Interesting observations. Though video games have been around for quite a long time it seems that only recently have they come into their own as "mainstream" entertainment. As video game sales further dwarf movie ticket sales I think we might begin to realize that they are just a more evolved form of "escapism." Just as Depression era movie goers sought refuge from the harsh realities around them by basking in the comfortable glow of the cinema screen, a citizen now might seek solace in whatever realms her videogame library makes available.
Thanksgiving is such a poignant moment during the holiday season. Not only is it a time to give thanks and of course splurge on the holiday fixin's, but it also marks the beginning of holiday shopping. That's right, Black Friday. This is the one pastime that I have vowed to personally boycott, especially after the tragic news
of a retail worker dying. NY Times' David Carr
best defined the mass hysteria as "a symbol of a broken culture of consumerism in which people would do anything for a bargain."
Because I don't want to damper your holiday spirit, I'm going to join fellow marketers and consumers and push for Mobile Tuesday
. If it keeps everyone safe, and still fulfills the experience of buying that special something for the ones you love, then why not? After all, mobile marketing campaigns are arguably becoming the new route for some major retailers and there are stats to back it up (259 million wireless lines in the U.S., 69 percent of which are used for at least one data service, according to Nielsen Mobile). We already do just about everything else on our cell phones, why not do your holiday shopping and get the same sweet deals too? Of course, they're still working out the kinks, but the real challenge the marketing campaign is going to have to overcome is a sluggish economy.
- Jackie Gilbert
(Photo courtesy of johnia
While catching up with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, I not only found myself a few pounds heavier, but I also found myself incessantly answering questions about my job and profession, specifically what is public relations? I know this is a question that a lot of people have, so I thought I would impart what was shared.
My definition of public relations somewhere along the lines of 'helping an organization to achieve its full potential by managing its internal and external communication to not only build awareness, create a positive image, and foster the promotion of a brand, but to also give the public and the media a better understanding of a company and its products or services.'
Not exactly what I was taught by my Virginia Tech
professor A.P. Williams
, but I think it got the message across.
In my industry reading this week, something caught my eye on a former colleagues blog (http://www.pr-squared.com/2008/11/expectationsetting_challenges.html
) on the importance of press release transparency and preparations, between agency and client. As he offers up an example of why great media coverage requires careful planning, Todd Defren vents on a common client challenge. You cant dump a press release on your PR agency a day or two before its scheduled to go live, and also expect them to shoot the moon.
I couldnt agree more. For a PR firm, having direct insight into sales wins, challenges and goals is critical to its program success. It seems like a simple thing for a client to offer up, but it requires much more planning and coordination from an internal communications perspective than meets the eye. As media pros, we are paid to interest media on our clients in their successes, challenges, and corporate experiences, in ways that will help build their larger image and visibility as a leader (or rising leader) in their industry. But we need, and let me emphasize need, a clear channel right through to the sales team. The ammunition we need to go out into the media field and bring home killer results is basic referencable customers, partners or a set of case examples and real life application stories, an eager and available spokesperson, and an openness to speak on timely market issues. Throw in a much needed heads up on upcoming wins and other relative news announcements to Todds point, so the agency can plan and prepare a plan of media attack and you have one dynamite media program!
If youre on the client side reading this entry, I encourage you to think of new ways you can provide your firm with information more, better, faster, easier. (There is no such thing as too much insight from our perspective!) If youre a PR pro, and you are head down in a campaign that just isnt bringing home the kind of bacon you expected to see, I encourage you let this entry remind you of the PR basics. Communicate. Connect with your client on a very real level and ask for the specific kind of information you know you need.
Its hard to imagine a full panel of executives being bullish an industry given the current economic crisis, but thats exactly how the members of yesterdays Mobile Outlook 2009
panel are on this areas mobile future. Potomac Tech Wires breakfast event on the 2009 mobile industry brought together senior executives from Mid-Atlantic mobile players to discuss technology issues in a conversational, roundtable environment moderated by Potomac Tech Wire
editor Paul Sherman.
Jon Jackson, CEO, MobilePosse
, Rebecca Hanson, VP of Strategy and Planning, XOHM
, Sprint, Terry Hsiao, CEO, Hook Mobile
, Gregg Smith, CEO, Acuity Mobile
, and Matt Jones, Director of Strategy and Operations, Gannett Digital
, took an overall outlook of the mobile space and major developments in the wireless industry, including the growth of wireless content, mobile advertising, WiMax, new mobile players, geo-targeting and mobile start-ups and the effects on the local technology scene.
The panel was lively with everyone agreeing that despite the current economic crisis the mobile industry is well positioned to have a successful 2009 and beyond.
Paul Sherman asked the panelists for a list of three important trends they have identified to play a major role in mobile over the next couple of years and despite the varied businesses and expertise represented there were three trends that rose to the top:
- Devices new technology and capabilities
- Mobile Applications rich, user friendly apps like mplayit
- Prices costs to consumers will continue to come down
Many more points on the industry and the Washington, DC area tech sector, but I think the most important takeaway from yesterdays panel is that the mobile market is healthy and growing, and that this area is going to play a major role in where the industry goes.
So as we all watch the market fluctuate wildly, it is important to understand that many industries and leaders see a silver lining in the crisis and if you have a solid business and revenue plan you can still innovate and drive value.
As one panelist said Innovate. Dont let the crisis go to waste.
Special thanks to Potomac Tech Wire for putting on the event and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
for sponsoring. I look forward to more great events in the future.
- Drew Krejci
As you can probably tell from some of our previous blog posts
, were a competitive bunch here at SpeakerBox. We may be team players in terms of getting our work done, but its survival of the fittest when it comes to extra curricular activities. I could reference our fantasy football league right now, in which Im currently leading, but well leave that topic for a future post. Instead, Ill tell you about a recent cooking competition we held in our office Crocktoberfest. A competition that required the use a crockpot, we brought in our own chili recipes and brewed them here in the office. Im impressed to say that there were a variety of entries - no two chilies tasted the same. Although everyone put forth a great effort and provided the staff with a hearty lunch, someone was bound to be declared the winner.
Whats the next cooking competition on the horizon? Its hard to say, but I guarantee it will be a tasty one. Stay tuned for updates
- Mary Evans
The recent Women in Technology
event on The Intersection of Marketing and Technology
generated standing room only crowds at host Viget Labs
. Panelists Matt Goddard (R2integrated
), Jen Krupey (Viget Labs
), Brian Reed (Boxtone
) and Susan Kearney (former CMO at Voxant
) energized crowds with their thoughts around the digital ecosystem, customer engagement strategies and tactics such as search, database-building, community and social media. If you couldnt make it, take a look at the event slides
Some of the most interesting conversations revolved around:
The Motrin Moms commercial
: Motrin ultimately took down the controversial video and apologized on their Web site -- but is all publicity good publicity? As one attendee pointed out in the evaluation, Never underestimate the power of a mad mother.
: Brian discussed strategies for developing buyer personas and how to map your Web content to different audiences.
Web Sites: Matt described how to position your Web site as a buying engine rather than a selling engine.
Metrics: Matt and Brian sung the praises of tools like Eloqua
to provide marketing automation and measurement, but both agree that its difficult to measure a social media program. Its possible to measure the spread of a message online but its much harder to measure its impact on your business.
Thanks to the other event bloggers, Jen Krupey
and Larissa Fair
for sharing their insights on the event.
The event attendees have requested more programs on social media, metrics and community building. Well keep you posted as additional events are scheduled.
-- Katie Hanusik
Our own Julie Buckley of Grape Stomp
fame was immortalized on Family Guy
weekend. While the cartoon doesnt look much like her at all she is thrilled
to be on the hit show.
- Ali Smith
(Video courtesy of Hulu
SpeakerBox would like to congratulate our humble leader, Elizabeth Shea, for being named a 2008 Woman Who Means Business
by the Washington Business Journal
. This annual awards competition celebrates the best and brightest businesswomen in the D.C.-metro area who have made a difference in their communities and blazed a clear trail for other women. Elizabeth and the other winners will be honored this week at a cocktail reception in Washington, D.C.
In the past year, Elizabeth has led our team in the creation of a new Web site and implementation of expanded services; rolled out an upgraded, generous employee benefits package; introduced a Web-based infrastructure to create efficiency and collaboration; and migrated our technology applications to a more mobile, efficient, and collaborative platform. And if this wasnt enough, she also led the agency through a complete rebranding
from its prior identity as SheaHedges Group to the new SpeakerBox Communications.
There simply isnt enough space here to express the gratitude and pride we have for Elizabeths accomplishments and leadership at SpeakerBox. If anyone should know, we doshe is definitely a woman who means business!
Last week I attended CloudCamp
, an unconference, hosted by our client Apptis
. While I did not see a lot of similarities to my Girl Scout
days, I did see a ton of similarities between the physical event and virtual networks.
CloudCamp was designed to be a place where early adapters of Cloud Computing
technologies could exchange ideas. The event begins as most conferences do with a welcome from the organizers. The sponsors then are given a strict five minute time limit to give a quick overview, called a Lightening Talk, of their companys work in the cloud space. Think of these lightening talks as the Twitter
of the event.
Following those presentations, the audience is asked to build the agenda for the day people come up to the front, write their session idea on a piece of paper and then give a quick (less than 30 second) explanation of what they would like to discuss in that session. All of the suggested topics are assigned to a box on a grid that outlines the rooms and times for each session. Similarly-themed ideas are quickly grouped together. I was skeptical of how smoothly this agenda building would go and was pleasantly amazed when within 15 minutes the group of 100+ attendees had agreed on a varied agenda of about a dozen topics ranging from Cloud 101 to securing the Cloud, to how to sell the Cloud to a federal customer, to Hadoop
and Map Reduce
(dont ask way over my head technical stuff
Once the sessions were defined and given a time and a room, it was then up to attendees to decide where to go. Some sessions were packed while others had just a couple people in them, much like discussion threads online some threads really get people talking while others just fall down the list into obscurity.
CloudCamp began on the west coast and the left coast organizers were vocal about their apprehension about how the format would be received on the (more structure-oriented) east coast, much less with a crowd made up of Federal government folks! Despite this being the first time anyone (multiple people actually) showed up to the camp in a suit, the collaboration, discussion, and enthusiasm was just as high as previous events. To me, the acceptance was less about geography but more about peoples comfort with user-generated discussions and forums. A comfort found through participation in social networks. CloudCamp is really just extending the collaboration that drives people to networking sites into a physical event.
At the end of the evening people walked away feeling satisfied and energized by the discussions and enjoyed participating in one advantage real world networking will always have over online networking cocktail hour
We've had a strong contingency of individual SBXers on Twitter for some time now, but we've decided to break out a Twitter account solely for updates on SpeakerBox Communications. Here
you'll find updates from both of our blogs (Plugged-In
and The Sounding Board
), news on events (both events that we're hosting and attending), and general updates on life at SpeakerBox and our staff.
You can find us at twitter.com/speakerbox
. If you're already on Twitter, join us!
In an economic downswing, the first component of the business budget is usually marketing related, whether its public relations, advertising or another aspect
but I dont think anyone told this to the video game sector. The recent launch of Fallout 3 (a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game) and the upcoming release of Left 4 Dead (a team-based zombie thriller) are showing what previous news reports
have said that the video game industry will prove to be resilient in the face of gloomy economic forecasts.
Some examples of the major marketing efforts around these games:
That being said, it looks like some of the biggest players in the video game industry are actually feeling the economic pain
. Game sales were down in September, and Activision Blizzard, the behemoth behind World of Warcraft, posted a net loss of $108 million in Q3, while Electronic Arts, another big industry player, announced a loss of $310 million and that it will trim its workforce by six percent.
So is the marketing behind video games (and the industry itself) recession-proof? The holiday buying season will provide that answer, but looking at it objectively, Im going to say its more recession resistant than recession proof.
- John Terrill
(Photo by Mrs. Gemstone
Yesterday, our long-term client and business partner Cernium
received a remarkable and noteworthy achievement. In a press conference held in New York, Archerfish
by Cernium was announced as an International CES 2009 Innovations Design and Engineering Award honoree
. A winner in the Integrated Home Systems product category
, Archerfish is the first and only mobile video intelligence (MVI) solution. Its advanced technology (the Archerfish Smartbox loaded with intelligent software, plus the combo of video cameras, a Web portal and mobile devices) allows users to keep an eye on their business and home locations no matter where they are physically located. The outcome? The ultimate place-shifting experience.Stay On Top of Your Business
After working with Cernium for more than two years, SBX is intimately familiar with its intelligent, intuitive and cost-efficient products for video content distribution, business intelligence and physical security. When Archerfish premieres at CES in January 2009 (Booth #26519 at the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall Two), it will also mark the introduction of Mobile Video Intelligence. MVI is a brand new market category characterized by intelligent and accurate visual info as well as mobility, and should manifest itself via a trustworthy system built on patented technology such as Archerfish.
We are most proud of our friend and partner for this noteworthy achievement and recognition by the Consumer Electronics Association
. We wish Archerfish the best of luck for a strong showing at CES this winter.
- Julie Buckley
I wanted to share a couple of events that might be of interest to the DC marketing crowd. Im moderating an event on the Intersection of Marketing and Technology sponsored by Women in Technology
. Also, SpeakerBox partner, Erickson Barnett
, is hosting an event on Tips on Building Communities
. Details are provided below:
The Intersection of Marketing and Technology
November 18, 2008
Time: 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Place: Viget Labs, 400 S. Maple Avenue, Suite 200, Falls ChurchDirections
Matt Goddard, Principal, R2integrated
Susan Kearney, Former CMO, Voxant
Jen Krupey, Director, Marketing Services, Viget Labs
Brian Reed, CMO, Boxtone
Katie Hanusik (moderator), Vice President, SpeakerBox
This session brings together experts in Web design, social media, search and measurement to discuss how marketers are using technology to better reach their target buyer.
Cost: $35 for members; $45 for non-members (including lunch)To Register
visit the WIT website. Please note, you must login as a member or guest to register for this event.Tips on Building Communities
November 12, 2008
Time: 8:30 am 10:00 am
Place: The Tower Club, Vienna, VA
Margie Agin, Director Online Markting, TANDBERG
Bob Smith, Chairman, iBelong
Justin Thorp, Developer Community Manager, Clearspring
Michele Perry, CMO, Sourcefire
Four local experts will discuss how a community of evangelists can help build brand loyalty, provide valuable feedback and increase sales.
Hope to see you there.
- Katie Hanusik
We are proud to announce that we are the recipients of the Gold MarCom Award
from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals for our work on the launch of StackSafe
Test Center the flagship product for B2B software company StackSafe. This is the second award
for the StackSafe/SpeakerBox marketing team. In May, we were honored as a finalist for the Stevie Awards
The MarCom Awards are an international competition that recognizes outstanding creative achievement by marketing and communications professionals. The organization received over 5,000 entries from the United States and several other countries.
The success of the StackSafe marketing campaign is based in large part on the strategy of focusing on the problem
your product solves rather than the product itself. In the months leading up to the product launch, SpeakerBox reached out to influencers with proprietary research around the problem and causes of downtime. This set the stage for the launch of a product that directly addressed these very real issues and pain points of IT professionals.
Since their successful launch, StackSafe has continued generating buzz in the media and analyst
community as well as the IT operations blogosphere
. Were proud to be part of the innovative and savvy StackSafe team.
- Piper Conrad
Now that the U.S. has decided on its new President, what will he do to improve our current economic situation? That's the topic on the minds of many American businesspeople, especially SpeakerBox client the Entrepreneurs' Organization
, which represents 7,000 entrepreneurs from throughout the world.
Recently, Dave Galbenski, Chairman of the Entrepreneur Organization's Global Board of Directors, sat down with BusinessWeek Small Business
to talk about what President-Elect Obama can do to support entrepreneurs
Its hard to find optimists
these days. If you find one, youre probably snickering behind his or her back, telling them to pull his or her head out, and face reality. For us technology public relations folks, where our job is to find the silver lining of every story and make it relevant, its even more interesting.
SpeakerBox is in the technology public relations
business. The technology industry inspires, it brings the global community together, it connects, it innovates, and it attracts optimists, big dreamers, creative minds and folks who want to change the world.
For a while during this economic downturn, the technology sector remained relatively unscathed. People Buy iPhones but Cut Back On Groceries is a sweeping paraphrase of many article headlines we saw. We seemed invincible. Fast forward just a few months, and we find articles like Kim Harts article in The Washington Post: Crisis Mode: Less Ventured
that gives a realistic portrait of the investment landscape that makes small and emerging companies happen. The story coincided with another similar theme - captured by Daniel Lyons of Newsweek in his article "Down in the Valley"
- and its easy to see why optimism wanes.
Of course, we dont forget the reality checks
that we are constantly seeing, some more humorous than others (you gotta watch this):
You can say my head is in the clouds, you can call me the ultimate optimist, a Pollyanna, a person walking around with a glass half full. Sure Im all of those things, but it doesnt mean I dont wake up some days and want to go back to bed and wake up in 2010. However, we owe it to our clients, our agency colleagues and PR practitioners to not look like Chicken Little
. If WE go there, who will help us believe we can get through this?
Yes, budgets will be cut. Yes, layoffs will happen. Yes, folks might not get that shiny new Mac this holiday season. But, we make a call to the PR community as a whole and ask that we keep it together. For agencies, take this time to make sure we are doing everything we can to help our clients do more with less; be creative, be smart. Collaborate with competitors, join forces with partners, be supportive of clients who might feel it worse than we do, and help not make optimism such a dirty word!
As Alan Kay
, The best way to predict the future is to invent it!
- Elizabeth Shea
The news is still fresh on everyones mind and our country is still in awe of the historical event that happened this week: the nomination of the first black president-elect. As Barack Obama starts laying out his administration, many are wondering what items will be at the top of his agenda? The economy, financial services, and health care are just a few that come to mindbut many in the tech industry are wondering just how far they are up on the list?
DCs Tech Bisnow
has been gathering comments from local government contracting gurus on their thoughts/feedback
on what the future of technology holds with the Obama Administration.
Thought a few of these were intriguing and full of high hopes:
Alan Balutis, director of the Internet Business Solutions Group
told Tech Bisnow that the Obama Administration will be good for the tech community. While he cites a freeze on government spending if McCain wouldve taken office as his main reason, Balutis said: If you look at where Democrats have traditionally steered money, we can guess at seeing increases in homeland security, veterans affairs, education, health IT and the like. The way Obama and his campaign used social networking technologies, there is an expectation that some of that will carry into government.
Shiv Krishman, CEO of INDUS
, told Tech Bisnow that he expects for tech companies to stay in high demand. The challenge is to be aligned with the right programs which, with the new administration, will be civilian agencies like education, environment, energy, and healthcare, he said.
- Jackie Gilbert
Not a huge surprise, but all of the buzz in Washington, D.C. this past week has been focused on the election. Newspapers sold out
, and the presidential inauguration ceremony
is already on everyone's minds
If you follow the ins and outs of Capitol Hill, you've also likely seen lots of buzz about how the lobbyists on K Street
will be impacted under a new administration. Our client Dow Lohnes Government Strategies
has been one of the firms at the center of the media coverage on these anticipated changes. Check out the stories below to see where they've been quoted this week!
- The Hill
, "Obama win means change for K Street"
, "Obama to set limits on lobby hires"
- Washington Times
, "Anti-lobbyist Obama to spur lobbying"
(11/10 Update: Check them out in today's LegalBisnow
- Stephanie Stadler