The digerati way
They're starting to fall, like a house of cards, and only time can tell who folds next.
They're talented, entrepreneurial, digitally minded professionals who sold the farm for a life of digital evangelism, but it seems digital was not the land of milk and honey it was supposed to be. Now, some of Hong Kong's most prolific digital agents are falling prey to the darker side of the marketing world, PR.
First it was Thomas Crampton, the former globe-trotting newspaper correspondent
for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times, who turned his name into a powerful blogging brand and digital consultant for media companies. Over a period of six years Crampton built his name as a top tech blogger and through his unique video interviews led an innovative style of unearthing technology and social media trends.
Earlier this year Crampton was snapped up by Ogilvy PR Worldwide as Asia-Pacific director of its 360 Digital Influence team, a role which sees him consult, conceive, develop and execute social media strategies for some of Asia's biggest brands.
Next in line was Napoleon Biggs, founder of Palava Digital and the popular networking event Web Wednesday. Biggs, who spent 12 years building digital companies and consulting to brands like CNN, was lured by Fleishman-Hillard as vice president of digital integration in Asia Pacific, with his experience as leader of Hong Kong's so-called digerati a major factor.
Staying true to form, Biggs broke the news on his blog, saying that after 12 years of a "roller coaster life of internet start-ups", he decided to suit up and take on a new challenge.
That's how the game was played for a growing band of ex-magazine and newspaper editors who waved goodbye to their old media ways for a life of blogging. But some like hkcosme.com (Meling Lam) admits that making a living is a challenge.
So who's next? The most likely candidate seems to be Jay Oatway, Hong Kong's answer to Twitter royalty, a media trend hunter and more recently organiser of the successful Twestival charity events in Hong Kong. Oatway's Twitter status is now reaching over into other areas like speaking engagements. What's interesting here is how social media is allowing those with the technical smarts to build their own personal brand as a stepping stone to bigger things.
Crampton admits this was one of his motives. "It was not about revenue, it was about bringing broader things to me like business opportunities, speaking opportunities and raising my profile in a way that was not possible in a previous era. My blog has always been about my obsession of social media and not something that I could retire to the South of France with."
As a PR professional he says social media applications like LinkedIn, Twitter and GoogleRankings are employment tools for what he calls a "blogger employment strategy".
"They have to have a social media profile. We want to get these bloggers out of their pyjamas and into a suit."
Personal branding on social media is interesting but the wider ramifications it holds for the marketing industry remains to be seen. Some on Twitter argued that Fleishman-Hillard would be in for a rude shock once Biggs joined the team, but whether this is real criticism or just a bit of competitive jostling is anyone's guess.
The PR sector's initiative of poaching top digital talent should be applauded, but let's remember that social media is not a ticket to a cushy job.
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- Fleishman-Hillard Hong Kong
- Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
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