Bloggers & PR People Should Be Friends

05/16/2008

I've been thinking about this post for several weeks and was inspired by Mack Collier's post on Daily Fix to finally put thoughts to virtual paper.

First a little background: I'm a marketer who blogs. I have never been a journalist nor have I ever worked in a PR firm. I was once a director for a non profit and with that came many hats including media relations. My deep dark secrets are I would have loved to have been a foreign correspondence wearing those cute jackets with zillions of pockets, drinking Scotch and yes, an occasional puff on a cigar. And I covet a real press badge that will get me into concerts and events for free. But I digress ..

With blogging has come many new opportunities, as well as a few surprising new identities. A couple of weeks ago I received a press release that referred to me as part of Atlanta's prestigious media. Maybe I do have a press badge but I just forgot where I put. But I can tell you that some of my best friends are in the PR biz. And I've met people who are true professionals in every sense of the word. What do they do that is right?

1. They know who I am.
2. They tell me who they are.
3. They know what I focus on.
4. They offer background information.
5. They help me provide valued content for Diva Marketing's community.
6. Sometimes they even ask what I would like to make the post more compelling.
7. They offer me more than a vaguely clocked sales pitch.
8. They say "thank you."

For all of you a toss of aPink_boa pink boa!

Girlfriend, since we're talking among friends, here are a few pet peeves ..

1. Emails from people who at first glance seem to be my long, lost, best friend.
2. People who start their emails in the middle of a conversation and it takes me a second to realize I've never met the person in online or offline.
3. Emails that are so much like spam that they never get a glance. Off topic.
4. People who say lovely things about Diva Marketing and then ask for me to be their best friend and write about their stuff.
5. People who forget to tell who they are or who they work for or why I should take my time to promote their product.
6. People who forget to say  "thank you."'

That has me wondering why:

1. Some PR people seem to get it while others do not have a clue.
2. Some PR people seem to understand that bloggers are not representatives of a media outlet that is paying them to write about "news worthy" events.
3. Some PR people treat bloggers with the respect that they would give to an influential journalist from a publication like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or even The Star
4. While others do not.

Recently I received an email from a brand manager type who works at a very large company. She had hired a PR agency to conduct a Blogger Relations strategy and wrote ..

"We've discussed the fact that bloggers, by publishing their opinions and inviting readers to comment or contact them, basically agree to open themselves to unsolicited information." The ah ha light bulb moment flashed on.  My response back -

If you take that approach you'll open yourself to firestorms. What we tell clients is that the blogoshere is comprised of many "villages" and each village e.g., the cat pet village, the business village, the golf village, has a unique culture.

Within that culture each blogger has her own sense of what she will post .. how she deals with unsolicited "pitches" and so forth. That means more than identifying a bunch of bloggers who talk about a subject it means understanding the blogger. This post from Diva Marketing might shed some understanding.

The ah ha: People just don't know and some agencies dive into this space with little or no experience positioning themselves as experts .. getting their clients and themselves in Big Trouble. Blogger relations is different from traditional media relations. As BBF Paul Chaney indicated in the comments on Mack's post it seems to be a  training challenge .. or opportunity.

The friction between bloggers and public relations people reminds me of the song from the musical Oklahoma - "Farmer and the Cowhand .. Should Be Friends." So I'd like to propose ..  

Social media folks should stick together. Social media folks should all be friends.

Thinking about more blogger relations I was curious if reaching out to bloggers was in anyway in violation of the CAN SPAM Act. My pal Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave Marketing & EmailStatCenter kindly shed some light.

To begin to work together .. Bloggers and PR People .. this is for all of us. Thanks to Simms who agreed to let me post our email volley.

Simms Jenkins: The CAN SPAM act only requires some key elements, none related to permission.  Best practices of email campaigns are related to the subscriber proving an opt in. So spammers follow neither which means the law is powerless, for the most part.

Regarding the outreach, I think a one to one email provides more  flexibility - after all we all send some unsolicted emails hoping to get press, leads, friends :) ..once it becomes an email campaign, you should be more cautious as that is the brand not just an email sent to an individual.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  So if I'm hearing you right .. if the email from the, call it agency/person, includes a "if you don't want to hear from us again we won't bother you again" statement it would be okay and not fall into the CAN SPAM act?

Simms Jenkins:
I am defining campaign as an email from BrightWave Marketing promoting my book/website The Truth About Email Marketing - I need to follow the letter of can spam...however, if I send you an email from my personal account promoting the book, it allows a bit more flexibility but that is a general grey area and why I include an opt out note at the bottom of all of my emails to people

Social media folks should stick together. Social media folks should all be friends.

It's Not Spam It's An MBA Project

05/06/2008

Funny story for you.

Last week I followed a link I found in Diva Marketing's stat referrals. It led to an amazon.com powered site ..Expert_amazon_page_may_5_08_3 Expert Choice. Have you ever wondered what books influential bloggers read? We did too. So we asked them.

Lo and behold I was included in this list of experts.

But wait a sec .. I had no recollection of reviewing these books. Even though it seemed to be associated with a not for profit, Kiva, I assumed it was a rather clever spam site. I noticed that Drew McLellan was one of the bloggers listed. Drew was on Twitter so .. yes, girlfriend, I tweeted. He had not a clue either. Amazon_expert_twitter

A few days later I received an email from Jeff Greenfield thanking me for participating in the project that he and his classmates, from the MBA class at Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine, had put together .. Expert Choice book store. Ahh .. lightbulb went off.
 

"We have created this webstore for our group project in EDGE, a course that explores how technology and globalization are transforming the business landscape – opening markets, redefining industries, and erasing boundaries.  Our project’s specific goal is to connect readers with business-related books that are recommended by industry experts. 

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of all books through our Expert's Choice webstore will be donated to the Kiva, a charity that lets you lend to specific entrepreneurs in the developing world – empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.

We sent out 25 emails and got 12 responses: Scott Berkun, Toby Bloomberg, Tom BlueMike Bonifer, Roger Dooley, Guy Kawasaki, Karl Long, Drew McLellan, John Seely Brown, Andy Sernovitz, Ron Shevlin, Scott WhiteWe went into this having no idea how many replies we’d get but we’re happy with the quantity and quality of the responses we received."

To ensure that there was no doubt that this was not only a legit initiative but one developed by a group of MBA students, I suggested a more prominent placement of About Us.  TheTeam Edge from UC Irvine: Jinu Choi, Erin Cueto, Jeff Greenfield and Chris Ting presents their project May 27th. Take a moment to visit the Expert Choice book store and help them out with a few clicks and it would also be swell if you bought a book too .. it's for a good cause. Maybe you can send it to the Masiguy to help him pass the time as he mends.

Lessons Learned
People are cynical. Ensure that your credibility information is front and center.
Need a fast response? Tweet.
Bloggers are kind and generous people. A 50% response rate is great.

Diva Marketing Talks About RSS With Bill Flitter and Lee Feinberg

03/06/2008

Diva Marketing Talks is a live, internet radio show.  30-minutes. 2-guests. 1-topic about social media marketing. Why? To help you understand how to participate in the "new" conversation without getting blown-up. Miss today's show? You can pick it up as a podcast.

Today's Diva Marketing Talks takes the wraps off of Real Simple Syndication - better known as RSS. Our rock star guests Bill Flitter and Lee Feinberg will make RSS simple. They'll share how they used RSS to encourage viral marketing campaigns, talk about ads on RSS feeds, discuss if RSS complements or replaces eMail marketing and lots more.  If we're very lucky Bill will tell us what Santa Clause, the postman and the TV clicker have to do with RSS.

Topic for March 6, 2008: RSS: Alphabet Soup or The Power Behind Social Media

Time: 6:30p - 7p Eastern/ 5:30p - 6p Central/ 4:30p -5p Mountain/ 3:30p - 4p Pacific
Call-in Guest Number: 718.508.9924

Guests:

Bill Flitter

Bill_flitter_2 Bill Flitter is CEO of Pheedo. Bill is considered an industry expert on syndicated content advertising and speaks regularly on this topic at industry events. Prior to Pheedo, Bill founded Email Shopping Network and directed its sales and marketing activities until its acquisition by eUniverse in 2002.

In addition to Pheedo and Email Shopping Network, Bill has started and helped build numerous early stage companies, developing hundreds of innovative products and services. Bill is also co-founder of Fastlane Ventures, a boutique management consulting firm focused on early-stage investments. Bill is a founding member of the Internet Content Syndication Council and chairs their advertising committee

Raised in Wisconsin, Bill graduated with a degree in Advertising from the University of Wisconsin. He founded the University of Wisconsin Interactive Advertising scholarship to reward outstanding excellence in this innovative field. Bill’s ruminations on a number of topics can be found on the Pheedo Blog.

Leefeinberg Lee Feinberg

Lee Feinberg is a business development leader and has devoted his entire career to create and launch interactive products and services.  For 20 years, he has guided innovation at Fortune 500 companies in financial services, automotive, consumer hardware, and healthcare.  His experience includes Internet marketing and eCommerce, high-volume transaction systems, mobile communications, and interactive TV.

Lee is currently Strategy Director, Avenue A | Razorfish and previously held the position of Vice President/ Associate Director, Digitas.  He was the President and Founder of e-thusiasm, inc. an independent interactive strategy consultancy whose clients included Johnson & Johnson, CheckFree, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ.  Lee has also held positions with Chase Manhattan Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and AT&T Bell Labs.

He received a B.S. and M.S. from Cornell University.  Lee serves on the advisory board of Pheedo, holds a U.S. patent for a PC-telephone interface, is a member of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, the Cornell Entrepreneur Network, and the Sandler Sales Institute Presidents Club.

Can't call in but have a question? Drop a comment and I'll ask it for you. Let me know what you'd like Diva Talks to chat about. Don't forget Diva Marketing Talks morphs into a podcast.

AiMA Goes Second Life Tonight

01/30/2008

Aima_logo Join the Atlanta Interactive Marketing  community - AiMA - tonight for a trip into the world of virtual communities. Congrats to Joe Koufman and his committee for pulling together an innovative event.

Can't join us in the non digital world?  Del Ross, from IHG, will not only moderate the panel discussion in person, but his avatar will be simultaneously moderating the ACTUAL event in Crowne Plaza's Place to Meet, a Second Life island for private, secure meetings.

Panelists:

• Christopher Klaus – Founder and CEO for Kaneva
• Mike Donnelly - Director Worldwide Interactive Marketing for Coca-Cola
•Rhonda Lowry – Vice President, Emerging Technologies for TBS
• Paul Greenberg – Director of Consumer Marketing for The Weather Channel

6:30 pm - Networking
7:30 pm - Panel Discussion

Pay at the Door:
$25 - Basic Member
$35 - Non-Member

February's AiMA Meeting continues in the social media space. On Feb 28 27th Wednesdayhear how The Home Depot -- Shera Shrago and Ayres Nicholas -- (B2C), Goodwill of Greater Washington -- Brendan Hurley
Senior Vice-President -- (Not For Profit) and a TBD B2B brand are using social media and Web 2.0 tools to achieve marketing goals. Special guest presenter Geoff Livingston author of Now Is Gone. Peter Kim, Forrester Research will moderate what is sure to be a lively conversation.

Sidebar: Free wifi in the San Diago airport is making me a happy camper. Off to see what the Twits are talking about!

Friday Fun: DC Goodwill on the Social Media Runway

09/28/2007

Today's post is a Two-for-One. It's Friday Fun  - Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly. Combine with Biz Blog Profile - Biz Blog Profiles! is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits, higher education institutions and the arts are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Take a brand with an image challenge. Add a unique positioning strategy targeting a new segment. Overlay it with the limitations (people and money) of a not for profit. Sprinkle with an innovative, never been done before social media strategy. Toss in a few vintage dresses. Mix well. Welcome to the world of the Goodwill of Greater Washington.

About Goodwill of Greater Washington
Goodwill of Greater Washington provides job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities throughout the greater Washington, DC region.  We fund our mission through diverse lines of business including our chain of nine retail stores, two e-commerce sites, landscaping, pest control and janitorial contract services, as well as a small amount of traditional fundraising (about 10%).

About Brendan Hurley
Brendan_hurley_2 I have been a marketing professional for 15 years, with a BA in Communications and an MS in Marketing.  I spent most of my career in the “for profit” sector, working primarily in the radio industry marketing for a variety of radio groups including Clear Channel Communications.  I came to Goodwill as the VP of Marketing when Clear Channel’s Regional Senior VP became Goodwill’s CEO in late 2003.  What I enjoy about Goodwill is that it is a charitable agency that helps the community, but also runs more like a business than a traditional non profit.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Vintage shopping is great fun but Brendan, I must admit when I think of diva, cool places to discover cute clothes Goodwill is not top of mind. However, you not only are changing the image of Goodwill of Greater Washington but are creating a new positioning for the organization … from thrift shop to vintage fashion.

How and why did an organization, that is not known for innovation in marketing, decide to step into the world of social media to support and promote that new direction?

Brendan Hurley: There is an interesting disparity in the vintage and classic fashion world. If you spend $150 on an outfit at a high end vintage retailer, it’s considered hip, but if you buy the same outfit at a Goodwill store or “thrift” store, many consumers perceive it as old and used. 

We didn’t want to alienate our core customers, many of whom are bargain shoppers, but we needed to find a way to grow a secondary market segment for Goodwill that we felt we could impact with the right positioning: young, professional females, who tend to be a primary market segment for vintage retailers. Ultimately we felt that a social media strategy would help us address this need.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In a recent guest blog post on The Buzz Bin you said something very interesting: 

It wasn’t until I started developing our 2007 strategic marketing plan that I finally figured out my problem: I was trying too hard to develop a social networking strategy instead of incorporating social networking into my marketing strategy.

It’s the concept that I’ve been trying to help marketers understand. Would you please discuss that a bit more? How did you “get it.”

Brendan Hurley: Like many marketers (I think), I didn’t fully understand social networking as a “tactic” incorporated into a strategy. I kept wondering how we could integrate social networking into our marketing plan (trying to force it) rather than identifying our organizational challenges and applying the best marketing methods to address those challenges. 

Once I did that, the answer became clear:  The use of social networking would achieve multiple strategic objectives. It was like a light bulb went off.  An integrated social networking and new media plan would help us reach the audience we were targeting without alienating our core shopper, drive traffic to our virtual fashion show that we knew would convince visitors we had a good product, then provide them with an easy portal to our online retail store to make a quick purchase.  By integrating mission messages into each step along the way, we could also educate the population on the nature of Goodwill’s mission, thereby developing greater passion for our cause while generating brand loyalty.  The flow seemed very natural.

The only problem was that while I had read blogs before, I had never written one, so I didn’t understand the strategy behind it and how to make it compelling and sustainable.  Fortunately, I knew Geoff Livingston of Livingston Communications from a marketing committee we both serve on at the Greater Washington Board of Trade and I asked him if he would consult us on finding appropriate vintage fashion websites on which to advertise, and on launching our blog. 

It was Geoff that taught me that we had to treat the blog just like any other product with a mission statement, logo, positioning statement, etc.  Doing so has helped us stay focused and forced us to maintain product integrity so that the blog doesn’t become another blatant advertisement that will simply turn off any half educated reader. The content has value and I believe that is what keeps readers coming back. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s talk about your exciting initiatives. First the Goodwill Fashion Blog. Was it difficult to get buy-in from your board and how was it presented to them?

Brendan Hurley:  Our board LOVED the idea.  They believed that the use of new media was quite innovative in the non profit sector.  And certainly the use of fashion to help educate others on our mission was a very unique strategy.  While they seemed quite confident, my team and I were responsible for the execution of this complex initiative, so I was a a bit nervous having never launched such an effort before.  Fortunately, I have a fantastic team.  Our blogger, “The DC Goodwill Fashionista”, is an employee, Em Hall, who is very keen on fashion. She loves writing the blog and is very talented. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did you establish success measures or goals and if so what were they? 

Brendan Hurley: We set financial goals for the fashion show, which we’ve already achieved.  We also set a goal on the number of unique visitors to the fashion show (10,000) which we are close to hitting now and we haven’t even posted the video on YouTube yet. Right now, the only place the fashion show can be seen is on our website.

We have a financial goal for our silent auction, but it hasn’t ended yet, so I can’t tell you whether or not we’ll hit that number.  However, I can tell you that we’ve already successfully converted better than 14% of our fashion show viewers into Goodwill online shoppers. That is a number I had no idea we’d achieve.  Our brick and mortar retail sales increased measurably as well in the two weeks since the fashion show launched.  However, I can’t say whether those numbers are sustainable at this point and how much the virtual fashion show and blog influenced that growth.

As for the blog, I would have been happy with 100 visitors a week and a retention rate of 25% after less than 90 days, but we’re presently averaging about 700 visitors a week and a retention rate of close to 40%.  The blog has also become the second largest referral source for our fashion show.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did you perceive any risks in stepping into the blogosphere with a blog that has open comments?  What strategies are in place to mitigate risk?

Brendan Hurley:  When we decided to pursue a blogging strategy, it was an easy decision for us to establish a policy of posting both positive and negative comments, provided they were not  inappropriate. No comments go live without our review first.  However, I am a firm believer in transparency and integrity and if someone criticizes us, it will be seen.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The DC Goodwill FashionistaGoodwill_fashionista_blog seems to be having such fun with her posts but why did you choose to go the anonymous blogger route?

Brendan Hurley: That was a strategic decision to protect the long term sustainability of the blog.  We decided to give the blogger an alias because at some point, the author of the blog may change.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Then you took a step into wild side with the launch of what may be the first online fashion show from a not for profit  - The Fashion of Goodwill Virtual Runway Show and Virtual Auction. Please tell us the back-story.

Brendan Hurley:  For three years we have held an annual Goodwill Fashion Show that was designed primarily as a fundraiser and secondarily as an attempt to help change perceptions of the quality of fashions available at Goodwill Stores.  Unfortunately, while the unique fashion show received some good publicity, only a limited number of people could attend the event because it had a high ticket price attached to it.

By converting our live fashion show into a virtual fashion show that we could post on our website and promote through social networks, we believed we could reach a broader and younger market segment by providing entertaining and compelling content that would interest and excite the viewer.  This would also make our sponsors happy because we’d be reaching thousands of people rather than a few hundred who could attend a live event.

Goodwill_runway Creating a fashion blog and pages on social networking sites like MySpace would not only help drive traffic to the fashion show and our online auction site, but also give us access to influential social networks that may help position Goodwill as a knowledgeable resource on vintage and contemporary fashion, while also positioning our stores as untapped destinations for inexpensive vintage and contemporary fashions, rather than stores for low income shoppers. So far the virtual fashion show has been a big hit!

Toby/Diva Marketing: How is the eBay Auction working for you?
Sidebar: Today - 9-28-07 - is the last day of the auction. Take a break and do a little virtual shopping for a few cute vintage pieces .. at bargain prices! Send me a photo of you in your new outfit and I'll post it on Diva.

Brendan Hurley:  Since the auction hasn’t ended yet, I can’t tell you if we’ve hit our financial goal, but I believe we will.  We’ve got a lot of watchers on our site. Our fashion show has become the second biggest referral source to our eBay store behind eBay itself.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Were there any surprises along the way in terms of what people bid or perhaps who bid?   

Brendan Hurley: Yes, there are people bidding on some items I didn’t think would get much interest and other items I thought would be popular that few people are watching.  We did discover through some additional research that a Versace china collection is worth much more than we had originally thought.  The interest in that china has really skyrocketed.  There is also an interesting vintage circa 1920s clutch purse that I am not personally fond of, but is getting a great deal of interest from eBay shoppers.  Then again, I don’t know a lot about purses.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Hmm .. eBay today .. perhaps Second Life next year. A few diva-type Goodwill_1920_hand_beaded_dress_2questions .. Who were the models?

Brendan Hurley: The models were fantastic. They were all local and supplied by Tu-Anh.  Tu-Anh is a locally based, but internationally experienced fashion designer and consultant who volunteered her time.  She runs a professional fashion consultancy called Polished. She knew exactly who to ask and all of them modeled for free. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: How were the garments chosen and who put together the outfits?

Brendan Hurley:  All of the items were literally taken off the racks from our nine DC area Goodwill Retail Stores by Tu-Anh and her staff. It didn’t take them long. I think they were only hunting for a few days before they had an entire collection. What can I say…the stuff you can find at Goodwill is pretty good! You just need to look.

Toby/Diva Marketing: How will you sustain this new positioning and does social media fit into the Goodwill of Greater Washington’s long-term marketing strategy?

Brendan Hurley: I suspect that we’ll see a bit of a drop off once the auction ends and the initial excitement over the fashion show starts to fade, but we’re committed to a long term blogging presence and will very likely do another virtual fashion show next year. The challenge now is sustaining and building upon our early success. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: What were a few of the lessons learned?

Brendan Hurley: First, treat your blog like a product, not a strategy.  Second, to be successful at a blog you need to be willing to make the commitment. A blog requires much more research and time than I would have ever thought.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What advise would you give a not for profit who wanted to step into the social media space?

Brendan Hurley: I would tell them something that sounds like a cliché:  Think out of the box.  If you want to engage a new audience and educate them on your mission, you don’t necessarily have to force your mission upon them. 

Engage them using a common interest. If your cause is homelessness, maybe think about developing a blog about homeowner related issues and weave your mission into the blog content. You’ll reach a broader variety of people, develop a personal relationship with them and then gain their trust and support. The population that is already passionate about your cause is going to support you anyway. Use the blog as a way to acquire new untapped supporters.

Brendan Hurley On Social Media
Your take on using social media as a marketing / business strategy. Your get the last word (smile)

I’m amazed at how others are willing to market your product or service for you if they feel it has value.  Build an online product with significance and treat it with the respect you would give any more tangible product or service. If you do, you won’t have a problem finding people willing to help you communicate your message.

Advertising Age Uses a Yellow Crayon

09/14/2007

Simultaneously posted on Diva Marketing and the Buzz Bin Blog

This week BBF Geoff Livingston, The Buzz Bin, clued me into a post  titled, Color Us Confused, written by Ad Age Executive Editor, Jonah Bloom. I was surprised to find that Mister Bloom’s post was written more in the style of tabloid reporting than of a respected journalist holding a senior position with a highly regarded publication.  As Geoff  put it Mister Bloom  “… called out crayon CEO Joseph Jaffe for coloring the truth in a recent blog post announcing a second round of significant changes at the company."

Geoff and I both found Jonah Bloom’s Ad Age’s coverage of crayon’s challenging situation disgraceful to Crayon_yellowthe extent that we are collaborating on this post.

So what if there was some jargon and spin?  Taken from a  PR perspective, what was Jaffe supposed to say, “We just lost half our senior team because we can’t win enough business?” Wasn’t that clear enough in the letter?

As experienced practitioners, we see right through this post as exploitative, exaggerated yellow journalism. And quite frankly, it’s disappointing to see this occur under the Advertising Age banner, the so-called industry authority hosting the Advertising Age Power 150.

Perhaps you’ve been privy to the changes at crayon, outlined in this letter by Joseph Jaffe. First the high profile departures of Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz.  And now there were these recent moves, specifically the departures of Steve Coulson, CC Chapman, and Gerry Cohen.  Certainly, changes of this nature garner attention, especially the faltering party is an agency like crayon. 

Neither of us knows Jonah Bloom; however, his bio suggests that his career has been spent working for journalist for organizations that could guarantee salary/benefits and not as an entrepreneur. The world of a small business, especially a start-up firm, is quite different. There are sleepless nights worrying that a client’s check will come in before the light bill is due. Projects you were certain would pop are put on hold. Then there are the continuous expenses for the cost of doing business. But if you believe in your dream you make adjustments and trade the Starbucks mocha latte for a coffee made in your own kitchen.

Regardless of Jonah’s responsibility for penning this disgraceful post, Advertising Age itself has a responsibility here.  And as marketer bloggers that are technically covered by the magazine, we demand better standards of journalism from the magazine.

Impact

Jonah Bloom’s post brings up a larger issue for us and many questions. Granted that Mister Bloom was writing a blog not a column.

  • Is a blog post written by a publication’s editor or reporter an opt-ed piece? Even so should the post be held to the same journalist standards set for the publication’s articles?
  • Are the lines blurring to the effect that blogging within a journalist setting e.g., Ad Age, means the blogger is sanctioned to color outside of acceptable guidelines and branding expectations of the publication?
  • Would Ad Age have published Jonah Bloom’s post as an article?
  • What obligation does the “journalist blogger” have to reflect the publication’s brand image?

Neither of us knows the current crayonistas outside of the usual Facebook and Twitter interactions. However, crayon represented so many of the ideal hopes of the blogosphere and the Cluetrain Manifesto, it’s hard not root for the agency. 

At the same time it’s hard not to see these recent events as a disappointment. Not just because of the missteps outline in Jaffe’s letter, but because crayon is more than a company.  It’s a dream that we all want to achieve. A marketing profession that is based in transparent, honest, ethical and exhilarating social media communications.

Both of us want to be 100% social media all the time.  But getting companies to buy into this new world concept is not easy.  For example, the four person firm Livingston Communications gets two thirds of its revenues from traditional public relations clients.  The rest is social media.

We understand the challenges and difficulties of getting and keeping a full portfolio of  social media clients. And we congratulate all of the crayonistas past and present for their courage in pursuing this noble dream. And to the remaining crayons – Joe, Greg and Scott -- we wish you the best of luck in your continuing efforts whatever color they may be.

-- Toby Bloomberg and Geoff Livingston

Sidebar: Diva Marketing is honored to be part of the Ad Age Power 150.

Sidebar: A bit of background .. I grew up in a small business. My dad owned a data collection company outside of Boston. Small business owners will relate when I tell you that the business took on a personae of its own and conversations that included “the business” were more the norm than not.

Although my professional experience includes assignments with Fortune 100s and not for profits I’ve had the pleasure of working with and mentoring small businesses and start-ups. And it seems as though I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug too.  One might say I know the challenges and rewards of a small business and how difficult it is to make a go of it. My highest respect goes to those who start a new venture.

My dad subscribed to lots of marketing and advertising trade publications. At the top of the To Be Read pile was what I considered to be the king-pin of the ad biz - Ad Age. Advertising Age has spent decades building the trust of its readers and of the marketing/advertising industry. I trust Ad Age to provide articles that are reported fairly and positively critical opt-ed pieces that elevate our industry.

As main stream media encourages its journalists to embrace company sanctioned blogs, what are your expectations of the blog content, not only from Ad Age, but any professional industry publication? I can't help but wonder what would Amy Gahran would think.

Top Five .. Anything For the NonProfit Consultant's Carnival

07/29/2007

With a Martini__dirty dirty martini in hand and wearing your hot polka dot bikiniPolka_dot_bikini TiVo Fellini's La DolcaFillini_la_dolce_vita and head over to Getting To The Point where Katya Andresen,  is hosting this week's Nonprofit Consultant's Carnival.*  The theme is Your Top Five .. Anything.

What does a dirty martini, a hot polka dot bikini and a Fellini film have in common? At first glance not much but each in its own time and place was considered edgy and even innovative. And Katya is giving special treatment to posts that contain one of the following words: bikini, martini or Fellini.

My Top Five .. Anything: Internet Marketing Strategies That Were Once Innovative But Have Since Become Mainstream

1. Websites
2. Online surveys
3. Search engine optimization
4. eMail Marketing
5. Online press rooms

Sidebar: Marketing Milestones 1950-2000 by Prof. Dr. Henrikri Tikkanen

My Top Five .. Anything: Social Space Marketing Strategies That Are Considered Innovative That Are Gaining Acceptance Or Some May Say Are Tipping

1. Blogs
2. RSS
3. Social networks
4. YouTube as a channel strategy
5. Tagging

... Watch For Six and Seven  ..

6. Micro blogging (Twitter, Pownce)
7. Blogger Relations Strategies

Sidebar: Interesting conversation on Marketing Conversations about BRS

Consumer Generated Media .. It's The Real Thing

04/03/2007

In  the summer of 2006, Coke_world Coca Cola learned a lesson that reflects it's 1970 tagline "It's The Real Thing" when EppyBird dumped a bunch of Mentos in some diet coke bottles and created a viral video that rocked the fizz off of the World's Most Valuable Brand.
Sidebar: Being Reasonable has an interesting post about the history of Coke taglines.

Coke executives saw first hand how consumers can take over the perception of a carefully crafted brand message. The Real Thing was what the consumers made it .. not the message controlled by the brand. Even a brand as powerful as Atlanta-based Coca Cola.  Read more: Media Post article (free registration required)

The story's gone round and round from blog-to-blog for months. What is new is the lessons learned that Tom Daly, Coca Cola Global Interactive Marketing, shared at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association, AiMA, meeting last week. Congrats! to Wade Forst, Spunlogic, who chaired the event.

Tom's presentation focused on Coke's entree into consumer generated branding. His talk was especially interesting to me since we had volleyed emails last summer about the Diet Coke/Mentos buzz on the blogopshere. I encouraged him to join the conversation but seems Coke wasn't ready go that route.

Sidebar: An organization's culture is a major determining factor of when (let's not say "if") employees can actively participate. In the meantime, monitoring the discussion is the first step and Coke is doing that. But that's a post for another day.*

Tom described two video strategies. The first was "Poetry in Motion Challenge" hosted and judged by the EppyBird Guys.Coke_holiday_vcard

The second was a winter holiday v-card (video) strategy -  Holiday Wishcast - developed in conjunction with YouTube. Coke provided people with the opportunity to create viral v-cards on YouTube. Video insert options included creating your own, downloading a YouTube video or a classic Coke commercial.  Max loved this CGM video where the pooch sings carols .. he joined right in .. virtual worlds and offline worlds intersecting!

People could then choose to send their cards to friends and relatives or share them with the world at  Coca Cola's Wishcast site. As with text e-cards the v-cards could be customized with a personal  greeting.

Marketing included traditional, interactive and blogger relations: press campaigns by YouTube and Coca-Cola, targeted search and online marketing, animated Web ads, communication to influential bloggers and podcasters. In addition Coke's presence on the v-card provided a viral reinforcement of offering.

7 Lessons Learned
Branding 2.0: The New Online Community

1. This is Complex - It’s complex and it carries risk

  • The campaign was designed quickly, with holiday-driven dates as immovable.
  • Many corporate and business functions were impacted, and mitigation strategies to distribute workload and traffic with partners made design and execution even more complex.

2. Fish Where the Fish Are - Stop trying to get them into your pool first. The prize isn’t the Prize. The Experience is the Prize

  • The campaign offered intuitive user experiences. 
  • Coke saw immensely more engagement and response to calls to action in this one promotion than in all other efforts to date combined. 

3. Users Love to Watch Our Ads - More than they hate advertising.

  • No contest was run – no finalists, no judges, no prizes. 
  • Everybody “won” and the reward was near-immediate.

4. Play to the Team’s Sweet Spots - More team is easier than wrong team.

  • Partners were asked to complete tasks that were within a narrowed scope.

5. Leverage Search - Especially for things you just invented.

  • Targeted and refined paid search drove a great deal of traffic from outside of YouTube – billions of impressions were achieved for very reasonable cost through strategic buys and continuous refinement. 
  • Since Coke invented and trademarked the term Wishcast, and launched the first V-card offering – neither of these were going to move the needle in any type of Search algorithm. Ancillary terms e.g.,  e-card, greetings, video were bought.

6. Understand Consumers’ Multiple Motives for Engaging  - Get ok with them.

  • Create offerings which leave room for all user types to enjoy engaging and tolerate coexistence

7. Let Consumers Defend You - They are more passionate and authentic anyway.

  • In multiple viral video initiatives similar patterns were observed: early comments skewed towards brand critics testing the tolerance of the brand.
  • When the brand established that it would not intervene to remove the criticism, consumer advocates arise in response and overwhelm critics in dialog.

Diva Comment: Coke learned that social media / the blogosphere self corrects.

Yes, I realize there was no RSS feed. Yes, I realize that Coke did not actively participate in the conversation (see above*).  Yes, I realize that for some the strategies Coca Cola implemented may seem like teeny steps, but for an organization that is known for doing things by the corporate book it is a giant leap and an entree into what may lead to other "social" aspects of social media marketing.

Yes, divas and divos, there is a difference between consumer generated content and social media. The difference between social media and consumer generated content is the integration of the people within the organization to exchange ideas with customers and other stakeholders.

Thanks to David Vanderpoel, North Highland. On Web Marketing, for provide the sides which included that above text.  North Highland is the management consulting firm that assisted in the development and execution of the strategies.

Guggenheim Cobrands With Google

04/01/2007

NEA arts funding and budgets cuts make strange bedfellows. The famed and much loved Guggenheim Musem in New York City and the worlds largest search engine Google have joined forces.So what's a little co-branding between friends?

Googleheim .. has a kinda web 2.0 ring to it .. dontcha think?

Googleheim_2

Heard it  from: Natural Search Blog

Sailing into Social Media With A Sponsored Blog

03/29/2007

More and more brands are taking a step into social media with blog marketing sites. Ann Handley, the diva of the community world and the driving force behind the successful Marketing Prof's Daily Fix blog recently posted that, "Last year's (blog) boom is yet another indication that blogs have gone mainstream, probably more so than many other social media platforms."

Last night AiMA had a great meeting that focused on consumer generated advertising and consumer generated branding.  Congrats to Wade Forst, Spunlogic, who brought in Tom Daly, Global Interactive Marketing, Coca-Cola and Michael Friedman, Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Smokey Bones).

SomeBruce_smith companies are dipping their toes in, not with traditional conversaional blogs, but with sponsored blogs. Darden Restaurant's Bahama Breeze is following the travels of Caribbean artist Bruce Smith and his wife Jan (who it seems is writing many  posts but is not credited) as they sail from San Diego Bay to the Caribbean.

It's an interesting and real blog read especially the post about how Bruce and Jan rescued two Haitian migrants. See the 3/2 post .. sorry no permalink.* 

I thought it would fun and a good learning to develop an informal social media marketing / blog marketing analysis of the Bruce Smith Voyage Blog.

Transparency - Darden got the bloggy transparency right with mentions on the side nav bar of sponsorship. Lessons learned from our friends at Edelman perhaps?

Interactive - The Bruce Smith Voyage Blog is linked from Bahama Breeze's home page (zero Google rank). There is a MySpace page that seems to be a space holder since there is no current content, few friends (44) or comments (5).

Viral - Posts don't have unique permalinks .. missed opportunity for viral.* With a zero Google ranking on the blog there doesn't seem to be much pick up. Speaking of pick-up and viral buzz our pals at Technorati show 13 links from 5 sailing blogs while Google Blogs shows only 2 links.

Engagement - If engagement is measured by comments, links and trackbacks the Bruce Smith Voyage Blog is missing the boat.

Lessons Learned: Even a blog with interesting content, great writing and cool travel photos won't find friends unless you tell them you are there. That might include: traditional marketing that leverages the Bahama Breeze restaurants, to a blogger relations programs, to a search engine optimization initiative.

Sidebar: Mike mentioned that Darden's marketing strategies are intended to put butts in the seats. Don't know if that was the objective of this initiative and if so if it succeeded. Or if there is significant traffic from the blog to the website that spells s-u-c-c-e-s-s. But seems to me that the sails could have gotten more winds from this campaign.

Sidebar: Yvonne DiVita's Purina sponsored blog Scratchings and Sniffings is a great example of a corporate sponsored blog. Bloggy disclaimer Purina is a client.