Thursday, January 26, 2006

PR is Cheap, Says P&G

It's always a heart-stopping moment when a positive article on PR appears and a cause for celebration. CHENer Nick Harris made my day yesterday when he flagged this pretty positive article (from The Economist, no less). The article asserts "...that for business, PR is an increasingly vital marketing tool -- especially as traditional forms of advertising struggle to catch consumers' attention."

It gets better. Procter & Gamble, a company reverred for its marketing prowess, reports in the article:

In a recent internal study, P&G concluded that the return was often better from a PR campaign than from traditional forms of advertising, according to Hans Bender, the firm's manager of external relations. One reason is that in comparison with many other types of marketing, PR is cheap. In P&G's case, it can represent as little as 1% of a brand's marketing budget. That proportion could now rise, says Mr Bender, although he hastens to add that other forms of advertising and marketing would remain important for the company.

Happy day!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

BzzAgent Gets Bucks, Scoring Victory for Word-of-Mouth Marketing

On Friday, BzzAgent announced an impressive $13.75 million B round from General Catalyst and IDG Ventures Boston. This is the smack up side the head for me that paid operatives for Word-of-Mouth marketing work, even if the whole notion makes me a bit squeamish.

I'm in total agreeement with many of the thought-provoking quotes on the site:

"The ongoing myth is that brands get built by advertising. Actually, the evidence is exactly the opposite. Brands get reinforced by advertising, but they get built by grassroots adoption and word of mouth." --Marc Andreessen, quoted in Fast Company, 2001

BzzAgent recruits individuals at its website to promote the marketing campaigns of company clients, which include heavyweights like Anheuser Busch, Cadbury Schweppes, Energizer Batteries, Ralph Lauren, and Levi's Dockers. The recruits are directed to perform various activities to generate word-of-mouth marketing.

The company has taken pains to stress honesty on the part of its agents; you can read the code of conduct here.

For a bit more background, here's an interesting read from Wharton, with a tutorial as well as an explanation of the ethical issues, summarized by this quote:

Wharton marketing professor Lisa Bolton is one of the hard-liners in the buzz marketing ethics debate. "I realize not all buzz marketing is subversive. Sometimes it's just a case of getting people on the street and getting the word out. But stealth marketing, where you don't know that something's part of a marketing campaign because people don't identify themselves as such? I thinks it's wrong. It's unethical. Over the long term, when people find out, they will feel deceived and betrayed. Ultimately, it will damage a company's brand equity."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Open Source All-Star Lineup on February 11

Give up a Saturday in February (Who wants to ski anyway?) and you can listen to some of the luminaries of the open source world in one handy spot. The MIT Enterprise Forum's Winter Conference, which typically attracts 400 people, will focus this year on the risks and rewards of open source technology. The event will be held on February 11 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Burlington Marriott. Enterprise Forum members can attend for just $95.00; non-members for $130.00. (Note: Early bird rates.)

I've had fun serving on a 12-person committee to help organize this event and we're thrilled that we've landed some of the really big names in this sector:

Matthew Szulik, Chairman, CEO and President, Red Hat
Marc Fleury, Founder, Chairman and CEO, JBoss

Panelists and Moderators:
Andy Astor, President and CEO, EnterpriseDB
Murray Berkowitz, Technology Partner, Kodiak Venture Partners
Larry Bohn, Managing Partner, General Catalyst Partners
Nat Friedman, Vice President, Linux Desktop, Novell
Theresa Friday, Vice President of Marketing, Palamida
Michael Goulde, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
Anne Thomas Manes, VP and Research Director, Burton Group
Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation
Stephen O'Grady, Analyst and Co-founder, RedMonk
Michael Overly, Partner, Foley and Lardner LLP
Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer, Sun Microsystems
Thomas J. Reynolds, Ph.D., Sr. Executive Director, Information
Systems and Technologies, Idenix Pharmaceuticals
William J. Rich, President and CEO, Pingtel
David R. Skok, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Bob Zurek, Director, Advanced Technologies, IBM Software Group

For bios on these notable presenters, check here. To register, check here.