Thursday, April 30

Ignoring Audience: Traditional Thinking


According to a new study by Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI), a consumer behavior research firm, audiences are spending more time multitasking while watching broadcast programs than ever before.

Specifically, the study found that TV watchers spend an average of 9.3 percent of their time online while simultaneously watching television. Among viewers watching broadcast TV, 11 percent also are surfing the Web. For cable viewers, it’s 8.2 percent.

"During the past year, there has been much debate about the perils of making television programming available via the Internet," said Amanda Welsh, head of research for Integrated Media Measurement Inc. “While some have speculated or feared that online accessibility would cannibalize television audiences, our data shows that the affinity of DVR users to view television episodes online offers advertisers new opportunities to recapture a desirable audience that had been slipping away."

Of the people who watched primetime programming both online and on a DVR during the month, 35 percent watched four or more episodes online, compared with 15 percent for people who watched prime time programming both online and on live television. Of the people who watched prime time programming both online and on a DVR, 30 percent went online only once, compared with 57 percent for people who watched prime time programming both online and on live television.

Previously, IMMI had found 50 percent of online viewing are audience members watching episodes they missed on television. They are either filling in an episode online when they had already seen the other episodes around it on TV (18.7%), or they are catching up on an episode online after seeing the subsequent episodes on TV (31.3%). The other 50% are apparently viewers using the Internet to check out shows, replacing the channel flipping or sampling they might have done on the television in the past.

Integration Over Traditional Thinking Is Key

The bottom line is that advertisers cannot continue to afford a singular mindset as if to choose television over online marketing. As the IMMI study suggests, consumers do not distinguish between delivery systems.

They simply want to watch their programs. And we're not the only ones to think so.

“To effectively utilize digital media, and promote its integration with traditional media, marketers and advertisers must overcome the two obstacles that continuously arise: education and measurement,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers told TV Week. “Only once the industry takes steps to become savvy will integrated marketers be able to fully embrace all that advertising today can offer a brand.”

We're seeing it play out exactly like this with one of the projects we're currently engaged in. While more traditional thinkers on the team are quick to dismiss the greater impact of other team members (both with product and with exposure), the 360-degree view demonstrates the audience does not distinguish between entertainment assets such as soundtrack and film nor do they distinguish between traditional media and online engagement. Rather, the audience sees various elements as different contact points working toward each other.

In this case, as the online audience learns about exposure in traditional media, they rush to review the content and set the tone for non-engaged reader feedback left on the traditional articles. In essence, they are both engaged promoters and media consumers. No one can really separate the two as traditional marketers/public relations practitioners and social media experts tend to do nor as advertising and public relations or print, broadcast, and online proponents continue to do. Nor even as broadcast/print or online programmers/online continue to do for that matter.

Integrated communication, working seamlessly together on assets or promotion, will deliver the best return on investment over the long term, which is best described about 90 days. That's right. Ninety days is long term, and online, even seven seems like an eternity.

Some Related Ideas

• Is social media a revolution in local government communications? by Simon Wakeman

365 is the new 360 by Tom Beckman

• Beginning 2009: The year of communication from Copywrite, Ink.

Wednesday, April 29

Blogging For Hope: Hunger And Hope


Scientific American recently published an article that asks a question designed to strike at the heart of everything we know: Could food shortages bring down civilization? The article, by Lester R. Brown, included three key concepts, before calling for a massive and rapid intervention.

• Food scarcity and the resulting higher food prices are pushing poor countries into chaos.
• “Failed states” that export disease, terrorism, illicit drugs, weapons and refugees.
• Water shortages, soil losses, and rising temperatures from global warming that impact food production.

"As the world’s food security unravels, a dangerous politics of food scarcity is coming into play: individual countries acting in their narrowly defined self-interest are actually worsening the plight of the many," he wrote. "The trend began in 2007, when leading wheat-exporting countries such as Russia and Argentina limited or banned their exports, in hopes of increasing locally available food supplies and thereby bringing down food prices domestically."

John Holmes, writing for the UN Chronicle, cites an earlier date. He pinpoints that food prices began to rise in 2004 while production increased at a pace slower than demand. The result? According to Bread for the World, 963 million people across the world are hungry and 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes daily — one child every five seconds.

There Are Big Calls To Action, But Change Happens Small.

When the fact and figures become so immensely staggering, people tend to tune out and shut off. After all, what can one person possibly do to change the world? How could helping one person matter, when it fails to help the nearly one billion who need help now? How will talking or writing or posting about any specific world problem possibly help? How indeed.

One of the greatest lessons I ever learned from working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector was that people tend to contribute less when the tasks seem overwhelming. (The same can be said in the private sector too). So much so, the outcome results in characteristics similar to depression, except en masse.

It's not uncommon for people feel sad, guilty, or avoid taking any action because "doing anything is too much effort" or "nothing one person can do has any impact." It's just not true. Change happens in small, sometimes unnoticeable ways.

Heifer International Makes A Difference.

And sometimes it is noticed. Heifer International has more than 180 projects that make a difference all over the world. In fact , since 1944, Heifer International has helped communities learn to become self-sufficient by raising animals that provide direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and schools.

It's more than a hand out, it's a direct and sustainable hand up. And its those small successes that make all the difference. Here are just a few from BloggersUnite.org and BlogCatalog.com bloggers. They contributed more than 10,000 individual posts and actions (and counting).

Tuesday, April 28

Speaking Engagement: AIGA Meets Twitter


If you were wondering (and some people are still wondering) whether Twitter is a permanent addition or passing fancy, AIGA Las Vegas recently invited me to speak along with Warren Whitlock, author of the Twitter Revolution. Everyone is serious about Twitter.

Whitlock is a bestselling author, speaker, publisher, blogger, and marketing strategist. You can find him and about 28,000 followers on Twitter. I'm one of them. He was one of the first people I followed on Twitter, given that he is also from Las Vegas. It's also nice to know I'm in such good company because the AIGA event is two hours.

AIGA LV '09: Java Jam: Twitter Whut?

AIGA LV '09: Java Jam will take place from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6 at Faciliteq in Downtown Las Vegas. Parking is easy; AIGA Las Vegas provided a map. The event is sponsored by MGM Mirage and Clio 50.

I haven't settled in on what to talk about next week. Here are three thoughts I might brush upon:

• Handling real-time communication as company spokespeople.
• The varied approaches for organizational engagement.
• Why giving up control doesn't mean lack of management.

Of course, I'm always open to new ideas. For example, I loved the impromptu session with Danny Brown today on Twitter. The discussion was integrating social media into crisis communication. It's a great topic; one worth fleshing out sometime soon.

Monday, April 27

Measuring Communication: Wrapping The ROC


Since January, we've presented an ongoing series dedicated to the Return on Communication (ROC) formula. The ROC defines a communication measurement abstract across advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media.

[(B • I) (m+s • r)/d] / [O/(b + t + e)] = ROC

The formula demonstrates how the return on communication is related to the brand equity of the company or product, the intent of the communication, the execution of that intent, the reach and duration of that communication, and the outcomes that communication produces over the cost required to execute it. When matched to the equation, it would read like this:

The brand times intent (message plus suitability times reach divided by the duration) over the outcomes, divided by the cost (budget plus production time plus experience expended).

In other words, a company with a strong brand and well-defined intent that properly communicates to the right audience will produce better outcomes. Those outcomes can then be divided by the cost required to execute the communication. Simplified, all this really means is the return on communication is equal to how well the intent achieves its outcomes.

I | O = ROI

This also concludes the Monday series so we can present another white paper series next week. However, from time to time, we will be revisiting the abstract with models and case studies to demonstrate how it works by example.

