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 like everyone else, I am following with interest and a smidgen of anxiety the swine flu epidemic (my in-laws live in Mexico City).
As a tech guy, I started to look at some of the technologies that can be used or have been used to help contain the flu and solve this global threat.
This is what I have found so far.
First of all, Internet technologies have been tapped to track the spreading of Swine Flu. Here an article on this topic from IHealthBeat. This is a Google map. And this is the CDC Twitter feed so you can follow the updates real time.
As Ogilvy PR we have developed a simple aggregator where you can follow the latest news as well as some interesting information.
But what about technologies that prevent or that can help cure the flu?
I found a press release of a company, Qualsec, that says to have a technology that can screen individuals for Swine Flu and provide instant results.
So apparently not much from the tech community to help solve this potential pandemic . Much faster and more creative is the professional spanner. Read this blog post on the LA Times on how spammers are using celebrities such as Salma Hayek to get the attention of recipients. Maybe Diego Luna and Santana are the next ones? And according to McAfee computer viruses may be the next part of the swine flu outbreak. Virtual world and reality coming together?
You have to give the Texans credit. They do some things incredibly well. Take economic development. Texas has the most Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States (at 58 HQs). These guys and gals understand how to build financial structures that attract industry.
And now we see that those savvy Texans are making a land grab (photon grab) for solar manufacturing business in Texas. The state is expected to soon approve a $500M bill aimed at subsidizing small scale solar users.
Texas has executed so much better than some states (like mine, Colorado) at attracting headquarters and fostering development of market segment ecosystems that fuel the local business economy. If they crack the solar grail, I’ll have to say they’re brilliant. And I’m a New Englanda.
The business of solar is fascinating to me. How Germany has leveraged a feed-in tariff system to lead the world. And how, unlike the semi industry, solar manufacturing jobs are likely to be based where the projects are to be built and customer installed due to the sensitivities of glass and the cost of shipping it. So what does that mean? States need to get moving in their legislatures and get attracting those jobs, which means building the financing systems that will incubate the projects and ecosystems.
I’m told that citizens in Germany don’t scoff at the annual fee on their electric bill that underwrites their system as they see it as a direct investment towards clean energy and local clean tech jobs.
Could Texas be at the top of a future list of States With The Largest Share of the U.S. Renewable Energy Industry? They surely know how to attract businesses.
Crazy like foxes, they are.
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:
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:
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.
On Wednesday, I attended the Sustainable Opportunities Conference here in Denver. I see the clean energy industry and sustainability sector as bright spots in the tough economy at the moment.
There certainly was a lot of positivity at the conference relating to the future of this market, particularly in the metropolitan Denver area as more clean energy companies like RES Americas move here. Colorado continues to be a leader in attracting these companies and President Obama reinforced the State’s leadership by signing the Stimulus package here last month at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Without giving a full wrap up of the conference, I wanted to give you a few snippets of some interesting comments I heard in the panel sessions and in my conversations over the last few days. Here are some controversial comments that stand out:
- The challenge with plug-in cars is that our grid is 30-40 years old and it’s already overtaxed…Plug-in cars sound great but we should be investing resources in updating our grid instead. If we have wind power in East Kansas, we can’t get it to Chicago or Denver…that’s the crux of the problem. - Michael Peck, MAPA Group
- The US manufacturing system is in bad shape. The expertise has skipped a generation. Most of our wind turbines have to be manufactured overseas, because there is no expertise in the US. We need to get back to teaching people how to go from welding to material science. - Chris Mone, Vestas Wind
- Oh Happy Day! - Denver Mayor John Hickelooper when commenting on the dedication of the 300KW solar system atop the Colorado Convention Center, where the conference was held.
- We need to eat our main meal of energy efficiency before we eat our dessert of renewable energy. - Mark McLanahan, MMA Renewable Ventures
See you at the Denver Green Festival!
At a recent PRSA Tech Talk panel, New York Times technology writers Brad Stone, Claire Cain Miller and editor Damon Darlin had a chance to put on their psychic hats and discuss key technology trends for 2009. If anyone should know, (they do get >150 PR technology pitches per day!) it’s them.
Technology Trends in 2009
1. Proliferation of light-weight applications on social networks and smart phones has created a new wave of creativity from the developers community
2. Migration to cheaper or free substitutes in technology due to the current economic climate, e.g. the popularity of inexpensive netbooks and cloud services
3. New delivery mechanisms of movies to classic (cable) and new technology devices (digital)
4. Overlap of technology into health care and education - especially given the Obama administration’s strong focus on open access
5. Green technology will continue to gain exposure in 2009
6. The news appetite for new Web sites is down unless they are real-world revenue-generating Web sites
What do you think about these trends? Are they obvious? Ground-breaking? Let’s get your thoughts.
It’s a pretty dark out there.
The economy has tanked, people aren’t buying and employees are treading on eggshells fearing they’ll be next on the dole line.
Time to dig the foxhole deeper and wait for the economic shrapnel to whizz by, right?
Fact is other smaller companies are eying your market share and thinking that you’ve gone into hibernation waiting for the new economic spring.
I work in Asia-Pacific and it’s here that the next breed of up-and-coming companies will come from to steal market share from today’s incumbents. Many of these companies are extremely successful in their home markets, where they have honed manufacturing and supply chain management into sharp, competitive weapons.
Their weakness is in marketing and understanding cultural, societal & business nuances outside of their core market.
I remember one large Asian IT company trying to engage in channel development and marketing in Australia — unsuccessfully (with similar results and experiences replicated in the US and Europe). Their experience in engaging with third parties and stimulating demand through that channel was rudimentary to say the least. It took a while for them to understand that the the channel itself did not generate demand for itself and that it was the task of the vendor to aggressively brand its products and services for end-user awareness, consideration and hopefully purchase.
