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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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My name is my name

Marlo Stanfield from the WireSo says Marlo Stanfield. And he has a point.

Reputation means a lot. But reputation is about perception, and there are multiple perspectives in which it can be viewed.

Broadly, reputation can be thought of in four inter-related spheres

  • Yourself – your personal brand
  • Your organisation (this itself can have several facets, if your organisation is part of a larger conglomerate or affiliation)
  • Your industry
  • The wider public

Marlo is concerned with his personal reputation among people in the industry – “the game”. He isn’t so worried about the other facets.

With the prominence of polling in the upcoming general election, the research industry is contemplating its reputation among the wider public.

I don’t think it really matters.

This election is more partisan and contentious than any I recall (most likely driven by the likelihood of change, rising prominence of online media giving a voice to more people, and the novelty of the leadership debates). Pot-shots, such as those against YouGov, are inevitable. This article from Research Live shows how YouGov aren’t doing themselves any favours in their need for speed (and this is leaving aside their associations with The Sun/Murdoch/Conservative Party).

I don’t think it matters because the research industry is rarely public facing – the only publicity it really receives is through political polls and PR research.

I’ve written about the problems with PR research in the past, but there is evidently a market for it and so the method prospers. It might damage the reputation of the industry to the wider public but outside of recruitment  (of staff and respondents/participants) it isn’t really relevant.

As Marlo noted, it is industry reputation – for yourself and your organisation – that really matters.

It is similar to the advertising industry. Successful companies have a lot of brand equity through the quality and associations of their work – Wieden & Kennedy and Nike, Fallon and Cadbury, HHCL and Tango, and Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Burger King, to give but four examples.

But what proportion of the general public has heard of these companies, let alone recognises and appreciates their work? Not many. Is it a damning indictment of the strength of the marketing industry that it fails in promoting the most basic thing – itself? Not really. Companies attract talent and business through their successes and image – public perception doesn’t factor.

Ray Poynter is rightly concerned with the the ethics of market research but for me, the importance of this is in maintaining business links. There is no adequate means of policing the research industry – anyone can knock on a door and say they are doing a survey – so it is not a battle worth fighting.

Companies stand and fall by the quality of their work – or at least the perception of it within the industry. Sub-standard work that is openly criticised will only harm long-term prosperity.

Self-regulation and recognition, whether through a recognised body like the Market Research Society, or at a more ad hoc level, can achieve this through highlighting good and bad practice.The research industry needs to be more vocal in showcasing good work, and castigating poor work.

This in turn will filter to the individual level, where the talented and ambitious will compete to work for the top companies. This in turn strengthens the work, and thus the industry. It could even permeate to the public.

There is no quick fix to improve the standing of an industry, and in some cases it isn’t necessarily desirable. Rather than look to the big picture, we should focus on the more immediate challenges.

If we all concentrate on undertaking the best possible work, then a strong reputation – for ourselves, our organisation and our industry – will follow.

sk

NB: The clip of the scene with the quote is below (it is from Series 5, so beware of potential spoilers)

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Links – 9th January 2009

Enjoy your Friday

Products

  • Jon Canter rants against the rise of personalised copy on product packaging. “We’re the couple who love to make crisps.” It sounds like a personal ad in Snackmakers Weekly: a couple seeks another couple who also love to make crisps, in the hope of meeting up in a car park in Colchester. (Comment is Free)

Social Media

  • Rick from Eyecube rails against the personal branding phenomenon. He argues (correctly, I believe) that it is about value and not chasing numbers
  • Alan Wolk talks about “Scoble blindness” – something which I strongly believe in. People within the tech bubble live complete different lives to the average member of the public, which often creates a disconnect between hype and reality. Even now, Twitter hasn’t crossed over (though @wossy, @the_real_shaq and @stephenfry may change that)

Consumer Insight

  • More Intelligent Life argues that rather than society dumbing down, we are in an age of mass intelligence – societal fragmentation has allowed niches to grow and flourish

Online resources

  • Getty Moodstream allows you to filter images and videos on a variety of settings

I would particularly recommend 10 constituents of the WOW factor, The rise of the personal media platform, “Scoble blindness”, How behavioural ad targeting punishes web publishers and The science of shopping

And check out my Tumblr for a few more links

sk

The internet lasts forever*

* Well, unless the Internet Archive and the mirror at the Library of Alexandria both melt down.

I’ve been crazy busy the last week, hence the lack of real updates. So, a quick observation and a couple of jumbled thoughts to keep things ticking over here (as you may tell from my archive, I fall more into the “post often” than “post well” category – my blog is a work in progress collection of unedited thoughts and observations, rather than the finished article (so to speak)).

My observation is thus:

In the month of July, according to Comscore, the 95th most popular domain in the UK – with almost 2m unique users and 10m page impressions – was… Geocities.

My first thought was – huh? Geocities is still going?

After visiting the site, I can see that it still functions. Barely. But it has seen better days.

Yet it is still there. And still collecting more traffic than asda.co.uk, travelsupermarket.com and hmv.co.uk – the 3 sites directly below it in the July rankings.

Site owners rarely pull the plug online – though hosting companies might. What we publish online lasts forever. From Google Cache to the Wayback Machine via tools I am not savvy enough to know about, we will always have a digital footprint.

And that footprint will soon become footprints. I must have created a hundred site profiles over the years using a variety of pseudonyms. Most of those are collecting dust in various corners of the Internet. Ghost-towns are alive and well. But only in terms of users – not necessarily visitors.

But one day. whether it is through Open ID, Friendfeed or whatever interoperability that Google decide to bless us with, we will eventually become joined up.

Do I want that link to the past? Things I publish under the curiouslypersistent name (or derivatives thereof) form part of a coherent persona. Do I want that to be linked to things I have forgotten about and things I would rather forget from my past that are completely contrary to who I am now?

I notice that some of the newer sites allow you to change your username. This can allow one to align their personal brand by porting over to a new name and removing certain content. But just because it no longer exists in the current doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. And if a prospective employer decided to carry out a thorough online sweep of an interviewee?

Can there truly be a separation from work and life? Business and pleasure? Church and state?

The Internet is always on. And there is no escape.

sk

NB: As a sidenote, I am planning to redesign this blog. When I finally get around to it, I will be incorporating feeds to my other online footprints.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deia/