I created a Facebook account last year, after the platform opened up, mainly to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. I've been a daily user since, routinely searching out new connections, discovering new and useful applications and frankly, most of the time just having fun with it. And in that time, what's been really cool to observe is the growing adoption of Facebook for business networking and content sharing. Sure, there was a healthy representation of early adopters and Web 2.0 savvy groups when I first started. More prevalent were people who got in for the same reasons I did and happened to stumble upon work-related connections. Many worried about opening up access to more personal information to their professional network. What's really interesting to me is that SpeakerBox worked with Entrepreneurs' Organization on a member survey last Fall and social networking ranked low as a marketing priority for 2008, with LinkedIn getting the lion's share of values recognition.
It seems to me that in the few months since, there's been an about face and it's exciting to see. In a town that has built a reputation for networking events and death by meeting, I have to say it's refreshing to connect with colleagues, clients and partners in a less formal and more insightful and interactive way. With that said, I invite you to check out and join the SpeakerBox Communications page on Facebook. We look forward to giving you insight into the team that makes this firm great, connecting you with our network and sharing content that will be meaningful to your business communications efforts.
- Lisa Throckmorton
We're launching a new feature on The Sounding Board: a series of one on one interviews with top industry executives, journalists and analysts. We'll be posting interviews with these influencers every few weeks, so keep coming back, and if you have a specific question you want answered or influencer you want insight on, let me know. Our first influencer Q&A is with Galen Gruman, InfoWorld's recently annointed executive editor. Galen joined InfoWorld at the beginning of this month after several years as a freelancer with CIO, InfoWorld, and a number of other publications. -Stephanie StadlerWhat made you decide to go into journalism?
Im not sure I ever decided I worked on my school newspaper in the 6th grade and have done journalism ever since. I see journalism as a way to explore the world and share what I find with others, a form of teaching that combines hands-on learning for me.What brought you to InfoWorld? What do your responsibilities at InfoWorld include?
I came to InfoWorld because of the appeal of the challenge it and the other technology media (and many others) face: how to thrive in an online medium where the traditional ad and circulation models have gone away and therefore the whole economic proposition is changing in ways we dont yet fully understand. Its clear that many print publications that do service journalism will go away, replaced by online-only versions. InfoWorld was one of the first, so its a great laboratory to figure this out. And of course the challenge is not just a business one: The medium is very different, requiring a different approach to content and reader loyalty creation as well. Such significant shifts in an industry are rare, and I wanted to be part of figuring this one out.
As executive editor for news and features, my job is to run the news and feature operations on a day-to-day basis, as well as many of our blogs, and to set the sites overall editorial and audience strategy with Test Center
executive editor Doug Dineley and EIC Eric Knorr. The three of us have to create the strategy for the site as a whole, and then execute on that within our specific segments. In that sense, the executive editor job is the same as at any publication.InfoWorld has transformed itself significantly during the past year, particularly with the move to online content. This shift has seemingly caused InfoWorld to become content creators across all forms editorial content in the form of news, features, lab reviews, video, podcasts and blogs. How does the emphasis on content creation across multiple avenues impact your team from an editorial point of view? Do feature stories stand out if your team can approach them from multiple angles on the site?
Certainly, we need new skill sets, such as video and audio and design of interactive content, such as Flash walkthroughs. That poses a challenge, but honestly the percentage of people who use these newer media forms is a small percentage, so the written word still accounts for 90 percent of the traffic and reader service. I think that balance will change over time, but given the much higher cost of producing the newer media and the much lower advertising revenues per reader, the economics if nothing else will continue to favor the written word. I think the newer media will take the place of the print worlds infographics and photography, the high-expense-but-high-impact elements that give the whole publication or site its extra oomph and augments its brand and customer attachment.