They also failed to connect the dots when it came to understanding that because they were foreign, they had no brand equity and their local positioning and messaging was highly undifferentiated in a more highly competitive, open market.
So the company defaulted to winning business on price. After a few years, it realized that it could not sustain its offshore business profitably and that domestic sales were propping up overseas expansion efforts that could not pay for themselves.
No HBR study needed here: the company was on a fast track to a major crash and burn.
So it changed tack: it decided to outsource marketing and communications to Western companies that could help it overcome these challenges and it started to re-engineer its business operations as well as marketing.
It’s now starting to expand more aggressively as a result — despite the economic downturn. And guess what, it’s expanding in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America and then the US last of all. But it’s taking share from US and EU companies in those other geographies, taking significant bites.
With the global credit crunch, US and EU companies have dug their foxholes deeper, but in the meantime they are being surrounded by smaller, more agile, higher efficiency Asian companies.
If you want to take a look at the planet’s next IT powerhouses, a quick scan through the Deloitte Asian Fast 500 is an illuminating read (http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0,1002,cid%253D239357,00.html).
So the message here is that now is not the time to shut up shop, now is the time to reinvigorate your brand, your products, messages and positioning because you’ll be ready to take on all challengers when the market swings back into the black.
… systems architect I had the opportunity to design these whizz bang things that would change the world one company at a time <tone check: sardonic>. The problem with the world was that it wasn’t always ready for change. So one of the skills I had to develop was to convince the world that it really did want to change.
I would go out and talk to all the stakeholders top down, bottom up, left to right and ensure that everyone felt included in the process and understood the mandate.
After a while I started to get good at this and noticed that there were certain people who were important to win over. Most of them had been around for a while and their peers looked up to them. They said things like:
“… the whole box and dice fell over and we spent months reverting to a paper based system. It was a nightmare.” When I came across people like this I knew there would be more deployment issues and helpdesk calls from the teams around them. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though.
“Just what we needed, I’m so glad someone at head office was listening.” Sure enough, when we had people like that, they would be helping out at every opportunity to make sure it worked. As a result we had less problems or when we had problems they were of shorter duration and intensity.
I started to focus all my efforts on these guys…
If I could win over these guys, they would win over the rest, less effort for more reward right?
We had worked all weekend to cut over to new Whizz Bang 2.0 and my little influencer group tested it, and they thought it was great, the testers thought it was great. We thought we ironed out all the bugs. I was as happy as Tran.
By 10am on Monday morning, we still had no support calls hit the helpdesk. This was fantastic. By 11am I was getting suspicious. There are always at least one or two questions. I asked the engineers to check the load on the servers.
Barely anyone was using it! I called the influencers and they said that most people thought they needed to use it when the old system worked fine. I had to dig further, so I walked around and chatted to people:
“It was so and so’s pet project anyway”, “It doesn’t do this”, “I hate it”, “Why is this box here and that one there?”
Translation: EPIC FAIL
In agencies we have good relationships with the media. This is important. It’s what many of our clients come to us for. As good as we are at media relations we should not forget that we are in
Not all PR is media relations. PRIA has a fancy definition with terms like “mutual understanding”, “deliberate” and “sustained”. I prefer:
Do good stuff. Tell people about it.
If you do good stuff people will talk. Do enough good stuff and people will respect and follow and you will get media coverage. Don’t do stuff just to get coverage. It’s hollow and media consumers will see through it. We need to listen. Social media gives us great opportunities to listen to what people want and what people don’t want from our clients, but there are also other ways.
Where we can we need to advise and counsel our clients on how they can do good stuff to increase the love for their brands. Coverage is a by-product of being a good corporate citizen, a good vendor to your customers.
Coverage should never be the focus.
I’m keen to understand how the global recession is impacting social media and particularly the North American powerhouse, Silicon Valley. I’m interested in the develpments occurring at Silicon Valley mostly because today we can consider it the backbone behind a lot of the big Web 2.0 companies.
Belts seem to be tightening in all industries across the board - banking, automotive, retail and so on - yet we’re still seeing big injections of capital in many of the Web 2.0 companies.
Take micro-blogging service Twitter for example. It was announced this week that Twitter has managed to raise $35 million in venture capital in spite of the challenging economic climate. This capital has come from Institutional Venture Partners and Benchmark Capital.
Are venture capitalists finally seeing the real value of Web 2.0 in helping deal with challenging times ahead?
I think that social media will come out on top in these tough times as people start using it as a means of cost-saving on entertainment. This is especially important at a time when people are becoming increasingly budget-conscious and are rather choosing to bunker indoors and save their pennies.
I’m a good example of this. I seem to find myself on fewer outings to the movies and instead I keep my cinema experience to my lounge room with my LCD TV, entertainment system and complete surround sound system. In fact, I can’t remember the last movie I saw at the cinemas but I could rattle off at least five DVDs that I have watched at home. I also spend less time travelling and more time talking to my friends overseas via Facebook and Twitter.
There are a plethora of online technologies and digital devices out there that provide consumers with their own portal to entertainment. Aside from big screen TVs that bring you a cinema at home, there are also notebook PCs to consider.
Notebooks are another means of cost-effective entertainment to online services such as online gaming, online video, video conferencing and instant connection to friends and family via IM, social networking sites, email or Skype with those embedded with broadband solutions.
Interestingly enough, consumer experts are also already tipping that many Australians will use the planned $950 Rudd Government cash handouts to splurge on games and gadgets, following record spending on electronics last year (as reported by the Courier Mail).
I’ll be watching these developments closely but please feel free to share any information specifically around how you think social media will fare in light of the global recession.
Media Relations Myths