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Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Does anyone feel like they are watching the Apple-version of LeBron’s “Decision?”  Sure, one is a device and one is an athlete – but they are both monumental brands in their respective industries being faced with very difficult decisions.

It is hard to argue that both the iPhone 4 and LeBron are at the top of their game – sure there are others great players, but these are the two heavyweights of their markets and its not very often they have been tested the way they are now.

Almost every man, woman and child (even those of outside of Cleveland, New York and Miami) are aware of the drama and speculation surrounding the free agency choice LeBron James made last week.  It has become a parody many cannot resist having some fun with (my favorite being the skit from the ESPYs last night) and has drawn the attention and commentary of celebrities, politicians and just about anyone with a blog and remote interest in basketball.

Equally so, almost everyone knows about the iPhone 4 antenna issue.  The way the iPhone 4 antenna “problem” has played out over the last two weeks feels very similar to me to the LeBron “Decision.”  Both spurred great excitement around their arrival (iPhone 4 hitting the market and the day LeBron became an official free agent).  Both had to make big decisions in very small time frames.  Both are on the receiving end of mass media and public pressures (where to play? what to do? when to do it?).

With the LeBron decision already made, here are a few things I think Apple can learn…

  • Take your time, but not too much: I’m not arguing that either party is taking too long, but responding in a timely manner is very important.  One report I read yesterday stated that Apple lost approx. $5B in market valuation since the issue started.  Not to say a company like Apple they can’t regain that, but it is a steep price to pay.  The longer you wait, the more the speculation will mount, the opinions of what you should/could/would/may want to do will pile up — and your ultimate decision will be criticized or debated. 
  • Stick to your brand/what you do best: LeBron went into uncharted territory with his one hour ESPN special and it wasn’t well received.  When I heard LeBron would host a one hour event on ESPN from Greenwich, CT, I was quite surprised.  The location (Boys & Girls Club was great – but Greenwich?), the format, the tone, etc. just felt packaged and it was wrapped in a commercial way that just didn’t feel right.  I was equally surprised this morning when I saw that Apple is now hosting an press conference tomorrow.  This seems very non-Apple to me, but the situation they are in is very non-Apple.  My hunch is that they stay true to their roots in how they manage this conference.  This will certainly be challenging for them as they’ll have to walk a fine-line between swagger and style and the more serious issue of what they plan to do to address the issue.
  • Get to the point: If you watched the LeBron ESPN one hour special about 15 minutes into it — you suddenly realized this was a 60 minute show, to find out a 20 second (or less) answer.  Q: “Where are you going to play next year?”  A: “Miami.”  Done.  People want answers around what you’re going to do and the why you’re doing it can follow (the details are still very important). Apple would do well to be up-front about this, provide the answer and then the right amount of details to follow.

Ultimately, how you handle your “decision” is quickly becoming almost as important as what you actually decide to do, but hopefully they’ll do it quickly, directly and with a bit of Apple style.

Now, lets sit back and wait for the next round of “The Decision” to play out…


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Jun 27

FlipTips

Many of us have seen first-hand (or second-hand) the proliferation of Flip Video camcorders being used in our industry.  From man-on-the-street interviews to interviews to footage shot at events, conferences and launches – video and visual storytelling has become an integral part of our profession.

I’ve started to compile some tips on how to use ‘Flip Cams and also some of the basic features of the FlipShare software.  I’ll be the first to admit the beauty of the FlipShare software (and ‘Flip Cams themselves) are their simplicity — but along with that there are some pitfalls and setbacks.  Hopefully this series of videos will help you get the most of your ‘Flip Cam (and the FlipShare editing software if you choose to use it)…while avoiding some of the downsides.

These were all shot using Flip Cams and edited with the FlipShare software – so you’ll see first-hand the capabilities – the audio sound quality, video quality, automatic transitions, etc. that the software builds in for you.  Personally I mostly use Adobe Premiere Elements for my editing, but if I’m in need of creating  a quick, easy, somewhat raw video - FlipShare makes it very easy to edit, compile and share.

For those of you who’ve read my posts in the past, I’m a big fan of learning and listening…so let me know what you think.  Other tips we should/could share?

Dan La Russo

by Dan La Russo
Category: Technology

Last year, I posted a blog about SNW Spring 2009 and the blog is here.  It was somewhat of a cheerleading post, as I have been to 11 of the last 14 conferences and I do enjoy being there and have worked with great brands at the conference (Disclosure: we currently represent the SNIA who co-hosts the event with IDG).  Last year, I was pretty curious that social media hadn’t really taken off.  Sure there were some solid online conversations and interesting blog posts speculating about the conference, its future, etc. But there just wasn’t a lot of buzz about the event.

Not to say all of this changed suddenly over the last six months or that suddenly everyone has figured out the ‘right’ thing to do…but at SNW Spring 2010 this week, there was a significant uptick in activity across the social Web – and that was exciting.  Check out the activity with the #SNWUSA hashtag to get a quick look. 

I have a few theories as to why this has happened:

1-      A year has gone by and quite a bit has changed within the storage media landscape. Traditional media at the conference have all but dried up.  At SNW Spring 2010, you could count them on your fingers.  Actually the fingers on your left hand…and still have a few to spare.  Sure meeting with media, analysts and, more importantly influencers, on-site to share news, updates or just to catch up still plays an important role.  But the game started to change long-ago and in my eyes SNW Spring 2010 marked the tipping point for the industry. 

2-      Brands are realizing that having staff on-site and a booth, is a check-box.  Important indeed, but not the end-game and there are new ways to engage users and attendees.  Some are allowing if not encouraging their employees to use the tools they have available to engage with their peers and prospective customers. 

But it is increasingly apparent that attendees at this SNW were also listening to social networks and he voices on them – and at the event – like never before.  Every day, throughout the day, I’d hear, “did you see that tweet from X” or “look at this post by Y” or “get involved on our wiki/blog/site here…” 

Just because there was a lot of activity also doesn’t mean that we all nailed it or got it right.  There were rumblings of “I can’t believe this person was speaking about Social Media” and “XYZ brand doesn’t know how to spell Twitter, let alone use it.”  Sure, that’s a natural element in Social Media and most is done in with a good natured spirit. 

My point is, we should embrace new voices and opinions and help point them to the resources (if not guide them ourselves) that they can learn from and be inspired to engage online.   This may be a bit too good natured, but we’re all students…some may be in grad-school and others just arriving for freshman orientation, but we’re all learning as we go.  To me, this is all exciting and I’m already looking forward to SNW Fall.

So welcome aboard newbies, celebrate your status and jump in head first…see you in Dallas (if I don’t connect with you @dlarusso15 first!).


The NY Times got me again.  To say that this is a great read for any marketer is an understatement and it may be worth reading more than once. 

At the risk of violating one of the premises of the article, the section that really struck me from a communications standpoint was a concept the article attributes to Cass Sunstein called “cyberbalkanization.”  Essentially this is the ability for anyone to easily use online and social tools (as well as traditional ones) to surround themselves with news, opinions and ideas that are in-line with their own existing ideas, perceptions and beliefs.  This eliminates the need to listen or learn from anyone that has an opinion outside of your own – this part is towards the end of the story.

While I believe much of this has been around for years via traditional media catering to specific consumer, business and political interests, the future is certainly accelerating the opportunity and dropping the barriers to entry while increasing the gap between opposing views.  Instead of paying for subscriptions or content, I can now get almost whatever I want, free and delivered to virtually any screen I want while mashing it up with any other content I wish.  I’m able to create my own happy little news world – surrounding myself with my preferred bloggers and authors (thanks to my RSS feeds, readers) and my own social networks (that , naturally, consist of likeminded “friends”). It is easy to see how small my world can become and how easy it is to block out the culture, ideas, thoughts and perspectives of those outside of it.

From a technology standpoint, some research groups are working on ways to try and intesect this trend.  Take a look at the Dispute Finder project developed by Intel (Disclosure: Intel is a client) and UC Berkeley – here is a good video of the project as well.  Through a Firefox extension, I’m able to read all the news and views I want, as normal.  But when the Dispute Finder picks up a keyword phrase, I’m presented with the option to hear two perspectives of the story one supporting it and one opposing.

Until this type of technology is available for broad use, we’re faced with the challenge of determining how we speak with people and communicate with them if they’re not even listening or tuning in.  Certainly we need to understand the habits of our target audiences (both online and offline) as well as the technology they use to gather their information – but we also need to be willing to listen to opposing views, learn from them and find ways to apply that knowledge to reaching our audience.  Some of this may be engaging with them in discussion (online or offline) and that it is the beauty and fear of social media.  I also think this is part of the reason we all jump to read the cyclical “PR is Dead” story or the debate about the death of embargoes (search Twitter for #newscartel) or how the media industry is dead (or dying – @themediaisdying).

We should be paying attention, and more importantly, we should be listening and learning.

Not too long ago, the NY Times ran a very interesting story that covered the emerging new marketing buzzword — Curate.  This week Steve Rosenbaum added a new perspective in the Huffington Post introducing the notion of a Curation Nation.  Fascinating read.

Certainly the concept and theme around agreggation as well as compiling and sharing content is nothing new, but the art and technology around this process is certainly changing.  It has evolved to the point where we’re all becoming curators without even realizing it — whether that is through Twitter lists, Foursquare, Facebook or a seemingly endless array of platforms.

For brands the challenge remains how they can either move beyond simple content aggregation for aggregation sake and add value to the chain…or find a way to be an essential element in the content that is being curated.  In other words, do you create the content that is curated or do you curate the content yourself? 

I happen to believe that, for most bands, the best approach will be a blend of the two where they can deliver an experience that intersects the conversation around a particular area while creating and sharing relevant original content that adds to the dialogue.  Its not about “owning” a topic or subject, its more about being a relevant listener and contributor to the conversation around that topic or subject.

Happy curating.

Wanted to follow up on a post last week by colleague Ray Rahmati focused on best practices for video content. The following online video styles were developed in conjunction with my fellow colleagues Rohit Bhargava and Emily Goligoski in support of some planning and idea generation we’ve been working on for clients.

There are several video style categories to consider when creating compelling videos for any brand. When developing an online video strategy, in most cases, a good model would be one that embraces a blend different video styles over time that matches your brand — as it helps you reach your audience in new and fresh ways.

Below are several categories, descriptions and an example or two of each style:

  • Teasers: Provide a brief insider or behind the scenes looks at a technology or upcoming announcement or campaign. These are usually shot in an informal style as well as a good amount of first-time footage (i.e. screenshots of performance indicators, sneak-peaks at a new technology, etc.).  (Length: 1-3 mins.)  Example: SGN’s Promo Video for F.A.S.T.
  • Educational: Explore a specific topic in depth and help the viewer better understand the subject. Formats include chalk-talks with one presenter, roundtables with multiple experts discussing a topic or even humorous videos explaining how your tech fits into an trend. (Length: 1 – 3 mins.)  Examples:  EMC Cloudfellas, Intel’s Wireless Power, NetApp Play by Play.
  • Testimonial: Take the viewer on a first or second-hand account of a customer or set of customer experiences with your brand or technology. These can be presented in a variety of formats such as slideshows, roundtables and on-site customer videos to provide an overview of the solution and value delivered to the customer.  (Length: no longer than 5 mins.) Example: iPhone in Enterprise
  • Visionary: Provide a thought leadership perspective from a compelling point of view.  This can be tied to a specific technology or a discussion of a broad industry trend – such as the economy, public policy, international law, storage economics, or a topic that is relevant to your brand.  (Length: 2-4 mins.)  Example: Schwartz Video Blog
  • Episodic: Break a running story into multiple videos that can be viewed sequentially to tell the story over a period of time. Can be used in a promotional way, or to create engagement over a longer duration of time.  (Length per episode: 1-5 mins.)  Example: Intel Mobile Etiquette
  • Newsbreakers: Support a specific announcement, or videos actually aimed at breaking news (i.e. releasing a video of a new technology or approach without a supporting press release). (Length: 1-3 mins for pomo or + 60 mins for taped sessions from a launch event/conference.) Examples: Microsoft bing, Google Wave.
  • Entertainment: Provide a humorous perspective on a subject. Usually termed “viral videos” these take the form of edgy, funny videos covering a variety of relevant topics. (Length: 1-3 mins.) Example: Intel’s 45nm Secret Unveiled
  • Stunt: Provide entertainment and information on a subject and usually leverage competitive FUD. (Length: 1-3 mins) Example: NetApp Battles the Competition, Mr. T Puts the “T” in IT

Needless to say, it is important to evaluate the views, comments and feedback to drive conversation and improve the quality and relevancy of videos moving forward.

Please feel free to weigh in on other video styles or if you have interesting examples of any of the above!  I’m always looking out for new uses and good examples of successful content.

I’ll share more on posting best pactices, tagging, etc. soon.

Just a quick post letting everyone know you can also follow TechPRNibbles via Twitter and FriendFeed.

Thanks for joining the conversation and stay tuned for more updates, ideas and content.

Being a Denver Nuggets fan, I was recently reminded that Mark Cuban has said some off the wall things.  Having said that, he often provides some very interesting and thought provoking ideas on the world of social media.  His recent post in late May “Who Cares What People Write?” is a good example of the latter.

Cuban shares some interesting ideas around “Outties” (content creators that fit into professional “Outties” as well as amateur “Outties”) and “Innies” (who are “passive consumers of web writings” or consumers who “read watch and listen to the professional “Outties” and ignore the amateur “Outties””).  The idea being that professional “Outties” are generally established, branded sites with strong/large readership and amateur “Outties” are people looking for an audience (commenters, retweeters, reposters, etc.) who are creating content to be discovered.  Read his post for the full scoop and he closes with a pretty interesting wrap up of the concept…

The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement .  Traffic is not reach.  When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about,  whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.

It was also a concept expanded on by the Progress & Freedom Foundation‘s Senior Fellow and Director, Center of Digital Media Freedom Adam D. Thierer.  Adam’s blog does a nice job of framing Cuban’s thoughts and adding some additional parallels to them around Power Laws as well as Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory.

