. After reading some valid criticism of it recently I can see that it doesn’t really work as a logo anyway. You see the Olympic rings and the ‘london’ text in it? Well, how will that scale? If you make it the size of a postage stamp – ie something which works on letterheads or business cards – then you won’t be able to read it. I was discussing it recently with a colleague and he reckons that really the designers haven’t created a logo, they’ve created a brand that other brands can hang off. I think this means that, for example, Coke or MacD will be able to place their logos within the London logo, but I’m not sure. If someone who knows more about this could let me know, that would be great.

And while we’re on the subject of branding, another conversation with another ex-colleague recently kicked the legs from under my great idea for a Cheddarvision-like campaign. The whole point of Cheddarvision and similar feeds is that people feel they have discovered them, that they ‘own’ them, and the emotion associated with that is pride: pride to own the brand. For projects such as mine, the brand would get in the way. So therein lies the challenge: allow your consumers to have pride in owning your brand while still influencing it. Toughie.

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The Friendly Ghost PowerPR Index: So, what happened?

Very quickly, a follow up to the reactions to this.

Firstly, quite a few people seemed to find it interesting.

However, another quite a few people found it irritating. On the whole this seemed to be from people who didn’t appear on the list. For example Heather Yaxley thinks it’s all a bit crap really and agrees with David Brain that I need a wider list. Hmmm. I’ll try but I think 70-odd is ok to start with. I’ve since added some people to the list but only because…

 … generally, the people who didn’t like it didn’t appear on it. Amanda Chapel was pretty unhappy with the first survey which included bloglines so I revised it, and now she’s unhappy that I haven’t updated it for just over a week. However, I notice that Strumpette has crept quite significantly up the Power150. Which brings me to another interesting point: given that SpudGun also got his stats off the ground, I wonder how much this chart stirred things up and helped everyone’s blog stats…?

So, what is to be done? I suppose I could just remove my list and not irritate people. But what’s the point? If people genuinely think their PR blogs are worthy then isn’t it enough to contribute to the debate? And surely isn’t one of the key learnings here the difficulty of quantifying even blog popularity, let alone influence?

Alternative approaches could be:

  • Increase the reading list – so that I’m more comprehensive – although you can never include everyone and this would just take even longer to compile
  • Change the metrics – so I’m not directly compared to the Power150
  • Change the subject matter – so I’m out of the Power150 space altogether. I’m considering doing this for copywriting instead. I have a feeling copywriters may be less inclined to throw their toys out of the cot because they’re a sanguine lot. I know: I am one.

Finally however, to get to the real question of influence. Remember my discussion with Flemming Madsen of Onalytica about popularity vs influence, and how influence tends to resonate over time while popularity is temporary? Well, check out my blog stats chart (actual figures removed so you can’t see how puny they really are):

blogchart.gif

As you can see, after a large spike we’re now almost back to normal. So, I clearly lack influence anyway. So why all the fuss?

We’re now back to just me and my three readers. Nice.

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