Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Exclusives and Embargoes and Onlines - Oh My!

Exclusives are simply "a euphemism for a story I don't want to write….Don't try to dress up a piece of non-news as an exclusive," advised Paul Roberts, an IDG News Service correspondent, when asked recently for his perspective on this common tactic.

Paul Gillin, editor in chief for TechTarget, was a tad more direct: "In general, I advise you never to do exclusives in print or online. You give CNET an exclusive, and 10 minutes later everyone has picked up on it and you've got dozens of reporters pissed off at you, for a jump of 15 minutes that no reader notices."

This spicy exchange ensued at a panel organized by Business Wire earlier this Fall. The session, entitled "Targeting Online Media," featured Gillin and Roberts, as well as Melanie Nayer, Business Section Content Producer for Boston.com. The primary focus of the discussion was on how online media differs from other news formats. Biz Wire's Sanford Paek, who moderated, kicked off with a stat from the Pew Internet and American Life Project report: 128 million adults in America are online, and 63% of them get their news online.

Beyond exclusives, the group chatted about differences between online and print. The ever-articulate Gillin noted that onlines can "target their audience by addressing people at a very fine level of need." (When a guy has helped raise $70 million for a publishing enterprise in this economic environment, I listen pretty closely to what he has to say.) Gillin noted that NetworkWorld has more than 30 email newsletters, illustrating the point that you can be very segmented with this medium. "We're moving towards 1 to 1 marketing because onlines give you the economics to do so," said Gillin.

Roberts gave some good advice on embargoes: "At IDG, if you give us a story under embargo, we can talk with customers and analysts to do a fully developed story." He strongly suggested getting live agreement on the embargo by phone, rather than leaving this often complex process of give-and-take to a protracted email exchange. He advised calling about 5 days in advance. "But be smart about it. If my competitor gets wind of the story and runs with it, I will too. If I'm dealing with Microsoft, who can punish me until the day I retire, I might think twice, but otherwise, I'm gonna run it."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Another Firefox Zealot!

So rarely does anything in tech these days warrant the term “phenomenon,” but Firefox surely does.

CHENer Kevin Kosh has been raving glassy-eyed about Firefox for quite some time now and I finally decided last week to see what all the fuss was about. And now I know. I haven’t been so in love with a piece of desktop software since Xywrite. Those tabs are a beautiful thing. The whole design is so intuitive that the transition time is zilch.

On Friday afternoon, our pal and ace Sun blogger Jim Grisanzio recommended checking out PR pro Steve Rubel’s blog. This led to Rebecca Lieb’s terrific article on the marketing of Firefox, which is one of those rare campaigns that really does break brand new ground. Lieb aptly terms it open source marketing. Best to read it for yourself, as she says it so well.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Meet Clip the Wonder Dog

Meet Clip! Posted by Hello

Software: Days of Double-Digit Growth are Dust

While we are still basking in the afterglow from the recent jaw-dropping, record-breaking, toe-curling World Series win for our beloved Red Sox, news reports seem determined to burst our balloon with a gloomy outlook for tech.

First, it was a tad depressing last week when IDC’s Tony Picardi reported that “the double-digit growth rates experienced in the last decade [in software] will not return in the foreseeable future.” IDC is projecting a 6.2 % increase in growth for global software revenue in 2004. This year is expected to ring in at $189 billion, up from $178 billion last year.

Then, pig-piling on, The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Nov. 9 about CIO do-it-yourselfers who are making do with what they have (the nerve) instead of demanding the latest bright new shiny tech toy, which we all know is the American Way. According to the story, corporate tech spending grew roughly 15% in the first half of the year compared with last year, but slowed to 9% in Q3.

But there are bright spots. A Merrill Lynch survey of 50 North American IT execs says segments like business intelligence, data warehousing and security will be hot. IDC reports that open source software will be the fourth most popular platform by 2008, compared to the No. 7 spot it currently holds. And none other than Kim Polese, CEO of new open source startup SpikeSource, told CNET that the software industry is heading into a renaissance, with “software going into every conceivable appliance or object that people interact with in daily life.”

So I’ll stick with the glass half full crowd on this one. We might not see 20% growth again for some time, but there is still tremendous innovation ahead.