March 24, 2011


SXSW is over ... and I'm not going to lie, I'm enjoying the decrease in downtown traffic and increase in cell signal. Overall though, I had a blast at SXSWi and was impressed with this year's line up.

The five days of Interactive were packed with wall-to-wall sessions and inspiring keynotes. The stand out keynote for me was Felicia Day, the creator and star of The Guild. I learned she is a fellow U.T. alum, math major and class valedictorian! Felicia talked about how she harnesses the power of social media to build her show and how others can do the same. She had a quirky way of getting her points across. I think a crowd favorite was  "your campaign should not be a booty call; it's a long term relationship." I believe her point here is that you should be engaging fans on an ongoing basis, and not just when you need their money or support.

My favorite session I attended was, "The Future of Storytelling: DEXTER Fans Play Killer." The panel was made up of the Dexter ARG "alternate reality game," team. Howard Goldkrand, director of Innovations Modernista!, really honed in on transmedia storytelling, stating "... if done right, creates a sense of community and personal experience." He also urged the audience to think about content in context. Of course having die-hard fans (literally) didn't hurt the success of their campaign either!

As my colleague Austin predicted, location-based services was a major topic. I especially enjoyed Foursquare's Kick Off party at Moltov and all the free swag. A location-based app that generated some buzz was SCVNGR. The app is a real world location-gaming service, which is part game, part new business model for daily deals. The company is hoping to compete with Groupon and Living Social.

Cloud computing was another popular topic, with speakers from VMWare, and Google all making appearances at sessions. The overall message was that the cloud is an ever-evolving technology, which enables companies in the corporate or start-up phase to gain virtual computing access on the cheap.

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For media relations and communications professionals, understanding where target audiences go for news is critical. A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals that for the first time, the web has passed newspapers as the second most popular source of news. It's second only to television.

We've been anticipating this milestone, but now that it's here, it has significant impacts for our industry. Most importantly, this shift makes corporate blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds even more important as official sources of news content from major brands.

News Consumers Are Turning to the Web

The Pew study explains that the web is a premier source for news,

For the first time, too, more people said they got news from the web than newspapers. The internet now trails only television among American adults as a destination for news, and the trend line shows the gap closing. Financially the tipping point also has come. When the final tally is in, online ad revenue in 2010 is projected to surpass print newspaper ad revenue for the first time. The problem for news is that by far the largest share of that online ad revenue goes to non-news sources, particularly to aggregators.

As aggregators, bloggers and community sites continue to pull in ad revenue, they will add staff and will become top sources for news and opinion online. This means that a solid digital strategy is critical for any communications department. Building relationships with online media - bloggers, influencers, key opinion leaders, Twitter users, Facebook fans and blog commenters - will become the more important than some relationships with traditional media.

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PulsePoint Group
March 14, 2011

A recap of last week's POV posts:

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It's that time of year again when our "live music capital of the world" (Austin, TX) decides to multitask and become the temporary epicenter of all things film, music and digital. Being based downtown, we welcome the SXSW visitors to our neighborhood and can't wait to get out and mingle with some of the best, brightest and most innovative companies in the industry.

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Originally Published PR Week, March 4, 2011 (subscription access only)

I spent many years on the agency side - at Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, and GCI Group - pitching business and always wondering what it would be like on the other side of the table.

Now I know.

My firm doesn't do a lot of agency search for our clients, but occasionally we're asked to help out. Coincidentally, we've been involved in a few situations just since the beginning of the year.

The process is enlightening. Here are some lessons learned that agencies would be well advised to consider.

Stand for something. During an RFI stage, particularly if the agency's information is being communicated only in writing, be sure you write your information in a concise, crisp manner - and absolutely be sure your firm stands for something. Have a point of view on measurement; articulate a client service model or an approach to audience insights that you believe works exceptionally well for your firm and for your clients.

Pure capabilities are only a starting point; why would having good capabilities mean you should win? Don't you think the client is only talking to firms with the requisite capabilities? And sell yourselves, don't sell against others. Selling against others is usually off-the-mark and is almost always unappealing.

Read the rules. When clients are considering a range of agencies, they're looking for reasons to either include or exclude firms from the next round. Don't give them easy reasons to exclude you. Sounds ridiculous, but in just a few situations, I've already seen firms respond to a request for two or three paragraphs on a subject with eight or nine paragraphs; with a request to provide a three-to-five page narrative on a client situation with a 19-page PowerPoint deck; with a request for certain insights into international market credentials with a link to the company's website. Don't make it so easy to cut your firm.

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Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin was recently ousted after less than six months on the job. An agent of change within the organization, his approach to overhauling the ailing media organization clearly didn't mesh with what his organization was ready for. Griffin's demise reminds me of the stellar job Louis Gerstner did when faced with a struggling IBM in the early 1990's. One of the greatest examples of a change agent succeeding, Gerstner was responsible for changing the entire direction of an organization that until he took over was looking to break up its business into smaller units and dissolve others. Today, IBM is a singular technology services powerhouse thanks to Gerstner's strategic vision and ability to guide the company through a massive change in culture.

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PulsePoint Group
March 2, 2011

A recap of our latest POV posts:

3/2: PulsePoint Group Corporate Communication Index Series Part 7: Deeper Focus: (video) Bob Feldman, partner at PulsePoint Group, provides commentary on the firm’s recently released Corporate Communication Index Study. This is the seventh (and final) in a series of videos where he provides insight into the findings.

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