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iPhone frenzy!

By Linda Forrest

This morning on my way into the office, I saw about 50 grown men (sad to say there wasn’t a female among them) camped out outside a Rogers store to be the first to get their hands on an iPhone 3G, available today for the first time in Canada. The long line ups and eager anticipation extend beyond Canada’s borders as the new version of the phone has some additional bells and whistles that have Mac-philes and the hoi polloi alike very excited.

When I saw the faithful gathered this morning in aim of a common goal, I was reminded of “back in the day” when, prior to the internet, I lined up for hours and hours to buy concert tickets at the local Ticketmaster outlet. That situation, like this, was a “you snooze, you lose” proposition as I’m confident in saying that it’s doubtful that the little Rogers stand in the Rideau Center has enough iPhones on hand to meet the demand and only those brave souls who were in line prior to the store’s opening are likely to be entirely unproductive today at their jobs as they play with their new toys.

My point, and I do have one, is that the buzz surrounding this product has reached a fever pitch, and that people who perhaps have never had a mobile phone, let alone a whiz-bang PDA like the iPhone, are chomping at the bit to get their hands on one. This not only increases the demand for mobile applications, but also means that a whole lot more people will be using Canada’s wireless infrastructure, not to mention entering the world of constant accessibility.

As PR practitioners, we have to be constantly available to our clients. One never knows if and when breaking news could hit and we need to respond to it immediately or switch into crisis mode at a moment’s notice. To that end, the introduction of the iPhone to our team has been wonderful – allowing each of us to have access to our email and the internet no matter when it is, no matter where we are. As Francis has said on occasion, yes, it’s a leash, but it enables us to take vacations and be out of the office, if need be, yet still be plugged in. The trick, then, becomes unplugging, not checking your email as soon as you awaken and as the last thing at night. Oh, who am I kidding – we all do that anyway, regardless of whether we’re using our computers or our iPhones to connect.

To those of you who are just getting your first iPhone today, congratulations and enjoy. I think the employers of the world must have come together to encourage this release on the last day of the workweek in the hope that the anticipated lost productivity would be limited to a sunny Friday and people will spend the weekend, off the company clock, experimenting with their new gadgets.

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Welcome to Post Number 250!

By Francis Moran

Almost exactly 10 months after publishing our very first blog post on September 14 last year, here we are celebrating post number 250! It’s been a fascinating journey of learning and experimentation, and I’d like to share some of that with you today.

If 250 posts in 10 months means we’ve written about 25 posts per month, then we have slightly bested our target of averaging one post per business day. There have been a few thin weeks along the way as client requirements dominated our time, but in the main, we have achieved what we set out to do by way of posting frequency.

Our best-practices posts, which highlight a particular part of our media relations practice, often using a client case study as illustration, are among our most consistently read posts. Such posts were a key part of our editorial strategy for the blog.

We have been less successful achieving two other parts of the editorial strategy. We have written fewer pieces that comment on what’s going on in the wider world in which our clients live, and we have had many fewer guest posts than originally hoped for. Both these targets are a function of not having a dedicated blog editor spending the kind of hours necessary to find stuff for our writers to comment on and recruiting posts from our clients and others in our network.

Our readership, after growing quite rapidly over the first two months, has averaged about 650 visitors per month, on top of our roughly 100 RSS and email subscribers. (This latter number ebbs and flows a bit but continues to grow steadily by about 10 a month.)

Our internal objective was to have more than 1,000 visitors at the one-year mark. We hit 793 site visitors last month, and topped 800 at least once, so I think we are well on our way.

More to the point, though, is what our blog has done for our organic search engine rankings. Even by month three, we were seeing extraordinary improvements, going from could-not-be-found to top-50, top-20 and, in many important areas, even top-10 results for the kinds of searches we believe prospects run when looking for a PR company. We have yet to be able to link a new piece of business directly to such a search, but we know that many prospects have read our blog and are impressed by what they see there.

We could do a much better job of building out the links that would make us a more active part of the extensive community of bloggers who write about public relations and technology marketing. Again, having an editor with more time to devote to this would improve our effectiveness.

Now, the tough part. Has it been worth the investment?

Well, I said at the outset that I would hold off on hard ROI calculations until we had a full year under our belts. I can say that it is a very expensive proposition maintaining a blog with so much original content. We are timekeepers, so I know exactly how much this costs. I’ll keep that amount under wraps for now but will say that anyone who believes Web 2.0 tactics like blogging are free or low-cost either ain’t doing it right or ain’t counting up all the costs.

Speaking just for myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed once again having an outlet (pulpit? soapbox?) for my views on certain subjects. I know many others around here have equally enjoyed being able to share their views and opinions. From that perspective, it has been very worthwhile.

Bottom line: We see value here and we intend to continue. Thank you for joining us, and keep coming back.

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