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Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
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?

View more presentations from Luca Penati.

Last week I spoke at Santa Clara University about the changes in the media industry and the impact these have on PR. It was my opportunity to speak about Tech PR, Social Media, “Socialized Media”, Visual Storytelling and of course about Content, and the key role it plays – has always played – in everything we do.

Here is a link to a great blog post on the event.

Just a quick note to direct our loyal readers to this Nightline segment about the recent Domino’s Pizza crisis.  It’s a good overview of the topic and resident expert and colleague John Bell is featured.


This week wrapped up San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Expo with its conversations about openness and transparency (including NPR talking about its API), innovation (presented by the “accidental entrepreneurs” of Threadless.com), and marketing (which took the form of everyone talking ad nauseum about Twitter, including the upcoming cruise on which you can learn tweeting best practices).

Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media and the person who coined the phrase “Web 2.0” to describe the phenomenon of increased social and consumer-created interactions online, spoke about the changes in the media industry with a group of 15 bloggers at one morning roundtable. O’Reilly, whose company publishes the DIY magazine Make and its sister web publication Craft, wore a Maker Faire t-shirt while answering questions about the types on content that stand to survive the much-discussed “death of print.” Craft has been distributed as a somewhat substantial print magazine but is soon to become an online only publication. The switch is a bittersweet one: while I’ll miss dog-earing and saving the physical volumes, I’m intrigued by the multimedia and mobile content possibilities it presents for clever creators.

O’Reilly described some of the variables that have become key considerations for media organizations looking for sustainable long-term publishing models:

  • Format: The Web becoming more people’s de facto space for interaction with other people and their ideas raises huge questions about how content providers can create the most optimal experiences. Because reading coverage online can be a more distracting experience than holding a piece of printed material, how can web publishers best replicate the more static offline reading experience? Should they?
  • Visibility: It was interesting to see O’Reilly’s mention of the importance of awareness and promitions come up again in the Threadless keynote when founders Jake Nickell and Jeffrey Kalmikoff said they’ve never used print or television advertising to promote their efforts. Instead, they describe their weekly e-newsletter as their most traditional form of marketing.
  • Distribution and sales: The recession has made bottom line production costs a consideration not just for publication managers but for audiences as well. Readers have good reason to be concerned about the transition away from the longer lead times and bigger staffs that newspapers and magazines enjoyed, especially since there’s no assurance that bloggers and microbloggers will pick up the slack to regularly develop decent in-depth coverage.

Because each of these factors has so many additional variables (form factors and timeliness of delivery not the least among them), the issue of the quality of the news product that the reader is getting can be overlooked. While print publications are inherently limited in the amount of sensory information they can deliver (video, real-time observations from the community, and photo slideshows win here), I’m concerned that the demise of print gives us an easy excuse not to create something well-made in its place but to sink to the level of what O’Reilly described as the most minimal form of publishing–the dreaded retweet.


Yes, I do get excited about SNW. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend nine of the last 12 ‘SNWs and it has grown to be a part of my annual plan.

Almost without saying, it has been interesting to be a part of this conference as it has evolved over the last six years. Not long ago press conferences were the daily norm, vendor news was flying across the wires, on- and off-site parties, dinners and comedy shows (it was only about 4 years ago that Sinbad was the evening entertainment – yes, that Sinbad) were all just ‘the norm’ for SNW.

This Spring the shift I’m starting to hear and feel is that social media is starting to take hold at the conference. This feels a bit overdue, and rightfully so, as social media has been engrained in almost every large event for the last two years or longer. Truth be told, there is so much great information created and shared at this conference, it will be interesting to see how much of it will be shared outside of the confines of the Rosen Shingle Creek.

Here are some interesting developments and new additions to this years’ SNW conference that may help you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening at the conference this spring:

  • @SNWUSA Twitter feed: already sending some useful updates and gathering a bit of momentum with storage industry Twitter users.
  • It is looking like the hashtag #SNW will be used by most attendees, so be sure to use that to track the broader conversation.
  • While not everyone will be on-site, I’m confident the following active Twitter users will be worth keeping a close eye on during the show: @PariseauTT, @storageswiss, @demartek, @storagebod, @storagemonkeys, @sfoskett, @Chris_Mellor,. @Storagezilla, @storageanarchy, @storageio and @dvellante.
  • A more robust list of active storage Twitter users was posted by Stephen Foskett not too long ago, if you’re looking for a whole slew of active storage pros.
  • The SNIA has also recently started testing the social media waters with their own activities, and they’ll be cranking out some fresh content during the event. (Fair disclosure, I’ll likely be contributing to some of the content they are creating.)
  • @SNIAcloud will be a good SNIA Twitter to follow considering the first ever Cloud mini-Summit being held at SNW on Monday.
  • The Wikibon team is working on something pretty interesting once again. They are working to deliver once again on their Analyst 2.0 model by hosting a live ‘viral experience’ at the conference. To track the conversation they’re having with vendors and likely end users and other attendees, keep an eye on conversations using the #wikibon (as well as #SNW) hashtags.

So, cheers to another SNW and lets hope the social media buzz around the event avoids “Storage Smackdown” status from Byte & Switch.

Feel free to follow me around during the show as I’ll be posting live updates whenever something interesting comes my way…@dlarusso15.


If you’re a Sheryl Crow fan like me, you’ll recognize the lyrics from Maybe Angels. But in this economy, B2B marketers and Tech PR pros are dying to believe that IT decision-makers are out there ‘angels of the technology economy’ that they are – ready to be engaged.

And Forrester Research says they are out there. Forrester’s just released study The Social Technographics Of B2B Buyers by Laura Ramos and Oliver Young looks to be a fantastic study on what buyers of technology products are doing with social media. We knew they were out there, I swear. But its been difficult to determine who they are (still is), and what exactly they’ve been doing with social media as it relates to their jobs (now we’ve got the first look). The good news is they are on the whole (77%) engaging with social media, though predominantly as what Forrester calls ‘spectators’. Which is fine. That’s what we do in PR; reach out to target audiences (active or spectator) to foster positive engagements.

Take a look. Laura Ramos gives a nice overview of the study on her blog. Our B2B technology PR clients have done some effective initial forays into social media. Now with greater data to prove the right targets will be there, there’s no time to lose to jump in with both feet.


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Some time ago on a blog not so far away there was a posting about the role that borders play in digital influence. The conclusion that I drew was that borders have an extremely limited role to play when undertaking online campaigns.

It’s an old model

An outlet’s reach is only as far as it can sustain continuous profitable distribution. In terms of heritage media, it was as far as they could truck newspapers overnight, or as far as a radio or television signal could be broadcast.

The result of this is that the only people that would have access to an outlet is those within its distribution network. This generally meant, within the same city, state or country.

It follows then, that what their audiences wanted to see and hear was what was happening in their communities.

So they catered to that audience

Which lead to the local, state, national and world approach to news that we see today.

So PR adapted to that model

Who can blame us? It just makes sense. We work in geographical teams handing off work to in-country teams because they have better knowledge of their publics.

Did you notice that?

I said knowledge of their publics not knowledge of their geos or regions. Although in the old world these two aligned, in the world of Internet, your publics could be anyone, anywhere, the only commonality is they may want to hear your message.

For example

Widget Company XYZ sells computer widgets globally. It’s customer base is truly global. The company is well regarded and its music playing widgets are popular the world over.

Due to its popularity there are a legion of bloggers, and tweeple that talk about its products the world over.

When customers have questions, they go to the internet and search for a solution and try to look for other people who have the same problem. Do you think they’re only going to try to find bloggers in Australia?

So what’s the solution?

Well it’s not rocket science and I’m no rocket scientist. I think the answer actually lies in creating content aligned, not geography aligned teams. The teams may be geographically dispersed to aid in cultural differences but these virtual teams can be anywhere in the world.

If you are running a campaign to assist a product launch or educate your publics, you should be looking at any and every influencer not just those that are in your geo. Your publics won’t be that limited.

It’s not going to be easy

But really, was adapting to a mobile workforce easy when we first started trying to 10 years ago? We start by counselling ourselves, talking to our teams and get the conversation going. We then talk to our clients and get them thinking about these issues. It won’t change overnight because people won’t change overnight, but we have to start talking now.

Tech PR in 2009 and beyond.

A new year. A new American President. A bad recession. There are many reasons why I have been thinking about the future of Tech PR, not just through 2009 but beyond. What is the role PR agencies play in this new world? I am an optimist by nature, and cautious by experience.

What can we expect to see, in the short term and the long? Is PR going to suffer as an industry?

I see seven major trends:

1.    Smart companies continue to invest in PR during recessions because this is the time to gain market share, differentiate yourself from your competition, build your brand and protect your reputation. I like the way Craig Barrett put it “You can’t save your way out of recession – you have to invest your way out.”

2.    PR agencies who can provide a seamless, integrated approach to tech companies will survive better than tech specialists. This is the time where you need to provide your clients with counsel on different issues, so you need to have a team of people with different backgrounds that you can pull from. Corporate reputation, crisis and issue management, consumer marketing, public affairs, government, and vertical expertise…the list goes on. The agency who can deliver a seamless, holistic mix has a huge competitive advantage (and will prove most useful to clients.)

3.    Tech companies need to learn how to better integrate PR and marketing. In a media world that is becoming more complex, fractured; where the difference between earned and paid media is blurry, companies that will develop a strategic, integrated marketing approach (we call it 360) will go beyond mere survival. It’s not about channels; it’s about how you engage with your stakeholders. The Obama campaign is an excellent example. Agencies that can deliver on that will hugely benefit from it (and so will their clients.)

4.    Social media is not killing PR agencies; on the contrary. It’s giving us more opportunities. We all read posts about social media killing PR… well, anyone who thinks PR is  just calling media doesn’t have a clue about what we actually do. As I mentioned above, the complexity of the environment is only adding square feet (and toys) to our already really fun sand box.

5.    Chief Content Officer. Content creation is key. With the media shrinking (every day we hear of layoffs at very prestigious media outlets) creating your own content and distributing it through different channels is critical to the success of building a powerful brand. Is it time for a new position? Chief Content Officer, anyone?

6.    The world is flat, yes. But it is also hot and crowded as Thomas Friedman pointed out. Two trends here. Global and Green. Let’s start with global. Clients need PR agencies to work with them on a global basis, but it’s not about “Think Globally, Act Locally” anymore. It’s about idea creation and sharing those ideas globally, efficiently. It’s about understanding the sensibilities of different markets and cultures.

7.    Green. As I wrote in my post the opportunity for working with green tech companies is huge. But the skill set needs to go beyond pure tech PR. You need to combine b2b tech with experience in public affairs, energy, government relations and corporate reputation.

PR is here to stay. Paraphrasing Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)” song, PR can never die, there’s more to the picture.

my my, hey hey
rock and roll is here to stay
it’s better to burn out
than to fade away
my my, hey hey

hey hey, my my
rock and roll can never die
there’s more to the picture
than meets the eye
hey hey, my my

Here is to a new era of responsibility.

If you haven’t been following this Australian story, it’s a stark reminder on why you cannot deceive people through social media campaigns. And if you get caught telling fibs, please admit it.

Naked Communications is the digital agency behind the girl-in-the-jacket controversy for fashion brand Witchery.

Naked recorded a video of an actress who claimed to be trying to find the man of her dreams who had left his jacket in a cafe, and put it on YouTube. It quickly became the most talked about stunt, but for all the wrong reasons. It suffered a backlash from social media commentators who opposed the deception involved in the campaign. Then a second video was produced, and so it went on. The hole was getting bigger by the day. It would only be a matter of time before someone fell in that hole, and that person was Naked’s CEO in Australia, Mat Baxter, who quit last week.

There entire saga moved at such a fast pace and there were plenty of twists along the way – first denials, then admissions, then defence of the stunt and finally more finger pointing. Naked said it was all fun and harmless, but the bottom line is that people don’t enjoy being lied too.

The last straw was when The Australian’s Wish magazine published a full page advertisement from Naked for Witchery naming the journalists and media that had been fooled into writing about the stunt. Ouch! As you can imagine, this didn’t please those journalists.

Whilst the CEO has now moved on, can Witchery recover from this mess?  If you check the company’s web site, it’s still trying to turn this situation into a positive (if that is at all possible?), offering customers the opportunity to meet the ‘famous’ model from the YouTube video. Perhaps the named journalists will turn up looking for revenge!

Not quite best practice and further reinforcement that you need specialist advice to play in the social media space.

 

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide