Wednesday, 13 November 2013

We are supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week with EFACTOR

Next week is Global Entrepreneurship Week and here at MCC International we love working with entrepreneurs, whether it is a fledgling company with an exciting idea they want to bring to market, or a business that has achieved much but is still hungry for more. Helping a company to reach its goals and aspirations is a hugely rewarding experience, and the reason many people who have been successful in business choose to get involved in supporting those with entrepreneurial spirit.

Two such people are Adrie Reinders and Marion Freijsen, who founded EFACTOR, which is today the world’s largest entrepreneurial community. They are also the authors of a great book entitled ‘The E-Factor Entrepreneurship In The Social Media Age.

Each day next week we will be giving away a copy of the book via our Twitter page. All you need to do is tweet us (@mcc_int) with a piece of advice or inspirational message for would be entrepreneurs and include the hashtag #efactor, for your chance to win.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Flexing our media muscles in Brussels at ISSE 2013

This week I jumped on the Eurostar and headed to the annual ISSE conference (one of my favourite events in the MCC calendar). The two-day IT security event is the result of twelve months of hard work from the team at EEMA, TeleTrust and Revolution Events as well as many other organisations who come together to put on a conference that places content at the heart of the event.

MCC International has had the pleasure of running the press office for over ten years in cities including Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Budapest, Warsaw and Madrid. This year it was our pleasure to welcome members of the media from across Europe (and a few beyond) to Brussels for the second year in succession. ISSE is perennially popular with the media as it always attracts the big names to speak and a very high calibre delegate, making it the ideal place to spend quality time with the who’s who of IT security.


This year they were treated to presentations from Google’s Mayank Upadhyay, Chief Executive of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance, John Lyons (both of whom prompted a lot of debate on Twitter and in the corridors following their keynotes), and Kim Cameron from Microsoft.  In fact, it is a curious phenomenon listening to the presentations being given, whilst reading Tweets commenting on what is being said in real-time. Sat at the back of the packed auditorium it was impossible to detect who the main protagonists were.

Arriving back in the office on Wednesday morning I was delighted to receive an email from a journalist saying: “Congratulations to you and the ISSE 2013 team on producing an excellent event. Some really well-pitched presentations, I learned a lot.”


So, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the members of the media that joined us at ISSE 2013 and to everyone who makes the event a compelling pull. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Online Dinosaur?





There has been some debate in the MCC International office recently about the role of email in business and in our lives in general. In some ways it represents a technology anachronism, a tool dating from the earliest days of online that has, in some cases, changed little in the last decade or so. In a world where social media, IM and online file transfers have easily superseded it in terms of flexibility and availability, the humble email is showing its age. You can’t easily tell if the recipient has read and digested your message, the file swapping size is tiny by modern standards (a couple of photos could bounce back!) and there can easily be long delays in any response (if it comes!) – it could easily have gone  the way of the Dodo long ago. In many ways it emulates its traditional offline predecessor (Snailmail anyone? - even that email-era nickname seems old now!!), sharing many of its faults - and yet it’s still clinging on! I had wondered why myself until recently, when the slightly archaic online service I still use for my personal emails (13 years and counting!!) decided to go offline - and for an undetermined period.

Business email systems are still important for many organisations. They represent an electronic version of the paper memo (for those that can remember the ‘Cc’ stands for ‘Carbon Copy’, a throwback to the days of simple paper duplicates!) Certainly this old-fashioned legacy has lost it favour amongst the upcoming generations now leaving school. Email is not ‘cool’ and for many young workers represents a very old-fashioned way of doing things. Even at my age I find emailing a bank a frustrating experience for example, IM is so much more immediate and helpful. So when I lost my email access I wasn’t immediately bothered. But then when I thought about it, the connotations were more worrying. If you use online banking, where do you get notifications? (or a password reset) If you buy something online where do they send an invoice/confirmation? If an item is faulty (in my case a TV) where does the manufacturer want to send the returns details? If you book travel or hotels, where does the confirmation go? Despite its apparent inflexibility, your email address still represents a secure point for the online community to recognise. It’s actually the closest we get to a virtual letterbox. And in the same way as if you got locked out of your home, it’s difficult to easily prove who you are or to get secure services without it.

Thankfully my dinosaur of an email service has been restored and I have access to all those Amazon receipts and old bank statements again (hooray!) – but it’s been a real eye-opener for me. As old and unsexy as the technology may seem it’s still important to us in the second decade of the 21st Century and I am very seriously thinking of registering all my online services with a more mainstream (and hopefully more reliable!) provider. But then, that’s quite a hassle in itself – much like changing your physical home address or mobile number it involves a fair amount of running around!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Launching The Latest News Site For Technology In The Solent Region


A new website has launched this week that aims to share the technology innovations and successes being made by businesses in the Solent region. Solent Tech News is being run by our journalist team based here at MCC International.

