This is a week of reflection – where our technology practice has been, where we want to go, and the dynamic staff who will get us there. I think about what has changed since we got our start in the early 1990’s. Back then we were known as boutique Alexander Communications as we charged toward our Ogilvy family future, tucked in an apartment space along Union Street near Cow Hollow. Phone jacks, screeching modems, DOS mail, CompuServe accounts, insider club-styled executive conferences, and bi-annual pilgrimage press tours to the East Coast for ample Ziff-Davis and IDG pub face time was the cadence of tech PR life.
But I think what is more notable is what hasn’t changed:
-the competition for talent. Perhaps not quite as fierce as in the tech run-up of the 1990’s but certainly nearing that pace
– the constant search for ‘what’s next’ in PR and being among the first to adapt to new ways, the use of new tools, the advancement of new relationships
– the magic that happens when you partner with exceptional talent; colleagues that are naturally curious, high energy, voracious readers and consumers of media and content in the broadest sense, and
– the great work that follows some research, smart strategy and excellent execution
From our South of Market days neighboring South Park followed by our move to the Financial District, I feel excited to be moving back towards the water and the Bay Bridge. Our new space brings us back to our roots, synchronizing with the pace of our industry, but also a fresh infusion of entrepreneurialism that is the momentum that keeps technology PR consultancies thriving, whether in boutique or global agency settings.
If you know someone who sounds like my descriptor of exceptional talent, I hope to hear from you. Likewise if you are in need of our passionate, committed thinkers and storytellers for your marketing challenge.
I am so proud to partner with our team by the Bay, and can’t wait to see the impressive work to come.
Last week, Yahoo! broke the news that they are going to update their iconic logo with the launch of a campaign leading up to the reveal of their new identity on Sept 4 called “30 Days of Change.” The change, according to Kathy Savitt, Chief Marketing Officer at Yahoo! is reflective of their last 12 months of business “There’s been a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo!, and we want everything we do to reflect this spirit of innovation. While the company is rapidly evolving, our logo — the essence of our brand — should too,” she added.
If headlines are any indication, there has indeed been a lot going on at the company. CEO Marissa Mayer hasn’t been shy, and she just finished her first year as head of the company with a shopping spree that concluded with $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr. New leadership often signals big change, and what better way to make your mark than by changing the trademark itself?
As a brand-o-phile, I eat this stuff up. I love to see brands grow and change and read about the strategies behind the evolutions so I like the hoopla around this launch. Why shouldn’t brands celebrate their growth? As consumers become more savvy brand advocates and critics, it’s wise to acknowledge the change and invite them behind the curtain. My concern with Yahoo!’s launch promotion is that it reminds me of another internet giant’s much touted logo play. Google has been having fun with its logo for years, inviting designers to reimagine it on a daily basis. I feel, in fact, that they own this space. Yahoo!’s multi-logo campaign doesn’t seem like an original idea or fitting for a company who is trying to signal innovation.
Before you think I’m just another one of the Yahoo bashers, let me just add that my first email account was with Yahoo! and I still maintain that address. I’ve seen the company evolve, add features, go purple, and weather the fickle winds deciding whether it’s cool or not. As one of the very first search engines, Yahoo! set the standard for quirky company names back in 1994— four years before Google. The company may have stumbled in recent years but it’s still an internationally recognized brand and a much needed option in an online world shrinking one acquisition at a time. I don’t think they needed to borrow a page from anyone to rebrand themselves. They were, and are, the one and only (insert yodel) Yahoo!.
Todd Metrokin is a Creative Strategist with Ogilvy Washington’s Creative Studio.
To read more, visit creativestudiodc.ogilvy.com
B2B companies have been utilizing social media in a variety of ways for several years now. I’m no longer hearing B2B marketing and communications people say “should we be using social?”. Today what I’m hearing is “how can we apply a strategy to what we’ve put in place? How can we show that our social media efforts are helping sales and the bottom line?” It is with that bottom line orientation that we started work on an evolved approach to leveraging social media for B2B companies at Ogilvy and within our technology PR practice specially.
Today we launched a new offering called Digital Influence for B2B. Check out our launch announcement. We aren’t new to using social media in B2B environments. What we are saying is that there is ample data and experience now to evolve our thinking and tighten our approach. Specifically:
The B2B buyer journey is starting earlier with prospects utilizing organic search, content and comments of others to influence their consideration lists. (often without the knowledge or help of sales teams). IDG has great customer engagement research that shows just how many pieces of content a prospect wants to consume before they’re ready to talk to sales.
Digital influence for B2B companies ought to be aimed at driving awareness, sales consideration and conversion and therefore requires an integrated team of specialists in B2B communications, social media and sales enablement.
B2B organizations should be encouraging their employees and ecosystems to engage in social media. B2B decision makers say colleagues are a top source for information influencing purchase decision-making (Forrester) yet many B2B organizations are slow to develop advocacy programs in social media to share the opinions of employees, customers and partners
There’s tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers and communicators (including Tech PR professionals) to consider the ways they can help optimize social media in the B2B environment. Our POV is simply to keep things anchored in the buyer journey and think cross discipline. The collaboration across marketing, sales, and PR has never been more important or valuable.
The Technology Practice at Ogilvy PR today announced the launch of ACE (Analyst Community Engagement), a new global service designed to give technology companies an informed, strategic and measurable approach to industry analyst relations.
Why launch an AR service in 2012?
Two main reasons:
We are launching ACE because Analyst Relations is the most global of all marketing functions, and we believe we have the global coverage and expertise needed to support any kind of company on their AR needs. With a global team based in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore and Sydney.
Ogilvy PR has a unique PoV that can really help AR and PR work better together and speak the same language, making AR a strong asset for marketing, sales and, why not, corporate communications as well. We believe that the analyst world consists of “Deal Makers” and “Perception Makers”, and that the true value of AR is in knowing how to distinguish between the two, and tap the right ones to influence sales cycles as well as shift market attitudes and perception. In other words, in the first instance, AR support sales, while in second one, AR supports reputation, and therefore PR.
I’d love your comments on this and what you see at your firm, regardless of whether you are in-house or on agency side.
Tech innovation and enthusiasm is clearly alive and well in our nation’s capital. Last Thursday, I attended the Digital Capital Week 2011 Core Conference, an all day affair at the Artisphere, where entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, marketers and communicators from around the world came together to network and share information.
One of the highlights for me was the Disruptive Entrepreneurs panel, where Ruha Devanesan introduced us to PeaceTones, a nonprofit that supports talented, unknown artists from developing countries build their careers while giving back to their communities. PeaceTones trains artists on their legal rights and marketing techniques, and helps them distribute their work internationally.
The music industry has changed so much in the past decade. Music today is digital and easily shared, making it difficult to monetize less direct consumption—even for the big record labels and well-established artists. For musicians from earthquake-ravaged Haiti or the impoverished favelas of Brazil, the struggle to “make it” is nearly impossible to overcome.
PeaceTones leverages the power of social media platforms to spread these artists’s work globally. They film personal narratives and create music videos for their artists and then teach them how to self promote using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. PeaceTones also uses Kickstarter, the world’s largest platform for funding creative projects, to raise funds to launch the artists’ albums. This effort has been tremendously successful in helping these artists share their music with a global audience. And the best part is that 90% of all product sales go directly to the musicians and their community’s development goal.
Later in the day, I attended the Responsibility in Media in a Global Age panel where Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media declared identity to be “the biggest issue of the digital age.” The group discussed how, when working a story, today’s journalists need to be “data scientists” and know how to tap into the ever-evolving tools that help verify someone’s identity. Food for thought: networked identity – what qualifies as an individual in a new media environment? What happens to self-identity when presented through networks of social connections? For example, does an enterprise Twitter account with multiple authors presenting a single “voice” qualify as an individual? I’ll let you chew on that…
We all know that it’s increasingly challenging for media to manage breaking news and fact check for accuracy, but as this panel discussed, the social tools being used to share information in real time (i.e. Twitter and YouTube) are having a massive impact, especially in areas of extreme conflict, as we saw with the Arab Spring uprising. Anthony De Rosa of Reuters shared, “especially in the developing world, the notion of responsibility is changing. You need to know when to burn access in order to get the story out fast. You either report what’s happening now or you get left behind.”
Also in this session, Google’s Caroline McCarthy (formerly of CNET) shared one of her favorite Twitter handles: @MrDisclosure, a whistleblower who tweets when investors don’t disclose their investments in their tweets – check it out!
Toward the end of the day, I attended the Winning Mobile Campaigns, hosted by Ogilvy client, Ford. Panelists agreed that it’s unclear if QR codes have a future. “It’s a bridging technology, not the final destination.” They also shared their thoughts on some of the exciting technologies we can expect to see used in mobile marketing campaigns of the future. Some of my favorites:
I was delighted to see one of my very favorite startup CEOs on the Winning panel – the mind-blowingly brilliant Brian Wong, of kiip, a company that offers marketers an entirely new model for in-game advertising. Kiip’s long-term goal? To “own every achievement moment on the planet.” For example, people are rewarded for exercising for a certain length of time or for leveling up on a game they play on their smartphone. As Wong says, “we think of happiness as a resource. We’re trying to mine happiness rather than create it. We’re learning more every day about how to tap into those key moments and create affinity for a brand.” Pretty impressive thinking for someone who isn’t yet legally old enough to rent a car!
Overall, a fantastic conference, and I look forward to attending again next year. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the most exciting technologies you’re looking forward to in mobile marketing campaigns of the future.
Media, often chastised for their slow recognition of the impact of technology, is now embracing the digital world and rapidly reinventing its business. That was the theme shared by a panel of media representatives at DCWEEK yesterday. A case in point offered by Angie Goff, with NBC Washington: she raised eyebrows from bosses two years ago when she solicited input from viewers through Twitter, but now it is the station that actively promotes her Twitter handle on-screen while she broadcasts.
Insights from the panelists on the state of media today in a digital world:
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Crowdsourcing: “What people like drives our news content. Whether a journalist or not, everyone has a voice. We are crowdsourcing with people that know more than journalists. We make people feel like they have a piece of the news. I’m surprised that more news outlets don’t have social media reporters that sort through content and data.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Audience-Building: “Moving from a general content provider to a specific content provider is challenging. You have to know what you are best at and you need a concentrated strategy. We are for Washington and about Washington, we are not a national paper of record.”
• Susan Poulton, National Geographic, on Quality Journalism: “As we opened up to other audiences, some at NatGeo worried whether the quality of photos and the quality of writing would be the same. What we found was that the level of curation was raised by attaching the NatGeo brand and some of the photos submitted were just absolutely amazing.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Monetization: “Everyone has been focused on building audiences and there has not been much innovation around monetization. There will be a flood of innovation surrounding monetizing original content or it will get smaller and smaller. Those are the only two options. The key for the music business when it went digital was to own the total experience not just the music.”
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Content Creation: “More than ever now, there is a need for constant content. We don’t care where it comes from, but the key is making it relevant and something our users have shown an interest in. We don’t want to be a commercial.”
At the Pivot Conference #pivotcon these past two days in New York, there has been a great spirit of sharing and learning among social media stakeholders at major brands like Unilever, Gap, American Express, IBM, Bloomberg to name a few, their agencies and the ecosystem of technologies that serve as the backbone and analytics of this discipline. Knowing Pivot is very focused on consumer-facing brands, I was delighted to hear a few good examples from b to b technology companies and technology PR professionals too.
A few themes at the conference have stood out, such as:
Conference speaker Charlene Li of Altimeter Group acknowledged what most in the audience were thinking, that these themes are words that are increasingly thrown about, but she was focused on drilling into what do they really mean in the realm of social media.
Her message: That being online representing your brand, say on Twitter, and responding to consumer concerns is simply not enough anymore. Charlene contends that individuals want brands to know and understand them. That It’s not about technology, its about relationships.
So here is how Charlene suggests brands can prepare to do more than simply respond in social media:
There has been a great spirit of learning and humility here, acknowledging that nobody has all the answers and that to be successful in social, you need to be prepared to develop sound social strategy, but also amass the drive to champion its adoption and best practices throughout your organization. And I guess that is the point. Your company culture needs to embrace the inherent openness of social in order to be successful in social. How else can a brand be authentic? (Yes, that word again).
