On Pricing Theory

Recommended reading for pricing theory today and how it communicates value (yes this relates to PR) is Seth Godin’s Post "On Pricing".  That post stems from Joel on Software’s post "Price as Signal".  In particular Seth’s close of

Which leads us to the wisdom of Jeff Bezos. There are two kinds of companies, Jeff says. Companies that work to lower prices (like Amazon, most of the time) and companies that work to raise prices (like the music industry, all of the time).

Having attended the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, the only fortune 500 CEO that will be sitting next to you through the sessions is Jeff Bezos.  Not flying in to talk and leave, but attending.  Studying.  Working to lower prices.  Overall not a bad thing, and speaking as a guy with a book problem, I appreciate Amazon.

I like studying pricing theory, well not really, it just became a necessity when running a company so there it is.  The one that makes the most sense to me is the Value Equivalency Line concept.  Crossing this with Geoffrey Moore’s concept of technology company marketing crossing the chasm creates an interesting set of thoughts.  And a pricing model that does work, although it may be based on luck.  So much of business is actually based on luck, we just don’t like to admit it.

RSS does NOT mean Blogs / Elements of Argument

BlogreadershipIn "Forget RSS, We Got Bigger Issues" on BrandAutopsy the blog readership versus RSS trend is highlighted.  This is in reference to this blog poll on the WSJ site.  Polls of course being the fodder of the public relations professions for quite some time now.

For this particular post there are numerous types of arguments to be made, and one common tactic is to debate two opposing points as if they were opposing elements, and therefore side step other issues that relate.  I am not suggesting this was done in a malicious way in the RSS to Blog Readership debate, I am just emphasizing the point that RSS and Blogs are not even close to a 50% correlation although I don’t actually have that number.  RSS started with news as I understand it, was adopted by Blogs thank heaven (I would be LOST without www.bloglines.com for example).  So to correlate blogs to rss you would have to somehow source all news or other informational sources and exclude them to get the true correlation of RSS to blog readership.

The graph below is an example of the growth of RSS as we see it in our client base.  This is one snapshot, from one client, with all names removed.  And I definitely picked one that I knew was growing rapidly in RSS utilization.  So statistically this is completely biased, but relevant.  The RSS graph below is showing not site traffic, or hits or visits, but JUST RSS pulls as measured by our software Tendenci that powers other web sites.

Rssgrowthtendenciexample It is important to note that while Tendenci has a ton of functionality, one thing it does NOT have yet is a blog module (11-2005).  So the RSS pulls to the rights are on news, articles, jobs, calendar events, basically anything BUT blogs for mostly organizations.  And note over 32k rss pulls last month in this particular site graph.

What also intrigues me is what got in the water four or five months ago that caused RSS to hit a tipping point.  The functionality has been in our software for over a year and a half, but one day it just took off requiring us to rush for additional server purchases!

And for one final wild card, I am just full of questions and few answers today, sorry, but the final wild card is that several months ago Google and Yahoo (Slurp) bots became very-very-interested in the RSS feeds on our client sites.  I know this because we also have an search engine optimization division that monitors these trends.  So to get accurate usage of rss you would also have to conduct surveys that excluded automated traffic from RSS data.

Google Base Bulk Uploads

This was like the first question one of our web marketing clients asked me about Google base.  Google also posted a very helpful google base faq here.

Bulk uploads

A Bulk upload is a method of uploading multiple items all at once to Google Base. You can submit various types of content – like business locations, movie reviews or other products. Submit content to Google, Froogle and Google Local using Google Base Bulk uploads.

You may upload your content in any of the following formats:

“¢ Tab-delimited file
“¢ XML file in RSS 2.0 format
“¢ XML file in RSS 1.0 format
“¢ XML files in ATOM format

Flash Sucks. OK, Flash Doesn’t Suck. AJAX Sucks. OK, maybe AJAX doesn’t suck.

Flash sucks.  You can’t link directly to it.  The search engines can’t read it.  Do away with all flash.

No!  Flash itself is not the problem, rather it is the implementation of flash that causes the problem.  Any Flash application that does not allow a URL, a freakin’ link, to let me access a *particular space* within the application completely sucks.  Links rule.  You take away links and we, as usability experts, will point out that you have lost it according to Al Gore Berners Lee.

