360DigitalInfluence

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

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?

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.

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.

As I sit here typing my debut post for this blog, I can’t help but think of the dozens of topics I should write about– my thoughts on social media, the new widgets I downloaded on my iPhone, my new obsession with Twitter, or even Facebooking at work (I am guilty, and so are you.)  Just thinking of these topics made me realize how in one very short year after moving from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, I have warped into a digital girl. Prior to working as an AAE in the Technology Practice, I had no idea that blogs were big business and social networking was encouraged at work.  I still can’t figure out where all the “stuff” goes when we upload pictures or download music, it’s all still a mystery. I’m still learning.

All this digital information, mind-numbing technology, and creative innovation that surrounds us each day is extremely overwhelming, borderline suffocating but in a strange way humbling and inspiring. While studying in college I refused to read dissertation papers or reports online, I had to feel the pages, trace the words, and touch the pictures. I hardly signed on to AIM and I refused to respond to text messages, thinking it was so silly to not pick up the phone and press “call.”  I honestly thought personal blogs were rants and ramblings with no credibility (many still are), and heck, I created a blog last year just for my friends and family to read so they would stop calling me in the middle of the night while living abroad in South Korea, hence the very creative blog title. In one short year, my perception of technology has changed, drastically.

We, namely Gen Y, grew up bombarded with information overload. We are a spoiled generation, not in terms of material things, but in digital goods. We watched as the tech bubble burst in Silicon Valley, we witnessed 9/11 while sitting in classrooms, we quit Harvard and started an online yearbook, and we asked Google, not God, why the sky is blue.  We have a reputation of being “know-it-alls” because of all this technology. You can’t blame us, because with the click of our fingers, we feel like we know it all.

This year, Gen Y Americans have more incentive, power and voice to rock the vote and elect the next President of the United States.  Presidential Candidates are blogging and even YouTube is playing a fundamental role during debates. We are optimistic for the future and are more wired and globally connected with our peers than previous generations.  Yet, we are facing an economic downturn, a grim job market and a mortgage crisis.  We are renting, not buying, borrowing, not paying, dating, not marrying…or maybe that’s just me ;). We are aware of what’s imminent, but hopeful because like I said, we live in a digital world, and with technology, we can find answers, innovate, communicate, educate, spark controversy and conversation, and bring about change. 

[Disclaimer: author is an extreme optimist.]


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Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide