Sunday, April 30, 2006

Who's Listening to Podcasts?

According to a recent InfoWeek article citing Forrester Research,"Only one percent of online households in the United States regularly download podcasts from a PC to portable media players.... Nevertheless, interest remains high, and people are expected to use the technology more in time."

By the end of this year, Forrester projects 700,000 U.S. households will listen to podcasts and by 2010, the number will soar to 12.3 million.

But bear in mind that this report focuses on the average consumer. What about technologists, who are more likely early adopters of technologies such as podcasting?

InfoWorld has tried to tackle that question with a survey by Palmer Research. Palmer surveyed 1253 respondents, of which 706 downloaded a podcast in the past six months. Over a third of the respondents had downloaded a podcast in the last month. The survey was conducted from February 23 through March 2, 2006.

To give credit where due, this data is from a presentation by Paul Calento, VP of marketing and research, InfoWorld --

The group rated podcasts as the second most favorite IT information resources (on a 7 point scale):
  • IT publication rated 5.37 (mean)
  • Podcast rated 4.96
  • Email newsletters rated 4.81
  • Blogs rated 3.96
The respondents' job functions broke out as follows:
  • 65.8% -- IT/Networking
  • 25.3% -- Business management
  • 8.9% -- Other
They represented the following industries:
  • 42.4% -- General Business
  • 28.1% -- Computer Related/Consultants
  • 19.3% -- Government & Education
  • 10.1% -- Other
How long should a podcast run? (A really useful question!)
  • 34% -- 10-19 minutes
  • 22% -- 6-9 minutes
  • 20% -- 4-5 minutes
  • 18% -- over 20 minutes
It wouldn't be accurate to say podcasts are all the rage, but clearly they're a valuable and influential part of the mix for the technology audience.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Who, What, When, Where, Why

From my co-founder Brenda Nashawaty…

Last week I had the privilege of co-moderating a PRSourceCode Webinar on how to work with InformationWeek, with the outlet’s new Editor-in-Chief Rob Preston. Rob, who’s been in tech journalism for nearly 20 years, also is VP and Editorial Director of Business Technology Group (publications include InformationWeek, Network Computing and Intelligent Enterprise).

During the Webinar I asked Rob for the top five macro issues he and his team are following with the most interest. Rob’s response:

--The Consumer effect
--Data management

Rob’s presentation and the audio link to the session follow. Before you click on the link here’s some helpful advice Rob provided about working with InformationWeek. It applies to most business or technology media outlets as well:

Know the editors and explore your coverage options. Most media outlets offer a range of print and online opportunities for coverage. It could be that a media outlet’s online newsletter is a better venue for your client’s news than the print edition.

Engage editors and reporters in an ongoing dialog to build the kind of relationship that leads to coverage. Email and call journalists to update them on significant trends, news and other developments instead of waiting until you have hard news. This helps editors and reporters think of your clients in a larger business context and can help generate visibility and coverage.

And remember the importance of bringing journalists a story that will provide useful information to their readers. The old phrase "who, what, when, where, why" still applies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Secrets to Successful SaaS

The joke around SaaS circles (pretty geeky cliques apparently): "How do you get to $600 million in revenues on the Saas model? You raise $175 million!!!" (Enthusiastic laughter.)

This joke (a shot at the war chest raised by SaaS poster child was shared by Jim Geisman, president of software pricing firm MarketShare, as he moderated a Mass TLC panel yesterday on Software as a Service. This richly informative panel shared the ups and downs of the Saas business model from two perspectives: that of startups and the view for legacy software firms who want to shift totally or in part to a SaaS model.

Jay Muelhoefer/PTC (our host) noted that some firms seem to think they can "throw some on-demand dust on their product" and get more funding and visibility. But he noted there are other considerations, such as security issues and the need to maintain 24x7 uptime. In addition, for software vendors with ingrained cultures and architectures, major changes may be required.

Bob Nealon/IBM noted that many existing software vendors are chosing a hybrid model. These firms need to think about their "routes to market." Will the sales force/channel partners/resellers stay the same and how do you compensate them?

The attorney on hand, James Nelson/DLA Piper, noted that the SaaS model takes much of the pain from customers, but on the vendor side, you're assuming more risk. He suggested spending more time upfront working through the operational details with your hosting provider (most likely a third party; IBM is happy to step in for this role). You also need to think through service-level commitments and factor this into your agreements.

From the VC perspective, Michael Skok/North Bridge noted that his firm currently has eight SaaS portfolio companies (including our market-leading client, Phase Forward). He estimates that it takes 2-3 times the amount of funding to get a SaaS company to liquidity. There are important considerations over the old software models. SaaS companies have to bear risks to be managed and support people have to be front-lined trained.

Muelhoefer noted that customers don't care about the reason behind the glitch if something goes wrong: "You're only as good as your last subscription month."

Will SaaS continue to be focused on the SMB market? Skok noted that major companies are adopting right now. "It will catch on in the enterprise but they are slower to change their business processes."

Monday, April 10, 2006

We Couldn't Make this Stuff Up

Reuters ran a story today on the news that a number of major newspapers, including the venerable Washington Post, will be subscribing to BlogBurst, a syndicated service from Pluck Corp. According to the story:

Newspapers are looking to BlogBurst to provide expert blog commentary on travel, women's issues, technology, food, entertainment, and local stories -- areas where publishers may not have dedicated staff, Pluck's chief executive, Dave Panos, said.

This news comes on the heels of a Fortune story last week by David Kirkpatrick: "Does old media love the Web too much?" Kirkpatrick observes:

Some of the biggest companies seem to have stopped fighting the Web and instead fallen in love with it. They think it is better than they are -- that there is no answer other than to completely submit.

I don't think this is a case of self loathing on the part of traditional publishing. Newspapers are just changing with the times and leveraging another content channel for tuned content for micro audiences.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Steve Jobs and his Electrifying Presentations

Speaking coach Carmine Gallo gives five tips on how Jobs delivers the goods in BusinessWeek.
  • Sell the benefit
  • Practice, practice and practice some more
  • Keep it visual
  • Exude passion, energy and enthusiasm
  • "And one more thing" (Close on a high note)
It feels like a Jobs worship morning, as I see that Vanity Fair (my favorite guilty read) has a glowing piece on him as well and their content is finally online:

With some perspective—and 30 years will do—it turns out that in critical ways the media business is such a tectonic-plate-shifting, existentially precarious place because of Steve Jobs. What Jobs has been doing these last 30 years, while everyone thought that all he was up to was his specialized, la-di-da stuff, was literally re-inventing, revolutionizing even—thinking truly differently about—every aspect of the media business.

He's certainly not been afraid to blaze his own path.

Dateline London -- Random Travel Musings

More musings from Veep Wambold...
  • You know you’ve been in London for a while when you’ve conquered the change. I took pride by the end of our week in not making the people in line behind me wait three minutes while I sorted out my 2 pence, 50 pence, 1 pound and 2 pound pieces to pay for a bottled water.
  • The Tube is impressively intuitive. By the end of the week Chris and I were whipping our Oyster Cards around like Hugh Grant. We got on one wrong train in one week – not bad considering we must have ridden the Tube 20+ times.
  • Is it just me, or were the pubs in London much less smoky this time around? And is it also me, or does the Guinness on tap somehow taste just that much better in London? Make that a whole lot better.
  • As a rule, I try to avoid patronizing American stores in other countries, to try to learn a little about their culture. But Starbucks zealot that I am, man was it hard to walk past the Starbucks in London or Paris every day without getting myself a Grande Somalian or Gold Coast!
  • Thanks to the Parisians I met for not reaffirming the stereotypes of Parisians who detest Americans. Those that I encountered graciously worked with me while I stumbled through my extensive twelve word French vocabulary.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dateline London -- Measurement: A Universal Language

More thoughts from Mr. Wambold's travels...

The Holy Grail of PR is a sound, quantifiable ROI measurement model. Of course holy grails become holy grails because their success is elusive. To put it another way, it ain’t easy to quantify PR programs. There are subjective issues at the most fundamental level (is all PR good PR? – even that supposed truism is frequently debated), and debatable quantifiable propositions (Does a full page article readily translate into the cost for a full page ad?).

This was another of the issues Chris and I put to our U.K. and European counterparts during our recent trip to London. And to state it succinctly, this problem exports (or imports, depending on where you sit).

Our counterparts told us that they face the very same challenges in quantifying their PR programs in their countries that we do in ours. Clients justifiably and understandably want to hold communications programs accountable for investment ROI just like every other aspect of the business is.

Mostly, our own sentiments were echoed that it is less important to work on the "correct" measurement metric than it is to propose a measurement metric.

This coincides with the fact that while most of our clients want to see some quantifiable ROI, what form that takes varies greatly with their own individual business goals and needs. There are industry standards – our agency utilizes the Weighted Opportunities to See metric as its model – but in our experience, one-size-fits-all measurement programs work about as well as one-size-fits-all PR programs. By embracing our clients’ desire to measure the effectiveness of our work on their behalf and utilizing industry standard methods, while at the same time customizing that model just like we customize other aspects of their PR model, our clients tell us we’re striking the right balance. And what we heard last week is that a similar model is gaining acceptance in the U.K. and Europe.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dateline London -- CHEN PR's Law of Technology Evolution

The first in a series of posts from a recent U.K. swing by my globetrotting colleagues Chris Carleton and Randy Wambold. This first post is from Veep Wambold...

Dating back to my experience in the telecommunications market seven or eight years ago, conventional wisdom has been that the U.K. and Europe lagged U.S. technology trends by 18 months or so. There have been exceptions of course – the ubiquity and sophistication of mobile phones to cite one – but for the most part, this “technology lag” seemed accepted as a truism.

Fifteen months ago I had the opportunity to test this truism first hand. My colleague Chris Carleton and I were in London for a series of meetings. Blogs were emerging in the U.S. market as serious communications tools for high tech companies, moving beyond individual soap boxes. As communications professionals, we were spending a lot of time thinking with our clients about the influence of blogs, and their potential as another communications vehicle.

As we took part in several days of meetings in December ‘04, we frequently asked our counterparts in the U.K. and Europe about their experience with blogs. Few reported they were doing any serious thinking about blogs, and some confessed they weren’t quite sure what blogs were.

Chris and I just finished another series of meetings in London with both U.K. and European audiences. Fifteen months later, podcasting, not blogs, is on the tips of our tongues, seeming to be roughly where blogs were 15 months ago – lots of discussion about their use as a PR vehicle, but so far, limited implementation.

However, this time, many of our counterparts seemed every bit as up to speed on this emerging channel. None of the people we talked to were unfamiliar with podcasts, and all or almost all are, like us, spending time thinking about their use.

Maybe it’s time to propose a Law of Technology Evolution: the previously existing technology lag between different continents on the world is inversely related to the speed at which technology increases global interconnectedness. Look out, Gordon Moore.