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

February 15, 2011

McKinsey says information overload not good for creativity, best decision-making

Filed under: Philip Anast,Social Media — techimage @ 8:00 am

“Information overload” is a term that has packed on the pounds, both literally and figuratively, over the years as smart phones and social networking tools have pervaded workplaces in just about every realm of industry.

Management consulting company McKinsey delivers some contrarian, yet scientifically based, recommendations for the use of social networking tools in an article entitled, “Recovering from information overload.”

The article is targeted to executives and their unique requirements and responsibilities; however, I think any person in a management or worker role can benefit from its implications.

Since the article is lengthy, I will summarize its three key points:

  • Multitasking is a terrible coping mechanism, leading to less productivity and poorer decision-making
  • Self-discipline and setting reasonable expectations are the antidotes for information overload
  • Our behavior sets the tone and tenor for people we work with and for the overall productivity of an organization

The writers assert, “In practice, most of us would probably acknowledge that multitasking lets us quickly cross some of the simpler items off our to-do lists. But it rarely helps us solve the toughest problems we’re working on. More often than not, it’s procrastination in disguise.”

Management expert Peter Drucker is invoked and quoted in the article, although he wrote his book “The Effective Executive” at a time where there were few communication tools at one’s disposal:

“’Most of the tasks of the executive require, for minimum effectiveness, a fairly large quantum of time.’ Drucker’s solutions for fragmented executives—reserve large blocks of time on your calendar, don’t answer the phone, and return calls in short bursts once or twice a day—sound remarkably like the ones offered up by today’s time- and information-management experts.”

I think an important takeaway from the article is that Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, blogs and other social networking mechanisms are tools, and not ends in themselves. At the end of the day, the tasks we perform must lead to greater outcomes and not just a lot of extra stuff or superfluous activity. While the tools play an important role today in communicating with business influencers, partners and customers, we need to keep the big-picture in mind and think through whether what we’re doing benefits ourselves and the organization. Keeping a perspective on the best ways to use tools and their frequency lead to greater fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment based in reality.

It seems that taking time for creative reflection and the processing of information around us can make for more thoughtful decision-making. Those activities certainly inspired some of the greatest literature in the world – from Homer’s Iliad to Shakespeare’s classics – without the benefit of a laptop or a tweet.  We should do no less for the betterment of our organizations and the constituencies we serve. 

– By Philip Anast

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 31, 2011

Bears QB injury shows the ugly side of Twitter

Filed under: Ken Krause,Marketing & Public Relations,Reviews,Social Media — techimage @ 5:05 pm

Technology marketers who continue to believe that what happens on social media outlets such as Twitter doesn’t matter can learn a lesson from Jay Cutler. The Chicago Bears quarterback injured his knee late in the second quarter of the NFC title game against the Green Bay Packers. He returned to the field briefly at the start of the third quarter, then sat out the rest of the game.

The event itself wasn’t particularly unusual. Football is a violent, brutal game, and nowhere is it more violent and brutal than the NFL. Players are hurt and sit the rest of the game out all the time.
What was unusual was the instant reaction that followed. Ordinary fans, former players and even current players began bashing Cutler for being a wimp almost immediately. They wondered how he could abandon his teammates in the midst of a title game, questioned his motives, his courage and his very manhood. Before you knew it – and before any of us knew the actual extent of his injury – there was a huge firestorm of popular sentiment on the Internet, most of it decidedly anti-Cutler.

What’s interesting, of course, is that the trauma of him sitting out the second half completely overshadowed the fact that he was completely ineffective the first half when he was playing, missing wide-open receivers and generally not looking like a quarterback who was going to lead his team to the Super Bowl. There wasn’t much being said about that, and certainly the media didn’t pick up on what may have been said. But sit out with an injury? That’s national news.

That’s the way it goes in these days of the groundswell. One relatively minor event suddenly blows up and before you know it your company is distracted trying to defend itself from all sorts of wild accusations.

You don’t have to worry much about an MCL sprain to your CEO. But you should be concerned with a frustrated customer who can’t reach anyone in customer service, or doesn’t feel he got a straight answer when he did. A Tweet here, a YouTube video there, and suddenly you could be facing a maelstrom of your own.

Just ask the people at United Airlines. A search on their name on YouTube produces this video as the #1 result, which is not exactly how they want you to think of them. It goes a long way toward undoing millions, maybe even billions, of dollars of advertising and public relations.
Now that the social media genie is out of the bottle there’s no putting him back. Smart companies realize that and prepare for it. They monitor what’s being said about them all the time, and they respond quickly – in many cases even thanking the person who brought the problem to their attention.

That’s where the Bears really fell down. While the speculation about Cutler’s toughness was running wild, there was nothing from the Bears camp to quell it. The word from the sidelines was that Cutler’s knee was “hurt.” What they should’ve said was “it appears to be a sprain, and maybe even torn. We won’t know for sure until the MRI tomorrow.” Instead, they played it close to the vest and let him twist in the wind.

Technology marketers need to learn from that. In this day of instant communication, be honest and transparent. If there is a problem, admit it and say what steps you’re taking to remedy it. If you’re not sure of the cause, say you’re not sure, but you’re aware and have the right people working on it.
Whatever you do, don’t let the masses run amok. In reality the damage to Cutler is temporary – a couple of good wins and it’s all forgotten. But for your company it could have much longer-lasting effects.

Know what conversations are happening around your company and your industry, and be a part of them. Because they’re going to happen whether you’re a part of them or not.

— by Ken Krause

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 24, 2011

Who are the Gatekeepers of Social Media?

Filed under: Social Media,Tim Boivin — techimage @ 10:23 am

Folio magazine’s Matt Kinsman has an excellent post titled “For Publishers, Who are the Gatekeepers of Social Media?” The separation of church and state (sales and editorial) continues to be blurred as traditional print publications try to monetize their offerings online. For instance, the article raises the question of who should be tweeting – editorial, sales…or even IT? PR agencies and all corporations today face this new twist on the same old challenge – basically, who should be the face of your organization? How are you deciding? What role is marketing playing that used to be handled by PR, for instance, and why has that shift occurred in your organization?

— By Tim Boivin

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

January 4, 2011

Who Tweets?

Filed under: Dennis Collins,Social Media — techimage @ 10:21 am
Tags: , ,

Some interesting stats from Pew – they isolated Twitter from other social media usage as part of their ongoing online behavior study.

No surprise, the users seem to be polarized – the two largest user categories are those that update multiple times daily and those that never check.

My take:  While the overall base is still a small subset of the population, it reinforces that the ere can be a place for Twitter in a communications mix, if you are looking for a young, urban audience and have timely info to share.

— by Dennis Collins

Some interesting stats from Pew – they isolated Twitter from other social media usage as part of their ongoing online behavior study.

No surprise, the users seem to be polarized – the two largest user categories are those that update multiple times daily and those that never check.

My take:

While the overall base is still a small subset of the population, it reinforces that the ere can be a place for Twitter in a communications mix, if you are looking for a young, urban audience and have timely info to share.  Those criteria need to be remembered in any discussion with clients regarding adopting Twitter as a medium

December 23, 2010

20 Things That Will Become Obsolete This Decade

Filed under: Kevin Johnson,Social Media,Technology Industry — techimage @ 4:42 pm

I’m not a real big fan of the Puffington Host (hat tip: James Taranto), but this is an excellent compilation.   Can you even imagine what will become obsolete next decade when we are reading something similar in 2020?  Wow.

20 Things That Will Become Obsolete This Decade
Courtesy of The Huffington Post

Kevin Johnson

March 10, 2010

Has social media peaked among millennials?

Filed under: Social Media — techimage @ 12:06 pm
Tags: ,

I am a regular subscriber to the Iconoculture newsletter, a weekly missive that charts trends based on both statistics and observations. They usually have some interesting factoids. Most are useless in my daily life but they're still fun to read.

This week, though, they had an interesting article about Millennials — those born in the '80s and later — starting to ditch social media altogether and go back to face-to-face interactions. According to the article, the reason is they feel those social sites (such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter) are ruining their social interactions with real people. Some are even going to the point of using an online service to completely obliterate their social network presence, which doesn't make the owners of those sites too happy.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. On the one hand, this could just be a blip — the typical backlash you get from a small group of people anytime a trend takes off. On the other hand…

Marketers are continually being told they have to get onto/into/around social media if they want to reach the highly-prized Millennial audience. If this turns out to be a growing trend, it could have a huge impact on how marketing dollars are spent within the next few years. Who knows? Maybe print media or network TV will make a comeback.

It's definitely worth thinking about, though. If Millennials abandon social media in favor of face-to-face contact, how will you reach them? Maybe digital signage at bars, restaurants and other gathering places is the answer. Stay tuned.

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