Monday, May 28, 2007

PR Program Gotchas

Guy Kawasaki has blogged on The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work. After groaning when I saw the title in my Feedblitz feed, I did click through, because I am such a Guy fan. The list could have been more cheerfully recast as the "The Top Ten Ways to Improve Your PR Program," but the title wouldn't have been as catchy.

Guy got the Top Ten from Margie Zable Fisher, who runs My favorites from the list:

The client has not gotten results quickly enough and ends the relationship too soon. Client should plan on conducting a campaign for a minimum of six months. And even that is aggressive. A year should really be the bare minimum to commit to PR The media works on its own timetable, which is usually much longer than the client’s.

Clients won’t change their schedules for the media.
Clients need to drop everything if the media calls. This may be inconvenient, but the media waits for no one. If you want to be a “media darling,” then you need to make yourself available at any time. Those who do will reap the best benefits and placements.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Mother's Day Surprise

This past Friday morning, I saw the Winston’s truck at the end of the driveway, which always makes my heart beat faster. If you live outside the Boston area, you may not know that a Winston’s delivery means an inventive, stunning floral arrangement will soon be gracing your dining room table.

But truth be told, I kinda expected this delivery. Which leads us to my tale of charming coincidence.

From time to time, CHEN PR enables the fundraisers at our local public radio station, WBUR, by doing a shift staffing the phones. It’s fun, and we get an on-air thank you. Most of us who participate do it because we’re big ‘BUR fans, but the CHEN plug is always a nice bonus.

Last Wednesday, we were taking calls for one of the most stressful fundraisers -- Mother’s Day with Winston Flowers. People ask hard questions like: “Are the hydrangeas a plant or cut flowers?” “Do you think the plant will survive in Michigan?” “Will they leave them on the porch if she’s not there?” “Will the card say it’s from WBUR?”

So I picked up the phone and immediately knew I had a problem caller. He explained that he had called in a few days before, but thought he may have given the number from one credit card and the expiration date from another. He wanted to check on that. I pulled up the free-form “Submit Problem” form, for the truly gnarly issues. I started through the form.

Me: “First name sir?”

Caller: “Carl.”

Me: “Oh my husband’s name is Carl."

Caller: "And it's a wonderful name, but unless his last name is 'Barnes,' then it's not me."

Me: “It is Barnes.”

Caller: "Barnes?"

I was speechless. My husband’s name is Carl Barnes.

Caller (very confused): “Barb??” (He later said I sounded so professional he didn’t recognize my voice, and I certainly hadn’t recognized his.)

So he'd forgotten that I'm at 'BUR that morning, but he said he figured that the number he was calling - from his confirmation email - was a help line, not the pledge line. And with 25-30 people on the phone bank, what are the odds he'd get me? (Well, roughly 3 to 4%.)

We’ve been telling everyone this story all week. The romantics say it’s because we’re just so connected. His partners, professional skeptics, say it's a good thing the flowers were actually for me. But I'll stand with his receptionist, who said it just proved that we're soul mates.

I love the flowers honey, and thanks for supporting WBUR.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Three Questions with David Weinberger, Author of Everything is Miscellaneous

David Weinberger's new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, is playing to rave reviews. David became a techceleb with the publication of The Cluetrain Manifesto, which ranked #6 on BusinessWeek's top 200 books in 2000. He is one of the four co-authors of the seminal work.

In a galaxy far away, David was a client when he was at Interleaf. Happily for me, we reconnected when we invited him to speak at the MIT Enterprise Forum's Brave New Web conference last February.

We are honored to have David participate in our Three Questions series, a regular feature in our (sometimes quarterly) e-newsletter; the Spring issue went out today. We were lucky enough to catch David before his book tour started. Since David is always worth sharing, we'll replay those questions here. If you don't get our newsletter and you'd like to, just email me. At the end of the Q&A, I've included some snippets from reviews.

You have a new book just out -- Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. Could you tell us a bit about it?

It turns out that the way we've organized ideas, information and knowledge for thousands of years duplicates the limitations on organizing physical objects. That's a terrible constraint that the digital world escapes. So, instead of thinking that we should have subject-matter experts come up with complex organizational schemes, we should instead just make a big honkin' pile of stuff. Put in every scrap of information, because it's not like we're going to run out of space in our digital bookshelf or closet. And rather than organizing it all ahead of time, give users the tools to sort and order it as they want at the moment. Then let users add their own information about the stuff, which will enable others to find even more. This enables businesses and their customers to get much more value out of the information available, it reduces the cost of building and maintaining the organizational system, and it greatly improves the customer experience. But, not coincidentally, it also challenges the authority of institutions that used to be able to tell us what's interesting and important in the huge miscellaneous pile of what we know. So, this is a big change not just in how we organize information, but in who gets to control what we know.

In your book, you talk about "meta-business." What's that about?

For decades we've been telling managers that, next to their people, information is their most important asset. But if you want the Web 2.0 network effects, you should let a lot of that information go. For example, airlines do very well by enabling sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz to have access to their flight schedule information. The travel sites add value to that information, if only by aggregating it with all the rest of the airlines' information, making it easier for people to make travel plans, and reducing the airlines' transaction costs. The same sort of externalizing of what used to be internal information is happening in industry after industry, from iTunes for music and Zillow for real estate. It's all part of the way business is becoming more miscellaneous, contributing to the huge pile of information, enabling people to innovate around how we're going to sort through it and

You recently spoke at the MIT Enterprise Forum’s Brave New Web conference and touched on Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. What’s important about the differences?

Web 2.0 points to three basic phenomena: Sites opening their data and services for use by other applications, the rise of content by users, and businesses taking advantage of "the network effect," i.e., the emergence of new and unexpected value as networks get bigger and more intensely linked. The first makes it far easier for people to create new applications, including "mashups" that combine the strength of multiple sites. The second was always the key driver of the Web's remarkable adoption curve. From the beginning, people jumped into this new world because we got to talk about what mattered to us, in our own voice, with other people. That's not new, but with the arrival of blogs, wikis and other social software, it's gotten even easier. The third - using network effects - has also been with us from the beginning, but as more people join the online world and as we create more and more links, you could say that the network effect has undergone its own network effect.


Review Snippets (See the book website for links)

"A great read." -- Robert Scoble

"I haven’t read a page-turner like this since the DaVinci Code." -- EducationPR blog

"...his (brilliant, must-read) new book..." -- Ethan Zuckerman

"every chapter in Everything is Miscellaneous brings new insight to the subject. This is a hell of a book"… an "instant classic." -- Cory Doctorow

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kawasaki: World's Best Presentations

I'm a fan of Kawasaki's blog, even if the title ("How to Change the World") is just a bit over the top. Beyond his track record, he's just a really good writer.

Guy's been promoting a competition by SlideShare. Since SlideShare does what you'd think it does - enabling people to share PowerPoint presos - it's been a smart way to get the company's name out there. Then, even smarter, the company picked powerblogger Kawasaki to judge it, along with other presentation superstars: Bert Decker, Garr Reynolds, and Jerry Weissman.

You can view the winning entries here. Guy blogs that:

The commonality you’ll see in these winners is big fonts, big graphics, and a “storytelling” orientation. These are three crucial qualities of a good presentation.

I'd also add really clean design, minimal text and color supersaturation. These presentations set the bar for PowerPoint. May we never be cursed with image-free, bullet-burdened slides again.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Murdoch Bids on Dow Jones

It's been a mixed couple of days for the media, underscoring how quickly the fate of venerable institutions can change:

Dow Jones today confirmed that its Board of Directors has received an unsolicited proposal from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to acquire the firm for about $5 billion. CNNMoney notes analysts say it is an offer that could prove tough for the Bancroft family (which controls the publisher of the Wall Street Journal) to turn down. This would park the trusted news source in the same stable as the The New York Post, Fox TV and MySpace. Wow.

Meanwhile, TechTarget filed a registration statement in February. TechTarget and its shareholders are hoping to raise more than $100 million in an IPO. You may recall that we all sat up and took notice in 2004 when TechTarget raised an eye-popping (I use that a lot don't I?) $70 million at a time when the technology publishing sector looked quite drowsy. TechTarget has demonstrated how to build a successful publishing enterprise on a new business model, with its network of more than 30 highly targeted sites. They sport nifty titles such as, and Some of the titles have been spun out into print.

And last, as someone who loves newspapers, I'm always sad to
read stories about the continuing decline in circulation. From AP yesterday: Weekday circulation at U.S. daily newspapers fell 2.1 percent in the latest six-month reporting period, according to figures released Monday, in the latest sign that people are turning to the Internet and other media for news. For our hometown paper, the Boston Globe, circulation fell 4 percent in the six-month period ending March 31, to 382,500 from 397,300 in the same period a year ago. The paper's Sunday circulation fell 7 percent to 562,300 from 604,100.

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