I think the one area that is not captured in either blog is the importance of recognizing the conversation that is happening — whether they are driven by the professional or amateur “Outties.”   While I agree with Cuban that volume is not engagement and traffic is not reach, but I also believe that all comments, re-posts, link backs, tweets/re-tweets, blogs expanding on a topic or theme, etc. (like this one) are part of the conversation that is taking place.  The collective conversation is the piece that matters for brands.

A simplified example of this would be to search for your brand on Twitter and see what’s being said.  One person with 15 followers may be saying something that may be able to be dismissed, but if 10, 20 or 50 people with 15 followers each are saying something, after you take your deep breadth, it may be worth taking a closer look and joining the conversation.

The role of communications is indeed changing and how we think about creating or sharing a message is something that needs to be considered.  I think this is one of the key reasons companies are starting to act more like publishers or content providers — to ensure anyone (either professional or amateur) can participate in their story, share it and share their perspectives on it.

Regardless of which outtie you are thinking of or the innie you are trying to reach, always consider the importance of helping foster conversation through your communications initaitives.

One of Banksy's Public Works in New York City

One of Banksy's Public Works in New York City

A few months ago I had a chance to check out a book of Banksy’s art.  At least for me, I consider it art, others may consider some of the work graffiti or vandalism, but that’s a different discussion.

In the book I was flipping through there is a quote from Banksy stating, “Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours, it belongs to you. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use.  Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.”

While very much focused on advertising – billboards, poster-boards, etc. – and brought to life by some of Banksy’s public works where the existing Ads were altered, I think it holds true to the online world of communications today as well.

More than ever, companies in the tech sector (and others) are acting as publishers and the sheer amount of vendor generated content in the form of blogs, videos, photos, slideshows, podcasts, etc. are almost unavoidable. Whether you are creating a video, shooting photos of an event or just publishing your latest white paper, its important to keep in mind that the minute you share it online – your message is now open to the world at large to ‘take, re-arrange and re-use.’  This is a trend we call Socialized Media and is permeating not only vendor Websites but industry publications as well.

In many cases the opportunity is present for someone to interpret, analyze and share opinions and perspectives on your content — so the concept of re-using or re-arranging may take many different forms.  In short, the job of creating and sharing is the first step, the ongoing conversation and engagement around the content is what becomes even more important for you to be a part of. Have you thought through what you’d do if / when a competitor responds publicly to your content or a mashup being created of your content or are you even prepared to track and monitor that conversation?

In many cases, how you respond or don’t may say as much about your brand as the original content itself.

To use Banksy’s words, in the evolving world of communications, there is a fine line between throwing rocks at someone and throwing a rock WITH someone – so they realate to and become part of sharing your message.

Let me start by saying, I’m a big fan of RSS readers, etc. thanks to their very tangible benefits.  My iGoogle page is still the first site I go to when I get online everyday and I’ve started using TheDailyInfluence as well (this is an Ogilvy PR Reader we created with NetVibes and is a good site to consider if you want to jump start an RSS Reader).

Earlier this month, Mashable posted a story on RSS readers and their possible decline, but the poll at the end of the story showed that more than 70% of respondents still use some form of reader daily (as of May 27th).  Only 1% use something else, 5% never use a reader and 16% use it less than they used to.

The one thing I’d pose and recommend for my peers and colleagues in the industry is to not live and die by your reader and set some personal ground rules.  Early on I found myself so reliant on the convenience of the site that I stopped visiting the main pages of the publications I enjoyed reading.  RSS readers are certainly addictive thanks to their efficiency, ease of use, how comprehensive they have become, how flexible the platforms are and lets just say how flat out convenient it is to get the news from the sources I really care about (or the topics I care most about) on one screen at one time.

But, they don’t replace the good old fashioned need to visit a website.  I’ve seen quite a few PR professionals fall into the trap of just relying on their RSS reader and don’t spend the time learning about the publications, sites and, dare I say, hard-copy issues that are critical to their clients.

There is still a lot of value in spending time reading publication sites and blogs and bouncing around from section to section.  Not only do you learn about news, trends and discussions that are outside of your specific areas of interest, but often times you find something you wouldn’t normally expect to see that is relevant to your interests — maybe a new section or a new feature added to the site or a new contributor or just an interesting story you wouldn’t have read otherwise.

I found myself so reliant I created three personal rules of using my RSS reader that I thought I’d share:

1-      Keep my RSS Reader open all day, but only check it 3 times per day max. (Morning, Lunch, Evening)
2-      Visit at least 5 news sites directly per day
3-      Read at least 3 unusual stories or new sections per day

Happy RSS Reading and let me know what works for you?

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide