Category Archives: Twitter

The write stuff: do your promotional pens click with clients?

You would expect a certain steely determination from the people who work in Mines Rescue, so perhaps the steely pen shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Once they realised there was a competition to be won – even one with no prize other than ballpoint bragging rights – they were off, diving under the table with an urgency that has doubtless saved many a trapped collier and emerging with a confident grin and the sort of Rolls Royce of writing instruments that should be reserved for royalty. “We’ve only got a hundred of these,” said the rescue man, proudly, as I took it off him, humbled and just a bit worried about whether he had ever lost one underground. It started with a flippant tweet about collecting pens at Hull and Humber Chamber Expo 2012 and then blogging about them. From such a

Pens on parade at Chamber Expo.

position it’s only one small re-tweet to having to deliver. @hhchamber duly obliged, so here we are. The easy answer to the most obvious question is 26. There were more to be had but some were those bog standard, unbranded biros and some were on tables that were behind people who had company. It would have to be some pen for me to barge through and risk jeopardising the business discussion of the century. Some stands didn’t have any pens at all. Sweets were pretty big this year. The Promotion Company looked to have more pens than most. In fact more pens than WH Smith. But they also have the sort of specialist knowledge about corporate trinkets that would give them a huge advantage, so I gave them a wide berth. I also decided to create a separate category for the special entry from the Mines Rescue Service, just as you would if Metallica came up against 25 Plastique Bertrands in a busking contest. Analysis began in earnest when assistant Amber came home from school. The longest was the KCFM entry at 14.8 centimetres, the shortest Holiday Inn Express at 13.6.The total length was 369.1, or just over 12 feet. Ball-pointless information? Marks for colour were awarded only after consultation with a higher authority who outlined the importance of the handbag clause: a pen of even the finest quality can be dismissed as totally useless if it isn’t bright enough to be located within a couple of seconds of rooting in a handbag. So 8.5 for the bright orange of Cobus and the green of Rapid Serv and questions from me – unanswered – about how the similarly green Mines Rescue  ‘B’ team and striking yellow MNA Consulting only scored seven, with a paltry six for the purple grip from COF Solutions. Of the 26 pens tested only six had blue ink. I’ll be hanging on to the contributions from DB Schenker, KC Business and the two entries from AA Global because blue is much better than black for making notes on documents in meetings. Plastic was the material of choice for all but the mighty Mines Rescue under-the-counter candidate, although many pens featured bits of metal here and there. More than 30 years of professional pen-carrying has taught me to beware of metal clips: they can shred your inside jacket pocket, and nine of our sample have one. The square-ish Cobus and the rounded-triangular Schenker were the only pens that weren’t round – the latter perhaps modelled on those neat little grips that you used to be able to get from Early Learning Centre to help children develop pencil control. Thoughtful. Comfort of grip, ease of use  for occasionally high-speed shorthand and overall quality were my territory, and with marks out of 40 the clear overall winner with 31.5 was from Saville Audio Visual. Plastic, but with a nice rubbery texture. Smooth, rollerball writing style. Happy to overlook the potentially hazardous metal clip just this once. Available in black or black so would have scored much more highly for colour if assessed by teenage son instead of nine-year old daughter. And it was colour that gave MNA Consulting the edge over the lovely Schenker, 29.5 against 28.5 with Amber asserting that yellow is worth two points more than blue. There is a serious side to all of this. How much is spent on branded pens and how effective are they at raising the profile of a business compared with such give-aways as bags, calendars, USB sticks, balloons, t-shirts, post-it notes, stuff and more stuff? Angela Oldroyd, Director of The Promotion Company (Hull) Ltd says no other advertising medium is used so frequently by recipients as the ballpoint pen, and she has the stats to prove it. Apparently independent research shows that when you distribute 100 pens 99 per cent of recipients will use them, 92 per cent will remember the brand or message and 83 per cent will use the pen daily. And each promotional pen has an average of 5.2 users during its lifetime. Pens certainly generated discussion, once attention was drawn to them, among people who generally just hand them round without a second thought. Bruce Massie, the Chamber’s Membership Manager, recalled an initiative a few years ago in which businesses collected unwanted office equipment to send to Africa. After rooting round his workspace he retrieved 220 pens to send to the Victoria Climbie School in Ivory Coast. Which brings me to the pen that scored just 20 points in our survey. It wouldn’t be fair to name and shame, and the lowest-placed entry did actually write rather nicely. But it somehow managed to be as flimsy as it was cumbersome, leaving little doubt that if anyone ever posted one of these from Hull to Africa – or even Anlaby – it wouldn’t survive the trip.


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Filed under Business, By Phil Ascough, Exhibitions, Freebies, Hull, Marketing, Media, Pens, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter shows its potential in 24-hour breaking news test

A remarkable 24 hours in the life of Twitter.

On Tuesday endless rumour and speculation as tweeters traded hot tips and second-guesses about the composition of the England World Cup squad.

Fast forward to Wednesday and the same network is pushing out potentially life-saving updates on the trail of a killer on the loose in Cumbria.

As a Twitter novice, still to sort out my iPhone app, I’d been picking my way through the various people, lists and trends as I tried to get an idea of what’s good and what’s bad in social media. The events of the last few days have crystallised a few points.

Tuesday became tedious, especially if you monitored Twitter alongside outlets like Sky Sports and the various BBC message boards.

Football fans almost by nature are always eager to demonstrate some inside knowledge.  Their teacher was Fabio Capello’s English tutor. The local pub landlord was in the villa next door to Darren Bent on holiday. Their postman went to school with Theo Walcott – in which case shouldn’t he still be at school?

But very quickly the mainstream media took over the whole show. Wherever there is a news vacuum you can expect the media to fill it, especially if it gives them half a chance of embarrassing the FA.

It’s hard though to see that the FA did anything wrong here. Capello was right to advise the omitted players first that they would be starting their holidays early. The FA were surely right to announce the final squad on their own website rather than with an old-fashioned press release.

It didn’t help that the site crashed, but that wouldn’t have deterred the army of national newspaper football writers, all eager to break the latest news from their secret sources. Could those sources just perhaps, possibly include potential members of the England squad newly-equipped with lucrative media contracts?

Wherever it came from, the end result of an intense bout of Tweet-upmanship was that many Tweeters were pleading for mercy, begging to be left with their own thoughts while they awaited the official announcement.

But if the media intrusion detracted from the fun of making football predictions it came into its own as events unfolded on Wednesday.

Sometimes the news is just too important to be kept under wraps until the next edition. Sometimes the professional desire to dig for an exclusive angle is outweighed by the urgent need to let people know the basics.

This was one of those occasions; people had to be told what was happening in Cumbria, and the mainstream media took the lead. What made the difference was the content of the messages, eschewing the “crazed killer on murderous rampage” approach in favour of information that could actually help people – location of the incidents, description of the car, registration number.

The ability to delivery such concise, important and timely information in turn raises concerns about clutter. You don’t want those messages delayed by comment, quips or even condolences.

Above all the information has to be accurate – don’t confuse Gosforth in Cumbria with Gosforth, Tyne and Wear, don’t say the car is green if it’s grey. In such circumstances, if in doubt, don’t Tweet at all.

Remember, if our sophisticated social media had been around in the 1800s Mark Twain would probably have said: “A Tweet can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

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Filed under By Phil Ascough, Cumbria, Football, Media, Twitter, Uncategorized, World Cup