Last week I attended two very different programs on the same day, further illustrating the bi-polar realities of the Washington, DC-region within the technology sector. What a differing set of topics, conversations and attendees! Its the premise that helped spawn Twin Tech
, a meeting of the old-school and new-school communities in DC/NoVa.Breakfast
In the morning, I attended a SECAF
(Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum) event at Tysons Corners Tower Club, featuring Charles Armstrong, CIO of Customs and Border Protection
/ Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Alan Sage, Nuclear Regulatory Commission's
(NRC) Lead for the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA
). The gist of the discussion was around the growing competition among contractors to support our national priorities and how much of a continued focus cyber and physical security is for our country.Charles Armstrong
and Alan Sage discussed how budget appropriations were often times a moving target for programs, since priorities often change even within a government fiscal year. What is deemed protected are the commitments to FISMA and border security, ala building the fence along the Mexican/United States border. Sage showcased the ever-ominous report card issued every year to each agency and on public display, outlining agencies that were failing or exceeding to do their part in ensuring compliance. The speakers were able to talk specifically about the things that contractors can do to contribute their talents and skills, and government continues to be reliant on industry.Lunch
During lunch, in the same venue but sponsored by an altogether different organization, was a speaker who shared best practices for new media: David Meerman Scott
, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR
. Scott spoke during the Fall Technology Marketing Alliance
(TMA) meeting, and his remarks were centered on how to compete in an ever-changing online communications landscape.
In his remarks, Scott touted what might be considered obvious in terms of communication best practices, but the reality is that very few companies (except very big companies) were holistically embracing new media as a tactic for engaging customers and building communities.
Some great takeaways (not at all exhaustive):
Identify Your Buyers Persona
How do YOU get your information? He asked us to think about how each of us gathered information before making any kind of a purchase. No surprise here: Google searches and third-party perspective for the most part.
He suggests the following: create a Buyer Persona for your business
. Draw a picture. Create a profile. Describe how he or she lives, breathes, works, and learns. Then match every outreach and marketing tactic to that persona. Dont be overly funny if they have no sense of humor, dont be stuffy if your persona is a person ready to break free.Be Creative
We talk a lot about creativity in our business, but what does that really look like? How risky are you? Scott suggests that you develop up to 20 creative ideas, and look to get one of them to stick and become viral and so relevant, that you end up on a very different playing field. Of course, you have to have the stomach for 19 possible failures. But if that big one hits, its better than winning the lottery.
Scott showcased local firm Approva
, who demonstrated that by bucking the status quo, an enterprise-class software company could stand out among giant competitors. Type Sarbanes-Oxley
into YouTube, and the top hit appears:
Rather than spout speeds, feeds and the like, they get clever and throw a birthday party
for the fifth anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Awesome. No wonder I keep seeing Approva show up on fastest growth awards.
Get Rid of Gobbledygook
How many of us can say that we provide flexible, scalable solutions for enhancing business processes? How many people really know what that means?
Do you want your customers to walk away thinking, what a great flexible, scalable solution for my business or do you want them to think you solve their problem? With personality? Knowledge? Candor? The point is made: keep it real.
Scott kept some 50 senior-level technology marketers on the edge of their seat, and no doubt, inspired some creative ideas and thoughts.
When comparing the morning to the lunch session, I reflect that both were very valuable to my business, both provided equally compelling ideas on successfully building a company, and yet both were dramatically different in audience, topics and tenor.
While there may be efforts to unite the two tech communities, it still doesnt mean folks are still hanging out in their corner... while many of us continue to straddle the fence!
- Elizabeth Shea
This installment of our Influencer Q&A series features an interview with Kim Hart. Since I've been with SpeakerBox, Kim Hart is the first name that comes to mind when thinking of The Washington Post. She has covered Web 2.0, telecom, start-ups, Silicon Valley, local business, and as of today brought back The Download. Below Kim shares her perspective on The Download, the local tech scene and how social media is effecting the way we get our news.
- Ali Smith
1. For those of us that werent in tech when The Download was around before, can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Download was started in 1998 at a time when high-tech start-ups and eager venture capitalists were taking the region by storm. The column featured juicy gossip, details of deals and profiles of movers and shakers. Clearly, times have changed since then, but I hope the column can reveal some of the flavor of the local tech scene in a similar way.2. Since The Download will be returning, can you tell us what you find most interesting about the local tech scene currently and what you see for DC tech in the next few years?
I think it will be interesting to see how the start-up community continues to evolve and how young firms will ride out the current economic situation. There's also a whole new generation of serial entrepreneurs, investors and networking gurus that I hope to get to know. I will also be paying attention to trends in government IT contracting as security and privacy standards tighten and new Web technologies become more widely available. What do I see for the DC tech community
in the next few years? That's what I'll be trying to find out along the way.3. Your beat currently covers telco and web 2.0 in addition to The Download With such a significant amount of news being generated by DC area businesses as well as business across the country, how do you decide where to spend your focus each day?
I don't have a formula for how I spend my days, and my focus will turn to whichever issues are most important to our readers. I will continue to cover some telecom-related issues, such as the digital TV transition
and the battle over so-called white spaces
, and I will continue to look for interesting trends that show how we as consumers are changing with technology. But the majority of my time will be writing about local tech companies, blogging about breaking news and writing the column. Every day is different, but I am always open to story ideas and new directions.4. The Posts business staff has the WashBiz Blog and a Facebook presence in addition to the daily paper and other online reporting. Can you shed some light on the current role of new media inside the newsroom and any thoughts of its future implications?
New media will continue to be a major priority for us, as it is at most news organizations around the country. Blogs are proliferating throughout the newsroom, and reporters are devoting more time to posting breaking news on the Web and updating blogs more frequently. I mainly contribute to the Post. I.T.
blog, which is the Post's technology blog. It's really starting to gain traction, and I hope we can become a must-read for more people who interested in tech issues. The new duties also mean some reporters will shoot our own photos and video for the Web. We're trying to do more with fewer resources, but I think it's helping us to sharpen our focus in order to write about what matters most to readers.
Ive collaborated with Joe Coombs on Greater Washington business stories for more than five years. When we first met, he was covering economic development for the Washington Business Journal and I was working with the Greater Washington Board of Trade to share positive stories and economic indicators about our regional business community.
Joe recently changed fields for a position in the association industry, where works at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as a workplace trends and forecasting specialist, SHRMs research department tracks ongoing trends and issues in the workplace, and produces several Website publications and reports that are regularly sent to its 245,000 members around the world. I didnt want our relationship to come to an end, and I was curious how PR and marketing professionals could continue to work with any journalist when he or she changes fields (which is increasingly common). I sat down with Joe to pick his brain on these topics and thought SBX readers would find the following interesting.
- Julie Buckley1) Unemployment has hit a five-year high in the U.S. What are some of the challenges being faced by human resource professionals and recruiters during this difficult labor market?
For HR executives and recruiters that are actually hiring, its getting easier to find talent. With more people on the hunt for work right now, vacancies are getting filled at faster rates compared to this time last year. However, more companies are either laying off staff or freezing positions right now a monthly employment indicator that SHRM publishes showed that hiring expectations in October 2008 are at their lowest levels in four years. That is based on responses from members of the manufacturing and service sectors. Together, those industries employ more than 90 percent of the nations private sector workers.
For those that are hiring right now, recruiting is also getting more costly for top-level positions, no thanks to the housing market. If a company cant find the right person locally, relocation packages will come into play and theyll be more expensive, considering the difficulty that many people are having selling their homes.2) The changing nature of print journalism is forcing many reporters to change careers entirely. How do you suggest PR and marketing professionals, as well as industry subject experts, maintain their relationships with former journalists now working in different fields?
This will depend largely on the nature of the journalists new job. On a personal level, I have written about the economy and labor market for the past several years, and Ill be transferring that knowledge to my new job with SHRM. As a result, Im trying to keep close tabs with economists, recruiters, federal labor sources and others that Ive called on in the past.
If the journalists new job takes him/her out of the field entirely, or completely removed from the subject matter that the PR/marketing/expert source specializes in, that can be difficult. In this case, I would suggest simply keeping in touch with this person through their transition to the new job, and perhaps asking if he/she can arrange for a meeting with the new reporter on their old beat. When I left my last job, I compiled a lengthy beat note that included plenty of contact information on sources for my eventual replacement. If youve had a good relationship with a journalist, ask if theyll refer you to their replacement.
In many cases, it will be more important for the PR/marketing rep to maintain a relationship with the publication, and not so much the journalist.3) Whereas you were once writing the news, now you are influencing the content to be considered newsworthy. What recommendations would you share with marketing communications execs on how to make their content story ideas interesting to journalists?
The first rule is to know the publication youre targeting. Read it every day, every week or whenever they publish material on the Web, and get a real sense of the topics and issues they cover. A big frustration for journalists is getting a pitch that would have absolutely no place in their publication. As a business writer, I would get frequent pitches on either new businesses or companies that recently experienced rapid growth. Those are usually interesting only to the companies themselves that make the pitch, and there were no avenues for those types of stories in the paper because they occur so frequently.
Anything thats unique or would have broad appeal for a target audience are the best bets. More importantly, before you even send pitches to a journalist, take time to meet with them first and find out what theyre interested in covering. Now, you dont have to become best friends with this person, but a couple of informal coffee appointments can go a long way in understanding what theyre looking for in a story.
It felt like Deja Vu from a decade ago when Mario Marinos Netpreneur events
were alive and well. However, the crowd seemed to lean more toward urban savvy than suburban hip last week when the second installment of Twin Tech II
came together at Avenue, a three story club in the emerging hot spot area of DCs Chinatown. The event was organized by Northern Virginia Technology Council
(NVTC) and Peter Corbett of iStrategyLabs
The old-guard government technology firms (a stable lot) primarily from Northern Virginia came together
once again with the emerging social-media sect. The first gathering was a little over 400 (not too shabby) but this time the crowd was over 1,200 (very impressive). Sure free drinks sponsored by over 40 sponsors may have been an incentive but people were really there to meet and greet. The energy has not been like this since the dot-boom days.What a mix
: There were Grays, Boomers, X-ers, Millennials, VCs, bloggers, PR consultants, Technologists, Bankers, Real Estate Brokers, Lawyers, probably even a social media Spook or two (who knows). It was a very interesting and engaging group that is bringing new energy to the tech and communications scene in the region.
Sohale Razmjou, director of business development at Leverpoint
, a Reston, VA based software company and Elizabeth Shea, President/CEO of SpeakerBox Communications
in McLean were one of the many that crossed the Potomac for the schmoozefest.
Old friends came together, new friends were made, deals were formed and at least one company was formally launched. BrandClik
officially launched their next-generation in-text advertising. Check them out at www.brandclik.com
Yes, it is true that SpeakerBox was behind the launch but, what a great venue.
So whats in store for future Twin Tech events? Art Swift, director of communications for NVTC, was overheard commenting that Fed-X field could be a future destination given the draw from the last two events.
- Post by Paul Duning and photos courtesy of David Kidd
launches their social media/web 2.0 beta site called Business Exchange
today. Last evening, I started an early exploration of the initiative by going to the BusinessWeek’s home page - www.businessweek.com
- and clicking on the Business Exchange
header in the navigation bar. The first step was very simple, already having a LinkedIn
account. All I need to do to set up my profile in Business Exchange was to type in the email and password associated to LinkedIn. Next I arrived at a screen where I accepted a few typical terms and conditions, entered my email and a new password. Moments later I received an email from Business Week confirming my registration and providing me a link to complete my registration so that I could gain access to all the features.
Once in, I elected to edit my profile. First I needed to unlink my profile from LinkedIn. This was easy enough to do by just pressing the highlighted link named unlink my profile. Next I made a few edits to my profile but very few.
Then I started building my topics of interest by selecting the Your Topics
navigation in the left sidebar. This took me to a list of Most Active Topics
. Lehman Brothers was in the number one spot followed by AIG, Credit Crunch, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and then Social Networking beat out the 2008 Election for the top five. Having had enough of the top four, I choose Social Networking
. The next screen titled Social Networking provided me a synopsis of the content that was available under the categories, Most Active
. I learned the topic contained 3,038 news items and 3,152 blog items. I decided to select Most Active
and received 475 recent posts on the topic. I selected the first one with a really catchy title: “B2B Advertising in Social Networks are Increasing”. It took me to a blog post in Community 2.0. I scanned the article, hit the back button on my browser and then saved the article. The article was then listed in the Your Activity
section of the left navigation bar.
Next I went to select Your Network
in the left navigation. Here I had three choices You are Following
, Following You
. Of course I wanted to find out if anyone was following me so I selected Following You
, no comment. I decided to try You are Following
and then Mutual
and got the same message – no users being followed. I realize I need to build my Business Exchange
My gut reaction from the not-enough-time-but-this-has-potential perspective is that, I liked it. I sure there are other tools out there like this but I am a BusinessWeek junkie, I trust their resources to aggregate content that I would be interested in, their network of thought leaders and I loved how it pulled in my LinkedIn profile to make it easy to get started. Check it out.
- Paul Duning
This installment of our Influencer Q&A series features an interview with Dan Kusnetzky, principal analyst and president of the Kusnetzky Group and the lead blogger for ZDNet’s “Virtually Speaking” blog. He also writes a monthly column for Virtual Strategy's online magazine. Dan shares with us his perspective on blogging as an analyst; his approach to technology trends and news and how PR/AR professionals can best interact with him.
-John TerrillSince you background is as a technology analyst, how did you get involved with blogging? What makes you prefer blogging to writing a column for a technology trade publication?
I'm still an industry analyst and continue to provide research, analysis and advice (both requested and clearly unwanted) to suppliers and end-user organizations in the areas of system software, open source software and virtualization technology. I continue to write papers, present at seminars and advise executives of Kusnetzky Group clients.
It appeared to me that it would be a mutually beneficial arrangement if I supplied some of that research, analysis and advice to the readers of ZDnet. The management of ZDnet agreed and offered to host a blog allowing me to comment on the market for virtualization technology. I've found that well over 120 suppliers in the areas that I follow have made it a point to seek me out and then inform me of their plans, product announcements and the like in the hopes that I would post something about them on ZDnet.
Blogging allows me to quickly evaluate and then offer my opinion on industry announcements, acquisitions, partnerships, customer service and many other things without also requiring me to deal with an involved editing and production process. Unfortunately the lack of outside controls sometimes means I publish posts having misspelled words (which I blame on my spelling checker, of course) and grammatical errors (which I blame on the influence of my cats hoping on my lap during a writing session).
I'd like to point out that I also write a monthly column for Virtual Strategy Magazine and have written articles that have been published in ComputerWorld, BBC Online and several other media outlets.As both a blogger and an analyst, how do you approach news stories differently than, say, a “traditional” journalist?
I'm in no hurry to comment on something immediately. As an analyst, I'm expected to take a bit of time, think about an industry event, product launch or a merger/acquisition/partnership and then try to present the story behind the story. There are times, of course, that my analysis turns out to be totally wrong. I then have the opportunity (and the duty) to post something else with the fact that my earlier analysis was wrong and then try to piece together why the earlier view turned out to be incorrect.What current trends in technology interest you? Conversely, what emerging technology trends do not interest you?
I'm tracking and very interested in how the world of system software has and is changing due to the influence of open source and virtualization technology on applications, application delivery, where computing is done and, in the end, the commoditization of system software. I'm seeing virtual access allowing executives to travel with a handheld device rather than a laptop and still be able to access the applications and data they need. I'm seeing products packaged and sold by the use rather than as a perpetual software license. This and several other factors are clearly changing the dynamics of the IT industry.How can public relations professionals work most effectively with you?
First of all, I would prefer to work with people who are going to play it straight with me. That is they say what they mean and mean what they say. I'm often amazed by how far a few PR professionals will stretch a company's messages in the attempt to arrange a meeting. On more than one occasion, company representatives and I mutually agreed that the meeting was a waste of both of our time and the meeting was terminated after 10 minutes. After a couple of experiences such as that, I no longer am willing to respond to messages from that PR professional. If several professionals from the same organization use that tactic, I no longer will speak to anyone from that organization.
For the most part, however, I view PR professionals as a partner in the Kusnetzky Group's quest to gather data on market dynamics, analyze that data and turn it into some level of insight that will help both Kusnetzky Group clients and the PR company's clients.
As an aside, I absolutely hate "mystery messages" that some send. If a PR professional wants to tell me something, he/she should tell me. Messages that tell me that company X is going to announce something interesting next week and then invite me to attend a meeting usually end up in the trash. Since I have to prioritize the use of my time to make sure that my clients get the best possible service, unless that person tells me more about what's the topic, the market, etc. I'm not going to waste my time. I'm going to stay focused on serving my clients' needs.
Seven years ago, our country learned the importance of giving to fellow Americans in their time of need. On the anniversary of 9/11, I think it appropriate to continue to seek out ways to give to others, on whatever scale possible, to whichever cause presents itself.
Ive recently been presented with a cause and need affiliated with one of my day-to-day business partners. Apptix
is a SpeakerBox client we believe in, admire, respect and trust. That is why our hearts have gone out to Joe Hoffman, an Apptix employee who has been the recent victim of a brutal crime.
Last week, Joe and his fiancé Jen Hall were attacked in the South Loop of Chicago
. Jen had just started a new job and doesnt yet qualify for Joes employee benefits (since they arent yet married), thus unfortunately falls into the unlucky loophole of being without medical insurance .... which is terribly ill-timed since she has suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), multiple tooth loss and a Femoral Nerve block in her lower left leg, all as a result of the unprovoked attack. Since the incident
, a 501 (c) (3) charitable trust fund has been set up to help offset Jens medical costs .... which have already skyrocketed to more than $100,000.
As a show of support to SpeakerBox, Apptix, Joe Hoffman and Jen Hall, please visit www.thewalkingmiracle.com
to learn more about Jens injuries and consider giving to the charitable trust fund that will help cover the medical procedures that have saved her life.
Its not news that the majority of national media tends to have a democratic slant to political coverage. But party affiliations aside, what do we expect out of political analysts and journalists? We want the news, the facts, the stats and the bottom line. It seems to me some of the politico broadcasts are turning into a circus
I turn to Fridays Joe Scarborough incident
as an example. Apparently there is a dispute between FOX news and MSNBC reporting, style and fundamentals between executives that has tricked down to the journalists
? As interesting as reality TV is, and as popular as it has become, I dont want this reality format to transpire to my news programs, especially those we turn to for the information we need to vote into office the US president we need to be able to get the facts without an over-the-top theatrical performance. Entertainment is great, but when we watch the news, we should expect a certain amount of respect, order and straight up facts. Im not against political opinions being shared by the journalist or show host, but lets do it in a better way, Mr. Scarborough. In the words of Bill OReilly
, this is an unsolved problem (in the media). However, Bill also claims to just want to alert people, which we all know is not just his style either!
Ive heard a lot of good things about www.politico.com
and its ability to provide unbiased reporting of presidential candidates and campaigns. Here is its About Us summary:
The Politico's goals are simple. Over the past several weeks, we set out to assemble the most talented and interesting collection of journalists -- established names as well as promising young people -- that we could find. Now, we will turn these reporters loose on the subject we love: national politics. We will focus on three arenas. The first is Congress and the constant flow of agendas, personalities and power struggles that define daily life on Capitol Hill. The second is the 2008 presidential campaign, a race already churning and one likely to shape history in ways far beyond the typical election. The third is lobbying and advocacy, a part of the capital economy undergoing rapid growth and change. It is a business alive with interesting and influential characters whose impact is dimly understood and insufficiently covered.Check it out! I may be doing more of my campaign research on sites like these than shows like Mr. Scarboroughs, if reporting climates dont change!