Sunday, July 30, 2006

Has E3 been Comdex'ed?

According to the exclusive story from Next Generation, in the next 48 hours there will be an announcement on the cancellation of E3, which "in its present form, has been cancelled for next year and the foreseeable future." According to ARS Technica, the show is not being cancelled but rather downsized, due to the show-within-a-show that E3 was becoming: it was the back channel meetings that were the real events.

Okay, I came back from the last E3 all full of fun and excitement. Nothing is more exciting that seeing a big show, a la Comdex. The buzz, the excitement, the press ... it's like CES is.

But, the other flipside is that working at the last CES, it became apparent that the show has become too big - and, that is pretty much what killed Comdex. Not that that is going to stop me from going to CES, but it will be for client work again. Just not that into Vegas to go for my own enjoyment....

Did I get that vibe at E3? No, because if I can walk a show floor in a day, it's not too big. :) And, while I was there for work, it was a different vibe. The PR people I ran into where busy - as a whole - and I did catch a few TV crews. Joystiq has a interesting take on the news - from a journalist standpoint, gamer standpoint and sorta corporate standpoint. Plus, E3 is not in the bowels of Vegas, but rather downtown LA. It's a more entertainment show feel, celebrity and product driven.

I think there is a need for the shows to become more focused, to go back to less of the public showcase and more a press showcase. And, yes, that does include social media, but social media that has to have been in existence longer than one month, where that is just painfully obvious that some bubba started a blog to get into the new show.

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Photo credit by anearthling, aka Dave Coustan, the Earthlink blogger. His rights reserved, and him in the photo, and met him at BlogHer and he's a nice guy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

World War III and the PR Front

I tend not to post about politics, because politics are personal and not something for a blog - unless, of course, you are a political blogger.

This past Friday I went to see John Rendon of the Rendon Group speak at the Long Now Foundation on the long view on terrorism, and winning the war. I went on assignment for an article for O'Dwyer's - when it is up, I will highlight what I wrote there.

But, one thing stuck in my mind, and hit home this weekend when Newt Gingrich was on Meet The Press. Two great posts from the Seattle Times blogs - one from an interview with Newt, and then a synopsis of his TV appearance - do a better job at giving background.

During his speech, Rendon noted that:
The issue is that we are in a peacetime government and home front, but with a wartime military - there is a disconnect between the two.
That has always been an odd thing to me. During war time, we have always given up things on the home front, but this time you really cannot tell we are in the midst of two military operations unless you are in a military town, or part of the family.

So, here's the spin, and from a good spinmeister and one that is a student of history. Gingrich notes that we need to think of this as a war, as WWIII, and that is what will help win the war - by fighting on the same level. With that spin, it makes it a different mindset, but I wonder if the government will go with such messaging and tie in the gasoline prices into US citizens giving up things on the homefront.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Are Vlogs Heading Mainstream?

With the love of all that's YouTube, the hubbaloo over the Rocketboom/Congdon saga, vlogs are now more a part of mainstream media. Plus, with companies like 88SLIDE making vlogs that are slick looking and reflect mainstream gameshows, does this mean that vlogs have made it, and the general public is going to start downloading (iTuning?) in droves?

Well, after the great Scoble hiring saga (everything is a saga tonight, because it has been a long day), Podtech.net looks to be taking podcasts and now vidcasts quite seriously.

They've bought two of my favorite vidcast star/producer: Irina Slutsky (who always manhandles me on IM) and Eddie Codel. Geek Entertainment TV is now part of the Podtech network, with the official announcement.

I asked uber-SL'er and podcaster, Eric Rice, for a quote: this shows how vlogging is just normal media. Video is just media, sometimes we like to see, not hear. And other times, it's reversed. Wow, we're pretty normal after all.

By having Irina as the interviewer (she is former Red Herring, don't forget) and Eddie producing, it takes the level of vlogging at Podtech to a higher level, and shows that Podtech is serious about the market.

Plus, well, Irina rocks. :)

BTW, photos by Eddie. :)

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Coolest Site Ever: 88SLIDE - And, Yes, Because I <3 Rachel

88SLIDE: the daily one minute trivia challenge is one podcast that I catch every day. It's a one-minute game show ... and I love game shows. Total gameshow junkie. Always have been. Plus, a total useless data / information / trivia junkie. I coulda been a contender on Jeopardy. But, was always too lazy.

I spoke to Noah Bonnett (on the left, with the beautiful hostess, Rachel), the producer/founder of the one-minute trivia show. If you haven't watched it, go check it out and then I'll wait for you to come back.

Okay, done?

So, Noah's background is working at a production company in LA, Endemol (they do Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal. His experience was on game shows. He met the host, Rachel, when she came to do a pilot for MTV that Noah shot, they stayed in touch and he reached out to Rachel to see if she would be interested in doing the same thing, but as a video podcast - a one minute game show, that turned into 88SLIDE.

If you look at the first interviews on 88SLIDE, you can see how Rachel has grown into the role. Since then, she's gotten plenty of offers to do other things, but she's sticking around - she's focused on school.

Aside: At Vloggercon, Rachel and I had a long discussion about philosophy. The girl is smart. Smart and pretty. And, that's her with me laughing at us. Or me.

It's the one-minute interactiveness that makes 88SLIDE work - and you can plug in new people, and new ideas, and the format works. It's like the old TV game shows - Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud - they all work in different cultures. If you want to talk about the flat world ... look at the same shows with different hosts. The master dream would be the same for 88SLIDE just one of many productions. Expand to Hindi language, Spanish language, Sports oriented, Bible oriented ... . The format is bullet-proof, so you can change out hosts to the best people. And, scoop, they are going to be announcing a major wireless carrier in the next few weeks, that will be carrying 88SLIDE on its network, stream to phones.

From a PR standpoint, 88SLIDE does take product / sponsorship. The 88SLIDE doors are very open for advertising and sponsorship opportunities, but not traditional methods. Noah sits down with the companies, to find the message that they want to get across, and works with them for a tailor-made message that works for everyone.

88SLIDE looks at brand integration, sponsorship, wardrobe consideration (they have a few potential sponsors), music consideration (labels put in the music). Anything that helps the show - but gives something to the sponsor AND the audience. The value-add for everyone, even beyond just the $10 gift certificate.

88SLIDE is like a hybrid of user generated content, but with the consistency of a studio. It's because of the talent that he gained at the large production, that translates to the user generated format - keeps it classy, but keeps it real. Like Blaine (the announcer), keeps it real with his DITC T-shirt.

Being realistic, prize sponsorship is an integral part of any game shows, dating back to the 1950's. It's natural and organic, and the sponsors come in for that one-minute game show. It's non-intrusive, quick and 88SLIDE works to keep the flow of the program.

As for the questions, the level of difficulty is corollary to the size of the prize. And, by sticking with the one-minute, it keeps the audience involved. The day-to-day retention is very high, and the people come back every day to see if they won, and to see what the correct answer. The 88SLIDE viewers email and text message the answers - a true interactive podcast out there. Other podcasts are comment-enabled, but you do not become part of the program. 88SLIDE is trying to make its audience part of its one-minute, fun, action-packed show.

If you have ideas for sponsorship, ping Noah at info@88slide.com. The demographics are collected from a third-party survey. The viewers are numbering in the five-figures trending towards six-figures, with the age of 18 to 34, 75 percent male, with 33 percent as college graduates and 21 percent with master's degrees and 44 percent make $60K to $150K and close to 80 percent have listened to at least 6 episodes and 76 percent say they watch/listen everyday with 94 percent watching the whole episode. Not shabby demographics.

If you think about it, it's viewers through YouTube, Blip.tv, iPods and iTunes, 88SLIDE and soon-to-be major wireless carrier.

Closing ... on the ValleyWag Amanda Congdon rumor: Noah has set up Rock Creek Park Productions and is always looking for talented people, and would love to chat with Amanda.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Everyone is Expendable

Okay, not the cheeriest post title, but with the firing/quitting of Amanda Congdon from Rocketboom, it speaks volumes. And, it says something I have said to people about themselves, their blogs, and their jobs: everyone is replaceable.

Yes, it's not a cheery thought, but think about it. At the end of the day, it comes down to the client/company. Do I know what the problems were with Congdon and Baron? No, not at all - and none of us are privy to those discussions. But, we can all agree that 51 trumps 49 in percentage.

And, the fact is that I was never a big watcher of Rocketboom, so this does not affect me much. If I want my pretty vloggers, I have Rachel at 88Slide and AmberMac - and I think they both are much more talented than Rocketboom (I was alive in the 80's, so I already saw those skits, thank you). I almost forgot to mention the hottest - and one I've known the longest - Irina Slutsky of Geek.tv. But, man, I always try to keep the personal out of the blog.

But, you can be macro ruler of a vertical space in the blogosphere, but you make one mis-step and you can find yourself with a pink slip. You can wear one or 1000 hats at a job, but if you piss off the wrong people, you are shown the door. You can be that lovable scamp, but getting the job done is more important than blogging.

I had this discussion a year ago. During the dotcom era, there were superstar CEOs that became the story. They probably thought they were irreplaceable ... until they were replaced by the VCs. And, while bloggers are making a name for themselves, at the end of the day, many of them answer to another master ... the paycheck.

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