Archive for January, 2011
The other day I went to Bryant Park Grill for lunch and was pleasantly surprised by an "on brand" FourSquare tie-in which was equally matched by the reaction/participation of the store.
It's really not that difficult people.
PS I'll be back for a drink there for sure. Anyone want to join me?
What do you think? Let me know.
I was recently asked by a CMO to recommend an agency that was known for their digital strategy leadership.
I was at a loss.
So Mitch and I came together to discuss if this is in fac the case i.e. are there truly no firms that excel at digital strategy or are we just not aware of the ones that do?
So we debated and had a conversation.
Hope you enjoy it as well.
Original blog post here
Subscribe to the show via iTunes here
The media is and will continue to be a mess…forever. For starters, the landscape is no longer dominated by a bunch of white wealthy guys smoking cigars, but by that 17-year-old with a blog about electronics read by 20,000–or the stay-at-home Dad who writes eNewsletters about techniques for other stay-at-homes…
How does this affect us? For one, content now moves upstream. Anyone can affect, drive or create news now. The upshot of this We The Media paradigm is that as The New York Times shrinks to matchbook size, anyone with tech capabilities can deliver stories, unfiltered, to whoever wants them — a sure threat to the erstwhile big guys, and one with significant implications for those of us who practice what used to be called “media relations.”
Welcome. We now exist as practitioners who rule—as opposed to being the ones who send out information we “hope, cross fingers,” will take care of our needs, or our clients’, or our bosses’. Over the next decade media will begin turn to us as actual sources, rather than just as conduits for facts or spin. What does that mean? How will this manifest? The following are Bad Pitch Blog’s six rules of effective future media relations to illustrate what it will take to become the source journalists will depend on in the months/years ahead.
* Releases (must feature reportage). From the beginning of PR time, our folks have been tasked with writing releases and distributing them. Sounds good, right? Not anymore. The material we put out will need to have real knowledge (“intelligence”) reporters can use in stories-not pre-crafted material that, well, just sounds good. One factor driving this will be continued newsroom downsizing, with journalists becoming desperate for help with original reportage as they do triple duty.
* Relevance (must drive every pitch). When we pitch in the near future, everything will be about relevance. Filter,man. We must carefully consider our own words; it will no longer be about the perfect quote or comma placement. Now it’s the facts as they’re relevant to specific, niche audiences online (and off). Since we are placing our own words into a vertical repository (e.g., narrowcasting versus a wire service release), personalized thoughts will be paired with other relatable messages-so we reach micro-targeted audiences, as well as those you never even considered. Unlike now, when throwaway lines disappear into the ether as rhetoric or vapor, we will now need to have a tailored, audience-specific tale to tell.
* Research (must occur online and off). We will need to comprehend a lot more than we do today about clients, their businesses and customers. What’s more, we will need to reach out and touch actual consumers. Translation: For the first time, we will have to climb out of our comfy ivory tower (“We deal with the media”) and get our hands super dirty. Consequently, we have to get to know customers and discover what they’re saying about products firsthand. As “the PR person,” we need to be able to solve customer problems by bringing them directly to those who can make changes in the company. That’s new. How will we find them? Really? It’s so easy to do this – easy to find people, easy to see how good they are—and don’t rely on Klout. Just saying “hey that person is popular” equals shit.
By going online and forming groups and asking people—that’s another way. Unlike today, where real world focus groups are so coldly depended upon, soon (real soon) will be in virtual worlds where customers, will bitch us out like they do our customers-or hopefully compliment a beloved products’ nascent features and cool developments.
* Response (must be rapid and brief). People who report, blog, post or write in any way about a company or client will respond only if you’re speedy-and terse. That means no next day call backs. That means constant access. It also means words have to make its absolute point on someone’s device without having to scroll. If what you say is too long for a window, it won’t translate into a strong sell for a reporter, blogger, cyberjournalist or whatever you want to call that online influencer.
* Rankings (must inform outreach). Everything will be more than ever about 1s and 0s and how they are spread around. If we can get your words onto a single screen, the PR person will drive revenue-in the form of more clicks for the reporter. Definition of viral: we are not only spreading a message or brand, but we are also working WITH the big cheese spreader (blogger, publisher, journalist, newsletter biggie, guy who talks a lot) so he stays in business-and the way he will do that in the future will be via clicks, and more clicks, and even more clicks. You eat what you kill and if you’re up in the rankings, it means you got results!
*Skillset (must do more). We need to be multimedia producers (format and quality content), we need to understand search, we need to understand analytics on the back end, we need to be strategists, we need to be tacticians, we need to be story tellers. Holy sh!t. Bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan and put your spouse and kids to bed! Master a core set, but understand how they all work together.
And yeah right above I used the word easy. But if you find someone who seems too easy….they are probably not doing their job. It’s fast and easy for Disney to send Chris Brogan on a cruise. But how in the fu(k is he going to sell cruise tickets?
On the other hand if someone is passionate about “a” subject, you need to be in touch with her if she happens to cover YOUR field.
It’s a new world, baby! As we get to the bottom of the first month of the new decade (the world did not start at 0), changes are afoot faster than ever before.
Take advantage. Add to the list above and let’s start the freaking debate.
I was recently contacted by the team running the Net Promoter Conference in Miami Beach, February 3 and 4, 2011. If you are a customer experience or other customer-centric professional, this is one event you should consider attending. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Richard Owen, CEO of Satmetrix (who I have interviewed previously on Customers Rock! Radio), and John Abraham, General Manager of NetPromoter Programs, about the event, the speakers, and why a focus on customer experience is so important. Take a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee and have a listen to our brief conversation. Sounds like a great event!
Here are some of the speakers:
- Andy Lark, Vice President, Large Enterprise, Dell
- Brian Scudamore, CEO, with Simon Lowe, Director of Operations, 1800-GOT-JUNK?
- Dan Cathy, President & COO, Chick-fil-A
- Lara Wise, Vice President, Customer Experience and Customer Care, tw telecom
- Mary Currier, Vice President, IT Relationship Management, Allianz Life Insurance NA
- Michael McOmber, Customer Experience Manager, Siemens IT Solutions and Services North America
- Richard Owen, CEO, Satmetrix and Author, Answering The Ultimate Question
- Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company Fellow and Author, The Ultimate Question
Have a listen to the interview, and for those of you who attend, come back here and share your key takeaways!
Before I begin, let me just say that there's absolutely no self-serving agenda, no motivation and/or no reason to write this post beyond the fact I think it's a really intriguing question to ask and subsequently debate.
In fact, Mitch Joel and I will be doing just that this Thursday at 10am EST – you can listen, chat or call in live by following this link.
Here's the inspiration for the post: A while back, I was sitting with a Fortune 100 CMO and he asked me which agencies were knocking it out the park from a digital strategy perspective. He asked me this because he's always on the lookout for digital talent on the agency side and as of late, has not been very impressed with the stock out there (both currently on his roster and out in the market)
I was at a loss in terms of being able to provide an informed and confident shortlist.
To begin, he wanted digital + social as a combined offering. Big brands want both and expect both to be neatly rolled up and bundled together (at a discount) with a best in class to boot. That's about as likely as spotting th Loch Ness Monster in my opinion. Or being a little less cynical, as frequent an occurance as Halley's Comet.
So let's assume for a moment that digital = social or at least social is a subset of digital. Who are the agencies that are blazing a trail and solidifying a reputation as leaders in digital vision, strategy and planning?
Ad Age recently published their Agency A-list and included several agencies in their OVERALL top 10 that absolutely owe their heritage to digital. They included:
- Resource Interactive at number 4
- 360i at number 6
That's a fairly progressive way to make the claim that digital leadership can go toe-to-toe with the best of the best and that digital has mainstreamed, but does it answer the question as to who truly is leading the way from a digital STRATEGY (as opposed to EXECUTION) standpoint? In addition, and not to take away any credit from Resource Interactive and 360i (who both deserve the accolades), perhaps the overall bar is just low and all it takes to rock our world is a 6-pack in a towel (jury's still out on the long time scaleability, viability and efficacy of Old Spice Guy) in the form of Number 1 agency, Wieden + Kennedy.
Also, I'm not sure how many cases (exceptions at best) a digital agency has won an AOR piece of business on behalf of entire brand. PLEASE GIVE EXAMPLES IF YOU HAVE THEM!!!
Getting back to Ad Age for a moment, there are several firms on the top 10 that have made major pushes of late towards digital – and specifically social – leadership. Again, I'm not sure to what extent these companies demonstrate acute strategic leadership from a digital standpoint. They include:
- Mullen (number 3)
- Droga5 (number 5)
- Edelman (number 7)
- CP&B (number 8)
All I'm saying is that if I had $1 for every time I've heard a CMO complain (bitterly) about the digital service they're getting from their agencies (some even on this list), I'd be bathing in my hot tub of virtual cash (whatever the hell that means)
And so I ask you this without any pretense and without any agenda: who are the agencies that are consistently representing, demonstrating and most importantly delivering superior, visionary and ultimately effective digital strategic leadership, services and solutions?
Where possible, provide examples of their work and proof positive that they have talent that goes beyond one loud-mouthed "visionary" or external face!
Try your best not to tout your own please, but if you feel strongly that your agency is the iBee's iKnees, then go for it. Hopefully the CMO in my conversation (together with any others out there) will benefit from this post and use it as a catalyst or conduit towards their next exploratory conversation or RFP process.
For what it's worth, I'd love for my hypothesis to be refuted i.e. there are few to little to no agencies (no matter how big or small; owned or independent; full service or specialized) out there that are bringing the digital strategy noise and social strategy funk.
So what you got people?
Test Questions for 70-519 – Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4
So last week I passed the Microsoft test 70-519 and thought I would share a sample of the test questions with you. It’s quite daunting the range of skills the test pulls from. I have been a software developer for over twelve years and this test seems to have found a way to span almost my entire arsenal of skills. Or at least my Microsoft skills. Here are some of the skills measured:
- ASP.NET (both Web Forms and MVC)
- Windows Communications Foundation (WCF)
- ASP.NET Web Services
- LINQ and Entity Framework
- Unit Testing, debugging and deployment
- Application state, session state, and request state (for example, ViewState, ControlState, Cache object, cookies, and client-side persistence)
- Globalization – designing to support local, regional, language, or cultural preferences
There’s probably more that I’m forgetting. Bottom line is wow, it’s a good thing that I have played with [most] of this stuff at one time or another because you aren’t just going to get lucky when it comes to passing this test.
Some questions include:
You need to recommend appropriate technologies for designing Web forms for entry and retrieval of news items.
Which technologies should you recommend? (Each correct answer presents a complete solution. Choose two.)
A. ASMX and SOAP
B. WCF Data Services and jQuery
C. ASP.NET MVC 2 and Microsoft AJAX
D. Entity Framework and Microsoft Silverlight
Answer: B and C
You are designing an ASP.NET MVC 2 Web application. You have the following requirements:
“Type safety must be validated at compile time.”
“Code must not require explicit run-time type casting.”
You need to pass data between the controllers and the views within the Web application. Which approach should you recommend?
A. Use the View Data Dictionary class
B. Use the Temp Data Dictionary class
C. Use strongly typed view model classes
D. Use dynamic object view model classes
You are designing a deployment process for a new ASP.NET Web application.
The company requires the application to be compiled to a single DLL for deployment.
You need to design a deployment process that meets the requirement.
Which approach should you recommend?
A. Use MSDeploy
B. Use the Web Deployment tool
C. Use a Web Deployment project
D. Use the ASP.NET Compilation tool
You are designing an ASP.NET MVC 2 application.
You need to centralize the logic for handling and logging unhandled exceptions.
Which approach should you recommend?
A. Use try and catch on every method
B. Override the One Exception method of each controller
C. Decorate all controllers with a custom Handle Error attribute
D. Decorate all controllers with the default Handle Error attribute
You need to design a solution for incorporating NTFS permissions in the Web application.
Which two approaches should you recommend? (Each correct answer presents part of the solution. Choose two.)
A. Grant the Network Service account only Read permission to the root directory
B. Grant Read permission and Write permission to the root directory
C. Grant the Network Service account Full Control permission to the Upload folder
D. Grant the Network Service account Read permission and Write permission to the Upload folder
Answer: A and D
You need to design a solution for capturing an exception. Which approach should you recommend?
A. Use a Page_Error method
B. Use a HandleError attribute
C. Use a CustomErrors element
D. Use an Application_Error method
Good luck to all, you’re gonna need it…
I was recently invited by the fine folks over at Kodak to sit on a panel at CES as part of their whole K-Zone activation.
Let me just say how impressed I was (and am) with respect to the strides Kodak has made on both the product innovation as well as the marketing sides.
And so without further ado, here's the panel discussion moderated by Kodak's Leslie Dance, featuring moi, Conversation Group's Peter Hirshberg, Networked Insight's Dan Neely and BlogHer's Debbie Wogan.
PS Love the High Def professional camera work
PPS Can you spot that I'm caked with makeup?
2010 was a year full of P.R. disasters, nightmares and kerfuffles.
So how do you avoid P.R. crisis communication snafus in 2011 and beyond? And how should you respond when they do happen?
I have a better idea: don't be evil! Don't get into the position in the first place.
What do you think? Let me know.
Last November the New York Times described the un-ethical business practices of the online eyewear vendor DecorMyEyes. The website was very well ranked in many popular Google search results related to designer glasses. Thanks to numerous consumer complaints on opinion-sharing websites, DecorMyEyes received many backlinks from popular websites and benefited from an increasing PageRank.
To prevent scammers from gaining any visibility thanks to consumer complaints, Google decided to penalize websites receiving too much negative content. Of course integrating automatic sentimenting to the algorithm had its downfall; all controversial or political content was bound to be penalized. To counter this effect, Google decided to blacklist a limited number of e-commerce websites that receive an unusual amount of flak from consumers.
Last month the Mountain View firm announced another feature and technological advancement: “reading level analysis”. Thanks to asynchronous training done with University level literature professors, Google’s algorithms can now detect a website’s “reading level” and divide it up in three categories: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.
What should strike the industry specialists is the use of automated text analysis (complexity and sentimenting) by the Internet giant that silently guides many strategic decisions in terms of e-reputation (monitoring, SEO, social media presence…). This technological power could be used for other means than feeding quality results to a search engine, for example, it could be used to enter the web and social media monitoring market with its own solution, or it could supply a robust API to monitoring platforms. We can speculate both ways.
Why Google could decide to partner up with one, or many social media monitoring platforms while staying out themselves from the e-reputation market:
- Their core business is still search and information organization. It always comes back to selling more and better AdWords (95% of revenue). For this reason the company might not want to enter a market that won’t generate revenue for its profitable AdWords division.
- Google has historically opened up APIs and good quality code to its user base, such as the Google Prediction API that could be used to analyze the sentiment or language of conversations. The most notable example in the sector is the Ad Planner API that can now be used by monitoring solutions to deliver traffic estimates alongside the traditional results they display (mention, sentiment, influence…)
- This “openness” seems to indicate a commercial disinterest in internalizing and creating a product for conversation analysis.
- The technology used to sentiment the pages the Google bot crawls is out-sourced to a partner company.
Here’s a quick (and ugly) mock-up of what Google could add right away to its Google Alerts
Why Google could decide to launch its own social media monitoring platform:
- Historically, Mountain View’s firm launches products on its own. The company rarely participates in joint-ventures.
- Google is guided by technological innovations and looking for new ways to generate revenue (the Google Prediction API is now paying) A social media monitoring tool dedicated to e-reputation would complete quite nicely the Google Analytics, Alerts and AdPlanner tools.
- The e-reputation market is growing fast and will be valued around $3.1 billion in 2013… to keep the market capitalization growing maybe they might try and seize the opportunity.
Google should define its positioning more clearly in 2011. Until then, we will be watching closely.
The recent rise of Quora, the social net based around (mainly) cerebral Q&A, created the customary reactions, including one that I always find interesting. It’s a common outburst from many people upon being introduced to any type of new web service that goes something along the lines of: ‘They do what?! What on earth!?’, ‘What’s the matter with them?’ and at some point quite possibly, ‘Where do they find the time?’ and, if you are lucky, ‘Don’t they have jobs?!’. Sometimes with some spluttering and eye-rolling thrown in for good measure. I went through almost exactly this train of thought the first time I saw Twitter. I remember someone showing me a Tweet from one of their pals saying they were waiting in for the plumber because their boiler had broken and they had no hot water. ‘They do what!?’, I spluttered, ‘Why would anyone be interested in this?!’. However, I then caught myself and realised I was about to say everything that people had been saying to me about blogging for the previous few years. (For some reason the blogging version of this outrage often involved people’s pyjamas evidently implying something about the plight of the lonely. As in,‘blogging is just about people in their pyjamas writing about…
Recently there's also been a version of this outrage about Facebook, frequently demonstrated by hardcore web-folk and early bloggers, which makes it interesting. They seem appalled that 600 million people around the world should have the gall to enjoy speaking to one another on a website that, 'ISN"T OPEN'! 'They do what?! What's the matter with them? Don't they understand that Mark Zuckberg is the devil in shower shoes and that his vast creation is pure evil incarnate working on a technically closed platform?!'
Now the reason I have come to find the 'They Do What?!' reaction interesting is that it’s not really something you find in other areas of media. When confronted with a new magazine about a particular interest or subject the reaction isn’t to question the sanity of the readership, or to suggest they are only reading it because they don’t have any friends. We may snigger a little when watching Have I Got News For You and they pull out a copy of, ‘Sandwich Spread Monthly’ or the ‘Herring Review’ but generally we understand that people like different things, even if they are a little nerdy.
For example, if I see a pile of mountain biking magazines at a friend’s house I don’t start spluttering and demand to know where he finds the time to read them. Neither would I expect a guest of mine to quiz me about the piles of media I have collected about Arsenal FC before berating me about my work-life balance.
Indeed, this understanding that not everyone likes everything is almost the whole raison d’etre of the marketing and media business. People tend to fall into niches of interest, behaviour and outlook which means they can be grouped together and identified as possible buyers of a specific good or service.
Likewise, new web services and niche social nets will find their own audiences of which you may or may not be a part. There isn’t a requirement somewhere for everyone to use them all (although it can seem like that sometimes) in the same way there isn’t a requirement for everyone to read Horse and Hound. I have found Quora to be pretty interesting, as long as I stay away from the professional media and marketing threads. However, FourSquare doesn’t really do it for me. But that’s OK. It's not a sign of my impending ejection from the Web 2.0 club. I'm just working out which services suit me.
And in the broader world, it can be helpful to think about consumers (aka people) and ask which web services they are using and how, in just the same way that we have always asked which TV and press they enjoy. As the choice and variety of web services increases, it’s very likely that the digital profile of any individual is quite specific to their own world view and circumstances.
So next time you are confronted with some web-based service that may or may not be the next big thing but appears, to you at least, to be some new level of hell from the febrile minds of Silicon Valley and you feel a, 'They Do What?!' coming on, swallow your natural indignation. Instead, try and understand the specific reason people who are enjoying the service find it useful, or fun, and the dynamics that drive that enjoyment. Just as you would do with any other type of media.