Discovery & Experimentation: Setting Aside Resources for R&D

So- is the economy recovering yet?

The reason I ask is that the poor economy has forced business to focus on selling now! billable hours! and short campaigns! vs longer-term planning.

I believe companies need to devote resources to R&D to discover, experiment and stay ahead of where their industries are headed. My favorite example is Google’s famous edict that their engineers spend a certain amount of time on R&D projects, but it’s not just a technology thing.

Take PR agencies (please!). I have always said that all PR folks should devote time to read up on their clients’ industries. Agencies cannot stop there. They must carve out time to keep track of the rapidly-changing communications tools, and develop potential programs around them. PR agencies did not do this during the rise of blogs- otherwise, so many would not have been caught with their pants down (seriously- so many agencies were clueless about blogs in 2006 it was embarrassing).

Where is your R&D department?

Posted via email from doughaslam’s posterous

Echo vs. Reverb Online

I have been whining lately about Twitter’s latest “ReTweet” feature, which lets you forward a copy of a Tweet you like. My problem? It sends ReTweets with one click; you cannot edit to add a comment to further the conversation.

This is the difference between “echo” and “reverb.” I’ll define echo as repeating the exact same thing, over and over. Great for pushing out links on Twitter and elsewhere, but they are exact copies; is anyone really talking about it?

Reverb is richer- you are adding something, making the original better. I like to add a comment, opinion or info when I pass along content I think is valuable. I wish Twitter had thought of that. Do you think of it when you pass along links and content (on Twitter or elsewhere)?

Note: I’m sure I’m corrupting the original audio engineering definitions, but so what. You can always use an analogy based on the leaves in the photo- they may be similar, but each has something different, and together they make a nice picture.

Posted via email from doughaslam’s posterous

Social Media Top 5: Goodbye, D*****bags

BusinessWeek Editorial Layoffs; Just…Sad

Let’s pretend that Bloomberg has a master plan for a leaner, stronger, BusinessWeek after buying the troubled magazine recently. They probably do, right? It still boggled the mind to see the parade of high-profile pink slips given out this week: Stephen Baker, Heather Green, Jon Fine, Robert Hof, etc. (the RaceTalk* blog from RacePoint live-blogged the carnage for our…pleasure).  What struck me was that PR people felt genuinely bad. not that we shouldn’t, but one friend asked how we felt about the demise of the Industry Standard. I don’t remember PR people feeling so bad about those layoffs. Why? The Standard was notoriously hostile to PR people. businessWeek, besides being more practical, cuts stafff in a time where both flack and hacks alike share more conversations via social media. We know them a little better, and they are people to us, more so than in the past.

I wish every last one of them the best and have no doubt we will see big and interesting things soon.

Twitter to Users: Tell Everyone Where You Are: Yes, You in the Starbucks on Centre Street: You Too

Twitter has enabled geotagging. It’s interesting in that, in addition to other tools like FourSquare (of which I have become a big fan),  showing the world where you are is really coming into style. Cool? yes, for those activities whee you want it. Scary, too, though. Stalking should be a real concern, and I wonder if, as Don Tapscott wonders in his book “Grown Up Digital,” Generation Y-ers in particular don’t take enough care in protecting privacy. I’m curious to see how these tools will be used.

I’m Using Posterous

I have finally broken down and started using Posterous. No, I won’t use it for “Lifestreaming.” I have Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Friendfeed, etc, all making up a lifestream (except I still hate using that word). I will use it to post via mobile though, and from there distribute the content to the blog, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Stay tuned, I hope make it an effective use of content channels, though I don’t expect it to be a standalone blog in itself.


Yes Terry, you do slay you.

On the Internet, If You Are a Dog, Someone Will find Out

Wowee wow-wow stupid: person makes anonymous offensive remark on a newspaper newspaper Web site. Web site person tracks IP address and lets employer know (privacy violation? Maybe). IP address is at a school, and an employee posted the offending comment- from the school! Incredible. The employee resigned; with any luck there was a lesson learned.