Download The Abstract: Measure: I | O = ROC

The ROC is an abstract method of measuring the value of business communication by recognizing that the return on communication — advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media — is related to the intent of the communication and the outcome it produces. Every Monday since January, the ROC series explored portions of the abstract.

Thursday, April 23

Considering Content: Two Top Ten Tip Lists


There are plenty of people who might argue the point, but content is still king on the Internet. Readers, friends, associates, colleagues, etc. are all looking for the most useful information about someone, something, some service, or skill set.

After all, content searching and sourcing is the primary reason Google exists, isn't it? How about Amazon? How about Flickr? How about Etsy? Most people go to these places to look for specific content. And once they find you, the question is "did you deliver?"

I know two people who delivered this week on the topic of content management. First, Valeria Maltoni on Conversation Agent and then Kat French on the Social Media Explorer.

Something I always tell students when taking in information from different sources on how to be a better writer is to look for similarities and underlying themes. If diverse parties like Ogilvy (advertising), Princeton (academic), and KSL (journalism), and Copywrite, Ink. (communication) all say similar things, albeit differently, there might be something to it. With that in mind, this is where Maltoni and French seem to intersect:

Ten Tips For Content Management

1. Operate from a strategy and plan.
2. Provide value with the right content mix.
3. Choose the right messenger.
4. Participate with your community.
5. Recognize their participation.
6. Make good on your promises.
7. Keep it fresh by meeting their needs.
8. Consider legal and public interest.
9. Never force the sales message.
10. Know your objectives/expected outcomes.

Add the five steps most publics take to move from being aware to taking action, and you'll find all three models blend together rather nicely. So maybe there is something to it, whether you're talking about social media or communication in general.

Wednesday, April 22

Embracing Earth Day: BloggersUnite.org


As the sun was rising in the west, 88,000 blog posts focused on Earth Day were added to more than 2 million written this week. Almost 10 percent of them were written by bloggers at BloggersUnite.org. At 6 a.m., it was still early when I looked.

Earth Day By Individuals

Rebecca Leaman, writing for Wild Apricot, highlighted organizations that use Wild Apricot Web sites to help carry out earth-friendly missions to help establish a sustainable future.

Mary Ann Strain, C.P., who represents the "Passionists" at the United Nations in New York City, wrote about Chandrika Tiwari in Nepal and how climate change is impacting women, who she says make up 70 percent of the world’s poor. Even in the United States there is a discrepancy, she writes, 13.8 percent of women are poor compared to 11.1 percent of men.

"irtiza104," who is a student in Bangladesh, used his post on LIFE As I Know It to explore the meaning of Earth Day after admitting that he was "having a lot of trouble fully understanding the meaning of the Earth Day." He then goes on to list seven steps that could help the earth, ranging from curbing our reliance on plastic bags to planting more trees.

Doson, a BlogCatalog regular, chose to write an original poem called "The Blue Marble" on his blog, Inside Doson. "Time Thief," writing a few days ago to help promote the event, provided eco-friendly tips (such as riding an Optibike) on This Time - This Space. And Samantha, an artist who maintains Samantha's Art Studio, promoted reusable bags that can be purchased on Etsy.

Their voices will join millions more who are writing, blogging, and attending events in honor of Earth Day, which marks the beginning of The Green Generation Campaign, a two-year campaign that focuses on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. Some events are small. And others, are much larger.

Anti-Earth Day By Individuals

Of course, not everyone shares the same ideas about Earth Day. Alan Caruba, writing for the Canadian Free Press says "much of the foundation of the environmental movement is pure lies, mind boggling distortions of questionable 'science', and a thin veneer for the entire purpose of environmentalism, the imposing of a one-world agenda for the enrichment of a few who dream of a monopolistic control of the world’s resources and its human work force."

He's not alone. There are plenty of people who will write about that today. Or, perhaps, remind us how people haven't done enough in what is often billed as politics masquerading as planet friendliness.

Politics Or Promise?

Maybe it's because I grew up watching the acclaimed Keep America Beautiful PSA crying Indian commercial that launched on Earth Day in 1971 (The PSA won two Clio awards and the campaign was named one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th Century by Ad Age Magazine), but I like Earth Day.

Sure, I understand the politics and commercialization of it all. It's simple. People will be around to save the planet or they won't be.

At the end of the day, when you deduct all the fuss from the extreme, the net result is that Earth Day helps people pause for a minute or two and think about how we might do this or that a little better. Ergo, Iron Eyes Cody convinced me to promise to never litter again. It's a little thing. But a whole lot of little things add up to something big. There is nothing wrong with that.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, April 21

Squeezing SM Pros: Bloggers And Celebrities


According to Mark Penn with E. Kinney Zalesne, writing for The Wall Street Journal, the concept that blogging is passing fad might finally be put to rest. The United States is a nation with more than 20 million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, and 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income, he writes.

"Pros who work for companies are typically paid $45,000 to $90,000 a year for their blogging," he wrote. "One percent make over $200,000. And they report long hours -- 50 to 60 hours a week."

Beyond the stats, demographics, and several key observations, there is something else that these numbers might mean. Not only is social media mainstream, it's changing and some of the old guard leaders are being supplanted by newcomers.

In some cases, reasonably well-paid professionals that blog, tweet, and chat across the Internet have outpaced early adapters with brand boosts from big companies. While it always happened before (one wonders if there would be Scoble without a Microsoft or a Kawasaki without an Apple), the brand boosts are starting to come from smaller and much more traditional companies. (We predicted it was inevitable several years ago.)

At the same time, coupled with the addition of celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher on Twitter, several social media types that used to lead the way say they feel like part of the crowd. Leo Laporte even said with only 100,000 followers, he could go back to being a normal Joe. It almost begs the question. When wasn't Laporte a normal Joe?

In a recent interview, Kutcher revealed his secret. Despite the billboards and already high number of followers, he just wants to be a normal Joe connecting with people using an online message service. And you know what? That's pretty much what he does. He is not alone either.

So, as some top social media pros eventually find themselves as part of a shrinking middle between a growing number newcomers and celebrities at the top, it seems to me the best advice isn't to call new folks carpetbaggers as much as it might be to welcome them along. I've seen several thousands of bloggers rise and disappear over the years; the good ones always stick around without labeling others simply for fear of giving up turf. There is no turf online, except the astro kind.

Equally important, having managed several hefty brands over the years, I always known that brands provide amazing boosts for individuals. Big deal. It's better not to worry about positive brand associations as much as your ability to be true to your company, your client, or yourself (depending on why you spend your time online). That's not online advice; it's advice for life.

Monday, April 20

Measuring Communication: Five Steps To Action


While it is not part of the ROC measurement abstract, communicators might be best served to consider five basic steps before developing a communication stream, using social media, or an integrated communication strategy, which may or may not include social media. These five steps aren't what the communicator ought to do. They are what an intended public does.

Step One: Awareness. The public has to know the communication stream exists. Communication that happens in a vacuum isn't heard.

Step Two: Interest. The public has to have a reason to take an interest. The channel usually needs to offer added value, incentives, unique insights, or original content.

Step Three: Engagement. The public has to have a mechanism to engage, which means the channel needs to continually deliver on its promise to add value, incentives, unique insights, and original content. Often, with an opportunity to engage in two-way communication.

Step Four: Conviction. The public has to have a reason to become committed beyond engagement by either accepting a belief (the product/company is good) or intending to take an action (attend an event, purchase a product, etc.). The point here is that engagement, while important, might not be enough.

Step Five: Action. The public has to take action beyond engagement to become true customers or advocates. In social media, this might mean referring others or, in some cases, purchasing a product (online or off) or producing some other outcome.

It seems to me that one of the most overlooked aspects of online organizational communication is that some communicators forget that not every member of the public will begin at step one. Often times, existing customers or advocates are already aware and have an interest, which is why they are searching for the company or product or service online to begin with.

