It's delivery that basically sends raw images from a video camera direct to the consumer. It is a service from ShootLive, news agency for the digital age based in Nottingham, UK. The ShootLive service was used in the coverage of David Beckham's game in July.
Why does this change the game? Because of the need for speed. In journalism and in PR, or even in law enforcement, seconds make a difference. The scoop, the intervention of a criminal, the ability to relay instantaneous pictures of a tragedy such as an earthquake can impact lives.
Images from camera are streamed (as an XML feed) to a mobile phone in less than 60 seconds, the company says. What I like about all this is it doesn't make the end-user jump through hoops to receive it. Images could arrive as a multi-media text alert.
What could this do for marketing? Apart from the obvious ones that ESPNs of this world will jump onto, and be able to monetize, marketers could get users to opt-in to premium content. Think: Olympics, stage acts such a Live Earth, and even regional ones. The McDonald's and IBM's could sponsor XML feeds . Down the line when the genie is out of the bottle, cell phone carriers will use the technology too. Already, AT&T has a similar service called VideoShare where subscribers could stream video with a camera phone to another phone --while talking! These are both low-end ($29.99 and $79.99) Samsung phones not some souped-up smart varieties.
As a freelance writer I get pitched a lot. I don't hit the delete key unless it's totally irrelevant. But I have to say there are several people who do take the time to ask if whom they represent is relevant, and they do their homework.
I had a pitch from a PR firm in the UK recently that really stood out. He promised he wouldn't flood my inbox, and offered an RSS feed as an alternative --something I opted for.
On a macro scale, how do you get to know an organization, its priorities, its strategic goals?
On Wednesday I was asked by a local firm to speak to a group of incoming account managers about strategic thinking and solutions selling. I used an example of how as 'transparent' as it may seem, a company's web site is the last place you'll find that kind of useful information. A Google search would be a hit or miss, unless you find a corporate blogger giving the inside scoop. Nor would a site map reveal the inner working groups, the nodes and the unofficial networks. Taking time to get to know this "inner-net" means putting our digital smarts aside, and falling back on our analog skills. I use the phrase "Think digital, act analog" (first used by Guy Kawasaki, I believe) to illustrate the point.
Bottom line: Take time to understand the analog networks. These power brokers, access points, nodes and human routers may not have a LinkedIn profile, but they sure make things happen!
Psst. Did you hear? Second Life is getting bad press. Ever since Businessweek magazine did a cover story on SL last year, there has been nothing but good buzz about the place. After all the IBM's and Coca-Colas have all established a presence there. But the question marks are beginning to appear. (Note I didn't say 'cracks').
WIRED is running a story (Lonely Planet: How Madison Avenue is wasting millions on a deserted Second Life") questioning MadAve's rush to set up islands in a "metaverse," especially when it's unmanned, feels lonely and way too cumbersome to navigate.
My take: It's way too early to pass judgment on Second Life. Critics are quick to use ROI thinking to evaluate the impact of a 3D experience on business. For now the shine is off the rose. But we've seen that happen before, haven't we? Anyone remember Friendster?
Like it or not, the web will soon incorporate features of these 3D worlds. Trends such as geocoding, mobile optimization, and our appetite for for on-demand information will create this world --with or without goofy avatars.
Summing up a few interesting stories last week.
4. A very cool idea from Edinburg, England. Using a camera phone and text messaging to detect art.
5. Taking story #3 to its logical conclusion, how about using a social network to get to know your dog's owners? Technology Review magazine had a story about how your dog's FaceBook-like page (called a PetWork, I kid you not!) could enhance your social life.
A story in the Arizona Republic yesterday about a Tucson company creating graveside memory capsule may seem a bit awkward, but the technology got me thinking. If you could make a digital tribute downloadable at the grave, it opens up many other possibilities.
Indeed John Stevenson's product is more low tech than the competition, which the article says, is a digital headstone that plays a video. A sort of a flat screen atop one's final resting place.
Ten years ago, we would have never thought the media or digital content would visit this fine and private place but let's get real. If we use digi-formats to preserve everything we do while we are around (Flickr family albums, Facebook profiles, digital photo frames, and people who Twitter about everything they do in life) someone might as well put these profiles to use after we have hit the final escape button. It seems to me these are opportunities waiting to be tapped. Some free advice:
2. Turning expired (no pun intended, honest!) domains into permanent markers that redirect to online memorials. Perhaps an idea for GoDaddy.
3. Archiving of Google search results for a person's name as a legacy (OK, vanity) item to stuff into the graveside memorial.
4. Preserving tweets from a heavy Twitter user.
5. WiFi for cemeteries. I bet this exists.
6. Bluetooth connectivity on headstones --to download those digital memories. Right now one needs to bring a laptop and cable to the grave.
7. The ability for people to text message condolences to the family from anywhere and turn these into a card or book.
Debbie Weil is a terrific writer and blogger. But she made one small slip a few weeks back that had some people --bloggers, mainly-- jumping all over it crying foul. Her crime: Allegedly attempting to "seed" a blog with comments.
The debate around "comment seeding" is not in the same league as, say, someone ratcheting up a company's image with fake posts, as did Whole Foods' CEO's Yahoo postings. But in the touchy blogosphere that is admirably the cheerleader for transparency, it comes off looking that way.
What Debbie did, as this accompanying post suggests, was send a few people an email asking for their reaction and/or comment. The reactions were swift and some severe --on her blog. Her email soliciting comments was posted.
As Debbie says, she was only using email as a back-channel, and didn't mean to deceive anyone.
