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There is a new web application that we have been using within our Digital Influence practice that I believe can be beneficial when beginning just about any initiative. It’s called “Tag Crowd” (http://tagcrowd.com/) and essentially, it allows you to make your own tag cloud from content that you either upload or copy and paste. You can also add in a URL and they will create a visual tag cloud of the word frequency contained in that entire site.

So how would this tool be useful in a PR setting?

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For those of us who spend countless hours a day in front of a computer screen, chances are, we’ve spent some portion of that day on video sharing sites such as YouTube, Blip.TV or AOL Video. According to the web analytics site, Compete.com, YouTube alone had over 76 million unique visitors to the site in May 2009 alone.

With millions of people watching hundreds of millions of videos per day and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily-ten hours of video is uploaded every minute according to YouTube-the task of guiding users to your video content, can be quite a challenge!

In June, I provided tips for “Implementing Video in Your PR Campaigns,” and discussed “Best Practices for Creating Video Content.” But once you have begun creating video content and posting to video sharing sites, how can you ensure that your videos will ever be viewed?

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There are many differing opinions on the value of citizen journalists, and often they can be negative. But no matter what your own personal opinion may be, I think we all have to agree there is a place for it. The recent Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Hudson plane crash or the events that have unfolded in Tehran are all good examples.  

In an interesting move, TechCrunch has just reported that You Tube launched a new channel called Reporters’ Center  over the weekend. The goal is to educate us on how to be better citizen journalists.  A number of journalists and media experts will share instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting. Media training is a better way of describing it.

So far, 34 videos have been posted including video from CBS News’ Katie Couric and Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. That is a pretty good start.  

It also shows that real journalists DO embrace citizen journalists, which is great to see. I know from comments here in Australia, a lot of journalists have been very negative. Their reasons vary, but largely it’s either because they feel threatened, or they just like to bag the quality of it. On the latter, they often have a case, but really there is no real threat here. There is always a place for quality journalism and I think citizen journalists now provide a new source for stories, with several major events breaking first from video or a tweet.

I think this will be a great training resource, and if it means the quality of citizen journalism will improve, that has to be a good thing right?

I guess there will be some journalist’s that will still trash it, but if they do, at least they now have a chance to improve it. Like Katie and Bob, they can simply jump in front of a camera and share their tips with the rest of us. We shall see.

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.

Dramatic events throw a nation into turmoil. A disaffected constituency rises up and, spurred on by communications technology, quickly organizes. External forces have the power to ensure that this enabling communications technology continues running – as well as the power to shut it down at will.

This is one way of describing the situation Twitter and NTT America found themselves in earlier this week when Iranian protestors – and their supporters in the US and elsewhere – demanded the company reschedule planned maintenance that would shut down the service at a critical time.

It is also a description of the options available to the US government in April 1994 as it weighed whether or not to intervene in what we now refer to as the Rwandan genocide.

I don’t raise this point to draw comparisons between Iranian protesters and Hutu militias. For what it’s worth I’m on record as advocating that Twitter reschedule its maintenance.

On the contrary I draw this comparison to illustrate a point. The US did not jam radio broadcasts in Rwanda in 1994 out of concerns of violating international law and involving itself in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation.

When Twitter and NTT America rearranged their plans they took sides in the internal affairs of Iran.

However much I may agree with the move, this raises ethical questions. Setting aside generally-accepted lobbying practices, should companies involve themselves in the politics of a sovereign nation? (And as you think about the question, remember how some US companies involved themselves in Latin American politics during the Cold War).

The questions become murkier when you consider the news that Twitter’s planned downtime was rescheduled, at least in part, as a result of a request by the US State Department. Whatever you views on this issue, requests made by the US government to technology companies have been the subject of recent controversy (to put it mildly). Should companies cooperate with the US government when cooperation forces them to – by definition – side with the political aims of a group of people in another country?

Let’s switch gears for a minute and think about Facebook. The recent murder of a security guard at the Holocaust museum in Washington DC prompted Michael Arrington to write, for a second time, about a Facebook policy that permits hate groups to be active on the site. Facebook employees responded to Arrington’s post by defending the policy on free speech grounds.

Whatever my personal feelings, I can see – and I hope most others can as well – that both sides have approached this issue thoughtfully and with the goal of taking what they perceive to be the right, moral course of action. And yet they are, of course, in opposition.

With our lives increasingly inextricable from the social Web; powered-by and transpiring within the cloud; with nations declaring that internet access is a civil right; as ‘vital as water and gas’; companies such as Twitter, Facebook and NTT America are going to face more and more of these impossible ethical quandaries – no-win scenarios that force them to choose between choices that are both right and wrong.

Dealing with these scenarios is fraught with risk and communicating the inevitably complex reasoning and good intentions that go into any ethical decision is incredibly difficult.

It is also – as should be clear in these recent cases, unavoidable.

What ethical responsibilities do these and other companies – and the cloud itself – have to end users? We need to start thinking through the scenarios and coming up with some answers.

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A year ago this month, Intel (an Ogilvy PR client) launched the Intel Insiders, a social media advisory board of 10 highly engaged, influential thought leaders in technology and new media.

This diverse group of prolific content creators and tech-setters includes:
-Brian Solis of Bub.blicio.us and PR 2.0
-Cathy Brooks of Other Than That
-Sarah Austin of Pop17
-Justine Ezarik, iJustine
-JD Lasica, author of Darknet and publisher of SocialMedia.biz
-Adriana Gascoigne of Girls in Tech
-Irina Slutsky of Geek Entertainment TV
-Frank Gruber of Somewhat Frank
-Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher
-Christian Perry of SF Beta and Snap Summit

Since the launch of the program, we’ve collaborated with the Insiders on a number of fun projects that’s helped Intel extend their reach and build key relationships with the online tech community. Highlights from the first year of our program have included a range of activities from hosting the Intel CES Kick-off Blogger Party, inside looks and visits to Intel’s FAB in Portland, Oregon and attendance at multiple industry and Intel events such as Computex, SxSW, ISEF and Intel Developer Forum (IDF). continue reading

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.

With tech publications and online media warming to the idea of vendor generated content, the opportunity to garner coverage and increase the visibility of your brand, products and services through channels such as videos, infographics, slideshows and podcasts are on the rise. Although many of these outlets will accept content in the form of bylined articles, guest columns, and white papers, they require significant time commitments from our clients, which can oftentimes be a challenge.  Video is quick, easy and requires a relatively low investment in time and resources, all while providing yet another medium for showcasing thought leadership.

Video has seen enormous growth online over the past few years, which can be attributed to increased broadband adoption and the proliferation of video sharing sites such as YouTube, Blip.TV and Yahoo! Video. With these sites attracting hundreds of millions of eyeballs per month, and with tech media and bloggers scrambling for content, the opportunity to broadcast your company’s message can seem just about endless.

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Anyone who currently uses Facebook or is thinking about using Facebook to publicize a brand should be aware of the Facebook Usernames offering coming this weekend.

I’m sure it’s going to be a mad rush for everyone trying to secure a user name and Mashable suggests securing a username may not be as easy as it sounds.

If you have not already given some thought around a Facebook Username in the context of PR, you might want to read the FAQ’s that Facebook has posted on its blog.


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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.

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