One of the best award show monologues ever was delivered by Chris Rock at the 1997 MTV Video Awards. He looked out into the audience and told everyone not to expect to see each other the next year because in the music industry, it’s “here today, gone today.” He said “Sir Mix-a-lot…he ain’t mixin as much as he used to is he?”
One of the other bands he called out for being in the "where are they now" category was Color Me Badd. For those of you who don't know this pretty awful band, Color Me Badd was the only group with two top 20 hits in 1991. I remember this because I was a college senior and danced like a complete fool at parties to their tunes. Most of the bands with hits in 1991 didn’t last because that’s the way the music industry is – the same holds true almost every year. It also can ring true for the PR and marketing industry. Most of the firms started in 1991 either disolved during one of the bubbles or because they couldn’t adapt to the changing needs of the communications landscape.
I’m proud to be part of a firm that was started in 1991 and is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this year. I joined Schwartz just a year and a half ago, so I can’t take any real credit for the firm’s longevity, but what I will say is the agency has been able to adapt and change as communications channels have changed. In an industry like the music industry where it’s sometimes “here today, gone today,” I’m glad that Schwartz is able to celebrate its 20th birthday this year. If we had thought of it, we should have played some Color Me Badd songs at our anniversary parties.
I hope you enjoy this quick video we put together as part of the celebration:
Today, Salesforce announced its plan to acquire Radian6 for ~$326 million in cash and stock. Radian6 is one of the main social media monitoring and engagement tools we use at Schwartz Communications. This is good news for Radian6 employees, but what are the takeaways for the industry?
To my mind, it all boils down to another company betting that even more companies will realize the power of listening, and as a corollary, the power of engaging. Salesforce.com is one of the top sales and CRM solutions.
This is enhanced when you add inbound marketing companies, such as Hubspot, that can help sales and marketing nurture the most valuable customers and promising prospects. That is one reason Hubspot makes such a big deal of their Salesforce integration.
The social listening (and to a lesser extent engagement) offerings provided by Radian 6 are another piece in the customer engagement puzzle.
Good PR has always strived to understand the needs and desires of the customer and other key stakeholders. Only by understanding them can we give the most effective counsel to the organizations we represent. The future tie-in of sales/crm, social listening and nurturing should help companies develop deeper, more meaningful and effective relationships with their customers.
I am intrigued by the possibilities of this acquisition, but it will be interesting to see how it proceeds.
Some of Radian6’s greatest weaknesses are Salesforce's strengths. But I can also see the volume of data that Radian6 regularly captures overwhelming the needs and desires of many users and too much less than useful information being integrated into the Salesforce contact stream. As my wife often tells me, just because you hear what I am saying, doesn’t mean you are listening. The data is only good if it is processed and acted upon.
I don’t think this is the final piece of the puzzle. Integrating capabilities such as Rapleaf into the new Salesforce/Radian6 would create some very targeted and meaningful monitoring and lead to even greater success.
No matter how this acquisition proceeds, the winners will be the companies that increasingly engage with their customers through tailored, proactive communications.
Samsung expected to make a big splash at last week's CTIA Wireless conference with its unveiling of a new Galaxy Tab. They didn't, however, count on a lot of online flak regarding the video they produced to support the launch. Harry McCracken, editor of Technologizer, makes a pretty compelling case that the "real-life" users in the video are actually paid actors. His posts have attracted a good deal of attention and quite a few reader comments. What does this have to do with the merits of the new Tab and how it stacks up against the iPad 2? Absolutely nothing - and that's exactly Samsung's problem.
Well produced videos have the ability to convey an organization's story in a quick, compelling manner. And, hopefully, a sense of trust is established with the target audience. In order to ensure this bond, it should be assumed that discerning viewers will do a little digging to make sure that the claims made by a company are factual. It doesn't have to be many viewers. All it takes is one viewer unearthing something questionable - and the viral power of the Internet may take over, potentially doing serious damage to a company's campaign.
There are times when it makes sense to use hired actors in a video. But any time the project involves customer testimonials, there is no substitute for the genuine emotions and experiences of real users. They may not spit out the PR team's key messages exactly as scripted, but audiences aren't interested in robots reciting lines. Nothing resonates better than honesty.
Be creative, but be completely up front with your audience. Trying to gain traction against competitors like Apple is tough enough; having the attention of customers and industry thought leaders diverted by such silly miscues only makes the challenge more formidbale. No matter what you do, keep it real!
Most cereal eaters of the 80s let out a collective gasp when the rumors of Quaker’s Cap’n Crunch cereal being end-of-lifed circulated. The "cereal" killer here is labeling on consumer packaged goods (CPG), and the public relations campaigns that big food brands are doing around the health benefits of their food. Fox News discussed its demise as a result of the “food police” and the fact that the sugar content isn't boding well with discerning consumers who are paying more attention to what's in the food they buy and serve to their families.
