Thursday, June 30, 2005

The lesson... always: I'm an idiot. It was indeed the fact that I needed to install the latest iPod update soft/firmware. After doing that, which took about five minutes, all the music I had previously transferred appeared on my player. I still maintain this should be part of the software bundle and included in any iTunes updates. Just my opinion.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm doing the iPod dance right now...

Actually, no I'm not? Want to know why?

First a brief digression: I just got my iPod (60GB) about 2 1/2 weeks ago and absolutely love it. Almost all my free time at home now includes ripping CSs to iTunes for eventual transfer. I bring it to work and listen to it there. I'm listening to albums I own but haven't heard in years because moving CDs from home to work to listen to is just too clunky a process.

Last night the first thing I did when I fired up the computer was download and install iTunes 4.9 since I was excited about the support for podcasts. Immediately after installation I subscribed to For Immediate Release and downloaded the show. After ripping a dozen more CDs I plugged in my iPod as I was about to hit the sack to let it sync with iTunes overnight.

Imagine my frustration when I woke up this morning, came down to grab the iPod and saw ABSOLUTELY NO MUSIC ON THE THING!!!! I plugged it in again and iTunes quickly told me that my iPod was updated and I could unplug it. There should have been 16GB of music and podcasts on there. But there wasn't. Want to know why?

I didn't think that since this was new iTunes software I might have to also download and install a new version of iPod Updater. This didn't occur to me until I was walking to work, but it also does not appear on the Apple website. Shouldn't this be included in the software and not a seperate component that people can overlook and forget? I'm not saying it wasn't dumb of me not to think about this when I was doing it but some sort of note should be on the site at the very least alerting people they should do this immediately after downloading the new iTunes software.

Did this happen to anyone else?

[Cross posted at Movie Marketing Madness.]

Friday, June 24, 2005

Microsoft blah, blah, RSS, blah blah, Longhorn...

So everyone's atwitter with news Microsoft's IE 7 or Longhorn or whatever this is called will integrate support for RSS. You'll please excuse me if I'm underwhelmed by this. After all it's been at least six months since I started using RSS and I'm not exactly what you'd call an early adopter. Since then I've embraced the delivery format completely and use it for 98% of my web-surfing.

Why is anyone caring what Microsoft does these days to begin with? Here are some of the areas they have lagged in over the last few years:

  • Search (got smoked by Google and Yahoo)
  • RSS (got smoked by BlogLines, Newsgator and just about everyone else)
  • Music (got smoked by Apple, which just has to sting)
  • Browser (got smoked by Mozilla's Firefox)

So why is everyone still tracking what comes out of Redmond? Because they still dominate the operating system. Windows complete reign of the OS market is unquestioned and, despite some companies moving to Linux and such, is unthreatened for the foreseeable future. If it weren't for that we would have relagated Microsoft to the dustbin along with other companies whose monolithic status has hurt their agility.

Sorry, but I just don't get it. Time to cut the cord, people. Or at least ease up on the rhetoric. That might get Gates and Co.'s attention.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Quick Takes: 6/22/05

  • Is the press release dead?: No, but it is on life-support. In an age of communication directly with the consumer - be they individuals or companies - feeling the need to go through established media should be lessened. Media are looking for stories that will be of interest to current/new readers/viewers. If you have an effective communications tool that bypasses the gatekeepers (blogs,RSS etc) you don't need to worry about how many times your press release was picked up.
  • Marketers make a stand for marketing!: How does your company define the differences between advertising, marketing and public relations?
  • PRSA goes RSS. Improvements needed :): Cool. Now all they need to do is take Constantin's suggestions as well as but general information out there for those not looking for media-centric information.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Quick Takes: 6/21/05

  • Companies Need to Have RSS Even Without a Blog Strategy: Makes sense to me. RSS ain't just for blogs. All information on a site can be pushed into a feed.
  • Is brand that important to invest in?: Of course it is. Your brand is your repuation is your company is your key to success. Without adequately positioning yourself by marketing and reinforcing your brand you're going to be dead in the water. Maybe not now but soon.
  • Six NFL, Two NHL Teams Offer Private-Label RSS Readers: I've long maintained this is the wave of the future. A way to extend brand loyalty with an easy-to-use application that keeps images/logos/copy points in front of users for an extended period of time.
  • Ketchum dissected: Ketuchum's really getting beaten about the head for their seeming lack of vision on blogs and personal or consumer-generated media.

Trust is a good thing

Beyond PR points us to this survey on journalism and trust.

I think it's good that journalists have a healthy distrust of blogs and corporations. We need more of that skepticism to be brought to all aspects of reporting, especially on TV, in order to see the king has no clothes. Reporters and writers should be the first ones to call "bulls***" when it's shown to them. That helps the entire citizenry.

It's also something that PR folks should remember when dealing with the media. Assume that the reporter is going to question everything you tell them. If you're paranoid about giving them a half-truth and them finding out about it later you should be less likely to give them that half-truth. It's all part of building a relationship. Being honest and open about things helps both parties.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Quick Takes: 6/17/05

Instead of doing the Stories of the Day posts I decided to do some actual, you know, writing on this blog. I still want to link to stories I found interesting but don't have a ton to add to. So welcome to Quick Takes.

  • Word-of-mouth marketing gets people buzzing: Does word-of-mouth affect B2B marketing? Of course it does and will do so more and more as blogs are begun by B2B industry folks. I disagree with the conclusion that WOM is only effective in support of a strong official message. Companies have lived or dies based on word-of-mouth and now that blogs and podcasts broadcast that across the internet the affect will only increase. [Via Brian Carroll]
  • The End of the World for Fake News: Remember, broadcasters and publishers: If it's not true don't release it. I don't care how slow a news day it's been there's always something better to put out to your consumers than manufactured half-truths and outright lies. News is different than advertising and you're in the news business. Act like it.
  • Just Follow the Long Tail: Of course using niche media is going to return better results than broad-net messaging.
  • 10 Commandments for The Era of Participatory Public Relations: Just read the whole thing.
  • Search Engines Lead Top Online Brands: It's not surprising these days that search engines are more recognizable than ever before. They play a bigger part in our lives than just about anything else.

Using blogs for corporate PR

There is nothing scary about a blog. Blogs are not a super-virus that will destroy everything on the planet. They're not like the engine of a 747 where all anyone lacking years of education and on the job experience can do is stand back and jiggle the wires. Blogs are just another tool.

So why are so many companies afraid of starting blogs viewable by the general public? As a recent Fortune article pointed out, not one of the Fortune 1000 CEOs or chairpeople are blogging right now. Is it that they just don't get it or are they afraid of the legal and business ramifications of what they might say?

So here are some (admittedly off-the-cuff) tips for corporate blogging that anyone can use.

  1. Do not copy and paste press releases. Do you really think people want to read self-congratulatory spin? I don't. If you've got a new product/service then post an item about it in the same way you would in an e-mail to your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend.
  2. Have someone lower down the corporate food-chain also write for that blog or a sister blog. The CEO is rightfully the voice of the company but a worker bee can contribute a valuable and unique perspective, especially if he or she has been in on the development of a specific product.
  3. Building on that point, invite others from within the company to post occasionally. Launching a new web application? Have the IT director write something. Working on a new, more efficient air conditioner? Bring in an engineer who has had their hands in the guts of the machine for a post or two.
  4. Don't say anything on a blog you wouldn't to a reporter. That includes keeping in mind any and all Securities and Exchanges Commission guidelines on financial disclosures and such. There's nothing wrong with a free exchange of information but don't be stupid about it.
  5. Allow comments. Yes, what some people say about you won't be nice. It's been a long time since grade school, though, and we all should have thicker skins than we did then. If someone is openly being insulting, research how to have them banned from commenting. There's nothing wrong with that and is, in general, not seen as overt censorship. It's seen as content management. But be aware of what people are saying about you and use it to make sure your company is treating customers in a way that ensures they'll stick around for a while.
  6. Use trackbacks. A great deal of the conversation you start or engage in on your blog will continue on other blogs. Hopefully those blogs will link back to yours, either to the main blog or to a specific post. Make sure you track that so you're aware of the entire conversation. You know how you feel when you chime in at a meeting with an opinion you think is great but which was discussed by two people who forgot to include you on an email? That's how silly you'll look if you blog about something you don't know the whole story on.
  7. Enable RSS syndication in a variety of easily clickable formats. There are a number of sites I use to visit regularly in the pre-RSS days that, honestly, I only visit about once every two weeks now. Why? They don't have RSS available. 98% of my web-surfing now involves reading my RSS subscriptions. If you don't have RSS you're missing my traffic and who nows how much more.
  8. Track your visitor traffic. It's relatively easy to do and there a number of free services out there that can at least give you some rough numbers. If your IT department is worth it's salt they should be able to give you a better picture of who is visiting your site, how they got there, what pages they visited and how long they stuck around. Use this data to enhance the experience of visitors.
  9. Make a blog part of your regular website. If people don't know about it how exactly are you thinking you'll get visitors?
  10. Direct new customers there. In fact, direct all customers there on a regular basis. Have employees make a link to it part of their company e-mail signature. That way when they're answering a question from a client that client is also seeing the blog address as a way to get additional information.
  11. Get input from people interacting with clients. If the people working the phones are seeing an issue come up time and time again than it's a perfect issue to address on a blog. That way there's one corporate message going out and any confusion can be cleared up.

Any more anyone can think of? I may be back with more later if something occurs to me.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Thanks to Blake

Just wanted to take a moment and give a special shout-out to Blake Barbera, who writes the great Wet Feet PR blog. Without Blake linking to PRR I think even the feeble site traffic we get here would be cut in half. If you're not reading Wet Feet you should.


The future of RSS feeds

WARNING: There's going to be an extraordinary amount of hubris in this post. You've been warned.

I think Steve Rubel is wrong in his prediction regarding RSS feeds. Rubel thinks publishers should hide full-text RSS feeds behind a registration wall for paying subscribers and make partial-text feeds freely available. But I have to ask what the point of that is? If the content of the source site already requires registration to access (like the New York Times, for instance) you are already essentially putting the content behind that wall.

It all comes down to how intrusive you think RSS advertising is. There's also the question (in my non-technical mind) of how to keep those full-text feeds private? What's to stop me from emailing the full-text RSS feed link to someone who wants it? Maybe I'm not seeing something but I think Rubel's tilting at windmills here. As long as publications/bloggers depend on advertising revenue then the issue of full-text w/ ads vs. partial-text w/out ads is moot. The advertising will get before the eyeballs of readers in some way shape or form. It's inevitable.


Craigslist founder wants to fund journalism

What does this revelation that Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, wouldn't mind funding journalism mean? It means, quite frankly that the mainstream media's paranoia about blog writers needs to be kicked up a notch. BAM!

If someone with big enough pockets who is not beholden to the current media oligarchy actually financed investigative journalism it officially begins the deathwatch for big media. Right now media conglomerates can't really push boundries. They need to answer to shareholders, they can't offend advertisers and they can't offend their readers. That means no one takes chances. If someone like Newmark of Mark Cuban were to really empower people the term "citizen media" would cease to be vaporware and really mean something.

[Via Online News Squared]


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Stories of the Day: 6/9/05

For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report Show #40

The Blog Herald: Bloglines Tracks Half a Billion Blog Articles
"...each day Bloglines adds 2 million to 2.7 million new blog and news feed articles to the database, drawn from a diverse range of sources in many languages."

Corporate Engagement: Over 100 official corporate blogs
"An article from the Canadian Press (CP) reports that there are now over 100 official corporate blogs and this number is growing."

Desirable Roasted Coffee: Warren Bickford Asks for Insight on the Top 5 Communication Trends
"Warren Bickford, bartender at the IABC Café wants to know what 10 communications trends we face."

Media Insider: One Blogger's Thoughts on the Evolution of Press Releases
"When John Cass of Backbone Media visited PR Newswire's Boston bureau recently, he came away with two blog postings."

MediaDailyNews: Invertising: The Future of Advertising When Consumers Control the Media
"Contrary to popular wisdom, consumers do not hate advertising per se."

MicroPersuasion: Blogs Don't Need Opinion (Oops, That is One!)
"Good blogs don't need to have opinions to become well read. They do need links; it's their air supply."

MicroPersuasion: Wired Tries to Adapt to the Blog Age
"All I can say is, thank God Wired has a progressive editor. What about the countless other media brands that face huge challenges and may not even see them clearly."

MicroPersuasion: My Prediction: Publishers Will Launch Premium RSS Feeds
" I think publishers should make the full text of their complete print and online content available as RSS feeds to paying subscribers."

Nevon: The days are numbered for 'gatekeeper' journalism
"I think it's just a matter of time before a truly mega news event makes massive headlines, either in one country or globally, because of a disclosure by a blogger."

Online Journalism Review: When Web print stories disappear, the meaning of 'archives' fades
"When an editor pulls stories due to reader complaints or fears of spreading teen suicides or helping the competition, is the site still the record of the newspaper? Ethicists and editors decry the practice."

Online Public Relations Thoughts: The Limits of Metrics
"How does one measure word of mouth accurately? You don't, at least not yet..."

Pomo Blog: Waiting to be rescued is the wrong place to be
"Diane Mermigas continues to sound the trumpet in such a way that broadcasters need to be paying attention."

PR Opinions: Off (PR) topic: The final word on full or partial RSS feeds...
"OK, enough already with the navel gazing on whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of full or partial RSS feeds."

PR Opinions: How can PR measure up?
"No single topic causes as much fear, panic and argument among the PR profession as measurement."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Stories of the Day: 6/7/05

Washington Post (via Andrew Lark) : Corporatings Entering World of Blogs
"A growing number of companies are stepping softly into the blogosphere, following a path blazed by Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and others in the technology field."

Beyond PR: Young web users turn up the heat on MSM
"It is an interesting era where the success of self-published news is driven by an increased distrust in established media.."

Blog Herald: Blogs Can Boost Your Career
"Blogs can boost your career by demonstrating your knowledge of a chosen industry, according to a report from AP."

Jeremy Pepper: Building Rock Star PR Teams
"One of the most interesting things that I encounter in public relations is team building. Not the touchy-feely stuff that you go on goofy retreats for, the team camaraderie building stuff, but on how you build a great team."

Corporate Engagement: Employee engagement study
"A new study from Northwestern university has confirmed the links between employee engagement and financial performance."

Corporate Engagement: What's lies ahead for PR?
"Ronald C Hanser, president of Pinnacle Worldwide, reports on a survey of future PR trends conducted amongst principals of Pinnacle public relations firms worldwide."

MediaPost: Experts: Branded Content Must Resonate, Avoid Being Gratuitous
"Branded entertainment is hot, but in order to be successful, programs need to have an emotional resonance with their target audiences and offer non-gratuitous experiences and interactions."

CyberJournalist: Waldman to Publishers: RSS, or Possibly Perish
"Simon Waldman of the Guardian offers a sober overview of RSS and news aggregators..."

Online Public Relations Thoughts: Agnosticism
"What would PR be like if we objectively recommended the medium that best fits any target audience, whether or not we got to do the work?"

Strategic Public Relations: Blog Elevator Speech
"We need to position blogs correctly, now more than ever, as businesses realize their potential."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Stories of the Day: 6/3/05 - Part 2

PR Machine: Podcast: Blogs and Brands
"Are they a fad, or an important trend? Are they a bane or a boon to marketers?"

Podcasting News: NPR: Papers Turn to Podcasting
"NPR is reporting that newspapers are "desperate to reach a more mobile audience", and that they are turning to podcasting."

PaidContent: Podcast Roundup: Rush Gets Into The Act And More
Title says it all.

Nevon: MSM: 'Bloggers are here to stay'
"In his column, Naughton argues that "Blogging won't wipe out journalism, for the simple reason that journalism requires skills and resources that bloggers will never have."

MediaWeek: Infinity To Podcast 9 News Stations
"Infinity moves even deeper into the fledgling medium by announcing it will offer free daily podcasts from its nine news stations, with flagship WINS (1010 Wins) New York set to lead the way in July."

Stories of the Day: 6/3/05

Business Week (via my brother-in-law): 2005 Guide to Podcasts
"Right now it's a lot easier to listen than it is to send your own audio programs into cyberspace."

For Immediate Release: Show #38

WebProNews: Blogs Away: Why Blogs Are Important To Market Strategy
"When blue chip behemoths begin to recognize the power of the blog, those who were barely aware of its existence begin to sit up and take notice."

Desirable Roasted Coffee: How to Use Comments to Win Friends and Influence People (in 10 Easy Lessons)
"I find it distressing, but instructive, to realize my blogging peer group -- the people who write about professional communication and technology -- can be divided into two groups."

The Long Tail: Trolling
"Six reasons why I prefer good blogs to most traditional journalism in the niche domains where my interests are greatest:"

Nevon: EPIC update 2015
"Is this a vision of the very near future?"

Nevon: Where to get your podcast listed
"If you're a podcaster, you'll know about some of the places to get your show listed."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Stories of the Day: 6/2/05

Shel Holtz: How to undermine your own PR efforts
"Recent statements by US President George W. Bush and some of his top staff members makes you wonder if they’re getting or ignoring advice from people who understand the principles of public relations."

Corporate Engagement: Volvo sponsored podcast downloaded 20,000 times in 4 months
"Volvo paid Weblogs Inc. $60,000 to sponsor the Web log and podcast for six months, BusinessWeek Online reported."

CyberJournalist: What drives users online?
"The Online Publishers Association and the Media Management Center at Northwestern University identified 22 experiences that "describe and define of how people interact with and relate to digital media..."

OJR: Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism
"It's not illegal, but it's SEO gone bad. Companies such as Quixtar are using Google-bombing, link farms and Web spam pages to place positive sites in the top search results -- which pushes the negative ones down."

Lubetkin's Other Blog: Posting only selected comments hurts blogs
"Most commentators in the blogosphere have railed against sanitized blogs as being inauthentic. It's my turn to join that chorus."

Online Public Relations Thoughts: Another Positive Development for PR
"The idea of citizen journalists is a positive for PR practitioners because it will give more entree into the news media."

Wet Feet PR: Pitching a profitable company
"It seemed like a good idea at first, but as we started exploring the consequences I changed my mind."