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Archive for July, 2008

Hat tip to Dave Winer for posting this on FriendFeed.

First, this is an absolutely hilarious video … oops, commercial.

If a company asks you to do a viral video for them, show them this and ask them if they’re ready:

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There has been a great debate on Jason Falls’ blog regarding the role of Public Relations in Social Media. Todd Defren followed up on it with some great points as well … Without going into a semantic debate on the term Social Media or the intricacies of both of their premises, I wanted to bring up a different point I’ve been discussing at presentations and industry events. This following is another tenet of the Eyeball Economy.

  1. For years we have used the terms advertising and search without distinction or difference. By definition, advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. Advertising is exclusively a push endeavor which is “designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinforcement of ‘brand image’ and ‘brand loyalty.'”
  2. Web Search is a activity a user performs in order to find information he is familiar or unfamiliar with. “Web search queries are distinctive in that they are unstructured and often ambiguous.
  3. The role of PR is to get information from the organization to the person looking for it.Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.”

  4. Marketing is an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion (often referred to as the 4 Ps)) for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations.

Public Relations is there to provide people with information when they are looking for it, whether they know it or not. Advertising and Marketing is there to push brands, images, and slogans, whether they like it or not.

For over one year we have been combining our clients major news announcements to comprehensive AdWords campaigns. Shannon Whitley, who coined the term NewsAds, has been working on this integration for just as long. However, there hasn’t been enough traction for our clients on this front.

Shannon Whitley:

“In terms of explaining what NewsAds are, I like to use the paper boy analogy. The paper boy would shout the news headlines of the day and that would draw the attention of customers who wanted to learn more. Shouting your headlines through Google AdWords (especially since the ads are targeted) is a great way to draw attention to your news and provide people the ability to dig deeper through a single click of the mouse.

“I see online ads as just another method of distribution. In those terms, I don’t see why PR can’t use them as part of an overall campaign. NewsAds are not a complete solution, but they can be used to support a news release by quickly drawing in thousands of eyeballs. Because the ads are targeted, the likelihood that the reader will be interested in the topic of the release is much greater.”

As most of us know, Shannon is an incredibly valuable thought and action leader in the social media community. We all have to do a better job communicating how important leveraging search is. Beyond paid search, we need to be leveraging all other parts of search … from paid to organic to video. Our clients need to make sure every click is covered. Search is, unfortunately, sometimes two steps beyond what we’re telling our clients about. Regarding Multimedia News Releases … why the heck aren’t they the links on the company’s mediaroom? Why are our clients and competitors clients linking to the text only version when they spent significant cash on an enhanced version?

For clients who have lost the VNR and other broadcast vehicles from their quiver, NewsAds is a replacement that will add the numbers you lost while leveraging the web and enhancing SEO. Additionally, for projects and campaigns that demand success, NewsAds are the best way to ensure visibility, pickup, impressions, and views.

(While I’m obviously precluded from sharing our client’s data, the first project we worked on last May resulted in over 2 million impressions and over 200 click throughs … all aside from the organic results, which were significant due to the compelling nature of the announcement.)

For feedback on Shannon’s product launch:
Todd reviewed NewsAds last June , as did Tom Foremski.

For more information on integrating search into PR campaigns, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or Friendfeed.

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TechCrunch is reporting that Google is buying Digg for $200 Million. I think that it could be a steal due to the amount of traffic Digg gets, the name recognition, and the brilliant media aspect of the site …

Chris Abraham thinks $200 million is insane, but I think it could turn out to be a steal … especially if the site is improved. If it goes mainstream and replaces a site like, oh, TechMeme, forget about it …

We’ll see how this all turns out …

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UPDATE: The Insane quote is actually attributable to Jonathan Trenn. Apologies, Jonathan.

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While everyone is talking about the lines, activation issues, lack of new features, GPS, the genius of certain applications, the impact of certain applications (rightfully so), etc., a much bigger story is taking shape. Millions of people have purchased the new iPhone 3G. In fact, over the weekend alone 1 million were sold. This would leave me to believe (especially considering that our local AT&T shop is out for 7 – 21 days) that many millions more have been sold. While there is no doubt they (Nasdaq: AAPL) will exceed sales expectations and engender millions of new loyal Mac users, they are also doing a huge favor for their partners… both advertising and application. Apple has just created one of the largest advertisement delivery networks ever.

Each user of the new device, as well as the old device, will be consuming content in the most modern way … via RSS feeds and efficient open-sourced applications. I am not quite sure why it has not gotten much coverage yet, but Apple is monetizing their phone better than many websites are. This should be viewed as a very big sea change in advertising (are you watching, Google?). Monetizing Web sites is a somewhat recent invention … not only is Apple selling applications to their users, but they are selling advertising space to their partners … that is, if they are getting this revenue!?!

Having downloaded the 2.0 firmware July 10th, I’ve accessed the NYTimes application several times and only seen this Westin ad. I’m sure I’m not alone … How many people have seen this add? One million? How many iPhone 1.0 and 2.0 users are there? How many times has this application been downloaded? Luckily, I’m sure Apple will be able to tell, in this case, Westin, exactly how many people have seen their advertisement.

To many this doesn’t sound very major. It is. The one thing that advertising and marketing firms have been terrible at, as long as they’ve existed, is precision. PR has always had the expectation of precision: exactly how many papers covered the story; exactly how many people viewed the press release; exactly.

I doubt Apple is going to be providing “Opportunities to View” as the measure to their clients. They will tell Westin exactly how many people saw their ad … they could probably tell them, to a certain degree, who. Regarding precise demographics, which I’m sure AT&T and Apple have, they may be able to tell everything … one via contracts and social security numbers, the other via iTunes and other web habits.

We will see if Apple will squander this opportunity by failing the measurement test or by failing our privacy expectations … I doubt it.

What advertisements have you seen? Which applications are being advertised on/in?

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Thomas Hawk wrote a great piece on the future of stock photography and how FlickR, Getty Images, Yahoo and iStockphoto will fare.

He raised an incredibly interesting point today on FriendFeed about the low price photographers are being paid via iStockphoto.

This brings up, in my mind, a much larger issue. Moving forward, will the price and cost of content be inverse to the price of eyeballs?

In this age of time-shifting, place-shifting, RSS, microblogs and their aggregators, marketers are having a very difficult time reaching consumers directly. They have been placing dollar amounts for years on Television commercials, billboards, radio ads, print ads, even press releases. With the audiences of MSM dwindling (in TV’s case, the number of people that have to watch commercials is decreasing), the value of audiences in these other places should increase dramatically. This is one of the reasons why we will see a tremendous increase in the cost and value of banner ads … yes, banner ads again.

In the same vein, since everyone is a potential content producer, how much is it worth anymore? With web shows like RocketBoom, Wall-Strip and The Burbs (not counting all of the YouTube/Revver/MetaCafe ‘Celebrities’), anyone can be a content creator. All you need is a cell phone, camcorder, or webcam. Since some of this content is more interesting and compelling, why pay for cable anymore (especially when Fox kills shows like Arrested Development in favor of Prison Break and assorted karaoke shows).

I think this is the beginning of the opposite of an attention crash. What would we call this?

With aggregators like iGoogle, Netvibes and, yes, FriendFeed, I’m able to keep track of and pay attention to far more information than ever. While some of what I retain is nominal (I remember a ton of headlines), I don’t read a lot of content in its entirety. I am retaining all of this information where I used to store things like … oh, phone numbers! While I have four personal phone numbers myself (I don’t even know my home phone number), I don’t know how many others I recall. I remember my phone numbers from the houses I grew up in. Even some of my best friends numbers from those days … but certainly new numbers don’t get stored in my brain… just headlines, failed social networks, and poor showings by the New York Rangers.

Back to topic: How much is content going to be worth? When are ad values going to increase dramatically? Your thoughts?

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Retail Slowdown

This store is absolutley packed.

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Many of the presentations I have given over the last three years have revolved around educating clients on RSS and why it’s important; why it made blogs as influential as they currently are; how it has crippled the newspaper and how the Eyeball Economy has destroyed the classified model; why blogs are important and where to view and track them; what SEO is and why you should understand it; why you should have a FaceBook profile (though I still sourly refuse). Whether the audience is awake or not at that point, I proffer the Trojan Horse: The Multimedia News Release (a.k.a. Social Media Release; New Media Release; StoryCrafter; Social Media Press Release).

This wonderful distraction is forcing our clients and the industry as a whole to consider the kinds of multimedia they can include with their announcements. This should be a proclamation, not a question: “Multimedia Can Enhance This Announcement!” This should have been a statement being made for years, not weeks and months. If Multimedia can’t enhance your announcement, should it be an announcement at all? Even dividend announcements can be enhanced with Multimedia (though maybe not emailed to bloggers, right Chris?).

For years, but prior to Mr. Foremski’s compelling coup de grâce of the press release (was this really a coup de grâce or a cold shower?), we were all content arguing about the quality of the writing in press releases. This was the original sin. Why are we deconstructing a release that’s DOA (according to many) anyway? Why separate quotes from facts?

The content that is included in the information a company is disseminating is vital to so many different people. The content can range from stock repurchasing to inventing the most authentic Social Media Press Release in the industry. Wouldn’t improving writing ability solve the submerged quandary? Some journalists like a narrative. They want to be told a story. They already knew where to copy and paste (and isn’t that what an SMPR compels them to do anyway?). Let’s give these journalists a little more credit (and assistance) than our interns.

As an Editor and as a Consultant, I have been told numerous times that a press release without media outreach can result in little pickup. The exception to this rule is with market-moving information, breaking news and compelling information on new products, new features. There is a ton of news that will get picked up in trades as well, regardless of bells and whistles: personnel announcements, licensing agreements, etc. Emerging companies and start-ups have a much harder time garnering pickup … and sometimes for them, a TechCrunch post is all they want. However, not every client is focused on blogs first. In fact, the large majority are focused on mainstream media and major online publications first (though it could be argued that TechCrunch, GigaOm, Engadget, Gizmodo, etc. aren’t looked at as ‘blogs’ anymore.).

Our consultations have to address the following quandaries from our clients:

  • How do I start a blog?
  • Which blogs do I respond to?
  • Should our CEO blog?
  • If so, will it will be worth their time? How much time?
  • What’s the value of a Social Media Release?
  • How do I prove it’s worth it before we do one?
  • What’s the value of a blog post?
  • What’s the value of a friend?
  • What’s the value of a friend’s friend?
  • How much is a web hit worth?
  • How do I leverage Twitter?
  • How do I leverage FriendFeed?

These questions all lead to one place: your team. The team is your PR team. We need to have individuals, loyal and savvy BlEdgers, that believe in what the organization is doing … beyond that, they need to have a stake and a say in what you are doing. This team is the one speaking to your analysts, your investors, your beat reporters, your clients, your prospects, your competitors.

Oh, and another thing. Forget you ever heard the phrase “Social Media Distribution.”

“What is Social Media Distribution?” I’ve heard so many clients ask this question.

The Truth is there is no such thing as “Social Media Distribution.” There is just no such thing. “Social Media Distribution” happens by itself. This is why true geeks have issues with the definitions of Social Media, let alone Social Media Distribution. SMD, if there were such a thing, is an organic result of compelling content … nothing more. As a few of us have said for years, your content must be compelling. If it is, there will be conversations. We will enable both … nothing more.

Let us all get back to the basics of being consultants to our clients … creative stakeholders that believe in what they’re doing because they do … and we believe them.

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