Ajax AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript language and XML, is a cool method of hiding round-trips to the server from the end user.  This DOES have some great applications like to auto-complete a field like in gmail.  This applies to situations where you have an HTML environment and a specific need to get specific data.

Flash advocates, this one completely included, got carried away with what Flash COULD do and went overboard in the past building sites where usability was based on a journey, but not a context to be revisited like the Internet is with links.  Now, Microsoft is repeating the same mistake with www.live.com.   Just because you CAN built a completely AJAX application where the URL never changes doesn’t make it any more of a good idea than building a completely Flash web site.  GIVE ME LINKS!  REST PLEASE! (excuse the pun you nerds out there).

Where are the usability experts yelling about the lack of links on live.com?  The world demands a 100% solution and if we get to 95%, well, it won’t work.  That is just the law of nature.  No links, no live.

Now, of course this begs the question of "if AJAX is so great for so many things, then why aren’t we actually using Flash more?" – and I really believe that we need to use Flash for many of the things that AJAX is being applied to because it is the web2.0-flavor-of-the-day.

And one more rant, please explain why WYSIWYG textarea fields aren’t built into EVERY browser as part of HTML?  Please, this is 2005, stop making us work at that level and let us work on usability and the human problems, which are quite complex enough thank you.

<end Ed as programmer on social software team with www.tendenci.com hat day>

Sony – In Desperate Need of Crisis Communications Help for Botching Brand with DRM Root Kit

Knuckle headed brand destructionSony recently purchased from a third party a "copy protection" scheme for its music that is really more of a "take over the computer and make sure they don’t do anything" scheme.  Needless to say purchasing a CD ($15 USD) isn’t quite the level where you say "OK, take over my 2k worth of hardware to protect your 10".

Now they are in crisis communications mode and in this writer’s opinion they are NOT ready.  First it has been brewing for a week now.

Here is an overview

here is a recent post

and here is some research on the topic reflecting the spread

Today the NYT is running the story, albeit with a gentle headline. 

CD’s Recalled for Posing Risk to PC’s

The global music giant Sony BMG yesterday announced plans to recall millions of CD’s by at least 20 artists – from the crooners Celine Dion and Neil Diamond to the country-rock act Van Zant – because they contain copy restriction software that poses risks to the computers of consumers.

The headline should have been written "Sony Tosses Privacy to the Wind and Builds a Bot Net with new DRM Scheme: Government Networks in Danger" Which would be somewhat of an exaggeration, but not much, and would be more in keeping with MSM coverage.

The reason this is such a HUGE crisis is that Sony is in our lives.  They could monitor what DVDs we watch on our DVD player. They are attacking themselves where it hurts most; trust.  The response on the Sony site is in a frame, so the search engines won’t find it, I had to launch it in a new window just to be able to give it a direct link.  What are they thinking?

What Sony SHOULD do is immediately recall all CDs regardless of the cost and hire a third party to audit how it happened and recommend clean up methods.  They need some separation to get any form of legitimacy given it was internal decision making that led them to believe taking over government and home PCs was a good idea.  That is basic crisis strategy.   Microsoft just launched live.com ““ get them to write a fix for it to get publicity for their new site.  There are just so many proactive GOOD things Sony could be doing about this crisis and they are not that I can tell.

2005 and Public Relations and Strippers

Not sure what this says about a public relations firm, actually it suggests to me they are desperate, but yet here I go posting it.

From AdRants:

PR Firm Lures Survey Respondents with Striptease

While it’s quite common for marketers to offer incentives to insure completion of a survey, the Hungarian office of PR firm Sawyer Miller has swept aside those less than motivating one dollar bill, Amazon coupon and free iTunes download offers for what really matters: a stripping hottie.

Prfirmlures One question – are there actually PR surveys that are so important that doing almost anything is worth getting the answers?  If we could coax out of collective wisdom the answer for global warming, would it be worth the money for Pamela Anderson and the indignity of associating a legitimate PR firm with such a stunt?

Riya-Rogue PR Plan versus Bernay’s P&G Ivory Soap Campaigns

It is great to see strong public relations efforts working.  One recent PR victory was executed on behalf of Riya (http://www.riya.com/) by Tara ‘Miss Rogue’ Hunt.  Riya is a web based application similar to flickr.com which also allows people to tag their photo sets by names (John, Shelly, Nse, etc) through facial recognition software.

The public face of this PR campaign, which I am choosing to call the “Riya-Rogue PR Plan“, is being executed by Tara Hunt through primarily blogging relations based out of http://www.horsepigcow.com.  Here is a snippet from a recent post noting the success of the marketing plan in the form of major technology media placement.


The Marketing Plan is to Blog

K…so it’s a little more complex than that…and there is always a method to my madness…and I’m all, like, ‘trust me, I know what I’m doing. It may not seem apparent, but work with me here.’

…but holy crap…

I’m a little blown over that it is actually working so well. Long live the citizen journalist!

PC Magazine

Being a student of public relations I thought it would be interesting to look for a similarly executed promotion of another product or service in ancient PR history.  Given I have been rereading SPIN about Edward Bernays those are the freshest ones in memory.  I considered contrasting Miss Rogue’s efforts to Bernay’s Light Golden Jubilee (http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/pic/2004/october.asp), but ruled that out as it was an anniversary celebration of a major invention, involved the post office running a stamp, and well a bunch of other stuff was different.

Then I looked at comparing it to Bernay’s promotion for Mack Trucks (http://www.prmuseum.com/bernays/bernays_video_macktruck.html) and again there was no match given the Mack Truck promotion started with public speaking by the President of the company and letters written to congress.  Not much similarity there beyond the “taking it to the people“ aspect of engaging citizens.  And Bernays hid in the background which is definitely not the case with Riya-Rogue.

I settled on comparing the Riya-Rogue PR plan to Bernay’s efforts for P&G with Ivory Soap.  http://www.prmuseum.com/bernays/bernays_1923.html

Continue reading “Riya-Rogue PR Plan versus Bernay’s P&G Ivory Soap Campaigns”

Google Analytics – FREE analytics software based on urchin

Google is giving away Urchin implementations to measure visits and site paths.

Free Web site therapy–Google gives away analytics
Mon Nov 14, 2005 03:05 AM ET
By Eric Auchard

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) plans to give away a set of analytic tools allowing Web developers, administrators and advertisers to fine-tune their sites including advertising, the Web search leader said on Sunday.

and …..

"Any time we add more measurability and more control, advertisers understand more of what they are doing and they end up spending more," said Paul Muret, the Google engineering director who co-founded its analytics service.

Google’s offering is based on Urchin Web Analytics, which it acquired in March for undisclosed terms and then cut the price to $199 a month for the service from $400 previously.

and …..

"Google is giving away free software to improve Web sites. I fail to see how some of these Web analyst vendors could not be hurt by this," Jupiter Research analyst Eric Peterson said of the impact on the estimated $450 million-a-year industry.

Repurposing old stuff – what will this do to your brand?

Today the NYT is running an article that it interesting:   

It’s Like Selling Meals by the Bite. And It May Work.

HOW much is this sentence – the very one you are reading right now – worth? Is it potentially more valuable than this entire column, this section, or the entire newspaper itself? This is not a play for a raise or a plug for the genius of my prose, but a riff on the latest mania in media-land: finding new ways to be paid for old material. Nearly every day, it seems, a new business strategy emerges that on its face may sound not only counterintuitive but also absurd. Then consumers start to buy it, and you can only say, "Who knew?"

and it continues

TWO lessons are apparent in all these attempts to revamp media business models. One is that the limits of what people will pay for personalization – getting what they want, when they want it – have yet to be tested. The other is that consumers are not nearly as pragmatic as they may imagine themselves

In Attack of the Blogs (which attacks you with Ads when you try to read it) Forbes effectively became a fear monger for the danger of CGM (consumer generated media) to your brand.  It was a very effective publicity stunt that worked and got the bloggers talking about Forbes.  A cry for meaning that indeed confirmed they have meaning I suppose.

So what is the effect of long dead media being brought back to life for your brand?  Can we write controversial blog posts in the hopes of actually selling them 10 years from now?

Tom Cruise comes to his senses partially

Cruisecrisiscommunication Erica Iacono PR Week USA Nov 11 2005 14:57

LOS ANGELES: Tom Cruise has relieved his sister, Lee Anne DeVette, of her publicist duties and hired Rogers & Cowan to represent him and his company, Cruise-Wagner Productions.

From a PR perspective clearly Tom had a problem with crisis communication, and perhaps more at the root cause was the complete failure at crisis avoidance.  He makes an easy target as a celebrity, all the more reason to hire on skill versus blood.

Now the question is if Bridegroom Productions will update Me-sci-ah on the next run?

IABC – Demystifying Search Engine Optimization

Lookattheprettyscreen Taught a fun SEO seminar called "Demystifying Search Engine Optimization" at the Houston Technology Center for the International Association of Business Communicators Houston Chapter today.  This picture really captures it all, "look at the pretty screen!"

The reviews came in very good, so hopefully everyone got their value and will come to more great IABC events in the future.

One interesting thing about teaching SEO on a network with NAT is that we actually, as a class, got locked out of the Marketleap Linkback Calculator!  The good news is we had no problem getting the class to move on to the next slide after lockout occurred.

SEO, PR and Branding

The echo chamber demands I repeat rubel: Great article on SearchEngineWatch about a recent panel called "Using Search for Public Relations & Reputation Management" by Catherine Seda

Nan Dawkins, … asserted that consumer-generated media such as blogs are making reputation management through search a growing necessity. …a search on Google for "Walmart and unions" pulled up several blogs that blast Walmart for blocking employees’ efforts to unionize. Fortunately, Walmart is smart. The company created and optimized a landing page for this keyword phrase that ranks #2 in Google’s organic results.

and later

you shouldn’t sit around waiting to respond to bad press. Instead, be proactive””write and optimize press releases to score some good press.

The only flaw I see with this is that I did search for "walmart and unions" and did not see a Walmart page in the top 5.  Hmmm.  But still, the point is valid that you must and should respond to negative coverage while working to build the brand through positive coverage.  And this DEFINITELY includes an awareness of the role of search engines in the brand building process.

Youth Perception of Television News

Maybe if they didn’t concentrate just on murders, war, and all the bad, I would be more willing to watch on a daily basis.

And more where that comes from with the online trendsetter panel. The highlights are:

  1. In general, television news is seen as “too negative“ in an effort to instill fear and paranoia.
  2. They want a more clear definition between “real news“ and “fluff“ as stories of all types are perceived to get equal weight.
  3. They want to see a more racial and economic diversity in terms of the types of stories they cover.
  4. They want coverage of global issues.
  5. They want honest reporting, not to feel like they’re getting propaganda.

CNN and KHOU have pop-ups!

Khouspammypopups This is ridiculous.  CNN has pop-ups.  Like in the dark ages.  Pop-ups no less!  Where is the outrage?  Yes.  This is November 11, 2005 and these MSM idiots have pop-ups.  Why not put a sign on their heads that says "we think our customers are idiots and will respond to intrusive advertising methods." 

Think about it.  As consumers, we have pop-up blockers to knowingly defend ourselves from the media with cause, and they WONDER why we are looking elsewhere for content?  The media is choosing to personify evil.  Their defense is "oh, we didn’t realize weather bug was evil we just thought it was a cool revenue stream" or some crap.

The point is trust is 24/7.  If media is scamming us, they can’t wonder why we look elsewhere with disgraces like pop-ups and KHOU weather bug spyware.  Common sense anyone?  Please let us reintroduce common sense before more MSM jobs are lost from clueless management practices that invade privacy and defy logic.

Social Software Advertising Power

For the advertising professional wondering if Social Software has advertising power.

Hawthorne Heights is touring the country in a plush bus. The quintet’s debut album, The Silence in Black and White, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release last year, and the group has appeared on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and been on MTV’s TRL. The five young men from Dayton, Ohio, are living the rock-and-roll dream – but they took a highly unconventional path to get there. The band achieved its popularity without any real radio or TV airplay, a feat unheard-of a few years ago. They aren’t signed to a major label, and they don’t want to be. They don’t need industrial-strength marketing campaigns or heavy rotation.

What they have is MySpace, a community Web site that converts electronic word of mouth into the hottest marketing strategy since the advent of MTV.

Two marketing ideas from the blogosphere

Concepts from the echo chamber.

The first idea is from a post linked from HorsePigCow and relates to using images to test for human versus bot posting.  Basically, you can use this concept to combat comment spam or similar.  If you run a lot of web sites like we do, you feel my pain and can see the potential!

http://metaatem.net/words/hello world

The second is this post on "piggy back marketing" discussing basically commenting on every blog post a competitor has.

I guess that when you don’t have a real marketing team or budget, you just piggyback on other’s efforts. 

Via Rubel: PR Newswire has launched a podcasting service.  I feel so "mains tream"