In addition to the latest tech stories we will also be profiling some of the key movers and shakers that are helping to keep our region one of the most ground-breaking in the UK in the Solent spotlight.

Our academic institutions attract some of the brightest young science and technology talent to the area and there is a thriving entrepreneurial start-up culture, as well as many large national and international brands that choose to have their operations in the area.

Solent Tech News is a resource for all of these individuals and organisations to share their stories with the local tech community and beyond. So, if you have an interesting news story please send it to: news@solenttechnews.com

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Supermarket swipe - Tesco enters the tablet arena with Hudl

It is blackberry season at the moment, but whilst they are in abundance in our hedgerows their namesakes are proving not so fruitful (wanting to use the phrase blackberry crumble!) in the pockets of gadget fans. Meanwhile, Apple has reported nine million units of its new iPhones were sold in the first three days of launch, despite reports of problem ‘hacking’ of the fingerprint scanner.

So, whilst the faltering of Blackberry and the success of a new iPhone didn’t come as huge surprise, I wasn’t expecting to watch Rory Cellan-Jones showing off a new Tesco tablet on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning.  Yes there has been a lot of talk about the supermarket entering the tablet world for some time now, but what did shock me was the spec of the new Hudl device.



Sure, it doesn’t have the screen resolution of the Nexus 7 or the app store of Apple, and it certainly doesn’t win out in the looks department with its chunky bezel, but at £119 it does have a lot going for it. Firstly it has expandable storage and an HDMi out (a big bugbear of mine as I impatiently wait for the UK release date of the Google Chromecast). What is more, it doesn’t slap you in the face with Tesco content, giving you a pure Android (Jelly Bean) experience, unlike the Kindle Fire. Yes the Tesco content is there, but clearly and discreetly via a ‘T’ icon.


What is more with Clubcard vouchers and good discounts via Tesco Direct, the chances of anyone actually paying the RRP are slim. We are yet to get our hands on one and I am sure those of use with tablets won’t be rushing to buy a new one, but for those who have yet to enter the world of tablets (there are still a few out there) and with Christmas just 13 weeks away, this could be a winner.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Music For The Masses




In case it escaped your attention, this week Apple announced the launch of two iPhones, the 5S and the 5C, which are essentially a variation on the same theme as all iPhones that preceded them.  Arguably it was the launch of iTunes and the iPod back in 2001 that was Apple’s finest hour.

Whether you use iTunes, another of the digital music stores, or the likes of Spotify, it is fact that we have never had it so good when it comes to the quantity of music at our fingertips.  Thanks to the late Steve Jobs, the iPod and all subsequent incarnations has  given us the record collections we could only dream of when we were younger. It was the efforts of Ray Dolby that made it possible for us to listen to our music, whether at home, or in the cinema, in the highest quality. So, it was with much sadness that we learnt of the passing of Mr Dolby at the age of 80.

Both Steve Jobs and Ray Dolby both made a monumental contribution to music and have enriched the lives of all music lovers, regardless of the genre you choose to listen. It is the passion and drive of people such as these that makes working in the world of technology such an exciting place to be. So, whilst it is true I am not overly excited about the latest iPhone launch, I do appreciate how spoilt I am to have that view.  Technology innovation moves at such a fast past, however, it also seems that our expectations of it are evolving at an even faster pace.   

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The enigma of women in technology

Several years ago, Simon Hewitt (one of our top bloggers here at MCC International) visited Bletchley Park for a new business meeting. The meeting went well, but we were both particularly interested in looking around the museum, getting up close to the Enigma machine and discussing old war films.

This week, the National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park has opened the Google-sponsored Women in Computing Gallery. The event acknowledges the important role of woman in technology past and present (and I hope future). Given their huge contribution during the Second World War, it is the ideal place to showcase technological achievements.



The exhibition is particularly significant as over the years the ‘face’ of technology has on the whole been male, of course there are a few exceptions (you are probably now thinking of either the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, Carly Fiorina, or the President and CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer). However, look beyond the figureheads and you will see a very different picture. In fact, I would say that the technology PR, marketing and journalist community in the UK is fairly evenly split. In fact here at MCC International it is an exact 50/50. However, traditionally the spokespeople that we typically push to the fore have been men, although this is beginning to change, albeit slowly.

Of course, there are sometimes some amusing incidents, and I recall being at a trade-show and watching from a safe distance a senior spokesperson (a man) from a company that shall of course remain nameless, being put through the technological mill by a reporter (a woman), as he got it very wrong and assumed her level of expertise was based on the height of her heels and the length of her skirt!

Back in the 1980s, I very much doubt I would have got a girlfriend by talking about my Sinclair Spectrum and prowess playing Double Dragon (that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!), it was a language that only boys shared, however, times have changed. Technology and more specifically computing has proliferated in to all of our lives. Sitting on the train in the morning you will see just as many women playing Temple Run as men, and all of us want the latest tablet and smartphone for both function and fashion. Yes some of us will be more concerned about colour choices of the new iPhone 5C, whilst others will fixate on the pros and cons of the Snapdragon processor in our Android tablet, but that isn’t a gender specific argument.

It is great that this exhibition is celebrating these often unsung heroes of the tech world, and if you get the chance, do pay a visit to Bletchley Park. There is a huge talent pool in the UK tech sector, both male and female and hopefully we will see the balance redressed higher up the corporate food-chain.
Earlier this year, research from Cranfield University showed women held 17% of the board positions among the companies listed on the FTSE 100, then just a few weeks ago it was suggested to much chagrin that this was due to women’s ineptitude at competitive sports such as chess. If this is the case why is it that the top three highest scorers on my friends list playing Minion Rush are woman, and I can’t get near their rankings for love nor money! 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Have a break, have an Android KitKat

Well if we thought last week was exciting to be in the world of tech this week has trumped it and then some and it is only Wednesday!

Yes, we are still fixated on the new Nexus 7 and the ease at which iTunes downloads can be transferred on to it!  Although our attention is also turning to the LG’s plans to take on the device in the 7inch tablet space. However, the big news of this week began breaking on Tuesday when Microsoft announced that it would be buying Nokia’s mobile phone business. When two organisations of this size combine it is always going to grab the headlines, but you cannot help but think of two tech giants whose best days are sadly behind them, only time will tell.

Today sparked debate in the office when Android announced that its new OS would be called KitKat, tying in with the chocolate bar which most of us had in our school packed lunch. We all like the statue Google has unveiled, but is it the start of multi-million pound bidding wars for organisations beginning with L, and is this co-branding a good thing.  As a marketer I have to say yes. However, we are looking forward to Android WagonWheel, in the distant future.


It has also been good news for ebook users this week with Amazon announcing its Matchbook scheme which will allow customers who buy printed books to get a copy of the digital version for free, or at a discount. This is something bookworms have wanted for some time and signs pointed to this earlier this year when they started to offer the instant digital download of an album when you ordered the CD.

Finally, you can never ignore the needs of Apple fans and things started to hot up this week when they confirmed 10th September as launch day for the new iPhone 5s. But will they launch the expected low-cost iPhone 5C? What colours can we choose from? And, how will iOS7 fair? All these questions will be answered in just a few days.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Technology, Working and Twerking

Entering the short working week following the last bank holiday of the year can seem like the official beginning of the end of the Summer. However, as it turns out it was a rather exciting week in the world of technology.

We have a roughly 50/50 Apple vs Android split in our office. So, for half of us the opportunity to get our hands on the New Google Nexus 7 tablet, launched on Wednesday, was a mouth-watering prospect. Yet, I don’t think the guys at Asus or Google would have expected all of their efforts to improve the screen resolution and processor speed to have been put to use in order to find out what the hell twerking is, or the odd lunchtime game of hugely addictive Minion Rush! It would seem that for all of the jargon, buzzwords and acronyms we know everyone was oblivious to this one. The Nexus 7 is a fantastic 7inch slate and thoroughly recommended, although we are now waiting with bated breath for the UK launch of the Chromecast.

Meanwhile, EE was joined by Vodafone (who were also hitting the headline for talks with Verizon Communications about selling its stake in their joint US venture) and O2 as they began the rollout of their 4G offerings in the UK, prompting debate on Radio 4 mid-week on the future of 5G, as well as internally in the office whether Wi-Fi only or LTE tablets are the way forward.

One of the most popular types of App on any tablet is mobile banking. In fact it is projected that more than one billion people will be using these services by 2017. So, it was with interest that we read the initial findings of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) looking at concerns over the security and user friendliness of these programs. The full report is due early next year.

However, the biggest surprise of the week was the revelation from BT that it will turn off its dial-up internet access service on 1st September, making us first wonder who has the patience for dial up these days (certainly no-one here) and then reminiscing on the sounds the old modem would make and the anticipation of the webpage loading.

So a short week that I am sure has felt rather long, but the weekend and the end of the month is nigh, and I have a new tablet to play with and will be installing my mobile banking with a little more trepidation to check how much is left after payday.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Industry Awards – You have got to be in it to win it

MCC International Agency Director Graham Thatcher reflects on another awards success!