The bigger challenge, at least for the short term, is reinventing what features are in the online medium. Large, multielement packages typically don t work online people just cant manage all the connections in the freer-form Web environment, and the screens dont provide the same richness that a two-page magazine spread does. So we cant duplicate print. I believe the big feature is an endangered species online. So the challenge is how do you give deep value to people who want more than superficial, easy information. The superficial stuff is everywhere and has little value. The differentiating stuff is where the value and brand loyalty come from, and well have to experiment with new ways of delivering that value given both the constraints of the online medium and the new capabilities it brings.InfoWorld also has a strong roster of well-regarded blogs. How important are user initiated conversations to InfoWorlds community?
Blogs are key parts of a Web site, because they put an expert in front of people directly, much like a trade show speaker or consultant/instructor does. Online, these people can now speak directly to their audiences, and even get audience participation through chat, comments, and other community mechanisms. Thats a powerful new tool for editors. But blogs and community are not necessarily the same thing. Communities are rarely created; instead, they reflect common ongoing interests. A blogger might tap into a community that exists and convince them to come to his bully pulpit, but he didnt create the community. But he may invigorate it or cause it to recognize that it even exists. (He meaning she as well, of course.)
The issue of community-driven involvement user-initiated conversations, user-generated content, etc. is a slightly different animal. Much of the Web 2.0 stuff as undefined as it is seeks to provide the vehicles for communities online, leveraging the long histories of chat rooms and other vehicles. Were still figuring out how InfoWorld can provide the right venue for our natural communities within the IT and technology area. We believe community will be an essential, dynamic part of our site once we figure out the best way to enable it.What technology trends do you currently find most interesting?
Im mostly interested in the architectural areas, such as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Event-driven Architecture (EDA) and Business Process Management (BPM). Theyre not so much technology trends but management-of-technoiogy trends, and I think we too often get caught up in bits and bytes and forget that none of this matters if you cant apply it to the real world in intelligent, creative ways. The architectural approach can get us past this IT/business dichotomy its a false one, after all and let us get real, sustainable value from technology. I believe weve only scratched the surface and that our throw it over the wall approach to technology deployment and creation actually has hindered everyones benefits. InfoWorld has a large, proud set of geeks on staff and reading our site who do get very excited abut specific technologies, and thats what were about at the end of the day. Ive covered technology for 20-odd years, so while I can still geek out, I find my attention keeps coming back to the why does this matter aspects that architecture seeks to highlight.What elements make a specific company or story compelling to you?
Reader service (i.e., useful, actionable, information), a compelling spin (the emotional undercurrent that connects with people as people, not as merely as consumers, buyers, technicians, and other anonymous drones that marketing often treats us all as), and an approach that whether someone agrees or not with the premise makes them rethink their own assumptions. Thats what makes a story a story rather than just data.
(Photo Credit: DEMO)
SpeakerBox client StackSafe is unveiling their much-anticipated product Test Center at DEMO 08 this week. Test Center will allow IT operations teams to test IT changes against their entire software stack quickly and easily through virtualization, a first of its kind solution addressing a very serious need in the IT community.
Weve been proud to be a part of their team during the launch phase and are excited about the buzz theyve received. Congratulations to the entire StackSafe team and best of luck at DEMO!
- John Terrill
(Photo Credit: Sundazed)
This week I attended a PRWeek
webcast on “The changing world of business news”
and while some of the material was obvious (e.g. – blogs are important), there were a few takeaways worth noting. The panelists (Rafat Ali, editor and founder, ContentNext Media
; Mick Weinstein
, editor-in-chief, Seeking Alpha
; Chris Peacock, executive editor and vice president, CNNMoney.com
and Shawn Dainas, group manager for worldwide communications, Sun Microsystems
) all agreed that there has been an overarching change in the business news landscape in the past few years. “Transparency and authenticity are key,” noted Peacock. Blogs, online forums and social networking sites have all changed the manner in which people get their news and information. Audiences – even business ones – no longer rely on the media as a formal gatekeeper for material since it’s now easy to pull videos, stories, ideas and other content right from the Internet. While it was once thought of as innovative and groundbreaking for a company or buttoned-up executive to have a blog or other Web 2.0 tool, it’s becoming the norm.
In addition to the change in business news, the panelists discussed some interesting trends for business news in 2008, including:
~ individuals, particularly “big name” reporters, will increasingly break away from publications and go on their own in a type of “entrepreneurial journalism”
~ similarly, there will be a rise in the number of credible, independent media outlets
~ broadband video use
will continue to increase
~ more corporate executives will blog
to get their message directly to their audience
While their predictions aren’t surprising, they are likely disturbing to news outlets already struggling financially. And of course what would a PR webinar be without some tips from reporters on how to get their attention? Again, the panelists didn’t present anything too shocking but their tips bear repeating:
~ e-mail is best
but mass e-mails DO NOT work
~ researching and reading are crucial
; doing a little extra legwork is often the difference between a successful pitch and one that gets deleted
~ PR professionals need to be smart before picking up the phone
. Don't call reporters unnecessarily (i.e. to make sure they got your e-mail).
(with apologies/thanks to Bob Dylan for the title)
(Photo Credit: e-mind)
As promised, I have the results of the short survey taken at our seminar earlier in the month. The survey questions focused on the integration of search with traditional marketing programs. The audience included technology marketers from small emerging growth companies, Fortune 1,000 companies and everything in between.
Though were not suggesting that this survey is in any way statistically reliable, it does provide an interesting snapshot into the resources (both in time and money) that area marketers invest (or dont) into search engine optimization.
Several attendees admitted, at least privately, that their level of understanding of strategies to drive SEO leaves something to be desired. We hope to be a resource for those marketers with more blog posts on this topic in the coming months.
One thing was clear -- everyone, regardless of their level of SEO sophistication, is looking for a leg up in the competitive world of search.
Responses to the survey questions are provided below.
1. How well integrated are your marcom and SEO efforts?
a. Not at all integrated (24%)
b. Somewhat integrated (52%)
c. Tightly integrated (24%)
2. What is your annual budget for SEO/SEM in 2008?
a. $0 (7%)
b. $1K-$5K (31%)
c. $5K-$25K (28%)
d. $25-$100K (28%)
e. $100K+ (7%)
3. Do you optimize your press releases, authored articles and white papers for keywords?
a. Yes (41%)
b. No (59%)
4. Do you measure the impact of your online content on your SEO?
a. Yes (56%)
b. No (44%)
- Katie Hanusik
Over the last two weeks, SpeakerBox attended two local professional development seminars designed for PR professionals. On Wednesday, January 16th, an event at the US Navy Memorial
in Washington, DC focused on Web 2.0 What You Need to Know Now
, and was produced by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America
(PRSA). This panel presentation featured SpeakerBox partner R2i.ntegrated
, as well as representatives from Edelman
and New Media Strategies
. Weve been executing on a number of social media strategies for our clients, but always find it useful to hear about strategies other companies are employing. Key takeaways from this discussion:~ Social Media Guidelines
Many companies have made sure to develop corporate guidelines for employees who blog; however, executives should expand these policies to incorporate suggestions for employee behavior across the vast array of social media.~ Blip.tv vs. YouTube
The social media tools available online are constantly evolving. PR professionals need to do their research and make sure they are making use of a broad range of tools, particularly those designed for specific industries and market segments. Do not rely exclusively on those tools everyone are most familiar with.~ Control Detox
This is the single most significant obstacle for many companies wanting to expand their PR strategy into social media knowingly stepping back and letting go of control. Web 2.0 tools are about facilitating two-way communication online -- starting conversations, not simply developing content. Edelmans Steve Field
stated If content is king, then conversation is queen and this will be a hard shift for many companies.
On Thursday, January 10th, SpeakerBox attended Advice from Aristotle: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Communicators
- a seminar focused on modern day crisis communications challenges and lessons learned from the great thinker Aristotle. The program was produced by the Washington chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators
as part of their monthly professional development series, and featured Dave Bartlett from Levick Strategic Communications
. Key takeaways focused on the lessons of Aristotle:~ Media is a means to an end
In most situations, especially a crisis, its important for PR professionals to keep this in mind. Media coverage is not the end goal, it is a means to meet your key objectives. Usually that objective involves delivering a message to a target audience a publication or broadcast station is the medium carrying your message. This is something we should be constantly reminding our clients.~ Persuasion from Aristotle
Each PR professional has three means of persuasion to rely on, and all three must be met in a crisis situation: those grounded in credibility (ethos), in the emotions and psychology of the audience (pathos), and in patterns of reasoning (logos). What does this mean in our terms? After considering your target audience, make sure your message is true, reflects the good character of you and your organization, and ensure that it will ring true to your audience.
(Photo credit: Surety)
SpeakerBox client Surety
understands the risks associated with electronic records. They are well aware of how easy it is to crack and alter a PDF, modify an e-mail string or tamper with other electronic records, such as Office documents and JPEGs. Perhaps more importantly, Surety can irrefutably detect when any of the tampering referenced above has occurred. It sounds easy, but detecting data-level tampering isnt as simple as it seems.
Thats why SBX worked with Surety to launch the inaugural edition of their Data Integrity Challenge Contest
to help broaden awareness of the ease with which critical business records can be altered, and the level of difficulty associated with the detection of data tampering.
So, take five minutes and enter the Data Integrity Challenge
. You might even win some cool prizes. Share
news of the contest with your friends, too. If they win, you can tell them that they are obligated to share the prize with you.
Apparently we struck a chord when we announced that our first program
of the year would be on the topic Google Loves Content: PR and Other Strategies to Drive SEO."
Todays event sold out a week ahead of time. Fortunately, the seminar seemed to be worth the hype; we were gratified by the enthusiasm on the evaluations and verbal feedback from the attendees.
Since the discussion focused on specific tips and tools that attendees could integrate into their own SEO programs I thought Id focus on a handful of things that were of interest to me (and deemed most valuable on the evaluation by the attendees). As a reminder, the speakers responsible for these words of wisdom are: Laszlo Horvath
, President, Active Media Brian Reed
, CMO, BoxTone
Page Sands, Digital Marketing Specialist, R2integrated John Shea
, CMO, Rivermine
1. 70-87% of clicks are derived from natural search, though the majority of users (approx. 60%) are unaware of the difference between natural and paid positions
2. Use Alexa
to compare your traffic to that of your competition and see who is linking to your site
3. SEO can be positively enhanced by the number of links to your site and the relative importance of those people/companies (the more important, the more value their links are worth)
4. Encourage in-bound links and dont forget the freebies by posting your site on Wikipedia
(the Open Directory Project)
5. Use keywords often but dont overdue it. Test your keyword density by using free tools like: KeywordDensity.com
6. Try the free tool SearchStatus
:SearchStatus is a toolbar extension for Firefox and Mozilla that allows you to see how any and every website in the world is performing... For every site you visit, SearchStatus lets you view its Google PageRank, Google Category, Alexa popularity ranking, Compete.com ranking, Alexa incoming links, Alexa related links and backward links from Google, Yahoo! and MSN. This combined search-related information means you can view not only the link importance of a site (according to Google), but also its traffic importance (according to Alexa), so providing a balanced view of site efficacy.
7. Use keywords in your URLs and create a dedicated page for each keyword. Youll be more successful with smaller pages focused on a single keyword.
8. Use keywords in your page title tags and in your visible footers (a key contributor to Rivermines top status in Google).
9. Try a tool called Crazy Egg
to get visuals to supplement your analytics
Many marketers would admit that SEO is a topic that they dont understand as well as they should. This is compounded by the difficulty in finding a credible SEO resource. If anything, this event reminded us that SEO success is driven by hundreds of variables. We could all use a gentle reminder as communications professionals that every marketing activity has the opportunity to positively impact SEO, if done well.
Ill wrap up with a comment from John Shea, Rivermine CMO (and no relation to Elizabeth Shea, in case you were wondering), Todays marketers should realize that theyre being evaluated on their search engine performance their investors and sales people will input key words about their market into Google and if the company does not show in the top 5 results, their performance as a marketer will be called into question."
Ill share survey results in next weeks post.
- Katie Hanusik