The BBC recently overhauled its website. The sites looks a great deal better and has maintained its interactive nature with visitors able to send in comments on many of the stories. However, I can’t help feeling it is an opportunity missed to do something really bold and unusual. For example I’d love it if they’d taken a leaf out of YouTube‘s book and made it so that when you clicked on a news item, it then automatically made additional suggestions. I’d also appreciate it becoming a truly customizable site. Right now you can customise the home page to some degree, but compared to sites like my.yahoo.com it is… weak. I’d also like to see them accept ratings from users on their content AND to admit to how many people are reading each story in same way as YouTube tracks the number of people that have viewed a clip. In other words I’m saying that I feel the BBC could have used the best features of a number of sites to upgrade its site. I would also LOVED to have seem them embrace blog or even rival content more. For example, they could have created links to host of additional sites for news and perspective. Of course that would have created a lot of work for them BUT it may have resulted in the BBC becoming a wonderful homepage. And let’s face it, even in a world where we all use the Internet in a far more sophisticate way than we did even a year ago, we all still love our homepage.
The UK equivalent of the White House, 10 Downing Street, has established an e-petition service enabling UK citizens to create petitions on pretty well anything. Currently over 7000 petitions are active and they cover a multitude of topics. It struck me that these petitions give a glimpse of the topics that are affecting a nation (which should be useful insight for consumer lead businesses). They also potentially create a vehicle to put items on the public agenda far more quickly and cost effectively than would have been the case before the Internet arrived. Of course, scanning the petitions is a pretty manual effort right now but the government has done a pretty good job of breaking down petitions currently active into sections.
The WSJ today reported that a small video production company that for years recorded internal meetings and events on Wal-Mart‘s behalf. Having been dumped by its main customer, it has now decided to offer up the content to anyone who wants to have access. Provided they pay of course. It’s apparently a treasure trove for historians and lawyers suing the company. For example one lawyer has paid $15000 to secure copies of video clips on the chance they may be useful in future cases. Wal-Mart not surprisingly is unhappy about this and is considering legal action. The maker of the tapes started working with Wal-Mart in the 1970s and claims he had no contract meaning he owns the content. It made me wonder if this will cause firms to quickly review their contracts to check whether the notes taken by PR staff in meetings become their legal property. We all know that clients tell PR staff information they need to do their jobs that they wouldn’t like to see in places like the WSJ. If there is no contract or the contract is poorly written, who knows where that information will end up in time.
For those seeking some light relief from the economy, here’s a thought: The 20th Century was the era of innovation. we invented things like we’ve never done before. Machines of all manner were dreamed up, we put men on the moon and we created cures for killer diseases. We also coined names for most of the decades that fitted in this period. We started with the roaring 20’s and raced through every succeeding decade to the 90s. Indeed when someone says the 70s today we know they mean the 1970s. These descriptors have been huge for people marketing products. Indeed entire industries have evolved around these decades. This leaves us with a challenge as we start to roll through the 21st century. It simply doesn’t work to say the twenty tens, or the twenty seventies for that matter. Any suggestions on this are welcome. Perhaps the naming of the decades and the celebration of them from a marketing perspective will forever be a 20th Century matter. Perhaps someone will coin a new way of branding the decades – The M20s? I know, it’s not very good is it?