I’m a numbers kind of gal, and so I can’t help but be drawn to new media research statistics. The latest study from NPD looks at television viewing habits, specifically on which devices people (across the word, both in developed and developing-market countries) consume their entertainment. First of all, let’s make it clear that TV sets themselves still bring home the bacon as the most-used device, accounting for 30 percent of those surveyed. However, what’s interesting is that the other 70 percent is made up of viewers who consume television on other devices – PCs, tablets, smartphones, iPods, laptops – you name it. One of our clients actually talks about this, the concept of TV Everywhere, often on their blog if you're interested – The Connected Experience.
Users in the US, UK and Germany were found to be using tablets and laptops much more often than users in market-developing countries, such as China, Russia and Turkey. There, consumers are watching television on smartphones. Why? I asked myself the same question. Turns out, the main reason is because tablets there don’t have cellular connections, and users more often have mobile plans than fixed broadband plans that would give them the capability to stream video on a tablet. But note, that doesn’t mean tablet usage is stagnant anywhere – users are finding ways to consume television on tablets, and the rates seem to be steadily increasing, if not sharply rising.
So what about the other devices that account for 70 percent of viewer statistics?
Personally, I fall into the common categories – smartphone and laptops, with TV itself being my primary go-to device. But where do you fall into the mix, and do you have any habits of when/where you choose particular devices over others?
I’d be curious to see a similar study done real-time around high-profile events, such as the summer Olympics. Being the global event that it is, it would be facilitating to see where fans are viewing the games, and how they’re supporting their hometown athletes. Would the stats in this research change at all? Will audiences alter their viewing habits, and would the popularity rankings of devices change? Especially with events scheduled around the clock, it might even be worthwhile looking at when consumers use which devices, and why.
I’ll keep an eye out for those stats, but in the meantime, go USA!
- Mary Evans
One of the highlights of the FedScoop Innovation Summit was the tag team presentation delivered by Steven VanRoekel, federal CIO, and Todd Park, federal CTO. They talked in detail about the recently launched Digital Government Strategy, their open data initiatives and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.
The centerpiece of the Digital Government Strategy is the idea that “open data is the new default” and that APIs should be readily available for enterprising developers. By way of example, GPS technology, which was invented by the Department of Defense, generated more than $90B to the U.S. economy in the last year. The federal government is hoping to replicate this economic boost by opening up other technology and data sets.
VanRoekel and Park discussed the open data initiatives that are currently in progress in the areas of health, safety, energy and education. The process involves some of the brightest minds from government, industry and academia. It usually starts at an event – a Data Jam – where these experts develop a list of services or apps that can be generated from the open data. Roughly ninety days later – at a “DataPalooza” event – the services and apps are unveiled. For example, the 2012 HealthDataPalooza took place two weeks ago at the D.C. Convention Center, “the only venue big enough to contain the awesomeness,” according to Park. Two hundred and forty-two apps and services were unveiled. And the total cost to the U.S. government? Nothing.
VanRoekel and Park also talked a bit about the Presidential Innovation Fellows, a six-month program that teams citizen-innovators with government standouts to build a better government through technology. According to Park, more than 700 people applied for fifteen open positions across various projects. In addition, more than 4,000 people have signed up to follow the projects and contribute their expertise in different ways across various initiatives.
This group of fellows will work on the following five initiatives:
You can sign up to follow the Fellows’ progress here.
Much was discussed during the FedScoop Innovation Summit, but it all came back to a single, important point: that there are initiatives within the federal government designed to move our country forward through innovative technologies. And at the heart of these initiatives are the inspired and hard-working people that are bringing these ambitious projects to reality.
Photo: Courtesy of FedScoop
This year’s FedScoop Innovation Summit was an all-star event, featuring luminaries from both government and industry. The day started with a keynote by Symantec CEO, Enrique Salem on “Deconstructing Innovation.”
Salem gave the audience a snapshot into innovation at Symantec. In the “old days,” malware used to travel slowly on floppy disks,and Symantec would update their software once a quarter. These days, with attacks nearly doubling year over year, unique malware strains in the millions, and security concerns about mobility and the cloud, Symantec makes updates available every day. As adversaries become more inventive and prolific with their attacks, companies like Symantec must respond with innovative solutions on a constant basis.