Looking back over the first six months of 2013 one of the highlights has been seeing many of our clients receiving accolades for their product innovations. The latest to collect a trophy is LaCie,  winning the coveted MacWorld Awards 2013 category for Best Consumer Storage for its superb LaCie CloudBox product. The awards, which are now in their 18th year, recognise the best and brightest products and vendors that cater for the now diverse Apple-compatible products industry. In such a competitive industry it is testament to LaCie’s excellence and innovation that it won the coveted award.

The CloudBox is one of those products that every gadget obsessed techie and non techie member of the MCC team wants! Essentially it is a very attractive box designed by Neil Poulton in which you and your family can store all of your music, movies, photos and files (it is available in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB versions, which even the most hungry digital content consumer will struggle to fill). Plug it in to a power supply and connect to your home network and you, your family and friends have easy and instant access to all of your content wherever you are (just so long as you have an Internet connection), whether you are using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. What is more  it has UPnP™ which mean your movies can be streamed to XBOX or PS3, iPad®, or any network-connected computer and TV. It even includes backup software for PC and Mac,  automatically backing up multiple computers in the home to ensure all files are safe - from movies and music collections to family photos.

Here at MCC we know that in order to win such an award you need to start with a fantastic product that meets are real market need. However, so many great innovations fail to get the kudos they deserve simply because they are not entered in to the right award programmes, or they entry doesn’t do the product justice. That is why so many of our clients ask us to take the reins of their award programmes, to give themselves the best possible opportunity to put on the tuxedo/or glamorous frock and receive the adulation from their team (and scorn of their competitors), as they collect their silver and glassware at a glitzy hotel in London from a comedian who you recognise from Mock The Week, but you don’t know their name!

There really are so many benefits to entering and more importantly winning award programmes. They provide a fantastic morale boost for staff,  reinforce the desirability of your products to your business partners and give you a wealth of marketing opportunities to capitialise on for a full 12 months until the next award season comes around. So, if you have a product that should be standing out from the crowd for all of the right reasons then give us a call.

If you would like to talk to us about how an award entry can benefit your organisation give us a call on 02380 111977 or visit www.mccint.com

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Modern Marketer: Art vs Science?


News portal Social Media Today recently ran an interesting article on how the modern marketer needs to evolve to be successful. The traditional attribute of creativity, it argues, is not enough to harness the ever-evolving area of social media and that now the key to being successful is also being able to find and deliver measurable metrics to prove this success. It’s an interesting concept for the marketing and communications industry to consider. Traditionally and especially before the advent of online social media, it was much more labour-intensive and abstract to measure audience interest in any campaign. But the tools on offer with web analytics now mean that even the most simple of campaigns can be measured to a far more interesting degree. This means that the marketing resource need no longer just be viewed as a cost; results can be demonstrated clearly and measured in much the same way as any other part of the business.

So is the creative side of marketing now redundant? Far from it! In fact I’d argue that actually it’s even more important now. Excellent written content and striking images are crucial to any marketing and communications campaign, especially an online one. Compelling content is vital in attracting interest in what you have to say. A highly creative campaign needn’t necessarily add more cost to the bottom line either. Inventive content should stand well on its own and with the raft of free social networking sites available as vehicles, there is plenty of scope to grab the audience on merit alone. Then of course we can look at the other half of the story, analysing the impact of these activities and showing they have a beneficial effect on your audience.

If you would like to talk about how your marketing and communications can mix creativity and metrics, give us a call on 02380 111977 or visit www.mccint.com

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Spring Cleaning your Marketing and PR




With the May Bank Holiday now behind us and with the surprisingly good weather we had for this one, it is finally starting to feel like Spring has actually arrived. There are a lot of hackneyed clich├ęs about Springtime being about rebirth and Spring Cleaning, but actually there does seem to be a palpable change in attitude and mood for many of us. Energy levels are higher and undoubtedly this reflects in the world of business too. It’s no coincidence that the trade show season is well and truly in the swing now (for a number of our clients the upcoming IFSEC security show, 13th-16th May at the NEC Birmingham, is a vital showcase for products and services), so MCC International is busy working towards this, shouting about all that is new and exciting.

Although the Spring Cleaning metaphor for cleaning out the old and making improvements is a heavily used one, the truth is this is an excellent time for any business to really push its message and catch the attention of an invigorated audience. This could be a traditional PR campaign with the press, it could be an increased presence in online media (rapidly in the form of video content for example) and social media, it might even be the creation or beefing up of your internal news sharing (such as a newsletter or internal e-shot) to ensure your own team feel well informed and motivated. At MCC International we can help you with any of these and more, creating interesting and engaging content (whatever medium it may be used in) is what we are here for. Undoubted the most receptive audience is one that is already feeling motivated to find new opportunities, so why not capitalise on this and make sure your message isn’t going unnoticed! 
  
If you would like to talk about how you can do more with social media give us a call on 02380 111977 or visit www.mccint.com