Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Sam's purview now extends beyond paper. I caught up with him at the Always On Conference. Here's what he had to say. TRT: 4:20
PR Sam Whitmore Media Survey public relations Always On Technology PR
Where are the media execs charged with getting their arms around the disruptive forces decimating their businesses?
One exception is former Newsweek editor and current Wash Post/Newsweek Interactive VP Mark Whitaker whom I've now seen here on both days of the conference. I (gently) collared him by the coffee bar and he amicably agreed to share some impressions. Here's the audio file. TRT: 2:49
PR Mark Whitaker Newsweek public relations Always On Washington Post Co
As you've (hopefully) been reading, Always On Network founder Tony Perkins, who started a little magazine called Red Herring back in Web 1.0, bowed his brand of this brave new world this week in New York with a conference on how Web 2.0 is disrupting the media, marketing and mobile industries.
I had a chanced to chat with (I mean hear from) Tony about his plans and aspirations for Always On. Here's the audio clip. TRT: 5:39.
PR Tony Perkins Red Herring public relations Always On
Not to be outdone, I pulled out my handy digital audio recorder and grabbed a few minutes with Cluetrain Manifesto co-author, Havard Law School (Berkman) fellow, and Edelman consultant David Weinberger.
We talked about RSS, the divide between Silicon Valley and the rest of the country, the changing PR industry, and media transformation. Here's the file. Take a listen. TRT: 4:28
PR David Weinberger Cluetrain Manifesto public relations Always On
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Jeff Jarvis moderating
Rick Murray (surrogate for Richard Edelman)
Gordon Gould, ThisNext
Barry Reicherter, Porter Novelli
David Weinberger (my blogging mate at the conference)
Bill Clearly, Cleary Partners
Here are some highlights:
Jeff Jarvis opens up with a rant against Pay per Post (whose promotional AO video showed "a Mom turning her kids into shills"). He next recounted his anti-Dell campaign that "mushroomed," and how it led the company to finally take action (and a personal apology to Jeff from Michael Dell at Davos).
David Weinberger is "not convinced there is a right way to do it" [create buzz]..."quoting Doc Searls: there's no market for messages...we don't want to be buzzed...nor manipulated...with a good product and a good service, you'll create buzz."
Barry Reichereter says that P-N considers just five percent of the popultion as "net-fluencers" (sounds a lot like B-M's and Leslie Gaines-Ross's "e-fluencers" from Web 1.0). I think he also said that that boils down to "14,000 families." Hmmm.
Rick Murray on measurement: "we're focused on monitoring conversations more than measuring conversations. More qualitative than quantitative analysis."
Barry says "there's new measurements coming out...there's no real industry data that's available...we're making it up as we go along."
Rick: "There's no great way to say here's the ROI on conversation...
Dave: "Look at Diet Coke and Mentos. That was pure genius.. There is no established methodology to achieve what Coke acheieved. It's the exception, not the rule."
Rick: "Clients come to us saying they need a viral video, but 99.9% of the stuff out there is pure crap..."
Audience: "I love my Treo, but I'm switiching to the iPhone the second it comes out..."
Jeff: "That's because Apple is the ultimate buzz company."
Dave: "Go forth and be interesting. The most interesting people out there are your customers."
Barry: "There's naturally occurring buzz. Then there are clients who want you to manufacture buzz, which is possible."
Gordon Gould: "You can manufacture buzz. Look at the nightclub industry. What about the cool pair of boardshorts."
Barry: "Maybe it's semantics. You can't build the buzz."
Dave: "Pay for Post is a corrosive influence. It makes the Internet worse...less trustworthy...not more trustworthy."
Pay Per Post CEO in audience: Defended his company and revealed that disclosure is now required.
The conversation went on to talk about marketers polluting the new social environment in which we live. Dave Weinberger hoped that the channel would be free from this commercial assault. P-N and Edelman then began to distant their companies from some of the more blatant means of online marketing.
Post Panel Clarification from Barry: "A quick clarification on my statement today about netfluencers. I'm pretty sure I said we reach out to 14K families in our national (Styles) survey, which provides us with consumer trend information. From that group only 5% would qualify as netfluencers. As for manufacturing buzz, it's more about creating an environment where buzz can occur more than being able to fabricate or manufacture it. Regarding measurement, the data available to track traditional advertising and sales promotions (e.g. coupons) effectiveness have been around for some time, but making that kind of connection from social media or buzz to sales ROI is still in its infancy. Thanks for writing about this."
PR advertising buzz marketing public relations Always On Pay Per Post
In other words, the music, the content and the length of the spot changes based on the viewer's distinct demographic -- one at a time.
The London-based company is called The Adaptive Media Company, funded by British Telecom and Venture Partners.
Softbank's Eric Hippeau thinks it's "very powerful."
(I have a headache thinking about the scalability of it all!)
Always On Real Time Content Adaptive Media Company
Matthew Bishop, The Economist -- "The Economist is about to publish all the letters we have received. The journalists are scared to death."
Justin Townsend, IGA -- "We know how Google made its first $8 billion. How do they make their next $8 billion?"
Steve Starr, Revver -- "To imagine that there's only one company[Google & YouTube]...is to be very cyncial about the future...there are a lot of smart people out there..."
Always On Revver Bill Cleary IGA Economist
She went home to get another laptop, so replacing her in the seat next to me is Cluetrain (and Harvard's) David Weinberger who's agreed to chat with me later on my (mostly untrusty) digital audio recorder. I saw Sam Whitmore down from Boston, Edelman's Me2 Man Rick Murray (standing in for Richard Edelman), and BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis, two rows ahead.
Marketwatch's media reporter Jon Friedman told me yesterday that in spite of repeated pleas by the organizers he was passing to cover instead the SIIA (Information Industry Association) Summit here in NY. I guess Time Inc.'s Ann Moore is a bigger draw than Tony Perkins.
Jon Medved of the Israeli start-up (launching today as a "closed beta") Vringo is now on the stage giving a demo of his application that lets you send your friends' your own video ringtones (ad-supported, naturally). Cool stuff...but what if you want only your own ringtone to play?
PR advertising online marketing public relations Always On Vringo
To my right is Adriana who is Always-On's new digital video host. (It's unlikely she'll be interviewing this PR blogger anytime soon.) AO Founder Tony Perkins (pictured) and Bill Cleary (founder of Web 1.0's once premier ad agency CKS Partners, i.e., eBay, Amazon, etc.) are on stage talking about how they got from point A to point B.
First slide: "62% of the content the average 21-year-old views online was produced by someone they know." (Pew Institute)Technorati chairman Peter Hirschberg has taken the stage. "We're all suffering from a major disability...none of us are 12 years old." Hirschberg takes us through some stats and video (ostensibly to promote his company). He then invites WPP'S Ogilvy co-CEO Carla Hendra to the stage to expound on the new partnership between the two enterprises. They're calling it Conversational Marketing. (Staci, maybe Martin Sorrell does know a thing or two?)
He then announced a Digg-like section on the Technorati website called WTF ("Where's The Fire"), e.g., with real-time live web stuff that lets the audience "curate" wiki-style.
Missed the panel with Eric Hippeau, Cleary Partners' Bill Cleary and others last night. (It started 90 minutes after it was scheduled to.) So, I'm here this morning for the first panel of the day, moderated by Marketwatch's SF-based Internet/new media/Web 2.0 reporter Bambi Francisco. In introducing Bambi, Cleary let it be known that she's announcing a new venture today called "Vader," no not Darth, but "Vator," as in elevator pitch. More on that later...
Chinks in Google's armor is the subject of the first panel (on the eve of the search monopoly's earnings announcement (e.g., $2 billion for the quarter, Bambi says).
Always On Bambi Francisco Bill Cleary Tony Perkins
Monday, January 29, 2007
Ms. Huffington previews the rough road ahead for Sen. McCain (think Macaca): "Indeed, if he loses his temper over being called out for marginalizing opposition to Iraq as 'far left' (the hoariest of GOP talking points), this is going to be a really long campaign trail for John McCain - offering anyone with a cellphone camera endless opportunities to make their mark on YouTube."
In a posting today, Mr. Battelle shares his softening to Mrs. Clinton after hearing of the Democratic frontrunner's like-minded position on electronic privacy. Over the weekend, however, he related his frustration as the hungry kid-in-the-Davos-candy-store unable to eat anything:
"Is that nearly every session I attended where I got that unmistakable 'Shit I have to post on this' feeling was, unfortunately, off the record. Last night Larry and Sergey sat down with Charlie Rose for an intimate chat at a private event. Off the record. Before that I spoke to a room full of Media Governors - the folks who run just about every major media company in the world. Off the record. Before that, a gathering of influential editors and journalists from all over the globe. Again, off the record."After his readers chastised him for his rant, Battelle clarifies in an update:
"...I need to clarify. Most of Davos was in fact on the record, I was noting that the stuff where I found the most insights tended to be off the record. And I am investigating whether some of what I heard was in fact subject to looser 'Chatham House' rules where just the speaker cannot be identified. Overall, I do defend the practice of getting leaders together from time to time in an off the record environment, it allows them to share experiences openly and learn from them."From a PR perspective, many seasoned practitioners advise their clients that nothing is (ever) off-the-record. In fact, when you have many journalists in a room with a newsmaker, how can the off-the-record rules even be enforced? If news is made, isn't the journalist at risk of compromising his or her ethics by withholding it? Off-the-record perhaps works in a one-on-one briefing, but swearing to silence a gaggle of reporters is a much dicier proposition. (And we're not even talking cell phone cameras here.)
Today, this blogger is moderating a PCNY panel featuring media industry reporters from The New York Times, New York Post, Marketwatch, mediabistro.com, and Business Week. Then it's off to the Always On Network kick-off panel on media disruption with the chiefs at Technorati, CKS Partners, Softbank and Reuters. Stay tuned for more on this and other sundry subjects.
PR Davos Arianna Huffington public relations John McCain John Battelle politics Always On
Friday, January 26, 2007
I'm always amazed by the mainstream media's fascination with the everyday machinations of PR. The latest example surfaced yesterday in the Washington Post where the usually astute Dana Milbank breathlessly reports on how the Harvard Law grad turned communications counselor to the Veep (and wife of the head of the FCC, her primary qualification for the job), elevated the respected Tim Russert to the top of the sympatico reporter list for Mr. Cheney's talking points on the Plame affair.
