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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.

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.

 

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to embed myself at a couple of my clients’ sites. In tech PR, face time is crucial to an agency/client relationship, and sitting at the client site every couple of weeks has positively changed the dynamic with my clients.

Now, I realize that not everyone has such a unique opportunity. However, if you do have the opportunity or are thinking about it, I offer a few suggestions for how both a PR professional and client benefit from this approach.

  1. Co-create on a project – Select a project or campaign that involves both the client and agency and think of how it could be advanced if both sides sit down to walk through it. This enables a true co-creation between client and agency and allows any concerns or reservations about the direction of the project to be vocalized in a much less formal environment.
  2. Have an honest conversation – It is much easier to have an honest conversation with your agency or client about how things are going in-person. You are able to talk one-on-one and face-to-face. Additionally, a casual honest conversation may spark other ideas or projects for discussion.
  3. Manage your time – Both a client and agency should be aware that the client will not spend the entire eight hours on only their account. Having a PR professional plugged in for the full day lets the client have quick access to the agency for a question or opinion.
  4. Expand your relationships – Typically, when working with a client, agencies only have access to PR and marketing folks. However, when working onsite, agencies can gain valuable insight from exposure to other client contacts and expand relationships within the company. Having an agency onsite also helps make PR efforts more visible. Often times, others in the company are not even aware an agency exists for PR support.
  5. Embrace client culture – One of the most valuable things about working onsite is that it provides the PR professional with a deep understanding of day-to-day operations at a client site, such as how they run meetings, how PR is being receive internally, other internal initiatives, and corporate structure. Embracing client culture also helps the agency feel committed and passionate about their client’s business.

Once you have successfully spent one day onsite with your client, do it again! The more time spent at the client site, the more you and your client truly reap the benefits of an agency-client partnership.


Tips on selling technology to the federal government

Tips on selling technology to the federal government

We (Ogilvy PR’s tech practice) often hear from business to business technology marketers and tech PR professionals looking for a better understanding of Government – selling to it, benefiting from stimulus spending, and how the regulatory environment may evolve. I want to share a great piece that our Ogilvy Government Relations team has developed. Having access to thinking like this is one of the things I love about working at a full-service firm that knows tech PR but thinks far beyond. 

For any of you with an interest in marketing products and services to the federal government, please take a look at these tips on how to build a stable and thriving federal sales market. 

Selling to the Federal Market: Complications and Opportunities

With declining commercial sales and an uncertain economic climate, many tech and IT companies are looking to the one certain growth market in today’s economy – the federal government.  Given the growth in federal spending projected over the next four years in every area from healthcare to border security, there is no doubt that federal agencies will continue to procure record amounts of IT services and equipment.

However, selling in this market can often be a frustrating dead end for companies not attune to doing business with the government.  Most adventures in government sales for the uninitiated bear little fruit for many years.  The most frequent refrain from disappointed vendors is that the government could not “see the wisdom or merits of their technology or services.”  

There are ways to build a stable and thriving federal sales market, but it takes commitment, time, money and savvy to realize that goal.  Below are a few tips for those looking to break into the federal market or to significantly expand their presence.

1) Know Your Market and Capabilities – Whether it is health IT, communications, data storage and retrieval, or complex systems integration, you must have active intelligence of federal opportunities before word hits the street.  This task requires active knowledge of agency plans for future budget cycles, agency requirements and Executive Branch and Congressional Initiatives.  Furthermore, you must know whether your technology aligns with that particular need and is either competitive or can represent best value to the government.

2) Be in Your Market – Simply coming to Washington from the home office, armed with minimal intelligence to meet with a government official is totally ineffective.  At best you will get a meeting.  At worst, you will be regarded as an outsider with an unproven track record.  Government purchasers are loathe to trust the untested and unknown.  Without a consistent physical presence in Washington, you will never gain the trust of careerists whose futures depend on making the right decisions.

3) Staff Up – To be successful at both step one and two, a company must have a dedicated federal sales force and a lobbying team to open doors and provide intelligence on an almost daily basis.  In addition, the company must have employees who have experience in the complex world of government contracting and requirements, and relationships with agencies that they have worked for or with in the past.  This is a particular type of expertise that is no different from that of a software engineer or other technician and it can prove invaluable in winning contracts.

4) Team Up – Often the easiest way to win government business is to team with larger corporations or trusted government service providers who already have large, flexible contracts in place with agencies.  Going after large contracts with major players as a sub can get the company in the door and begin building relationships for future opportunities.

5) Brand, Brand, Brand – As noted above, lack of familiarity in Washington breeds contempt.  A company in the federal market must be able to tout not only its name and technology, but its past and present performance as a government contractor.  Again, without the commitment to advertise and use public relations in the federal sales arena, few government purchasers will feel comfortable enough to take a chance on an unknown vendor.

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?

It must be research season. The latest report to hit the streets down under is the annual Grey’s Eye on Australia report, conducted by Sweeney Research. Whilst some of this makes for interesting reading, I think it also states the obvious. Not surprisingly, it focuses on consumer attitudes about the recession and how people are feeling. 

Reassuringly, despite the gloom, almost two-thirds of Aussies are “extremely” or “very” satisfied with life, despite rising unemployment and a greater focus on personal finances. Perhaps the Rudd Government’s decision in February to hand out wads of cash to a large proportion of the Australian population had something to do with that!

Grey director of planning, Simon Rich, said in the company’s press release:  “For most Australians, life is still OK. Interest rates are low, the cost of petrol is declining and unemployment has not yet reached crisis levels. So, we’re positive about today but concerned about what the future may hold and as a result we’re cutting back expenses and holding off on big ticket purchases.”

I don’t know what is happening in other parts of the world; do you all share Simon’s views?

In an effort to save cash, the purchase of luxury items is waning and consumers have returned to home brand goods. This report showed only 9% of consumers do not purchase house brands, and 41% are buying more than they did 12 months ago. Call me a snob, but home brands still lack quality and with three children to feed, there is in my opinion less waste in sticking with what you know, rather than downgrading to products you may not have tried before.

The changing role of women and how they have adapted to the financial downturn is also highlighted in the report, with Grey managing director Jane Emery saying that it shows women are still the backbone of the Australian household. The report says most major household decisions are undertaken solely by women, with 59% in charge of household expenses and 74% take charge of supermarket shopping – compared to 34% of men. Come on fellas, clearly we should be pulling our weight more!!

Other key findings (and my comments):

– 41% Australians feel they live in prosperous times – down from 70% in 2008 (no surprise);

– Unemployment and job security (29%) is seen as the number one issue facing Australians over the next five years (no surprise);

– 28% people know someone who has lost their job as the result of the global financial crisis (no surprise);

– 86% Australians are actively trying to reduce debt (no surprise and don’t we do this anyway recession or not?);

– Only 16% of women feel job opportunities are consistent for both sexes, compared to 49% of men (that is a concern);

– 39% consumers are prepared to pay more for eco-friendly products or services , which is down from 49% last year (so, does this mean we don’t care about the environment, or has the recession led many of us to abandon the priority of being green to save money?).

– 51% rate as the number one concern drought and water issues, which is a major issue in Australia.

– Most respondents (76%) think most companies are still not environmentally conscious and 83% agree companies should tell people what they are doing about the environment.

– Only 31% of consumers are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about the effect of the environment on them personally or their household, compared to 37% in 2008 and 49% in 2007.

Finally, on Internet used (and my comments):

– Browsing the internet is Australians’ number one source of ‘unwinding’ (64%); – Contrary to belief, even 68% of Baby Boomers rate surfing the internet as their primary tactic for unwinding (are we that boring?);

– 74% of respondents subscribe to e-newsletters (boring…!);

– Only 45% of Australians have watched an advertisement online in the past two months (that did surprise me);

– or in an email someone sent to them (49%) – gotta be too much spam;

– 90% of respondents search for information on products or services online before buying (no surprise)

Overall, no real surprises, but some interesting differences. What do think? Are Australian consumers just an optimistic bunch, or is the recession hurting more in other markets? Clearly, the sun and surf may help keep us happy, but I suspect if Gray was to conduct this research again, today, many would not be so positive, with the bottom of the recession forecast to hit in October.

Luca Penati

by Luca Penati
Category: Technology

This morning I woke up to a full inbox of messages congratulating me for my new job.

Apparently, while I was sleeping, PRWeek UK published a brief article, which addressed the global LG communications account. It reports that “Penati shifts from a previous role heading Ogilvy PR’s global technology practice.” Not so!

I will continue to serve in my current role as Managing Director of Ogilvy PR’s Global Technology Practice.

In this role, I will serve as global strategist on LG One, a multiagency team created just for LG.  I will continue to be based out of Ogilvy PR’s San Francisco office and serve as senior global advisor for my beloved technology and consumer technology clients around the world.

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.

by lisette.paras
Category: Tech PR

Ogilvy Gives Back

In honor of the Great American Cleanup Day on May 6th, Ogilvy PR’s  San Francisco employees headed to Inspiration Point in the Presidio of San Francisco to do our part in keeping California beautiful.

Decked out in our finest running shoes, cargo pants and parkas, Ogilvy PR spent hours “giving back” while enjoying the sites of one of San Francisco’s most beautiful parks. In an effort to restore the native biodiversity of the Presidio, we set out to pull even the most stubborn and invasive weeds out of Inspiration Point’s trails. The end result? Eighteen sweaty, but happy, Ogilvy PR folks and a dozen bags of weeds we conquered.

Did you participate in the Great American Clean-up Day? If so, comment and tell us what you did!

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