Tech PRose

February 16, 2011

Online Music Discovery and The Black Keys

Filed under: Lawren Markle,Social Media — techimage @ 2:53 pm

It’s interesting how my music discovery is different now than it was a few years ago.  Most of the “new” music I find is via Pandora.com, and I buy the songs right from the iTunes interface in Pandora.  Recently, I started hearing a lot of Raconteurs music on my Beck station at Pandora, and got pretty interested in Raconteurs (bought it), partly because I like Jack White of the now defunct White Stripes. I started looking for YouTube content on Raconteurs (found a very cool instrumental tune at this link) and along the way noticed some comments below I found from listeners who suggested that The Black Keys rocked pretty hard along the lines of White Stripes. So, I searched for Black Keys on YouTube, found a number of their videos and ended up buying their new album called Brothers.

Brothers is a pretty amazing record – it has an old school Stax/Volt soul flavor and very raw sound, and it feels like you could have stumbled upon the music in an old stack of 45’s.  The Black Keys are a duo, and they record in analog, replete with the natural tube distortion on vocals for a distinctive sound. Very soulful and genuine and they rock pretty hard on some tunes. Black Keys have been making the rounds on late night talk shows so you might have heard a few tunes. They are also featured on tons of TV ads now, so they’ve managed to parlay their unique sound into some, er, commercial success.  If you haven’t already done so, check out their music. They’ve been together for 10 years so there’s a great back-catalog to explore. Also, these guys are very tongue-in-cheek in interviews and it’s great to see a band dedicated to great music while not taking themselves too seriously. Good stuff, and they got a nice pat on the shoulder at the Grammy’s recently, where they picked up two awards.

– By Lawren Markle

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January 28, 2011

TEDx Caltech Rocked!

Filed under: Lawren Markle,Technology Industry — techimage @ 10:34 am

I had the pleasure of attending TEDx at Caltech on January 14th to hear thirty science and technology presentations — on the big stage at Beckman Auditorium on Caltech’s campus here in Pasadena.  Some of the talks were pretty heavy science, and I don’t have any quantum physics under my belt, but I was able to come away with an understanding of the concepts anyway.

I registered with the hope that I’d hear things to lead me in new directions and explore new technologies, and the presentations didn’t disappoint.  Some of the most interesting talks were about engineering DNA codes — to treat cancer (Mark Davis), create bacteria that make carbon nanotube batteries (Angela Belcher), or even create new life forms (Craig Venter).  It appears we are at the edge of a wave of breakthroughs now that we’ve cracked the genome.  People are starting to apply that knowledge to new treatments and new solutions.  Craig Venter’s talk was very interesting – especially at the 16:00 mark onward, where he describes applications for synthetic genomics – from targeted treatments for HIV, to creating new algae that will eat carbon dioxide and create fuels we can use at the pump.  It’s a little scary, but wow.

The talk about The Worldwide Telescope was pretty cool if you haven’t seen it.  It’s a 3D interactive tour of the universe.  I think 3D interfaces are going to proliferate.  Pamela Bjorkman talked about visualizing and engineering new anti-HIV agents.  Overall, it was a pretty cool event, and Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau pulled off a triumph hosting this at the school.  The theme was remembering Richard Feynman, a physicist and professor who was able to make physics entertaining and approachable.  Microsoft has put Feynman’s lectures online recently.

I think all of the talks will be posted at www.caltech.edu in a few months.  I hope these scientists have good funding and good PR because they are poised to change everything.

-By Lawren Markle

January 17, 2011

Time for Analyst Relations?

Filed under: Lawren Markle,Social Media — techimage @ 11:45 am

When was the last time you went through a list of industry analysts and reached out to offer a briefing on your company’s technology? I’m guessing you’ll give yourself low marks for followup and consistency of outreach. Why? Because almost every company has difficulty sustaining analyst relationships due to busy schedules and issues of timing.

This past year has seen big changes in the analyst landscape, notably the Gartner acquisition of AMR Research. Analyst beats have changed significantly too. It could be time to audit your list of “key” analysts in your technology space and update it. For example, you might want to see if any research papers been published that are highly relevant to your offering, and determine whether the authors are on your list.

This kind of research, identification, and prioritization of analyst targets is a great place to start.  Next you’ll want to consider what interesting things your company has been up to lately that might influence analyst opinions of your company. Analysts are interested in news that might point to a need to include you in upcoming research or put you on a list of interesting vendors for their clients.   Once you have that hook, it’s time to start the often laborious process of scheduling a briefing.
You probably know that an analyst briefing doesn’t resemble a sales pitch. The analysts need to be sold on your concepts, yes, but they are primarily interested in where you fit in the ecosystem, which means naming competitors in your presentation and talking more about the basic business problems you do and do not solve for customers. Finding and coaching the right spokesperson in your company is important.

For those of you with paid analyst relationships, it’s time to take stock of the value you are getting and engage more. For example, we find that most clients with Gartner contracts are leaving a lot on the table. In particular, Gartner analysts will accept requests for 30-minute “inquiries” from vendor clients, and these inquiries potentially have much more value than a standard 60-minute briefing. An inquiry requires the analyst to answer a few questions you pose regarding your company, so they need to do some thinking and that brings their focus to bear on your company. The question could be on a topic such as pricing strategy, which you will use to help the analyst get a better understanding of your value to your target prospects. You can then use this discussion to highlight competitive strengths and create advocacy with the analyst. A lot of vendors never even use the inquiry as an engagement tool, and that’s too bad.

One of the bigger challenges our clients have is finding time to do all this on a consistent basis. We try to keep the time commitment manageable to help our clients stay on target and make sure the analyst community is talking about your offering to buyers at the right times and in the right context.

— By Lawren Markle

December 14, 2009

DVD Review – Mad Men

Filed under: Lawren Markle,Reviews — techimage @ 4:22 pm

Mad Men, originally an HBO series is now available on DVD, and it’s a pretty good rental.  Each disc has 3 hour-long shows that bring you into the Madison Avenue advertising life, circa 1960.  It’s an inside look at the industry’s excesses, the power men wielded in this business, complete with the thin neckties, ubiquitous cigarette smoking, jaw-dropping office sexual harassment, private expense accounts and so forth.  Excellent dialogue.  It’s easy to get involved in the great characters and situations, and being a marketer myself, I enjoy watching them pitch new creative campaigns to accounts.

The focus is on the script, and not action.  In fact, I like to watch this when my toddlers are around because there’s no violence and the camera shots linger.  My wife can’t stop watching the show and loves the sets and the wardrobes.  I laugh at the pre-politically-correct office banter, which is sooo wrong by today’s standards.

I guess you could rent the first disc from season one and see what you think.  You don’t have to watch them sequentially, but it helps.  If you’re looking for something to get your adrenalin pumping, not a good choice, but if you like great scripts then check it out.

 

Reviewed by Lawren Markle

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