A New Corporate Blogger is Born

FF_108_kingpin1_fA few weeks ago, with the gorgeous Olympic Mountains as a backdrop, I was sitting in a meeting with my client, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser, along with Bill Hankes, the company’s VP of Corp Comms.  We were talking about Social Media; about the need for engagement; about our progress to-date.

I pointed to the launch of RealPlayer11 as an example of a “pretty good” success.  RP11 launched last year with supercool features like the ability to download DRM-free videos in virtually any format to your hard-drive, i.e., you could build your own YouTube library.  RP11 was also free of the old bloatware and upsell pop-ups that plagued earlier, flawed versions of the videoplayer. 

But, those previous versions of RP had burned a lot of bridges with online consumers.  Although the coverage by bloggers and mainstream writers was generally positive, the subsequent comments by end-users were invariably bitter.  One commenter went so far as to suggest that “Every time you launch RealPlayer, God kills a kitten.” (And worse, if you can believe that.)  Harsh!

But, we’d seen it coming.  Although never as promptly nor as broadly as we would have liked, we did do our best to ensure that the RP11 product manager responded to those posts (with sincere mea culpas for past indiscretions).  We also encouraged him to start-up his own temporary RealPlayer Blog to candidly address complaints.

Glaser agreed that our RP11 effort had been as successful as possible, given that our spokesman had been nominally available to help us out.  “How do we do better over time?” he asked.

At this point I made my pitch for a full-time Community Relations position.  The last year had been an exciting one for Real in terms of rehabbing its reputation through better offerings (including today’s news of the Rhapsody MP3 store), but, by taking a largely top-down, mainstream-media focused approach, the Company would never experience the groundswell of consumer support it needed to truly thrive.  (I should note that this pitch had the full and enthusiastic support of the VP of Corp Comms!)

To his credit, Glaser didn’t even blink.  “Do it,” he said, automagically funding fresh headcount for the Corp Comms group.  “Write-up the job description and make it happen.  Just make sure you hire the right person.”

I grabbed Bill’s arm and scurried out of there before Glaser could change his mind.  I knew exactly who they should hire for this newly-minted role.

N562430528_2701331_3876So let me introduce you to Lacy Kemp.  She’s held a variety of roles at RealNetworks, from admin to media producer.  I got to know her when she was Bill Hankes’s assistant.  Lacy was far from typical: she was edgy, funny, savvy, smart, engaged.  She quickly made her mark within Real; she was well-known and universally applauded.  She maintains a personal blog but is just getting started with Real’s “official” blog and Twitter account.

We’re just now getting Lacy set up with professional monitoring tools, a reading list, a Flipcam, etc.  It’s premature to expect immediate changes on Lacy’s watch, especially at such a large company – but for my part, I am enthused to know that someone as approachable and cool as Lacy Kemp will be a new, public face. For Real.

Posted on: June 30, 2008 at 12:47 pm By Todd Defren
4 Responses to “A New Corporate Blogger is Born”


  • Todd,

    Congratulations on inventing the word ‘automagically’. Love it! This obvious combination of automatically and magical reminds of interesting and useful combo words used in Texas where I now live:

    Tump – Tip + Dump. “Did the dog tump that over or did you?”

    Flustrated – Flustered and frustrated. “I am just so flustrated right now”.

    There are some other interesting combo words used in Texas, but they are not suitable for your respectable audience.

  • Lindsey Jesch says:

    What sorts of monitoring tools will Lacy be using, and what would you recommend to someone just setting up community relations?
    Thanks for the informative, thought-provoking posts.

  • Lacy Kemp says:

    Thanks for the very kind words,and most of all your faith in me! It’s encouraging and I’m pretty psyched to be a part of a close-knit community. I really look forward to diving in, and getting to know everyone. Should be a real trip (no pun intended… heh..)


  • I look forward to getting to know Lacy and her writing.

    Todd, I’m especially pleased that you chose the title “Community Relations Manager,” as opposed to “Social Media Manager,” as I see too often. A position like Lacy’s is about building and nurturing relations…with people…who form communities…

    Those who fixate on social media or social networking or…pick a title…don’t understand: it’s not about the tools.

    Thanks for the post!

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