Friday, 15 February 2013

Extra, extra – read all about it!

MCC International Agency Director, Graham Thatcher, met up with a journalist and publisher this week with a client and the conversation turned around to the fact that as an organisation a considerable amount of their energies have now moved over to producing online content as opposed to printed magazines. Of course we are all very familiar with digital content and it has become even more convenient and realistic to use it with the phenomenal rise of the smart device and tablets. As if by a quirk of fate, Graham also spoke to another contact recently who remarked that upon seeing a commuter on a packed train reading a broadsheet newspaper; had assumed this was because they had forgotten to bring their iPad Mini! Anecdotes like this are not, I’m sure, out of the ordinary and digital media has rapidly become such an important part of our everyday lives – largely because of the ubiquity of relatively cheap high performance and highly portable devices that are geared to offering the content that the person in the street (literally) wants. It doesn’t seem so long ago that people had to be convinced that online press coverage could be considered important, and yet it is now perhaps the central medium from which people gain news and information. MCC has been embracing online coverage since its early days, we have long advised clients that whilst having printed coverage still feels special (and probably always will!) being online rapidly opens up a potential audience that would have been unthinkable even a generation ago. It also makes other areas, such as video content, a realistic way of reaching this audience, as I mentioned in my last blog entry.

With St Valentine’s Day this week, Internet businesses have inevitably been cashing in on the trade for sending flowers, gifts and cards but the BBC News has reported on another ‘romantically’-connected online money-spinner -  fake girlfriend profiles for Facebook. As a way of bringing the industry of Escorting into the digital age, enterprising women (and some men apparently too) are making hard cash from lending their attractive likenesses to clients who want to make their ex jealous or impress their friends. For example, US site Cloud Girlfriend let the paying customer choose their ideal companion’s profile which could then be linked romantically to their own for a fee (well until Facebook got wind of it enforced its honesty and privacy rules). Perhaps it’s another reminder that people take their online persona as seriously as their offline one and that there can be money to be made in offering services that people want, however bizarre they may seem!

Developers have long talked about cars that can take a greater share of driving from drivers, to help battle the problems of fatigue for example (I’m thinking KITT from 1980s classic Knightrider myself!) but one disabled driver found out this week that this can be a truly frightening prospect if things go wrong. As reported in The Register (with a considerable degree of hyperbole it would seem), driver Frank Lecerf feared for his life as the cruise control system on his specially adapted car malfunctioned, propelling the terrified Frenchman at speeds of 120mph across the border into Belgium before the fuel ran out and he was able to stop his Renault. Talking about it in the office we couldn’t help but compare it to movie classic ‘Speed’ but in reality the prospect of technology potentially controlling life and death and then going wrong is a terrifying one. On another level, it’s a good reminder that technology should be there simply to make life easier or more productive and stops being a benefit when it fails to meet those criteria (something we always bear in mind when assisting our clients with their PR campaigns and talking about the benefits of products or services). It’s something that no doubt Monsieur Lecerf is more than aware of.
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