Sales of Cap'n Crunch have been dwindling and this trend in consumer behavior reveals that brainwashing is starting to be a thing of the past. Take for instance what the Quaker (by way of PepsiCo) company says of its cereal on the Cap’n Crunch website: "Cap'n Crunch is a great-tasting, crunchy sweetened corn and oat cereal your whole family will love. It's an excellent source of seven essential vitamins and minerals, is low in fat, and contains zero grams of trans fat perserving." What it doesn’t (explicity) tell you is that there are 12 grams of sugar per serving, which nutritionists say is nearly half of the recommended daily intake. This fact is the tip of the iceberg for moms trying to start their kids off on the right foot.A recent study found that 84% of kids' foods that made front-of-package health claims didn't even meet basic nutritional criteria.
So, if you are a food manufacturer, how does this affect the future of consumer PR campaigns? Let’s look at this way: transparency isn’t only for top companies anymore. Keep your tagline- sure. But make sure everything else is included. Be aware. Give up the gimmick. Today’s consumer is informed, thanks to the media’s obsession with product reviews and consumer reports. Manufactured electronics, foods, clothing, daily dealsites, even iPad apps have to expose their own flaws if they want any credibility in the eyes of the shopper. You’re better off saying that you use a model similar to your competitors than completely denying it.
The average consumer is exposed to hundreds of ads a day via web, print and word-of-mouth proclaiming unique experiences. How does a new brand go toe to toe with the big fish? Communication will have to come clean if a brand wants to be trusted, especially during a rough economy where everything, from price to productivity, is considered. Flashy ads are a thing of the past- quality of service reigns supreme. In the end, hype is hype and the person buying your product knows it.
Google has launched a magazine, Think Quarterly, and mailed the limited number of copies (they printed only 1,500) to advertising partners in the UK. The magazine, Google's first, was created and published in the UK and is also available online.
Since we, as lovers of technology PR, of course pay attention to Google and pitch editors of magazines (although it's not at all clear to me that Think Quarterly is pitchable), I thought the debut was worth noting. You may have caught the news yesterday on Mashable.
This issue is almost 70 pages long and is all about data, how people are trying to wade through it and find value ("data obesity and how to treat it"), how basing business on facts can be beneficial, etc. There are also several topics of interest to advertisers (e.g., "how to maximize return on search advertising").
Click on the image above if you like to check out the full issue.
Schwartz Clients Use Mobile PR to Get Word Out at CTIA
Schwartz clients made waves at the International CTIA Wireless 2011 conference on both the speakers' podium and with award-winning offerings–a testament to the impact of mobile and technology public relations at the show. While we can all but guarantee that AT&T and T-Mobile had very successful PR activities around the event, this post focuses on five Schwartz clients.
KORE Telematics, MicroStrategy, Fiberlink and WellDoc all used PR to help drive success at the show. Each demonstrated that an effective PR strategy goes beyond issuing press releases. Technology PR is all about creative storytelling via social and professional media to power marketing programs during conferences and beyond them, across industries and geographies.
The following is a quick summary of how PR helped lead to a successful CTIA Wireless 2011 for these Schwartz clients.
• When KORE Telematics first began working with Schwartz five years ago, the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications market that it helped pioneer was only known in a few wireless industry circles. Now, the major wireless carriers discuss M2M on a regular basis. At CTIA Wireless 2011, Schwartz arranged nearly 20 media and analyst meetings for KORE, including the Wall Street Journal and Gartner. At the show, KORE announced the industry’s first global M2M network and its president spoke on two panels—Smart Energy and the Connected Car. In addition, KORE won the M2M category of MobileTrax’s 2011 Mobility Awards.
• Recently MicroStrategy announced a new telecom industry application—The Telecommunications Channel App, which helps telecommunications companies improve customer retention and allows users to analyze and compare the success of multiple customer revenue channels and touchpoints (e.g., web, in-store, call centers) from an iPhone or iPad.
• For the first time at the International CTIA Wireless conference, a Schwartz client was selected as a finalist for the prestigious CTIA Emerging Technology Awards. WellDoc®, a clinically proven mHealth solutions company, was awarded second place in the “Mobile Applications: Health, Wellness & Fitness” category. For the past five years, the CTIA E-Tech Awards have promoted some of the most innovative wireless products and services in the areas of consumer, enterprise and network technology.
Shweta Agarwal and Joe Palladino of Schwartz contributed to this post.
Well it has been a week since the end of SxSW Interactive 2011. By this time, most of the attendees have recovered from the five days of non-stop seminars, parties, meet-ups and informal hallway networking. What did it all mean?
There are a few key takeaways from Schwartz’s discussions at SxSW that I thought would make sense to share with our readers.
Group Communications Overload – The “hot” market is definitely group messaging and communications. Between Foursquare, Gowalla, Scvngr, Whrrl, Hurricane Party, and others, there are more networks than ever before. To be honest, I see significant hurdles for most of these apps. The benefits of the new services are at most incremental over Foursquare and Gowalla, and do not give a reason to move. Hurricane Party impressed with its focus on parties, and is something I will check out at other industry events. But beyond that nice, I did not see market disruptors. We are seeing dot revs, not new products. The true innovators will need to be even more creative to stick out from the group communications babble.
Microblogging back channels are thriving – Every panelist faced competition – the Twitterstream. Between 20-40 people (including me) were using HootSuite or another tool to comment on what was being said, ask questions and be snarky. Those panelists that integrated the Twitterstream into their presentations had much more dynamic sessions. A few panelists even had other folks at their company monitoring the stream and providing real time feedback and commentary so they could focus on the talk, but also capitalize on the back channel discussion.
Uniform Optimism – Aside from the ubiquitous “SxSW isn’t what it used to be,” the people I spoke with at SxSW were uniformly optimistic. It didn’t matter if they were engineers, C-level, PR pros or venture capitalists. The attendees are all preparing for a coming innovation explosion. Most see it around mobile and connectivity, and I find it hard to disagree. This is no just limited to B2C, but B2B financial services markets are seeing the mobile possibilities.
This is just the beginning – Underlying the optimism was another undercurrent. Priebatsch from Scvngr talked about a coming layer (the game layer) that will go on top of the current social layer. I do not agree with all of his ideas, but it does show that there is still significant innovation to come. We are just at the infancy of the group communications. With the explosion of smartphones and apps, more sophisticated data modeling and group communications, what we see today will likely bear little resemblance to what we see in five years. And here at Schwartz we find that to be extremely invigorating.
Today begins the much anticipated International CTIA Wireless 2011 show in Orlando, Florida. The buzz of exhibitors and keynote speakers is high, as the show brings together wireless and converged communications, wireless broadband and mobile web.
One hot topic that is undoubtedly keeping the adrenaline pumping is the prestigious CTIA Emerging Technology Awards. For the past five years, the CTIA E-Tech Awards have celebrated and promoted some of the most innovative wireless products and services in the areas of consumer, enterprise and network technology.
For the first time, a Schwartz’s client, WellDoc®, has been selected as a finalist in the “Mobile Applications: Health, Wellness & Fitness” category!
The CTIA E-Tech submissions were judged on innovation, functionality, technological importance or impact, implementation and overall “wow” factor. First, second and third place winners of each of the 14 categories will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 23 during the show.
So why was WellDoc selected as a finalist? What makes them innovative and gives them the “wow” factor?
WellDoc is at the convergence of major trends in the mobile health (mHealth) space. WellDoc’s solution utilizes mobile phones and the Internet to help patients and healthcare providers coordinate diabetes care for adult patients with type 2 diabetes. The flagship product, DiabetesManager System®, is the first mHealth solution cleared by the FDA to offer automated coaching and behavioral algorithms by real-time patient data. Patients can track daily routines, including medications, exercise and nutrition.
WellDoc then recommends real-time lifestyle adjustments to keep patients on track with their care plan. Physicians can access patient data using WellDoc, analyze it, tap into the WellDoc expert system for care guidelines and make adjustments in their patients’ care.
The media has loved WellDoc’s mHealth solution, as it has been featured with top industry influencers such as New York Times, Forbes, The Economist and MobiHealthNews. BusinessWeek featured the DiabetesManager System as one of the mHealth products to watch in 2011; and Forbes featured WellDoc in an article with the headline, “WellDoc Could Become A Much-Needed Tool In The Fight Against Diabetes.” In December 2010, WellDoc’s DiabetesManager was selected by PC World as one of their “15 Mobile Apps That Will Matter in 2011.”
As industry peers are able to vote online and via text during the three-day show, finalists also have a chance to win “Best Online Pick” and “Best in Show,” for the most online and text votes, respectively.
We’re excited to see who wins. Join us on March 23 at 2 p.m. EST, at the Exhibit Innovations Stage booth 4295 at CTIA.
Two earthquakes shook up the mobile industry leading up to CTIA. The first was the earthquake in Japan. The second was AT&T's decision to acquire T-Mobile.
In Japan, Sony Corp. disclosed Friday that six of its manufacturing plants that make devices and components, including Blu-ray disks and lithium ion, remain closed due to earthquake damage. Last Thursday, Toshiba said that one of its liquid crystal display manufacturing facilities won't resume production for a month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Like other tablet and smart phone makers, Apple sources key components for the iPad and iPhone from Japanese manufacturers. The usual swirl of rumours has started: will iPad2 shipments be delayed? It's a fascinating case study in the complexity of the global supply chain.
The other earthquake is AT&T's announcement that it intends to acquire T-Mobile, making it the most dominant service provider in North America, with Verizon in second place. For consumers it could mean better coverage but higher prices. For lawyers who represent AT&T and T-Mobile, it means a bonanza in legal fees as they advocate with regulators.
AT&T argues that it will help preserve precious spectrum while delivering broadband services to consumers over a 4G network. Sprint argues that it creates a duopoly, with Sprint the distant third in the carrier space. Let the legal battles commence!
Congratulations are in order for Schwartz content marketing partner HubSpot, which a few weeks back closed a significant round of funding, clear validation of the increasing attention paid to content marketing. Schwartz has been working closely with HubSpot, which sells online software that aids inbound marketing and content marketing programs, for about a year.
For several months, we have been incorporating content marketing and inbound marketing into our PR programs, using HubSpot when necessary for certain content marketing tactics. We value optimized, good content. We have implemented closed-loop campaigns that incorporate blogging, social media and outreach to professional journalists and bloggers. We use all appropriate channels to reach our clients' strategic audiences.
We believe strongly that content marketing is key not only to the marketing mixes of our clients, but that it is also crucial to where B2B PR is heading. HubSpot founder and CEO Brian Halligan agrees with us. Schwartz is proud to be an agency that gets it, and we were proud to host Halligan at a content marketing event in December, when he lauded our approach:
The last day of SxSWi 2011, I decided to take a brief foray into crisis management, specifically looking at how brands respond to Facebook attacks. The dynamic session was highlighted by Dell and Intel discussing how they handled the issue of brand attacks.
Ekaterina Walter, Intel’s social media strategist and Laura Thomas, a senior consultant at Dell who oversaw its Facebook presence consolidation, provided a few helpful tips that I thought made sense to share with our readers. While many of these are common sense, they shared some good data:
Facebook interaction changes perception—Over the past year, Dell interacted with more than 5,000 customers on Facebook. A set of them had 98% negative view/comment of Dell. After the Facebook interaction, 36% of the 5,000 publicly expressed satisfaction.
Social media crisis response still requires planning—Organizations need to have the right policies and procedures in place, but they also need to test them. Ekaterina from Intel shared an example where Intel had the listening tools in place, and the listeners alerted one department, but not her. This showed they needed to have more practice drills. Companies should plan a few social media crisis drills/year.
Explain your actions—If you are turning comments off, not responding to certain posts, or deleting certain posts, clearly explain why. Laura @Dell emphasized “Make sure you set up at the very beginning what you will/won't allow and enforce it.” For example, Dell allows negative comments but not R-rated language. They will highlight that a response was deleted due to profanity.
Another example that was shared by the panel: A Mayo clinic radiologist had allegedly made some racist comments. Protesters went in and posted the comments on Mayo’s Facebook wall. Mayo allowed the negative comments to run for 2-3 days, then created a discussion tab and thread there, and they posted to the wall, they had moved the discussion there, and if people continue to post on the wall, those posts will be deleted.
Volume (both positive and negative) matters—According to panelists, just 0.02% of posts on Facebook make it into people’s “Top News” feeds. This means a lot of Wall discussion is only seen if you visit the site. If you want to be visible, you need to encourage conversation on the Wall, not on discussion boards. Or as I like to say it: “Links are Google Juice, Wall Posts are Facebook Juice.”
For the past few years, to critical acclaim, the Schwartz Communications Research Group has conducted the NCAA Social Media College Basketball Bracket Analysis (we believe we were the first to do it in 2008). As a PR firm that deals with high-tech, healthcare and services companies, we live social media every day and have a love of metrics. Therefore, we asked ourselves what if the schools in the Big Dance had to compete based on their social media prowess, not their hoop skills? I mean, forget guard play, or how the Orangemen’s zone has been inconsistent…
Two members of the research group (Mark McClennan and Bill Bode) carefully 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. We kept the NCAA seeds and let them face off.
You may question - does this really work? Well in 2008, the NCAA Social Media Power Rankings were one of the few to predict Davidson's tremendous run deep in the tourney - so mock it at your peril.
How was the power ranking determined? It was determined by (# of Facebook users in the School/Team group or fan page (whichever was larger)/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 or the groups were hard to find...we considered that they didn't show up for the game. We recorded it in Excel and took it from there.
Is it mathematically perfect? No. But wait to you see our plans for next year! Do we encourage wagering on games or any other activity which may take this as anything other than entertainment - no.
Without further ado:
You can see the full size bracket. here. View image
As for surprises?
Ohio State runs away with it all. They have a SMPR of 14.95.
Butler is a strong #2 with a SMPR of 13.47
While Duke does well (8.29) it runs into a reinvigorated Texas team (8.98)
SDSU is the weakest #2 seed, and one in the weakest in the tourney (0.36) but it manages to squeak out a first round win.
The biggest buzzer beater? Wisconsin (2.064) vs. Kansas St (1.987) for a difference of 0.07.
The East and West Brackets are the toughest draw with 7 of the top 10 SMPR teams
For me, Sunday at SxSW could best have been described as analytics day. They decided to have all the research and measurement die-hards make the trek out to the AT&T Executive Conference center. The surroundings were plusher, the seats much more comfortable and the data was fascinating.
There were two interesting panels on measurement and analytics and the most exciting part is none of the speakers were from vendors. Shawn Brown from MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Chris Traganos at Harvard spoke about how they measured Web success and worked to increase traffic; while Elizabeth Winkler from the University of Texas - Austin, discussed how she and her colleagues developed a model that showed how Twitter chatter accurately predicted movie revenues.
Harvard was doing some very interesting things and relies primarily on five social media tools:
These are tools most of our readers know, but it shows that tools like these, used intelligently and backed by great content can deliver very good results. A few practical tips on how they grew traffic included advice such as:
Lots of tags are your friend: every story they push has 30 tags that are fed into blog aggregators
If you aren’t using Facebook’s OpenGraph and you create content, you need to start doing so. Instead of the share button, use the like button. Despite the power of the tool, you should check URL Linter to see what Facebook is getting and not getting.
Chartbeat is a perfect complement to Google Analytics. I haven’t used it on my sites, but I plan to check it out. It gives you real time analytics in a way Google does not.
Probably the biggest “huh” in the session was the tidbit that the smaller the URL, the less dense the QR code is, so it works faster. Keep using those URL shorteners, and make sure they point to a site that is optimized for mobile.
These are great practical tips for growing and analyzing site traffic.
This was a great primer for the next session that looked at how Twitter chatter could be used to tell how good a movie will do on a weekend. Elizabeth Winker and her team used a set of 20 servers to gather and aggregate tweets on movies and store than in a database for further analysis.
They first eliminated the false positives (which was very tricky for the movie “The Hangover”) and broke the results down by positive, negative and neutral using an automated system they built themselves. By then analyzing how many people said they planned to go to the movies and the reaction and buzz afterwards, they showed how positive Twitter chatter mapped nicely to box office sales for the 60 movies they analyzed.
One area Winker touched on briefly, but I think is worthy of further consideration is the power of Twitter and geolocation. They could map the Tweets on a certain movie to the subset of those that have enabled geolocation on their phones and break out the analysis and prediction on a regional level. This could help allocate ad and marketing spends to the areas where it is most needed. One Winkler didn’t explore that I would love to see is if there is greater correlation based on the chatter that is made immediately after a movie (which a movie company should be able to do by mapping the tweets to theatre locations). This also has implications for CPG and consumer technology companies.
The panels weren’t earth shattering, but they gave good practical advice and a glimpse into the future of quick, high-volume analytics.
Within SxSW there is a small group of die hard people that are involved in the financial services and banking industry that meet to discuss the role technology will play in the evolution of this market. Since I work with many companies in the financial services and payments industry, I always make it a point to check out the sessions.
The two most intriguing sessions of the second day of SxSW day both dealt with innovation. The first claimed to look at changes in the way lending happens thanks to new ways of looking at data. It really ended up being an excoriation of payday loans and an examination of new types of lending - from community based business loans to modified payday loans that are designed to focus solely on people paying their bills.
Payday loans and serving the underbanked are two issues that the industry has grappled with for a number of years. While I learned about some new technologies, a key takeaway is one that translates into the second session as well, clearly communicating your deals and offerings is a great way to build loyalty. And if you have a new service people need, they are likely to try it out.
The second panel of the day had a very unassuming name, "Banks, innovate or die!" it ended up being one of the most contentious and interesting panels I have been to in a while. A former Citibank employee, Lendingclub executive, SmartyPig and others were discussing the future of innovation in the banking industry.
The comments were cutting and included such gems as:
Citi is your bank, not your mother! It's not our job to remind you to pay your bills
Customer service is easy when you have just a few thousand customers
The key takeaways from this session were things that I have heard quite a few times in the past but are worth repeating:
People expect greater transparency from their financial institutions. To me though this is not necessarily how they are using your money, but helping customers better understand how their finances are being used as well as what fees they are being charged and what services are available. (full disclosure, Schwartz represents companies that provide services and products for banks and credit unions.)
Customer service is another challenge. Some called it a way to innovate, I see it more as a way to differentiate. It is important to note that the baseline customer service expectations continues to grow, so FIs that aren't using it as a way to get closer to the customer are missing opportunities and giving start ups and credit unions a chance to take their customers.
The most interesting point was made at the end of the session. The next battle for banks will not be against startups but likely against Google and Apple and others.
While the companies differed when discussing competitive threats, there was almost universal in identifying where they expect to see innovation over the next few years - mobile banking and payments. This is a shift even bigger than the introduction of the ATM, particularly as the younger generation that has their mobile phone as their main communications device begins to graduate college and enter the workforce. The moderator stated that by 2015 mobile will be the primary banking channel. The other area for innovation that many identified was in P2P loans.
The only other area of universal agreement was the need to revise FINRA rules to allow for greater social media engagement. Overall though the hours of discussion drove home two points:
The industry is experiencing a significant increase in the pace of innovation which will likely accelerate with mobile.
It is an exciting time to be working with companies in the financial services industry.
SxSW is alternately described as a tech party a la COMDEX in the mid 90s, Spring Break for techies, DEMO for those trying to reach young, hip, consumers and a conference that has jumped the shark. To me it is a great event and a great way to make connections, hear great speakers and have thought provoking conversations.To get myself in the right frame of mind, I listened to Alice's Restaurant on the plane flight to Austin.
For my first session at SxSW I went to hear industry pundit Brian Reich discuss how social media is like an asteroid approaching the earth. Basically his premise was that we need to fundamentally change the way we think about things, and nowhere is this more important than with those issues that transcend business (hunger, oppression, disaster relief). He believes that the way we address serious issues is no longer working.
We are not capitalizing on the power of the connected society. I agree with him in that the "networked" society is still in its infancy, and despite all our activities over the past 15 years, the true impact is still just now being felt.
What really stuck me was that many of the transcendent issues are the issues that businesses have been struggling with since the dawn of social media, and frankly, since communications became a strategic discipline.
How do we impact change?
Are we measuring the right things?
Raising awareness is a great and necessary first step, but it is not enough.
Don't get me wrong, there were great ideas that came out of the session (the crying need for more transparency in how donations are distributed, how giving people choices on how their money will be used will encourage more donations, etc.,)
I disagreed with some of the points being made. People that just gave money were being called lazy. I spoke up at that and pointed out there is a full spectrum of engagement. Business realize not everyone will be an evangelist for their product or spend hours on the messageboards answering questions. You need to treasure those folks, but you need to respect all stakeholders, regardless of their activity level. To do otherwise jeopardizes what you are trying to accomplish.
Another telling point to me is many of the people in the audience were from NGOs and were starting to realize the way they should measure needs to change. (I felt like I was at an IPR meeting). How many people tweeted about your cause is just a measure of activity. It's like the old days of PR measurement when hits were the only thing that mattered.
Even how much money you raise (while still vitally important) is just a measure of activity. The true way to impact change is to have NGOs and charitable organizations report on the tangible results. What did the money do?
In the end, the session was thought provoking and a great start to SxSW. It reminds us as communicators and interested parties that if we keep doing the same thing and just use new channels, we will have same challenges in new channels. We need to think differently and make sure we are solving causes, not just serving them.
Some obvious, and some not so obvious trends that we’ll likely see in Orlando
In less than two weeks, CTIA Wireless 2011 (@CTIAshow; #CTIAW11) will bring together 40,000 members of the North American wireless community, from carriers to device manufacturers to app providers to the technical widget makers that make wireless work.
As a PR industry executive that has followed, pitched, attended, applauded and even cursed CTIA Wireless for the past eight years, I feel partially qualified to make a predictions blog post (from a marketing/news-driven point of view). What better way to write a predictions blog than with a couple top three lists?
Let’s begin with the obvious predictions…
1) Tablet Obsession—Sorry smartphones, but tablets will take the device lead at CTIA. Manufactures like Samsung, RIM and Apple will all be pushing new tablets and their “first, best only” features, wicked fast operating systems and vertical applications, from healthcare to utilities to the boardroom.
2) 4G/LTE—We can’t talk about tablets and smartphones without mentioning the network. 4G and LTE certainly aren’t new topics, but the reality of these high-speed networks finally rolling out is sure to drive a number of discussions from the keynotes to show floor chatter. Look for data package debates to fall under this category. Side note: I frankly can’t hear “4G!” and not think about the Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber Super Bowl commercial.
3) Apps—Like a Chinese menu, there are apps for everyone and nearly every conceivable problem. Tablet applications are becoming more popular and Android and Microsoft apps are available in iPhone like numbers. In fact, MSFT recently announced that it’s adding 100 new mobile phone applications a day. My personal favorite app remains Shazam. I’ll be on the lookout for its replacement at CTIA Wireless 2011.
I conducted a little research before listing my not so obvious predictions. The following word cloud is the result of a Radian6 social media search on “CTIA Wireless” over the past 14 days. While nothing jaw-dropping presented itself, I think we can pull out a few conclusions.
Here’s the not so obvious list…
1) CTIA Goes Global—While the prominence of “international” in the word cloud is likely the direct result of the conference name, what caught my attention was “world” in the lower left portion of the cloud. While Mobile World Congress is still the king of international wireless shows, CTIA is gaining ground.
2) Innovation Driven by Smaller Players—Sure the carriers (see keynote) and the major device manufacturers will garner most of the media fanfare at CTIA, but if you look a little deeper, it is the emerging growth startups and app developers that drive the true innovation. Just check out this year’s Emerging Technology Award nominees…not many household names on the list. We are proud that Schwartz client WellDoc is on the list.
3) Marriage of Wireless and Retail—I’m not talking about retail stores for purchasing new devices, but more along the lines of retail communities adopting wireless as a marketing and selling tool. Expect a significant amount of news around retail-focused apps designed to help companies reach/influence more consumers on a regular basis to sell more stuff.
Marketing and PR people across the country are already attaching their company to larger trends with storylines and product news (both real and manufactured) to get on the crowded radar screens of the hundreds of media and bloggers attending CTIA Wireless 2011. It is a proven technique for getting smaller companies heard above the CTIA noise. So what trend are you riding to CTIA glory?
One of the mobile industry’s most important shows, CTIA Wireless, is just around the corner. This three-day event, running March 22-24, includes a trade show and a number of educational panel discussions. Widely attended by analysts and media, it’s an excellent opportunity to schedule face time with key influencers.
If you’re just starting your PR planning, you’ve got only two weeks to pull off a successful CTIA campaign. Begin by determining the top news item(s) that can be announced at the show. Although more than 1,100 press and analyst contacts are expected, there’s a great deal of competition for their time from hundreds of exhibitors, including some of the biggest companies in the wireless industry.
You’ll need a strong news hook to garner appointments with reporters, so figure out the best buzz-generating announcement for the show. If the news involves a partnership with a major carrier, remember to get their approval in advance. The top tier wireless providers are selective about announcing partnerships with smaller companies.
After you’ve drafted your press release and pitch, you’ll need to start thinking about social media opportunities. Write three blogs in advance, and post one on each day of the show. Also compose tweets about your company's participation in CTIA, company news, and comments on trends and news in the wireless industry. Prepare nine tweets, releasing three on each day of the show. You can also load your press release into PitchEngine, a social media release platform, in advance. On the day of the announcement, just flip the switch on the console, and your release, along with images and tags, will go live instantly. You can also tweet live from the show as it unfolds, and re-tweet breaking news that’s relevant to your company.
Be sure to take advantage of the CTIA publications issued at the event. The print Show Daily will be handled by Wireless Week this year, and the deadline is this Friday, March 11. You can learn more about getting your news placed by visiting this page. Light Reading Mobile and InformationWeek are the official media outlets for electronic CTIA news, and you can learn more about how to pitch these reporters here.
If you have a booth at the show, it’s a good place to schedule your press and analyst meetings. The show floor encompasses more than 300,000 square feet, so traveling from location to location can easily steal 10 minutes from each appointment. It’s also better to keep your spokesperson situated in the booth for logistical reasons. Will this person have a slide slow to offer? Perhaps a handset to demo or some sample devices to display? If so, it’s much easier to have all of these items ready to go in the booth, rather than lugging a laptop and a bag of products across the show floor.
If you aren’t exhibiting or need a quiet place to meet, you can use the show’s press room. Another option for “booth-less” companies is to pay to participate in ShowStoppers. The organizers promise hundreds of media and analysts in the room, and the opportunity to pitch them on the spot.
It’s essential that spokespeople be well prepared for all media and analyst interviews, so your agency or in-house PR team will need to prepare a briefing book for the show. Be sure to include a picture of the journalist or analyst, as well as their mobile number. It’s also wise to share the spokesperson’s cell phone number with the journalist. Trade shows can be hectic – especially major events like CTIA – and people often run late. By helping the two parties recognize each other and connect on the show floor, you’re less likely to miss out on opportunities.
It's not too late to get started on your CTIA campaign. Follow the guidelines above, and have a great show!
It’s official. Charlie Sheen holds the world record for getting to 1 million Twitter followers in the shortest time: just 25 hours, according to the Guiness Book of World Records, as reported in Mashable.
Sheen joined Twitter on March 1, in the middle of a media frenzy over Sheen’s high profile interviews prompted by the cancellation of his popular series, ”Two and a Half Men.” This week, Sheen made the rounds of top media shows, including Good Morning America, CNN, The Today Show, and ABC’s 20/20. If you turned on your TV this week, it was all Charlie Sheen, all the time.
On 20/20 alone, he reached an audience of 9.3 million viewers, making it the highest rated news magazine in two years. Never mind that he came across as slightly unhinged – the point is that he attracted a bigger audience than any other news story this week.
So is it any surprise that his Twitter following skyrocketed? No – and there’s a lesson in it: Media coverage drives social media discussion. A few years ago, when social media reached critical mass, there was a lot of talk about PR being dead because the media were dead. In fact, it turns out that social media acts as an amplifier for traditional media, not an alternative. Social media feeds on real news content.
Another example from show business: the re-invention of Conan “Coco” O’Brien. The February 23 issue of Fortune reports on Conan O’Brien’s transformation from late night talk show host to social media guru in just a few months. It all began with his brief tenure on The Tonight Show back in May 2009. His ratings went through the roof, but Jay Leno’s show at 10 pm bombed. So NBC re-installed Leno in the 11:35 time slot and O’Brien walked, creating a media firestorm. In the midst of the controversy, a graphic artist and fan named Mike Mitchell created a Facebook page emblazoned with the words “I’m with Coco” and a Twitter account. It took off overnight and within a week, it had 700,000 followers. Conan’s people took notice. Conan created his own social media presence that led to a sold-out 30-city tour.
Tech marketers don’t have the media mojo of a Charlie Sheen or Conan O’Brien, but the same principle applies. Coverage in traditional media drives social media buzz. When you have something to say – significant news, for instance, or a great customer deployment – go after traditional media coverage. Then use social media to amplify the message. They are the yin and yang of PR.
Tots100, publisher of the British Mummy and Daddy blogger index, has just released the Tots100 parent blogging benchmark study 2011. Parent - particularly mummy - blogging has become a massive phenomenon in the States and its popularity is growing quickly here in the UK. This study is not only a great snapshot of who is blogging and why, but how this community of bloggers are interacting with PR people.
Late last year I wrote in our Technology PR Predictions: 2011 ebook, "Consumer brands in the UK are beginning to recognise the potential of mum blogs as a communications channel and, likewise, mums are learning how to commercialise their blogs." This study underscores the trend: today nearly half of parent bloggers receive three to four PR pitches a week and more than a quarter receive over five. In the Tots100 study, the vast majority of bloggers reported seeing an increase in PR pitches over last year, with more than half calling it "a lot more."
UK parent bloggers start blogging to record their lives or for the friendship and networking blogging faciiliates, but many enjoy the perks. In the study, bloggers responded that what they like most about working with PRs is that they get to try new products and their children have new experiences.
The blogger-PR relationship should be mutually beneficial and when done right can generate loads of positive coverage for a brand while giving bloggers and their families the enjoyable experiences they are looking for. Last year Toys R Us launched the UK's first brand-sponsored mum blogger community with its Toys R US Toyologist programme which involved many well-respected mummy bloggers writing reviews of toys with their kids. Google it - there has been plenty of coverage.
As a PR person who has worked extensively with parent bloggers in the US as the head of coupon website RetailMeNot.com's PR team for three years as well as an occasional mummy blogger at VoucherMum.com, I've been on both sides of the PR/blogger relationship. Here are a few tips for brands that want to bring parent blogger relations into the marketing mix:
*Make it relevant - Mummy blogs are personal, so a blogger is telling you all you need to know about how to approach her. Is she receptive to PR? How old are her kids? What part of the country does she live in? What is her real name? Spend a little time on a mum's blog and you'll be able to get these answers and create a pitch that is more personalised and effective. Remember, a blogger's biggest pet peeve is to receive an irrelevant pitch.
*Make it worth her time - Bloggers are busy and parent blogging not a full time job. The top thing parent bloggers look for in a pitch is if it will drive traffic, so think about what you can offer in exchange for coverage. Asking a blogger to mention your new website or study is basically asking her to use her personal time to promote your brand out of the goodness of her heart. If you're not throwing in an incentive, like a free product or a giveaway that will boost her traffic, she'll probably find her time is better spent playing with her kids.
*Build a relationship - The most fun I had working with bloggers was during BlogHer while running RetailMeNot.com's BlogHer Delegate Programme. We sponsored bloggers to attend the conference and took them out to dinner so we could get to know them. As a result, we created relationships that were far more valuable than the conference fees. Following the conference, the bloggers in our programme were not only more receptive to covering our news, they were happy to provide feedback and insight into our future campaigns.
*Make your terms clear - If you want a blogger to review a product, can she keep it? Give it away on her blog? Sell it on eBay? If you're sending her on a holiday, how many posts are you expecting her to write? More and more mummy bloggers are commercialising their content in one way or another and it is reasonable for you to lay out your expectations so that everyone feels they are getting a benefit out of the relationship.
The full Tots100 parent blogging benchmark study 2011 follows:
Recently, I wrote about a social media event I attended looking at the future of social media. One of the main predictions was Facebook would become a site people looked to for news updates. Well, the future wasn’t that far off, because the Rockville Central, a community newspaper near Washington, DC, moved all of its operations and news coverage to the paper’s Facebook page effective March 1.
Both Twitter and Facebook have been utilized by media and companies alike – one side looking for sources, the other looking to be “sourced” but this looks to be the first time an organization has moved its complete operations from a traditional platform to the social space. What does this mean though, when Facebook becomes less of a journalistic tool and more a subscriber destination?
Other outlets have attempted this model, on varying scales, and seem to be faring well. Many organizations have touted the ability to “stay in the know” via news alerts, but these were meant to drive traffic back to the original content hub. Boston.com has taken this a step further, creating a Facebook application “Your Boston” that functions as a news site within Facebook. In addition to driving community interaction, the page generates its own ad revenue, a huge issue among news organizations, regardless of where they host their content.
While still in its infancy, it will be interesting to follow the Rockville Central and its inevitable successors as they drive to create a true “News” feed on Facebook.