Archive for August, 2011

Paging “Miss Manners”

This is what my parents taught me: Look people in the eye. Use a firm handshake.  Respect other people’s time; be generous with your own.  Pay attention when you’re spoken to.  Basic stuff.  “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten” stuff.

So what is it about technology that has rendered such courtesies obsolete in the business world?

Whether in an internal meeting or with clients and prospects, in the last year or so I’ve marked a substantial increase in the “Distraction Faction.”

What used to be surreptitious glances at the iPhone have become full-on sessions of “I’m checking my email while you are talking … but don’t worry, I’ll look up and nod occasionally to give you the impression that you have my attention.”

I’ve checked with a few colleagues, both in and outside of the PR/Social world, and confirmed that this is happening all over the place.  I knew that “Continuous Partial Attention” was an issue at our own workstations, as individual knowledge workers fluttered between apps and streams and spreadsheets.  But to see businesspeople “pay partial attention — continuously … motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network” while they are presumably in the room in order to interact with other human beings, is just sad.

Yes I am venting and yes I sound like a curmudgeon.  I get that. But when you’ve seen your brilliant colleagues spend weeks on a presentation, only to watch the prospective client NOT watch their performance nor give careful hearing to their ideas, it’s frustrating.  And again, this is not unique to external meetings; it happens within our four walls sometimes, too.  Even I am sometimes guilty of it.  When you desperately need your own peers to help you brainstorm through a tough client challenge, it’s disheartening to see them checking their iPhones versus scratching their noodles.

You don’t need to be a live node on the network. You need to be a live human being with empathy for the efforts and respect for the time of other human beings.  Nodes are commodities.  Businesspeople who exhibit a li’l emotional intelligence are priceless.

Making the Case for Social Media

This is a presentation I originally prepared for the Lithium User Conference (client) this past Spring.

You’d think “Making the Case for Social Media” would be a non-issue nowadays.  Yet based on the reaction from the audience, and the questions that followed, you’d be wrong.  There are still plenty of companies for whom “getting social” is a scary proposition.

You? You’re smart. You get it.  But think about the 50- or 60-something C-level exec for whom Social Media represents an up-ending of the traditional pillars of influence.  The fact that their fortune might be impacted in a substantive way by some guy fiddling with his iPhone is heretical.  They need their hands held.

Maybe some of the stuff in this deck can help.  Show it to them.  (NOTE: some of the video content is NSFW.)

Why Social Media is the Future of Public Relations

The 7–year anniversary of this blog passed by without remark this summer, and — well, I want to remark on it. Ya can’t blame a fellow for pausing to look in the rear view mirror now and then.  This blogging business is a slog.

Rbc5_35What is this blog about?  What is the single driving idea that prompts me to continue it?

It’s simply this: the future of PR rests on the realization that everyone is an online publisher. Everyone has the power to impact the brand.

Look out your window.

See that guy drinking espresso while fiddling with his iPhone?

Maybe he’s writing a Yelp/TripAdvisor/Angie’sList/Glassdoor/Amazon/Twitter/Facebook review of your company or product… which will be indexed by Google… which will be excerpted in a mainstream media feature… which will get picked up by a blogger… which will impact the purchase decision of your next customer.

That guy drinking espresso while fiddling with his iPhone may be as important to your success as a NYTIMES reporter.

What does this mean to the modern marketer?  What stories can you tell to that guy, to attract his attention and approbation?  How can you serve him in a way that motivates positive Word of Mouth?

Figuring out how to deal with this paradigm shift is critical to the future of the profession.  (“Paradigm shift?” Yea, I went there.)

Seven years later, it still blows my mind.

The Social Media Press Release Continues to Evolve

Last week I was delighted to learn that my friend Laura Fitton’s company, oneforty, was being acquired by HubSpot.  I knew nothing of the deal in advance, but feel very “interconnected” to the whole shebang…

Laura started up oneforty as “entrepreneur in residence” in SHIFT‘s Boston offices.  I recall strolling into her office one day to say hello, and still smile to remember the look on her face as she glanced up with a wild mix of excitement and weariness. At that very moment she was plotting her course for “an appstore for Twitter” across a batch of scribbles laid along the desk.  In short order she not only had funding but began a slow-motion land-grab of SHIFT cubicles as she staffed up, ultimately leaving the nest.

Meanwhile, SHIFT was the lucky firm that not only got to launch HubSpot back-in-the-day, but more importantly got to LEARN from HubSpot’s early and relentless focus on content marketing.  I hold Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah and Mike Volpe in the highest esteem, and am jazzed to see what happens when Laura is added to that potent mix.

Lastly, the release announcing the oneforty acquisition represents the latest iteration of the Social Media Press Release (which I also hold near-and-dear).  In it, each and every sentence comprising the release is fashioned as a standalone tweet, complete with hashtags:

Today @HubSpot acquired @oneforty, a social media marketing company based in Cambridge, MA. #Hub140 –  Tweet This

(Logo: )

Like @HubSpot, @oneforty recognizes the importance of social media in the transformation of marketing. #Hub140  Tweet This

@oneforty created a directory of social media applications and the social media marketing tool SocialBase. #Hub140  Tweet This

The @oneforty directory will merge into the @HubSpot App Marketplace, the largest app store for marketing. #Hub140  Tweet This

Of course this format could not have even been envisioned when the SMPR concept debuted in 2006, since Twitter was not even around at that point.  That’s a meaningless distinction.  The original SMPR template was never intended to become “official.”  It was intended as a wake-up call to the industry that the hidebound, over-written, text-driven press release was becoming archaic in the Web 2.0 mediascape. 

The HubSpot/oneforty announcement is just the latest iteration of the idea: “Let’s innovate this sucker.  Let’s try something different.”  I saw some complain that the “twitteresque” treatment of this release was a bit kludgy or heavy-handed, but given oneforty’s roots, I find it appropriate — and awesome.

And it got results.

Kudos to all involved, on every aspect of this deal.  Good luck!

Happy 5th Anniversary to Social Media Club

Five years ago this week, the Social Media Club was born in a cluttered conference room in Silicon Valley.  In the room: Chris Heuer, Kristie Wells, Todd Defren, Brian Solis, Sally Falkow, Tom Abate, Seth Mazow, Tom Foremski, Mark Nowlan, Jen McClure, Pat Meier-Johnson, Russell JohnsonShannon Clark, Lisa Chung and joining us via a conference call: Todd Van Hoosear and Jason Baptiste.

Seems like yesterday. Seems like a hundred years ago.

I have been proud to be affiliated with SMC, as one of the group’s charter members, as a member of the Board of Directors, etc., but pretty much all the credit for the SMC’s success belongs to Chris & Kristi.  From those humble beginnings in that borrowed conference room, the Club has grown to 300 chapters in 47 countries!

Kristi offers up a lot more detail in this seminal 5–year look-back, but meanwhile have a look at this great graphic by the JESS3 team for a sense of how-far-we’ve-come…


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