In Tech PR there has always been a cycle. From PC Expo to Comdex to Demo and Agenda. While some of the events that historically drove the cadence of our client programs have vanished, the CES train keeps coming, moving innovation forward, with no final stop in sight.
This year looks no different. While some of the products and themes already announced are iterations of themes we’ve heard in the past, there will also be important new discussions.
On the evolution front, we should see some great developments in tablets, wearables, televisions, 3D printing and connected home. The show hasn’t officially opened, yet analysis on the evolution of IoT and connected home has already started. On the new front, I look forward to hearing what the auto leaders have to say, as much for the functionality of the embedded auto technology as for how they (responsibly) intend to treat and manage the data they’ll inherit about consumer patterns. Ditto for the drone/unmanned vehicle manufacturers.
I’ll be in Las Vegas for a few days working with clients like LG, telling the stories we want to tell and also listening for what is resonating with the crowd onsite and the remote audience watching the CE industry. In many ways there has never been a better time for technology PR consultants to contribute to stories and conversations, with words and images, about the role of technology to enhance experiences, life and business. Game. On. #OgilvyCES
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.
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.
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:
My family travels quite a bit for work and pleasure. This past year has been a particularly busy travel year. While living in and flying often to United hub cities over the past 20 years or so, I became a loyal United flyer pretty early on and our kids have followed suit. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise in 2010 when both of our kids, under the age of 12, made United Premier status. This got me thinking about Kid customer loyalty. Our family can’t be that unique, two traveling parents who take their kids with them a lot. So what does United do uniquely to engender loyalty in a family/household that is 100% loyal? Turns out not much. Sure, the kids collect miles and get free upgrades, just like their parents. But isn’t establishing brand loyalty with kids, preteens in this case, like hitting the jackpot for consumer marketers? The fact that air travel is one of those hard-to-switch categories once you’ve achieved status, makes me wonder why United wouldn’t try to lock in my kids now for life? Would it be so hard to add more kid-friendly CE gadgets to the United miles for gifts options? Or offer them Netflix-like movie usage while in the Red Carpet room?
So what does this have to do with tech PR? The PR profession has always listed ‘customers’ as an obligatory target audience in PR plans, but the truth is we haven’t always had consistent access nor purview with this important audience. With the arrival of technologies like social CRM that invite customers to engage with brands from customer care, innovation and enthusiast perspectives, I’d argue that the PR profession has never been in a better position to help engender brand loyalty. This is a step beyond leveraging social media with customers.
When I think of my family of four traveling over the holidays this year, all of us with Premier and higher status on United, I can’t help but think what a huge lost PR and customer loyalty opportunity that was for United. Not that we were somehow so unique, but more-so that United would want to focus on this Frequent Flyer Family, and do whatever it could to engender and promote it. They knew who was traveling ahead of time, the kids’ ages, and their United status. Why not ask more families like us to blog about it? Check-in as a family at different United Family online locations? Submit a video chronicling what travel is like from a kids’ perspective? Provide service enhancement suggestions? (side note: my kids are way better travelers than a lot of adults I see. They can beat most people’s bin-to-gate time, hands-down.)
So PR peeps, let’s deliver in 2011 on that component of the PR plan that pledges to treat customers like a priority audience. Think beyond the social contest and fan page. Which brands do a good job of engendering loyalty across everyone who lives under the same roof? And United, if you are listening, I am all ears and would love to engage with you as the representative of a very loyal, enthusiastic traveling family.
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…
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…
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?
This past Monday, as I feverishly refreshed Engadget’s live Blog of Steve Jobs presentation at the WWDC conference, I was reminded of this excerpt from the book about the development of the Segway, Code Name Ginger, and this quote from author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
Apple has access to the same sort of raw material (in the form of people, technologies, strategies and tactics, etc) as their competitors, and yet is a very, very different company than all of them. I’m not going to speculate as to why that is, this TedX video makes one argument, but I do think part of the answer – as suggested by the book excerpt linked to above which heavily features some of Steve Jobs thinking on promotions – is that the company is just more sophisticated and disciplined when it comes to marketing than most other technology companies.
Jobs presentation at the recent WWDC – and really, all his presentations – is a great showcase for some simple, straightforward marketing principles that more companies should employ: