I'd add those clients who re-write your press releases because they know better. The release is then sent back to you full of adjectives and fluff, it becomes an advert rather than PR.
This site, while said to be invitation-only (a link to the invite is in this blog post) is meant to be a network for communications students and people new to the industry. The goal is to connect people allowing them to network, share career advice and get support from their peers around the country. PR Newser got to talk with Sarah about the launch where she says she decided to start the network because she wasn't able to keep up with all of emails she received every week from students or recent grads asking for advice. She thought a repository would be the answer.
The site features:
· Resume and interview Q&As
· Featured members (seasoned PR pros who Sarah considers to be her mentors)
· Niche groups that you can start or join
· The ability to live chat with other PR people
· A discussion forum
While Im obviously not looking for a job
I joined this week to see what it was all about. So far there seem to be some good resources out there but it is heavily geared to the job seeker and those new to the industry. I think as the users grow in their careers this could become a useful repository of PR information and ideas with the ability to ask questions and get feedback from peers.
As a blogger I have had PR agents ask me about making something to go viral even - fail. Luckily that is a very small majority.
SpeakerBox is pleased to welcome a new client to the fold. Florida-based Runaware
, a leader in online software demo solutions and cloud computing services recently selected SpeakerBox as its AOR. Runaware's flagship product, TestDrive
, offers a hosted interactive online demo environment that allows customers to evaluate software in their Web browser. In addition, Runaware's cloud platform
allows independent software vendors to migrate to a cloud or hybrid model and ultimately increase their software sales.
For more information, the full release can be found here
-- Katie Hanusik
Thanks John! I got a good laugh out of these, despite having heard most at one time or another. Here's another: "Can I review the story before it's printed."
Great article ~ I definitely chuckled with each point!
Numbers 1 and 2 are dead on!
Some corporate "viral" videos make me break out into hives. A sense of humor: good. Social media as a priority: good. Hokey skits, rap videos, and any form of dancing in a YouTube video: bad, oh so bad.
Its almost Halloween, which means steeling yourself for armies of costumed children besieging your home, endless reruns of your favorite TV specials (Disneys animated The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
is my personal favorite) and, of course, loads of technology publications pushing out vaguely-related lists.
So in the vein of the latter, here is my take on the Scariest [Insert Industry Here] list keep in mind, Ive kept many of the obvious comments off of here, like Youre fired and Im slashing your budget.5. If we give Reporter X $5,000, will they run our story?
Remember when you hired a public relations firm and not an ad agency? That means youre looking for thought leadership and poignant, well-placed articles filled with journalistic integrity, not blatant sponsorship. Also, good luck finding a reporter from any reputable news organization
to take you up on that its essentially bribery, and not even most independent bloggers will play that game, especially if you want to keep the payment on the down low.4. I want to see all of your pitches before you send them out.
This one isnt always scary its perfectly reasonable to want to see what your new public relations firm is saying about your company and how they are positioning your product/service/executives when you start the engagement. The above only becomes scary when it is maintained as the status quo not only are you telling the firm I dont trust you but youre also acting as a bottleneck. Your firm (should) know what to say to get you in front of the people you want to talk to dont hamstring that capability but functioning as a Great Redactor.3. Microsoft is in the Wall Street Journal; why cant we be there too?
Want to terrify your PR firm? Constantly compare yourself to competitors that are:
A) Public when you arent
B) Led by a polarizing/outspoken/media-darling CEO who is constantly spouting borderline-insane quotes (see: Larry Elliso
C) Vaguely competes in your market but is actually focused in another, extremely-popular industry
Understand who your competitors are and be reasonable. Its understandable to shoot for the stars and, trust me, your PR firm is right there with you. But make sure your expectations are realistic, especially when you look at your TRUE competitors.2. How can we make this go viral?
Before you start throwing around viral, understand what it means
its essentially content that explodes across a variety of online communities with little to no syndication from the creator. Manufactured viral is also highly prone to failure (Jupiter Research
tags the success rate of viral campaigns at around 15 percent), so never get your hopes up around a particular campaign. By all means, create content with the hopes of it going viral just dont expect the same level of success as Greg the Architect or, God forbid
1. Lets make a series of videos like Old Spice! Itll be just like Old Spices campaign only it will focus on ERP and
Because that worked out so well for Microsoft
, right? Copying a successful viral campaign isnt normally the recipe for success part of the appeal when it comes to a specific viral campaign is the uniqueness. You have your own corporate culture, your own ideas and your own spokespeople mold them into a campaign that tells your companys story with all of the quirky bits included. Even if it doesnt necessarily go viral, itll certainly have more of an impact that Steve from Logistics trying to copy Isaiah Mustafas well-timed mockery.
And those are my five ways to keep your PR firm up at night what are yours? Do you have any particularly frightening statements that a PR firm has told you? Let me know!
This week I had the opportunity to attend the Social Media Club - DC
(SMCDC) breakfast event
. Dan Pierce, environmental communications manager for Ford Motor Company
was on hand to talk about electric vehicles
(EVs) and how social media is essential to their efforts to reach consumers and stakeholders.
Ford's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, along with the growth of efficient EV technologies, spurred the current push for Ford's five hybrid and battery electric vehicles launching over the next three years. The two that were on display and used for test drives that morning were the Ford Transit Connect Electric and the Ford Focus Electric (pictured above).
|Dan Pierce, Ford Motor Company|
Pierce noted that government entities and manufacturers are supporting EVs and putting resources behind infrastructure. These groups recognize how EVs can help "smart commuting." For example, those in urban areas who don't drive long distances could charge up their vehicle at home to last several short round-trips. Some other key takeaways:
- According to Ford, there are 220,000 gas stations in the US; there are only 35,000 electric stations
- Some gas cars get 15 cents/mile vs. 3 cents/mile to charge EVs
- The concept of a hybrid electric vehicle dates back to 1901
- Ford's social media strategy for the launch of the Fiesta was well received across consumers and marketing folks alike; photos on Flickr, demos on YouTube, Facebook pages and Twitter demographic and brand-specific feeds all helped engage and educate
The great thing about the new EVs being produced is that it stirs innovation for the manufacturers and the technology community at-large. Soon we'll be one step closer to living like the Jetsons
The Venture Capital ViewPoint featured John Backus
, New Atlantic Ventures
; Philip Bronner
, Novak Biddle
; Don Rainey
, Grotech Ventures
; Mark Rostick
, Intel Capital
and moderator Andrew Ray
. Interestingly, this seemed to be the worst attended session of the day with only about 60 people in audience. As John Backus pointed out how quickly the venture capitalists have fallen.
The questions quickly turned to financing. The VCs universally agreed that theyre not interested in ideas on a napkin. Especially in the case of first-time entrepreneurs, theyre looking for demonstrated traction. Rostick added that its easier to get an A or C round, but harder to get a B round. If you burn through an initial investment without significant progress, its really hard to get more money.
However, there is a silver lining. Bronner said hes seeing more innovation now than hes seen in a long time. Backus and Rainey agreed saying, The best companies are born during the hardest times. Companies started during times of distress are not spending money stupidly; they are cheaper and seem to have better DNA.
The panel also mentioned that theyre looking for companies that can iterate quickly, test often and fail fast. Rainey specifically mentioned HelloWallets
Caribou Test. Periodically, when the CEO wanted to focus test a new idea or feature, hed wander down to the local Caribou Coffee to get real-time feedback from potential customers. Rainey added that the commitment to testing is critical; the first great challenge for an entrepreneur is to build a truly great product and thats where most entrepreneurs fail.
So what sectors are the most interesting to these VCs?
Innovative ecommerce solutions that enable new categories of products to be sold online such as prescription drugs, wine and high-end fashion
Mobile as a source for distributed content, commerce and the shift to the cloud
Socialization on the Web: gaming, coupons and winning by buying, such as Groupon and Living Social.
The last question asked was the most interesting question of the day; if you were an entrepreneur would you take venture money? Bronner said hed take seed money but wouldnt raise VC money unless the market was big enough to result in a multi-million dollar payout for the entrepreneur. He added, that hed make sure he raised enough money to be the market leader, since the category leader often sells for 3-5x more than the number two player. Rostick added that hed recommend taking venture money if you needed something from the VCs that you couldnt get easily by yourself, such as advice, coaching or access. Otherwise, go it alone.
Based on the attendance at the session, plenty of entrepreneurs seem to be following that advice.
- Katie Hanusik
More than 250 people attended the morning session on Usability and Design featuring usability experts Darren Mauro
; Kelley McDonald
, Navigation Arts
; Craig Sauerwalt
, Sylvan Learning
; Emily Jerome Schroeder
and moderator Drew Diskin
, University of Pennsylvania Health System
The session started with the question, "is the site redesign dead? The panelists seemed to think so and proposed a model of continuous improvement (rather than stagnation and decay). Just as important as the ongoing optimization is the commitment to testing. Panelists suggested tools like usertesting.com
and Googles Website Optimizer
for online usability testing, and pointed out that the ease and low cost enables Web developers to test the same project or page repeatedly.
In terms of content, McDonald pointed out that content is frequently given short shrift. Though Websites are mostly textual content, the content is often an afterthought. The CMS industry perpetuates the idea that content can be automated, leading people to believe that less effort is required.
When asked about designing for the mobile Web, the panelists suggested creating a pared down site that addresses three questions that are specific to your mobile visitors, rather than simply replicating the functionality of your desktop Website. Sauerwalt also suggested that you design with specific devices in mind, since each platform does different things well.
One audience member asked about the appropriate balance of content to call-to-action for an e-commerce site. In Mauros experience at CustomInk, high quality product information and product comparison tools are the most valuable content for visitors. Other narrative content is less valuable for CustomInk visitors. Schroeder reminded us that thoughtful content really helps with SEO; it helps get visitors in the door even if it doesnt influence their purchasing decisions.
Next up the Venture Capital ViewPoint.
- Katie Hanusik
Fellow SpeakerBoxer Katie Hanusik
and I tag-teamed the sold-out Digital East 2010
Conference today held in McLean, VA, and I was impressed by how much the event has grown the past few years! It was packed. Standing room only available for some of the sessions and a great representation of the community, both locally and nationally.
Sharing some highlights from a session I attended this afternoon on social media trends in associations and government.
Speakers included: Sybil Walker Barnes
: Director of Social Media, American Institute of ArchitectsSusan Cato
, Senior Director, Web and New Media Strategies, CompTIABob Ellsworth
, Senior Fellow of Technology, Republican National Committee
Moderator: Andrea Rose Baker
, Director of Enterprise 2,0, NavStar, Inc
The first thing that struck me about this panel, is that whether it was intended or not, each of these speakers served as a change agent for their organizations, creating engagement and conversations. Each of them found themselves trying to bridge the gap between structured, closed, traditional communications models, and more current ways of engaging.
Each shared successes and lessons learned that have helped propel their organizations forward. Moderator Andrea Rose Baker kicked things off by asking each panelist to provide one word that best describes their deployment
of social media within their organization: Bob
: STRUGGLE: After joining the RNC, he came to realize he would need to break the mold of "command and control" and strive to accomplish a two-way message with no command nor control of what is being said. Sybil:
LEARNING: Introducing social media and two-way conversations has been challenging to a very traditional association, but the "aha" moment came when they realized they could use these tools as a learning channel, to learn about member companies, clients, as well as their own internal team. Susan
: CHAOS: Her biggest challenge was trying to bring chaos into order. At CompTIA there were plenty of enthusiastic folks ready to engage with members and clients (and in fact there were multiple CompTIA-branded social media sites that had grown organically) but the group needed to ensure there was structure at the same time.
The group became relatively interactive, while still responding to directed questions by the moderator. Some of the observations, which tend to be typical of a more traditional, structured organization:
- Bob described how there was little infrastructure or tools available for communicating beyond what they have always done. They've had to change that. For example, he used to personally communicate to primarily the major networks, but that's not the current landscape. They need to engage the hundreds of influencers and bloggers that report on what they do. They find themselves being the target of non-traditional channels, such as The Daily Show, should things go wrong.
- Susan discussed her challenge with managing their brand amidst other Facebook, LinkedIn and web properties that do not belong to the association, but still manage to be communities of their customers. Her challenge was to find a way to harness the engaged, enthusiastic communities already present online with effective brand management. She had to personally reach into those groups and look to engage or assimilate into her corporate properties. She started with the biggest ones first, and then worked her way down. She also opted not to shut any of them down, as she couldn't risk alienating any of their followers.
- Bob made an observation that in many cases, bloggers and influencers can have more power than traditional media..he has to focus more on grassroots efforts when it makes sense.
- Sybil discussed a lesson learned in the differences between physical and virtual conventions: bloggers can help or hurt you if you don't manage those relationships well. Get bloggers involved early for virtual events to help promote, listen, and engage, and treat them as members of the media when attending in-person conferences.
- All agreed that enterprise 2.0: the term used in this case for internal engagement using social media tools, will be an important new area to fold into a communications plan.
- Andrea discussed the transition from a web-centric world to a social media format for communication, referencing a controversial article from Wired Magazine, The Web Is Dead. Andrea believes the web isn't dead, but rather it has a slow heartbeat, as a strong web property is still important in meeting needs for information. But it can't serve alone as a communications tool.
Unfortunately, there wasn't the focus I was looking for on government engagement, although many of the thought processes hold true for agencies to consider. Thanks to TechMedia
for a great program!Elizabeth Shea (@eliz2shea)
Thanks for the discussion John,
I think youve got it absolutely right
our goal is help people pitch less, but pitch smarter and to not have to hear the Why are you sending me an off-topic pitch? response.
To correct the previous post, mBLAST's MediaSync does allow the user to enter notes on engagements, private thoughts, and even private contact details and save these as a personal addendum to a media contact's record. These private details are seen only by the user -- not the "crowd" as pointed out. We view these "CRM" functions as a fairly normal must have feature in any media product.
There are crowdsourcing aspects to MediaSync for example you can create your own lists of contacts, sources or opportunities and share them with colleagues, and we always take feedback from users on new or updated contact/source info, which we then vet and incorporate in the database.
What further separates MediaSync from others is the ability to constantly mine new blogs and articles from your relevant sources and contacts so you are always up to date on what they are saying and writing. That's the real value of the MediaSync service -- not the fact that we have someone's email address. That's readily available on the web these days its just a Google search away in most cases.
Let's try an informal poll: Do you think B2B or B2C companies have the most connected and active employees across social networks?
If you're like me, you'd have selected B2C companies as your answer, but you would have been wrong. NetProspex
, the fast-growing sales and marketing database company, just unveiled the latest version of its Social 50 Report
, showing the most social corporations in America, and of the top 20 social companies on the list, more than half are B2B brands. The NetProspex Social Index was determined by research conducted from database of business contacts, and it reflects "a business person's social connectedness, social activity, friendliness, and reach across top social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
They've uncovered some useful data, and it's a report I think every person who is managing, contemplating or heck, even interested in, their organization's social strategy (that should cover all of us, right?) should read. As an added bonus, they have some pretty fantastic infographics
accompanying the report
(which, as always
, means I love it).So who made the Fall 2010 Social 50?
(Click to make the graphic larger, unless your eyes are way
better than mine.)
Here's a recap of the specific B2B trends NetProspex calls out in the report:
All in all, NetProspex's report presents data that's useful if you want to see if your target market and customer demographic are using social networks, to what degree, and where they compare to other industries. If that's information that interests you, I highly recommend you check it out.
- B2B employees are social
The high scores of companies like Microsoft, Avaya, EMC Corporation, Autodesk, Oracle, and Network Appliance (all in the top 20) indicate strong social media use among employees at B2B organizations.
- Other B2B organizations in the Social 50 include Office Max, CDW Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates, Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, Intel, SunGuard, and Dun & Bradstreet.
Is public media better than private media?
PBS thinks so. (More on that in a bit.)
But first: What's happened to commercial news reporting?
Now that the New York Times
has pared its editorial staff down to a lean 7, can we really expect the old standard of journalistic due diligence?
Probably not. As real news sees its profitability declining (thanks again, free sensationalist online portals and 24-hour content holes), the industry has to cut corners, which makes the final product all the more irrelevant. The same thing happened to the auto industry. (Little-known fact: all 2008 Chryslers featured hand-pump windshield wipers.)
In that instance, the government stepped in with public money. Would it ever do the same for private journalism?
Some would argue that a dysfunctional fourth estate is even more toxic than the loss of hundreds of thousands of automotive jobs. After all, the backbone of our democracy is an engaged, informed populace. And right now, 20% of Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth
. (To which the singed ghost of Giordano Bruno
responded, Are you freaking kidding me?)
So perhaps the time has come for a news industry bailout. Granted, this is unlikely, considering that the majority of 2010 congressional candidates favor abolishing the Federal Government in its entirety.
And there's another problem: We already have public media, and it can be a bit (to put it mildly) aggressively inaccessible.
(I might be pilloried for that last comment. But there has to be a middle ground between Tuesday Evenings with Thelonius Monk and Fox Action News starring Jennifer Lopez and the Dominos Pizza Noid.)
Advocates of public media are already making the case for greater government investment. Just last week, PBS Idea Lab published a survey
showing that 407 Spot.Us
users rated public media as having significantly better quality than its commercial counterpart.
Its admittedly an unrepresentative sampling (and its conducted by PBS!), so the findings arent airtight. But there does seem to be a groundswell of support for public media expansion.
Personally, Im not sure more PBS stations are the answer. Rather, I think the government should flex its muscles helping our traditional news industry do what it used to do best.
Its not as if journalists have forgotten the principles of solid reporting. They just dont have time to do it in between blog posts, podcasts, and "Happy Friday" tweets.
Not to mention that SEO considerations are making NPR SPEAKERBOX most online news PR FIRM DC reporting bloated NEWS PROFITABILITY with TOP 10 REASONS TO GO SKIING THIS WINTER nonsense.
The problem with the private sector is that its obsessed with streamlining and efficiency. Luckily, our government doesnt even know the meaning of the word efficiency
So maybe -- just maybe -- its a match made in geocentric heaven.
What do you think?
co-founder Mark Zuckerberg calls a press conference, it usually means something big is about to go down. The charitable side of me hoped the announcement would be another multimillion-dollar donation to a troubled school system
similar to what Zuckerberg recently bestowed upon Newark, NJ. The consumer side of me hoped to finally hear about the Facebook phone
At yesterdays invitation-only press event, the announcement
actually centered on what you might call making social more social on Facebook. Stay with me here. Facebook has 500 million users who log in to reconnect with old friends, catch up with family and make new connections, whether personal or business. Some of these connections even exist on other platforms, like email, or even (heaven forbid) in real life. So Zuckerberg and his team set out to enhance Facebook to allow more targeted and personal management of your connections and your information.
To create this targeted experience, Facebook now features a new Facebook Groups that will enable group chat and email lists. The design is much more like a community space and youll be able to discuss topics through group chat (among group members that are online), as well as have a group custom e-mail address. Groups are automatically set to closed, so only group members will see pictures, links, events and videos you post there. I can see businesses using this as a tool to empower employees to share and provide input on work efficiencies.
Theres also a new dashboard that will allow Facebook users to see how many sites and applications theyve allowed to access their personal data through Facebook Connect. Given Facebooks privacy issues
, I think this is a great idea for those users who cant remember every application theyve signed up for on the site. Youll also be able to download your information from Facebook into a .zip file, which is really a long overdue feature.
Interestingly, the people behind these new features were allegedly in all-hands-on-deck mode getting the site enhancements ready. TechCrunch notes that the leadership at Facebook actually calls it Lockdown and it pretty much means everyone works 24/7. It sounds scary. But what I would give to be a fly on the wall during a Lockdown at Facebook. --Pheniece
Thinking back to my college classes I dont remember the rooms being filled with only women or even the male to female ratio seeming off balance. But then again, the ratio overall at my school at the time was 6/1 women to men so maybe I was just used to it.
An article on Ragans this week tries to get at the root of why women dominate the PR industry. Its an interesting question. Especially when its pointed out that even though there are more women in the industry, men still seem to be at the higher levels and earn more.
In 1970 only 27 percent of PR practitioners were women, today that figure has grown to nearly 85 percent according to Brenda Wrigley, chair of the public relations department at Syracuse University. However, 80 percent of top management is male.
Its not the inequality in status that I find most troubling, its the differences in salary. Pay inequality was highlighted recently by a recent Government Accountability Office report finding that female managers earned just 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2007, compared with 79 cents in 2000.
I have to say that four years ago, when I was job hunting and first came across SpeakerBox the idea of a woman-owned firm really appealed to me. Since, joining the company I have loved the dynamic even though I feel bad for John and now Jonathan sometimes. (Yes, we have only two male employees and they have the same name!)
Personally, I think PR is a natural fit for women who generally tend to have an innate ability to appeal to people. In this field you need to anticipate needs and keep all sides happy women have been doing that since before PR existed. To me, its similar to how having a nurturing personality lends one to excel in nursing or teaching.
Just as a side note, I love that in a field so obviously dominated by women we still have organizations and awards that are aimed at only women, ie: Washington Women in PR and its woman of the year program, The Association for Women in Communications, and PRWeeks 50 Most Powerful Women in PR. These were probably designed years ago to promote the few women in the industry and make them feel welcome. I wonder how long it will be until we see PR organizations for men crop up!
Last week the Technology Marketing Alliance
(TMA) held one of its quarterly programs at the Tower Club with guest speaker Jim Geisman
, founder and principal of Software Pricing Partners
. The topic was spot-on for this group of senior marketers that each face challenges in setting and maintaining pricing models for their primarily B2B and B2G enterprise software companies.
Jim addressed challenges with on-premises
models, typical discounting practices, productizing services and market trends, and the effects of B2C
pricing on B2B
We covered a lot of material during the session, which was custom made for our group downsized from a typical full day workshop
. Jim was gracious enough to grant permission to post his PowerPoint for our community to digest...it was a very interactive session, however, so the questions and answers provided the most value for many of us in the room.
A couple of key nuggets to share:
- Pricing strategies: people in general don't recognize absolute prices, they recognize relative prices. Be very conscious of what you provide vis-a-vis your competitors to make sure a higher price reflects higher value. Make it apparent.
- Salespeople may not always be trained on why pricing is set where it is: make them a part of the strategic discussion to help cut down on discounting and keep up profitability.
- Free trials and test runs are becoming more and more important; don't make it hard for customers to see the value! Make it digestible and easy to purchase.
- If your product can be sold without sending them through a salesperson, make it easy. Don't let your internal sales processes inhibit a customer who is ready to buy. Typically customers have already made their decision.
- Jim recommends three pricing options, with increasing value/offering at each level. He referenced studies that have proven that customers will more likely choose up when three options are presented, versus when only two options exist.
- Rather than price by the user, consider pricing your software based on usage, feature set or item sold. When the metric for pricing for your customer matches the metrics for their business (per claim, per loan, per patient, per bill, per reservation, etc.), there was likely to be a better case of profitability on both sides of the equation, and greater satisfaction overall.
- One idea Jim proposed for alleviating the standard practice of sales discounting at month end, quarter end, etc., was to set up the sales quotas and incentives to occur at different times. Thus there wouldn't be incentives to heavily discount all at once, affecting ongoing profitability for the deal.
Many thanks to Jim for taking the time to address our group; the feedback from the attendees was very favorable, and for those seeking additional customized strategies, his workshops would be a no-brainer!- Elizabeth Shea (eliz2shea)
I came across a fantastic post by GigaOMs Matthew Ingram earlier this week on Forbes new effort to monetize digital media
, particularly blogs. The endeavor appears to be offering branded blogs to advertisers great idea in principle, especially if youre trying to drive more ad dollars. But the point of the post wasnt the blogs themselves, but rather if this effort equates to Forbes selling its editorial soul for the sake of more ad money.
Its a symptom of a wider problem more and more publications are, at least to outsiders, blurring the line between editorial and advertorial, with specific sponsorships for certain sections, obnoxiously intrusive in-text ads and pop-ups, and so on. And if publication kowtowing for ad money wasnt enough, advertisers are snapping up respected industry leaders as to serve as community evangelists or social media consultants.
So is what Forbes doing worse than, say, if Microsoft were to hire Chris Anderson as their evangelist or BusinessWeek refused to allow you onto their site unless you watched a 30 minute infomercial for Cisco? No, but its getting dangerously close particularly the way that Forbes CFO phrased the effort, stating that advertisers voices can commingle under the Forbes brand to provider a rich user experience. Commingle sounds suspiciously like blending to me
Through it all, Forbes is adamant that they will clearly delineate paid-for blogs from their journalistic content. So all of this hypothesizing may be moot until we actually see how this shakes out.
What do you think? Is the idea of a branded blog anathema to you on a site like Forbes? Are you getting a ScienceBlogs
vibe from this?
Now that initial frenzy has died down, I wanted to slide some thoughts into the Internet maelstrom around AOLs acquisition of TechCrunch
. In full disclosure, I have had clients
covered by the technology goliath in the past but Ive never interacted with Michael Arrington, so my opinions of TechCrunch may or may not sync with the general sentiments floating around.
My thoughts on the merger? Its a great move for AOL
TechCrunch, not so much.
TechCrunch is a powerful, powerful brand one only has to look at the shake-up around social gaming last winter, all of which started with a single blog post
by Arrington. If they arent THE bellwether in tech, theyre certainly close.
AOL, on the other hand, seems like a dying leviathan
. Additionally, it seems like it spreads the touch of death to any properties it acquires take a look at the Compete traffic on Engadget
(AOL acquired in 2005) versus Gizmodo. Compete isnt completely accurate (as Business Insider says in the link) but it cant skew numbers THAT much.
So do I think TechCrunch is doomed? Absolutely not. But I do think that the deal is far sweeter for AOL than it is for TechCrunch. Although TechCrunch could be the media property that pulls AOL out of the limbo its currently in.
What do you think?
Andy Warhol once had a profound thought about Coca Cola. He said whats great about America is that a Coke is a Coke. No amount of money or status can buy you a better Coke than the one being chugged by a bum on the corner. America started that tradition, he said. A tradition of equal access.
For soft drinks, maybe.
Weve got another tradition around these parts: keeping beneficial technologies under wraps for dubious reasons.
Back in 1983, the government declassified GPS technology for public use. Amazing thing, GPS, right? Very, very useful. So why, then, did it take seventeen years for GPS systems to catch on with consumers? Maybe because it wasnt until 2000 that the U.S. Army finally stopped INTENTIONALLY MUCKING UP THE SATELLITE SIGNALS.
Thats right: Your grandmother finding a shorter route to the beauty salon was deemed an intolerable security threat. So we had GPS systems that could only trace locations within 100 meterswhen the technology was perfectly capable of pinpointing spots within CENTIMETERS.
Which brings me to our access inequality du jour: Wi-Fi.
You might have seen that the FCC last week
approved a new slice of radio space for unlicensed use. The new frequencies are called white spaces, and theyre available now because TV channels all switched from analog to digital transmission last year.
What you might not have known (or rather, what I didnt know until Id read Farhad Manjoos stellar article
in Slate) was that these new frequencies are much, much better than the garbage bands (thats literally what theyre called) weve been using for Wi-Fi this past decade.
See, all the choice frequencies went to powerful interests like television broadcasters, telecommunications companies, and the military back in 1985. In fact, its almost a miracle we have consumer Wi-Fi at all, considering how bad and interference-prone our public-use frequencies were.
Now that we have the white spaces, though, were poised for Super Wi-Fibetter, stronger signals over gigantic spaces.
Only we could have had it all along. And probably thousands of other things.
Et tu, Flying Humvee