Tuesday, November 10, 2009


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Monday, May 25, 2009

We've Moved!

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I've recently moved this blog over to For those that subscribe to the RSS feed or email, you will notice no change. If you're coming by for the first time, swing on by my new site and check it out. Thanks Blogger, but it's time for me to move on to another platform.

Later. Read more!

Friday, May 22, 2009

My take on WolframAlpha

Ever wanted to know the population of Wales, Wisconsin? What plant family a pea is from? How many single-spaced pages 35,000 words in Finnish equate to? How about the heart disease risk of 50-year-old men?

Ask no more, Wolfram|Alpha is here (from the website):
Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on th
e achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.
Basically, Wolfram|Alpha is a computational knowledge engine (read: not Google) that provides answers with real supporting data and facts. While on the surface it sounds like a great concept, the jury is still out on its use and whether or not it is a true Google (or Wikipedia for that matter) competitor.

One simple thing Wolfram|Alpha can help us in the PR biz with is answering those pesky (yet extremely important) metric questions. For example, what is the daily visitor total of What about the circulation of Readers Digest vs. People Magazine?

Wolfram|Alpha is a good example of technological innovation colliding with discovery. It’ll be interesting to see how this service evolves and whether or not it will compete with (or as act as a supplement to) Google and Wikipedia as key information sources. I bet the early adopters will be from the academic world.

So, what do you want to know?
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Social Media: Measure or Not To Measure?

Being a PR professional has it's challenges. You're always chasing new business. You're always looking to get "hits" for your clients (whatever that means these days). And you're constantly being measured on success and failures. In the PR world, clients fire on the lack of success and measurement.

This is a tricky, tight-rope walk, especially in a media environment that is so fractured that the reporter you're targeting today could be taking your order at the drive through the next. Throw social media to the mix and traditional media relation programs are out the door. You either are leading a trend and are littering the pages of top tier publications (and when I say littering, I mean a clip or two every other month) or you're saturating your trade publications (more likely a viable option, especially for B2B companies).

At the end of the day however, PR programs need to be measured. They have to. How else can an executive justify 100k fee retainer to his/her bosses by answering the "did we reach our goals?" with an answer like, "did you see our Facebook page?"

Ah, no. Not what the hire-ups want to hear.

So the question remains. Can you measure social media? Some say yes. Some say no.

I say yes, sorta. It's not brain surgery, but it's not rocket science either. It's somewhere in the middle.

First off, the naysayers will jump down my throat and say that you can't measure a conversation or engagement. I agree, however, you can measure that conversation and engagement IF your brand has some sort of call to action fused into that conversation, i.e. signing up for a free trial of a new software product, signing up for a survey/focus group, reviewing a product, suggesting a website to a friend, etc. All that stuff can be measured by traditional means, i.e. click-throughs, website visitors, downloads, sign-ups, etc. Obviously brands need to ask the question, "how did you come to visit this site" or "what did you think of our product offering" or something to that effect. While you can't measure the conversation around a brand, a product or an issue, you can measure the end result of that conversation IF there is some sort of call to action. This is true whether your company is B2B, B2C, non-profit, government, etc. Real, business-driving, brand-embracing, call to actions are key to measuring social media campaigns.

However, to measure the conversation or engagement, you have to look at the content produced over the span of your social media program and through each channel individually and collectively. The conversation has to be monitored constantly. Yes, you can track things like retweets or followers, but the real juice is in the opinions of your audiences. What are they telling you that will help you develop a better product or service? How are they referring to your brand vs. how you THINK your brand is known in the market place? Is that perception different from yours? If it's positive and seems to "fit" with your audience's needs, do you go forth and change your positioning in order for your messages to resonate more? Measuring the conversation and engagement takes time, patience and an internal interrogator to ask the tough questions that your brand must address to "ebb with the flow," so to speak.

So while you can measure social media programs that have actionable items for your audiences to move on, you really can't put a dollar figure on the conversation and engagement. That intel, as they say, is priceless.
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Animal cruelty or just plain genius?

I'm going with genius:

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Branded Content (via @stevegarfield)

If I'm ever in a meeting like this, please shoot me.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why The Bruins Still Matter

I am a few days removed from the mourning of the Bruins game seven loss. I'd never put that loss up there with some of the other major sporting losses in Boston's storied history, but it stung nonetheless - mostly because of high expectations of this particular team.

The media has moved on to the Celtics (big game seven today) and the Sox. However, here's why the Bruins still matter to me and why this particular loss has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

When my brother and I were younger, we bought our pops a Bobby Orr plaque that had a signed trading card laminated on it and a clock. It was the first gift my brother and I collaborated on financially as we were in a position to do so at the ages of 18 and 13.

I remember what pops said when he opened it up:

Pops: "Oh man, this is awesome! I'm not going to put a battery in the clock until they win the cup."

My bro and I thought that was really cool.

Well, since then, the Bruins have yet to win a cup and every year my pops will tell my bro and I that "this could be the year I put batteries in the clock."

Not until this year did my bro and I think that the old man might actually be right. However, we all know how it turned out.

That's why the Bruins still matter.

Tick tock.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Brands are Hesitant to Utilize Twitter

I hosted and presented during a webinar for PR News yesterday about Twitter. It was a great line-up of social-media-minded folks from various industries. According to the organizers, there was over 400 location's signed up and on average, there are three to five folks listening in per site. The list of participating organizations ranged from government types, non-profits, consumer brands, b2b brands, etc.

As the moderator of the event, it was partly my job to answer questions on the fly and interact with each of the speakers. As the webinar began, the questions started flying in. They were all across the board, to specifics per the industry of the participant to the basics like online resources to further education on social media.

However, five questions came through loud and clear that made me take a step back and think, "so, THIS is why there doesn't seem to be a large adoption of Twitter by brands."

Those questions were:

  1. How do I use Twitter for marketing purposes?

  2. Who from my organization should be doing it?

  3. How much time should I spend on Twitter?

  4. How do I measure it's effectiveness?

  5. Who in our organization should own it?
There are various schools of thought as it relates to all these questions, but here are my thoughts:

How do I use Twitter for use it to marketing purposes?
Ask yourself this? Does your organization have audiences it markets to? I'm guessing the answer is yes. Well, your audience is online and more often than not, are on Twitter. Simply put, use Twitter to build stronger relationships with your audiences. You can use it to address customer service concerns. You can use it to cultivate new sales prospects. You can use it to connect with media influencers. The audience connection opportunities are endless.

Who should be Twittering for your organization?
This is probably the easiest question of the lot in my opinion. Just like with your media opportunities, you should know who are the "voices" of your organization. Whether it's your CEO, CFO, PR Director, Admissions Director or Customer Service rep, each have their specific audiences that they can interact with on Twitter. I suggest segmenting your Twitter marketing per audience and determine who is the best person from your organization to have those conversations.

How much time should I spend on Twitter? I find this question almost comical. I'd answer that question with another question. How time should you spend marketing to your audiences? Get the point?

How do I measure its effectiveness? This is a little tougher to answer. It is not as cut and dry as say, website visitors. Yes, you can measure followers. However, the real juice is engagement. How many Twitterers retweeted posts? How often are your followers replying to your Twitter posts? The one to one engagement is where the rubber meets the road and can get customers to take action more so than any direct mail piece can.

Who in our organization should own it?
This is also an easy question in my opinion. Everyone should own Twitter. The key here is that whomever is Twitter on behalf of your organization, it should be done in a coordinated way and through the messaging prism you have set up for the rest of your marketing initiatives.

These questions - almost two years since Twitter's launch - show the uncertainty that brands still have in embracing it as a marketing and communications tool. My answers should get you asking, why aren't WE on Twitter? Read more!

Monday, May 11, 2009

From Ordinary Dad to Martin Scorsese

As a 70s child, I have a good deal of round-edged photos that are stuck in between card board and dirty, wax-ish "stuff" that's supposed to preserve pictures (when in reality all it's doing is sealing those precious memories to the cardboard stronger than superglue ever could).

Every so often, I'll look through those photos and see how hideous the outfits were back in the 70s. If I had a dollar for every out of control collar I wore from the ages of 2-8, I would have been a millionaire.

When I look at the collection, I quickly come to the realization that the collection is more like a bunch of bookmarks from my life, i.e. quality over quantity. I attribute that to two reasons: one, my parents were never ones to carry around a camera; and two, technology wasn't what it is today. Polaroids were the Twitter of photography back then.

That leads me to the point of this post.

From the first poop, to the first time they eat peas, to the first time you take them to Fenway Park or walk them down the isle, today's technology makes it very easy for parents to catalog every bit of their kids lives. You can tell from my arsenal of toys that I've done just that with my two kids (girls, five and two):

  • Canon Vixia HF10 (high def, flash-drive based video camera.

  • Two Canon 30Ds and a variety of lenses (long, imaged stabilized, prime, wide angle, etc.)

  • Canon G9

  • Mobile devices: Blackberry Storm and iPhone

  • Macbook Pro

  • Storage: over two terabytes of storage for family stuff
With all this technology and being able to shoot and record just about every second of my kids lives, there are no excuses to miss a thing. I'm able to stream live to the internet via my iPhone and Blackberry to Qik, which is then sent to Twitter and to Facebook. I can post photos to Flickr, videos to YouTube, create DVDs for the family to watch, etc. I've pretty much cataloged every major, semi-major, funny, unintentional moment that my kids have been a part. I've been sticking some sort of recording device in their face since the time the doctor brought them into this world.

Today's tech gadgets make is SO easy for parents to create, produce and share content. These gadgets turn the least tech saavy dad into the next Martin Scorsese. Aim, shoot, download, post and share. That's pretty much the process (with a few minor technical details in between).

The best part of it all is that I love doing it. Not only am I producing high quality images and high def video, I'm creating a treasure chest of memories that my kids will have for their rest of their lives (less any major computer crashes, drive failures, etc. - back-up is a post for another day).

Will my kids appreciate it when they have families of their own? I hope so because I'm having fun doing it. I just hope that they won't mind five cargo loads of external hard drives dropped off at their door step someday.

Some of my favorite memories:

Mother's Day @ School
Giving up finding that contact lens
me and my girls

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Google Chrome Needs Advertising?

Maybe I am that much of a tech geek that I find silly the fact that Google NEEDS to advertise their Google Chrome browser. If you haven't downloaded it, you should. It's much quicker IMHO than any other browser. It also integrates very nicely with all the Google apps that I use - gmail, documents, reader, etc. Regardless, the commercial is classic Google - simple and to the point.

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