Forrester Forum: Ze Frank kicks Philip Kaplan while Jeremy Allaire watches and Shar VonBoskirk panics

A panel on the changing face of media, albeit a lot of old sounding theories and practices. But, you have to love Ze Frank for his show, Philip Kaplan for shaking up the industry with Fucked Company and potentially with Spottt, and Jeremy Allaire pushing the video against the grain of YouTube and for professionalism with Brightcove.

Kaplan: there are no more networks anymore, we are all our own networks. It is causing a problem with the large brands - such as MTV - because content is available

Ze Frank: Media is anything you can advertise against or put a brand against. Anything is media. The challenge is that there is a fragmentation that is causing confusion. There are conversations, media online is a conversational tool with more capital.

Allaire: The behavior of media is as valuable as media itself. It is about how to monetize media, or just the metadata. It can sometimes be more valuable than just the content itself.

Ze Frank: There are boundaries in where companies can operate. There is so much media out there, and there are boundaries that they can work within the community. Media is the relationship, it is social capital.

Kaplan: Your customer is your competitor - you have to be ready to recognized that the customer is going to put out her own views, that might conflict with the companies messages.

Kaplan: People don't complain about ads in magazines, in their Vogues. If you have a cool ad, put it in people's faces - they'll like cool things.

Allaire: Advertising and marketing has been so slow to move into interactive, social media forms. A pharmaceutical company had put together a video from various patients on what the drug had done for them. For the patient, it can be valuable and see the interaction.

Ze Frank: Simplicity is the key - the direct relation to your brand and product, that is the best starting point. There is the flash, but it is about simple interaction with your product. There is a lot of value of having the data, experiencing the data.

Kaplan: You have to throw everything at the wall, if you are a media company, and just try everything and anything. You cannot risk sitting back, because the media is going to be developed - by the customers and consumers and audiences.

Ze Frank: Brands are the big winners, and provide the context.


It's interesting - I look at what I wrote above, and what I listened to (and read from Chris Thilk on the Forrester Blog) and wonder if corporate America can move forward with social media. While the panelists do understand community, and being part of the community (in particular, Ze Frank with his show and Philip Kaplan with the group schadenfreude of Fucked Company from the dot-com era), I am not sure if that translates into how brands can get into social media.

To me, that is the key. How can brands work with communities, and work in such a way that it is working with them as people, not as a means to an end (yes, that philosophy background). Yesterday, Jeremiah Owyang (whom is doing great at Forrester, and invited me as media) noted that I am a purist when it comes to social media, that I want it to be pure. I like the communities I belong to - and I belong to a wide array of them, and really believe in treating them as people, as communities.

And, that's where many companies (and, well, PR firms) fail miserably. They want to message and advertise and brand and market - and not listen to the conversation. They just want to talk, and not listen, and not be creative and try to really be part of the conversation.

As you can tell, I'm telling part of the story here, and personalizing it. I believe in communities, in working in communities, and took the job at The Point to work in an environment where I can be part of these communities - be creative and smart and not using, but participating - which is where corporations and firms tend to fail. No creativity, no discussion or desire to be part of the dialogue, just messaging and old ideas (which do work, but do not work that well in social media).

Media is changing - as is the business of media, including PR and advertising and marketing. The smart people are there, and they understand that it is community-related and participation-oriented, and not just bad messaging in a one-way format.
  1. Jeremy,

    I would be interested in your take on education as it relates to your post. I was not trained in marketing, I'm a linguist and grew up in a system that used conversation as the main vehicle to get knowledge in and out and shaped by the group in between. Most of our exams are oral in front of panels and the class... I often feel like my colleagues in marketing cannot get it because they were taught the other way -- the push and pull, etc.

  2. Hi Valerie,

    Well, I'm not a PR person by trade, but studied philosophy, and wrote for the college paper and ran student government campaigns (and never lost).

    So, I'm going to ping a professor, and see what he has to say - although he's progressive, so he has a different view.

    Robert? :)

  3. Okay, realized that by trade might be misleading. I did not have the traditional PR education in school (in fact, I wrote for the paper, and worked in student government and wrote a crap load for my major using logical arguments).

    I was taught by some of the best in the industry - Fred Hoar, Anthony, Diana - and continue to look for those people I can learn from, and be mentored by. There are no experts as we are all continuing to learn.

  4. Jeremy, I'll give it a try.

    Valeria, I am inclined to like your "conversation as the main vehicle to get knowledge in and out and shaped by the group in between" example.

    I'm a fan of experiential learning. In social media, it seems to be a necessity.

    But, all that being said, the grounding in solid liberal arts knowledge, a voracious reading appetite (of all genre) and quite a bit of curiosity are three elements that I believe will reap the best results.

    Writing skills are, by far, the predominant requirement for any practitioner. But, combined with the oral / conversational style, that writer / practitioner will likely be the most successful in a social media environment. There are - and will be - exceptions, I'm sure.

    How's that?

  5. Thank you, Robert! That was quite satisfying for the moment. I'm sure in a couple of weeks we might have a slightly different take -- that's the beauty of staying in the stream.


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