Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Pimp my broadband - an actual idea!

Disclosure: I have previously worked on projects with DiGi prior to this, including the launch of DiGi Broadband earlier this year. They are not currently a client at the time of this writing.

So, then why am I writing this? Because a good friend of mine asked me if I'd share an opinion about how I think broadband can be improved and submit it for this contest. And I actually have a pretty good idea (so I think). Also, I AM extremely tempted by the prizes offered in the pimpmybroadband contest, so... consider this an entry!

In case you don't get it, what I'd like to have to pimp out my broadband is ONE service that covers both my mobile broadband needs and desktop / laptop broadband needs. So, I don't have to pay for one service to get the convenience of the dongle, and one more for my mobile. If you really want to do broadband right, give us this option (soon, I hope!)

Would you like a service like this too? Vote for me! :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Maxis & Rapidshare: Communications in the thick of real-time

In case you've not been keeping up, there was some (nearly) major drama that ensued with Maxis 3G / Broadband over the last 36 hours.

It all started with MyTechNewsInfo's post on Twitter:

Complaint1 - Share on Ovi

And he continued to substantiate the claim with a couple more posts: here, here and here. In a matter of moments, the twitter-sphere exploded with @khawchiahui, @derekw, @ben_israel, @andrewkjs, @icednyior, myself and others starting to comment.

For those of you not in the know, rapidshare is a popular file-sharing site where users can post up big files for friends to download. It is also a popular way to distribute (for example) free maps from malfreemaps (ed: thanks MyTechNewsInfo). The common theory (for lack of a direct explanation) was that Maxis had started blocking Rapidshare downloads as the traffic was getting too heavy and starting to strain bandwidth.

The main sticking point was censorship. What right did Maxis have to censor the internet, regardless of whichever site it is? (In my own opinion, if they do want to block traffic-heavy sites, they should clearly state up-front in their Terms-of-Service and let the customer decide.)

Naturally, we netizens don't take kindly to censorship and Maxis had a mini-mob in their hands. Crisis-time.

At least four of us sent notes to Maxis' official presence on Twitter @maxiscomms asking for an explanation:

DL1 - Share on Ovi

The first response was less than inspiring. Instead of taking the issue head-on with the main complainants, @maxiscomms posted a general tweet about Maxis Broadband's fair usage policy! Two mistakes here: 1. @maxiscomms did not address the issue to the concerned audience (in this case, @mytechnewsinfo et al). 2. @maxiscomms posted an irrelevant response. What does a Fair Usage Policy have to do with the simple question "are you or are you not censoring Rapidshare?"

MaxisResponse1 - Share on Ovi

People obviously weren't too impressed by the response:

13 - Share on Ovi

12 - Share on Ovi

In the following hours, @maxiscomms then adopted a different tact - getting people to DM (direct message) itself directly instead of putting it out in the open. This is a legitimate tactic, and at least addresses some of the concerns above, of ignoring the audience and broadcasting an irrelevant message:

Response2 - Share on Ovi

So I DM'ed @maxiscomms a simple complaint: "Maxis broadband users can't download files from www.rapidshare.com, is maxis blocking the site? Answer appreciated. Thanks." It was 10pm that night already so I didn't expect an answer till the next day.

And as you would have it, the next morning, @maxiscomms got back to me with a simple message acknowledging the complaint and saying they would get back to me. Another couple of hours later, I was sent a direct message:

Response - Share on Ovi
So I tested Rapidshare and, sure enough, it worked. This news deserved to be spread and so, a quick tweet out:

DL2 - Share on Ovi

Was greeted with testing from @mytechnewsinfo and others, who found the same to be true. The conversation turned for the better (for Maxis) and the earlier audience that complained now went back to telling @maxiscomms "Good job".

I thought to share this case as its reflective of the communications (and I don't just mean advertising) industry today. There are a couple of things I'd have done differently from @maxiscomms:
1. I'd have avoided posting the first post in the first place - it just drew more ire from Netizens.
2. When asking people to DM directly, I would have DM'ed them directly first.
3. I'd actually preferred to follow-through with a proper explanation and clarification as to why Rapidshare was blocked in the first place (technical mistake, or policy mistake?)

To their credit, @maxiscomms kept a cool head and avoided hostile remarks and responses that would have drawn further anger from the Twitter-verse.

But the one question that's keeping me thinking now is the expectation of response time and what communications departments / agencies and even the entire company needs to consider as we shift into the world of constant-internet. Consider this summation from @mytechnewsinfo:

Lesson - Share on Ovi

I'd argue to cut @maxiscomms some slack as most of the most scathing discussions took place after work-hours. Complaints actually flowed in at about 6 pm on 3rd December. My DM to them was sent around 10 pm. And, understanding the communications process, I'm quite certain @maxiscomms ended up needing to put in some extra hours after work to get responses approved and to get to the bottom of the issue.

He / she probably needed to wait a while for someone who knew the actual situation (policy maker in Maxis / technicians) to brief him / her and then to work out how to communicate and what steps should be taken to rectify. This is a time-consuming process - but the internet keeps on clamouring as you're working it out.

So maybe the process isn't good enough. In the age where mass communication is more real-time than ever, and more important than ever, companies need to rethink the entire communications flow to match the age we live in.

Arguably, the process should have begun before the crisis started. I'm not sure how the process took place, but if an internet-savvy communications person at Maxis was told about the decision to block Rapidshare and asked for his / her opinion before any action was taken, I'm sure the crises would have been averted - simply by Maxis NOT blocking Rapidshare.

Communications people should now be part of business decisions at the earliest possible stage and before any concrete action is taken - especially when those decisions affect customers. Why? Because communication is real-time. It gives you a chance to avoid a communications mistake before you make it. Because you'll face an up-hill battle trying to clean-up after.

In the aftermath of Rapidshare-gate, I'm sure some of us will be sympathetic to @maxiscomms, but the question surely lingers on - why did Maxis try to censor Rapidshare in the first place? And, was it a legal move?

Update: Corrected Malfreemaps example on downloading from Rapidshare. @derekw twittered a response that while whether blocking sites at ISP level is legal is up for discussion, it certainly contravenes the MSC's Bill of Guarantees.