Are bloggers “authoritative” sources of information for a company?

The Hobson and Holtz Report, the podcast from forimmediaterelease.biz, has a great conversation on the challenge for public relations professionals on authority. Are bloggers "authoritative" sources of information for a company? If something is "material" then is denial from employee bloggers enough? Robert Scoble, not your average blogger to begin with, is an official voice of the company from my perspective. Who knows what the street thinks. Here is the related blurb with links from the H&H podcast.

16:10 Microsoft and employee bloggers: the delay in the launch of Windows Vista, allegations of code rewrites, blogger denials, weekend blog discussions, and the regulatory and financial framework
– are Microsoft employee bloggers official spokepeople? They may have
credibility but do they speak with authority on behalf of the company
to represent official views? And how ready is blogging to assume a
primary role in organizational communication?

Robert’s original post on the non-event of vista code rewrites is here.

Google and Accoona for “Perception of Public Relations” – Accoona no match!

Googleacunaperceptionofpublicrelationsco_1
I received an email that made me curious about the difference between Accoona (which I had not
heard of) and Google (ya, someone told me about google once) on understanding the context of a search. From the Accoona site:

Accoona Artificial Intelligence is a Search Technology that understands
the meaning of search queries beyond the conventional method of
matching keywords.

and

Accoona’s Artificial Intelligence uses the meaning of words to get you better searches.

The email was from a PR agency so of course I searched on "perception of public relations" in both search engines.

Everyone loves an underdog, particularly an underdog victory. But alas, such is not the case with Accoona. Google pretty much trounced them in my very unscientific comparison. This is one search, one test, yada yada and I look forward to checking back with Accoona.

One thing Accoona can do immediately to improve results is kill all of the advertising at the top. Obviously the ad engine is not as advanced as the search engine part. As a user advertising at the top IS search results. Right hand ads are extra stuff to me. But note that even without the top 3 ad served results, google still produced more of what I was specifically looking for.

Perhaps pay some turkers to evaluate a larger quantity of results, hopefully in a double blind test? But I don’t think PR alone, perception or not, is going to raise Accoona above Google in my perception any time soon.

Quote of the Day – Brought to you by Youth and MySpace

"I challenge all Latino and Hispanic-descent people to come out with us tomorrow, to miss one day of work, because that will show the city of Houston, and everyone in the nation, how badly this (proposed immigration restriction) will affect the country,"

Jesse Quintero, a senior at Eisenhower High School from the Chronicle articleThe vehicle to organize? Myspace. Cool use of social software technology. The article continues.

Quintero posted a note on MySpace.com, an Internet site where some high
school students socialize, to recruit participants. His message quickly
spread to other area schools: about 200 students at Cypress Ridge High
School in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District walked out
after first period, but were coaxed back into an auditorium by the
principal and headed back to class by third period, said Cy-Fair
spokeswoman Kelli Durham.

Whatever your position on immigration, I am personally glad to have innovative kids like Qintero as citizens. Innovation is key and technology applied to social issues is powerful. Danah would be proud.

The New PR – Sex and the City Sleeping with the Boss

Nakedstrumptette
Strumpette – A Naked Journal of the PR Business made one sexy post.  Sex still sells. A sexy photo and an allusion leads to Media Orchard calling her the new PR vixen on the block which leads to AdRants leads to a heated interchange including:

But seriously, what do you think we do for a living.  Think about it.  At least I am being honest about it.

– Amanda Chapel

The comments and replies are just fun. I would HOPE pr was focused on strategy beyond Lewinski.

Ms. Chapel goes on with

Rubel has two masters and is sure to betray one. The day he makes an
honest independent critique of Richard“¦ he’s history. Bottom line:
that’s just a matter of time. Rubel’s true master is blogging and he
will ultimately have to make that choice. He will betray Richard.

My predictions – having met Steve he is one stubborn dude. Don’t place bets on his departure unless you can afford to lose. Never met Richard but he has been a blogger far longer than newbies like me and I’d bet he is a smart chap. I recommend skipping the office pool.