There are two big issues here:
First the expectation of privacy. When someone contacts a professional colleague or 'friend' (itself an ambiguous term in the MySpace and FaceBook era) there is a tacit understanding that those conversations will be "off the record." But as any experienced PR person will tell you, there is no such thing as "off the record" anymore. Sadly so.
Second: Social media Netiquette. "What's that?" you ask. In this huge, rough experiment we are engaging in, netiquette (which got attention when email and forums were the biggest things) has been dispatched to the basement. Dan York, wrote a related post around the same time that Debbie Weil was being harangued. It was about the need for updating netiquette to embrace social media realities. Is it OK to email a professional colleague about your organization or client, or would that be considered a shameless pitch? Or to turn it around, is it OK to decline to participate in the back-channel? Or are all the back-channels including IM and Twitter, no longer back-channels?
Debbie's slip, which is more a poorly worded piece of communication than anything else teaches us a lot.
While I was away on vacation, taking pictures of some amazing cities, celebrating their positive side, the Economist magazine trashed my stomping ground and I am not a happy puppy. I am particularly annoyed, since they conveniently ignored so many good things that are happening here.
If you haven't seen the Economist's July 26th article on Arizona ("Into the Ashes") go read it and come back.
Going by some letters in response to its editorial last Wednesday in the Republic, readers were as critical. Two out of three letters criticized the editorial for not facing reality. One, however was a letter from a couple who thought the criticism was undeserved. They signed off as being "London by birth, Arizona by choice."
Why such a paucity of positive commentary? More pertinently, where was our PR clout when this kind of 'rubbish,' as the Brits say, was in the works? How does someone from a magazine like this get to slant an article so bad, when some of the points raised are actually good: less smog than LA, new schools emerging, the opportunities that Light Rail will bring etc. They paint us as a "crime ridden mess" apparently because of the Light Rail system construction , snowbirds who leave their homes unattended, and clueless visitors.
That's like saying London is the armpit of England because of the overcrowded subway system, clueless tourists, constant terrorism issues, and Crossrail construction --conveniently ignoring the amazing positive sides of this colorful, cosmopolitan city.
Why are positive stories hidden from view, tucked in the back of the paper --like this today, about the growing state economy? It's time we started telling telling our own stories, if no one else will.
If you have winced when forced to buy tickets to a music act or the theatre at the "rack rate," you'll like Seatwave.
It's a sort of a trading hub for entertainment and sports tickets, where buyers and sellers post, bid and guarantee the sale through Seatwave which acts as the intermediary. Whether it's for last minute Prince concert tickets (£ 35.95) Hairspray the musical (£ 49) or a test cricket match between India and England, they are available here. Needless to say they are largely for a British audience. But if you don't mind paying it forward, so to speak, with £ 2,799 for the 2008 Super Bowl (here in Phoenix), that is supposedly the price range.
But the most interesting part of this bottom-up trading system is the fact that the acts reviewed by the hoi polloi, are impacting sales. Some in the audience are even writing reviews in the interval, the Producer of The Lord Of The Rings is quotes as saying.
And if you think this is wild, consider TxtReviews, a service in Canada offering people movie and book reviews via phone. In Canada, you need to send a message to this sort code 416 -7384397 (stands for 416 REVIEWS) with the movie name or book ISBN number and you'll get a sms-abbreviated description back via a text message.
"These busted boomers," writes Constance Lavendar, "are clinging to an argument based on authority, hierarchy, and privilege; they despise digital democracy because it threatens their existence, challenges their authority, and breaks down their well-preserved hierarchy."
She is commenting on a post in the Chronicle, about The Cult of the Amateur argument by Andrew Keen in his book about how "experts" are more valuable than the chattering masses, and the internet is killing culture.
She could well have been commenting on Lord Maurice Saatchi's "Google Data Vs Human Nature" in The Financial Times in May. The core of his argument is in this sentence
"It is an inconvenient and stubborn fact that outside Newton’s universe, where physical laws govern reality, the world is conditioned by perception."
Attacking the predictive model of marketing is not different from dismissing the hoi polloi who are suddenly on equal footing with experts. The old guard wishes it --and wikipedia, and blogs, and the ability for non-agency folk to come up with hugely popular Diet Coke/mentos uncommercials-- were not so.
In a later column, Mr. Saatchi wrote: "Sometimes I feel as though I am standing at the graveside of a well-loved friend called advertising." You know he is troubled by this algorithm thing. It must be tough watching the digital natives over-run the place.
The Dow Chemical's Human Element campaign may not have taken it to a level of humanizing it in it's first iteration of the campaign, but it was a start of showing the company's commitment to critical issues facing the world in which it operates.
This is tough when you're a positioned in people's minds as a "chemical" company. But they try.
So could press releases and advertising be part of an extreme makeover kit? Consider what they are up against. Dow inherited (OK, bought) Union Carbide in 2001. Those of you born before 1984 will remember that Union Carbide was associated with Bhopal, the huge pesticide-related tragedy in India that killed thousands of villagers. Dow has to operate in a PR world where organizations other than them keep this story alive, and issue 'lipstick on a pig" press releases like this about long term contamination. Thanks to the internet and our access to information is only a keyword away, straightforward PR won't cut it.
Against this backdrop, take a look at Dow's second phase of the Human Element campaign. The press releases on the Dow site don't scream out CSR (corporate social responsibility), but bring attention to climate change issues, water and food supplies are built-in. It's sponsorship of Blue Planet Run with National Geographic has a non-linear approach to a PR campaign, that has advertising, celebrity, media, and outreach all blended together. There's a Celebrity-endorsed sneaker selling on eBay (auction closes July 20th). There's a team blog covering the 95-day, 16-country Blue Planet Run. And there are press releases like this that don't tell you much considering what good in-depth coverage is coming off the blog.
No matter what your position is on Dow, you have to recognize that this is a well thought out program supported by good marketing communications. If it's good PR, it's because it's so well integrated into the other components, and invisible.
Kudos to Dilmah Tea, a Sri Lankan company I know very well.
I just picked up this copy of Fortune magazine (July '07) and there's a good feature on this maverick tea company. There's no link to the article on Forbes Online, so let me paraphrase. It's a story of how a independent company is making the big guys sweat. Big guys meaning the Lipton's and Twinings of this world. What's special about them?
First, Dilmah makes a claim to product quality that no other tea marketer could -a single source of the leaf. Most people don't realize that when they dip a tea bag in boiling water, the tea inside is 'blended' -- meaning it comes from several countries in one big, tasteless mash-up! I could attest to that -- as a huge tea drinker I stock and drink many varieties, including the real thing from Dilmah which I store and serve like, um, wine!
Which brings me to the second point in their marketing differentiation. They position the brand somewhere between a wine and a heath drink. As Fortune reports, the multinationals pooh-pooh the wine analogy, saying it is ridiculous. That's expected (beyond sour grapes!) because they don't appreciate the nuances of tea, the climatic differences, and the soil etc in Sri Lanka.
Third, and this has to worry the multi-nationals, Dilmah is getting into the experiential retail business of "tea bars" --hipster Starbucks-like hangouts for the other caffeine crowd.
The Fortune article didn't mention Dilmah's other major promotional thrust: cricket! The firm is a big promoter and sponsor of the sport, and in some ways synonymous with it in Asia and Australia. No accident, when you think about it. Tea and cricket. Two British exports that now have a distinctive 'Ceylon' flavor.
Harry Potter is an extended tale of no, not just wizards and magic but the wisdom of the crowds in action. But that story got buried in the hoopla around the launch of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows last Saturday.
Very predictably, the traditional news media covered the event in the same way they did, say, the iPhone. Too much attention to people queuing up for the book, the parties, the ‘education’ component, but very little about the phenomenon itself.
The fact is, the Harry Potter franchise just doesn’t belong to J.K. Rowling
anymore. The books may be in 200 countries and 63 languages, but the
Potter brand goes beyond that geographic reach. It’s been open-sourced
in more ways than you could imagine; the wisdom of the Potter crowds
has always ruled when it comes to creating their own message channels,
cranking out their own Potter-esqe stories etc. Despite the fact that
this is a book, and not a digital product, the fans are all over the
social media map. There is:
* The Mugglecast podcast run by high school students, that has some 50,000 listeners a week, and features Elton John and Bono.
* The Leaky Cauldron leaks news about the books and carries a disclosure that it is in “no way affiliated with J.K. Rowling.”
* No shortage of Potter blogs, including one that suggests a Bollywood storyline for an Indian audience.
* The Harry Potter Fiction store, that’s not managed by Scholastic, the book publisher; it’s also “unofficial.”
* The Academy of Virtual Wizardry, at “Caledon Highlands” in you guessed it, Second Life!
I could go on…
So I wanted to track how the raving fans were behaving. I had a haunch that there would be an equal outpouring of passion on Saturday the 20th July around midnight not in front of the bookstores where the TV crews were waiting in hoardes, but on Wikipedia. At 11.00 pm Pacific Time the discussion (on the “comments” page of the Harry Potter Wikipedia showed signs that things were heating up. The Wikipedians had been discussing the value of locking down the Wiki, since everyone knew the book had leaked and the plot was being discussed elsewhere.
“Just wait until the official release time. Then we can put everything up in 5 minutes or so, considering the number of wikipedians interested in this.” said one editor at 11.03 pm. This was clearly a hard core editor, but also a big Potter fan. “Most people, me included, will be too busy reading the book on Saturday to check the article.” Others like him (or her) were unhappy that some editors had moved to freeze the pages until a week after the launch. Fan passion was expressed in the form of outrage that some newspapers’ reviewers had created spoilers by discussing the plot before the launch. Reading through their discussion gives you a glimpse of not just how these unpaid wikipedians work, but how fans operate late at night, doing a thankless job for what? To them this isn’t JK’s book. This is theirs.
If only other brands let their customers work their magic this way!
You've probably seen or heard stories about food marketers, supposedly scaling down their marketing to children. Great story, except they have a lot of wiggle room about what they plan to market, and how. Packaging is the one place they obviously won't give up, with boxes of cereal saying more about the characters like Shrek and Spiderman than the contents.
So while the Grocery Manufacturer's Association is busy debating the topic how to do the minimum and seem like its members are helping the consumer, it's good to take a look at another story about actually anticipating a target audience's needs and doing something about it.
Samsung has started installing charging stations for cell-phone and mobile accessory at Los Angeles International Airport. It sems so simple, that you wonder why carriers like Verizon or T-Mobile hadn't thought of it before. It's a great way for a brand to communicate that it understands what its customers (and all potential ones) face when traveling.
But ever so often we see them create advertising environments that make you go wow! This is one of them. New York Magazine featured a double spread of two completely unrelated products, but designed (by their ad agency) to belong to a double spread, and stop a reader in his tracks.
There's a lesson in this: Being relevant to the reader also means being intensely relevant to the advertiser, and it takes a great publisher to encourage layouts like this. Of course, the idea probably came from the agency, but an advertiser and an agency will always gravitate to a medium that allows some flexibility.
