Podcast! Topaz Partners PRobecast #19: Ghostblogging, Olympics logo and more

Another cross-post from Tech PR Gems of show notes from our PRobecast PR podcast. I’m not in it this week, but it’s still good:

In this episode of PRobecast, Topazers Todd Van Hoosear, Tony Sapienza, and Tim Allik mind-meld over the following:

Ghostblogging: The final chapter. Todd tells us he has the answer to the Ghostblogging dilemma that we first talked about several weeks ago.

PR Then and Now: We try to identify which PR skills translate best from the pre-Web to the post-Web worlds.

Keeping it clean online: Tony talks about a legal remedy involving URL redirects that one cyberstalking victim is leveraging to combat online defamation of character.

The Logo from Hell: Tim awards the 2012 Olympics with this week’s Bright Side Award. The 2012 Olympic logo has been universally panned as ugly and overpriced, and video ads featuring the logo have resulted in epileptic seizures among scores of victims. (Readers of our sister blog POP Culture Gems will recall that the Olympics have struggled for a long time with logos, mascots and other touchy-feely things.)

Online Advertising: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces “Online Advertising Week” in New York City as online ad revenue enjoys another quarter of stellar growth, even with overall ad revenue down slightly.

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MP3 File

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Popularity? Hadn’t occured to me until today

popularWell, it appears I have been “tagged” with a blogging meme. My friend Scott Monty at the Social Media Marketing Blog looked at his most popular blog posts

in terms of traffic. Such an exercise might seem egotistical– it is, for me anyway– but it does put one’s writing in perspective. What gets the most traffic, anyway?

This blog isn’t designed so much to maximize traffic– if it were, I would slap some ads on this sucker and start getting that vacation home down payment together. Rather, it is here to help me “create with the mind”– that is what “Gischeleman” means– and work on my writing and thinking by doing it regularly. I am also interested in what posts spark the most reaction, but have not been obsessed enough with stats to sort out my audience numbers properly. Trust me, I do not have much to brag about.

Anyway, here are the top 5 posts I could determine in terms of the traffic stats I do have.

  1. Webkinz, or Why I Can’t Get on My Own PC at Home: It appears that Webkinz is a very popular but under-exploited search term
  2. “Life with Cancer” Columnist Lauren Terrazzano, 1968-2007: The recent death of a high school classmate brought out my favorite post to date, written on the strength of her final column for Newsday.
  3. That Summer Camp You Went To: What if They Wrote a Book About It?: This is a recent post, and not one I expected a lot of traffic to, but I am glad some people have read it. By the way, you can purchase the book about my summer camp here. 50% of proceeds go to building a new boathouse at the camp.
  4. Why the Hanson Brothers Weren’t at the Oscars This Year: One of the first posts when I relaunched the blog this winter, it was a blast meeting the stars of “Slapshot.”
  5. Tut Tut, Sunglass Hut: Just a tale of poor customer service. People seemed to stumble over this post gradually over the last few months

Now, I would much rather look at my five favorite posts in the short life of this blog, not all of which are on the above list. Feel free to click on these to make them more “popular.”

  1. “Life with Cancer” Columnist Lauren Terrazzano, 1968-2007: Yup, definitely a favorite
  2. The Legion of Creepy Actors: An idea I came up with a few years ago. I spent a lot of time thinking up this list– please feel free to add to it.
  3. Which Comic Book Super Hero are You?: Partly because I had an unusual answer, partly because I knew Chris Brogan would have to comment. The things you think up while sick in bed…
  4. Twitter Adoption to Burnout: Approx. 23 Minutes: I found that many fellow Twitter addicts had the same initial reaction.
  5. Bringing Social Media to the Masses: or Vice-Versa: I got a lot of good reaction to this topic, here and elsewhere.

Now that I am done gazing at my own digital navel, perhaps some visitors will discover what I think are some pretty decent posts. If you like them great. Either way, let me know.

Now, to extend the game of tag. I would be curious not only about popular posts, but favorites (you too, Scott):

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Podcast! PRobecast #18

The Topaz partners PRobecast is back with Episode 18 after a holiday week.

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This week Tim Allik and Adam Zand join me to discuss:

  1. Introducing our new, user-friendly URL: PRobecast.com
  2. The Nikon D80 blogger outreach campaign. Good, ethical PR or blogola?
  3. “Flea” unmasked. Doctor/defendant in malpractice case unmasked. Anonymous blogging, and watch what you blog about.
  4. Presidential Social Media Part I: John Edwards campaign makes good after missteps in Twitter outreach.
  5. Presidential Social Media Part II: Hillary Clinton asks the public to choose a theme song. Plus, we rate the songs that made the cut (but Doug forgot to mention his own write-in choice).
  6. Melcrum’s new Communicator’s Network joins MyRagan in the PR communities space.
  7. Products of the week! Microsoft Surface, iTunes Plus, iTunes U.
  8. What to do this weekend: Red Sox fans welcome A-Rod to Boston, Human Giant twitters MTV Movie Awards, and an early Belmont pick from Adam (Tank).

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML
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Are the candidates using MySpace and other social media well?

UPDATE: The article has appeared, and I was favored with a two-word direct quote, along with Scott Monty (zero words direct quote– ahem), and Steve Garfield, who actually said something worth quoting….

UPDATE II: See this exchange between C.C. Chapman and the Edwards campaign. a combination of social media outreach initiative and response to constructive criticism. This is why I think the Edwards campaign gets it.

Are the candidates using MySpace and other social media well?

That question was posed to me by a writer for the new BostonNOW newspaper this weekend, as mentioned in my previous post. I answered the best I could, but I will leave it up to her to decide whether or not my comments are worthy of appearing in her article.

I can be too freakin’ humble sometimes. OK, I’m an expert– as much of an expert on social media as someone who knows how to find my blog to read it.

I thought I would put some version of my thoughts on the subject, since I did try to do a little homework. Feel free to disagree with me in comments.

First: if the candidates are not using social media to interact directly with their constituents, and of course draw new ones, then they are not being social. That’s what strikes me about the MySpace pages. They don’t feel very interactive. Sure, you can join as a”friend” and leave comments, but looking at the sites, I don’t see any real invitations for interaction on the whole. Is that a problem with the candidates or MySpace? Both, probably.

The MySpace pages are a great way to get information, videos, and links to research candidates and see what their policies are, but that’s about it– their own Web sites are — or can be– much better looking than any MySpace template, and carry the same information– and also offer as much interaction as the candidate wants. I sent messages through MySpace to all of the candidates I could find to ask them what they expected from social media. I didn’t expect them to answer me on a holiday weekend, but I thought I would try. I don’t expect answers at all, to be honest.

So- candidates on MySpace? whatever. Yawn.

Some other media have shown promise. One is Twitter. John Edwards has been a fairly consistent Twitterer over the last few months, and any questions about his “tweets” have been answered– it is Edwards. I actually corresponded with the Senator directly over a blogging question, and that coupled with others’ anecdotes, leave no doubt that he is actually doing his own Twittering. I was impressed. Not so much Barack Obama, whose inaugural tweet, now deleted, about his excitement prior to the first debate, was so obviously not him it was painful and embarrassing. As I commented to someone online that evening, “Four exclamation points does not sound very presidential.” Perhaps his subsequent tweets are authentic, but for me the damage was done.

The biggest surprise? Hillary Clinton’s video contest, where she asked for people to submit entries for her campaign song. It is participatory and fun, even if the topic is less than substantial. The second video, in which she reviews some of the entries, is a scream.
This contest is great for lightening up her image and involving the younger generation of voters– generally an apathetic bunch last seen getting excited in the 1992 election over the boxers vs. briefs question (yes, Bill Clinton was involved).

In the end, it’s not the media but the messages that will sway voters– I hope. The candidates are going to the new media because they see new voters there. In the best cases, like Edwards on Twitter, they see a way to engage with their voters and respond to them. This is why I am interested to see if John McCain gets some traction in social media. He has a great reputation for being responsive to the smallest media requests. Will that translate to the new media? I have seen nothing yet, but I am hopeful.

By the way: on the local level, I am as ever a huge fan of the community blog TheGardenCity.net. One of the reasons is that a number of the city of Newton, Mass.’s aldermen and women participate by posting to the blog and participating in the debates with other citizens. Now this is real political communication using an online social medium.

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BostonNOW– New daily paper talks to little old me…

bostonnow_logo_blue.gifIf you are in the Boston metro area, you have probably heard of the launch in late April of BostonNOW, a free daily paper competing with the Boston Metro. The big difference is that the paper is taking contributions from citizen journalists. In fact, I know my friend and fellow blogorrhea sufferer C.C. Chapman has already had a blog post appear in at least one edition.

I am curious to see how this approach works for the paper, and of course I wish them the best of luck, especially since one of the original hardworking PodCamp volunteers, Sooz, has joined the staff.

Curiously– to me at least, though I have Sooz to thank for thinking of me– one of the staffers at the paper thought I would be a good person to talk to about the presidential candidates’ use of MySpace and other social media tools. I did have some thoughts on the subject, and I will defer to the reporters’ judgment as to whether they were worth including in the story. I will throw up some version of those thoughts in a separate blog post shortly.

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New Podcast: PRobecast #14: Splashcast, PC World, Umbria, Digg and more

This week’s episode 14 of the podcast I help produce, PRobecast from Topaz Partners is up.

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This week’s panel, Tim Allik, Doug Haslam and Rob Capra, discuss:

  1. PR Newswire and Umbria team up to bring blog tracking to wire service customers
  2. PC World‘s editor in chief resigns. Is advertiser influence on editorial to blame?
  3. The Digg community gives Digg a particular PR problem, as they won’t let Digg comply with a cease & desist order regarding the posting of an HD-DVD encryption code.
  4. We discuss a conversation I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Splashcast about their blogger and podcaster relations campaign to deal with concerns arising from their new MyPodcastNetwork service
  5. Bright Side: goes to all the companies at an Arab tourist conference in Egypt that did not showcase mandatory fingerprinting programs
  6. Best wishes to the publishers on the launch of Blogger and Podcaster Magazine
  7. We get Adam Zand’s Kentucky Derby pick in under the wire

Special thanks to Russell Holliman of Podcast Ready and Chip Griffin
of Custom Scoop for topic suggestions this week.
We want your comments!

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML

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Zombie Attack; a new way to tell a story online

ZombieOne of the joys of following Twitter has been following the Zombie Attack storyline. Twitter has actually spawned a new form of storytelling. Well, maybe it’s not completely new- I have no idea– but it’s an ingenious use of the new medium to keep our attention and actually be eager to see what the next message will be.

Zombie Attack follows Matt and Greg, two brothers who one day discover that their world has changed– it has been overtaken by zombies, and the story follows them as they try to make their way to the city and, hopefully, safety.

The creators, Matt McInerny and Greg Spessot, blog here.

In order to spread the word, it appears the two writers just got busy, sending friend requests across the “Twittersphere,” until they accumulated 585 regular followers.

There have been a few other fictional or satirical Twitter posters, some of them brilliantly funny; the best of these is probably Darth Vader.

But none that I have seen is building up a storyline in quite the same way as Zombie attack. Kudos, guys!

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Bringing Social Media to the Masses; or Vice-Versa

To elaborate on something I talked about in the latest PRobecast podcast; heavy social media users are starting to realize that there is so far a finite audience for blogs, podcasts, and other social media, and that the next step is to expand the audience so that it is a mass audience. I guess that would make it a mass of niches, which is perfect.

More importantly, they–we–are talking about it, which I hope will lead to action.

I first noticed that this step was necessary back in September at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. Everyone at the conference was a podcaster or already involved in some way. There was no evangelism that I saw to get bigger audiences involved. We were still too excited about the new medium, and talking about ways to improve our podcasts, share tips and network with like-minded people.

To be sure, some people talked about maturing the medium– growing the audience– I think Leo Laporte probably mentioned it in his live show, but I don’t recall specifically.

