Miscellaneous marketing stuff…

BtoB magazine has named its Media Power 50, the top fifty venues for BtoB marketers online and offline. The top ten includes; The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Google, Lou Dobbs Moneyline, Fortune, Aviation Week and Space technology,  Business Week, Wsj.com, Information Week, The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News).  No surprise Google and WSJ.com top the online list.

The Onion has taken aim at Pfizer’s Zoloft medication with a new “ad campaign“… 

Some blog housekeeping…

Further to some blogging stories last week, there are a number of interesting new blog-related articles appearing.

The New York Times documents the perils of blogging both for the blogger and their subject matter. 

Dave Pollard has some interesting thoughts on how blogging can be used for knowledge management.  This is an area of huge potential for the PR profession, given the importance of information, both in areas like media relations and also in managing accounts.

Meanwhile the discussion on how blogs and the traditional media intersect continues.  This time the discussion concerns how weblogs are getting higher Google hits and rankings than traditional media stories.  While I don’t believe that blogs will replace journalism, I have to admit that I do find myself agreeing with the authors that publishers have to wake up and compete on a level playing field by releasing their online archives.  If they withold them then they only have themselves to blame if Google favors freely available content.

More on this subject, and a great illustration of why blogs are an important element of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in this article from Wired.

PR News from around the web….

The New York Times has an article on how George W. Bush’s handlers are promoting his presidency.

The UK Observer looks at how corporate speak can be counter productive. They use this quote by way of illustration: “The solutions uniquely offered us the integrated planning, robust supply chain optimisation and execution capabilities needed to support our store level, integrated planning and replenishment initiative.” Thanks to the wonders of the Internet we can reveal that the offending party is none other than Manugistics in a press release last February 🙂

A new biotech magazine, the Acumen Journal of Sciences, has been created by some of the Red Herring alumni. Jason Pontin, former editor of Red Herring is heading up the new magazine.  His aim: “I don’t ever want to create a magazine that becomes so dependent on advertising and rising circulation, like the Red Herring was.”

Kudos to Biz360 a software company that offers data analytics to PR professionals, and their PR firm Spark PR. They have managed to secure a gushing article in Business 2.0.

In related news, I had read somewhere that ECCO, a global network of PR firms has announced an initiative for new PR measurement techniques, but there’s nothing on their website.

Johnny Angel, the West coast editor of the ever excellent Technology Marketing has linked to PR Opinions. He starts out pondering the nature of blog link referral, so in the true spirit of link referral, I’m returning the favor. He posts that “Murphy seeks to defend the plight of the poor misunderstood PR person. And you know what? They are misunderstood.” Amen to that.

Do I look big in this?

When I try and explain to the uninitiated how PR in different industries can often be a different profession with different requirements, people don’t understand.  But I have found a great illustration of the differences.

Working in the murky depths of business-to-business PR in the Technology industry, I will probably never have to deal with my CEO getting upset about the size of his head! I don’t want to tempt fate, but I doubt it will be an issue.

Spare a thought for Steven Huvane, Jennifer Aniston’s publicist who according to Media Life is fighting the good fight with Redbook magazine.  The magazine has printed Aniston on it’s cover and Huvane claims that the photo has been doctored and Aniston is questioning whether the body parts in question are her’s at all.

The magazine admits to changing the color of her shirt and lengthening her hair, but that’s all.

You know feature tracking isn’t that bad after all.

Now here's a real PR problem…

Flush from the furore around Microsoft’s iLoo problems, another technology company is having real reputation problems.  But in this case these problems could be terminal.

SCO (the company formerly known as Caldera) has recently been doing it’s very best to alienate itself from every software vendor bar Microsoft.

First off, the company initiated a lawsuit against IBM. Now they are threatening to sue anyone selling, developing or using Linux, the popular open-source operating system. 

Whatever the merits of SCO’s case, and many observers think it’s dubious to say the least, one thing is clear.  SCO’s unilateral action against the industry is seriously damaging their reputation.

Based on how SCO is handling this issue, it would appear that are listening to  their legal team’s advice and not taking the counsel of their Public Relations folks.

Even if SCO were to win these cases, do they think it will help their future customer acquisition plans?

The software industry has a problem with any corporation that is perceived to be acting in a heavy handed manner, and SCO, by threatening the world at large is being as heavy handed as possible.

Regardless of the merits of their case, from a PR perspective they are harming no one but themselves.