Let’s Get Rid of the Term “Social Media D*****bag”

Ok, the term is “douchebag” but I try to keep this blog as PG-rated is I can. On the other hand, I’m not normally such a prude, and have even uttered the term myself, but it strikes me as misogynist, offensive, and pretty nauseating if you think about it. I even hear women proudly saying it. Maybe I am just a prude.

What would you think if we changed it to “social media colostomy bag?” I thought so. Some friends have offered alternatives- a personal favorite is “social media blackguard” from David Jones. Call me old-fashioned.

*Idle thought: As good as it is, is “RaceTalk” the most unfortunately-named PR blog, ever? Maybe “RaceBaiting” was taken. As Clarence would say, marinate.

SIPA Online: PR Stranger Wanders into the World of Publishers and ROI

This was originally published on the SHIFT Communications “Slice” Blog

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the SIPA (Specialized Information Publishers Association) Marketing Conference in gorgeous Miami Beach, Florida (I know, the life of a PR flack is tough). I was asked to do a little work (the nerve) and present on social media news releases.

In our world- especially here at SHIFT, home of the Social Media Press Release Template, this can be an “old hat” subject (dirty secret; it’s not old hat– still much to do and learn). At this conference, I was very interested to present in front of a different crowd- which, to my surprise, was very eager to learn and came armed with questions. I was also pleased and flattered to find SIPA board members in the audience.

Below is the presentation I gave, with slides synced to audio. Special thanks to Todd Defren, without whom I would not have been able to sharpen my plagiarism skills to present on his and SHIFT’s behalf:

Why did I consider myself a “stranger” at this conference? SIPA is very ROI-focused, and PR is notoriously, well, not ROI-focused (more dirty secrets!). One basic presenting tenet that was proved at my session? Bring data. People were very interested in the ins and outs of press releases and new social media formats, but the takeaway that was re-broadcast at the conference? The statistics on social media release vs traditional release performance from Andrew Parker (see slide 18). I provided context and caveats, and this was not what I considered the lynch pin of the presentation, but numbers rule.

That was more true at the next day’s panel on “Social Media Success Stories,” with Hunter Boyle of Marketing Experiments and Matt Bailey of Sitelogic. Hunter and, particularly, Matt were quite at home from the analytical side, but I was able to answer a pointed question about the ROI of Twitter with two points: Dell Outlet’s $3 million Twitter account (thanks to Jay Berkowitz for serving up the exact number from the audience), and was able to recount revenues realized from Twitter networking in my PR work. Numbers from a PR guy? I astonished myself.

What are you doing to get outside your normal comfort zone (for me, that’s the “social media” crowd, such as the one at BlogWorld Expo)? And what do you need to present to them to make sure you, as a stranger, can get your message across?

Also: a quick thanks to Mike McKinney and the folks at Comhaus, who worked diligently during the SIPA Marketing Conference to capture the sessions on audio and/or video. I hope to have access to the panel soon, and will share a link to other sessions when it is available.

It’s Hard Out There For a Print


I refuse to say "print is dead" because I don’t believe it, but scenes like this closed used book store near downtown Boston say a lot about where media is headed.

Gradually, places where we got our print fix are being eroded as we get more online and these businesses become less viable.

The same goes for used record stores. Again, this is not death of a medium, but the limitations in the fringes are becoming more severe.

What evidence have you seen? Care to share?

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Blog Experiment: Video Blog-Casting

Notice I didn’t call it podcasting? I’m not sure I want to set up a special feed for video subscriptions, but I am thinking about adding more video to the mix.

The challenge: I’m itchy about the visual piece of video. I think the visual element- even a talking head– draws the eye and attention better than pure audio. My aesthetic sense, however, cries out for something to look at other than my ugly mug flapping my gums.

So, here is my first experiment in how I might present video more regularly. As you can see, I showed my surroundings more than me- a trick I used in my Pan-Mass Challenge training videos. I think I still have to figure out some technical aspects, but I will definitely do some more– with real content.

Blog Experiment 11-18-09 from Doug Haslam on Vimeo.

What do you think? What would make you watch video blog posts here?

Social Media Top 5: Embargo Nonsense, Disliking Dislikes, & TwinkedIn (No Creamy Middle)

More Embargo Nonsense via TechCrunch

A while back, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch announced that the site would no longer honor embargoes, even if they agreed to one. Silly, but fair warning for any PR folks. He held out exceptions for Microsoft and Google, because they wanted access to their news (the whole point of the embargo). I’ll bet money that they have made other exceptions. Recently, it appears Microsoft lost its Most Favored Flack Status when a piece of Microsoft News was broken on another site– supposedly from a WordPress posting error.

The Waggener-Edstrom folks (Microsoft’s PR agency) should have been monitoring for any early leaks so they can alert the more important publications they briefed ahead of time (Were they? Was it just an honest miss?). Now, Waggener Edstrom is “banned” by TechCrunch.

So, the question for Wagg-Ed folks is how important is TechCrunch, really? The question for TechCrunch is: how important is Microsoft, really? It will be interesting how they answer the questions, and what proceeds from there.

Note: Almost forgot the Waggener Edstrom had recently hosted a SF-based forum on the embargo, called “Embargo 2010: An Industry Discussion on Future Rules of Media Engagement.”

Update: Jenny Gomeringer referred me to a nice post that I had missed from the Waggener Edstrom blog referring to both the panel and what happened with the Microsoft embargo. Recommended reading.

TweetLevel; Effective Blunt Instrument or Silly Ego Ranking Exercise?

Recently, I heard about TweetLevel, a service from Edelman that attempts to determine the “authority.” On Twitter, I wondered aloud “What the hell is this?” more because I was unable to access the TweetLevel site at the time than because I was railing against another empty ego exercise. I’m done putting down these things. Somebody will find use for them, and if they’re fyun, that’s good enough for me. If it’s truly useless it will die on its own.

Besides, Edelman’s David Brain pointed me to a post including me among a group of raked PR industry Tweeters (#19 with a bullet!). Flattery will get you everywhere.

Tweets are Coming to LinkedIn

Not to my account. LinkedIn is a great business networking tool, and Twitter- for me- is a big mix of personal and professional messages- more importantly, there is too much of Twitter and it would choke my LinkedIn profile. I do like the ability to selectively post Twitter to LinkedIn, a la “Selective Twitter” on Facebook.

“Dislike” button on Facebook

Not an official Facebook feature, but a Firefox plugin. I love being snarky, but a “dislike” button seems antisocial for a social network. How about just not liking something?

Fun: Ford Fiesta Movement!

My good friend Scott Monty, Director of Social Media at Ford, has been having a lot of fun with the Ford Fiesta Movement, in which a hundred Ford Fiestas, unavailable as yet in the U.S., were loaned to video bloggers. Imagine my surprise when, connecting with “Vice Queen Maria” for a little night out on a recent trip to Miami, she walked us to her car, which was—a Ford Fiesta! Nice little piece of serendipity, and a lucky touchpoint for a popular social media campaign. What are the odds?

Ford Fiesta Movement!

Travel Networking & Social Media


I’m not the most prolific business traveler, but if there is one thing that goes naturally with social media, it’s travel.

I write this post from South Beach, Miami, where I attended the SIPA publishers’ conference ( Social media and conferences is old hat, but it’s the other networking that counts:

– Making things happen: I discovered there was another meetup happening as I arrived, and not only saw some old friends, but was able to drum up some more recent Miami acquaintances- and make some new ones.

– Get the most out of your city: Between Twitter and, finding places to go and the people to show you them is easy. add that to the serendipity of meeting kind strangers during the event, and you can keep yourself busy and entertained if that’s what you want.

– Repeat this for every city you go to; the tools are only getting more powerful.

– Be one of those generous in your city. Make recommendations, take visitors out- and make connections.

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The Responsibility of the Audience Part II: The Responsibility of the Consumer

Customer Service

Photo Credit: RW PhotoBug on Flickr

I have written in the past about the “Responsibility of the Audience,” the need for people to be critical readers as the range and democratization of information sources has brought with it a comparable range of quality of that information. Consumers of information have the power to inform themselves better by being their own journalists and casting a critical eye on their sources.

I have recently come to think about how that applies to being a customer. One of the hallmarks of the social web is the ability for consumers to complain about bad service and/or a bad product, and almost as often about the bad customer service that accompanies it. While we cannot absolve companies of the need to improve their customer service (not to mention their products and services), we can use our own personal skills to take greater responsibility for the service we do get. That washcloth may be wrung out, but you can always get a few more drops out.

Be Patient While Remaining Firm

A basic tenet is to simply keep control. It is easy to rage and rail and while that may be cathartic (especially if you get in an “I’m a blogger you know, I’m going to blog about this;” come on, admit you’ve done it, or at least thought about it), it will not solve a problem.

The other side of patience is having proper expectations. In dealing with a problem with a trip I booked through Travelocity, I came to realize, after taking several deep breaths that my original vision of waived fees was not going to work out; I did formulate what was going to be acceptable. Even better, map out beforehand what- realistically- you can expect as an outcome, and why. Consider how you map out projects at your job, and how different variables can conspire to add up to realistic expectations. That does not mean give up, but it does mean you might want to consider redrawing your line in the sand, if it will help resolve matters.

Change the Script (and Doodle in the Margins)

Not all problems follow a script, and the “CSR answers” script often leads to a dead end. Have you ever called about a product that was not working, only to be told the problem was with a component made by another manufacturer, and to please call that manufacturer who may or may not have helped you?

I ran into just that situation several years ago when setting up a wireless router in my home. I think it was a D-Link, but am not sure. I could not get it to work, and was very frustrated. The CSR (who was in India, by the way) was very polite, and we struck up a nice conversation as we went through the possible problems. No dice. Finally, he determined the issue was with my wireless card, made by another manufacturer (that actually may have been defunct at that point). Rather than let my frustration boil over, I changed the script; I asked the rep what he would do, making it clear that I had no expectations and that I knew this was out of his normal bounds. I simply played up to his personal expertise and let him off the hook if it didn’t work. He suggested a control to check in the online dashboard, and hung on while I looked. It worked. I’ll never forget that experience, and how it changed my view of how to control the situation on a customer service call.

You could argue that companies should train their CSRs to go off script and be problem solvers; that would be awesome, and I would encourage companies to do so. But really, is it easier to expect all companies to get all their reps to be that innovative, or is it easier for you to draw innovation out of the people you interact with?

Fair or not, that’s the responsibility of the customer.

What Separates the “Gurus” From the Rest of Us

Guru 4 gurusWhat separates the “Gurus” from the rest of us?



Nothing? I know enough smart people in the social media and communications spaces to know that there are many people not singled out as “micro-celebrities” in their field who are quite capable of being superstars. Heck, they are superstars through what they do. When I tell people to blog or produce other content despite the intimidation of competing with a known “expert” in their industry, I simply say “Chris Brogan is not smarter than you (or insert name of favorite expert that works for you).” If you have any ideas at all, you are capable of sharing them in some form- teach, blog, speak, podcast, comment, rant at a Speaker’s Corner. It doesn’t matter, express an opinion, relate an experience, share what you are learning. Snap! You are a guru (I know, we are supposed to hate that term, but I actually hate all of them, so no matter).

Everything? The one big difference is just doing it. This is where you need to eat a can of ego spinach and just bull your way up to the podium. The best know the difference between adding value and just hearing the sound of their own voice- but at some point you need to be comfortable with the sound of your own voice.

You don’t have to be the best or the most popular. But you do have to do it. I learned very early on, when I chose to be a radio major in  college, that you have to put yourself out there. Humility is great, shyness holds you back.

Go ahead. Say something.