Wednesday, December 15, 2010

accelerated idiot

I'm intrigued by Faith Popcorn's assertion she refers to as 99 Lives and how it relates to Trendwatching's Pricing Pandemonium.

We live in such an accelerated culture facilitated by the internet and constant connectivity. Those who choose to be 'off the grid' have become an anomaly. Everyday day exchanges are interlaced with language that pushes this acceleration faster and faster. Take for example a simple exchange between business colleagues where by one might be rushing to catch a flight would say "...shoot me an email. I'll read it on the plane from my phone." Imagine if you were one of the people who chooses to remain 'off the grid,' meaning in this example, that you would not likely use a smart phone to read email rather, you exclusively use email at work or home. In this example, your lack of connectivity and ability to respond to the accelerated request would be as if a bomb went off.

So, I'm still compelled to ask: What have people sacrificed for this acceleration? It is after all an acceleration of convenience. What it is not is an acceleration of quality. Quality meaning a better end product faster. If you put a lower quality product out faster, do the math, you are not necessarily any farther ahead.

In the Pricing Pandemonium assertion, we can see a real benefit of the acceleration: Price promotion (hopefully) resulting in more product moving faster because more people acted faster than would have in previous promotional models. However, the acceleration cited in 99 Lives cannot be good in the long term. The pressure to perform on multiple levels and be 'on' at all times has obvious disadvantages.

What have you or your business sacrificed for this acceleration? Is it advancing you or your business or, in fact, causing a delay or reduction somewhere? Is there any real benefit you can realize by choosing not to participate in the race and opt rather for a 'slow and steady' strategy?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

time flies when you're making hay

It's been ages since I've had a post here. In fact, much longer than I realized.

There's three reasons for that: 1) the weather is starting to break in my corner of the world, so I spend less time in front of the computer, 2) I'm not that interesting, and 3) I'm going great guns at a market research firm... finally and at least for now.

Make hay while the sun shines, to coin phrase. I don't think this recession is going to let up for a very long time. Do the best you can and hang tough.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Multi Media's New Meaning

I read the Vocus white paper recently, 2010 State of the Media: An Analysis of the Changing Media Landscape by the Vocus Media Research Team. Their findings were more alarming than I would have originally thought, but they were consistent with the realities of recession era business. To get media attention now, your flexibility and creativity are more necessary than ever.
Consider these figures from the report:  In 2009, there were 293 newspaper closures and 1,126 magazines folded. Many of these closures in print media affected broadcast media adversely due to bankruptcies amongst the companies with multiple media outlets that include both print and broadcast. Bankruptcies plagued the television industry for most of the year affecting approximately 100 stations. This would have been largely transparent to many of the regular viewers because the changes were happening behind the scenes in the form or reorganization. Radio lost jobs and had major cut backs as well; however, streaming to online sources is likely to continue. Airing of nationally syndicated shows versus original programming will continue as a cost saving measure.
These losses are significant because, during many of these reorganizations, partnerships and news-sharing agreements were common in the first and second quarter. This sharing of news stories and footage is not happening just amongst local stations either, it is affecting major markets.
So what does this mean for small business trying get media attention? The most significant thing to ask your PR person to consider when you are approaching the media now is this: How will my story look and read across multiple media formats? That is to say, if I plan an outbound message have you considered the story beyond the initial format in which a reporter traditionally works (ie: print vs. broadcast)? Reporters, like many professionals are being asked to do more with less. In many cases they are required to keep a blog, or repurpose a story from a news partner above and beyond their traditional roles.
When you understand that the new media landscape includes photos, video and audio so that a story can be published beyond a single source, you and your PR person increase the likelihood of your story running. Journalists are hungry for these complimentary mediums and your PR person should be planning ahead to help them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Toyota Should Blow It's Own Horn

One cardinal rule about public relations is to position yourself in the marketplace and media before they can position you.

When you have a brand as strong and powerful as Toyota, it's easy to cite the metaphor that ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall.’ I think the fact that Toyota’s manufacturing woes were front page, above the fold, lead stories in the news media for a week, proves that a short, slippery slope exists when it comes to brand loyalty. Customers could turn very quickly in this climate.

However, this is a story about what can be done right with your positioning and CRM. The CEO was on the Today Show within a day or two of the crisis going national. He was assuring and not defensive. He put himself out there before he would have been forced to make a statement.

Then, the really luck break, the Superbowl Ad. The timing was pure luck. A captive, national audience watched a carefully crafted brand ad produced in sobering black and white. The ad reinforced their legacy and commitment to customer service.

Last, while the story is still hot, they are staying in front of the media by releasing proactive, solutions-oriented stories. The Prius issue is still pending while I write this, but I know their solution is in progress.

So what about social media? I’m not a Toyota owner, but you can guarantee there is a loyal community out there, and they have opinions. This is where Toyota should focus moving forward. Start the two-way conversation with customers, and be above board with who is actually contributing to the chatter. In other words, don’t pretend to be a customer in the conversation, be a representative who is listening, leading and learning from your base.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What it means to hang tough.

The recession stings right now, but I press on. I press hard and hang tough in the face of adversity. Don't let set backs undermine your objective. Stay focused on your goal and be willing to find workarounds.

I sent a self promotion in Q4 2009 in order to stay in front of people and expand my reach. Eblasts that I had been sending for a year or so were getting stopped-up at the server level in a lot of cases. I had been sending an average of 90 eblasts and was getting an open rate that was hovering at around 60%. Not bad. The problem though, is that figure is misleading. Out of the 90 eblasts sent only 50 were actually making it past recipient firewalls rendering 40 people completely missing it altogether. I was in reality only reaching approximately 30 people. 

Since the objective was to stay in front of potential clients and/or employers, I knew I had to get a punchier concept, change my tactic, and keep going. I opted for direct and packed a bigger punch in the copy and art direction.

I saved a little money on postage by dropping vendors off my list and focusing solely on prospective employers and clients. Yes, vendors are great people to stay in touch with because they are more mobile in the marketplace than most employers and clients. They see what's happening in the big picture--but for this direct campaign, the budget took over and I had to ditch them until the next eblast.

Here are the headlines:

You have the will to be FIERCE.
Benefit from tenacity and a dedicated work ethic to support your plan.

Your own team can be TOUGH.
Work with creative talent that has ideas and solutions worth yellin' about.

The budget is so TIGHT.
Smooth the rough spots with exceptional process efficiencies and reasonable rates.

Your critics will be ENVIOUS.
Gain a partner that has a service-based approach that keeps everyone satisfied.

Fierce, tough, tight and envious were all meant to evoke an emotion and lighten the prevailing mood about the business climate in general. The promise associated with the campaign was a strong partner (freelance or full time) who is dedicated helping those who ARE employed, to stay that way, and to be successful. 

The campaign was well received, but let's face it, budgets do remain tight--and as a freelancer in this economy, you have no choice than to stick to it and make everyday an adventure.

More ramblings to come.   ;-)