PRSA Memphis Site Launch October 2005!

Prsamemphis I finally got to visit Memphis for the launch of the new Tendenci organization based web site for the Public Relations Society of America Memphis chapter.  The PRSA Memphis web committee did a great job of launching the site on a tight timeline. 

Shout out to Kim Lange on our team for driving this project.  Definitely in the category of "easier said than done" – not that guiding PR professionals is like herding cats, but there are easier tasks in the world.

Medical Marketing Online – 3 great bullet points

Medicalmarketing_1 I was asked to prepare for a conference call about medical marketing recently. I have written on the subject and see a ton of data from our medical marketing clients, but sometimes being in a hurry creates a nice concise result.

These are my top three bullet points that I wanted to get across to someone who already knows marketing and advertising. I didn’t harp on headlines, rather this is a “online marketing is like regular medical marketing but you need to focus on these additional items to get success online:“

1)      The patient is driving the relationship with their medical professional.  You are not in control ““ don’t kid yourself.

2)      Docs must become content providers.  Articles, case studies, etc.  (Pubmed is NOT enough)

3)      PR is more important than advertising

a.       Public speaking

b.      Monitor blogosphere

                                                               i.      Detractors

                                                             ii.      Advocates

                                                            iii.      Off site testimonials either way

That was it.  Those were my bullet points to talk to a current advertising professional on the three main things that they needed to think about to adjust to the new reality of medical marketing online. 

Ann Iverson, Lou Congelio and Aaron Long conversation on OiH creative

Schipuliversoncongeliolong Ann Iverson, formerly of BBDO and now with Creating Selling Opportunities was at our offices today with Lou Congelio and Aaron Long to discuss branding for the Only in Houston initiative of the Houston Advertising Federation.  The branding PPT describes branding and creative goals as well as an upcoming opportunity for a web design or creative firm to submit creative for OiH (besides Schipul – we do enough already) that needs to:

Marry outstanding search engine capability with creativity that sizzles with ingenuity, sparkles with wit, grabs with emotion, and sells with heart…

That bullet seems to capture the spirit.  More information as it comes available probably posted directly to OiH at www.onlyinhouston.com/en/articles/search.asp   

Also, if you haven’t picked up the Houston issue of Create magazine yet, it is at Barnes and Nobles now.  Aaron Long, our Creative Director, has a review of numerous web designs from Houston firms.  Also note Joe Fournet’s article on OiH.

Game Theory, The Nobel Prize and Social Software

First, congratulations to Nobel for seeing the importance of game theory in economics.  It DOES matter how people interact.  Even more so going forward given the new level of transparency provided by the Internet.  From the NYT article American and Israeli Share Nobel Prize in Economics by LOUIS UCHITELLE October 11, 2005:

The Nobel judges said that the work of Mr. Schelling and Mr. Aumann "was essential in developing noncooperative game theory further and bringing it to bear on major questions in the social sciences."

Game theory departs from mainstream economics, which assumes that people behave rationally and act independently of one another. Game theorists assume that in a given situation people are affected by what other people do or what they imagine others will do, particularly when their goals are conflicting.

Emphasis added by me.  The article goes on to talk about the novel "Red Alert" and how a doomsday device is NOT a deterrent if the other side doesn’t know you have it.

So all of this has me thinking about "Flame as performance art" (Shirky) and has me wondering about the overlap between game theory and social software.  Would negotiations with North Korea be different if we did not know their capabilities?  If their population had a voice to increase transparency?  The Iraq conflict continues to be discussed as far as who knew what when. Whether for or against it is safe to say that a game theory analysis of the conflict would be interesting.  I have no answers this AM, just questions.

Distributed Authoring and Virtualization for Associations

Cluetrain I am rereading The Cluetrain Manifesto which reminded me that many of the ideas behind Tendenci, the philosophy of the software, are simply derivatives of Cluetrain.

Engaging Your Membership: What Are You Doing and What Should You Be Doing?
and
The Concept of Distributed Authoring for Membership Associations ““ Getting Your Association to “Virtualization“

If, like me, it has been a while since you read cluetrain, I highly recommend a refresher on the 95 Theses.  Most of the venting in cluetrain goes against corporations but is equally applicable to associations.  It is all about being human and overcoming bureaucracy to get to true conversational intelligence.  And I kind of dig watching the whole process play out in real time.

So what DO they do? Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories for crime and advertising

From the HBJ article "Brain biz eyes ads" (what a bad headline!) a company called Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories (what a bad name) is shifting from criminal brain fingerprinting to advertising.  See excerpt below:

Brain biz eyes ads
Heidi Dietrich, Staff Writer
—-<snip>—–
By hooking humans up to machines that measure cerebral activity, the company believes it can determine whether specific information is stored in a person’s memory.

Now, Brain Fingerprinting believes it’s found the ideal first business application: advertising.

The company just completed a study with global marketing firm Millward Brown indicating that its brain imaging machine tracks the same reaction in ad viewers as survey questions asking viewers for their feedback. Armed with this data that helps validate its technology, Brain Fingerprinting now says it plans to spin out an advertising company within six months. The company projects a spin-off staff of more than 100 people within a year and a half, and it believes revenue from ad firms ultimately can exceed $250 million.

"Advertisers want to know if someone has paid attention to an ad and can recall it," said Larry Farwell, Brain Fingerprinting chairman and chief scientist. "They want to know: Do our ads make an impact?"

I am not sure hooking me up to a machine with a bunch of electrodes tapes to my head will yield reliable marketing data, but it sure looks like a great CYA for the next superbowl commercial.  We even tested this ad by measuring brain waves!  Hopefully the study subjects won’t wear tinfoil hats.

ASTROS WIN: The Longest Post Season Game Ever

Stros versus Atlanta – going into the 17th inning.  The longest post season game ever. 6 to 6 and Roger Clemens pitching relief.  Two grand-slams.  Now this is Major League Baseball!

UPDATE – ASTROS WIN!!!!

You can’t examine the life of a shark from just looking at where the fin breaks the water

Sharkteeth PRSA Houston is a great organization that frequently challenges my thoughts on Public Relations.  Many of their events force me out of my comfort zone, and that is all good. Yesterday’s event was presented by Marti Gazzier of BP on the crisis response to the Texas City explosion March 23, 2005.

I am not writing about that.

Rather I am writing about a sidebar conversation. I was in a group of people and three of the APR professionals were discussing books they had read, recommending others.  Tipping Point, The World is Flat, Ewen’s PR!; these are pretty standard these days.  I would even call them baseline for strategic thinking.  And then one young person spoke up and said something to the affect of:

All we read are the trade rags.  Those books sound interesting.  Can you email me a list of recommended reading?

No cards were exchanged so this was an empty request regardless.  The conversation above was followed by talking to someone in the media who was switching to public relations from being a reporter.  But in conversation they never read any books on the topic of PR apparently just assuming that “hey I was media so how hard can this be?“  I was direct enough to question this and the response was "I am just getting started."

I was trying to think about how to explain what was so very wrong with this approach and all I could come up with was this was like trying to get an accurate picture of the life of a shark by only looking at where the fin breaks the surface.  That is the stuff in the PR journals and in the media.  The fin.  The stuff that sticks up. But watching just the fin skips over the hunting process, migration, evolution, and shark-fish-are-friends support groups (Finding Nemo anyone?) that constitute the daily strategic life of the shark.  This small world view misses the subtleties of different shark species.  To look only at the fin on the surface is NOT representative of the life of a shark and will lead you to believe it is a gentle kind creature that exists to entertain you with pretty ripples in the water! 

If the output is what you are looking at to gain an understanding of public relations then I believe you will be wildly off the mark.  Read and research.  Study and strategize.  Do your home work.  It is not about sending press releases and making phone calls.  Reread Propaganda.  Challenge yourself with finding the great strategy that will generate word of mouth and press coverage.  But whatever you do, do NOT mistake a fin for a shark.

Alchemy ““ Sports branding is not a zero sum game.

Alchemy ““ Sports branding is not a zero sum game.  Football grows if Fútbol grows.

The NFL is one of those companies that make me go “what the hell are they thinking?“  At least every time I attempt to watch Monday Night Football.  The reason is simple; there are more commercials than football.

“Right now the NFL looks invincible. Everything about pro football keeps soaring: popularity, ratings, gate receipts, licensing. The reason is product quality — NFL games are fabulous. But could the NFL take a basketball-style tumble? Sure.“ ““ Gregg Easterbrook
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/8841434

I remember years ago swearing never to watch a major league baseball game again after one of the 932 different strikes.  America, me definitely included, finds a prim Dona millionaire vs. prim Dona millionaire dispute reprehensible.  The phrase “just shut up“ comes to mind.

So the NFL pitches Monday Night Football to television stations through an auction.  Bidders.  Winners.  Winners saddled with a bill they can’t cover.  Ridiculous commercial content 95% of the time.  And now ESPN is going to step in and save the day, and increase shareholder value by advertising even more on our cell phones.  Really?  Oh freakin’ please!

Fútbol on the other hand is known for NO commercial interruptions.   Discrete logos are shown at the bottom of the screen, and on the field, during play.  But there are no bustiere beer commercials during play.  The clock counts up, not down; as if tension is not the point.  The “stoppage play“ mocks the time clock with a variable hanging out there the entire time.

The NFL is hosting football games in the home of Fútbol games, Mexico City, because they want to recapture some of the alchemy they specifically killed.  Like a 60 year old wearing a too-short-skirt they yearn for days gone by.  And of course they SHOULD do this.  But it is nothing more than chemotherapy on a limb in an alternate country; it does not address the root cause.

From a social software perspective the NFL has successfully created a monopoly (commons) through legislation.  They have not found auctions successful in solving the problem of the commons.  From a socio-political perspective, neither has anyone else.  The real problem is deeper than that, obviously, and requires a more complex systemic solution.  We get that.  The details are challenging.

Google streaming “Everyone Hates Chris”

From Palmer – I think this is significant

And, in a historic move, Google is offering an Internet streamcast of last week’s TV premiere of Chris Rock’s UPN comedy “Everybody Hates Chris,” marking the search company’s first foray into primetime TV program streaming. The 21 minute-long show, sans commercials, is available on Google Video through Thursday.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9492639/ This sort of blows up the concept of illegal file sharing or editing out commercials — I’d love to hear your comments on this.

Also from HappyKat who seems to be one step ahead of me so many times…

http://www.jotlive.com/
I like this idea -  I also like the word “˜versionitis’.

Ford Commercial – Bad Branding with Zombies Assembling Stuff

Dallas game – Oakland is winning.  Ford Commercial comes on.

da…da-dat…da-dat…da-dat (cosmic music)

Masses of people walking towards the same destination carrying thousands of auto parts.  Parts of an SUV to be assembled.  Like zombies they crush towards the middle to add their part.

"If you could build your own SUV … blah blah … you’d build the 2006 Explorer.  The best Explorer ever."

They walk like zombies.  Am I the only one who jumps to ask if those zombies are the ones who died in the less than "best" Ford Explorers that kept flipping over a few years back?  I recognize the need for buzz, but I can’t be alone in this mind connection.  And at this moment I am more likely to purchase anything other than a Ford Explorer.

Kids who did NOT want to go to the movies

I came home yesterday to a house full of kids.  Kids who did NOT want to go to the movies.  They actually chose going to Target over going to the movies.  When exactly did going to the movies become such a downer to the youth?  Are they just tired of parents saying "no, actually you can’t have an $10 bucket of popcorn"?

The LA times, as picked up by every blogger and slashdot, is running an article entitled "This Just in: Flops Caused Box Office Slump" which points out that crappy movies keep people away from the theatres.  But the boys, ages 8, 12 and 11 (the last one not being mine) didn’t even know what was showing.  You can’t say that they didn’t like any of the movies; the conversation never got that far.  They classified going to the movies with bowling, which they also turned down.  Skateboarding – that still rocks.  Target, yes the store, was a second choice.  Times are a changing.

I concluded with the thought that as an adult I decide if I want to go to the movies, and then check what is playing (typically at least).  Kids appear to choose the movie first and consider the location secondary.  The theatrical presence of the theater has no value, only the entertainment and they probably want it to be a few nanometers north of crappy for the amount of parental grief they put up with during the process.  The process of going to the movies.

Big Media Liability for Consumer Generated Media – I am not a lawyer

To Steve’s question “is big media liable for hosted CGM?“ ““ The first step is to acknowledge that hosted CGM is still a business transaction.  While no money may be changing hands, brand impressions are being made and influence definitely IS changing hands.  Any transaction of value needs rules and therefore has consequences (liability).

As a solution, perhaps an author-sponsorship-model using partnership agreements?  Somewhere between a limited liability corporation partnership agreement and a creative commons license.  IANAL so the actual structure of the document can be paraphrased as:

1) Media tries to remain objective so they can’t fully “endorse“ a blogger, but they can and should provide a logo reflecting status to create social pressure for professionalism of the authored content.
2) Media provides some training, perhaps just an FAQ or guidelines on contributions. 
3) Authors acknowledge they have a point of view, but contribute in a professional manner and accept responsibility to check the facts.  Disclaim where they can’t check (pretty much the case now anyway).
4) Social network solution to evaluate the content contributions based on both the content itself and on peer review of the content.  Slashdot does this although that method may be too geeky for main stream bloggers.   

None of the above fully covers the liability issue, but it does go towards the “safe harbor“ type training that companies conduct for HR issues.  If someone is guilty of sexual harassment, you are going to be fined, but if you have conducted safe harbor sexual harassment training for everyone in the company your fine is likely to be far less.  Your liability is less because you did educate everyone on what the rules are.  So MSM is probably liable to specify some standard for content shown on their branded site.

Either way it is just a matter of time before a published trackback post because a liability issue.  Do you feel lucky?

IBM *and* Lenova Thinkpad

Laura Ries is going to tear this one up.  It won’t be pretty.

New ThinkPad Is All Work, and Some Play
David Pogue

THE Subaru Corvette … the Green Bay Dolphins … the Microsoft iPod.

There’s no getting around it: sometimes, a company’s name just seems like part of its product name, and anything else just sounds weird. Take, for example, the I.B.M. ThinkPad. Since I.B.M. sold off its entire Think division last May, the laptop line should logically be called the Lenovo ThinkPad.

Yet even Lenovo is torn about that name. Take its new Z-Series laptops: on one hand, a letter to reviewers begs, "Please ensure that you give proper attribution to Lenovo. …Do not refer to products as ‘I.B.M.’ … Use ‘Lenovo ThinkPad.’ " On the other hand, the laptops themselves are stamped with large, colorful I.B.M. logos, molded into the plastic of both the lid and the keyboard deck – and the word Lenovo doesn’t appear anywhere.

Can you say "identity crisis"?

PR Disaster: Candidates that lie

This one is amazing, after everyone repeating over and over "no fake blogs" we still get fake blogs.  And for bonus points, innacurate fake blogs for a politician.  Great.

On the Candidates’ Blogs, Writing Right and Wrong
By PATRICK D. HEALY
Published: September 28, 2005

Mr. Ferrer, the Democratic candidate for mayor, nevertheless found himself stumbling yesterday after his political opponents pointed out something amiss on his campaign Web site: a personal log entry "posted by Fernando Ferrer," in which he recalled attending "public schools for most of my education."  Mr. Ferrer actually attended Catholic schools for most of his education
….
They maintained that Mr. Ferrer did not write the blog entry attributed to him.

"An item submitted by Freddy Ferrer was inaccurately edited regarding Freddy’s education," Nick Baldick, the campaign manager, said in a statement. "We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the entry."

Yet even that explanation was not quite right. Jen Bluestein, a spokeswoman for the Ferrer campaign, said the candidate did not submit a written item but rather "passed on some ideas" to an aide, who then wrote three paragraphs and posted them in his name.

"This happens in political campaigns all the time," she said. "In this case he called in some ideas, and someone got a little loose with the editing."

Oh, well if everyone does it then I guess it is OK.  Uuuuugh.

cognitive analysis of tagging

Tagging is easier than categorization because you don’t have to make as many decisions.

A cognitive analysis of tagging   (http://www.rashmisinha.com/)
(or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular)
….
With tagging … you can note as many of those associations as you want. This is how tagging works, cognitively speaking. Yes, it’s that simple.

What I suspect the author is saying is that we don’t like to make decisions.  I don’t.  I get home from work and sometimes I can’t figure out what t-shirt to change into.  As I post this on typepad there is a keywords box shown below that does cause me a bit of stress at the end of a post.  Basically keywords are tags, or relevant topics at a minimum.  I suppose keywords have a sort-of-unwritten rule that they are supposed to be nouns while tags can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

Other challenges of tags, or really any ontology:

1) You can’t guarantee other humans will categorize like you do, so even if you can remember your own categories your methods may be in no way helpful to others.  For your mp3 collection this is fine, but for social software you are breaking the social contract and not providing value to others.  We will find a way to derive value, but you get my point.

2) Time changes how you categorize stuff.  As a young man you might put owning a yacht into the "success" category while a former boat owner would categorize this as "classified listing".

2) A sense of fairness can screw up categories.  This is just a brain game we all play.  If I categorize 50 items and they get divided as 25, 10, 10, 4 and 1 – I will really look at the category with one (1) item to see if I can’t refile it in one of the larger categories.  It is the odd-man-out so surely it must fit in another category or nobody will ever find it in the future, right?  I can’t explain this reflex.

4) Cultural relevance, although I believe tagging and categories both suffer from this limitation.  Rashmi, the author of the above article, discusses cultural relevance in her article but this probably warrants a complete novel unto itself.  We need a cultural-tag-encyclopedia in the future.  "Cadiallac means AAAAAAA in Detroit and Cadillac means BBBBBBB in Tokyo… or similar.

I will defer to Rashmi’s analysis on the cognitive aspects of tagging.  Definitely worth further thought.

Pay Per Call Model – maybe for small businesses in some situations

I was linked an article on pay per call pricing model for web sites.  This means the web site works to generate leads and only charges if it results in a phone call to the client company. 

At a technical level this means that the pay-per-call provider does not want the prospect to call the company directly, but rather through a tracking telephone number so they can fairly measure the number of calls generated.  This will work.  It will result in calls.  But it seems a short sighted overall strategy because;

1) It omits the value of branding. The company is paying for the leads alone, nothing more.
2) Contacts will continue to call the tracking number in the future reporting false positive matches on inbound calls. 
3) You are going to market as someone else’s brand, so not only are you not getting the branding value but you are also paying to build someone else brand!
4) If you end your contract that pay-per-call company can, and will, redirect the campaign to a competitor.  Given the importance of tenure on the Internet this could be a real problem effectively locking you into the pp-call program.

All of that said, yes there are times when this model will work for some businesses.  But it is definitely not as Earth shattering as Pay-per-click advertising has been with the low cost of entry, performance based pricing and free branding side affects.