What technology would PR companies, the police, and the paparazzi want to get their hands on?
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.
A good article on this also appeared in Fortune magazine
last month (titled "The hidden workplace.") "There's the organization
chart," it said. "And then there's the way things really work."
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!
"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 Amateurargument 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
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.
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.
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?
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.