Tech PRose

February 16, 2011

Are you diluting your “Likes”?

Filed under: B2B,Tim Boivin — techimage @ 7:30 am

On ClickZ, Christopher Heine takes an interesting look at how companies increasingly are trying to leverage the “Like” button to incentivize people to follow their brands. This brings up the important consideration of whether companies should focus on building their audiences through the “Like” button, or if they would be better served by focusing instead on developing a well thought out Fan page. What’s working best for your company?

– By Tim Boivin

February 10, 2011

You are Who You Say You Are – Especially if Someone Else Important Agrees

Filed under: B2B,Bob Dirkes,Success Stories — techimage @ 11:15 am

PR is all about projecting a presence into a target market – whether physical (like a region or city) or virtual (such as horizontal ones like Small to Mid-Size Businesses or vertical ones like Data Management Software) – in order to sell products and/or services.  Of course, that was just a boring, esoteric way of saying, as my colleague Ken Krause might put it: “You wanna sell something? Put it out there as often as possible.”

Easier to say than it is to do, especially when the clients you aim to help sell complex technology.  Nevertheless, simplicity always should rule.  Take, for example, what Ken and I helped former client Initiate do.  The overall objective of the Initiate PR program was to showcase the company’s leadership in the realm of Master Data Management.  We did it in many ways – pitched continuing Initiate business success stories, helped write & place thought leadership articles, reached out to editors & analysts on a regular basis for briefings – and one of the most fruitful efforts was pitching Initiate for industry awards.  A few notable pieces of recognition we helped Initiate land were Product of the Year designations multiple times from SearchDataManagement and CEO of the Year honors from the Illinois Technology Association for its chief executive, Bill Conroy.  But the one we enjoyed most was perhaps helping Initiate thinkers Scott Schumacher and Scott Ellard win TechAmerica’s Innovator of Year distinction in 2009.  The Scotts, as we called them, are truly brilliant technologists who achieved something that helps save lives, catch bad guys and improve services for consumers of all kinds.  The Scotts figured out how make information processing infrastructure and mathematical algorithms work together to elevate data searching & matching from a scale of thousands of records per minute to millions per minute.

I oversimplified the issue just now for this blog.  And that’s the challenge with all tech PR – oversimplifying in an understandable way.  The art of tech PR is oversimplifying it in a relatable way, too.  What Ken and I did when we pitched the Scotts was compare their work to the popular film “Pirates of the Caribbean” in an nomination entitled “Pirates of Probabilistic Search.”  Read more about it here – http://www.techamerica.org/innovatorawards-innovators . Search for “Pirates” on the page.

While clever analogies are fun to execute, we never lost sight of the strategy.  Initiate needed to put examples of its technology leadership “out there” as often as possible>  Now, through typical channels, such as sales calls and Web pages, the folks at Initiate spent plenty of time telling prospects in the healthcare, government and large enterprise markets about the grand work of the Scotts and their innovation. But they also understood their message would fly farther with the winds of someone else’s credibility under its wings.

–by Bob Dirkes

PR is all about projecting a presence into a target market – whether physical (like a region or city) or virtual (such as horizontal ones like Small to Mid-Size Businesses or vertical ones like Data Management Software) – in order to sell products and/or services.  Of course, that was just a boring, esoteric way of saying, as my colleague Ken Krause might put it: “You wanna sell something? Put it out there as often as possible.”

Easier to say than it is to do, especially when the clients you aim to help sell complex technology.  Nevertheless, simplicity always should rule.  Take, for example, what Ken and I helped former client Initiate do.  The overall objective of the Initiate PR program was to showcase the company’s leadership in the realm of Master Data Management.  We did it in many ways – pitched continuing Initiate business success stories, helped write & place thought leadership articles, reached out to editors & analysts on a regular basis for briefings – and one of the most fruitful efforts was pitching Initiate for industry awards.  A few notable pieces of recognition we helped Initiate land were Product of the Year designations multiple times from SearchDataManagement and CEO of the Year honors from the Illinois Technology Association for its chief executive, Bill Conroy.  But the one we enjoyed most was perhaps helping Initiate thinkers Scott Schumacher and Scott Ellard win TechAmerica’s Innovator of Year distinction in 2009.  The Scotts, as we called them, are truly brilliant technologists who achieved something that helps save lives, catch bad guys and improve services for consumers of all kinds.  The Scotts figured out how make information processing infrastructure and mathematical algorithms work together to elevate data searching & matching from a scale of thousands of records per minute to millions per minute.

I oversimplified the issue just now for this blog.  And that’s the challenge with all tech PR – oversimplifying in an understandable way.  The art of tech PR is oversimplifying it in a relatable way, too.  What Ken and I did when we pitched the Scotts was compare their work to the popular film “Pirates of the Caribbean” in an nomination entitled “Pirates of Probabilistic Search.”  Read more about it here – http://www.techamerica.org/innovatorawards-innovators . Search for “Pirates” on the page.

While clever analogies are fun to execute, we never lost sight of the strategy.  Initiate needed to put examples of its technology leadership “out there” as often as possible>  Now, through typical channels, such as sales calls and Web pages, the folks at Initiate spent plenty of time telling prospects in the healthcare, government and large enterprise markets about the grand work of the Scotts and their innovation. But they also understood their message would fly farther with the winds of someone else’s credibility under its wings.

February 8, 2011

21st Century PR Firm?

Filed under: B2B,Dennis Collins,Marketing & Public Relations — techimage @ 9:55 am

When something truly different comes along, it is typically compared to the current status quo – i.e., the conventional wisdom.  Back in the early 1980’s I was involved in launching many of the first personal computers (think Radio  Shack, Commodore, Atari , Apple).  The conventional wisdom was to say that these devices could balance your checkbook (replacing your calculator) or function like a typewriter, only better.  Back then, I often heard people deride PCs as overpriced toys that were only doing what could be done with a paper, pen or slide rule.  They were missing the point, but it bears repeating in this day and age – What’s important to note is not the Shiny Object, it’s the Trend.  And we can’t ignore trends just because we don’t agree with them or don’t like them – they exist independent of our wishes.

The dramatic rise of blogging along with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn has brought many to declare the end of the print publishing industry.  Magazine subscriptions are down, and online versions are struggling.  Publishers look to the music industry’s meltdown as a glimpse of their future, and are trying to figure out how to stop it.  Meanwhile, the film and video industry is watching both and worrying that their time is next.

So in the hopes of finding the middle ground, I raise this observation.  Social media is here to stay – The Trend is immediacy, transparency and interactive dialog among people, combining facts with opinions more freely than ever.  In a business setting, this means the audience can determine the appropriate level of each for their own comfort when making a buying decision.  Like it or not, it is what it is.  So, how we leverage this to our advantage should be the key issue, not which tool to use. The one thing I can say with utmost confidence is that focusing on the Shiny Object is the wrong approach.  Remember AOL, CompuServe and Netscape?  They are sideline memories today – yet they were instrumental in building the foundation for today’s Internet and were touted as the next generation of business leaders in their (short) time.

As members of a co-dependent industry to all of this, marketing communications professionals are also wary.  There is much debate about the efficacy of online or offline advertising and the dwindling base of editors that make up PR’s output.  And the issues around social media continue to clutter our email inboxes:  Should corporations have Facebook profiles? What about blogging and tweeting? Do I really have to keep track of it all?

Now that we’re well into this century, it’s time to reflect on how technology has really changed marketing communications.  I feel that the 21st Century PR firm needs to adapt to the new channels of open communication if it is to remain relevant.  Providing value to clients is always the primary goal, but the value metrics are shifting. We’ve always been focused on connecting a client with an influencer who represents an audience.  Nothing has changed except the tools – we have a wider pool of influencers to address through more channels than ever.  That’s good news!  But it means that the role we play, the value we provide, and the way we get compensated are in a state of flux.  I have some thoughts as to how to address it, which I will elaborate on later.  But I’d like to hear from others, in agencies and corporations.

What are you doing to modify your value proposition?

What are you being asked to do by your bosses/clients?

Has your daily routine shifted – and are you happy with it?

Let me hear your thoughts.

— by Dennis Collins

February 4, 2011

A Crash Course in Dog Food and Mobile Retailing

Filed under: B2B,Kristen Rose Miller,Reviews,Social Media,Technology Industry — techimage @ 11:05 am

I recently attended the NRF’s Retail BIG Show in NYC and no surprise, everybody was talking mobile. From social media to shopping on smartphones to swiping smartphones to pay for purchases, the message was clear: “Hey Retailers, amp your mobile functionality or consumers will leave you in the dust.”

The topic of mobile retailing is also finding a home in mainstream media. A recent article by the Wall Street Journal’s Miguel Bustillo and Ann Zimmerman titled “Phone Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers” posed the threat that instant price transparency via smartphones was changing the game of retailing.

As a smartphone-touting consumer, specifically a Droid 2, do I pose a threat to retailers? Is Target or Macy’s shaking in their boots trying to win my business? Not likely; however, the article did mention a specific app, TheFind, that prompts a smartphone camera to scan a product barcode and display matching products at various merchants at varying prices. Thereby, at a glance, allowing a shopper to determine the lowest price.

So, I downloaded the free app and gave it a shot…see below for my test subject (no, not the animal itself…)

Figure A                                                                                                                      Figure B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Percy. Figure A represents Percy as a baby Rottweiler. Figure B illustrates how all 80-lbs of Percy looks today. In order to get from Figure A to Figure B, it took a lot of dog food. Specifically, Iams Smart Puppy Large Breed Dog Food.  I purchase 17.5 lb bags at Target where typical retail price is $18.99. During my last Target visit, I used TheFind app to scan the product barcode. Within seconds, the app was displaying varying prices of the exact dog food available at other merchants. I was relieved to see that other retailers such as Walmart and pet supply stores were $1-$3 dollars higher. Only one store, Meijer, offered the food cheaper ($17.99) but since there isn’t a Meijer close to my home, my purchasing at Target was reaffirmed.

Case in point, consumers willing to embrace emerging retail technologies put themselves in the driver’s seat. Gone are the days of making siloed purchase decisions on product OR price. Being committed to a specific product no longer means you’re a slave to a standard price. Do your research. Be informed. Retailers, more than ever, are willing to compete and work for your every dollar. Enjoy your newfound power (while stimulating the economy.)

— By Kristen Rose Miller

January 27, 2011

Creating a Content Chop Shop

Chop Shop

You’ve just put the finishing touches a killer video for your client. It has taken hours of time to schedule, produce and edit, but the final product is a true masterpiece. Do you sit back, and rest on the laurels of your success?

The folks over at MarketingProfs did not. After publishing an extensive research report entitled State of Social Media Marketing in December of 2009, they took to repurposing their masterpiece. From there, they created a webinar, an article and a series of smaller articles and blog posts with morsels of the original report (source: Ann Handley’s Content Rules), reaching new audiences across various channels, stemming from one piece of content.

This doesn’t mean that your team has to scramble to pen dozens of new, unique pieces of content from scratch every week. Repurposing already created content across traditional and new media channels can be quite effective for a business-to-business communications program, and will keep that content engine chugging and boost search engine optimization(SEO) without the process becoming too much of a time sink.

A company announcement that might have just merited a press release a few years ago can be sliced and diced into a corporate blog post, a topic for discussion on an industry-specific forum on LinkedIn, and even a tweet to share with followers.  Every channel has the opportunity to reach a different audience, whom content should be tailored to resonate and engage with.

Each iteration of your original killer content piece is one component of your overall strategy. When a corporate blog post is part of a thought leadership campaign, a linked tweet can serve to drive traffic to your site. This way, you have a series of small, measurable goals that work towards realizing your overall plan.

Think of it the way Ann Handley, the CCO of Marketing Profs, describes it- “as a content plan fueled by a single Big Idea.”

She elaborates: “The ensuing material can rely on that fuel as source material, allowing for new distribution and new channels, reaching new audiences along the way, and propagating your ideas through social media channels.”

Have you or your clients had success in repurposing content?  Share your stories!

by Dan McDonnell

January 7, 2011

Strategic Thinking

Filed under: B2B,Philip Anast,Technology Industry — techimage @ 9:04 am
Tags: ,

Consulting guru McKinsey & Company gives large and small companies alike food for thought in 2011 on whether one’s strategy is passing the test of time

Taking its 10 tests can drive dialogue and debate, two healthy and necessary activities for any organization that seeks to grow and manage competitive threats.

— by Philip Anast

December 21, 2010

Predicting a Happy Tech Year for 2011

Filed under: B2B,Technology Industry,Tim Boivin — techimage @ 9:50 am

“Computers in the future will weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”
-Popular Mechanics, forecasting advance of science, 1949

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
-Anonymous Editor for Prentice Hall, 1957

“There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home.”
-Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp, 1977

“The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in 2011.”
-Kevin Johnson, Tech Image, 2010

One of these days (…years? …decades? …centuries?), Kevin’s going to be right.