One of the ringleaders is Chris Brogan, whom I met last summer as he was helping to organize the first PodCamp in Boston. He wrote an excellent post called “Extending the Conversation,” which pointed to two other posts, by Christopher Penn–another PodCamp founder– and Charlie O’Donnell, who wrought a post on “Top Ten Reasons Why Web 2.0 Sucks.” He encouraged people to go over there and comment, and so do I.

Chris Brogan came back with a post based on feedback, called “5 Ways to Extend the Conversation.” Please read this one too.

The main thing I took out of this is that social media users are ready to act to make blogs, podcasts, etc. into mass use and acceptance. This means going outside of the social media “echo chamber” and bringing people in. If you know a professional blog or have one, bring in your colleagues that don’t blog in addition to the existing community. If you have a blog for the community in which you leave, tell your fellow homeowners/Little League parents/PTO parents about it. Go to real life meetups, Town meetings, the playground, professional networking and tell them about specific blogs or podcasts in which they will be interested.

Go out, and bring ’em back! Tell them to follow links and look at blog rolls. Emphasize that this does not replace your real-life social circles, but extends it and enriches it.

This has worked, to an extent so far, for the Garden City blog of Newton, Ma, started by my friend Chuck Tanowitz and Kristine Munroe. It will work for you too.
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New Podcast Up: PRobecast #13: Military PR, Extending the Conversation, Disclosure on Blogs

Just posted a new episode of PRobecast, the public relations podcast I produce with my colleagues at Topaz partners.

This week’s panel, Adam Zand, Tim Allik, Paul Hughes, Todd Van Hoosear and myself, discuss:

  1. Military PR issues. Topazer and former military public affairs officer Paul Hughes joins us for a perspective on the Pat Tillman story. manufacturing stories or will they come back to bite you?
  2. Audio comment: Bryan Person brings up blog transparency; does a blog without bylines have a disclosure problem? A discussion arose online about the Air Hybrid Blog, which Topaz maintains for Scuderi Group. Kami Huyse also blogged about it, and it became an example of a blog conversation taking a positive turn, with rapid responses and practical changes.
  3. Is Web 2.0 a conversational vacuum? Extending the conversation, with help from Chris Brogan, Christopher Penn, This is going to be BIG! and the Garden City Blog. Yes, Doug brings up Twitter.
  4. Tech Product of the Week: the Barbie MP3 player. Hear me sing Aqua
  5. Stock Pick of the Week: MySpace goes to China. By the way– who was the first big Western rock act to play mainland China?
  6. MySpace again: couple goes to MySpace to adopt a child. I manage to bring up Twitter again.
  7. Barack Obama on Twitter? Jury is out.

We want your comments! (Sen. Obama, ease up on the exclamation points)

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML

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Will Podcasts Kill the Radio Star?

Listening to the latest episode— #177– of Joseph Jaffe’s Across the Sound podcast, I was struck by something he said. He declared– and I paraphrase– that podcasts will take over radio and kill it.

Sound provocative? Yes. Sound absurd? Maybe not. Podcasts have not hit the mainstream yet–only 13% have listened to a podcast according to Edison Research, as apposed to 11% a year ago. How can that compete with the radio listenership of, um, 100%.

So right, maybe Jaffe’s full of shit and trying to shock us.

No, wait. Here’s what this made me think. Humans are repetitive monkeys, fated to repeat ourselves, and with history in mind, we can see what could happen.

Jack BennyThink of the late 1940’s to early 1950’s. How did TV eclipse radio? As soon as the networks saw TV gaining traction, they moved all of their popular shows from the radio networks to TV. All of them. Jack Benny. Burns and Allen. The Lone Ranger. Dragnet. Life of Riley. Abbott and Costello. Amos and Andy.

That is what I think will happen with podcasting. Radio broadcasters need to see the line drawn– where podcasting takes hold in popularity, and radio numbers take a nosedive.

Not surprisingly, NPR is ahead of the curve. Many of their shows are already available as podcasts– and that is how I usually hear the ones I want. Granted, they are still going strong on the radio, but the radio-to-TV migration had years of overlap as well.

It would be very interesting if this is how it turns out– that time-shifting podcasts take root and not merely kill radio, but move it whole sale to a new medium, alongside the great innovators and niche programmers we already have.

*Photo via Flickr from the Rocketeer

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