Are there news sources out there you just don’t want to miss? Can a special feed gets lost in your reader or twitter stream? Do you absolutely positively need to know about something as soon as it’s public?

Then there’s a web app out there whichs is perfect for you.

I’ve been playing for IFTTT  (If This Then That) for a while and thought I would try a recipe to send a link to a can’t-miss-newsletter link straight to my phone as soon as it’s published. I tend to not read my personal emails during the day and newsletters are de-emphasised  in many email clients. Missing this very important newsletter was becoming a bit of a pain.

if this then that

Why is this newsletter so important

The best comedian in the UK by a mile is Daniel Kitson. He is part soul warming storyteller, part potty-mouthed-bear-pit-slaying compère and part grumpy misanthrope. He is a joy. If you haven’t heard of him that’s because he doesn’t do TV, does very little press (he hates PRs) and shuns the limelight. Have a look at his website where you purchase previous material.

Mr Kitson can literally break a box-office. When his shows go on sale phone lines are jammed and websites crash as his legion of fans tussle for tickets. Box office managers know when they have been kitsonned.

How can a man without a promotional machine do this? Well, he has a very excitable and strong fan base (The Market he call us) which he communicates with in a sporadic and very funny email newsletter*. You never know when it will land and when it does you want to be on the front foot with planning ticket purchase.

Sick of missing it or finding it days late, I thought I would give IFTTT a try to send a notification to my mobile. IFTTT let’s you create recipes that link web services together. A trigger causes an action in what they call a ‘Recipe’. It’s that simple. My Daniel Kitson Recipe below
IFTTT Recipe: Text a link to a new Daniel Kitson Newsletter.


How to create an SMS alert

I can only do this because Mr Kitson is using email newsletter software with RSS built in, MailChimp. Not all do this but MailChimp is an excellent service and this is but one of an avalanche of reasons for using it. In fact this would work with any MailChimp newsletters.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Sign up to IFTTT – a vital step.
  2. Click the Feed trigger
  3. Click New Feed Item
  4. Open the newsletter in a browser and copy the RSS link from the top bar.
  5. Paste this into IFTTT and create the trigger.
  6. Set up with mobile channel in IFTTT and verify it with your phone.
  7. Add the necessary text to the action, Make sure the URL ingredient is included and that’s it.

If you have you own great uses for IFTTT or ways IFTTT can be used in comms why not leave them below?

*Content marketers and newsletter producers should read it. This is a newsletter that is opened, read and loved.


Just a quick post to say I was kindly allowed by the CIPR Scotland to try something new and host a Google Hangout on Air about how to win a PRide Award a couple of weeks ago.

You can see my efforts below.

There were a few mistakes but I picked up a lot from organising and hosting the event. Rather than keep it to myself, I have shared these lessons over on the CIPR Scotland blog. I hope it helps anyone thinking about hosting a hangout in the future.

All in all, Hangouts on Air gets a big thumbs up from me.


Last week the CIPR announced the shortlist for the CIPR Scotand Pride awards.

CIPR Scotland Pride Shortlist 2012

I sit on the CIPR Scotland group committee as Secretary and also contribute to the CIPR Scotland blog and twitter account. We wanted to collate the response to the nominations and decided to give Storify a whirl. However, it didn’t really want to work with wordpress.com blog (which we use for the group) so I have posted the Storify over here instead.

Congratulation once again to all the nominees and I look forward to seeing you at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange in December.


I stumbled across an old article on The Atlantic via Mindhacks (all links below) on inconspicuous consumption and how it relates to social groups.

Coined by Thorstein Veblen in 1899, inconspicuous consumption is the act of spending lavishly on visible goods to prove prosperity.

Research has found that as a social group earns less money members tend to spend more money on public shows of wealth and prosperity. This is at the expense of unseen benefits, such as home improvements, experiences and items like insurance.

In a nut shell: The less money your social group has the more you visibly flaunt wealth to other members even at the expense of your overall well-being.

If you’ve got it, you don’t flaunt it

We see example of this in marketing and advertising all the time. Next time you walk down the high street or look at branding in adverts examine the size of the logos and their prominence on products and communications

There is a lot research into luxury brands and the size of logos. As the brand moves up the luxury and price scale the logos get larger and larger until the size reaches a peak and reduces  again. For very expensive items the branding is very subtle (for a quick overview visit  Neuroscience Marketer).

This research refers to logos but it could equally apply to styling or design if it is easily identifiable with a company or brand. Just think about Apple and it’s lawsuit with Samsung over the look of their smartphones.

Nuanced but Inconspicuous

While examples and comparisons are obvious between distant socio-economic groups there are likely to be more nuanced version out there as well. This got me thinking about a scene I observed while a student.

I was (very) lucky to attend one of the UK’s ‘posher’ universities. The Yah culture in St Andrews is the the envy of no other campus. If you haven’t come across a Yah before then this now famous video will help explain.

You get the picture…..

I was in one of the Yah drinking haunts one day when I heard a group making snide remarks about the quality of a friend’s shirts. I couldn’t tell the difference; pink is pink and the collars of all were all definitely pointing up. The group had clear but relatively discrete designer labels on their outerwear bought from expensive high street stores. The poor victim had a small simple symbol on his shirt and was looking perplexed by it all.

A friend of mine, who knew the victim before university, leaned over to me. It turned out he was one from a very well monied family and the small symbol was a their emblem and sown into all their clothes – and this £100+ bespoke shirt – by the family tailor on Saville Row since 1844.

While this group of gentlemen were definitely not from a poor background they still tried to demonstrate relative group status through branding. Even more so they were clueless about the real value and quality of the product their friend was wearing.

Subtle forms of inconspicuous consumptions may be out there and have more to do with an individuals relative position within a group than the group’s overall position within society.

It is just a hypothesis but newer members a group could be more likely to demonstrate the trapping of that group in order to feel and asset that they belonging. Whether or not something is thought of as inconspicuous is determined by that group. It British culture this usually manifests itself as snobbery.

Inconspicuous Consumption and Communication

When dealing with rich economic status groups, branding and communication should be more subtle. Very high wealth individuals have a group identity that is not flash, flamboyant or crass. Quality, bespoke workmanship and service are paramount.

Additionally, as branding becomes more conspicuous then only those truly in the know can recognise it (Beger and Ward, Journal of Consumer Research 2010), the real leaders and taste makers of a group.

This implies group leaders look for discretion. They don’t need or want to show their wealth and prosperity. The also means that they are less likely to link to, mention, post about or interact with a brand via their own online channels.

If you are thinking of targeting these people through an activity involving public display of affection for your product or activity then you are unlikely to reach the right people and will be seen as crass by your target audience.

If you are speaking to people who want to be seen by their group as upwardly mobile (even in relatively rich groups) then you can go big. Communicate how the product and brand demonstrate success within their social group and give them the option to declare their love in the open.

And if you want to fit into a group and look like you belong consider more subtle cues of membership. Covering yourself in Ferrari logos won’t help you communicate with millionaires.


I have been reading an old(ish) book on the concept of attitude how it relates to behaviour. It has got me thinking about the Public Relations (PR) industry’s reliance on reputation to describe what we do.

Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour ( CIPR’s definition of PR.).

If you really think about it, reputation (often stated simply as some sort of evaluative dimension) is a difficult concept to pin down and is it even necessary to describe what we do?

Knowledge Vs Reputation

Say for example I wanted to get across the a particular idea or get you to enact a particular behaviour.

Let us say, a scientific revelation comes out tomorrow that a daily spoonful of vinegar is good for you. A campaign to communicating ways for you to fit a spoonful of vinegar into your diet does not necessarily have to alter the way your feel about vinegar (or spoons) to be successful.

Take for example the hypothetical goals and information that could be support them:

  • Increase blood donation –>The donor centre is short bus ride away
  • Reduce cancer risk in men – -> Learn how to examine yourself
  • Reduce fire fatalities –> Test your alarm every week
  • Increase interest in investment in company X –> X is considering floating next year.

Campaigns and PR can be about communicating new or changing existing knowledge or ideas rather than a global evaluation . Reputation is not always necessary to evaluate, formulate and talk about much of the work we do.

However, Reputations is the common thread between apparently disparate PR activity and sectors. It does describe a large amount of PR work and and it  is an important term to help others understand what we do. It is also a strategic term to to help PR get a foot into the boardroom.

Nevertheless, perhaps we should start to think about whether  it is enough and how we use? Are there other terms we could turn to or could we do a better job of defining reputation to help PR mature as discipline?


All content is copyright of Joe Walton. It is a fair reflection of what he thinks as a human being and PR professional. It does not reflect the views of any other person or organisation unless specified.

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