Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ramping up for the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is coming. It's in Miami. It's a big event ... for advertisers. And, well, while the costs are high - to the tune of $2.6M for 30 seconds - the build up and after-game buzz can help make or break an ad.

Granted, this is no longer the age of the dotcom ad buy, where every crappy company bought an ad with no real thought to name recognition or creativity. Besides GoDaddy, those days are over. Ha, I partially kid.

But, think about it. The value of the press can help get a brand name in the popular lexicon, help reach consumers - all because a good number of people watch the Super Bowl more for the advertisements than the game itself. Well, let's be honest, the game usually sucks.

The largest purchaser of ads turns out to be Anheuser-Busch, who bought 10 ads this year (or one of the largest - it's not clear, but they do like their Super Bowl ads). And, in a way to work the social network, they have posted snippets of the ads already online - on YouTube, so you can see some of the ads that are going to be out there this year.

This is my favorite - that and the ax murderer, but that's because I am a horror film fan.

This is a creative way to get the word out about the ads, and to build pre-game buzz about which commercial is your favorite. And, it's working with social media (or whatever term you want to use) by reaching out to bloggers to let them know about the clips. They get that - and I know they get that, because I know the smart peeps that reached out to me (Tom Biro, Chris Thilk).

A company that does not get it, but somehow got it, is my least favorite company (because they don't support local ad or PR firms): GoDaddy. Once again, they are probably going for the T&A ad - well, it sounds like that - but this time, they are also bringing in some of the bigger names in vidcasting, like Diggnation and Cali from What the final commercial is going to be like is anyone's guess, but the article makes it seem interesting enough that I will check out their ads.

Yes, the Super Bowl is a big day for advertising, but the reality is that it's a bigger day for PR. PR runs with the ball (ha! football pun!) and gets the clips out there, works with the vertical trades prior to the game, and works with the mainstream press after the game. The PR component is huge, and the opportunities are huge.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Broken Record Time: Bagging on Press Releases

Okay, so over the weekend Brian Solis pings me with his post on the latest kerfuffle on the press release, in particular the social media release.

Ugh, sorry, just got back from throwing up.

This all started over Third Thursday and the social media release. First, let me disclose that I am not a fan of the social media release because I think it's a band-aid for the bigger problem: most junior PR people cannot write. Well, most high school and college graduates cannot write.

Then I read Robert Scoble's response that the social media release should just be replaced with, oh, a demo or a blog.


What people don't get - especially non-PR people - is that, oh, the majority of PR is done at the local level, where people don't care about blogs or RSS. The local level is done with a press release - sometimes sent over the wire, often not sent over the wire - and done with one-on-one contact. Oh, wait, what about entertainment PR, where a lot of information is disseminated over the wire and through relationships.

The press release isn't broken. PR people nowadays just can't write for shit. Hell, some of the PR bloggers can't write for shit, but at least by blogging, they should be getting better at writing (maybe not grammar and punctuation, but at least concise writing).

And, while, yes, blogs and social media are changing how PR is done, there is so much that is not changing because of social media, like SEC guidelines (as noted by Scoble) but it is not because society does not need a press release.

Now for a little snarkiness: this weekend, there were a lot of stories about Obama, H. Clinton and Edwards and how all three are using the Internet to get the word out, and to get people interested. What if Podtech had sent out a press release about Scoble being on the road with Edwards? Is it possible that government reporters would have included that little nugget if they had received a press release about it, and kept it on file - or, at the least, looked at the Scobleshow episodes and remember them during this weekend's stories? That could have been done with ... a press release. And, don't get me started on what a targeted press release distribution could have done for the Bloghaus.

No, I'm not picking on Scoble - heck, need to call him later for a pitch - but I am using him as a point. Press releases - social or regular - have a use, but it is just not as big in the tech arena. But, damn, they are still needed for more than just this small arena, but for overall media.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

CES as a reporter (okay, a blogger)

This is the year that CES has fully opened the door for bloggers to apply, and then worked with the Blog Business Summit people to "vet" the bloggers to make sure that they had not just started a blog a couple days prior to get a blogger pass.

Yes, there is that issue - and one that tradeshow organizers need to seriously address - and CES has been smart about it; except a complaint from the PR person side - unless you know the bloggers (and, it's my job) - it was hard to know who was and was not a blogger.

But, it is still the embracing of the citizen journalist, new media journalist, social media - whatever name you want it, it is exploding. For work - disclosure, I work - I was reaching out to bloggers that I think would care to come to a lunch, and that it was, yes, bloggable and podcastable.

As Andy Abramson noted in a post today, it is to the old school PR people's detriment that they ignore bloggers and social media. And, well, I deal with those people everyday that tell me they don't need me to be involved.

Well, lady, you do. Because you don't get it and it's hurting you.

But, I am attending as a blogger. I got my press pass, I am all ready to go. In the past, there have always been the press-only events like Pepcom and I got my tickets for L@P, but Pepcom turned me down (I guess Jon Pepper got tired of the illegitimate son jokes), but I will probably still pop over to say hello, time permitting.

But, well, bloggers themselves are being courted, and I expect to see an explosion in this. This year, Podtech has its Bloghaus, and Blog Business Summit has its CES Blogger Reception at the Atomic Testing Museum - they are sponsored, but I would not surprised to see those sponsorships explode next year. I'll give you the skinny on how they both were at CES, but it'll be nice to see Teresa again at CES. :)

Last year, I went as a PR person - the red dead eye of CES is proof - but being on the press list unfortunately highlights that PR is not moving as fast as it needs to be. Who sends full press releases anymore to the media? Who sends attachments? Who sends long-winded pitches? Who doesn't vet - yes, I know the list for CES is close to 3000 people, but not everyone is an appropriate contact.

Andy shot me off an email this morning and in it he noted that in his 30+ year career, he has "never seen a time where the winds of change are more evident than what we are seeing today as a result of the Internet and all the new 'social' media tools and methods of distribution that are upon us."

Media and PR are changing. There are blogs, vidcasts, podcasts, wikis that drive news just as much as react to news. People don't realize where they are getting their news - nor, sometimes, do they care - but the explosion of professional blogging changes the landscape where some can really no longer be thoughts of blogs (despite the comments and trackback capabilities). GigaOm? More a burgeoning publishing house. Gawker and Weblogs, Inc are already there.

Now, PR needs to change to keep up. I get to get a more interesting view because while I am a new media person, I am still an old media person. I cannot go without my morning newspaper for the bus, I watch a lot of TV (while on my computer and listening to my iPod) and multitask like a 15-year old. Why? Because that's how I am used to doing things.

But, the reality is that the old media, mainstream media, still has influence and stories that will not be covered in a blog, and social media is bringing new eyes on events and news that was missing. And, CES is the best case of convergence - bloggers getting press passes, media writing stories, the smaller stories getting pickup because it catches some blogger's or podcaster's eye for news. CES will be fun (despite the fact that I don't like Vegas or smoke and I like craps too much), but more fun from a societal perspective, watching how this might be a bellwether on the way news is seminated on large events.

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It's about transparency, Robert

Recently, Robert Scoble asked why is Windows getting bashed, and Nokia getting a free ride? It's about transparency, Robert.

From Day 1, the official Nokia blogger relations program (which I believe Garfield is not a member of) has stressed transparency and integrity. Disclosure, again, I am part of that program.

The bloggers in the program have regularly pointed out that they have not been asked to write a review, and that they can return the phone when done with the trial. And, in the letters to the Nokia bloggers, the firm noted that they will ask for the phones to be returned at a later date, and to please use the enclosed, pre-addressed FedEx slip to return it. That's pretty much the standard in any review program - I've done a ton of them.

Nokia offered bloggers - many of whom did not have GSM service - a Cingular Go Card (with $50 of credit) but no recharging and no refreshing of the card. It was the responsibility of the blogger to put additional money on the card. Why send someone a phone with no way to use it, but rather be common sensical in showcasing the phone with a service. Integrity, transparency, honest. Yes, sending Vista alone does not make sense (unless you know the person has a hardcore PC), but the terms of the agreement were vague at best.

The two points that do not seem to be part of the Vista program, which has been under scrutiny, have been transparency and a set policy. The funny part about this? It cost nothing for Nokia to include the FedEx slips to the bloggers. It cost them nothing.

When I interviewed Andy in the past, and spoke to him recently, he noted that it was about asymmetrical marketing. That's what Nokia got, and others have failed at. Asymmetrical marketing leverages assets of others, plus the core brand, making it difficult to duplicate, hard to replicate, and a challenge to counter because it places the competition at a lopsided disadvantage. Andy talks about the use of imbalanced, off-kilter, unexpected and the fact that the roots of asymmetrical marketing have its roots in the founding of the country (the founders used the assets of their enemies to win).

All comparisons to bad examples of blogger relations refer to the Nokia program as the right way to do it. If you look at it, it was done early - and done right.

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