The piece "In Ex-Aide's Testimony, A Spin Through VP's PR," recounts some of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings by this administration to minimize bad news or maximize its POV through "strategic" media relations.
"On jurors' monitors were images of Martin's talking points, some labeled 'on the record' and others 'deep background.' She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. "So, did anyone really think that the White House would consider booking Mr. Cheney with Leslie Stahl or Keith Olbermann? Nah.
"She put 'Meet the Press' at the top of her list of 'Options' but noted that it might appear 'too defensive.' Next, she proposed 'leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags. Sit down and give to him.' This meant that the 'no-leak' White House would give the story to the New York Times' David Sanger, The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, or Time or Newsweek. Option 3: 'Press conference -- Condi/Rumsfeld.' Option 4: 'Op-ed.Here's another stroke of White House PR genius:
"With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. 'Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday,' she said. 'Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday.'"Or this:
"For all the elaborate press management, things didn't always go according to plan. Martin described how Time wound up with an exclusive one weekend because she didn't have a phone number for anybody at Newsweek."At least we can count on someone to get to the real truth behind the Veep's media maneuverings:
"'You didn't have a lot of hands-on experience dealing with the press?' defense attorney Theodore Wells asked. 'Correct,' Martin replied. After further questions, she added: 'Few of us in the White House had had hands-on experience with any crisis like this.'"I wonder how Tim Russert felt about his White House designation?
PR Dick Cheney I. Lewis Libby public relations Meet the Press White House media relations journalism politics
Gee. I though the gloved one canned Ms. Bain??? I guess not. She's probably working for expenses, not to mention the joys of celebrity kharma.
At the time of his infamous acquittal, I posted a PR game plan for Mr. Jackson that called for a period of laying low, followed by an earnest rededication to his craft. He's done the former, sort of, and now appears ready to re-emerge on our proverbial shores.
I just fail to see the wisdom of trading on his infamy (I mean celebrity) with his Japanese fans (who never left him) at $3300 a pop. Yesterday's carefully controlled media conference call (how 90's!) is likely the first salvo from his PR team.
However incongruous, I thought of yesterday's post by Times personal tech columnist David Pogue in which he chastised Microsoft's PR team for "bribing bloggers, fabricating reviews and making up letters to the editor makes the company look worse, not better."
The appearance of PR manipulation will almost always backfire in the court of public opinion. As Mr. Pogue concluded: "If Microsoft really wants to earn high marks from the public, it might want to consider earning them the old-fashioned way: By creating products people love."
Michael, focus on your new, web-delivered record, and support it with live performances. (I know what a perfectionist you are. Remember, delivering the Pepsi Super Bowl spot...the night before the game?)
If your Black-Eyed Pea collaborator Will.I.Am is right ("Michael is the one act who doesn't need a record label. He can do it all through social networking sites."), you might just stand a chance. Just ask Mel and Martha.
PR Michael Jackson Will.I.Am public relations celebrity comeback music industry reputation management Super Bowl
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Do your finely honed PR instincts tell you to advise your client to voluntarily divulge the mishap, or do you take a wait-and-see attitude, responding only when and if necessary?
Apparently, the pop singer's publicists, lawyers and other career consiglieres chose the latter, and it's now come back to bite Brandy in the butt -- a month after the crash.
Now let's say, your company makes an everyday consumer electronics product typically carried in one's pocket. Turns out that the product, a cell phone, suddenly and inexplicably, burst into flames. The story breaks wide almost as fast as one can say Dell laptop, but your employer, the manufacturer, has not yet been fingered in the fire. Do you issue a statement or wait until the media reaches out and touches someone?
Here's the headline from Paul McNamara's post in today's Network World recounting his colorful exchange with the company's PR rep: "Was the Nokia PR guy just doing his job? Jerking me around? Or both?"
Without knowing the circumstances surrounding the incident, nor whether the cell phone even caused the fire (which now appears unlikely), I would say that the PR person was doing his boss (and his company) a disservice by stonewalling.
Sure, maybe the facts weren't fully available, but pleading complete ignorance two days after the initial incident may end up causing more damage. Minimally, the PR person's relationship with this reporter is now extinguished.
PR Nokia cell phone public relations crisis communications Brandy Network World
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Only one star in The New York Times. Ouch! Not too swift for the much buzzed-about restaurant, The Waverly Inn, to which Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has tied his gastronomic fortunes. (Does he really knead the dough?)
Actually, The Times's restaurant critic Frank Bruni chose today to take down a few of the city's haughty hot spots. As for Graydon's home away from home, Bruni had this to say:
"He actually asked if the $55 macaroni and cheese with shaved white truffles could be ordered without the truffles. He didn't get it. The whole point is the comedy of getting and being seen getting something so absurdly costly. No truffles, no deal. No kidding, Graydon, Waverly is sweet. It's not just about an A-list daisy chain of writers, actors, models. It's not just about ringside seats to the latest Perelman-Barkin smackdown."Bruni's other feature today, "You May Kiss the Chef's Napkin Ring," dovetailed nicely with his critical (if confusing) review of the de rigeur Waverly:
"It's not just the unsavory dinner times 'We'd be delighted to seat you at 4:45 or 11:30!' that the voice on the other end of the line trills. It's the rules laid out, the threats: Call to confirm your reservation precisely 36 hours in advance, or else. Call if you're running more than 12 minutes 45 seconds late, or else."Mr. Bruni makes a valid point. Earlier this week, a full-page ad in The Times trumpeted a new service that allows dining fashionistas to pay $3-400-a-year to ensure a coveted reservation at one of the city's restaurants-du-jour.
"Once they were lucky to have us. Now we're lucky to have them. They don't meet us on our terms. We meet them on theirs," observes Bruni.I suspect that the food at The Waverly is not bad. But it's not really about the food. It's more about that rare Core Club kind of atmosphere - a place to see and be seen.
Word has it that Mr. Carter will not allow the restaurant to be photographed. Then who's brilliant idea was it to have The Times review the restaurant in the first place? You'd think Cuozzo's earlier send-up "The Inn Crowed Outlandish" would have offered a sneak peek of what to expect. Me thinks The Waverly could have coasted along rather nicely without the jaundiced take from a restaurant critic.
The Waverly Inn Frank Bruni restaurant PR public relations food critic
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
In the book, the author looks at "How Words Become Weapons, How Weapons Become a Message, and How That Message Becomes Reality," or so says the book's subtitle. Think "pro-choice" versus "pro-life," "inheritance tax," "insurgents," or any of those friendly-sounding NGOs.
The art of unspeak is different from the Orwellian concepts of "newspeak" and "doublethink" according to Poole.
"'...Unspeak does not say one thing while meaning another. It says one thing while really meaning that one thing,' and the confusion unspeak generates is almost always calculated and deliberate."All of this begs the question for PR professionals, or anyone in a position to advocate on behalf of a client cause or issue. Is the art of the unspeak a PR skill to be admired or one to be challenged on its ethics? After all, as Poole asserts, unspeak does aptly, if not overtly, capture the true meaning of the message. Is it wrong or disingenuous to "frame" a message in more evocative terms to enhance its overall impact?
Last week, I read Frank Rich's book The Greatest Story Ever Sold , which assiduously recounts the episodes of unspeak and doublethink that pervade the Bush Administration's efforts to advance its political, social and military agendas.
In my mind, this is NOT how PR should be practiced, even before the emergence of the citizen journalist's ability to instantly expose these obfuscative tactics. Sadly, many in our profession look up to this brand of advocacy...on the sole basis of its effectiveness.
Shafer concludes by laying down the gauntlet to journalists:
"As the channel through which politicians, activists, and corporations market their words, reporters are usually the first recipients of new examples of unspeak. Monitoring how they say what they say is as important as reporting precisely what they say."From the perspective of PR practitioners, e.g., those typically accused of creating unspeak, PRSA or some other industry organization should also lay down the gauntlet...to distance the industry from the Beltway spinmeisters who have increasingly tainted the profession. Honest advocacy does not have to be an oxymoron.
PR Unspeak Slate public relations Orwell Beltway politics Frank Rich The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Monday, January 22, 2007
"Big Labels Offer Free Music to College Students"Other mainstream outlets effusively chimed in (at least in the bold print), e.g.,
"The four major record labels and several independent labels have agreed to license their music to Ruckus..."However, a clause in the Times lead quickly put the kabash on any cause for celebration. It read:
"...with some substantial restrictions ..."Those bait and switch "restrictions," I predict, will cause all kinds of PR agida for the legal file sharing service, Ruckus Networks. As Saul reports:
"But the music will not play on Microsoft's Zune player or, more important, on the Apple iPod."Did I read this correctly? Download the tunes, but immobilize them? Ruckus CEO Michael Bebel explains:
"Even iPod users on campus will use Ruckus because they can find music they like before they buy it from Apple or get it another way,"Hmmm. Here's the blogospheric beginning of the ruckus for Ruckus:
-- Engadget : "..stipulationn-laced tunes..."
-- Podcasting News: "...free, incompatible..."
-- CrunchGear: "Sure, it sounds good, until you actually see what itÂs up to."
Ruckus Networks college students iPod file-sharing PR digital music
Friday, January 19, 2007
The man who actually installed the hotspot in this section of town happened to see me struggling and offered on-the-spot tech support. He was a Windows guy, and like me, hadn't fooled around on a Mac since his SE (and my LC II). He didn't succeed getting me online.
Anyway, I hope to resume a full sked next week after I return. In the interim, I should tell you that I caught up with fellow PR bloggers Trevor Cook (of Jackson Wells, top left) and Steve Noble of Hill and Knowlton. (Top right). After meeting with Keith Jackson of Jackson Wells and some of Trevor's other fine colleagues, we headed over to Darling Harbour for a local blogger meet-up last night where I also met some of the country's pioneers in the Australian citizen journalist movement.
A young woman named Sara Goldstein (in red above) who started a fashion/shopping blog called the Bargain Queen and has gained quite ("20,000 daily visitors"). Net net (excuse the pun): the blogger enthusiasts we met estimated that Australia lags the U.S. ("by 12-18 months") in terms of the number of bloggers. I'm not so sure, though I do know that Sydney could do better in the wireless Internet access department.
PR Sydney blogosphere public relations wireless internet access MacOS The Rocks
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"The petrol companies stood by their pricing practices, daring the ACCC to prove any uncompetitive tactics in the industry. BP spokesman Chandran Vigneswaran said: 'We are more than happy to co-operate with the ACCC . . . we have been open and transparent in the way we price petrol.'"But then the Daily Telegraph itself, apparently no friend to big oil, piped in with its own survey:
In an online poll, almost 2000 Daily Telegraph readers – 96 per cent of respondents – said motorists were being taken advantage of by the petrol companies.With wholesale oil prices markedly off their highs, Australian consumers and its public defender, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will keep this fight in the news. The call: to publicly shame the oil companies. Why don't they just hold a mid-term election to scare the politicians into taking action?
Monday, January 15, 2007
"help you become acquainted with Windows Vista, Microsoft's newest version of its Windows operating system. Windows Vista becomes available to consumers this month, after an extensive testing period and gradual rollout to businesses."News, advertising, and a healthy online footprint can be expected for Vista, but the PC World weekly series, while producing some plaudits for the PR team, seemed a bit gratuitous. Here's a comparison to Apple's Tiger OS:
"But Windows Vista at least narrows the gap between operating systems that hail from Redmond and Cupertino. In part this is because Vista adds so many features--from decent integrated search to Gadgets (aka Widgets) to fancy 3D effects--that Tiger already has."Let's just say that cracks in the wall between church and state, a magazine's editorial and advertising, weren't as apparent during a more prosperous magazine era, i.e., when Win 95 was introduced. IDG's magazine and those of its rival Z-D actually had the temerity to expose the warts of MS's last major OS launch -- not give it its own weekly series.
Times have changed. Print ad dollars are migrating elsewhere. Big multiple media platform spends, like that for Vista, are fewer and further between. Look for a dose of Vista display ads in PC World.
PR Microsoft Vista public relations IDG Windows 95 PC World
Friday, January 12, 2007
I should comment about Apple's big day. Steve Jobs and company deserve kudos for hitting the iPhone out of the ball park on every front. Still, don't you think he should have resolved the naming issue with Cisco before proceeding? (More on that in a moment.)
In typical fashion, and following Newton's third law ("For every action..."), the fickle media pendulum swung back into the negative category within 24 hours of the iPhone's boffo reception. One couldn't help but stumble upon the Scobelizer's sobering assessment of the iPhone -- and its skimpy battery life, among other things. Then there was the stock options affair and news that the Feds are now investigating Mr. Jobs.
Finally, we turn to Cisco, whose general counsel is using the company blog (better than the company jet) to publicly discuss the pending litigation with Apple. Scoble chimed in on this one too.
I've lost track of Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's efforts to persuade the SEC to allow him to break material news on his blog. I believe the regulatory agency is considering.
There's precedent, however, for the legal blogging bit. Remember the litigation between Google and Microsoft wherein the former raided the latter for a senior exec, prompting a lawsuit. When resolved, Google's asst. general counsel posted his perspective (spin) on the Google blog. I questioned at the time whether this was true from-the-heart blogging or a corporate-directive designed to "command-and-control" the message (or a little of both).
Anyway, I'm curious to watch the Apple-Cisco affair unfold in the public eye. At least Google's lawyer waited until the lawsuit was settled. Cisco didn't, which makes it PR newsworthy. I just wonder why this tactic doesn't fall under Sarbanes-Oxley? It certainly is material -- to both Apple and Cisco.
PR iPhone Steve Jobs public relations litigation Cisco Google blogging
Thursday, January 11, 2007
He's right. I definitely need to do a better job supplementing my mainstream media links with those mined from the online conversation.
To this end, I'll start off with a news story appearing in today's Washington Post wherein the court that's about to try I. Lewis Libby (think Valerie Plame leak) has allocated two (!) media credentials for journalists of the citizen variety. Apparently, the Media Bloggers Association lobbied hard to earn these seats at the working media table.
(Of course, we all remember the travails of faux blogger Jeff Gannon, followed shortly thereafter by the journalistic milestone of mediabistro's Fishbowl DC gaining a press credential for the daily White House media briefing.) Not everyone is happy by the new journalistic clout doled out to bloggers.
But then again, this blog has frequently opined on our industry's changing media pecking order as bloggers grow in influence and cache. My fellow PR blogger down under Trevor Cook, whom I plan to visit next week, posts on a post of a post that outlined a successful PR strategy to "manipulate" the most influential personal tech bloggers. His take: so much for blogger engagement being different from mainstream media engagement:
"Easy to do, and it works. Time after time. How silly is the Cluetrain Manifesto and naked conversations kool-aid of a few years ago starting to look now? Blogs will cut throught the marketing and PR hype? Think again buddy."Now, Trevor, tell us what you really think.
PR social media I. Lewis Libby public relations Media Bloggers Association digital PR blogosphere media credentials viral mainstream media journalism politics
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
According to the lead item in the ClickZ newsletter:
"Back then, the [GE] project to advance products 'as economically advantageous as they are ecologically sound' was more philosophy than reality. Today the company markets 45 Ecomagination products, including desalination technologies, high tech windmills and super-efficient locomotives. Sales of these products have reportedly surpassed $20 billion."Of significance to the PR set, take a look at some of the new-age sounding digital marketing firms (BBDO notwithstanding) grabbing a good share of GE's creative and online marketing spend.
"The videos and Web site were produced by Manhattan-based agency Syrup, which also created the earlier, more bare-bones Ecomagination site. GE agency of record BBDO created all offline advertising, including print and TV spots that will prominently feature the site's URL. Online advertising was created and brokered by Stinson Partners and Atmosphere BBDO."So where's the PR pro in the digital content creation and marketing mix? Apparently, nowhere.
As for Michael Dell...he's playing catch up with a traditional (top-down) news conference boasting a few bells & whistles, e.g., streaming audio feed, etc. Don't get me wrong. It's a great program (and much needed). But for true ROI, it will require more than a news release. Mike, take a page from GE's playbook.
digital marketing GE public relations Ecomagination advertising Syrup Dell corporate social responsibility
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I can't recall another year when the hype, hysteria and histrionics have achieved such a fevered pitch. But, of course, none of this is Apple's doing...or is it?
The rumors are rampant with predictions of Apple's entry into the musically enabled mobile phone business. Then there's iTV, which promises to bridge one's hard drive with his or her flat screen using a $299 iPod Mini-sized wireless device. What abut a socialized iTunes?
A simple audit of the blogosphere will reveal no shortage of Apple, Mac and iPod sites that break and re-make news on the fabled company. Then there's the mainstream tech reporters, none of whom have failed to predict which new Apple products will see the light of day today.
Last night, the Wall Street Journal fueled the fire with a "Technology Alert" proclaiming a deal between Apple and Cingular to (finally) offer that elusive melodic cell phone. Or was it just the Journal's way of flagging veteran SF-based tech reporter Nick Wingfield's prominent piece today on the conference.
Nick's requisite call to Apple produced this: "Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on what he called 'rumor and speculation' when asked about a Cingular-Apple deal."
Truth be told, the Wingfield piece, while a good perspective-builder, doesn't reveal much that hasn't already been buzzed about in the blogosphere. Nonetheless, its very appearance on the vaunted pages of The Journal, picked up by Reuters, have likely taken it out of rumor mode.
And Apple is no doubt pleased by the absence of company-verified info. The element of surprise and the goal of "exceeding expectations" remain indigenous to Apple's PR strategy. I just wonder whether the physical manifestation of a new i-branded cellphone or more details on iTV -- products that have saturated the online "conversation" these last few months, will satisfy this most jaded of journalistic beats.
Stay tuned. Peter Rojas and the crew at engadget will have it live here.
PR Macworld Steve Jobs public relations iTV iPhone Cingular
Monday, January 08, 2007
The targeting efficiencies were obvious. It was no longer about the number of eyeballs, but instead the age, size, shape, location and color of those eyeballs.
In fact, The New York Times's flagship website, while free at the time, had the foresight to require visitors to provide some basic demographic data in exchange for editorial access. That aggregated data gave the site a powerful, and perhaps pioneering advantage in its efforts to persuade advertisers that their ads not only could work better, e.g., click throughs, but if they didn't, the creative could be swapped out instantaneously until the message did produce a response.
I remember accompanying The Times's digital marketing team to Boston to meet with several influential industry analysts to make a case for this marketing revelation. It was easy to understand that a pharmaceutical company that made estrogen replacement therapy had little interest in reaching men or 20-something women. The Times flagship site could demographically (and anonymously) parse its visitors. The analysts listened with interest.
Several years later, but still before it was de rigeur (and smart) for marketers to earmark dollars to the Internet, we organized presentations in NY and SF for a handful of top-tier online publishers to try to convince jaded tech reporters that online advertising had turned the corner. They weren't completely buying. While Internet penetration was growing, it had yet to achieve critical mass. Broadband was nowhere.
Flash forward to Kit Seelye's piece in today's New York Times in which she reports on the migration of mainstream print reporters to niche interest online sites, and in particular, Politico, a soon-to-debut national political site founded and financed by the 30-something scion of Allbritton Communications.
"It seems riskier to stay in print than to go to something new," said Ben Smith, 30, a reporter for The Daily News in New York, who will be writing a blog for The Politico about the 2008 presidential campaign.By the way, it was Ben who broke the story on Rudy's lost and leaked Presidential plan.
"Newspapers have to be all things to all people," Mr. Allbritton said. "On the Internet, there is no one site that delivers everything. It's broken down into mini-mini-subdivisions of interests and they attract people who are passionately interested in one subject."Kurt Anderson, whose Inside.com emerged on the online publishing scene with great fanfare, but at just the wrong time, had some insights worth sharing:
Today, checking Technorati's list of most popular blogs, those devoted to the political discourse occupy the #3, #6 and #11 spots. I suspect they are profitable.
"We were ahead of our time," said Kurt Andersen, one of the founders of Inside.com and now a contributing editor at New York magazine. He said The Politico had an advantage because "there is now this huge online ad sales culture."
"But," he added, "you wonder, with this narrowly defined, very Washington-centric political focus, no matter how great it is, what is the size of that audience? You can be the best, but if it doesn't have a gigantic audience, advertisers won't be interested."
PR advertising online marketing public relations Politico Daily Kos Huffington Post New York Times Digital Inside.com Allbritton Kurt Anderson Online Publishers Association
Friday, January 05, 2007
Naturally, the Super Bowl, and its cousin, the Academy Awards, are a couple of the noteworthy left standing on broadcast TV (and beyond).
I like Jon's suggestion that the Super Bowl remains somewhat Tivo-immune given the advertising's entertainment value. Geesh. Some people tune in for the commercials alone -- though, most not.
Having led the PR chores for HotJobs.com's Super Bowl campaign for three successive years -- at a time when the game morphed into the "dot-com Super Bowl" and then back again -- I would say that Mr. Fine missed a fine point. The value of the Super Bowl for marketers lies increasingly less in reaching viewers of the game itself and more in the incremental "free media" attention the advertising generates. And that's where us lowly PR people enter the picture.
It's akin to a top-tier Olympics 2012 sponsor paying $150 million (80 million pounds) for the rights to use the rings, as Lloyds of London announced this week, but another 100 million to really put a sponsorship (or Super Bowl ad buy) in medal contention.
Armed with the knowledge that every newspaper, newsweekly, business magazine, ad trade, entertainment program and the network morning shows would package advance and post-mortem pieces devoted to the commercial bonanza, the trick was to break through the clutter and extend the news of a client's creative. Some SB advertisers made the tactical error of withholding details until the telecast. (It worked for Apple 1984, but that's about it.)
Others, like HotJobs, jumped on the PR bandwagon early, offering footage of the "making of," sound bites with its CEO and ad agency creatives, and short clips of the commercial(s) a good month ahead of the game's airdate. At the time, broadband access was still in its infancy, so ad reporters like The Times's Stuart Elliott preferred VHS tapes, while others screened spots delivered to them via those clunky 3/4" tapes.
We had an epiphany when we actually could post the HotJobs's Super Bowl commercials on a website, and simply provide print reporters with a link and a password (what a concept!) to view the low-res spots. I know. I know. No brainer, right? Back then, it hadn't been done before (if you believe the grateful print reporters offered a sneak peak).
Anyway, Jon, when considering the value of the Super Bowl buy in 2007, let's not underestimate the non-broadcast buzz-building activities -- especially nowadays in the digital arena. That kind of free viral exposure will more than justify the $2.6 million cost of a 30-second spot.
In fact, this year the boffo Super Bowl creative on the big screen may pale in comparison to what's planned for the small screen. One might even say that the Super Bowl as a marketing vehicle is standing taller (or wider?) than ever.
PR Super Bowl Jon Fine public relations advertising Super Bowl ads Olympics sponsorship Lloyds of London
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Dear Donald and Rosie,
What can either of you possibly hope to gain by this inane feud played out in the court of public opinion? Sure, I know having your names and images plastered in the media is like a drug -- as addictive as Kate Moss is to Pete Doherty. I also understand that you both have network broadcasts whose ratings need adrenaline to avoid the fate of "The OC."
But don't you see the foible in this tactless tack? Can't you see that your public personas, already fairly low on the (illegal) reputation flagpole, cannot benefit? And Don, why would you allow your nepotism to extend to this sordid affair? Do you think for a moment that your hefty adversary would enlist her family to fight her battles? It's bad enough that she drew a warning from her TV family matriarch.
I hope you both take hold of your senses and allow Perez, TMZ, Page Six and The Scooper to return to their regular reportage of the (comparatively listless) lives of Britney, Lindsay, Tara and Paris.
PR Donald Trump Rosie O'Donnell public relations celebrity feud Biggest Loser Apprentice The View Kate Moss
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Mike laments the ailing reputation of PR (hmmm, there too?) and reminisces about the efforts in the mid-90's by our global agency to inculcate every one of the firm's employees into the methodology of "perception management." We all agreed the term had baggage...lots of it, but it was viewed (and embraced) internally as a new way of doing business and, a big agency differentiator.
If this were today, the blogosphere would have a field day, but this was a different era when the term "blog" was merely a typo.
The firm's leadership gathered the senior managers in the theatre at The Macklow Conference Center just off Times Square to launch this ambitious and all-encompassing agency brand recalibration. I remember emerging from the multi-media presentation actually excited by what I had just heard -- but still a little troubled by the perception "perception management" would leave with laypersons...and the media.
It's no secret that every agency thirsts for ways to differentiate itself from the pack. Primary research, new graphic identities, fancy-sounding branded offerings, specialty departments focusing on the service-du-jour, e.g., litigation support, organizational change, social media, etc.
Burson-Marsteller built quite a formidable brand reputation studying CEO reputation and its impact on corporate reputation. Edelman has its Trust Barometer, which more recently has been overshadowed (or melded with) its me2revolution. Qorvis in DC actually made astro-turfing acceptable in a Republican-dominated Beltway. BuzzMarketing, also seen by some as astroturfers, has the perceptual lock on viral or word-of-mouth marketing.
How much are these offerings driven by marketing and biz dev considerations versus actual client need or demand? Can vigorous promotion thereof create client demand (where little otherwise existed)? I guess it's all inconsequential as along as incremental client billings result.
PR agency Willard Group public relations branding perception management Trust Barometer
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
- "A blogger will win a Pulitzer Prize." Not yet, though in late November the Pulitzer Board announced entry categories for online journalism. "With its new rules for online submissions, the Pulitzer Board will require each online element to be a single, discretely designated presentation, such as a database, blog, interactive graphic, slide show, or video presentation."
- "Opt-in Feeds Take over." While the trend from push to pull continues unabated, eMarketer reported in late August that RSS reader/aggregator adoption rates continue to lag. According to the article, which used data sourced from MediaBuyerPlanner, only 9% percent of US employees know what RSS is while only 2% are subscribed to an RSS feed. A whopping 88% still have no idea what RSS is. Now what about SEO and SEM's impact?
- "WiFi is free." Perhaps at the Hampton Inn or Courtyard by Marriott, but Starbucks still costs a pretty penny, and finding a free hotspot remains elusive, though Bryant Park on a warm summer day is an excellent start. Two days ago, Ars Technica posted on the pros and cons of free municipal broadband access "The city of San Francisco has been evaluating the feasibility of public broadband since 2004, when the city's board of supervisors allocated several hundred thousand dollars for feasibility studies. Since then, the board has reviewed proposals, searching for a solution that could be implemented at no cost to the city. In April, the city selected a joint proposal from Google and Earthlink for further evaluation."
Looking ahead to 2007, Mark's first prediction, "Niche Social Media Sites Achieve Critical Mass," has tremendous resonance for PR pros who have been saddled with the pressure of landing big-branded mainstream media hits, when attention from a finely targeted niche site might actually have a greater impact on a client's business objectives -- and isn't that we're all about anyway? Here are a couple more that are as relevant to PR pros as they are to those on the "other" side of the marketing aisle:
- "Confident Brands Will Turn Themselves Inside Out." "Traditional marketing taught everyone to control the perception of their brand through careful adherence to brand guidelines and messaging strategies. Now, every consumer has a megaphone and a soapbox. The most relevant and connected brands will be built around the dialog they have with their customers and that their customers have about them."
- "Engaging Reach Emerges as a Mantra for Advertisers" AND for public relations pros as we move from top-down message management to listening to and engaging in the online conversation. Mark uses the term "engaging reach," and explains it like this: "In the world of digital communications, "reach" is just step one, not an end goal. Simply reaching a consumer isn't enough. And if you focus solely on engagement, you won't reach enough viewers to make an impact. That's why it makes a lot of sense to measure 'engaging reach.'" There's more in his post.
Let's add one more prediction -- a theme on which this blogger has posted recently. The roles of the marketing service firms (PR, advertising, direct, etc.) will continue to blur. It's a free-for-all wherein all these entities are vying for the rapidly growing piece of the client's "spend."
Will traditional PR firms continue to profit from dead tree and broadcast TV "media placement?" Yes. The long tail of clients will see to that. Will niche digital marketing boutiques flourish and grab business from the WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic agencies? Sure.
The real combustion in the marketing services space will take place at the "full service" firms (ad and PR) where the one-stop shopping mantra will be tested. Can their digital offerings compete withthe specialized firms? Will the PR industry's leadership role in helping clients "make news" further erode. We'll see in 2007.PR digital marketing Mark Kingdon public relations digital PR advertising media Organic viral mainstream media journalism
Plenty has been written about Mr. Bush's direct slap in the face to the bi-partisan recommendations posed by James Baker & company. The President will soon announce plans to increase the number of Americans fighting in Iraq. Could a new year and a state funeral really make us forget just how much hubris this President has?
ABC News pre-empted Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton, Jeff Jarvis and other new media "stars" featured in a John Stossel "20/20" segment on social media to report the news that Saddam has been hanged -- by U.S.-backed taunting terrorist-types wearing black hoods, no less.
The administration's reaction? Nil. Mr. Bush was "asleep" at his ranch in Crawford, TX and simply not available for comment. Huh?! It was 9pm in Crawford when the noose let loose. Mr. Blair was silent as well. As the PR world moves toward transparency, this administration continues to trade on opaqueness and obfuscation.
Finally, just in time to ring in the new year, we learn that the 3000th American was killed in Iraq. Mr. Bush's reaction? Zippo. After all, why should he add fuel to the sad reality he has created, and give his lamentable legacy longer legs.
Yes, I know. It's a new day and a new year that will restore our nation's venerable system of checks and balances. Even so, we cannot be lulled into complacency, nor put our eggs in a Democratic Congress's straw basket. We still very much live in dangerous times.
PR George Bush Saddam 3000 Deaths Crawford James Baker checks and balances public relations Tony Blair