At the same time that these proactive daily updates are happening, Symantec dedicates a large internal workforce to transformative innovation. Salem identified the four key principles of transformative innovation as follows:
- Drives a fundamental change in the customer experience
- Creates a step change in productivity
- Generates a significant cost savings
- The best innovative ideas are often created by small teams
So how do you create a culture that fosters innovation? According to Salem, companies need to hire, recognize and reward people that want to be great and do great things. It’s critical to avoid the “peanut butter syndrome,” the sticky morass where great ideas go to die and the status quo lives on in perpetuity.
So how is the federal government embracing innovation? Stay tuned for my next post.
(Photo courtesy of FedScoop)
That’s something a friend of mine often likes to say. And you know what? I kind of agree with him.
Think about how many times you’ve truly been blessed with exemplary customer service over the past few months. Once? Twice? Never?
Now think about the times your blood has boiled as a result of someone providing you with misinformation or a shoddy attitude. Or, perhaps worse, completely ignoring you.
Recently, I’ve been subject to the latter. I’ve actually been in the position of actively trying to just about hand someone my hard earned cash and, shockingly, being completely ignored despite trying to get in touch with them multiple times via several channels. Frustrating indeed.
Well, people are busy, you might say. And I don’t disagree. But really, in today’s connected world, how much effort does it take to type out an email that says “Thanks. Got your message. Working on it. Will get back to you soon.” (Took me less than 10 seconds to type that, by the way).
Something like that may not be very detailed, but it’s something. It’s a piece of communication that lets the recipient know they’re being thought about, with the promise of something more further down the line.
These days, it’s not only irresponsible for organizations to not communicate well with their customers, it’s downright bad for business. There’s a little thing called social media that seems to be pretty popular these days, and it makes it awful easy for people to spread the word about organizations -- and not always in a good way. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and others have all have become places where people spread the word about their experiences. As a result, consumers have more power than ever before to let their voices be heard and influence opinion online. That consumer power is only going to increase.
Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single company that does not cater to some customer segment in some way, shape or form. And there are a lot of companies out there, fighting for a mess of customers. Which makes the lack of customer concern from some organizations even more puzzling.
As someone who has been involved in client service for many, many years, I guess I have a pretty idealized idea of what customer service should be. But I don’t think it’s so Pollyanna of me to think that organizations should take customer service, including simple courtesy and responsiveness, as seriously as possible (and yes, as I’m writing this I realize how obvious that sounds). The potential for something like this to happen is far too great.
What happens when a PR firm has to do crisis control – on itself?
That’s the question that popped into my mind after reading this Los Angeles Times story. It appears that PR agency Mercury Public Affairs was forced to take a hard look in the mirror after a, shall we say, gaffe when the organization tried to deflect a bit of potential negative press for its client, Wal-Mart.
Apparently, a (now former) Mercury staff member, tapped by Wal-Mart to lobby L.A. officials regarding a proposed Wal-Mart in that city’s Chinatown area, made a gigantic misstep by posing as a USC journalism student at an anti-Wal-Mart event. While there, she proceeded to pepper the organizers with questions designed to invoke a pro-Wal-Mart stance in the hopes of influencing public opinion in the store’s favor.
But, as in most things, the truth won out. The “student” was summarily exposed as a fraud and Mercury was forced to turn its damage control prowess on itself.
How did they react? Their first act was to fire the executive, effectively distancing themselves from the offending party. The second was to issue a statement that served to increase that distance by placing the blame on the former staffer, citing her junior-level position and “actions that run contrary to our firm’s culture and values.”
Meanwhile, this hasn’t exactly helped Wal-Mart’s image, either. For many the company no doubt appears guilty by association, even if they were unaware of what Mercury was doing. Which is probably why they fired the PR firm, as well.
I’m not going to pass judgment on either Mercury or Wal-Mart here. Mistakes were made and hopefully everyone involved has learned from them. But I will say that we work in an industry where integrity is absolutely imperative in regards to everything we do and everyone we interact with. Our job is to communicate – clearly, effectively and honestly, and with a number of parties, including customers, reporters, clients and more. I would even go so far as to say that being honest and open is the most important part of what we do, because everything else is built upon that.
At the end of the day, getting positive and informative coverage is our goal. But that cannot be done by any means necessary. We, as an industry, need to remember that those efforts are based on communication, and the fundamental basis of any communication is the truth.
The Internet’s reputation for legal hilarity and insanity is well-known; fake (and sometimes real) legal threats are a dime-a-dozen online, usually filled with scary-sounding-but-misused legalese along with an “official” throwaway Gmail account for the totally legit law firm. Often, these completely serious threats peter out quickly…sometimes, however, they do not.
Take, for instance, the ever-growing snowball that is one lawyer versus seemingly the entire Internet. The convoluted story starts with popular webcomic the Oatmeal being engaged in a legal tussle with humorous content-sharing site FunnyJunk.com – what originally started as a fight over comic copyright quickly morphed into a discussion of mother-bear love and a campaign against cancer. The crazy train then went off the rails, with FunnyJunk.com’s lawyer entering his own lawsuit against the Oatmeal, Indiegogo and…the American Cancer Society and the World Wildlife Federation (and now the California State Attorney General).
But underneath all of the crazy, various legal bloggers have pointed out one or two nuggets of legal validity to this seemingly bizarre lawsuit. And wedged underneath the illustrations of mothers loving bears and pterodactyls is actually a PR lesson or two.
The Internet Can Be Serious Business
No matter how frivolous something looks at first glance, whether it’s a negative product review or a perceived “fake” legal threat, never let your guard down, especially as a PR person. In this example, what started out as a farcical lawsuit was actually implemented by a real-life lawyer and could have actual repercussions for all involved. Treat every perceived crisis as real until proved otherwise.
Keep the Community Calm
While communities are great, especially when built around a company’s product or service, when it comes to crises, they can actually function in a negative capacity. For example, part of the current lawsuit against the Oatmeal is that his community hacked the lawyer’s personal website and levied death threats against him – this only exacerbates the situation, fueling an already bright fire.
Act Like a Grown-Up
The vast majority of online-based crises could likely be avoided if only the players involved would start acting like grown-ups. Online incidents, from negative comments to potential legal issues, need to be viewed through a neutral eye without emotion clouding the lens. This ensures that whatever action is taken, PR or otherwise, is done with a clear head and a steady hand.
Definitely keep up with the ongoing saga of Bear-Mother-Lawyer-Gate, but don’t view it as completely humorous – keep a critical eye on the scenario for lessons that you can pull out for your own organization.
A couple of months ago, Ford Motor Company launched its “Go Further” campaign – a clever series of ads that began by omitting the Ford name and well-known blue oval logo (See add below). After a week of anonymous ads, they reinserted their brand markers. Apparently, the idea behind this new campaign was that Ford felt its brand image was still a bit negative, and they wanted to show off their new, sleek designs without generating the current assumptions people come to when the see the Ford logo.
A Media Post article provided the following insights as to how Ford felt about the success of the campaign, citing that, “the new ‘Go Further’ campaign has done remarkably well -- name or no name. The launch ad was the number one viral video for the week of April 30, garnering 3.4 million views (which Ford says equals the average views from this year's Super Bowl campaigns). Also, per Ford, 40% of visitors to the GoFurther.com site clicked through to Ford.com; and 9% of Web traffic came from California, followed by New York. Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania rounded out the lead markets for the ads' ability to generate Web traffic to GoFurther.com. The sentiment was also 95% positive based on Twitter comments, said the automaker.”
But, attracting consumers wasn’t all Ford was after with the new brand messaging. According to a recent Forbes article, “The company is exhorting its 166,000 worldwide employees to ‘Go Further,’ too, because executives believe that making Ford’s ‘internal brand’ consistent with its new external messaging can create profound synergies that benefit the company in significant ways.”
Although external marketing typically takes precedence over internal marketing, I think they are equally important. Making sure employees know the mission and vision of the company is essential, especially for a company whose employees are face to face with consumers each and every day, selling the product. If Ford’s own employees don’t believe the brand encompasses “people serving people, ingenuity and the attainable” in “character, appeal and value,” as projected by the new “Go Further” campaign, it is hard to expect consumers to feel the same way. Internal marketing is something each and every company needs to take into account while executing rebranding or marketing initiatives. It’s not just the folks in the communications department that need to be on board – it’s the entire company.
The summer Olympics only come around every four years, but this year during the London Games, people will be more connected than ever before through social media. More than 100 events and 10,000 athletes will comprise the event, beginning in less than a month, making it hard to keep track of what’s going on throughout the competition. But Facebook plans to change all of that with the introduction of Explore London 2012.
The new Facebook page has been set up to let athletes report the games first-hand with photos, medal updates and their own personal thoughts about the games’ happenings. Presumably it will be the ultimate connection between fans and athletes.
According to TechCrunch, the page currently only features 250 of the event's thousands of athletes, but the numbers are expected to rise considerably as the games near. The article also reports that the International Olympics Committee told the publication they started working with Facebook on this effort about a year and a half ago.
I took some time to check out the page and, as a sports fan, I have to say it’s really cool. U.S. athletes such as Michael Phelps (swimming), Misty May-Treanor (beach volleyball), and Hope Solo (soccer) are already on board. The page includes three main sections: Athletes, Teams, and Sports, making it easy for fans to tailor their involvement to what piques their interest. Be sure not to miss the games, which begin July 27th, but if you can’t tune in live, don’t fret – Facebook’s got your back…
Have you seen this video yet? Book burning party in Troy, MI - be there or be square. Ok, it's not really a book burning party but people didn't know that....at first.
Here's the scoop from the Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide agency - the creative geniuses who won a gold prize in the Effie awards for this campaign.
"Troy Public Library would close for good unless voters approved a tax increase. With little money, six weeks until the election, facing a well organized anti-tax group who'd managed to get two previous library-saving tax increases to fail, we had to be bold. We posed as a clandestine group who urged people to vote to close the library so they could have a book burning party. Public outcry over the idea drowned out the anti-tax opposition and created a ground-swell of support for the library, which won by a landslide."
Watch the video about the campaign below.
Pretty genius, right? Without going in to the politics surrounding what led to this campaign, I think this is a great example of how a well orchestrated campaign, at the right time, can work to achieve results. When people think of Leo Burnett they think of an advertising agency, but this campaign came out of Arc Worldwide - the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett, not the creative/ad side of the house.
The folks behind this campaign - and those at the Troy Public Library - clearly understood that while approving a 0.7% tax increase to save the public library was important, it was hardly the kind of vote that would drive people to the polls. And, with those on the other side spending big money to oppose the tax, it looked like the library was certain to close. By first drawing people's ire by encouraging people to vote "no" so they could hold a book burning party and playing in to their emotions - and then ultimately revealing the true meaning behind the campaign - the citizens of Troy were able to see that closing the library was equivalent to burning books and turned out in droves to vote yes to save the public library.
Am I suggesting that this sort of campaign would work for everyone? Absolutely not. I know some clients I would never in a million years suggest this kind of campaign for. But, I do think it shows that public relations, now more than ever, goes beyond just writing and issuing press releases and hoping the media will pick up on your story. For the right client, or cause, this sort of campaign goes directly to the people who matter and gets picked up by the media second.
So what do you think about the book burning hoax? Genius or dishonest?
Not to be outdone by iPad's SIRI, Surface comes preloaded with Clippy, the Microsoft Office Paperclip
Noted inebriate Winston Churchill once said about Microsoft Office: "It's the worst of all enterprise software packages, except for all the others."
You said it, Churchy. How else to explain the fact that while I despise MS Word with the intensity of a thousand suns, I just shelled out 120 bucks to get the latest version on my MacBook Air.
Yes, you read that correctly: I, Jonathan Katz, have purposefully (on purpose) infected my pristine Apple computer with (and this is on purpose now) Microsoft software.
Why did I do it?
Well, for starters, I don't much care for the Pages/Numbers/Keynote suite on OS X. Yeah, it's probably better than the Office suite.
But it isn't obviously better, so the switching cost is tough to swallow. Plus, while I was using Pages and Keynote, I was spending approximately 97.4% of my workday converting files to Word and PowerPoint -- just so my colleagues could peer quizically at a jumble of unformatted characters and images (because Apple and MS file formats are only compatible in the biblical sense).
I did for a brief moment experiment with using Open Office, but this program was obviously built by communist Nazis in the Iranian nuclear commission. So I sucked it up and went for Office 2012.
Anyway, the reason I mention all this is because of Microsoft's unveiling of its new Surface tablet (a.k.a. the iPad killer).
I think I share David Pogue's skepticism that Microsoft Windows (which auto corrected to "Wiccan" on my iPhone -- I'm not making this up) can offer anything to justify leaving behind Apple's warm glow of tablet beneficence.
And since 80% of the world's tablets are iPads, Microsoft won't have its usual, most crucial product differentiator -- sweet, sweet ubiquity.
Pogue also mentions the Zune a number of times as a point of comparison (which is mean, but apt).
(Sidebar: How much longer until we put Zune in the American lexicon? As in, "Corel's launching a Photoshop alternative? Sounds like they're about to get Zuned.")
(Other sidebar: Is Corel even a company anymore? I sort of feel like I saw a commercial talking about it being driven into bankruptcy by Bain Capital...)
In any case, I'm not holding my breath until the Surface catches on. Pogue seems to like Windows 8, but my most reliable inside source says it's the worst OS ever devised.
So I'm not shelling out my hard-earned dollars until everyone else in the world switches over, and I'm spending the bulk of my day converting old Word files into the Windows 8 format.
That's certainly something to look forward to, isn't it?
On the bright side: Here's some footage of Steve Ballmer on bath salts.
Social media can be used for good or evil, but either way, the consequences of every statement made via a social platform are archived forever by the collective hivemind of the Internet. Sometimes this is good…and sometimes it’s not so good.
Sweden is about to experience the latter.
The country has its own Twitter handle (@sweden), which is effectively crowd-sourced: a different citizen takes over the handle each week after (presumably) a vetting process. There is some oversight to the experiment, with the Swedish Institute, VisitSweden and Volontaire (a Swedish communications firm) acting as the grown-ups in the room.
It seems, however, that this week’s curator of @sweden (personal handle of @hejsonja) has gone off the rails a bit, with references to Hitler and some less-than-flattering remarks about Judaism and homosexuality. Mashable has the complete (and bizarre) Twitter timeline preserved for eternity, so take a look…as I’m sure the official entities behind @sweden will be scrubbing it in short order.
The @sweden project (officially labeled Curators of Sweden) is a noble and interesting endeavor, but I think this sort of incident should have been expected by the organizers. To be honest, it reminds me of when Skittles attempted to embrace Twitter by making their homepage link to a #Skittles search on Twitter, sans filtering – hilarity and horror ensued.
So what do you think about the @sweden project? Do you want to see more entities take this approach for an unbiased look at humanity? Or should we always expect the worst when it comes to the pipes and tubes of the Internet?
Update: VisitSweden has stated that none of the potentially offensive tweets will be deleted, as they present "a puzzle showing a multifaceted and genuine image of Sweden." Well-played...I think.
One of the most dangerous things in the world is the falsehood that rings true.
For instance: "Rich people are the job creators." Well duh! I don't see a lot of high-paying positions "created" by the homeless! What are they going to pay their employees with, buttons?
Here's another one: "Severe winters contradict the global warming myth." Well obviously! It's called global "warming." Last time I checked, blizzards weren't all that warm.
This is the power of words, and why we have to be so careful about choosing our language.
If scientists had called global warning "climate extremism," they'd be in much better shape with their sales pitch (yes, the new phrase "climate change" is better than global warming, but it still leaves open the whole "change is actually cyclical" argument). "Climate extremism" appeals to our common sense. Ice storms in July? Yeah, that's pretty extreme.
Why wouldn't this work? Lasers are basically magic, aren't they?
Same thing with the job creators argument. It's no accident that those in favor of tax policies favoring high earners like the phrase "job creators." Because, yes, rich people are the ones who literally hand out paychecks, even though it's the poor and middle class who spur that hiring through increased demand.
(Annoying economics sidebar using the example of delicious groceries:
See, rich people always buy the same amount of groceries. When they get a bonus, they don't go out and buy extra arugula to treat themselves, because they already have all the arugula they want. So it's not that rich people don't consume a lot of goods -- they do! But they consume them consistently, regardless of their economic ups and downs.
Not so with poor people. They're friggin poor. So if the economy is bad, they stop buying things they like and sometimes even things they need. Even in the best of times, poor people can't afford everything they want, so these people are extremely responsive to stimulus, rarely ever reaching the apex of their demand potential.)
Okay, enough of that. Sorry. My point isn't political. It's that democrats should try to push the phrase "demand creators" instead of job creators. Because demand creators rings a lot truer when it comes to food stamps and unemployment checks.
Intuitively, it's hard to sell the fact that food stamps create jobs. Unless you're also able to communicate the common sense argument that rich people own grocery stories. And they don't stock the shelves with extra potatoes just because there's extra cash lying around. They do it because there's not enough potatoes in their suddenly overcrowded stores.
See, it's all semantics.
What's in a name?
Now in marketing and public relations, it's the same principle -- for ill or for good. The cases we try to make are always much more dependent on "feel" than "fact." If something feels true intuitively, it might as well be so. And if it doesn't pass the common sense test, then good luck trying to sell it.
Here's my favorite example: Fat-free snacks.
Fat-free and low-fat snacks continue to be a billion dollar industry, despite the fact that every scientific study we've done shows that they're terrible for weight loss. To make foods low-fat, companies stuff in extra carb calories -- which are a much more potent cause of weight gain. So factually speaking, fat-free snacks have zero or possibly negative utility.
But that hardly matters. Because the word "fat" (as in lipid) is the same word we use to describe our overweight friends. If, instead, we all started asking: "Do I look carb in these jeans?" the low-fat snack industry would surely take a nose dive.
Intuitively, we just can't wrap our heads around the fact that "fat" isn't making us "fat." Or that "organic" water isn't somehow healthier (yes, that's an actual product line).
It's not that we're getting dumber. We're just getting busier. We're bombarded with so much information, that we rely more and more on our instincts.
So think about this the next time you read a press release or an advertisement:
You're being misled by professionals.
(Initial image of poster for Juvenile Protective Association
Art Director: Puja Shah
Copywriter: Eugene Fuller
Creative Director: Blake Ebel
Photography: Jill Greenberg)
At this point in time, there’s a good likelihood that some 20-something Eastern European man with a goatee is running around Prague posing as yours truly. How do I know this? Because I’ve had my personal, supposedly secure information hacked online so many times it’d be a shock not to have had someone like that assume my identity.
In recent years, many of the companies I engage with on a regular basis, from Sony to Bank of America and more, have had their networks breached by wily hackers. These charming folks have broken into these businesses’ online databases and stolen, at best, passwords and, at worst, my social security and credit card information.
The recent LinkedIn security breach is only the latest in a long line of online break-ins. Now, some shadowy figure, hunched over a laptop in a shabby backroom, can change my work profile from “Senior Account Director, SpeakerBox Communications, Washington D.C.” to “Lead Clown Wrangler, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, Constantly Traveling.” Or worse.
Every time something like this happens, the first thing I think – well, after remembering to cancel all of my credit cards – is how will the company respond to this one? In the case of LinkedIn, I’d say it’s been handled fairly well. Once reports started coming in about a possible issue, LinkedIn began communicating via social media channels that the organization “continues to investigate, but at this time, we’re still unable to confirm that any security breach has occurred. Stay tuned here.”
I added the bold text in that last part because I think it’s important: stay tuned here. In effect, the company was telling its users that it would communicate any updates with them in a timely manner, via Twitter, Facebook, the media, email and, yep, LinkedIn, thus responding to concerns relatively quickly and keeping its user base informed. And, once it had more information, it did. Later that day LinkedIn communicated that there was, indeed, a breach, and laid out its plans for taking action.
Here’s a case where the horse was already out of the barn and the only thing that LinkedIn could really do, at least initially, was communicate what the organization planned to do moving forward, thereby keeping their customers informed. And I give them credit for reacting relatively quickly and responding to users’ concerns.
This is more than I can say for Sony Computer Entertainment. A few years ago when the PlayStation Network was compromised, Sony tried to cover it up by simply taking the network down for days without any true explanation for their customers (and yes, they got me on that one, too). This was followed by a bunch of hemming, hawing, stammering and Sony basically falling all over themselves in the press. Granted, Sony somewhat eventually made amends by providing its users with complementary security monitoring and a bevy of free stuff – but that was well after the guy in Prague could have already been playing as me in Call of Duty while using my credit card.
Two companies, both in similar crisis situations, yet both with very different approaches. One was fast to respond and keep users informed; the other gave me the option to download a free copy of Dead Nation. Folks, I think we have a winner.
Hamburgler image copyright McDonald's
Vocus kicked off its Friday's Vocus Users Conference schedule with a compelling and passionate speaker, Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, who discussed why PR people should care about content marketing and how to optimize content, search and social to drive business.
His talk centered around the intersection of PR and marketing, which is a topic near and dear to my heart since we've been touting this migration for years now. I was able to briefly speak to him before the session (thanks Frank Strong) and he is an early pioneer on the topic: he saw the need to incorporate search into public relations strategies over ten years ago. At SpeakerBox, we have seen first hand how the integration of marketing and commuincations discplines create better results, so it was a treat to learn more about his methodology and approach. The audience was captivated, one attendee actually tweeted:
@: I am too busy listening and taking notes to tweet often! Sign of a great presentation! @.
He has published a book, Optimize, which includes many of these best practices. I'll share some of the takeaways that I was able to capture in this session (full disclosure, if i paraphrase his points inaccurately or didn't capture the essense perfectly, I take full responsibility!):
It all starts with search: Again, he saw the connection years ago and now, with a stated 12 billion searches conducted monthly in Google, he hammers home the point about how people virtually always start with search when make buying decisions. Fleishman Hillard conducted a 2012 Digital Index Survey and found that 89% of purchases made initially started with search engines. So why should PR care about content marketing? Because content marketing is one of the only pure, authentic ways to drive search, especially with the new algorhythms Google continually improves. He even questions the audience, "what are you hiding from if you aren’t incorporating search into everything you do?"
Furthermore, as he relates search to the PR Professionals in the room, he cited a statistic that 95% of journalists use search in their research for sources, so being found for your area of expertise is critical in getting inbound journalist inquiries.
Search+Social+Content: A mantra that will not die, and shouldn't! We've been saying this for years, and we believe the combination of these three disciplines is what gets people to engage and convert. But content that is created must have a purpose, a strategy behind what's created and where it is distributed, etc. He spent a lot of time on this and shared many detailed methodologies which are also available in his book.
Don’t spray and pray: Be incredibly disciplined in the development of your content, what you say, what you deliver, and where you deliver it. He shared the term “Info-tain” which is the process of creating a positive, entertaining experience for those in the buying cycle. This could be in the development of infographs, videos, photos, etc., that entertain while they educate. But again, follow a plan to develop content your audience wants and plan the best way to deliver that content to your audience.
B2B is no different: When specifically treating B2B relationships, he states that the relationship building is even MORE important than perhaps on the B2C side, since he believes a "romance" has to happen in B2B for people to buy. Delivering right content is the right way at the right time is the key to making that happen.
Some other good nuggets, and tweetable soundbites (you can follow tweets from the conference at #vocus):
- Customers today pull themselves through 70% of the sales cycle. Be there with content for them while they are in that process.
- Content fuels the word of mouth that has been the best marketing engine since the dawn of conversation.
- Content marketing is not about you. It’s about your customers and what information they want to consume.
- After you know what your people want to hear through your content, how do you want them to feel? Don't leave out this important buying consideration.
- Don't forget to optimize your content (and your website), for mobile devices. Look at your analytics to determine what percentage of your inbound visitors are coming via mobile devices.
- Look at journalists like a customer. Consider it a successful sale if they write about you or your client in a positive way.
- Have a storyline for your tweets, otherwise it’s like a one-night stand!
And my favorite quote from him when asked by clients to get them into the Wall Street Journal..."well, first you have to deserve to be there!" Content can help make that happen.
--Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
So rumor has it that Tim Cook will be announcing the iPanel (i.e., Apple's smart TV product) at next week's Developer's Conference.
In true Apple form, the company could start shipping out these devices by the end of year, or -- just as likely -- there's no television product at all.
We just don't know.
That's why Apple product speculation is such an entertaining pastime (way more so than oil futures speculation).
Actually, my dad thinks Apple doesn't even need to design products anymore. All they have to do is spread the rumor they're expanding into some ridiculous new area (for example, boardwalk snacks), and then Apple fanatics will begin feverishly drawing up the plans for what iFudge should look like, what it should taste like, and if it should have LTE.
Not a bad business model, I'd say.
So, yeah. I can't offer you any new iPanel rumors. The best I can do is tell you what it should be like:
Here's what I want: simpler, easier content delivery.
See, I only really want to watch two things on TV: sports and cartoons. Yet for some reason, I'm paying for 6 home and gardening networks and two Turner stations that just show Mel Gibson's The Patriot on a continuous loop.
So if Apple can figure out a pay-for-content scheme (that includes live sports), that would be a big win in my book.
The other major issue I have with TV is that there's so much content everywhere, I never know what I'm missing.
(Yes I realize this is somewhat contradictory to my first complaint, so don't bother pointing it out in the comments section.)
Anyway, some type of Siri-like artificial intelligence that knows which shows I'd never watch and which shows I might conceivably watch (completely eliminating the former and making relevant recommendations regarding the latter) would be fairly appealing.
Here's what I don't want: social media and app integration.
Yes, I sometimes watch TV while playing with my iPhone. But that doesn't mean I want game center notifications, tweets, and text messages flashing across the TV screen every 2.4 seconds.
Multi-tasking efficiencies notwithstanding, this would not be a positive development for a society that's already chronically ADHD.
Call me old-fashioned, but I still think TV should be immersive, escapist entertainment -- like the movies. How would you like going to the theater to see Schinder's List, and there's an Access Hollywood newsticker at the bottom of the screen?
No thanks. I don't think I'm ready to have my TV become the hub of my connected world. Then where will I go to unwind from my TV time?
But I guess we'll know more in a few days...
"Nah, this song won't ever seem dated."
It seems to me that advertising is a lot like deodorant -- nobody really knows why it works, but as long as it does, who gives a rat's behind?
The trouble comes when our economy tanks (thanks again, Lehman Brothers), revenues fall across the board, and CEOs start looking into the actual line items on their marketing budgets.
It usually goes something like this:
Your Boss: 50,000 dollars a month for "leprechaun engagement"?
You: Yeah, like those leprechauns are just gonna work for free… idiot.
This is why when times are bad, CMOs get replaced every 6-8 months. Not that the new guy has any better ideas. But at least the CEO can seem proactive as the share price tumbles.
So it's a bad time to be a CMO, but a good time to be a business editor at the Atlantic (like Derek Thompson), because you can easily inflame the media world with simple graphs like this:
From Thompson's analysis:
"Either the eyeballs are moving faster than the advertisers, who will eventually stop paying for print ... or the ad teams don't think a minute spent around mobile ads is worth a minute spend around print ads. Those aren't mutually exclusive."
So Thompson sees two things happening: 1) advertisers are stuck in the 1990s because we're lazy and self-absorbed, and 2) all this "attention" might not be created equal.
"If we're really moving toward an attention economy, Facebook is poised to dominate. But in one key measure of attention economics, it doesn't dominate at all. The metric is 'average revenue per user', or ARPU. LinkedIn makes $7. Facebook makes $5. For unfair comparison's sake, Comcast makes $1,740."
Now Thompson admits that ARPU is a flawed measurement (since media business models are so vastly different). But it does raise the age-old question of quantity vs. quality.
If I advertise in The Economist, for instance, I can be reasonably sure that my audience is actively engaged. Whereas if I advertise on the Kardashian show, my vastly larger audience might be (for all intents and purposes) brain dead.
Do we really pay more attention to print advertising? Or rather, do we shut down a part of our brains when we log into Facebook -- slackening our jaws, slumping our shoulders, and essentially auto-piloting our way through cute pet videos and Obama birth certificates?
And what about with mobile Internet -- is it even worse? How can we really concentrate on anything with text messages flying around like Angry Birds (not to mention Angry Birds).
I don't know the answer to this, and neither do you. Which is why we're all still funding that damn leprechaun research.
Unfortunately, this is a complicated and multifaceted area of sociological research being conducted by the folks who used to write Chevrolet jingles.
So stay tuned for much more (and probably much, much less).
Take away the cloud, and most of our modern technology gurus are selling artisan burgers out the side of an NYC food truck.
So I appreciate the chutzpah necessary for technology analyst and Forbes contributor Roger Kay's systematic take-down of "Google's ideal" cloud-based universe.
Who are we kidding, you're not going to click that link. So allow me to summarize his points:
1. The cloud still can't handle big files (>1GB) efficiently.
2. Unless you live in Silicon Valley or South Korea, your network will fail you.
3. The more operations you conduct in the cloud, the greater your "attack surface."
(In the service of that last point, Kay includes an anecdote about traveling to Shanghai, shutting off all of the network functionality on his iPhone, and still getting remotely hacked by a China Mobile subscriber.)
I like this article because it dares to confront a fairly pervasive tech industry bias. Inside the bubble, we sometimes forget that not everyone in the world is entirely sold yet on cloud computing (or in the case of West Virginia, computing).
But by identifying the specific pain points, we can help non-techies better understand the pros and cons of cloud adoption.