In 1983, as a reporter for the Financial Times, I interviewed Steve Jobs. It was one of many such meetings – but one that I have never forgotten.
This was what we would now call a “pre-brief” about the original Macintosh – a breakthrough product that in many ways changed the way we use computers.
Steve was determined to impress me. I was very determined NOT to be impressed! This guy had a reputation for turning journalists’ heads. It was called the “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field” and many had succumbed to it.
The interview was in his office on Brandley Drive, in Cupertino (close to the Apple HQ but not in it. He had handed over the CEO role at Apple to John Sculley). By then the renegade Macintosh development group was officially sanctioned by Apple PR – but only just! The company’s primary focus was on office computers.
There was a pirate flag flying over the entrance, a Harley Davidson in the lobby, and a grand piano in the central area inside. Steve’s office was furnished in blonde wood…and was quite Spartan. Was this a PR setup or for real, I was asking myself!
I was ready to ding Steve with tough questions, but he began by asking me if I would like something to drink. I fully expected the PR lady (who came to be a good friend over the years) to fetch the drink, but no! I watched as Steve meticulously brewed, poured and served me a cup of tea (with milk, of course). And I knew that he had won this battle of wills even before the interview began.
It was a little thing that made a big impression. A very Steve thing. One of his many talents was to know exactly how to win people over. And he did it to great effect.
Steve was not always charming. I recall being in a meeting with him a few years later and witnessing him ream out a product manager after I asked an awkward question. The guy told me more than ten years later that he had never forgotten the experience.
Steve was incredibly demanding of his people, incredibly egotistic and eccentric at times, incredibly insightful, yet to use his own phrase, “insanely great”.
Another keen memory of Steve was on the day he returned to Apple – not officially, but as a “consultant”. This must have been in 1996. As I recall, it was the Friday before Christmas and Apple called a press conference. The weather and the traffic were terrible. Only Apple could pull this off!
I got there just in time to hear Gil Amelio, then Apple CEO, announce that Apple was acquiring NeXT computer – the company founded by Steve after his 1985 ouster from Apple.
Steve made a surprise appearance, bounding down the steps of the auditorium only to say that he could not take questions because he had been up all night negotiating the deal. That didn’t stop me. “What the hell are you up to?” I asked him. “”Oh Louise, I am not interested in returning to Apple. I have a family now…” he told me. Somebody snapped a photo and sent it to me. On this occasion I was not caught up in the distortion field. I felt sure that Steve was back at Apple.
Fortunately, my instincts were right. Over the past 15 years Steve Jobs has taken Apple Computer to new heights and “changed the world” (as he liked to say) with new generations of personal computers, phones and tablet computers.
The last time I saw Steve was in the lobby of Intel’s HQ in Santa Clara. He was chatting with a group of Intel people and I did not interrupt. He was skinny and gaunt and it was shocking to see how his illness had affected him. I wish that I had been bold enough to say again: “Steve, what the hell are you up to?” I am sure he would have had a great retort.
When trying to communicate about topics related to the green movement, companies sometimes use four or five different words to describe a strategy, product or initiative. What I am referring to of course is the many derivative words related to green. Is it green or it it clean? Is it sustainable or environmentally friendly? Is it renewable energy or is it clean technology? Are we cutting CO2 emissions or greenhouse gases?
A fascinating study published by the Yale Forum and reported on by GreenTech Media yesterday sheds some light on this. The study takes a look at advertising copy related to green in full-page ads placed in The Atlantic, National Geographic, National Review, and Time from January 2005 through June 2011 and underscores the different terms and words used and how they’ve changed. A great read as we consider how to communicate green messages on behalf of our clients.
Mike Vizard, former editor-in-chief of Infoworld and CRN, former editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise and now entrepreneurial blogger with the IT Business Edge Network, attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida, recently, as did I. One evening, CSC hosted a social event by the Hilton Orlando pool and Mike generously gave a couple of hours of his time to talk about the technology industry and the evolving media landscape.
Mike’s blog is called “IT Unmasked” and he definitely unmasked for me some of the mysteries of blogging today. A few of the topics Mike opined on can help all PR professionals: