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David Friedman

by David Friedman
Category: Technology

I attended the Candidates Energy Forum yesterday which featured Colorado gubernatorial candidates Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Scott McInnis.

There certainly was a lot of political rhetoric spoken and the highlighting of resumes and experience. One of the qualifications Mayor Hickenlooper highlighted was his experience running the successful Wynkoop Brewery which is practically an institution on Denver.

He said three things he learned in the restaurant business prepared him for his role and responsibilities as Mayor:
1) Dealing with red tape. He said that restautranteurs must deal with all kinds of local and state regulations, inspections emploee matters and the like. To be successful, one must navigate through these adeptly.
2) Building a team. Building a staff that believes in you is critical.
3) Deadling with a very fickly and critical public. There is no customer that can be as difficult to please as a restaurant patron.

All words of wisdom I thought. I also thought that there are similar parallels with PR professionals. There certainly are key skills that PR professionals can parlay into a political career if they so chose. Aside from pleasing challenging clients and selling ideas to tough reporters, are there others that come to mind? All thoughts and comment welcome.

Shortly after Friday morning’s US – Slovenia World Cup match, which ended in a draw following a absolutely terrible contentious officiating call, I logged onto Twitter to join scores of US soccer fans tweeting their collective disgust over the outcome only to reach Twitter’s ‘fail whale’ screen…my second ‘fail whale’ in less than a week of World Cup play.

These fail whales led me to do a bit of research about the popularity of Twitter around sporting events and how this is being utilized by marketers.

As it turns out, both the World Cup and the NBA Finals have been a bit overwhelming for Twitter. Records for posts in a single day have been broken and re-broken, with major peaks occurring around the times points are scored. As Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in a recent blog post, Twitter has experienced several site outages, slowness, bursts of error messages, duplicated or missing tweets and timeline problems that can be attributed to the World Cup.

Beyond a discussion of why Twitter’s architecture is unable to handle the tweet traffic of so many sports fans, this points to an interesting shift in the demographic of Twitter users (see Claire Cain Miller’s excellent NY Times article here). Where once the social networking site was composed primarily of early adopters in hi-tech hot spots, it has become apparent that the makeup of Twitter has started to reflect the interests of the general population.

As Twitter more closely mirrors a cross-section of the US and the world at large, it has become a valuable tool for measuring the buzz associated with any given product or event. In a recent Wall Street Journal blog post, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries describes how Twitter is now one of the primary measurement tools for determining which brands are winning the World Cup marketing battle. Much to the dismay of official FIFA World Cup sponsor Adidas, Nike has dominated World Cup online chatter, with a dominant share of Twitter mentions.

While ambush marketing has long plagued official sponsors, the rise of Twitter and social media creates new headaches for official sponsors. As brands learn to capitalize on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, their successful domination of world events is leading savvy marketers to ask whether the sponsorship of a major sporting event is necessary in the era of social media.

For the next Olympic Games, should companies shell out millions of dollars just to have exclusive rights?

While I believe that sponsorship of major events continues to have a significant ROI, sponsors must be aware that the marketing game has changed. As Nike has successfully demonstrated, to become the brand most commonly associated with the World Cup, a company must make use of social media to drive creative content across the Internet.

When considering the ROI for sponsorship of major events, one thing is certain–sponsorships alone will not ensure a victory. Word is still out on if scored goals will.

Anna Hughes

by Anna Hughes
Category: Technology

Will you be in the DC area on June 23? The Ogilvy Exchange is presenting a discussion with Facebook on how to improve citizen communications, international diplomacy and the internet economy. This free event will take place at Ogilvy’s DC office at 8 am and fear not: breakfast will be served. See the full invitation here for additional details.

 

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:

  • Intensity: Apple treats its news like a precious commodity, hordes it, and announces it all at the same time. On Monday Jobs had 8 pieces of news. Most companies would string those out over 8 press releases and each would achieve the attention it deserves. By packaging them together their inherent news value becomes more, not less, significant.
  • Simplicity: Remember this article in the New York Times about the problem the US military has with PowerPoint? Apple doesn’t have that issue. Ever. Presentations are simple. A concept a slide. A word or two a slide. A picture in place of words whenever possible. Our minds seem to be wired to want to communicate in complex forms but to only understand things when cleanly and simply presented.
  • Credibility: Want people to understand how wonderful you are? Establish your credibility by showing them real, functional solutions (um, WiFi issues notwithstanding), and get partners and customers to help tell the story. If you’re giving them a big stage, they’d be crazy not to want to share it.
  • Beauty: Maybe it’s just me, but when Apple communicates something, it takes the time to make sure it’s presentation is, well, aesthetically pleasing. Look at the Engadget pictures. Sure the slides are text, or photos of hardware, but they look good. There’s nothing bad about being easy on the eyes.
  • Narrative: The presentation recognizes the importance of narrative, something I’ve written about before. This isn’t just a series of product introductions, it’s a story about what ‘we’ (Apple) are doing to innovate and create an even more compelling next generation of products. Narrative is important, it’s how people think, process and store information. There’s a story, an innovation story, behind everything Apple does, and it works.

Since we’re PR people, we tend to favour words rather than images.

That’s changing thanks to the rise of Social Media and the need to embed rich multimedia in our communications because, in the end, it makes for more effective communications.

However, the idea that images are more powerful than words is an old concept.

I’ll illustrate the old Confucian saying that a picture is worth a thousand words in this post about the changing face of Asia — in this case, specifically China.  Visual storytelling at its best, you could say.

This is a 1990 picture of Lujiazui in Shanghai:

Shanghai in 1990

Shanghai in 1990

Now compare this with the same area in 1996 — a mere six years later than the picture above:

Shanghai in 1996

Shanghai in 1996

Now take a look at Shanghai in 2010:

Shanghai in 2010

Shanghai in 2010

As I said said: a picture does tell a thousand words.  All of this change in a mere 20 years.  Can’t wait for the next 20 years in Asia.  It will be very cool.

(Images sourced from here.)

The year 2015: cars and skateboards will no longer be bound by gravity, and all films will be in 3D…so was the 1980’s cinematic vision of the future.

While Hollywood has been making good on its 3D movie promise, the lack of any hover mobile on the market is a bit of a disappointment for those of us who grew up on the Back to the Future films of the 80s. However, while our cars may not be taking to the skies anytime soon, it may be a source of some consolation to fans of flying DeLoreans that over the next few years several major auto makers will be unveiling what they claim will be the future of the automotive industry…

Coming to a dealership near you – Electric Vehicles for the Masses!

Many speculate about how successful these electric vehicles, or EVs, will be outside of the ‘green’ bastions of California, New England and the Pacific Northwest. However, from a PR standpoint there is little doubt that EVs have been extremely successful in generating a great deal of positive media coverage thus far. Over the past five months alone, there have been thousands of articles written about these new cars, and a major driver of this media coverage has been the partnerships that the major automotive companies in the EV game are entering into with the biggest names in technology.

Most recently, there has been a great deal of media attention paid to a potential Google partnership with a major car maker, which will entail integrating the Android operating system with existing onboard telematic technology.

The buzz created by Google’s foray into the automotive industry follows news generated by similar partnerships between other major automotive companies and top tech companies. For example, Microsoft plans to help solve potential problems that these new cars will cause the power grid by working with auto makers to implement its Hohm application into EVs. The technology is expected to prevent an ‘electrical traffic jam’ on our electrical grid by helping owners determine when to most efficiently and affordably recharge EV batteries.

While cars will most likely remain on the ground for some time to come, the automotive industry is working to ensure that EVs will be on the roads of tomorrow by making innovation a priority and by partnering with major tech companies in the process. From a PR perspective, the key takeaway is that these partnerships are major drivers for media coverage and that they are generating buzz among potential buyers.

Looking forward, it wouldn’t be surprising if these types of automotive-tech partnerships do more to make consumers more comfortable with the thought of owning an EV than auto shows or other traditional methods of marketing. What better way to lend some tech-cred to unproven products than to couple them with market leading technology brands?

While we will not have hover mobiles, being able to give voice commands to your electric car and enabling it to communicate with the power grid for the best energy rates via Google and Microsoft technology may be as close as we will get to Robert Zemeckis’ vision of the future without kitting out a DeLorean for time travel.

Whoever uses Facebook, Twitter and Co. knows them: people who just spread nonsense in the social web universe. At least the Twitter question has changed from “what are you doing?” as in the early days of 2006 to “what’s happening?” What should be clear is that “I’m drinking coffee” is not a message at all.
A few tricky brands took advantage of the overload of information and implemented the concept of “oversharers” in their social media strategy. Pringels for example gives annoyed users the chance to rebuke their friends’ share-mistakes with a button, called the “Overshare” button. Whenever it is activated your friend gets an e-mail from the Pringels help service that leads them to the Pringels website“helptheoversharers.com”
On average, approximately 1% of a site’s audience generates 20% of all its traffic through sharing of the brand’s content or site links with others. These “influencers” can directly influence 30% or more of overall end actions on brand websites by recommending the brand’s site, products or promotions to friends.
What this seans is that successful social media marketing isn’t simply about amassing thousands of followers, but instead precisely identifying the most influential members of your audience and recognizing them for their value. By directly engaging one influencer with exclusive opportunities, special offers, and unique content, you are indirectly engaging thousands of other people who are part of this influencer’s social sphere.
The first step is to indentify the 1%. What motivates them to promote your product or brand? For most people spending time to share content with friends or followers is not about fortune, it’s about fame. Make them famous, let them know that you see what they are doing and feed them with special content. Engaging in social media means before all else you must listen, audit and rate the social audience in your to communicate in the end with the right influencers.

by Robin Shin
Category: Technology

Last week, Adiran Eyre and I had the opportunity to attend a PRSA event, “Inside the Newsroom,” where Fortune magazine reporters provided insight on the growth and structure of Fortune online and what they look for when developing a compelling story.  The panel included senior technology writer Jon Fortt; editor at large, Adam Lashinsky; senior writer, Michael V. Copeland and online producer Mason Cohn. 

The outlet is going through a significant amount of growth and what many may not realize is that Fortune online is hosted on the CNNMoney.com website.  CNNMoney.com also hosts CNN broadcast and Money magazine online coverage as well.  This partnership and Fortune’s online channels are continuing to grow and managing editor Dan Roth was recently added to the mix to help develop and expand Fortune’s online content.  While CNNMoney aims to provide breaking news for the website, Fortune writers are interested in providing value, analysis and the “why should you care” component to a story.  With more of their online coverage containing video, the panel emphasized the need for good visuals and a good spokesperson to increase the likelihood of getting your story on the site. 

Some of the online channels that they discussed included:

  • Tech Mate: a series co-developed by Jon Fortt and Michael Copeland where new trends and digital issues are debated and analyzed.
  • Tech Talk: a CNNMoney and Fortune video series where Fortune journalists discuss the latest tech industry topics and interview major influencers in the industry.
  • Connected: a video series by Jon Fortt and Adam Lashinsky where they meet with top company executives to discuss hot topics and get in-depth insight of what’s going on within the company.

Please let us know if you have any questions, or feel free to leave a comment below!

In public relations we talk a lot about influencers. Business press influencers, analyst influencers, trade press influencers, and at Ogilvy PR specifically, we have a practice dedicated to digital influencers. But what I have come to realize in my five years as a practicing tech PR professional, is that this job has a huge influence on the way that I look at other people…actually, the way I look at their consumer devices.

Some people notice shoes, some notice handbags, but if you talk with a tech PR professional, we notice devices. Everything from what kind of mobile phone you are using and on what network, to the type of TV you have and whether it’s equipped with the latest and greatest from CES that year. When tech PR colleagues get together, we pull our BlackBerrys and iPhones out of our pockets and purses and, without noticing, start to compare who has the newest one, giving everybody else in the room “tech envy”.

This “tech envy” stems from the reality that the work we do has a greater influence on our daily lives than most would like to admit. When you work in tech PR you learn about your client’s newest software offering or chip development, and what it means for their respective industry. You learn about what can make laptops run faster and more efficiently and the true capabilities of your BlackBerry if it uses one of your client’s products. And after learning about the product, we are tasked to communicate it as well. It becomes a part of who we are and how we talk about things. We “drink the Kool-Aid,” so to speak.

My job has influenced me to the point of becoming what I consider a “consumer technology snob.” I don’t have the best or newest technology by any means (it can be really expensive!), but I do know enough about it to want it. Additionally, when I started thinking about this blog topic, I started to notice how I look at people on the bus with older cell phones and laptops, and I wonder what is preventing them from getting a new one. Don’t they care? Why don’t they care? It is important, right?

So what I would like to know is… What about your job influences you? Have you noticed you look at people differently (for better or for worse) because of it?

I have worked with David Kirkpatrick in the past with no issues and have always been a fan of his. And while this detailed account of events does not change my outlook on him, I must say after reading Michael Arrington’s blog post, I can only hope that David and others have a new appreciation for what PR people are up against on a daily basis. How many times have you had to go back and ask a reporter to pull something down or correct misinformation because of a miscommunication? Even if you know the reporter has a right to keep it posted or you and the publication have already agreed upon terms, sometimes circumstances require the information to be changed. And as a PR person who has had to do this more times than I would like to admit, it is never an easy process.

How did you feel after reading the blog post? Siding with Kirkpatrick or Arrington?

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide