Two GREAT Marketing Podcasts

April 3, 2007

I know they have their knockers but marketing podcasts are a great benefit to the community. Here are a couple of new episodes that I’ve listened to a couple of times each.

The Client Side

Michael Seaton chats with Shel Holtz about why he thinks Google’s days are numbered. Just as a side note, I’m pretty sure Flickr was bought by Yahoo!, not Google…

He also covers Bum Rush the Charts with some input from yours truly. I was honoured to be asked back and it looks as if I’ll be a regular contributer to The Client Side.

Forward Podcast

My friend Paull Young (the thief), along with a slew of other social media initiatives and getting hired in New York, runs a fantastic resource for aspiring and entry level public relations professionals called the Forward Podcast. He recently interviewed my colleagues David Bradfield and Chet Gulland during his stay in New York. Last week he also interviewed Spin Doctor Dave and myself on ways to differentiate yourself as an entry level agency hire.

My advice? Use your energy, enthusiasm and blank slate to your advantage. Harrass your bosses with great ideas and take what work you are given as a starting point, not an end goal.

Take a listen and let the podcasters know what you think.


Third Tuesday Toronto with Shel Holtz

November 15, 2006

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I think the rather cack-handed photography says it all.

Shel Holtz held court last night with the Third Tuesday Toronto crew and talked about his favourite subjects – curling and podcasting.

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Unfortunately I had to run out half way through in order to play football (it was the last game of the season, and yes, we won. 1-0) and was very rude to Julie for not introducing myself or taking some time to chat with her.

Julie, I’m so sorry I was so rude and next time I’ll be sure to get over myself and we can meet properly.

Here are some of my notes but I’m sure there will be other, more comprehensive postings going around. I think that Joe Thornley had the laptop open…

Scarey. Social media terminology is hopeless and scares the crap out of people who aren’t “in the club”. Shel was talking about ID3 tags and while I was cursing FIR‘s inability to chapterise their shows, other people were looking at him in sheer bewilderment. Just as business-management gobbledygook and marketing doublespeak alienate people, I think we are in danger of forming an elitist group that, unconsciously, pushes those who aren’t “in the know” away. This would be ridiculous considering anyone can get all the knowledge they need to start a blog or podcast after a weekend of reading.

Best Practices. Businesses should look to independent podcasters/social media adopters to get their best practices. Independents podcast to create a community; businesses podcast to make money. Independents lead the way.

Podmarketing. Don’t be overly commercial. Focus on the part of you customer’s life you want to make better and give them the tools to improve it. They’ll associate your brand with that part of their life, and for the improvement. Guess this goes for blogging as well.

Adoption. Lawyers and financial controllers are always looking to justify innovation with ROI. What is the ROI of blogging/podcasting? Internally and externally? What is the ROI of my pants? Pants keep you warm, create a (fashion) statement and cover your arse. Maybe that’s what social media does as well.

Sidebar – I’m guessing Shel meant these pants, not these pants.

New Game. With all the jargon and impenetrable lingo, is it about time we came up with social media bingo? Magnum and I were whispering at the back of the class like naughty school kids about this. Phrases to use could include:

  • Power of social media
  • Wisdom of the crowds
  • Join the conversation
  • Engagement
  • Democratization of the media
  • …any other suggestions in the comments!

Thanks to Shel for being such a mensch and providing an informative, lively and, most importantly, funny talk.

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Terry Fallis and Shel Holtz.

Additional reading:

Donna Pappacosta – Shel Holtz does Toronto


BMBY – the picture edition.

November 3, 2006

Here’s what my new Bauer-esque set up looks like (still messy!)

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Here’s what Neil and I got up to on Wednesday night – recording with Amber Mac for Talking Tech, the podcast we produce for Mark Evans and Kevin Restivo.

 

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Sometime yesterday I hit 10,000 visitors. Or page views. My free analytics from WordPress doesn’t tell me but thanks to everyone who’s taken their time to check out my humble blog!

 

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Finally, over (Canadian) Thanksgiving I went boozing in Hunstville with my girlfriend’s cousins who just sent me this pretty amazing picture. Try to ignore the drunken idiots in the picture and appreciate the great view. *Wistfully remembers the hot balmy days of early October*

 

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*Updated with normal size images*


Backlash Week

October 29, 2006

Does your neck hurt?  Mine does.  Maybe it’s from sitting too close to the computer at work, maybe it’s from too many headers playing footy but more likely it’s sympathy pain from the amount backlashes I’ve been seeing this week.

Backlashes against marketers invading Second Life; backlashes from PRs and advertisers invading the mommy-blogosphere, backlashes against consultants, backlashes against the internet and backlashes against poorly dressed NBA players.  Lets not forget the backlash against Wikipedia edits either.

Clearly, these are all important issues to the people involved but the one’s that interest me the most, as a PR guy with a vested interest in social media, are the marketers vs Second Life inhabitants and mommy bloggers vs the corporate influence.

Is there any place for any sort of marketing in the consumer controlled world?  Social media is being trumpeted by many as the key for PR to get into the C-suite, bigger budgets and an all round glow of wonderfulness.  Are we right to have drunk the Kool-aid or should we proceed with caution?

As with any new thing there is bound to be a backlash from the early adopters over the invasion of marketers into their newly established eutopia but will it die down?  crayon must have expected this backlash from the community of people they are so deeply tapped into but how will they counteract the, vitriolic, rejection of a) their cornerstone claim to be the first company to launch in Second Life and b) their very existence by the people they are supposed to be marketing to. 

I’m a Second Life sceptic.  The potential is boundless for companies in the "game" but will any company be able to come up with anything as the snail races and flying centaurs described in the Second Life Herald article?  Will any brand manager go to her boss and, with a straight face, put on her desk a plan that calls for an investment into flame haired unicorns playing football against disembodied purple legs as a "brand engagement" exercise?  I doubt it.

Marketing in Second Life ruins the very raison d’etre of the platform, tries to corporatize and homogenize something that by definition is about freedom of expression – not bland corporate identity.  Thoughts, especially contrarian thoughts are welcome in the comments section!

Is there even any room for marketers in the blogosphere?  There’s a cottage industry, if I can call it that, of mommy boggers and wherever there are eyeballs, there will marketers and PRs insiduously trying to insert coverage for their clients for unsuspecting readers.

Or so the arguement goes.  From my perspective, as a, ahem, "senior consultant, internet communications" I would say that the interests of the client brand would be better served as a content provider, not as an influencer.

Why?  Well, for a number of reasons.  First is the cack-handed nature of on-line outreach that can go on.  Bloggers are as likely to publicise your awful, off target spam as they are to publicise your product or service.  Even if they do write about your product, they may come off feeling slightly dirty and used.  Once bitten, twice shy.

Second is the agency’s finance department. PR has always seen media relations, the time taken to pick up a phone or write an email, as the primary profit generator.  The campaign can be as elaborate as you like but the success or failure depends on the media relations.  Just as ad agencies see the media buy as the profit centre, rather than the creative itself. 

How many junior people (the people doing the media relations with the profit margin baked into their salary/billing rate) really understand the blogosphere, blogging and contacting bloggers?  Not many.  So now the senior staff have to dedicate their billable hours (with less profit margin) to Technorati searches (which are broken anyway) and outreach to bloggers.  It’s just not that profitable anymore.

Something that is profitable is the consulting, design and execution of a blog.  Teaching executives how to write, monitoring the industry’s bloggers to find interesting things to say, designing a cool looking blog, getting that blog into the RSS readers or favourites folders of your target audience (online outreach of sorts). That’s where the money is.

Manufacturing companies made the change into marketing companies a long time ago.  Maybe its time us PRs made the switch from marketing agencies into content providers?

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Questions for Messrs Jaffe, Chapman, Holtz and Hobson

October 19, 2006

OK, I’ll bite.

Following this week’s announcement that Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson and CC Chapman have been lured into the clutches of one Joseph Jaffe, I’ve only seen one post, from Michael Seaton, about their new “company”.

However, they have asked to be interviewed about this nameless new/social media company. After the Adam and Joe show fiasco (this is the only Adam and Joe show I actually listen to now) Jaffe lambasted his (loyal) listeners for not “picking up the gauntlet” and doing something. What exactly, he may or not have said. I think I fell asleep or turned off.

I saw a few commenters on CC Chapman’s blog wanting to interview the Fantastic Four but I thought, what the hell, I’ll do a new sort of interview, one that’s based out of my post and conducted in the comments. So here are my questions for Shel, Neville, Joseph, CC and anyone else who works for the newly minted company. Which, incidentally, I hope fares slightly better than the god-awful movie-of-the-comic I referenced.

*Update* Now with an answer!

  • What is the name of the new company? crayon.
  • What is the management structure? Who is CEO, who is on the executive board etc?
  • Did you receive VC/angel investment; if so, from who?
  • What’s your first year projected turnover?
  • What does your client pipeline look like? Do you have any clients for the new firm?
  • What is happening to your current clients – are they now clients of the un-named company?
  • From what I can gather, Shel has mostly internal comms clients and gets paid from the PR budget as does Neville; Joseph has “marketing” clients and would get a piece of the larger marketing budget as a result. How will this dichotomy get sliced up when it comes to paying the salaries/commission? I’m presuming that this isn’t an “eat what you kill” deal.
  • It’s easy to be a pundit when your income is determined by how contraversial your views are; but harder to be a consultant when you could end up criticising someone you or a colleague may be/about to be working with. For instance, CC could blast a U.S. company’s marketing campaign just before Neville is asked to work with their EMEA subsidiary. Do you forsee having to temper your collectively forthright views to reflect this?

Answers in the comments section please! Many thanks and good luck with your new venture.

*Update* some people are less than impressed though


Technology news

October 5, 2006

I need a break from some particularly heavy editing I’m doing right now so I thought I’d cover two media/marketing topics that fell into my lap this afternoon.

First out of the gate was a resumption of the pay-per-post debate. Back in July, a company called, suitably enough, Pay-Per-Post started offering bloggers cash for posting on a variety of topics – the money coming from the companies who needed some love.

Back then I was a little skeptical – the line between editorial and advertising is, after all a sacred one, no matter how some editors cut it. But for someone looking for a second income stream that’s 100 per cent legal, why not. In my mind, as long as it’s fully disclosed there’s no harm, no foul.

I even thought about starting a second blog that was dedicated to earning some money to pay for some optional extras that a mid-level PR can’t really afford. Like a laptop. Or a diamond ring. Whatever.

Then I forgot about it and started my new job – which is still just as shiny as any diamond ring. Until today.

I read (somewhere…) that PPP had raised some $3m in Series A funding from a group of VCs and that there was a TalkCrunch interview on the subject. So I had a listen and thought about it some more.

Now I really don’t think there’s a big deal. PPP isn’t killing blogging, it’s acting as the Lloyd’s of London of the blogging world. Instead of broking insurance, they’re brokering links. I’m not sure how much each link is worth to a start-up tech company, but it’s probably a fair bit – the TechCrunch dude said some $300 – and considerably more than its worth to a blogger.

I link to people and things all the time and don’t give it a second thought. Now you’re telling me that each time I press “ctrl-k” I’m essentially donating $300 to someone?

So, I went to PPP and had a mozy around. As I thought, they’re taking advantage of the huge differential between what the link is worth to the blogger (nothing) and what its worth to the “client”. If I’m not getting anything for this post, and someone says “Hey buddy, fancy $15 for 5 mins work?” I’ll probably say yes. If PPP charges their client $150 and it’s worth $300 to the client, and everything is properly and fully disclosed, who losses out?

If I followed Dave onto Living Dot and my own domain, I’d be paying $20 a month for the privilege of blogging. If I decided to add in adwords to the new site, I may make enough for a cup of hot chocolate each month. Or I could do this.

As long as it’s properly disclosed. Now, if I went to Blogger and started a new blog and posted one of these PPP posts each day for $15 a day, I’d be making an additional $100 a week. $5k a year. For a few minutes work a day. Enough for a laptop and a new TV or a dullish diamond.

However, it does seem as if PPP is concerned that the bloggers get identified as spam blogs by the search engines which is why they are a) asking for final approval of all text to ensure there isn’t more than one link per 100 words (the magic number) and b) not making a big deal over people disclosing.

The second thing is that my podcasting client is moving jobs. Mark Evans, for whom Dave, Neil and I do some pro bono work for, has accepted a job as VP of Operations at b5media, the day they announced they had raised $2m in VC cash.

Congratulations! I don’t understand why more journalists don’t have their own personal blogs? Clearly it gives you more career options – how many “old” media guys have become “new” media stars? Tom, Om and Michael are just three that this newbie blogger can think of off the top.

Just one question – should he now go back and disclose the posts he wrote on b5media earlier this year?!

And a bonus conversation. Michael Seaton has finally got around to launching a podcast, even if it’s not the one he’s been teasing the Toronto blogging community about. The Money Clip is Scotiabank’s new personal finance podcast and, as one of my colleagues here at Fleishman-Hillard said, “when people who’ve been on The Street for 50 years sign off on something like this, you know it’s going to be big”.

A worthy addition to the personal finance section of my blogroll go check it out or subscribe via iTunes.


BMBY makes The Power 50

September 19, 2006

Many thanks to Sean Moffit over at the always excellent Buzz Canuck for providing yet more fodder for my bloglines in the shape of his “The Power 50: Canada’s Brilliantly Crazy & Enlightened Marketing/Media Bloggers” list.

My bloglines is now overflowing and, with more than 100 new entries when I sat down for work this morning, is now in need of a good purge once I get used to the new additions.

I just hope voting for the list was all above board but I’m predicting a scandal over hanging chads after he included this blog alongside media luminaries such as Mathew Ingram, Mark Evans (whose podcast I help to produce) and Malcolm Gladwell.

There are also a number of PR colleagues on the list such as Joe Thornley, Colin McKay, Chris Clarke and Lisa Walker.  Emboldened by being on the list (twice) my boss, Dave Jones, goes one step further and calls out the Toronto agencies that don’t have a presence on the list.  The full list is below – hopefully I can rig the voting somehow and get in next time round as well.

In other news, tonight I’ll be meeting one half of For Immediate Release and one half of the Shel double act to hit the big Tee-dot over the next week.  Kathyrn Lagden and Michael Seaton have graciously invited me for dinner with Shel Holtz tonight ahead of his appearance at an AIMS special event.

The second half of the double act, Shel Israel, hits town next Tuesday as part of the Third Tuesday meet-up.  I just found out that despite competing against the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we’ve attracted more than 60 communications professionals!  Wow.  See you there.

The Crazy & Enlightened Marketing/Media Canuck Bloggers

Do you represent a laptop manufacturer or retailer? Do you want your logo here? If you do, please email me!


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