Archive for Eric Seymour

Are the Facts Being Left Behind?

The latest shift in how we consume information – blogs, online pubs, Twitter, etc. – brings up an interesting question: is the rush for info coming at the expense of facts? Even the Wall Street Journal is having issues with their online content. There are sites that track discrepancies, although they’re few and far between. Regret the Error. FactCheck.org. Accuracy in the Media. Maybe more but who’s heard of them?

These focus mainly on politics, national or global affairs – the big stuff. What about the tech industry? Who’s monitoring and looking out for truth in tech reporting? The responsibility of truth and diligence is of course on the reader. Does the reader have time to really do this?

The overall theory that blogs, forums, Twitter, etc., are all social in nature and in a good position to find errors, correct them and when everyone has finished adding their 2 cents, readers can find the truth in the middle. This theory requires a lot of time and effort on the reader’s part to keep up with the discussion.

I for one feel the traditional media shakeout is creating a vacuum of journalistic principles and the drive to tell the story correctly and accurately. Facts are less important than people’s opinions and getting those opinions to the masses before the next guy. This is great for PR when clips are the key metric – bad for PR when influencing is the key metric.

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Forums are Worth the Time to Monitor

A few years ago I overcame the frustration of sorting through all the junk Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts and other search emails that are billed as making life easier by monitoring the web for me. Like most people, I would wait until the end of the week to sift through it all (who has time to peruse them as they arrive?). At the bottom of most were listings that appeared to be junk, however they really were forum postings.

Since, I’ve paid close attention to these and click them first, by-passing the PC World, InformationWeek, Network World and other assorted ‘client clips’ that show up. Why? Most of my client’s customers / prospects / partners and other targets are hitting the forums with problems, looking for information they need. More often than not, this ‘peer-sourcing’ is the first step in the buying cycle. Take a look: Tom’s Hardware, Windows Seven Forums, PlanetAMD64, TechArena, Overclock, Computers Groupsrv, SQL Blog, NeoWin.net.

Now a staple recommendation for clients, paying attention and interacting with full disclosure, diving into forums has produced great results. We’ve caught customer service issues, competitor weaknesses, several hundred people ready to lay down money for a solution, and on and on.

Keep an eye on ’em and you might just find an open door to influence your target audience directly. Helpful, educational and friendly is the key – check the sales / marketing mumbo jumbo at the door or the forum admin will kick you right out.

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If Words Matter, Why is the Media ‘Dying’?

Maybe words don’t matter anymore – best of breed, revolutionary, turnkey, next generation – surely if they meant anything, journalists wouldn’t cringe when they hear these words. The journalist credo is: tell the truth so everyone can understand it. A little poetic license here, but the sentiment remains.

So when the media report on themselves, you’d think they would pay attention to words. Not so! Today’s instrumental PR tool, Twitter’s themediaisdying, is claiming a new death every hour or so. Really?? Aren’t these unfortunate journalists caught up in layoffs and closures really moving on to change the landscape of media rather than never being heard from again? Look at the genocide taking place:

themediaisdying

Maybe it should be themediaisevolving – new bloggers, podcasters, content producers, *gasp* even turning to the dark side as self-proclaimed PR flacks. Words aside, it’s more important than ever to keep track of where these highly skilled wordsmiths resurface – our clients depend on us for it.

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Don’t Want to Talk? That’s a Mistake.

If you have something cool, you should let people see / touch / hear / interact with it. Everyone in your company is working their butt off to create a widget better than all the other widgets out there – and everyone in the company is fired up about it (or they should be). If you have IT and know it, you should TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. Compare to what’s out there. Defend your blue widget’s superiority over the green one. Criticism is not bad. Yes, there is fact in ‘bad press’ however that’s why you have (or should have) a PR team.

Great sentiment on this oh so common PR rant from Bad Pitch Blogger:

Don’t worry about the competitors-anyone and everyone should know you did a good job. Scare the crap out of them too. Everyone talks about competitive advantage and losing market share; in this case you are the first mover and I hope the best one. Let them try and copy you; no one will be better. It’s up to you to be resolute. Pump your chest out and stand behind your evolving, beautiful thing!

Full disclosure: I took this quote out of context and used it for my own selfish purposes. Laermer’s intent for penning this piece of good advice was originally focused on his own belief that the ‘Launch Campaign’ is extinct (you’ll have to read the whole post for the rest).

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Revealing (not pushing) an Agenda to the Media

A good PR person views themselves as the eyes and ears of the media – not a salesperson. We exist to help the media do their job better. We’re granted access to the most sensitive views and positions of a company, as well as research, technology and often customer experiences from our clients – a privilege for sure. Our position is coveted by journalists whose job depends on getting access to this very information. And they work really hard to get it on their own! When we share what we know rather than ramming it down a journalist’s throat, clients get the opportunity for ink.

Case and point from our client Exigen Services. These guys have a vision to transform the application outsourcing industry (and they really do have something special). Unfortunately, every journalist in the space has heard this story before and is rightfully jaded. Our approach? Share what we know and help the journalist find a new angle to an old story.

InformationWeek listened (scroll down to read customer comments). ZDNet’s IT Project Failure’s blogger listened. TechTarget’s SearchSoftwareQuality.com and SearchCIO.com both listened seperately. SoftwareProjects.com blogger videod (and posted to YouTube.com). Financial Times’ magazine, Direct Foreign Investment listened. Financial Services Outsourcing asked Exigen Services to explain it (so did Bank Systems & Technology). Projects @ Work thought the company was on to something. IT Business Edge thought they had one, an ‘edge’ that is.

We’re not done helping journalists see the industry through Exigen Services’ eyes, however if Inc Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America is any indication that Exigen does have something special, we’re living up to our end of the PR / journalist relationship.

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Conversing, not Pitching, Leads to Ink Today

Journalists are being bitten by the economy more than most other markets and if you’ve tried to get them to write about your company recently, you know this first hand. PC Magazine is no different. When NCP engineering asked us to get ink with this heavy weight pub for their Windows 7 VPN client launch, we went right to work. Our strategy? Talk with the writer on his own terms and translate a ‘pitch’ to a ‘conversation’.

With PC Magazine’s Forward Thinking blogger, Michael Miller, in our sights, we went to work. Miller is active in PC help forums so we started there. Like the rest of the software media, Miller was focused on Windows 7 so we identified key forums he’d be likely to show up in. And when we did, we started the conversation about NCP. The moniker you see, VPN Haus, is our blog for NCP. Having a real conversation with a journalist requires transparency. The seed was planted: NCP offered a VPN client for the beta Windows 7. Next, we saw he wrote about the topic on his blog, and so we commented there as well.

By addressing Miller on his own terms we had managed to introduce our client, their product and a key message or two. Now we were confident that a traditional email pitch would not only get read, it would also jog his memory of the forum post and blog comment. We were in! Miller responded to our email and requested the product to test. Success!

We’ll update this post with the PC Magazine ink our ‘conversation’ style generated for NCP’s product.

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