So the question to answer is always much simpler than it seems. Did the organization make it easy for these customers and advocates to engage, become convicted, and take action?

Download The Abstract: Measure: I | O = ROC

The ROC is an abstract method of measuring the value of business communication by recognizing that the return on communication — advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media — is related to the intent of the communication and the outcome it produces. Every Monday, the ROC series explores portions of the abstract, with exception of today.

Friday, April 17

Walking Tall: Aid For AIDS of Nevada


If there is any good news to follow on the heels of Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, which calls U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS "insufficient," it is that some people are willing to do something about it. This Sunday, April 19, Aid For AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) will be hosting its 19th annual AIDS Walk in Las Vegas.

The event, which is supported by the entertainment industry in Las Vegas, including Penn & Teller and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Jake Walden, is anticipated to break fund-raising records for the local AIDS organization. It's needed.

The State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has terminated four Ryan White Part B Programs (RWPB), which totals more than $750,000 of funding. The cuts occurred on April 5 with less than 30 days notification. In addition to directly impacting AFAN, one of the most devastating cuts impacted the University of Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Care Program. What makes the cuts so significant is that this program is responsible for treating pregnant women who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS so their babies are not born with the HIV virus.

“For unborn children especially, this is a life and death decision that will have consequences far greater than the state has obviously considered,” said Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue, director of the University of Nevada School of Medicine’s Nevada Care Program. “These children, who would otherwise have a 98 percent chance to be born without the HIV virus, will more likely be born with the virus.”

Without this critical care, these unborn babies will certainly be born with HIV/AIDS. If they are, their average life expectancy will be a mere 24 years, with the cost of care averaging $25,200 per year. Considering this statistic is consistent across all HIV/AIDS diagnosed people, it represents one of the most short-sighted budget cuts in the history of Nevada. Each newly infected person will cost the state $600,000, which is almost as high as the budget cut.

Is it any wonder people are upset with taxes in the U.S.? It's not so much how much people pay as much as it's about what we're paying for. President Obama's stimulus package included $6.1 million for corporate jet hangars in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and $20 million for a minor league baseball museum in Durham, North Carolina, instead of administrating a program that prevents babies from being born HIV positive for a mere $350,000.

The problem isn't just local. It's national (and global). In the United States, the fastest-growing segment of HIV/AIDS diagnosed people is young adults. How young? Ages 13-24.

While some people might call the recent Tea Parties patrician politics, I can assure you that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate along party lines. The entire spending structure of the national, state, and local government needs to be re-evaluated and re-prioritized.

The solution is in our grasp and it starts with communication.

When people talk about politics, they tend to talk ideologies. I prefer to talk about people and fiscal mismanagement.

I'd rather see people keep more of their money and then invest it in local programs with a proven track record. AFAN qualifies. With almost 3,600 residents living with HIV and 3,000 more are diagnosed with AIDS in the Las Vegas area, AFAN serves a large percentage of those through direct client service programs, food programs, prevention and education programs, and community outreach. You can learn more about AFAN here and the AIDS Walk Las Vegas here.

You can learn more about the national epidemic from Anthony S. Fauci's opinion piece that recently ran in The Washington Post. In it, he points out that Washington, D.C. health officials estimate that 3 percent of city residents had full-blown AIDS or were infected with HIV. At 3 percent of any population, it seems painfully obvious that the virus can no longer be considered an epidemic confined to lifestyle choices. Everybody is at risk.

So this Sunday, I am joining (along with my family) the thousands of people walking in support of AFAN. I'm not big on asking for donations, but if you want to lend any direct contributions, you can find my donation page here. Or, if you want to have twice as much impact, consider adding your name to the Penn & Teller Challenge. They will double their team's contributions.

Since I will be waking for AIDS this Sunday, other than sending out a tweet or two, I probably won't be posting (my Sunday post is today). But you can post something about AIDS if you are so inclined. AIDS Walk Las Vegas has an event page at Bloggers Unite. You don't necessarily have to post about the local event. Write what you want.

Here's an idea. Write about how the U.S. is long overdue in virtually eradicating an infectious virus like smallpox or polio (although more work needs to be done there too). Or simply ask why is there no AIDS vaccine. Or, more specifically, ask why is $200 million in taxpayer money being used to rehabilitate a national mall when it could be used to develop an AIDS vaccine.

We don't need more taxes to do it. We need a Congress that is capable of realigning its fiscal policy to let taxpayers support programs at their discretion rather than allowing politicians to pad pork projects. At least I think so. What do you think?

Whatever you think, you can be certain all solutions start with communication. Unless people talk about it, nothing gets done.

Thursday, April 16

Killing Community: Graham Langdon, Entrecard


Graham Langdon, self-described as a 23-year-old college drop out intent on making money, has it all figured out. In 2007, he adopted the business model originally developed by BlogRush, which is best described as a defunct throwback to “Web 1.0″ affiliate schemes.

His solution was to develop Entrecard, which was originally a free "business card" ad swap network based on a credit system. The model has recently undergone dramatic changes after several failed attempts to secure venture capitalist funding and no takers when he attempted to dump the company for $100,000. (Several buyers told me the latter was more of a publicity stunt to establish equity than a serious intent to sell.)

The new model attempts to monetize what once was a free service by exchanging the credit system with real currency, and with Entrecard keeping 25 percent on the blogger's side of the transaction. Ever since, not all has been well in the land of Entrecard.

Trading community in for cash.

If there was any reason Entrecard survived BlogRush, it was because, just below the surface of what seemed to be a junk traffic site, there was some semblance of niche communities, especially among mommy bloggers and craft blogs and personal bloggers. No "A list" bloggers, mind you, just regular people who blog.

The new cash model trades down that community, because advertisers do not have to reciprocate with Internet real estate. It is much easier to spend $25 without any participation whatsoever than to participate under the new rules. That is, for now. At the same time Entrecard is opening the network up to advertisers, it is imposing rules on the original community that made Entrecard viable.

Dropping quality ad real estate for fairness.

Originally, the first placement rule was that the Entrecard widget had to be placed "above the fold" until the decision was reversed after push back. Not to be deterred, however, Entrecard launched a variation of the rule based on the pretense of "fairness." Unfortunately, crowd sourcing "fairness" is only as good as the most intelligent participants. In this case, none of placement restrictions consider the obvious; the program can never be "fair."

• Quality sites will always benefit advertisers with more traffic than inferior sites.
• Less ad competitive sites will always benefit advertisers more than ad heavy sites.
• Load time is much more signifiant than where an advertisement is placed.

Ask most media buyers and they'll tell you that it's better to own a page toward the bottom of a fast-loading quality site than for it to appear at the top of a slow-loading low quality site filled with ads. However, some suspect that there is another benefit to imposing the rule all together. Entrecard can now exempt many members from a cashout service, which would allow them to covert old credits into cash.

The service, which is being delayed until after the rule is imposed, presents several logistical nightmares in that Entrecard is attempting to justify exempting members from the service under the old Terms Of Service, while deleting their accounts for violating a rule created in what will be a new Terms Of Service. And, since Entrecard has since placed a cash value on credits, some consider its actions theft or, at minimum, another taxable event to go along with the credit to cash conversion.

Communication breakdown is commonplace.

In terms of communication, the entire conversation continues to be grossly mishandled. Most Entrecard participants had no idea the rules would be changed until they received a warning that they would be suspended if they did not comply within 72 hours. When members complained, the network pointed them to a post on the Entrecard blog, as if it was required reading.

What did not occur, like many network developers forget, is that most members do not read the network blogs. Communication, especially when it involves changes to Terms of Service (TOS), requires being proactive instead. And, in the case of Entrecard, its own TOS states it's required: "Entrecard reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify or replace any part of this Agreement. In such an event you will be notified four days prior via the email address associated with your user account."