I predict Vixen 1 gets her 15 minutes without running anyone over. Maybe she graduates to RocketBoom type reporting with agency approval?

Perhaps the biggest change in PR is the progression and the speed of today’s timeline.
As far as I can tell the original post was TODAY. Sunday, March 26th.
The responses similarly are also today, mostly this Sunday evening. You PR people need to get a life. Thank God I am not in PR.

Public Relations Sucks on the Y Axis of Generic/Mass vs Personal

Horsepigcowmarketingcontinuum
Tara has guts.  No question about that.  There are some things you don’t say and the "C" word on social movements is right up there with the "N" word. I won’t question motives and I appreciate the honest dialog.

I also do not question the chart. The chart. Perception is reality.  Note the location of Public Relations on the chart!

Public Relations is perceived to be not-personal. It is not one to one but one to many like a shotgun. Earned media is tough and you can reasonably argue that a strong MSM coverage of an event is indeed one to many. But does that make it not-personal? Isn’t the point of PR to personalize issues by having credible third party vehicles carry the message? 

An a-list-blogger post is read far more than it is commented on so does that move pinko marketing to the generic/mass category?

In fact the first poster in comments questioned Tara’s placement of PR on the chart. So I am not alone. We need more accreditation.  We need more PR credibility. We need fewer dead beat pitches in PR. Arrrrrrgh.

Social Software, Social Networks – No Freaking Business Model

I love it when someone goes "DUDE! – Do you see the freaking elephant in the middle of the room? No really, it’s right there! THERE! LOOK!"  Jason Calcanis says

The big problem with social networks is the business model. … when people are on social networks they have two choices:

1. Interact with people: flirt, find a date, find a mate, hook up, make friends, etc.
2. Click on advertisements.

and he goes on

… the fact is social networking is a bust for advertisers today. We’ve seen this before with chat rooms, listsrvs, message boards, and email clients. They are amazing for traffic, and they are horrible for advertising.

If social networks are going to work for marketers they are going to have to nuke the current model for advertising and do something much more creative…. creative enough to trump the value of hooking up.

I love the warm fuzzies of Web2.ooo0000 hype, but so far the only exit strategy I have seen is Yahoo!  Yahoo even lectured us at eTech that they "only buy if you have API" (that was the message – it wasn’t quite that catchy.)  If we weren’t sure Yahoo was the only exit, then please get with someone on Sarbox.

And tomorrow we can discuss how Yahoo and Google are *not* content providers (cough) and they don’t compete with their advertisers (cough cough).

I’ll be thinking about this part of the above post – "do something much more creative" – at the ACA conference in the AM.

Huffington Shamed by Chronicle for Fake Blog Posts

I received this email from Rach:

The Huffington Post posted a fake blog by George Clooney. When uncovered she said,

“The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.“

Obviously pissed off everybody. When blogging, the media IS part of the message.

Not only is the Chronicle the top blogging newspaper in the country, but they are calling bullshit on Arianna Huffington’s fake blog posting.  George Clooney?  Whatever…. I definitely like point and counter point.  Yet I am not sure having "his people" approve a post constitutes a naked conversation.

On the flip side, ghost writing is common in PR.  Or edits to the point that it might as well have been written by someone else.  Is this right?  What if Arianna is right and naked conversations are passe now that PR is aware of this thing called the blogosphere…?

Presenting at American Creativity Association Event Wednesday in Austin

I will be presenting in Austin on Wednesday for the American Creativity Association International Conference.  My session is Trends in Creative Technology. 

Gary_hoover_aca_creativity_2005_small
The mind maps from last years ACA sessions look very interesting.  I have Novamind fired up and ready to roll with mindmaps derived from flickr clusters

Note that last link on clusters, that one, is on love.  Note that the clusters are decidedly feminine.  What, guys can’t be "love"?  WTF?  OK, a post for another day.

Wish me luck.  I am going to the dark side and using a Mac.  Been a long time. But dual processors?  Come on…. give me a break!

Hype Versus Talent Versus Word of Mouth Versus Hype Versus the Arctic Monkeys

This article "The Truth Behind Arctic Monkeys Buzz — They Are SO January" (Dan is a client) on the hype of the Arctic Monkeys made me want to "see" what was going on.  Dan also linked me a few other blog posts on the band-hype subject.

So here are a few graphics on the Arctic Monkeys. The first is an overlay of influential blog mentions with all blog mentions behind it.  Basically the same chart run on technorati with transparency on the all category.

Arcticmonkeysinfluentialvsallblogs_1

and this is similar data from blogpulse, except in this case I added SXSW because the Arctic Monkeys performed. And I added punk rock for perspective.

Arcticpunkrocksxswblogpulse

Going back to Dan’s article on the subject, his point is that the blog universe has already moved on. Drawing a conclusion from this is not certain, but here is the logic:

If you get all your information from the mainstream media, you might think the Arctic Monkeys will be the next big thing. But there is evidence that even though there is plenty of excitement among journalists, the thrill appears to be gone among insiders.

It’s a story that should interest public relations practitioners looking to help their companies and their clients strike PR gold. It’s also a story that might prompt some in the public relations community to rethink where the mass media fits into the buzz-building equation.

(more)

Dan goes on to discuss Mavens and Connectors in the Gladwell Tipping Point context.  The question I have is perhaps they, the arctic monkeys, still are the next big thing and bloggers are more early adopters who have moved on while the main stream continues to chew the pop gum spreading it to the masses. 

Every time I do public speaking I ask how many people in the room are bloggers. Granted this isn’t a democratic survey, but still, I get less than 5% if it is any place besides a geek conference.

I really don’t know the answer, but it is fun to look at the data. And before blogpulse and technorati looking at the data was very hard.

Schiphol Airport Unrinal Visualizations

Schipholurinal
I wish I could give credit to the correct person for this particular … visualization.  I can definitely give credit to Jennifer for forwarding it to me by email.  Thanks J.  I think.

Whenever I meet someone for the first time they say "did you know there is an airport in Amsterdam by the same name?" – me: "yes" me: "and it is spelled a bit different" – them: "no, its the same" – me: "ok, I guess they changed it" – or something like that.  I wonder if people named smith get "Oh, I have a cousin with that SAME NAME!  Amazing!" – or something like that.

This is a funny small element of a urinal that has a bottom line result (sorry for the pun) that increases profit by reducing cleaning costs.  Humans are funny.  Visuals matter, sometimes for humorous reasons.

The text in the Schiphol urinal image reads:

In Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol’s urinals would pass inspection in an operating room.  But nobody notices.  What everybody does notice is that each urinal has a fly in it.

Look harder and the fly turns into the black outline of a fly, etched into the porcelain. It improves the aim. If a man sees a fly, he aims at it. Fly-in-urinal research found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%. It gives a guy something to think about. That’s the perfect example of process control.

If anyone knows the origin, please email me or comment below?

Reframing Issues Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

This month’s Contexts magazine (like paper delivered by a human called a postal employee) has anContexts_cover_vol51_big interesting article called "the art of reframing political debates" by charlotte ryan and william a. gamson.  This is framing in the context of communications theory. What caught my eye was the break out:

Framing is valuable for focusing a dialogue with targeted constituencies. It is not external packaging intended to attract news media and bystanders.

Name one time.  Name one time that framing didn’t take into account the news media on any issue of consequence?  Name one time that PR was not a driver for the frame.  Yes perhaps framing a debate with the kids around the dinner table is still technically framing and might be targeting only the immediate constituency.  And you can ground them if they argue against your frame. Yet this contexts article is on framing political debates which by definition is very public.

If you are in Public Relations and you have never considered changing the frame of reference to influence the public please do let me know.  I think it unlikely.

The authors do a nice job of recapping four points on framing.  These bullets are a nice refresher on things we do know about frames.  From the  ryan-gamson article…

  1. Facts take on their meaning by being embedded in frames
  2. People carry around multiple frames in their heads
  3. Successful reframing involves the ability to enter into the worldview of our adversaries
  4. All frames contain implicit or explicit appeals to moral principles

They point out that framing is one element and not the only element that matters.  Besides my beef with the public relations point (above) the article is well written and worth the 12 bucks for the mag.

OiH Featured in Houston Chronicle Business Section

OihchronOnly in Houston was written up in the Houston Chronicle by David Kaplan.  This is a follow up from the AdAge cover story a few weeks ago also on Only in Houston.  From the Chronicle story:

March 18, 2006, 6:26PM
ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN TOUTS CITY’S CREATIVITY
Big ad agencies have pulled out of Houston, and those that remain are raising their profile

and it goes on:

In less than than a decade, almost all of the national advertising firms have left town, including McCann Erickson, Ogilvy, BBDO and Bates. The J. Walter Thompson agency, however, still has a presence here.

The reasons for the exodus are many: the trend toward consolidation both inside and outside the ad industry; the perception that Houston is a town where most businesses do business with each other, rather than with a consumer; and that the Houston offices of major agencies lost big oil accounts.

and

Led by local agency owner Lou Congelio, a group of industry volunteers has launched an ad campaign of its own called "Only in Houston" to remind advertisers that there is still plenty of talent in town.

Please visit the chronicle site for the whole story.  And if you are a blogger, please do TAG IT "OIH"!

iTulip is back and Predicting a banking Gran Mal seizure and Real Estate Bubble

Via NYT, iTulip is back with prescient comments posted in poisonous style.  From the home page.

Letting millions of homeowners buy real estate they can’t afford with mortgages they can never pay back is a surefire road to mass defaults that can cripple the banking system. When a little housing bubble declined in the early 1990s, the U.S. banking system seized up.  That response to the downside of that minor real estate cycle was a Gran Mal seizure compared to the massive stoke that the banking system is likely to suffer on the back end of this wild real estate freak show.

Copy writers always amaze me.  "Gran Mal seizure" in banking and a "real estate freak show" – you just can’t get better than that when trying to make a passionate point on the Federal Reserve!

But it is not all good.  iTulip comes back to life with 1997 technology.  Discussion boards?  Three strikes rules?  No meta moderation or trackbacks or just plain comments.  It’s like iTulip doesn’t know blogs exist yet.  Kind of odd actually.  But great copy.

PR Tactics Running Web 2.0 Article Series

Prtacticsschipul_1PR Tactics, the national magazine of PRSA, is running my article on Web 2.0 technologies and Public Relations in this month’s magazine.  Excerpt:

The Web’s Next Generation: Web 2.0

In the 11 years since the introduction of the first Web browser, the Internet has been considered an interactive communications tool, but we’re just beginning to unlock the Web’s ability to help us truly interact. Instead, most organizations still use the Web primarily to disseminate information.

That’s about to change thanks to a movement called, “Web 2.0,“ a collection ofSchipulweb20_1 emerging technologies that enable social networking by offering Web users the ability to add and edit Web content. It was initially referred to as “Consumer Generated Media,“ but the label proved to be too restrictive for the sea change that has been occurring.

As illustrated by the blogs, video blogs (vlogs), podcasts and wikis, Web 2.0 is essentially a platform for sharing information of all kinds. (more….)

(subscribe to PR Tactics for the all articles)  (this specific Web 2.0 PR article text)

Quote of the Day – Communication

"We are gonna have to work on our communication." – Will Smith in Independence Day

And on that note, despite being in marketing and KNOWING the importance of planning, I need to rename this blog.  The original "brandtobedetermined" moniker was chosen because it was late, and I figured I would "determine" a brand name later.  Surprise surprise, it never happened.  Before I get more link backs, I need to move on this!

Blog names to consider:

  1. havior.com – we own this domain name and it does suggest behavior studies which is what PR, marketing and social software are about.
  2. stick with schipul.typepad.com – the default blog name and hope they don’t get bought by an evil company making the domain name yucky at some point in the future?
  3. Any suggestions for a better name? 

Thanks!

Ed