Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. The news came to me last night the same way it did for many others: via a post on my Facebook news feed. I didn’t read it on my iPhone because I was at home, using my MacBook Air.
In the coming hours and days, we’ll read and hear many eulogies of Steve Jobs. For many, he was the inventor of our times. He was a creative genius who brought simplicity and elegance to high tech products. He always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else in the high tech world, forcing others to catch up.
I never met Steve Jobs, but he changed my life. I am old enough to remember the first generation of PCs that ran DOS, an operating system that required memorizing a long list of command codes to simply type a memo. I was working in publishing, and one day, a Macintosh computer arrived on my desk. It was shaped like a child’s wooden block set on its end. It lacked an internal hard drive. Instead you saved your files to the same disk that held the MacWrite and MacPaint software.
More importantly, you didn’t need to memorize anything because the Macintosh had menus with the commands right on them and icons you could click. It was the first intuitive GUI for a PC. I fell in love. From publishing, I went to a high tech startup developing Macintosh networking equipment, and from there, eventually, to high tech PR.
Jobs referred to the Macintosh design team as artists. Their signatures were engraved inside the original Mac cases. For many years, I kept that original Mac but eventually discarded it. I wonder if their signatures were inside.
Over the years, Apple’s reputation rose, fell and then rose again. It was never the biggest PC maker, but it set the bar for user interface design because of its unique fusion of artistry and technology. Jobs changed the world again with the debut of the iPod, which transformed the music industry. Just when the mobile phone giants were coasting, Jobs brought out the iPhone and forced the entire industry to innovate to catch up.Then the iPad came along and it quickly made laptops look, well, so yesterday.
So here’s the question everyone is asking now: can Tim Cook, or anyone else for that matter, replace Jobs at Apple? Will anyone else see just far enough into the future and deeply enough into our psyches to make entire industries obsolete? Part of me hopes the answer is yes, because Apple is a great company. And part of me knows the answer is no, because there was only one Steve Jobs.
Last week, Oprah announced her final show will air on May 25. After so many notable (and some infamous) moments, the world is abuzz with what is in store for Oprah’s farewell. We asked members of Schwartz Communications’ consumer practice to give us their predictions:
Allison VanNest: Oprah will invite President Obama and the first family to her last show. They'll talk about the American Dream and she'll provide audience members with scholarship funds. Stedman will join the show and clear up any lingering doubts about his relationship with the talk show queen, and they will announce that they are adopting a child together.
Andrea Hawley: To a certain extent, I expect Oprah's final show will follow the mold of other “farewell shows”: a trip down memory lane and a blooper reel (I just hope it includes a flash back to those early 90s commercials that proclaim "OPRAH'S ON!" and so you must stop talking, working, doing laundry, etc.) Any guests appearing on the final show will have a light hearted feel to them. And to top it off for all the lucky audience members, one of each of Oprah's favorite things for the past 25 years (and the money to cover the taxes on all those items!)
Carol McGarry: Oprah has been mending fences with old friends with whom she subsequently had a falling out. So perhaps on the last show, she’ll apologize to all the people who made fools of themselves on her show, by revealing way too much about themselves. Naturally, Tom Cruise will be at the head of the line. We can only hope.
On a more serious note, she is taking a big risk with her own channel. Will her audience follow her there? I’m thinking she’ll do a last show that is very personal and relates her personality very strongly to her viewers. Perhaps she’ll do a kind of Oprah travelogue that follows her emotional and professional journey since starting the show. She might have highlights of her favorite interviews. Or perhaps she’ll bring her staff in front of the cameras to thank them and end with a group hug, like the last episode of Mary Tyler Moore back in the day.
Chris Prouty: It’s possible that Oprah may put Stedmond and Gayle (as well as her long-lost sister) in the interviewee seat. She’ll do a recap of her career, along with a final group of her guests spanning from the beginning to the last show. She’ll have a musical guest like Jennifer Hudson or someone equally with pipes (Aretha, Aguilera, Jessie J, Alicia Keys, etc). Obama and Mariah Carey will do a live feed well-wishing.