I’ll leave the last words to Dan Gillmor…. “It’s amazing to watch the speed with which SCO is turning itself into the most hated company in the technology business. The company’s claims that its “proprietary” property has been stolen are, on their face, questionable. But the way SCO is now threatening all Linux users goes far beyond any reasonable approach to the supposed problem.

RELATED LINKS: Computerworld | Information Week | The Register | Linux Journal

The balance between new media and old media….

In the dark era that was known as the Internet boom in the late 1990’s, Internet entrepreneurs sold us a vision that never again would we have to leave our bedrooms.  Instead, we’d wake, jump out of bed (remember it’s a vision, you don’t crawl grumpily from slumber in a vision..) turn on our PC, log on, do some work, order our shopping, connect with friends and pay some bills, all without having a shower.

Trillions of wasted dollars later we know this is rubbish.  The vision was predicated on the premise that the Internet would destroy what went before.  But just as Radio didn’t kill print, and TV didn’t kill Radio, the Internet supplements our existing media – it doesn’t supplant it.

In the same way, I fundamentally disagree that blogs or weblogs will replace traditional journalism.  It will supplement it for sure, but it will not replace it. Full stop.

Although blogs are growing in popularity they still only reach a tiny proportion of the population.  While they provide useful information and opinions, they are personal opinions with none of the ethics or objectivity that is inherent in journalism. I am a weblog fan, but we need perspective on this issue.

Dave Winer is a weblogging pioneer.  His Scripting News weblog is extremely powerful in the weblog (and Search Engine) world.  But his belief that weblogs are removing the need for journalists and specifically technology journalists is in my humble opinion misplaced.

This blog is created using the wonderful Radio software Dave created.  I read his blog every day.  But his blog itself, although very enjoyable and informative, is a great example of the inherent weakness of weblogs as a mainstream media.

He feels passionately about certain subjects and this agenda dictates much of the content of his weblog. 

The vast volumes of information flowing around the Internet mean that people continue to need trusted sources to sift through what’s going on and providing some independent, objective views on events. That’s why we have journalists.

Weblogs are a fantastic media for opinions and there is no doubt that they will continue to become an increasingly important audience for PR professionals in every field. But it’s not supplanting journalism, it’s supplementing it.

You can read Dave’s back-and-forth debate on this topic with Jon Bonne of MSNBC here.

“Frankly, I�ve tired of techno-evangelical proclamations that one or another technology is so revolutionary it will destroy the old models. ” – Jon Bonne


When your effective PR systems go down the pan….

One of the key elements of successful PR is the creation of systems which quickly and effectively let you communicate with your key audiences. But what happens when the wrong information accidentially infiltrates the system?

Microsoft have in my opinion, humble or otherwise, one of the most effective PR machines on the planet.  The company’s success has been built on a passionate belief in the power of Public Relations.  As a result they have put in place a PR system which ensures they communicate successfully with all their audiences.  Just look at the widespread coverage of every single Microsoft announcement. 

But the recent iLoo incident illustrates the problems that arise when the wrong information manages to slip into the machine.

Although certainly not commercially damaging the iLoo incident is embarrassing and is a timely reminder to all PR professionals that we need to carefully manage what is within our control.  The situation isn’t made any easier by the fact that the Internet is rapidly removing any element of control we might have over information.

In case you missed this whole iLoo saga here is a quick summary.  A couple of weeks back, Microsoft’s MSN team in the United Kingdom announced the iLoo, an Internet enabled portable toilet.  The announcement, which took advantage of Microsoft’s PR muscle, was widely covered around the globe – to the surprise of Microsoft staffers in Redmond, Washington.  They quickly briefed the media that the iLoo was in fact a hoax – again through the PR machine.  And this rebuttal was widely covered.  Finally, Microsoft recanted the hoax line and stated that while the iLoo had been a planned project it was now being canned.

All these various versions were covered by the world’s leading new organizations. It was confusing and a little embarrasing (maybe). And it all occurred because internal communication systems broke down.

I did some work with Microsoft in the dim and distant past and I can testify that they have terrific internal PR systems.  If their systems broke down, it could happen to anyone.

The Online Journalism Review has a strong-worded analysis of the episode and believes that this comes down to an issue of trust.

More information, less control and the Internet are presenting new issues for our profession every day. No one is immune. 

RELATED LINKS: San Jose Mercury News | San Francisco Chronicle | The Register 1The Register 2 |  Mac Daily News |  CNET |