That must be it.  That must be why people continue to insist on making predictions, especially around the New Year.  As usual, here at Tech Image we have been bombarded with the thoughts of technology experts heading into 2011 but I thought the blog Technobable 2.0 did a nice job of compiling the thoughts on the future of technology from several places.  And Laurie McCabe takes her usual insightful look at the top 10 SMB technologies as well.

I hope you find these predictions interesting and enjoyable.  It will also be handy place for you to check up on how they fared with their predictions at the end of 2011.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from Tech Image.

— by Tim Boivin

March 30, 2010

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

Filed under: B2B,Ken Krause,Reviews — techimage @ 2:00 pm

“Good is the enemy of great” intones author Jim Collins in the beginning of his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. And for the next couple of hundred pages he explains why that’s true – as well as why many good companies never reach that next level.

A lot of it has to do with accepting what is rather than looking at what could be. It’s difficult to argue with success. If your company is humming along, doing well in its market, perhaps even leading it, there’s a temptation to take an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But that’s not what great companies do, according to Collins. Instead, they’re always looking at their business model and their competition to see if there’s a better way to do what they’re doing – or if they should be doing something else.

Collins says one of the key mistakes companies that fall short of greatness make is they start with the vision, and try not to do anything important until after the vision is established. But the 10 companies Collins studied didn’t focus there. They focused on the management team first.

He contends that the first step in the road to greatness is getting the right people “on the bus” – his euphemism for the company. He said CEOs and other top managers who aspire to greatness look for talent and hire it when they find it. They may not even have a job for the person at the time; they just know they want what that person can offer.

The second step is putting the people on the bus in the right seats – in other words, finding the right roles for them. Once you have the right people in the right seats, then it’s time to figure out where the bus is going to go.

I found a lot of what Collins said makes sense, not just in the business world but in any type of organization. Grandiose visions don’t mean much if you don’t have the wherewithal to execute them. Every sports team wants to win the championship, but few are willing to put in the work to make it happen.

Of course, since the book was written nearly 10 years ago history gives us a nice, extra perspective on the companies Collins chose to profile. For example, one of the companies singled out as achieving greatness is Circuit City. Oops.

The electronics retailer was cited for its outstanding supply chain, innovative policies and practical management. Of course, they’re now out of business having gone bankrupt a couple of years ago. While one of Collins’ criteria for “greatness” was sustainability, somewhere along the way Circuit City lost that and essentially had their lunch handed to them by Best Buy.

On the plus side, he also profiled Walgreens, which has done nothing but grow over the last 30 years. They hired good people, figured out what to do with them (as well as what the company could do well to serve its customers) and have executed that plan with a passion. There’s nothing flashy about Walgreens; you don’t hear much about their charismatic leaders or their brilliant innovations. But that is by design. They just go about their business, and do it very well.

One last point about great companies that bears noting: Collins contends that greatness means being able to sustain a high level over a long period of time. And that means having CEOs and other top managers who are more focused on the company than on their personal glory. In fact, he shows that while the Lee Iacoccas and Jack Welshes of the world – the business icons – can achieve success while they’re in charge, often their companies struggle after their leave. The leaders of truly great companies take pride in setting up a company that can continue to grow and succeed – sometimes even better – after they leave.

Good to Great is definitely a good read. You don’t even have to be that interested in the business world to get something out of it – although it helps. In the current economy, where opportunity abounds for leaders smart enough to take advantage of everyone else pulling back, it can really help set a foundation for future, sustainable growth.

— by Ken Krause

December 14, 2009

Inc. 500 Companies and Social Media in 2009

Filed under: B2B,Social Media — techimage @ 3:47 pm

I found out about a recent University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research study about the usage of social media in fast growing corporations in 2009 via a tweet from someone that I am following. The study is interesting as it shows just how well Inc. 500 companies are understanding the social media landscape.

 

The study also compares the adoption of social media and its different tools by these major corporations over the last three years as well. For example, 75 percent of respondents in 2009 claim to be “very familiar” with social networking tools, whereas only 42 percent were “very familiar” in 2007 and 57 percent in 2008.

 

You can view the research here http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/socialmedia2009.pdf.

 

So what are your thoughts: Do you think a lot of corporations are very familiar with social media and networking tools like they claim to be? If so, how do you think they became so familiar?

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