The final product placement: cable for all her guests, since her new network OWN is on a brand new paid cable channel! That or she’ll offer to put every child of every guest through college, as that was a big topic for her.
Julie Goldman: I think as a final guest Michelle Obama is a definite contender. First, she is an easier “get” than the president, especially while there are so many major global problems. The First lady also combines a lot of what Oprah viewers love—smarts, family, fashion, and she brings a bit of politics without a heavy hand. And the Obamas’ Chicago connection can’t be denied.
As for a giveaway: During this season’s Favorite Things, Oprah said her all-time favorite Ting is her iPad and she gave everyone one. Now that the iPad2 is out, maybe Oprah will give her final audience the newest tablet.
Other random thoughts: Could she do a “walk down memory lane” of notable guests? I am thinking Maya Angelou, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jennifer Aniston (she loves Jen), and even infamous folks like James Frey (A Million Little Pieces). This season she has devoted entire episodes to catching up on big stories from years past. (UPDATE 4/21/11 According to TMZ.com, James Frey WILL be coming back to chat)
Finally, a crazy thought—Maybe there will be no guests. It will just be Oprah, alone, talking about the past 25 years, what it means to her, how it’s impacted her, what’s changed, what hasn’t, and her thoughts about the future, not just for the OWN network, but for her as a person.
Kim Angell: Oprah has launched careers for several people. I can envision Nate Berkus, Rachel Ray, Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz coming on to share what it means to be part of her inner circle. I think she will use her last show to announce yet another protégé and then give away tickets to be guests on their show.
Mark McClennan: I predict the show will open with Tom Cruise jumping up and down on the couch. It will then go to her last significant interview…with Barak Obama. For the next to last segment, she will have Celine Dion on to sing another song and talk about motherhood (Celine has been on the show more than anyone else). The final credits will have Oprah flying away in a plane piloted by John Travolta (her first guest).
As for the giveaway, I predict that GM will be on, giving everyone a new Chevy Volt. (Failing that they will donate the money the Volts would have cost to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami relief in conjunction with the Red Cross).
Do you agree with any of the predications above? What (or who) do you most want to see in her final episode?
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!
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.
Our word cloud shows lots of blogging about broadband, spectrum and the FCC, as the Net Neutrality debate continued in high gear. Last week, CTIA provided its comments on net neutrality to the FCC, stating that the rules for the wired Internet don’t apply to the wireless ecosystem. No surprises here. Lowell MacAdam, president and CEO of Verizon, is keynoting at CTIA Wednesday morning, so attendees will likely hear more on this topic, in the vein of Verizon’s joint statement with Google in August.
Bloggers picked up on another piece of news that involved the FCC and CTIA. Researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center studied traffic data from the Fatality Accident Reporting System and texting data from the FCC and CTIA. They reported that accidents caused by texting while driving ended the lives of 16,141 Americans between 2001 and 2007.
This is a sobering statistic. Massachusetts is among 30 states that have clamped down on texting by teen drivers with a ban that goes into effect this month. Boston.com reported on another study last week, which claims that these laws have not yet lowered the accident rates.
RIM shows up prominently in the word cloud, too. Last week RIM made a big spash with its announcement of the Playbook tablet. With a slew of cutting-edge hardware features for business users, the Playbook also boasts one of the world's most robust and flexible operating systems, from our client QNX. The BlackBerry Tablet OS is built on the QNX® Neutrino® microkernel architecture, one of the most reliable, secure and robust operating system architectures in the world, used to support mission-critical applications in everything from planes, trains and automobiles to medical equipment and the largest core routers that run the Internet.
We'll be blogging about the buzz at CTIA all week, so stay tuned.
Here's a question for social media and corporate PR gurus to ponder. Are bloggers really journalists? The edges of the media have blurred into the blogosphere and now courts are starting to define who is a journalist and who is not. How this all works out makes a difference to marketers who are blogging and then feeding their content to social networks.
The ABA Journal reports that a decision by New Jersey appellate court will help shape that definition. The court ruled Thursday that a blogger was not protected by the state laws that shield journalists from revealing their sources. The blogger, a former Microsoft employee named Shellee Hale, claimed that Too Much Media, a company that supplies software to online pornography sites, had violated state laws protecting consumers against identity theft. Several media companies, including the New Jersey Press Association, NBC Universal Inc. and the New York Times Co., joined with Hales attorney in part of the lawsuit regarding libel, slander and damages.
Last weekend, Gawker employee Jason Chen, who dissected a prototype of the next iPhone purportedly found in a bar, became the poster boy of another tussle over the definition of blogger-journalist. First, Apple's legal beagles politely asked Gawker for the return of their iPhone. Then Jason Chen's house was searched by the police intent on finding the iPhone. Various devices were seized, most of which don't even remotely resemble an iPhone. Now Gawker claims that the search warrant was not valid because Chen is a journalist whose sources are confidential.
So when does a blogger qualify as a journalist? When they reach 1000 page views? 100,000? a million? What about a corporate employee who contributes to the company blog? Corporate marketers have embraced content marketing to drive traffic to their blogs. Are they journalists or marketers or a hybrid of both? I'm betting that Gawker will be in a better position to claim journalist status than a solo blogger or a corporate blogger, but stay tuned. Each of these legal cases will continue to define who is what.
This week I met a young woman who writes a popular blog about dining out in the Boston area. A sophomore at Harvard College, she has built a following for her blog among young foodies, which has generated a second following: PR agencies that represent restaurants.
Like many popular, grassroots bloggers, it seems that she has become a journalist almost by accident. She asked me a simple but important question. “If a PR person invites me to an event for their client,” she said, “Do I have to write something? And if I don’t, will they retaliate somehow?”
“No,” I said, “You don’t have to write anything. You are a journalist. You write only what you care about, what you think is compelling. That’s what journalists do. There is no quid pro quo. You don’t owe PR people anything if you attend their event.”
Typically, I said, when journalists take the time for a briefing or an event, the chances are good they’ll go on to write an article or maybe just a mention on their blog. That’s just being a productive journalist who uses his or her time wisely. And if you never write about their clients, eventually the PR people will stop inviting you to their events.
For me, with more than 20 years of PR experience, this conversation crystallized the shift in reporting created by the social media revolution. Just 10 years ago, the print and broadcast media employed thousands of journalists who graduated from journalism programs fiercely embracing their journalistic integrity. Our jobs as PR people was to bring them stories that were so compelling, so newsworthy, that the reporter would take an interview with our client and write a story.
Now the ranks of journalists are thinning while an army of bloggers has sprung up in their place. Each blogger makes up his or her rules as they go along. If they are lucky enough to become popular, bloggers may start to wonder, as she did, what, if anything, they owe to those friendly PR people who keep offering them story ideas and inviting them to fun events. And another question is even more important: what do bloggers owe to readers who rely on their opinions?
The fact is that independence is the source of a writer’s authority, credibility and power. PR simply mirrors that credibility. Every good PR person prizes the stories about their clients that are written by good, skeptical, independent journalists, whether they write for a popular blog or for The Wall Street Journal. Winning their good opinion is an achievement we value highly, and so do our clients.
So if you are a young blogger, here’s some advice from a PR pro who has arranged interviews with some of the smartest business journalists of our times. Do you owe anything to the PR people who invite you to events or send you interesting pitches? Nope, you do not owe us a thing. Nada. Zip. And that’s just as it should be.
As the International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 conference comes to a close, I can’t help but to be in awe at how much the show, and the technology, has progressed. What started with a 5 lb. leather case that plugged into my car’s cigarette lighter has evolved to a touch screen that lets me watch live TV. Oh, and it’s still a phone too.
Consider this statistic: there were 1.5 trillion text messages sent in 2009 (according to CTIA). That’s at least 220 text messages for everyone on the planet, and the last time I checked, everyone on the planet does not have a cell phone...though we’re getting there. It makes you wonder what’s going to be the next mainstream “application” for the wireless industry.
I have to think it will grow out of the 4G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. Most of us are impatient, so no matter how cool an application is, if we have to wait for it, we lose interest quickly. These high-bandwidth networks promise to change all that.
I’m betting on applications that relate to higher quality videos/images, iPad and Kindle-based applications and gaming. I picked these three categories because there are already large markets for the “wired” versions. Uploading an image, downloading a new book or magazine and beating your best friend at Madden Football are already popular. The ability to duplicate these activities anywhere via a mobile device will surely create a number of new market winners. I, for one, can’t wait to hear the buzz at next year’s show.
I started my day at CTIA yesterday at the IDC breakfast where we heard from several analysts with updates on semiconductor trends for mobile devices, sustainable practices in the mobile industry, and user interface trends.
On the semiconductor front, 4G won't bring in significant revenues for chip vendors until 2013 according to IDG. The big six vendors who control the lion's share of the market are offering platform and vertically integrated solutions to capture BOM and create stickiiness. More market consolidation is expected.
With corporate responsibility becoming a big part of branding and PR, the mobile phone industry has started to embrace sustainable practices. The first step is reducing packaging, which has an environmental impact (reduced landfill, lower emissions) as well as driving down costs of shipping and packaging manufacuring. Mobile vendors are also looking at hazardous waste reduction and handset recycling. Stephen Drake ranked Nokia highest in his green comparison of mobile vendors, with Sony Erickson and Apple in the numbers 2 and 3 spots.
William Stofega looked at the various user interface approaches on mobile devices. He mentioned a few innovations worth checking out. Eye gaze technologies use gaze control for gaming. Synaptics in collaboration with TAT Design debuted a squeezable mobile device, the Fuse, late last year. Approaches that give the user a feeling of texture are on the horizon. He also predicted that patent wars over touch technology could decide which vendors win over the hearts and wallets of consumers.
I'm off to the show floor for the last day of CTIA 2010.
Written by guest blogger Martin Gleissner, Schwartz Stockholm
Judging by the number of exhibitors and attendees, the 2010 Mobile World Congress was a big success. There was an optimistic spirit at exhibitors’ booths, the conference sessions and the networking parties. However, there is still a level of uncertainty in the industry that was best illustrated by the absence of any major news announcements.
The initial buzz at the show was that Nokia, the world’s largest mobile handset manufacturer, would not be announcing any new products at the conference, a first in the history of the show. Many took this as a sign of weakness, but in retrospect it was a wise decision, giving the company the opportunity to evaluate the state of the market rather than create hype with little substance.
The biggest trend in the handset world is the rapid rise of Google’s Android, which has been embraced by a wide range of handset manufacturers. However, it remains unclear whether Google’s OS alone will help to solve the problems of the established phone manufacturers. More important will be innovative applications and user features that get built on the Android operating system.
Microsoft has thus far neglected the average consumer in its ambitions to conquer smart phone power users (most of whom are businesspeople) but they caused quite a stir at MWC with the launch of Windows Phone 7, which will be available later this year. Debuting to generally positive reviews in the media, Phone 7’s visual, iconic interface challenges the iPhone and targets the technically savvy consumers who are using social media and gaming applications.
Despite Microsoft’s public relations success, Google’s Android was the clear winner of the mobile OS battle in Barcelona, albeit with the obvious absence of Apple from the festivities. Apple’s absence from the show was strategically smart and predictable. They are in the position of power in the mobile industry where they can watch from a distance as the competition works hard to catch up.
One overriding trend that became apparent at this year’s MWC was the emphasis on business customers. Phones and other gadgets are still the eye candy that gets the most attention. But since wireless devices are now an integral part of every corporate environment, management security issues are as important as games and GPS features. And one should not forget to mention that there is a cloud (a computing one at that) hovering above the wireless industry that will have drive even further business applications and processes through mobile devices in 2011.
It will be interesting to see what will happen to App World in 2011. A real world manifestation of the app stores hosted by Apple, Blackberry and the service providers, MWC’s App World was a small exhibition hall, scrunched in a corner at the very end of the conference complex. This was by far the most colorful hall, with mostly small booths and small companies that are delivering innovations for phones, VoIP apps, barcode scanners, maps and games. It would great to see some of the small App World players make it over to the hall where the big boys can be found.
CTIA is only 11 days away. Is your PR campaign up to speed? Here at the agency, we started discussing CTIA with clients several months ago and submitted executives to speak on CTIA panels. Our outreach to pre-registered media began in late February. By now, meetings between our clients and press or analysts have been confirmed. In fact, the schedules of many preregistered media are full.
We're putting finishing touches on press releases that will be issued at or immediately before the show. In every case, the release is written to optimize for SEO, and will also be published on sites that optimize for social media like Pitch Engine.
There are still opportunities to get into CTIA coverage. Reporters from trade publications are currently lining up video interviews to post on their sites during the show. The agency has been approached by top IT and wireless media with invitations to submit experts who can discuss trends or news.
The show daily published by Wireless Week has closed its planned editorial. We conducted those show daily interviews earlier this week. For instance, Alex Brisbourne, the president and COO of KORE Telematics, was interviewed for his views about smart grids.
If you plan to issue significant news at the show, you still have the opportunity to reach out to the reporters who are at CTIA looking for news, filing online, blogging and Tweeting. Also, think about posting your releases on CTIA's press room. Reporters are sure to check it during the show.
Yesterday I attended Xconomy’s Mobile Madness event. The afternoon ended with a “Mobile Smackdown” moderated by John Landry, a member of CommonAngels. Each of the various mobile platforms was represented on the panel: Apple, Blackberry, Google/Android, Microsoft and RIM.
The smackdown was all about the relative merits of each platform for developers. Cimarron Buser of Apperian ably represented the Apple camp, reminding us that the iPhone is the game-changing innovation in the mobile marketplace.
John Landry went right to the heart of the conundrum for developers, though, when he asked whether anyone is making any money. The Apple walled garden has generated hundreds of applications for the iPhone that are sold through the iStore. With most apps offered for free or just a few dollars, “Is this a cottage industry?” he asked. Turns out that long tail markets are great for consumers, not so great for developers who’d like to build a real business with significant revenues.
At the end of the panel, Landry asked for a show of hands on which platform offers the most promise. Android won, by a big margin. Google just announced its app store for business, Google Apps Marketplace. Since application developers can charge real money in the business market, this was good news for the Android fans at Mobile Madness.
Last week analyst Sean Corcoran of Forrester Research led off a social media roundtable hosted by Schwartz Communications in our Boston office and moderated by agency vice president John Moran. The roundtable also included three marketers from high tech and healthcare companies who shared their real world experiences implementing social media techniques integrated with their PR programs.
Social media is very real and marketers need to pay attention to it. According to Corcoran, four out of five online Americans now participate in social media each month. While marketers are optimistic about social media, Forrester found that it’s still only a fraction of budgets, with three-quarters of marketers budgeting $100,000 or less to social media marketing annually.
Having said all this, Corcoran cautioned against “Shiny Object Syndrome” when thinking about social media. If you’ve told your agency, “We need a social media program,” without knowing exactly how social media will help you meet your marketing goals, you’ve been infected with Shiny Object Syndrome – the pursuit of social media because it’s the latest marketing buzzword.
Corcoran advised that marketers resist Shiny Object Syndrome and instead assess their needs so they can adopt social media approaches that make sense. He recommended an approach he calls POST:
People – Assess your customers’ social activities
Objectives – Decide what you want to accomplish
Strategy – Plan for how relationships with customers will change as you engage in social media
Technology – Decide which social technologies to use
He also advised that marketers start small with social media and get some successes under their belts before expanding into new areas. At the same time, recognize that social media is a long-term strategy, not a campaign that you can turn on and off.
Andrew Levitt, founder and CEO of HealthTalker, recommended that marketers start with a strategy, not a social media strategy. Set specific goals and objectives. If a community exists where you can join the conversation, then join in, but if not, create your own.
Mary Pietrowski, director of consumer & e-marketing for Hologic, another Schwartz client, showed a great example of building community. Hologic created Voices of Mammosite to educate women about the advantages of partial breast irradiation as a treatment for breast cancer. The videos on the site profile women who’ve survived breast cancer, speaking directly to other women about their experiences. It’s a fascinating site and an award-winning social media program.
Matt Hines, marketing communications manager at CoreSecurity, brought a B2B perspective to the round table. Blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn are all key technologies that have helped CoreSecurity engage with customers and prospects. For instance, he noted that blogs are a great medium when you want to comment about major news in your market, like the acquisition of a competitor, without formally issuing a release.
Click here to download a PDF file of the presentations given by our speakers. Browse through the Schwartz blogs for more ideas about how to use social media in your PR program at www.schwartz-pr.com/blogs.
This week at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo, analysts offered some hope to high tech marketers whose budgets have been trimmed during the recession. According to Gartner, the IT market hit bottom in 2009 and will start to slowly climb out of the trough in 2010 with a 3.3% increase in IT spending. However, IT spending won't rebound quickly. Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's global head of research, predicts that the market will not recover to 2008 levels until 2012. Technologies at the top of IT's agenda include cloud services, business intelligence, virtualization and social media.
This is good news for tech marketers caught in the budget squeeze mandated by investors and corporate boards when the recession accelerated. The challenge for marketers now is to position their companies to charge out of the recession in a stronger, more competitive position.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the bottom of the market is the right time to rev up your PR and digital marketing. Why? Because your competitors are also constrained by tight marketing budgets. The company that bets on growth and invests in marketing now will get more attention while the competition is quiet.
Right now PR and digital marketing are all about smart, creative approaches. Here are a few tips:
- Tap into relevant communities rather than investing in building your own. Use tools like Technorati and Radian6 to track social media conversations and figure out where you need to participate.
- Think like a reporter, not a sales person, when you create content for your blog. Attract prospects with useful information that draws inbound links and traffic. Use lots of photos and video, even for technical products.
- Expand your social media circles through blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Turn employees into ambassadors for your company by guiding them to reinforce the corporate brand. Microsoft's advice to thousands of employees who blog about the company: Be smart.
- Recognize the value of "conventional" media. According to the First Amendment Center, traditional media is still the primary news source for 72% of Americans. Traditional media coverage gets widely circulated on social media like Twitter, blogs, even email. It has a huge impact and credibility.
For some interesting examples of investing in marketing during a recession, check out this article by Andrew Razeghi at the Kellogg School of Management: http://tinyurl.com/6562pf.
As we rapidly approach the start of International CTIA Wireless 2009, here are some tips for securing those last minute media and analyst meetings at the show.
Aggressively contact press attendees on the pre-registered media list. While a standard operating procedure at any tradeshow, aggressive outreach to media and analyst attendees already registered to attend CTIA is a proven method for securing meetings. Most journalists prefer email pitches so make sure you get your point across quickly and concisely.
Watch the show daily deadlines. While most people assume that news announced at CTIA will often be covered in the show daily, this is not always the case. The media outlets producing the show daily often prefer (and require) to receive news in advance of the show. For this year’s show, RCR Wireless News has a CTIA news deadline of March 23 and the online show daily, Fierce Wireless, has a deadline of March 25.
Take advantage of the show’s onsite and online press room. At one point or another, journalists and analysts find their way to the CTIA press room. CTIA lets exhibitors place physical press kits in this room and provides an online press room for posting electronic documents. Another bonus of the onsite press room is that it’s a good place to hang around and grab journalists if you have a compelling reason for them to come by your booth (e.g., raffle prizes, free food, etc.)
Use video at your booth. Flat screen TVs are perfect for trade show booths and most companies are already using them for product demos. These TVs should also be utilized to show more than just a company logo. Create a quick video that showcases the benefits of your product, run a flashy demo or re-purpose a slide show from a Webinar or similar event.
Create a media raffle. Is your product interactive? Do you have a compelling demo? Figure out what you want to show media and analysts, and then determine what type of prize (e.g., iPod, TV, etc.) you want to raffle off. Create a media alert about the raffle, hand it out to media at the show, collect their cards when they come to the booth and at the end of each day, raffle off the prize.
Schedule a media happy hour. Spread the word that the last hour of every show day, media and analysts can come by your booth for free cocktails and finger food. Simply show a press or analyst badge and they can eat and drink for free. (Please be sure to check with show organizers to ensure that they do not have an issue with this strategy.)
Attend the CTIA social events and parties. Media and analysts like to unwind after long days on the show floor. Pick some of the larger parties (on occasion, publications will throw their own parties) and plan to attend. While there is no guarantee that there will be high media attendance, it’s often a nice venue to casually converse with a journalist and see what they’re planning to cover.
Grab the folks with the media badges. Dedicate a PR or marketing person at the show to grab media analysts walking by your booth. Most media badges are easily identified and while some journalists don’t like the added attention, most will politely tell you yes or no if their interested in your business.
Offer a cool tchochkie. Word about fun give-aways gets around the show floor. People with families like free toys to bring home to their kids. Whether it’s a mini-flashlight or a step counter, a cool tchochkie can always help attract media and analysts to your booth, along with other attendees.
Make your booth photogenic. Media aren't the only people with an audience. Today everyone has followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even on their own blogs. Camera phones give people instant content to feed to their audiences. So think about your booth not just in terms of getting your message across, but how to include something visually interesting that will attract the snap-happy, camera-phone toting hoards.
Blog from the show floor. While the show floor is the primary source of information for journalists, they also look online to see what other people are writing. By blogging from the floor, or even sending off Tweets, pictures and Facebook updates, you put your company in a position to be seen by both journalists and those outside CTIA who are looking for more information.
Schwartz Communications has lots of experience getting attention at CTIA. For one client, we started work two weeks before the show and garnered coverage that included the Associated Press, BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com and the CTIA show daily. If you need a hands-on team at CTIA, contact Carol McGarry for more information.
Moderator Josh Martin from Yankee Group asked the speakers to address: How open will wireless and broadband systems be in the future? How will open networks affect digital media, wireless applications and networking companies?
The discussion coalesced around a few major themes: the momentum behind openness, the primacy of the consumer experience and the challenges of developing strong business models. Rich Miner from Google noted that the industry is moving toward openness—the trend has started, putting pressure on all the service providers to jump in--and toward an “all you can eat” approach to bandwidth for consumers. The move to open platforms has created a good opportunity for both entrepreneurs who can develop more innovative applications and for the consumers who use those applications.
Now companies have to figure out how to monetize and embrace openness. The carriers could have opened up their platforms to integrate location but they missed that opportunity. The next opportunity is billing via mobile, said Rich, with the phone as an easy way to put transactions on carrier bills. While the openness genie is out of the bottle, panelists noted that standards may still be the industry’s Achilles heel. With multiple platforms, the challenge for developers continues to be reaching scale that can support a strong business model. Will competitors standardize? Android could fragment like UNIX or come together as a major platform.
The panelists discussed how the industry needs to enable a food chain so that everyone makes money from new applications and evolving business models. Rich Miner noted that Google aims to share revenues from applications with carriers. Jon Phenix from Nokia commented that publishers like ESPN and The New York Times are starting to design properties around mobile. They’re looking to monetize their off deck traffic by integrating mobile into online ad buys, but are not driving substantial revenues yet.
Sarah Fay from Aegis compared the state of mobile advertising to the early day of Internet advertising with those annoying pop-up ads. Marketers need to overcome the feeling that ads are an intrusion and recognize that they can be a pleasing experience for consumers. Rich Miner cautioned that navigating to an ad is a challenge on most mobile phones and you are constrained on what you can display.
Panelists often came back to the theme of addressing consumer needs. “The mobile phone is the most personal device we carry,” said Steve Krom from AT&T. Service providers need to understand consumer needs, provide many choices and develop the right business models.
A recession may be the time we start to see some true innovation in the New England mobile world, if you believe the panelists at the recent New England Mobile Summit.
I attended the summit this past month during Mobile Internet World in Boston. The event was organized by Mark Lowenstein, managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, a former Yankee Group vice president and analyst, and previously vice president of Strategy at Verizon Wireless.
It was interesting to view the mobile marketplace from a regional perspective, and the panelists shared plenty of good news. The New England business ecosystem that supports mobile companies is strong. According to Mark, the region supports about 150 companies in wireless and 170 in related areas, and VCs put more than $1B into Massachusetts companies since 2002.
Plenty of M&A activity has taken place with companies like Nuance making acquisitions. Also, big players like Microsoft, Google and Nokia have opened Boston area offices. Not to mention the successful companies that have spawned startups, like the former Comverse employees who started JumpTap and Airwide Solutions.
That's the history, but what about looking ahead? I was struck by the optimism of the panelists. If you believe them, a recession is the right time to innovate and start a new venture. Randy Battat commented that Airvana was founded and funded during the high tech recession of 2001. Gennady Sirota noted that Starent was formed in the summer of 2001. Large carriers bet on startups during that recession and invested in innovation. Today Airvana generates more than $200M in revenues and Starent employs about 700 people.
The megatrends that speakers pointed to included:
A sea change in the ability to deliver applications and services for mobile phones-The mobile web is growing 500% per month as devices become more capable and carrier plans become more flexible. Devices like the Apple iPhone and Google Android are providing the full web experience. Meanwhile, open source development for mobile handsets will deliver a better end user experience.
Access to faster Internet and video-Seventy percent of consumers don't have access to 3G video connections and the vast majority gain access to the web from simple, low-cost devices. According to CEO Jim Ricotta of Azuki Systems, content providers need to repurpose "glanceable" content that works on low and high quality phones.
Architecture Changes-4G doesn't just mean faster, better and stronger. It also means that the architecture and economics are changing.
FemToCells are hot-Randy Battat commented that data traffic over cellular networks is growing 60-100% per year, in a trend that should continue strongly through the recession. Tatara Systems Chairman E.Y Snowden described FemToCells as "game changing" in their ability to broadly deliver bandwidth to homes, where 70% of mobile services are consumed.
Untapped opportunities? Panelists cited the ability to access contact databases and location
information from mobile web applications. Another opportunity: cloud services like Google Maps that bridge the desktop and mobile worlds.
A few other interesting insights: One panelist cited TeleAtlas as an example of a company that invites consumer feedback to keep its street atlas information up to date. There were also interesting conversations about global differences. For instance, in India, carriers are sharing their networks to reduce costs in a region where $4/month is the typical mobile phone bill. Getting into regional markets requires adapting business and pricing models.
Who will suffer in the recession? With global carrier consolidation, the infrastructure companies are under enormous pressure in spite of $50B in carrier spending. Nortel and Samsung are showing signs of the strain while Erickson, Nokia and Siemens remain stable. Look to see the infrastructure provider landscape redrawn in coming months.
To see some of the interesting comments by panelists during New England Mobile Summit, check out this video on bnetTV.com.