This is not the only time Entrecard has broken its own rules. Advertisers were recently surprised to see the service arbitrarily double ad rates overnight. The only notification advertisers received was after the fact, with the justification that the network doubled the cash balance listed in everyone's account (and here we thought only the government could create money).

Add to this all the other problems associated with the program, and its anyone's guess what will happen next. One thing for certain: some advertisers are miffed to learn that the promise of targeting a specific category does not work. Currently, if you select a category on Entrecard, the category selection is confirmed, but advertisements are placed network wide.

Sustainability seems to be in question.

The net result of Entrecard's quest for cash seems to be aggravating an exodus of better bloggers. The departures began approximately six months ago.

While Langdon claims traffic has never been better, the truth is that Entrecard is becoming what people labeled it to begin with: a junk traffic site. Except, you have to pay for it. He doesn't mind. After all, bad publicity is good for business he says.

"A lot of people have this crazy misconception that bad publicity is actually bad for internet sites. Why just yesterday, we got a slew of bad publicity when we banned an Entrecard member for harassment and trolling," wrote Langdon. "Everyone was twittering about it and blogging about it, and tons of people were coming to Entrecard. Look at what happened to our blog’s traffic ... It doubled!"

Right. And more people will look at you on the road after an accident. Just ask Domino's.

What other members and former members are saying:

WTF, Entrecard Pt.II at Simply Saying

Entrecard Hoolabaloo at Vinallaseven

They’re Takin Your Booty Mates at Recycled Frockery

Entrecard Announcement at The Dirty Shirt

No More Entrecard at The Sofia Valeria Collection

Wednesday, April 15

Bagging On Taxes: American Taxpayers


April 15, which is the date Americans file their tax returns with the IRS, used to be a day filled with fear for most. Now, it seems to be shaping up as a day of reckoning, as citizens in more than 2,000 locations across the United States are holding "tea parties" to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending.

Using the same tool — the Internet — to organize as President Obama did to win the presidential election, ordinary citizens are expressing their apparent dissatisfaction with the "real change" as opposed to the "promised change" that the new administration has taken. By 2010, the estimated national debt, or debt held by the public, will equal approximately $81,000 per U.S. household. That is almost three times as much as it was in 2007.

As if taking a page from the fans of Jericho and others, one of the more creative ideas developed by the GOP is to help people send tea bags to their choice of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Harry Reid, or Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Each tea bag features an elephant watermark. The effort is duplicated by another organization, without an elephant watermark, here.

Regardless of how one feels about tea parties or the administration, there is an interesting side story playing out today. There seems to be discrepancies between the majority of news organizations and live reporting from everyday people. In short, the public has a clear choice between which reality they want to believe: either Americans are upset with taxes or they are not.

Either you call the original Boston Tea Party "shameful" like Charles Arlinghaus did for the UnionLeader, or you consider it one of the first steps toward independence in America like history does. (While Arlinghaus is right that the tea parties will have to grow into positive action beyond rallies, he's wrong in believing such protests don't mean anything.)

Are Tax Parties Hype Or Hope?

If you believe CBS, the concept of any public outcry is contrary to recent polls that place President Obama's approval rating as high as 67 percent, Americans largely approve of higher taxes, and 74 percent want the "rich," now defined as anyone making more than $250,000 per year, to be taxed more.

Or, you can wonder what President Obama might know about the real numbers behind the movement given he choose to speak about simplifying the tax code at the same time some cities had organized their rallies. This strategy seems to fall in line with what everyday people are reporting — that there is a real grass roots movement at work, and not just among conservatives.

One of the best examples of the extreme reporting that we noticed today comes courtesy of the Washington Post. The Post reported on a Facebook tea party group with 1,800 members. However, when we checked, it had 31,000 members.

The Post story links to a defunct blog as an example. However, CNN chose the National TEA Party, which has 18,000 Facebook members. Among the best non-news reporting seems to be found at Ta Day Tea Party. There are also several localized Facebook accounts, with as many as 500 to 1,000 members each.

One of Michelle Malkin's posts seems to suggest why there might be so much confusion. She says there are as many as four or six different hashtags to follow tea parties on Twitter. Why is that significant? It demonstrates that the varied reporting is indicative of largely independent groups rallying around a common theme, but very different campaigns. And, contrary to the CBS poll, another poll conducted by Harris Interactive suggested that the majority of Americans think taxes are too high.

The Real Facts Are Being Buried.

In order to find the truth, you have to remove some of the opinions. Polls don't reveal facts as much as much as figures.

Americans will pay more in taxes than they will spend on food, clothing, and housing combined this year. In fact, according to the Tax Foundation, most Americans have to work between 82 and 120 days just to pay their taxes, depending on the state in which they live. Alaskans pay the least and the people in Connecticut pay the most.

The only reason most people feel comfortable taxing the rich more, despite the fact that the top 5 percent of all wage earners already pay 60 percent of all taxes while the bottom 50 percent pay only 3 percent of all taxes, is because, well, it's the other guy. And, the reason some people chose to protest today is not because they are dissatisfied with recent tax cuts, but rather because they know that the mounting national debt will have to be repaid sooner or later, and taxpayers will have to pay it.

Our country's current fiscal policy is best likened to a teenager on a spending spree. It seems like there is progress toward creating a better lifestyle with the recent purchase of a new flat screen television, smart phone, and club clothes. But that progress will quickly come to a halt when the bill comes due, the repo man takes the stuff back, and still charges interest.

Tuesday, April 14

Measuring Communication, Cost Part 3


Another overlooked cost consideration in communication measurement is the human equation. Simply put, not all communication teams — public relations firms or advertising agencies or whatever — are created equal. Some demand more time from their clients than others.

It's the kind of cost consideration you might not find in Geoff Livingston's otherwise fine post on communication measurement. Firms that consider this cost will know which outcomes to measure and which ones to not measure (e.g., number of conversations about, while popular among publicity proponents, is not a measure unto itself in most cases).

Cost Consideration In House.

For example, most CEOs committing to a daily post, written by them, carries a tremendous expense to the company except in circumstances such as but not limited to crisis communication. The average CEO at a Fortune 500 company, for example, makes approximately $500,000, not counting bonuses. With bonuses, the top 20 made $36.4 million in 2006 on average.

Median salaries are much more modest. According to PayScale, the median base is between $150,000 and $200,000. While there has been ample debate about CEO salaries lately, that is not the intent of this post.

While admittedly a steep contrast, the question becomes how many $100,000-$200,000 posts can a top paid CEO afford to write, assuming they are authentic enough to write their own? Likewise, how many public relations meetings can one CEO attend? Or even, how many interviews can one accept? And what could they be doing instead?

While the answer is situational because there is little doubt that CEOs needs to be involved in the communication, in-house departments still need to pay close attention to how much time is being vested by whom.

On a more reasonable scale, the communication manager might ask if they need to write every release or does it need to be written by a less experienced member of the team? And, what could they communication manager be doing instead of hanging out on Twitter? Clearly, there may be benefits to doing so, but only with balance, and only if there are tangible outcomes.

Cost Consideration With Outsourcing.

For the in-house department outsourcing services, the question becomes one of affordability vs. expediency. Does the consultant add more experience for the investment or require more hands-on management than the scope of the project?

As an extreme example, I've seen less experienced team members take days to perform tasks that could have taken someone else a few hours. And, I've seen out-of-house firms require so much handholding that it becomes difficult to tell who was the client. In other cases, some managers complain that they have to significantly rewrite every release submitted by the public relations firm. But what they don't consider is that doing so doubles the cost of the work and distracts from other tasks.

Ideally, the right work needs to be matched with the right experience level, inside or out. While the concept might seem abstract to some, human asset management can have dramatic consequences on the end result.

Download The Abstract: Measure: I | O = ROC

The ROC is an abstract method of measuring the value of business communication by recognizing that the return on communication — advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media — is related to the intent of the communication and the outcome it produces. Every Monday, the ROC series explores portions of the abstract, with exception of today.

Monday, April 13

Making Connections: James Hoke, What Goes Up


Three years ago, James Hoke, president of Las Vegas-based Destination Marketing Group, had a single conversation that became a defining moment in his life. While he didn't know it at the time, that single conversation set the stage for another conversation almost a year later.

“Do you want to start a production company and make a movie?”

Today, James Hoke is an executive producer behind the film What Goes Up (formerly Safety Glass), which is scheduled for release to select theaters in early May. It stars Steve Coogan, Hilary Duff, Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby, and Molly Shannon.

"You don't really appreciate how much communication is required as an executive producer until you have the job," says Hoke. "You work 12-hour days seven days a week on slow days, with a team that is literally brought together over night. It might sound like long hours, but my love for the job and a balanced life makes it feel a lot less like work. Of course, that's not to say I wouldn't have loved to know everything I know now back then."

Like all films, producing What Goes Up wasn't without challenges. The production took longer to complete than originally anticipated, there was some initial confusion in the United States over the title, and Hoke wishes they would have built in marketing, public relations, and social media efforts when the production began.

"The film took a little longer to complete, but for good reason. We really wanted to record and incorporate a new Hilary Duff single into the soundtrack," says Hoke. "We couldn't complete the original song until November last year. We think it was worth the wait, and we're hoping Hilary Duff fans agree."

The soundtrack for the movie, which Hoke will be sharing more information tomorrow on the What Goes Up Insider blog, was overseen by Anthony Miranda, one of three partners in Three Kings Productions, which was the driving force behind What Goes Up. Miranda has worked on several dozen movie soundtracks.

"Well, I'm obviously biased, but Miranda is such an amazing talent," Hoke said. "I think he is going to surprise a lot of people with the soundtrack he has put together."

As for the change in titles, Hoke says there wasn't much to it. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which is responsible for North American distribution, came up with the new name.

"There really isn't much of story there," says Hoke. "I actually love the name. I hope everyone does too. It lends a lot of meaning to the film given the message. We all need heroes, and we need them so bad that sometimes we forget our heroes are human."

Hoke is hoping the human connection plays out in other ways as well. Currently, he is the driving force behind marketing and public relations efforts, which includes employing social media to help make a connection with fans. According to Hoke, he wants to develop a model where fans can connect with cast and crew on a different level than traditional marketing efforts alone.

"After seeing thousands of fans visit the production blog despite being in development, I can only imagine what might have happened if we started a year ago while we were still in production," says Hoke. "I think back on this amazing journey and now realize that fans could have been part of it all in real time. My advice to any producer, especially independent film producers, is start your efforts early and RIGHT NOW. Movies are magical experiences. You don't have to share every detail, but it's important to recognize that people want to be involved, and it would be very beneficial to have a base well before distribution."

Hoke adds that he and his partners are fortunate and grateful that fans have taken an interest in the film. With five solid stars rounding out the cast, many have expressed that they feel as if they have as much of a stake in the movie as the producers. In some ways, they might be right.

What Goes Up is only a few weeks away from its first appearance in theaters. As a limited theatrical release, it will require a very different marketing approach than the proverbial blockbuster. Hoke says they will roll the film out in select major markets, connecting with fans internationally and focusing most marketing efforts in those select markets.

"We've paid close attention to what other films have done right and wrong, and we think that will give us a significant advantage," says Hoke. "If I have any concerns it will be that some fans won't see some of the efforts we are putting forth on the local level so they will assume we're not doing everything possible. We will be. And with their support, the early success will determine how far the movie will go."

Hoke says that might sound like a long shot, but many aspects of the film seemed like a long shot at different stages of development. Producing an exclusive single with Hilary Duff seemed like a long shot. Reaching an agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which has helped develop several key aspects of the film, including a movie poster that resonates with fans, was a long shot. Teaming up with Kirk Shaw at Insight Film Studios, LTD., which Hoke defines as an amazing company, seemed like a long shot. Working the people at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Worldwide seemed like a long shot. And looking all the way back to the first conversation between Hoke and Joe Nahas seemed like a long shot too.

"Looking back at the first story written in 2007, I have to ask myself, what part of this production wasn't a long shot?" says Hoke. "What part of anything great in our lives isn't a long shot? In many ways, that is what this real film is about. It's about what makes a hero, and I think that's what people will be asking well after they leave the theaters. We're all human."

In an effort to keep it real, Hoke concludes that he will be undertaking what he calls another "long shot" tomorrow — writing his very first blog post. He says it will be the first of several to round out a mixed editorial concept, which includes alternating between weekly news announcements, guest posts, interviews, and review highlights.

Why is writing a post a long shot? He laughs, saying that when it comes to movies, writing is sometimes best left to people like Jonathan Glatzer and Robert Lawson, the two writers responsible for the script.

The weekly ROC post, which focuses on communication measurement and usually appears on Mondays, will be follow tomorrow. Additional disclosure: Copywrite, Ink. is involved with the release efforts; this story is independent of those efforts.

Friday, April 10

Switching Hitters: Left Brain Or Right?


Understanding psychology is great fun for advertisers and marketers. So much fun that there has always been ample discussion whether purchasing decisions are made with the left brain (rational) or right brain (emotional).

It's even more fun to discover that there is so much discussion in this topical area that, depending on the day, the same sources are really arguing among themselves. And, each time they do, they benefit from the coverage. Case in point.

The Case For The Left Brain.

Last year, Branding Strategy published a post by Jack Trout, which makes the case for rational advertising over emotional advertising. In it, they cite Mark Penn's book, Microtrends, that stresses "the rational side of people is far more powerful in many areas of life than the purely emotional side."

The post then goes on to cite TiVo, the current leader in digital video recorders (DVRs), which had just examined the commercial viewing habits of some 20,000 TiVo-equipped households, including which ad campaigns are fast-forwarded past by the lowest percentage of viewers. The results, they concluded, weigh heavily in favor of rational arguments.

Of course, Branding Strategy revised this thinking later in the year, suggesting the opposite was true in 12 Causes of Bad Brand Advertising. Brad VanAuken cited Harding’s 1996 study of buyers in ten corporations that "demonstrated that corporate buyers overwhelmingly rely on personal and emotional reasons over rational ones in their purchase choice."

That's okay. TiVo changed its position too.

The Case For The Right Brain.

TiVo, working with Innerscope Research, a biometric research firm, released a new study that suggests the opposite.

In a live study of 55 national ads, TiVo and Innerscope found that TV viewers are 25 percent more likely to fast-forward through ads with low emotional engagement than those with high emotional engagement. The data suggests that ads that are more emotionally engaging are more likely to be viewed in their entirety even in a time-shifted environment.

“We’re measuring emotions because emotions matter,” says Carl Marci, CEO of Innerscope Research, in a related article. "The science is very clear that emotions are prime determinants of behavior."

The study was originally conducted in late 2008, and then compared live biometric monitoring of emotional engagement with scores from TiVo's Stop||Watch(TM) ratings service, which collects anonymous, second-by-second audience research data from 100,000 TiVo subscribers. When the two metrics were compared, the emotional engagement of Innerscope's viewers correctly predicted whether, and how many, viewers would elect to fast forward at any given moment.

Our Take On The Brain.

We don't pick sides. For all the studies, it seems obvious that people are people, and different people react differently to different things.

Some people are predisposed to making emotional purchasing decisions based on personal trends (the shiny object afflicted) or because they want to help others (chronic solution providers). Others are predisposed to making rational purchasing decisions based on price point (bottom liners) or a logical presentation of facts (analytically enabled). Most people are some degree of two (assuming they aren't polar opposites).

Most advertising has a tendency to target one trait extremely well — e.g., children's cold medicine — or some pairing of the two — e.g., a cheap and trendy app. Of course, the very best advertising, which you don't see very often, hits all four equally.

If you still want to keep it simple, emotional vs. logical advertising, there is one broad-based solution. Emotional communication most often attracts interest while rational communication closes the deal or at least prevents buyer's remorse. And if you don't believe it, then wait for the next study that reveals whatever the opposite of whatever today's study says.

As for which advertisements do most consumers really fast forward? They fast forward on the very first bad commercial, and all those that are unfortunate to follow it during the break. No study needed.

Thursday, April 9

Demonstrating Courage: Jason Teitelman


Jason Teitelman, Web designer and office manager for for SiteProPlus Website Design, is no stranger to St. Baldrick's, a foundation with the mission to raise awareness and funds to cure kids' cancer by supporting cancer research and fellowship. Like many people, he had seen posters in local stores and coffee shops and always thought it was a fun idea.

"I had never really thought about participating, but this year was different," says Teitelman. "I saw the event posted on BloggersUnite.org and it prompted me to visit the St. Baldrick's Web site. After reading a few of the children's stories, especially the memorials, I felt like I really wanted and needed to do something to help."

So Teitelman enrolled to become a "shavee" at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Shavees are people who shave their heads and help raise funds for children with cancer. According to Teitelman, the facility was amazing and the staff were friendly and compassionate.

"I just want to acknowledge the fact that they put on a wonderful event," he said. "Everyone I went with was impressed with the center as well as all of the support."

There were several memorable moments, Teitelman recalls, ranging from an outpouring of support from his family (mom, dad, wife, son, brother-in-law, and niece) to his 13-month-old son's initial puzzled pause after his head was shaved. Equally memorable however, were the parents of sick children who were especially appreciative of the support.

"They were really thankful for people like me, who haven't had any direct experience with childhood cancer," Teitelman said. "They appreciate everyone who takes a few minutes out of their day to recognize that there are children and families out there who are going through very difficult times. They could use all the help they can get."

For his part, Teitelman raised $295 of his $500 goal. But given the total donations raised by all participants, but he stresses that he was happy with the results nonetheless. In fact, he says joining the BloggersUnite.org event had a greater impact than he ever imagined.

"I am planning on doing it again next year," Teitelman said. "And after seeing me do it, some of my family members are thinking about participating also!"

Another interesting aspect of Teitelman's participation in the event was that while he does have a blog, he hasn't updated for it some time. Instead, he enrolled in BloggersUnite.org and used his Facebook account to promote the event and let people know about his participation. It's also an interesting side bar to the success of the new BloggersUnite.org network in that anyone can make a difference.

"I'm also looking forward to participating in Earth Day because there is always a great outdoor activity to look forward to," says Teitelman. "And, now I'm in the process of helping a friend organize a 'Work Happiness Action' day where we ask people to do something to make people a little happier in their workplace."

We think that's a great idea, and plan to keep an eye out for it in October. Sometimes, it's those less tangible results, like those started by Teitelman, that create a butterfly effect, without measurable limits. And we think that's pretty courageous.

There are currently more than 80 events listed at BloggersUnite.org and one "main event being BlogCatalog, Bloggers Unite, Copywrite, Ink., and Heifer International.

Wednesday, April 8

Uniting People: Bloggers Unite For Hunger & Hope


With each passing second, one person will die of hunger. Every fourth second, that person will be a child. In fact, hunger accounts for almost 60 percent of all deaths in the world, making starvation the single greatest killer on the planet.

There is no need to discover a cure. There is no scientific breakthrough waiting to be discovered. And yet, they die.

On April 29, thousands of bloggers will call for change. Not only will they call for change, but they will call for change that provides long-term solutions that reduce starvation and lifts people out of extreme poverty. You too can be part of it.

Unite For Hunger & Hope on April 29

BlogCatalog, Bloggers Unite, Copywrite, Ink., and Heifer International have partnered to launch a social awareness campaign that asks everyone talk about world hunger on April 29 and point people toward solutions. While bloggers from around the world will provide the cornerstone of the campaign, a blog is not required to make a difference.

"With the new BloggersUnite platform, people don't need a blog to join or make a difference," says Antony Berkman, president of BlogCatalog. "They only have to want to make a difference. Do they want to? I don't know, but I sincerely hope so with all my heart."

Using BloggersUnite.org as an event coordination page, Unite For Hunger & Hope provides bloggers and social network members an opportunity to join the campaign. Once they do, they can join the event, post about the event, talk about event, share the event with friends, add badges to their blogs or network pages, and find informational resources (that are currently in development). While any organization that provides solutions to solve world hunger is appropriate, Heifer International, currently celebrating its Pass On The Gift campaign, is one best practice example.

What makes Heifer International stand out as a best practice? It doesn't feed people for a day. It teaches them for life. Specifically, this global non-profit provides sustainable solutions to end hunger and poverty by providing livestock and agricultural training to improve lives.

"Heifer International is thrilled to be a part of Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope," said Tom Peterson, senior director of Heifer International. "Bloggers Unite for Hunger and Hope is a great way to harness the power of the Internet, and it coincides with our Pass on the Gift campaign.”

The Pass on the Gift campaign is a month-long celebration that allows participants to get involved and work together to end hunger. With an entire month of stories highlighted from around the world, Heifer International will share dozens of examples and ceremonies that anyone can write, post, or share on April 29 posts.

Already this month, Heifer International took Manhattan, brought attention to the plight of small farmers, and inspired people to host awareness-generating local events with something as simple as a pizza party. But all of this doesn't have to end with 30 days if enough people highlight any of these programs on April 29.

"BlogCatalog members have been responsible for generating hundreds of thousands of posts on topics that range from AIDS to human rights," says Berkman. "Now, when you combine that with social networks, it sends a very powerful message to the media and world leaders that hunger is not only something we can address, but it's something we can solve. There is no need to wait for a cure. With organizations like Heifer International, we only need to help them increase the number of people they touch every day."

Since 1944, Heifer International has helped communities learn to become self-sufficient by raising animals that provide direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and schools. For more information, visit its site.

Since 2007, BlogCatalog’s Bloggers Unite initiative has evolved from the first blogger-driven social awareness campaign initiative into a self-sustaining social awareness network. More than 190,000 bloggers interact on BlogCatalog.com every day and provide the foundation for BloggersUnite.org. But their efforts do not stop with two social networks for bloggers. Many of them work together with friends and family on social networks ranging from Twitter and Facebook to Digg and Bedo.

So what do you think? Is hunger worth writing, talking, and doing something about? You can start right here today.

Tuesday, April 7

Cutting Market Share: TNS Media Intelligence Study


Last December, TNS Media Intelligence noted that total measured advertising expenditures in the first nine months of 2008 declined by 1.7 percent as compared to the same period in 2007. Since, spending has been dramatically cut, with television being especially hard hit. Network advertisers lost almost 10 percent of revenue in the fourth quarter 2008.

“Media ad spending, which began tiptoeing into negative territory in early 2007, has crossed an inflection point in the past six months as the economic downturn has become more widespread,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at TNS. “Preliminary data from the fourth quarter indicate a further slackening of the overall advertising market.”

A subsequent study, released this March by TNS, demonstrates such dramatic cuts are a mistake. Specifically, the study showed that when marketers cut spending during a downturn, they lose market share and brand awareness to private labels.

TNS covered eight U.S.-based household and personal-care marketers that cut measured media spending an average of 8.8 percent, which was higher than the 5 percent cut among advertisers overall. According to AdAge, U.S.-based household, personal-care and beauty marketers slashed spending 14 percent on average in the fourth quarter. The results are dramatic, but not surprising — companies that went with the flow of the boom-bust cycle and cut ad spending tended to lose more share to private labels both immediately and over the long term.

The Internet recession-proof myth.

Despite the study, some social media "experts" claim the recent advertising decline is merely a sign of the times, even going so far as to say that advertising is no longer needed. However, it's simply not true.

Recessionary cutbacks have had an impact across the board. As Simon Owens noted, spending on blogs, especially political blogs in an off-election year, is down.

"Everyone looks at the numbers and says, 'Wow, advertising is growing 20 percent a year online,' and they get really excited about that," Henry Copeland, the CEO of Blogads told Owens. "But most of that growth is cost-per-click — it's Google, it's AdWords, it's AdSense."

On the surface, other studies seem to indicate the opposite, citing that 63 percent of companies plan to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2009. However, the discretionary spending doesn't seem to be reaching content sites like Pajama Media, which closed its doors.

In addition to Google, Adwords, and Adsense as Copeland said, the investment seems to be made in direct-to-consumer presence on the Internet, hindered only by social media's continued challenge to prove itself as remotely measurable. (It's measurable.) However, that still leaves one piece of the puzzle missing.

If social media can supposedly supplant advertising as some suggest, then why would large marketers lose market share to private labels despite being among the earliest adopters of social media? In looking at several studies, it seems obvious that ad cutbacks are the common denominator, which means advertising is still a critical component to communication.

Isolated research creates erroneous conclusions.

Unless you look at the world with the lens of a single discipline, it seems very obvious how communication fits together. While each of the three disciplines — advertising, public relations, and social media — crossover into each other's area, each are particularly strong in specific areas.

• Advertising is best suited to establish awareness
• Public relations is best suited to establish position
• Social media is best suited to establish engagement

Naturally, all three can effectively establish awareness, position, and engagement, but it's generally more effective when all three work together. And, as illustrated by the March study, it doesn't change in a down economy. Companies that win are those that continue to communicate across several streams, with the right mix of which being largely situational.

Monday, April 6

Measuring Communication, Cost Part 2


One of the most overlooked cost considerations in communication measurement is the "time to produce" or "speed to market." While the cost less is tangible than direct expenses, it's no less important because it can have a dramatic impact on communication.

As Laurence Haughton once titled his book "It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow." In the book, he and Jason Jennings contend that only the swiftest of corporations will thrive in today's marketplace. And while I've disagreed with Haughton before, this is one point where he is half right.

How Time To Produce Impacts Public Relations.

A few months ago, a public relations firm had an opportunity to deeply expose one of its clients to a new audience by tying in local results on a national study. In terms of news value, the story had impact, proximity, timeliness, human interest, and sensitivity — five of the ten elements that make news.

Unfortunately, the release that could have made headlines and would have resulted in speaking engagements took three weeks, leaving less than a one week window to retain any news value at all. The result was a single story in one online publication that didn't reach the intended audience.

While the late release didn't create any negative impressions, the costs associated with the release produced a negative return on communication. And, had it been a crisis communication situation, three weeks would have been just enough time to kill the organization.

How Time To Produce Impacts Advertising.

The same intangible cost has an impact on advertising as well. For example, most Web sites take two to three times longer to produce than a blog, most print advertisements take two to three times longer to produce and place than online advertisements (even longer when compared to non-ad communication vehicles), and most television commercials take four times longer to produce than an online video.

This isn't meant to disparage traditional advertising. It's needed. However, in prioritizing production, quicker and more efficient methods of communication might be worth considering. Every day there is no communication is another day that potential customers are making different purchasing decisions or increasing brand loyalty or promoting the competition.

So Why Was Haughton Only Half Right?

Sometimes companies race ahead too fast. In 2007, for example, we took note of several companies attempting to leap frog to the next level as fast as possible. One of the applications, BlogRush, has long since crashed.

There were several reasons for the "crash," but part of the underlying problem was that its customers could not keep up with the changes taking place and neither did their communication. The lesson to be learned remained the same. Planned product rollouts plus expedited and efficient communication usually wins the day.

Download The Abstract: Measure: I | O = ROC

The ROC is an abstract method of measuring the value of business communication by recognizing that the return on communication — advertising, marketing, public relations, internal communication, and social media — is related to the intent of the communication and the outcome it produces. Every Monday, the ROC series explores portions of the abstract.

Friday, April 3

Considering "That Guy": Chris Brogan


Yesterday, Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, wrote a post about "that guy." You know, "that one" who engages in social media from a purely push marketing perspective.

"'That guy' shows up and starts bullhorning (sic) her message into the crowd," he writes. “'Hi! I can show you thirty ways to make money while you sleep!'”

To make matters worse, the less attention they receive, the louder they get. THE BIGGER THEIR WORDS BECOME. And the more exclamation points they use!!! As if ... as if punctuation and caps can somehow communicate what their words fail to say.

Sooner or later, "that guy" or "that gal" might even find themselves in a virtual vacuum because the outcome of their marketing message results in aversion as opposed to attraction. Don't they know, in the words of Mary Stewart, that "it is harder to kill a whisper than even a shouted calumny." Shhh...

Brogan then offers ten ways to build relationships before you ask anything. It's a useful list. I encourage you to check it out.

However, all the tactics in the world can't help you if you don't change the strategy. Most online communication, especially one-to-one communication, is virtually identical to face-to-face communication, with exception to its relative permanence. The brain doesn't distinguish between online and offline experiences, and perhaps, neither might you.

There is no difference between online and offline engagement.

"That guy" and "that gal" exist offline too. They are the same people pumping business cards into the hands of everyone at a business luncheon before the smile that accompanies an initial introduction has time to fade long enough for our brains to file away their face for future recognition. "That guy" and "that gal" are the ones who give marketing sales a bad name.

Sure, card pumping works in the short term much like a lion pouncing on prey. But long term, it only leads to indigestion as little whispers become attached to their reputation. You might have heard them before. "Oh no," they might say. "Here she/he comes again." And with those whispers, over time, come feelings of aversion.

Really, it's not all that different from what Bill Murray's (Phil Conner) character felt when he saw Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson) on the front end of the film Groundhog Day. In fact, we all felt aversion to Ned. That is, until we had a chance to see him as a real person, much later in the movie.

My point is simple enough: there is only one secret to online engagement. While business blogs are fine, and we all expect they might share something about the business, individual engagement is person to person and requires offline sensibility. Why? Because it's the same. Did you hear that? Yeah ... it's the same.

Just don't tell "that guy." We appreciate the early warning.

Thursday, April 2

Leaking Wolverine: How Much Is Too Much?


"If it's a good movie, it won't f*cking matter. People will go see it. But if it's a bad movie, it could have consequences." — Geoff Ammer, recently departed worldwide head of marketing and distribution for Marvel Studios

At least that is the theory Ammer told AdAge about the an early print of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" being leaked via file-sharing technology such as BitTorrent. But is it true?

According to sources, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox initially pointed out that the film had been leaked in an e-mail statement, drawing even more attention to the leak before it was removed by a site they did not identify. (It was BitTorrent). Along with the announcement, News Corp. rose 34 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $6.96 today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

The buzz up more than quadrupled interest in the film yesterday as more than 75,000 downloads took place in a few hours. Prior, mentions of the film were steady but otherwise uneventful.

The studio also said the F.B.I. and the Motion Picture Association of America were both investigating the film’s premature distribution. The real concern, according to the studio, is that the leak was only 90 percent complete and has since received some negative buzz on blogs such as In Gob We Trust, which said "The entire film just felt cheesy, more in the vein of Batman Forever than anything else."

“We’ve never seen a high-profile film—a film of this budget, a tentpole movie with this box office potential—leak in any form this early,” said Eric Garland of file-sharing monitor BigChampagne told The New York Times.

In early 2008, a three-episode leak of Jericho Season Two (almost half of the truncated second season) quelled the excitement of the series return to television after a hard fought campaign by fans. CBS later told us it did not intentionally leak three episodes, but did release three episodes to reviewers.

That leak provided a interesting look at how fans view online leaks. Half were appalled by it; half speculated that the studio wanted the series leaked. Indeed, sometimes they do. The entertainment business is relying more and more on buzz to make major decisions. And a well-timed leak of information, clips, etc. can help drive it.

Both Jericho fans and Veronica Mars fans have kept a close eye on speculation that their series might find a new home on the silver screen. For Jericho fans, they've been receiving some mixed, although positive messages, about a Jericho movie. Veronica Mars fans have had a harder time hearing what many considered a green light only to have it turn red.

We disagree with the "leak to win" theories that seem to play on the emotions of fans or run too deep of a risk to derail momentum upon bad reviews by people predisposed to dislike them. In my opinion, fan groups, many of which are immersed in social media and vested in the creations, deserve authenticity from studios over roller coaster rides that only hope to measure prevailing interest. It's not that difficult to talk about the project over leaking the product, and provide movies a chance to thrive on their own merit.

All too often, leaks, intentional or not, are reviewed and commented on by the wrong people — people with little interest in the material — and then are panned. X-Men Origins: Wolverine could become a poster child example. In this case, the leak has resulted in a split decision among people who have seen the semi-complete film, thereby hindering early momentum that might have been driven by pockets of X-Men fans like those at X-Men Fan Site or groups within sites like Superherohype.com.

Wednesday, April 1

Releasing SME 14.0, Beta: Copywrite, Ink.


For the last several months, Copywrite, Ink. has been working with a former Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) developer on a side project to take social media to the next level. We call it SME 14.0.

That's right. Rather than plod along from Social Media Expert 1.0 to 2.0 then to 3.0, we've leapfrogged right over all those cool and catchy numerals to Social Media Expert 14.0. And, for today only, you too can become a Social Media Expert 14.0 (SME 14.0) beta tester. (If you like Hunch, you'll love SME 14.0!)

Social Media Breakthrough: SME 14.0 Highlights

Virtual Followers. Everybody knows that social media is all about numbers. The more popular your blog, profile page, or social network account becomes, well, the more popular it becomes. With virtual followers, you can forget the early social media stages and jump right to "Mr. or Mrs. Popularity" because they come built in with every blog or page you create! Just pick a number — 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 followers — and real people will automatically want to follow you.

Even better, with virtual followers, you have even more reason to ignore those pesky critics. After all, who cares what real people think when you have hundreds or thousands or millions of virtual followers praising your every move!

Automatic Retweets. Inspired by Mack Collier. For anyone worried about their Twitter strategy, worry no more. Automatically set your Twitter account to Retweet everything specific people say and gain popularity, influence, and authority. That's right. Never miss an opportunity to Retweet select real people so they Retweet you!

When combined with the power of virtual followers, your message could be Retweeted 10, 20, 20,000 or 20,000,000 times as quickly (or throughout the day) as you want. With 10,000 Retweets per tweet, nobody will ever question your authority again.

Predetermined Crowd Sourcing. You know and I know it too. As Josh Catone said back in 2007 "a million idiots are better than one Einstein." The only problem is that crowd sourcing and clients don't always mix, until now!

We've fixed the paradigm with SME 14.0. By planting thoughts in the crowd with Jedi mind trick technologies so each and every crowd will be predisposed to agree with whatever you or your client thinks. You can forget manipulation because SME 14.0 sticks whatever outcome you want right inside their mushy little cerebellums.

Don't believe it? Just ask us for our short list of alpha testers and see for yourself. One of these early adopters even convinced you to invest what might amount to $75-$125 billion in failing companies!

Automated SEO Posts. No time to blog, but you want SEO like only Mr. Web Guru can do? Problem solved. With automated SEO posts, you can pick a subject and have it mashed up with all of the hottest search terms today. Here is one real life headline example...

"Jennifer Garner and Paris Hilton Tickle Obama On Google For Taskbar News and SME 14.0!"

Not only is it vetted as powerful a SEO headline, but it's proven to please your virtual followers after predetermined crowd source testing! Organic disruption of the Web has never felt so good.

Total Transparency. Sure, I know what you're thinking (seriously). Doesn't SME 14.0 game the system? Is it really authentic? How about transparent? Well, it absolutely is all those things and more!

You see, last December, we took Geoff Livingston's post about Pew/Internet research to heart. It said “The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.”

Total Transparency solves the first part of the Pew/Internet challenge. With Total Transparency features, what you "think" is precisely what is posted across all your social network platforms. That's right. No more sugar coating. You think it, say "post with SEO," and SME 14.0 automatically transmits from your brain to the board.*

*Warning: SME 14.0 is not responsible for outcomes thought in a water closet, on a nude beach, or other potentially distracting environments.

Ethics Checker 1.0. SME 14.0 also solves the second part of the Pew/Internet research statement with Ethics Check 1.0. Just prior to posting your thoughts direct, Ethics Checker 1.0 springs into action.

Want to give away a K-mart gift card or provide people the inside scoop on a duck without the push back? Now you can!

Ethics Checker 1.0 rates your "thought post" just prior to letting it zoom across the Web. This built in bonus program rates your post for potential ethical impacts on a scale of one (nice halo, baby) to ten (red tomato moment).

If you think that is impressive, next year SME 14.1 will come pre-installed with Ethics Checker 2.0, which includes a little man who looks a lot like Malcolm McDowell. Any time you have a "thought post" rating higher than a five, the little man will slap your face, eventually curbing you of unethical behavior once and for all.

Ultimate Fan 32.5 Add On Enroll as a beta tester for the SME 14.0 right now, and you'll also get UF 32.5. UF 32.5 was designed for all those people who have no original thoughts whatsoever! No thoughts? Never fear, UF 32.5 is here!

Now you can follow your SME 14.0 favorites in style. UF 32.5 automatically RTs, comments, writes praise posts on everything they say and do. Pick from plenty of options "Your best post ever!" to "I'm a mindless follower of >Blank< and you ought to be too!" Amazingly accurate and loads of fun, UF 32.5 is the ultimate tool to kiss some serious SME butt. In fact, over time, the UF 32.5 even helps you think, dress, talk, and post like all of your favs and peeps do!

Here's an actual testimonial from an UF 32.5 alpha tester...

"I used to talk about Jeff Jarvis all the time until my friends got sick of me. But now, thanks to UF 32.5, I am Jeff Jarvis and everybody loves me! The tag line says it all 'Who cares what Google would do when you can be a Jarvis too!'" — Jeff Jarvis, formerly Daniel Sheehan, and soon to be Robert Scoble.

SME 14.0 and the bonus program, UF 32.5 is not for everyone. It's only intended for people who use the Internet. Some restrictions apply. Not currently available in France. Beta testers also receive new program announcements more frequent than Ragan updates. Advanced training sessions coming soon: "The Lazy Person's Guide To Linkbait," "How To Fake Read A Post And Still Comment Like You Care," and "How To Post On SlideShare When You Don't Know What FAQ Means."

Important Disclaimer: Using these products will in no way assimilate you, to the best of our knowledge. Any similarities between the Borg and SME 14.0 packaging are purely coincidental and meant for entertainment purposes. It is also a healthy nod to the upcoming Star Trek film, despite no appearances of the Borg in this upcoming film.
 

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