This also raises the question about the blurring line between social applications for personal and professional use. I Twitter, I Facebook and I Link In, all for both profesional and personal reasons. Does this mean that these are all legitimate applications for professional use and should not be monitored by security and IT? Or does it mean that companies should restrict access using web filtering technology and other security/resource management measures to ensure no lines are crossed?
I for one think that the business value outweighs the risk in most instances---especially in a relationship-driven profession like PR--but not all companies will agree with that. They will be concerned that the sheer volume of new social applications and the integration and mash up of them, will eventually result in a major privacy or security breach that internal IT cannot manage.
It also raises the question of with whom does the responsibility lie? Should Facebook, Twitter and others provide some baseline security measures to fight phishing or should it be the corporation's repsonsibility to police their people and a consumer's to protect themselves? Is Facebook a public pond (swim at your own risk)? Where is the legal liability?
Thankfully, I feel as though we are still in the early adopter phase of Twitter, Facebook and other Web 2.0 sites and resources, so many of the users have some level of technical/security savvy. Maybe the near-term return on phishes for identity thieves, deviants and hackers will be so low, that they will continue focusing on traditional email phishing and botnets. In any event, this is great fodder for next week's RSA conference where experts like ScanSafe, 8e6, Breach Security, Qualys, CORE Security, Cloudmark and others will gather to tackle the topic of web applications and security.
Want to meet with me at RSA or find out what I'll be doing there? Check out my status on Facebook or Twitter. But if it says I am asking you for personal or profile information, don't believe it for a second.
1) The story's prominent placement was likely the work of Managing Editor/News and Page One Editor Caleb Solomon. Solomon visited Schwartz a few months ago and talked elequently about the role of new media in today's newsroom and how he looked to get more business stories on page one.
2) Innovative VCs like Borealis Ventures tap into underserved entrepreneurial communities. Borealis, based in New Hampshire, looks for ideas and talent in northern New England. The Peak Pitch contest is a perfect way to reach their desired audience. All types of companies can learn something about target marketing from events like this one.
Attending any conference or meeting with other PR people is always entertaining, regardless of the advertised topic. At the very least, you know everyone there is addicted to the news and wants to talk about it.
I wasn't sure what to expect from last night's Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Boston session on the military's program for embedding reporters with troops in Iraq, but was optimistic that it would be interesting. It's far afield from what we do here, of course, but from what I can tell from the people I've had the opportunity to meet with or hear speak, the military has more than a few public affairs/PR people who are on top of their game.
The panel included:
Vic Beck, a Navy captain who's serving as chief of media operations in Iraq. Before he was called up, he was a VP with Peter Arnold Associates. Captain Beck dialed in during the middle of his night.
Guy Shields, senior manager of public relations for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. Mr. Shields helped design the embedded program in 2003 when he was an Army colonel.
Steven Komarow, senior deputy international editor of the Associated Press. He worked for USA Today when he was embedded with the Army during the invasion of Iraq.
The three covered a range of topics and took many questions. I have to say that it was the most worthwhile PR industry program I've attended in some time.
One of the things I noted was the total focus of the embedded program on the traditional media. Not that it's surprising--it's that this was a great reminder for me (if one was really needed) of the power of the mainstream media.
Schwartzers delight in finding new blogs that drive website traffic and are as happy as anyone to do the Twitter play-by-play. But what we find more often than not when we're able to do a head-to-head comparison of, for example, how many people were reached by similar stories on a website covering tech industry news and a popular blog devoted to the same is that coverage in the traditional media has bigger impact.
(My colleague Jason Morris is our resident expert in these analyses. Maybe he'll give us some of his data at some point.)
Captain Beck explained that last month there were 68 embedded reporters. His team could track to those journalists, in that month alone, 4,924 stories in western media.
What I took out of this was a reinforced belief that as enamored as we get with social media, it's important not to pursue it at the expense of the traditional. I think about the "either/or" topic because sometimes companies are so smitten that they go off the deep end and tell us they don't want to work with reporters--they just want to pursue blogs, online forums, etc.
I'm sure it's human nature to be entertained by the new, especially when the old can be tough to work with some days. Blogs and YouTube videos produced by tech companies--these types of things are integral to more and more PR programs. But you can't argue with 4,924 stories in what appeared to be every major and mid-sized U.S. market.
Clearly we're not the Army, but to me, last night's program was an outstanding reminder to keep it balanced.
Twitter is not a new application to many PR pros. As with Facebook, though, we are all still trying to learn how Twitter can help our clients and their marketing programs.
My recent interest in Twitter was inspired, in part, by a Schwartz podcast segment featuring Paul Gillen, who himself has recently become more of a believer in Twitter's potential.
A few weeks back I linked my Twitter account to my Facebook account, so that any update on Twitter would automatically update the "status" of my Facebook profile.
The response to my move from some of my high-school and college friends provides insight into how PR pros are early in the micro-blogging hype curve. Here's a sampling of what my friends posted to my Facebook wall:
"What the heck is a tweet?"
"Dude, was 'twittering' like the word of the week on your desk calender or something?"
or my personal favorite:
"Ross--you've been twittering a lot lately--do you think you should cut down on the caffeine?"
A few months ago, I wrote that many friends who I saw at a holiday party did not have Facebook pages. It is now clear that many of my friends who have Facebook pages have never heard of Twitter. It is another example I can use when cautioning clients about getting wrapped up in the craze of social media marketing.
Discussing the value of social media in tech marketing is important, and unfortunately, it can be hard to do. As someone who has tried out many social media services, I feel like a social pariah among peers when suggesting that social media campaigns may not be appropriate for every company. I can relate to Mike Rothman in this respect, who wrote in his blog about an experience with Twitter at last week's SourceBoston security conference in Boston.
What I don't argue is that Facebook and Twitter do have an emerging place within marketing. I just spoke to a current client about ways to appropriately use Facebook Groups to promote new online content that relates to certain groups' fan bases. My colleague Mark McClennan saw significant result by using Twitter to promote his client Epocrates, when that company's application was demonstrated by Steve Jobs on stage during the recent Apple iPhone SDK launch.
On a basic level, I see Twitter as a great way to learn more about reporters and analysts. For example, I noted via Twitter that many key social media bloggers and reporters attended SXSW (shorthand for South by Southwest). At a high level, Twitter and Facebook tap what I see as a golden rule of marketing: We are most influenced by what our friends and families do. If I post a tweet or Facebook status message saying that "No Country for Old Men" is a fantastic film, people who know me might share that review or go see the movie themselves.
The marketing possibilities for Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps are evident. It's just a matter of those services gathering members, and then for companies to better understand who, from their key target audiences, is actually signing up. If for a given company those audiences have not adopted the social media tools, then you don't have to worry about a social media campaign...at least not yet.
I pass a sad sight each time I get on 128 South from our Waltham offices: the all-but empty headquarters of the once-proud Massachusetts institution, Polaroid. The sign covering the windows of the large, empty cafeteria proclaim "Polaroid Now," but Polaroid is mostly in the past. When the company announced recently that it would soon stop making its eponymous film, many cried while many others said "they still make that stuff? Why?"
While my title here at Schwartz includes the line "New Media Strategist," I'm a big fan of older technologies. My camera collection includes a number of film cameras including a 1950s era Kodak Retina IIIc and a medium format twin lens reflex with technology dating back to the 1960s.
Each has its own personality and quirks that makes it worth keeping and using. I pulled out my Colorpack II and loaded it with Fuji instant film to take the shot in this post. Yes, Fuji makes instant film and frankly, it's a lot better than the stuff Polaroid was putting out. In fact, the guys at my favorite camera store believe Fuji will probably pick up the rights to the rest of the Polaroid line.
People peg Polaroid's demise to the digital revolution, but it really began with one-hour photo machines. While Polaroid offered a single instant picture, you could take your standard roll of 12, 24 or 36 picture 35mm film into the local Walgreens, get prints back in an hour and still be able to make copies later. A Polaroid offers only one image.
That said, my kids usually want to see their pictures on the back of my digital camera, but they are amazed by the tactile aspect of the Polaroid. The idea of holding a picture in their hands 2 minutes after taking it blows them away. Also, the uniqueness of that image contrasts with the quick-copy culture that digital provides.
Everyone looks to new technology to supercede the old, but that doesn't mean the old is worthless. One morning while drivng to work I heard a WBUR-FM story about a local shop that repairs and sells manual typewriters (I have a few of these around my house as well). The owner was saying how he gets a lot of teens coming in to buy machines that were once on the cutting edge but are now considered stodgy. As a person whose first professional writing job involved pounding on a manual typewriters, there is something nice about hitting keys that make a *WHAP* sound and have a bit of a reaction. Just as with film, when you type on paper you take more care in your work, since you can't erase by just hitting the "backspace" button.
My office looks out on Route 128 and since last fall, I've been watching the demolition of a building, clearing of the site and now the digging for the foundation of a new office building. They've been blasting and when this is about to happen, state police stop traffic in front of the building across all eight lanes of the highway.
I'm sure that blocking traffic is necessary to keep Massachusetts drivers, rubberneckers all of us, from driving off the road. But it also creates nasty traffic jams during times when travelers would typically expect to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.
Route 128 carries something like 200,000 cars a day and continued development of big office buildings and shopping areas along it affects people who live and work along 128.
Where should those people turn for information about the development? Big regional newspapers? Well, no. The last time the Boston Globe, for example, covered this sort of development was four months ago.
Obviously they can't cover everything repeatedly. But where are 200,000 who wonder what blew up next to Uno's to go?
I keep heading for Wicked Local. I'm so happy that a news outlet recognizes that there's much more to the Boston area than Boston itself. And for those who love the city, a coworker recently pointed me to Universal Hub, a wonderful aggregate of all things local.
Financial constraints and, certainly, assumptions about what the masses want to read have for years impacted regional dailies' coverage of companies that haven't yet reached the size of a Fidelity or EMC. As someone who believes the action is with the smaller companies, I've long been irked by this.
This opening has cleared the decks for the success of an Xconomy, which is more than happy to dive into the growing tech companies (disclosure: this one's a client) that drive much of our local economy.
Without a doubt, major media have done much to successfully rework themselves, but I have to believe that readership of newer sources will keep growing as people like me look to the news outlets in their backyard.
The Big Dance is about to begin and corporate networks are about to slow to a crawl as employees feverishly work to finish their tournament brackets and then stream the games on Thursday and Friday.
I love the Tourney, but since my beloved Orangemen aren't in this year, I decided to take a slightly different approach - what if The Big Dance was a social media tournament? What if the schools had to compete based on their social media prowess, not their hoop skills?
At 3:00 a.m. last night, I decided to make that thought a reality. I evaluated the field of 64 and had the teams face off solely on social media skills and came up with a power ranking for each school. I kept the NCAA seeds and let them face off.
How was the ranking determined? It was determined by (# of facebook users in the School network/number of students at school according to Wikipedia). Note: Yes that includes alumni, but they count as fans in the stands cheering on the team. And if the students didn't join their schools network..they didn't show up for the game. I recorded it all in a handly notebook and used the Microsoft calculator app to do the math.
The Final Four: Stanford vs. Duke and Notre Dame v. Davidson
The Final: Davidson v. Stanford
The results? No surprise to loyal Valleywag readers - Stanford takes it all with a 2.5 ranking, beating Davidson with a 2.05
Other interesting observations:
UCLA (1.39) was the only #1 seed to make it to the Elite Eight
Two 5 seeds made the Elite 8 - Michigan State (1.41) and Notre Dame (2.01)
Once again a 15-seed was dangerous (I still remember the Richmond Spiders) - American University (1.51) beat Butler (1.37) and University of Oklahoma (1.18) to go to the Elite Eight
Toughest Draw: Cornell. They had a 2.17 ranking, but they were up against Stanford in the first round. If Cornell was in the East or the Midwest, they would have made it to the finals. Next year, they deserve more respect.
Closest game: Kansas State v. Wisconsin in the 2nd round (1.328 v 1.320)
The schools with the lest social media power? Indiana (0.61), Boise State (0.463), Portland State (0.432) Cal State Fullerton (0.414), and Mississippi Valley State (0.14)
Finally, for my beloved Syracuse fans, if they had made it into the tourney, they would have done what they usually did, make it to the Sweet 16 with a Power Ranking of 1.47 and then bowed out...
For the past month, my three year old son has been having me read him the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears A Who in preparation for the movie that was released this weekend.
Despite reading the story more than 30 times in 30 days, I still really like it, and that made me wonder whether there are there any lessons from the book that can be applied to social media and PR practitioners. Similar to my “All you needed to know about PR you can learn from Dora the Explorer” essay, Yes, there are. Horton and Dr. Seuss provide companies and professionals engaging social media with some great guidelines.
A person's a person, no matter how small—This is the overarching theme of the book, and is also a central tenet of social media. Companies can no longer afford to ignore the “little guy.” Or as I tell my teams – everyone matters.
Listen—Horton teaches all the other animals in the jungle of Nool something that many companies are still learning. At a minimum they need to listen. If you are not listening, you are missing a world of possibilities. If your ears aren’t open to RSS, Twitter, Facebook and the dozen of other ways in which people are communicating, what are you missing?
Engage others—It was only by working together that all the Whos in Whoville were able to be heard. Don’t go it alone. Find people of similar (and even dissimilar) interests and engage them in conversation and build a relationship. You never know when you might need your friends.
Beware the Wickersham Brothers (and cousins)—A mob can appear out of nowhere and attack you. The important thing to plan is how will you respond? Plan out and ask the tough questions and scenarios. If you don’t take the initiative, do you think anyone else will? Be ready to fight back against the brothers.
The beezlenut oil is simmering—Ignore competitors, dissatisfied customers and bloggers at your peril. There is always a vat of beezlenut oil simmering in cyberspace in which your company, product, reputation, posts and videos can be dunked. Just because you don’t see the pot, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Try to avoid it, but if it spills – work to get out fast. Don’t ignore the oil and get boiled alive.
Ignore tags and technology at your peril—If Horton had tagged his clover with “Who” or “Whoville,” he would have been able to find it, instead of searching three million clovers before finally finding the right clover. Use technology to your advantage. Tag everything you can and search tools are wonderful.
Finally—The power of Yopp—Speak out. Your voice matters. It doesn’t matter if you are not an A-lister blogger, a megacorp or social media guru. If you don’t participate you lose, and even the smallest Yopp, the smallest contribution, can make a significant difference.
A former colleague sent me a postcard from her recent trip to India. I was ridiculously happy to receive it.
Yes, I keep up with her on Facebook and email and all, but a postcard was so much more fun to receive.
I'm sure this is just yet more proof that I need to get out more, but there's something to be said for going old school when it can make a friend stand in the middle of the hallway smiling in a way that Facebook never has.
When Google introduced the Google Alerts service, my first thought was "Great! Now my clients don't need to pay for expensive news searches." Many of them had already pared back their use of such services because they were looking to save every dollar coming out of the tech recession, so they were just happy to find a cheap alternative.
My opinion changed when some clients became obsessed with tracking not only their own coverage, but that of their competitors. I had a number of conversations with people who had a tough time accepting that it's not realistic to expect the agency to stop--literally to prevent--other companies from getting noticed in the media. (Intruding on those companies' coverage--there's the goal.)
I still think it was mostly an emotional reaction to being able to really understand, probably for the first time, where their competitors were appearing in the media.
But now, most clients are way past the emotion. They're deep into their site analytics and are tracking visitors who come from news articles, product reviews and blogs. I love to hear that an article the PR team helped out on brought in a bunch of well-qualified visitors, some of whom went on to download the client's software.
Tech (and increasingly healthcare) companies and PR people talk about what this means for the practice of PR. Certainly, no one wants to feel like they're spending money on faith alone, so they're holding PR up against things like SEO and other marketing tools.
To be sure, measurement can be a wonderful thing. But I wonder if the techniques most in vogue today really capture the cumulative effect of steady-state volume--that stream of Google Alerts that companies love and that helps stack them up nicely to their competition--plus positive (not just okay) reviews, plus getting the Fortune 50 customer (not the no-name) to talk on behalf of the start-up, plus the CEO Q&A that gave him space to talk in depth about his or her corner of the industry ... and so on.
Some of these things have no immediate tangible effect, but does this mean they won't matter in sum six months or a year out for companies trying to establish a new category or go up against a much bigger player?
I'm thinking that PR's real value these days lies in the ability to bring all of these things--some easily measurable, others not so much--together. It's not social media to the exclusion of "traditional," or product PR in lieu of thought leadership campaigns. If I were running a tech company, I'd ask myself how I could have all of these things AND still have money left over for my Google AdWords campaign.
Part of news judgment is balancing the fact that information exists with the need for the greater public to actually know it. You can run around reading journal articles and Supreme Court documents on this topic until your head spins and you can even ask experts and people on the street, each will have their own opinion on the subject. A fuzzy line divides the “need to know” and the “want to know”, but sometimes it seems rather clear.
Prince Harry’s deployment in Afghanistan is certainly one of those easy delineations. What good came of the public knowing of his deployment? Third in line for the throne is certainly a high-value target to any enemy, yet he is also a young man trying to grow, learn and serve his country.
Military service on the front lines is nothing new to England’s royal family. Kings and princes have long led their men (it was always men) into battle. But today, right now, does it benefit the public to know that a figurehead serves on the front lines? No, it doesn’t.
Matt Drudge, who “broke” this story should not be held up as a hero. I know he had the information and in this information age, having information is akin to sharing it. But “having it” doesn’t make “sharing it” right. In this case it means putting Prince Harry, and the men serving with him, at risk. It doesn’t take a military genius to see that.
Of course, it does rankle some folks, or strike them as odd, that the military and Fleet Street drew up such a deal,but I must say that it showed some great foresight on the part of the British military. Rather than just ignoring the problem and hoping no one noticed such a familiar face on the front, they dealt with the problem directly and forthrightly, even offering to provide pictures and stories later. A pretty good PR move, in my opinion. The fact that it lasted close to three months is amazing, but also shows that there is still some life in “old media.”
From the old media to the very new… I recently have become more active on Twitter (I’ve had an account for a while but never really spent much time on the site) and I’m amazed at how much information gets shared, but how little truly does. People are happy to share what they’re doing, when it’s about writing, working or TV, but what about their emotional state? How are things at home? Happy with the spouse? Are those anti-depressants kicking in yet? Any trouble paying the bills? Certainly questions you will probably never see answered in a tweet or even in a blog post. And they shouldn’t be. That’s information for the private life, not the public one.
The public doesn’t have a right to know everything.
A friend and respected high-tech marketer at EMC sent me a link to this movie, which she recently produced to help introduce a new EMC storage product.
For many reasons, the video, the related URL and website, and the marketing efforts at a trade show announcing the product this week, are commendable. I like them because they present EMC as hip and innovative. The video reinforces the strategic messages for the new product, and it's best summarized in the name of the video, "The Revenge of the Mainframe."
Perhaps most importantly, I enjoy the humor. And I am not alone.
The video is one of many that EMC has produced, and many of them are equally humorous. Certainly EMC is on to something here. Perhaps there are additional ways to integrate the video and other marketing efforts using social media into PR.
For example, I notice there is no mention of the video in the "Revenge of the Mainframe" press release announcing the product. Certainly the press release is for the media, and the video was not produced for that audience, but isn't the press release also reaching other audiences, such as potential customers and prospects?
I am not saying I have the answers, but EMC's example is a good one to study.