So as you could see in this ad, the key was to use two products that are right for the demographic --in this case pearls with the Yogurt. The product on the right is a Greek Yogurt, Fage.
MediaPost reports that there's another ad involving a Tourneau watch, and the yogurt. I wonder if the advertiser on the left gets a better rate than Fage, since the yogurt company is essentially using the product on the left to make a point.
Yesterday, IABC's Phoenix chapter put together a terrific meeting on something that's on everyone's radar. I suspect the topic ("Using SEO & Other PR Tactics to Communicate with Social Communities in a Web 2.0 World") was intentionally long and geeky to make a point. More on this later.
had pried open the controversial but hot topic of Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) and Social Media. Whenever these two buzz phrases
occur in one sentence, advertising agencies, media relations people and
marketers get a little hot around the collar. I know, because I used to
work for a SEO-meets marketing company. There are lots of myths and
concerns out there. Just a year ago SEO seemed like a lot of pixie dust
before things like Twitter and User generated Content showed up. "Social bookmarking" sounded like something Paris Hilton does when thumbing through National Inquirer.
Unfortunately, the world inside corporate marketing is still looking at what's unfolding before us as pixie dust 2.0. Look around you. The world of marketing and PR is roughly divided into people who think "we don't have a budget for this crap" and those who go "could we upload this sucker to YouTube?" So it's about time we discuss Google Juice, and Digg, and the social media press release, and what in the world is Facebook up to, trying to upstage our beloved search engines.
Could people game the search engine, someone asked? Do "Diggs" mean anything a few days after the story breaks? Was there some 'white-hat' way to get better rankings on search results? Everyone probably knew the answer to that last one. Sure, there are black-hat methods of sneaking past the algorithm, and there's marketing.
You don't need to know how this algorithm thing works, but if you accept the logic behind it, then you gotta work on it. Good case in point: Southwest Airlines. Three years ago, they optimized a press release by editing it based on search terms they had been tracking. They tracked the results and saw a direct correlation to a spike in sales. They won an award for this. It's a matter of crafting headlines and knowing where to drop in a hyperlink, and a meta tag.
Which brings me to the MarketWire topic. Google (or Yahoo) the words "SEO PR social media" and see if IABC Phoenix is anywhere in sight. Now Google (or Yahoo) the topic (Using SEO & Other PR Tactics to Communicate with Social Communities in a Web 2.0 World) and see what pops up at the top of your search results. Brilliant huh?
Or is it still pixie dust?
Posted on Friday, July 20, 2007 in Advertising, Communications , IABC, IABC Phoenix, Marketing, Media, Public Relations, Search, SEO, Southwest Airlines, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Not all good brands can achieve this kind of success, being a magnet for the hipster, college crowd and being family friendly at the same time. I stop by at least three Einstein Brothers here in the valley, and each has its own niche. They have one thing in common: long lines of hungry people who stick around, too.
So what's the lure of Einstein's? Is it their brilliant invisible marketing, or is it a brand that classically fills a need? Personally, I'm not sure if it's my weakness for bagels, the environment, or the coffee that pulls me back. The company says that "Marketing is a key ingredient in our business process. Our programs typically target very specific markets/regions..." Yet I don't get postcards in the mail, I don't see coupons, and I rarely see any advertising. Do they have a secret word-of-mouth channel?
The marketing side of me tells me it is the ambiance, not the baked goods. They have spared little in looking after the retail side of things. The menu boards are so much more friendly than, say Starbucks, their signage
gives them a mom-and-pop feel that doesn't have "slick franchise" written all over it. The employees wear buttons with high-school like slogans ("Thrilled to Chill"), and take time to get to know you.
Then there's my five-year old daughter, who's a different market segment obviously. She will choose Einsteins over McDonald's any day, making me wonder what's their secret sauce. We have a father-and-daughter Sunday morning date. She loves reading the goofy murals about the 'darn good coffee' and posters that declare such things as 'great moments in poultry' while enjoying a cinnamon twist. But she also recognizes good customer service, that at her age is a significant thing. A former manager at the McClintock and Guadalupe store knew her by name. She was thrilled that "Uncle Ron" would come by and chat.
Tempe Einstein's, the iconic store at the corner at Rural and University is a patently ASU hangout, with Sparky and ASU posters competing with drinks advertised as "The Cold and The Beautiful" or branding around Elmo.
The Phoenix store, at the corner of McDowell and 7th, shares the same wall as Starbucks, but if the lines are any indication of a brand's strength, then Elmo wins hands down among the busy working crowd of doctors and women checking their Blackberries.
Even if you're not in marketing, if you have to deal with multiple audiences, spend a few moments at Einsteins. It's a lesson that'll cost you less than two bucks.
What's remarkable about this is that this is the "official release" of the album. Gives new meaning to the term 'Media Release' doesn't it? More shocking: The album won't go on sale in the UK! It will be launched in other parts of the world on July 24th, says the paper.
Prince has managed to annoy Sony BMG over this, but apart from his motives, it gives a new insight into how newspapers may be looking at marketing to stay relevant --and alive. A newspaper as a distribution mechanism for music? Brilliant. Think of the integrated online marketing possibilities.
A interesting note: The Mail didn't just tip the CDs into the paper. They produced the copies themselves.
So you've been placed on hold (again) and are convinced that customer service has left the building --for Bangalore, perhaps.
But there's a neat solution taking shape. It's called NoPhoneTrees.com,
and it could eliminate the phone-tree headache. It's from a San
Francisco-based company called Bringo. How it works is amazing: You
click on the company you want to call, and enter your phone number and hang up. NoPhoneTrees dials the company,
circumvents their phone tree, and calls you back when you are in queue
for the next customer service rep., shaving off valuable on-hold time.
Perfect for days when you're multi-tasking, or your minutes are running out.
It's still in demo mode so it looks like a web site with limited lists of lists. (In insurance, Humana and Geico are listed, but no State Farm). But The company says the full service will launch soon.
I see great potential. I don't know about you, but I add pauses into my speed dials so that the technology zips through the phone tree of frequently called numbers --airlines, credit card companies, even calling cards, and doctor's offices. I would like to see how this could work when I'm driving, and don't want to tie up the phone while waiting in the queue to check a flight status. What if the service wold allow us to set a day and time in advance, so we could get into the phone queue of the airline, three days down the road just to make sure the flight's not delayed?
What's this to do with marketing communication? Consider
this. It's a free service to anyone, but as the go-between, it could
easily ask customers to pay back for the service with their attention.
No I don't mean listen to an ad --through that's the predictable model
to go after. It could be a 15- second survey of the company you just
spoke to. Surveys are everywhere. You've seen companies use register
receipts inviting customers to do a phone survey, redeemable for a gift
card or generous coupon. To use the airline example again, if US Airways
gave you 100 air miles if you answered a 5-question survey at the end
of your phone-tree-avoided call to Flight Reservations, would you say
no? If Kinkos gave offered 10-color copies, or Borders gave you a coupon for a latte for taking a survey?
Customers will trade off attention for value-added service or products. Marketers value timely feedback. Someone who allows you to to put a spike through the heart of the phone tree could create a win-win situation for both.
If David Ogilvy was alive, I bet he'd have very cool blog. He'd have a podcast and rant about writing and pig-headed Creatives. And a Flickr account, for sure. More about David at the end of this post.
Why do I make this strange correlation between a dead adman and a new media-slash-social media company like Flickr? I got an email from Yahoo Photos yesterday informing me that they were porting my albums to Flickr, which as most of you know, is owned by Yahoo. They were all cheery about this, and I followed their prompt. Within ten minutes I had a response from “The Flickreenos.” It started out with “Yee har! All your photos have been imported from your Yahoo! Photos account…”
Before this were two other emails written by a seemingly highly caffeinated communicator (or very human one) in the tech department. Zero corporate-speak, almost like the buddy-talk we engage in on Facebook. Coming from a mega company like Flickr, that's now in eight countries, and has some 24 million visitors a month, I must say I was impressed.
It’s this kind of upbeat communication that I miss, when someone sends me a legally-whetted, PR-sanctioned postcard or email these days, with my name dropped into appropriate slots to personalize it and make it look like they know me.
My point? Variable-data printing, a sophisticated form of mail-merge is great, but should not be a crutch. It should not replace genuine, passionate communication. I don’t know where the good writers have been locked up in organizations these days, but we don’t see a lot of Flickreenos-type communications.
Which brings me to Mr. Ogilvy. I was thumbing through my old copy of The Unpublished Ogilvy, and couldn't help noticing that this copywriter at heart sort of anticipated the Cluetrain idea, often asking people to spike their college-bred stilted communication and communicate like humans. He came out with such gems as “Woolly people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.” This was in the early eighties, when we all know, MBA-speak was all the rage! “Write the way you talk. Naturally,” he often said.
I could just hear the man who once wrote stunningly human copy for
Mercedes Rolls-Royce go Yeeeee har! about Flickr’s un-woolly communication.
Here are the results of our survey in June about the kinds of things and people we search for online. We asked ValleyPRblog readers, and communicators on social networks such LinkedIn and MyRagan to tell us a bit more about their Googling habits.
When asked whom they most Googled in the last month, 63.3% said they checked out the same people in their organization, as above.
And how often do people Google someone?
But here's what's equally interesting. People sent me emails about whom they Googled, many admitting they regularly Google themselves. One user said he Googles someone 25-40 times a month! Others wrote to say they look up potential employers, social contacts, someone being profiled (a media person's response.)
What this might mean: People seem to be placing enormous weight on online reputation systems, and even ranking. We didn't ask respondents if they were looking for negative or positive factors, but from the tone of the emails and open-ended answers, combined with the stats above, a picture emerges: we do worry about what might pop up -at least when we Google (or Yahoo) ourselves!
People also seem to be doing some degree of due diligence about whom they come into contact with, or may be doing business with, using search engines to gather some 'context' before they meet a company, a potential employer, or a date. At the enterprise level, given the potential for organizations to leave unsightly digital trails, we see a whole industry of media monitoring, and reputation management taking off.
What do you think of all this?
With all the attention to music, and Al Gore's 7-Point Pledge, the use of text messaging (or sms) was more like an afterthought.
Saturday's Live Earth event urged viewers in the US, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Brazil and Germany and the UK to send different keywords to a short code. Keywords were "home," "ride," "share" etc.
I tried it out, and received a prompt response saying:
"Thanks. You have answered the call. U will get weekly updates. More info at www.liveearth.org"
No follow up to the double opt-in, asking me for an email address.
No redirect to a custom website or landing page.
Considering the event was riding on the music platform, there was so much more they could have done. How difficult would it have been:
It was a huge, huge, missed opportunity.
Sending my phone the URL for Live Earth was so lame, considering, I already knew the web address!` (it was all over the screen on TV!) and it was not providing me any new information, or linking me to any new medium, or event.
Let's hope they answer the call!
For those of us involved in marketing and/or corporate communications, trying to make sure the organization is not misrepresented in the media, it's not enough to pay attention to press releases, media kits, and getting the 'brand police' department to flex some muscle.
Some people's and many organizations' image are not managed by appointed brand guardians, designers, or copywriters, but by unpaid workers at Wikipedia. Say what you like about the 'bias' of Wikipedia, but there are people out there, the hoi polloi, who have absolutely nothing to gain by the work they do into the wee hours of the morning but they do it anyway.
If you've only gone to Wikipedia to find out "things you would have known had you paid more attention in high school" ( to borrow a phrase from the NPR quiz "Wait, wait, don't tell me" ) I invite you to take a peek behind the curtain to see a fascinating work in progress.
A few days back, as the news broke of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston's release, I clicked on the discussion tab of Wikipedia, as editors hurriedly updated information about him. (The Discussion page is a place where those who edit content talk to each other about the accuracy of facts, and importance of detail.) I bet none of these Wikipedians are connected to the BBC or to Johnston, but they were debating whether this page should be about his life, or his kidnapping, whether he was even 'notable' enough to merit so a page on him.
Similar discussions go on about the much-used term "Web 2.0" where editors meticulously remove 'retarded' pictures someone keeps adding, and police and other types of mild vandalism.
Now to corporate marketing: Go over to to the entry on Sun Microsystems, and you'll see an interesting debate has taken place. On the 27th February, one editor scolded:
"Sun is THE leading contributor of [sic] open source software (emphasis mine)? this is rubbish, and reads as though it was written by somebody from Sun marketing."
What's interesting, is that the editor says he's not a hardcore Wikipedian, but asks someone to please step in and make the change. Someone has. The entry is now very balanced. As the editor says, allowing the simple use of the word THE, is
"akin to Bill Gates' claiming that Windows Vista is the most secure operating system ever produced - pure hype, and demonstrably false."
It's the hoi polloi at work, folks. You may fire off the most creative press release one evening, or launch a campaign that's getting rave reviews, but do you appreciate what someone with a screen name like NapoliRoma is saying about you on Wikipedia late at night?
We oughta get used to it, and rethink what our business cards say we are responsible for!
Al Ries must be keeping his fingers crossed.
Before the launch, he had declared that the iPhone was was "going to be a major disappointment" not in the activation department mind you, but because it was technology going off in the wrong direction. He believed that technology that took the path of divergence would succeed as it had in the past, but this new gizmo on the 'convergence' was bound to fail.
With all respect to Mr. Ries, I don't think it's good to predict the future on the past. Not with Apple, the company that's defied going with the flow. It's got to where it is by not been fixated on the rear view mirror. Its Graphical User Interface was its way of sticking the middle finger at the geeky DOS world. It's
A smart phone is a convergent phenomenon. I don't have a problem with that. It happens to look like a phone, but it is anything but. Even before the iPhone, we were able to do a Google search, maintain contact databases, use text messaging and email, and play music on these convergent devices. Millions of users didn't think it was headed in the wrong direction. Why? Because the interface simplified their lives.
If you've been awed by the iPhone's stunning multi-touch interface, Jeff Hann's multi-touch sensing demo will give you a glimpse of where we are headed. It's not on a phone. But it's guaranteed to blow your mind!
As an former Apple user still wearing an 'evangelist' badge in a PC world, I'm impressed with what PR and buzz --rather than advertising-- has achieved for a brand that graced Wired magazine ten years ago with just one word: "Pray."
So the prayers did work. Because what Apple's doing with the iPhone is not just entering the phone market. It's charging into the PC market. As Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg rightly observes this is computer with a service plan attached to it.
You've got to agree that it's a very expensive toy. But Apple knows its raving fans (or fan-boys) don't consider price. They're into that other P in marketing: passion. Is it Microsoft's time to start praying?
If you've always wondered if Twitter was a passing fad, here's something to make you think again.
Dell is using Twitter to announce limiter Twitter-only discounts for those who subscribe to their tweets.
It's from the Dell Outlet Twitter account. The price for these refurbished items have an expiration, a bit like an eBay auction. The URL takes you to a micro-site with a 'Special Twitter Offer.' It encourages you to Add Dell Outlet as a Twitter friend.
As many predicted, the gap between a new web 2.0 application, and the creative uses of it, has shrunk like heck.
Could ROT (Return on Tweets) become a measurement tool?
The copy is powerful in a straightforward way. It's about "Sodium bonding with chlorine, carbon bonding with oxygen..." The close ups of faces, the texture of waves, the energy of a waterfall. This is the shall we say, bonding of words, images and ideas that you don't usually see in corporate branding exercises.
As the presenter noted, proudly, not once was the Dow name spoken. Only a fleeting glimpse of the red diamond logo at the end. I watched it again, and couldn't help but notice the word 'element' (or 'elemental') occurs eight times, with the big picture painted in sweeping strokes, with hints of biology (synapses) and lots of chemistry.
But branding is much more than stunning images and good copy. It's a positioning statement that has to leap across every 'synapse' and connect with the other communication efforts, to touch the lives of everyone the organization comes into contact with.
Dow launched the campaign internally as well, bathing its building with giant images, revamping its web site, providing employees with the background to the concept and philosophy, and encouraging them to set up their own periodic table with pictures of people they work with.
It struck me as a campaign waiting to be integrated with other media --imagine employees creating their own human element posters, and uploading them to Flickr. Imagine them being able to tell their own Human element stories in podcasts, or on YouTube. I bet those stories would be as powerful and sincere as anything its agency FCB could come up with. Wouldn't that be the the proof of branding via the human element?
In summary: Don't get me wrong. It is a terrific case study. But a global company telling a global story to a global audience just can't afford to not engage it's own people.
This was funny: The presenter asked us what came to our minds first when we watched the commercial. One person raised her hand and said, "It made me wonder what Dow had done wrong, and was trying to cover up." Another said he was trying to calculate the cost of each of those marvelous segments of video!
On a related note: Paul Argenti, management guru who gave the keynote at the the IABC Foundation lunch today opened his remarks with a blistering analysis of why strategic communications is needed so badly. People are extremely cynical of communications, because of business communication failures from the likes of BP, KPMG, Tyco, Enron etc. "Transparency is a strategy and a condition," he noted.
Translated: skip the tag lines, and bring back that human element!
Walk through the networking area at the IABC International conference here in New Orleans, and you'd be forgiven if you thought you had mistakenly stepped into a new media event. Flat panel screens display models, hubs, portals, feed rooms, and video products that all promise to engage audiences more, track marketing better, and simplify PR and media relations.
In one analysis, this is the fork in the road for for communicators wrestling with the trusty old tools of engagement and the spanky new ones. Topics range from "Is corporate communications a thing of the past" to "Be Heard. Bringing a brand to life." to Building brands and community via e-marketing" to "The good the bad and the unethical." The booths for Melcrum and Ragan Communications, the American and British contenders for social media communicators' hubs are strategically located at different parts of the room. Everything you hear or see seems to have an 'e' factor, a global dimension, or a PR-meets-marketing angle. The lines are blurring. The oxygen of new media fills the room.
Terrific stuff. Invigorating to say the least. The coffee pots aren't conveniently located close to the meeting rooms, but even at 7.30 am, people seem incredibly alert.
Alan Scott's session on "The Blogging Explosion" had that kind of energy. Scott, the CMO of Dow Jones' Enterprise Media Group laid the usual groundwork with references to the Cluetrain Manifesto etc. The four trends we should be aware of are:
What was interesting, and telling, was that the presentation turned into great participation. Questions posed by members of the audience were being answered by others. When Scott referenced Bub Lutz's blog he was corrected by someone from GM.
The blogging explosion, Scott maintained was humanizing the corporation; better, it was providing insight via text mining --gold for CSR, corporate intelligence, PR, HR, Marketing, product groups, and Sales. The disruption (or it it upheaval? Or revolution?) is easy to see because you could buy a camera or car tires without paying any attention to the carefully crafted communications from the marketing, PR and web folk at those companies. You know, folks like us...
It reminded me of the words from song The revolution will not be televised:
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.
And our seat belts are fastened, too.
Stu Reed, a Motorola VP and a passionate proponent of 'straight talk' checked most of the boxes in communication this morning in a very engaging presentation.
Reed, was feted by IABC as this year's Excel (stands for "Excellence in Communication Leadership") award winner, which is to say he's the cherry on top of communication this year at the international conference. The kind of boss everyone would want to have.
In his straight talk about straight talk, he admitted he started off getting a 'C' in communications when Motorola conducted an audit. His lessons learned are well worth recounting:
But there was one thing that stuck out --remember I said he 'checked most of the boxes.' Stu is still not ready to launch into blogs. He's holding on to the belief that he would rather make sure his team enhances existing communication processes before adding one more thing.
Controversial? Yes. At a later session this topic came up. You know, the 'what to do if your bosses don't get social media' question. To give Reed credit, he 'gets' the transparency, and the part about responding quickly and directly, and has done a terrific job sans social media. He was also largely talking of employee communications.
But as the critics would put it, engaging your different constituents, be they internal or external, is all about conversations not just communications.
None of this is to imply that Motorola execs do not blog. Padmasree Warrior, Motorola's executive vice president and chief technology officer, has a wonderful blog called Bits At The Edge. She writes in a style that belies her IT side, with the kind of openness that we sometimes long for in corporate communications. In one post earlier this year titled Mea Culpa Warrior refers to a Dilbert strip about embarrassing blogs.:
I know why I feel blue. It is unadulterated guilt! My blog! I have shamelessly neglected it for almost a month.
Now God is messaging me through Dilbert...
Mea Culpa? Seems like they've got straight talk in their DNA, with or without blogs.
No wonder Stu Reed --and Motorola-- got an A today in New Orleans.
I'll be covering Marketing Communications and PR at the IABC conference in New Orleans from tomorrow.
The latest update is that there's been a security breach at LAX, with people drenched when sprinklers went off.
In the latter, it's anything from the leaf structure, to the mountain elevation in which the shrub is grown, to the fermemtation process of the dry leaf, the water in which it is brewed, the milk you add, to the ritual (and crockery used) in serving the beverage. Tastes change, and ultimately it's the end user's perception rather than the 'tea taster's' that is relevant.
The Vancouver logo could add some perspective. It wasn't "awarded' to an agency, but was the result of a competition opened to the public, in the early spirit of, you know, user-generated content. There too, people weren't happy. (It was called the 'offspring of the Michelin Man, among other things!)
But there was a difference. In Vancouver, it was the design community that protested most. In the UK it was the hoi polloi that was livid--who said the logo looked like "two characters from The Simpsons engaged in a sexual act!"
Vancouver threw the logo design open to anyone. The brief specified that the logo must."
The winners explained that it represented the "inukshuk" or that which stands in the capacity of a person" -- a sort of a guide to help people find their way through the wilderness. It stands for friendship in Inuktitut.
What does the London logo stand for? It was left to Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the 2012 Olympic commitee, who defending it saying:
"We don't do bland. This is not a bland city"
Joe Gomez, from the UK sent me this, calling it an ill-fitting jigsaw, and a broken window that is"jagged and wobbly to look good on their laptops, mobiles and TV screens."
If Sebastian Coe is the equivalent of the 'tea taster,' I would rather trust Joe Public -you know, people like Joe.
An eMarketer report says that podcast listeners think that transferring podcasts to portable players is too complicated and time consuming. In 2006, there were 10 million podcast listeners. That will jump to 25 million next year. The report, based on surveys of people in ten US cities. Weekly listeners' growth is much slower, but steadily increases
This brings me to the point about why technology sometimes cannot keep up with changing lifestyle --in this case a practice we almost take for granted: time-shifting.
Having tried out many software applications, from Juice to iTunes, I know the frustration when downloads move like treacle, or iTunes just won't grab a feed you want. It often reminds me of the time we needed a user manual to operate another time-shifting device -the VCR.
iTunes is dead easy to use, but not every podcast I need is available through the interface. Direct downloads from a podcaster's site involves that extra step, and if they aren't using a good aggregator, the bandwidth may be terrible.
Which is where good aggregators come into play. Services such as LibSyn (stands for Liberated Syndication!) make it very easy, at a nominal fee.
Many new logos, and brand names even, seem odd and --as Londoners complain-- say nothing about them.
I have a strong opinion about this one. I think it's not very inspiring. Vibrant, yes. But hey, I don't live in London, and it's easy to be critical when you're not privy to the brief or the marketing context.
But beyond branding issues, it's turning out to be a PR nightmare --with the organizers seeming to not want to listen to the protests.
I like the fact that they are now at least asking people to create and submit a logo design.
They welcome user generated content, with 'downloadable 'templates' backed up by a huge section on the use of and removal of content. Yes, they will moderate comments, they say!
In defense of the edgy (or odd) logo, it appears to be in sync with their objectives:
Do marketing and PR work in silos? Still? Whatever happened to our love affair with integrated marketing?
Jonah Bloom of Advertising Age has an interesting take on the convergence/divergence thing:
"Ad execs are also becoming more PR-like "listening to influential consumers before crafting messages and are trying to facilitate word-of-mouth programs -- two tactics some PR practitioners see as inherent to their discipline. "
At the same time,
"many companies' PR executives, who once massaged other people's messages and left most content creation to the marketing department, are now building and populating websites, social networks, message boards, blogs, vlogs and podcasts. They're no longer just intermediaries; today they're becoming media and message originators, too."
But --and there a huge but-- both don't share the same view about giving up control, even they have similar communication and marketing goals. Marketers are more likely to give up control than PR folk, he says.
Agree? Or violently disagree?
It’s called called "We Googled You" and is right up your street! It involves googling a potential employee as a background check, and coming up with search results that could cost the candidate the job.
I think it’s a good what-if scenario not just from an HR perspective, but about due diligence and reputation systems in the digital age. What we ‘know’ based on search results, may not often be the complete picture. Digital breadcrumbs that people leave behind may be skewed by the algorithm. Would you do business or not with an organization based on its reputation you find online?
We know that the blogosphere sometimes gets it wrong; the posts remain, even after the facts have been disproved.
Back to the case study. A fictitious Mimi Brewster, is googled after the interview, and her dossier turns up with something no candidate would present at an interview. Problem? Or reality in the digital age?
The case study is open to anyone, and closes tomorrow, June 15th.
This story, in Fast Company caught my attention because the headline unwittingly combined two words that always signify one thing: age. But the Fast Talk story on "John McCain's Pacemaker" was actually about advertising --by Russ Scriefer, McCain's media director. He makes an interesting observation about using traditional and new media to tell an unfolding story:
Thirty-second ads are still going to be the way you're going to communicate your message with the most voters, faster and more efficiently. But other methods of communication are beginning to supplement television. Now you need to do television plus the Web, television plus bloggers, television plus social networking, so it all becomes part of a bigger piece.
This guy's deep into social media. He's talking of using unedited bloggers, and an integrated media to 'pace' the campaign. Now it gets me thinking. Did he, in fact, craft that headline?
Don't miss checking out Photosynth, an idea in Microsoft's Live Labs. You need to download a small app first to work with IE or Firefox.
But it makes me wonder: If you could zoom in to a Coca-Cola logo on a T-shirt, in a vendor's display rack, in the vast pigeon-filled piazza of St. Mark's in Venice (you must sign into Photosynth for this), imagine what this could do elsewhere. Not just for brands (though brand managers would sure like that!) but for organizations trying to create experiences out of the collage of images that could be filed with details.
1. Obvious one: Tourism marketing for travel agents, countries, states and cities. Get people to submit holiday photos, and turn them into citizen photo-journalists.
2. Art galleries: Deploy street teams with digital cameras to cover a topic or art form and mash-up their work into composite experience.
3. Colleges: Stitch together thousands of images out there of campuses, schools, dorms, pubs and places of interest now in the hands of alumni. Create a multi-perspective virtual tour that belongs to them, literally.
4. Mega-events: Political conventions, the Olympics, Street marches and other crowd-magnets. Wouldn't it be a great way preserve a historical record right down to the wording on the buttons, street signs and posters? Boggles the mind to think what Woodstock would have looked like with this kind of coverage.
This is the outer edge of social media.
There's a similar use of 3D modeling and digital images in Google's StreetView, but it doesn't involve citizens' input. We don't know how Microsoft will do with Photosynth. But the concept is definitely exciting.