Tomorrow's Public Relations

Post ImageHere are some notes on the public relations session hosted by Steve Rubel, and Chris Sloop:

  • Steve: I’m a confessed flack.
  • WeatherBug is one of his clients, and he’s using it as an example during the talk. They used to bundle Gator (adware) and so now they have a big image problem that they are attempting to address through blogging.

What will blogs do to PR?

  • Jack Welch: He says the secret sauce of success in business is candor. “We are socialized from childhood to soften bad news or make nice about awkward subjects.”
  • Steve: “Blogging is PR with candor.”

Here are the WeatherBug announcements being made by Chris during this session:

  • WeatherBug API: http://api.weatherbug.com
  • WeatherBug RSS: Available to the public in July.
  • WeatherBug Mac OS X: A public beta will be shipping in July.

Darren Barefoot just made a good point that this session has simply been a product pitch for WeatherBug. Steve’s response was that he wanted to show what he did and what he accomplished, rather than just get up and talk about new public relations. In this case, I tend to agree with Darren. I think Steve could have delivered a successful talk without all the free marketing for WeatherBug.

Read: Gnomedex

Julie Leung's session at Gnomedex

Post ImageI think I know why people like Julie’s talk so much. Unlike most speakers, Julie tells a story more than she does just talk. And she does so in such a way that it is very compelling! As she talks, she shows a slideshow of images up on the screen. The photos have very interesting perspectives and subjects – some are of family, some are landscapes, and others are closeups of objects. The images serve to provide humor in some places, and reinforcement in others. Above all, Julie is an excellent speaker. She knows just where to insert the pauses, or place the emphasis.

Julie talked about blogging and some of the social concerns you might have. For example, Julie posts a lot about her family, but she has chosen not to post pictures of her children’s faces (and thus, Gnomedexers are asked to follow this rule). She has an entire theory about blogging, and how it can be socially beneficial. Here are some of the things I picked up:

  • Bloggers generally do not practice narcissim, but rather create opportunities for the sharing of ideas.
  • It’s okay to post something private or personal, because by doing so you can educate and encourage others. The example she gave was how she posted about her brother passing away.
  • Julie says its about the chronicle. Writing the story so that it can be remembered and shared. Humans enjoy stories from a very early age, and have been creating the chronicle for centuries.
  • Blogging can help us find out who we are and what we’re meant to do.
  • “If you’re willing to make what’s private public, you can plant the seeds of new ideas.”

I really enjoyed Julie’s session; it was definitely as good as people made it out to be (she delivered a very similar talk at Northern Voice in February). If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend attending Julie’s session.

Read: Gnomedex

Technorati Beta

Post ImageAs Steve Rubel noted, Technorati has rolled out a new public beta of their site “that’s aimed at attracting those who are not quite as familiar with blogging as some of the rest of us.” The site maintains all of the features currently available, like tags and watchlists, and adds a bunch more like improved personalization, the ability to view watchlists on the web, and more third-party tag content.

I have to admit, I rather like the new design. It definitely looks more user friendly, and does indeed do a better job of explaining just what the heck Technorati is. I don’t recall seeing the Technorati blog before, which is a really nice addition to the site. Of course green being my favorite color probably means that I am somewhat partial to the new site already 🙂

So far, searching appears to be faster too. One of my biggest complaints with Technorati right now is that a search seems to take forever to load. In the new beta though, not only does searching seem faster, but more content appears to be loaded too, like images from Flickr.

For those of you new to Technorati, it’s a great way to check out what bloggers are posting. Take a look at the new beta, and see what you think!

Read: Technorati Beta

Huffington Post Update

When I last wrote about the Huffington Post, I expressed that it seemed like a very cool experiment. It has now been just over a week since the site launched, and I thought it would be good to take another look.

I’ve been subscribed ever since it started, and let me tell you, there’s never a shortage of content. There are always new items popping up in my aggregator, so I rather like that. There are a few things I don’t like about the feed however:

  • On the newswire posts, you have to click through to the website to get the link to the story. Major pain! Link to the story from within the post please!
  • The posts come down into my aggregator with the Author name, so including that name again before the content of the post seems redundant. Might be required for online aggregators though?
  • I subscribe to the raw feed, so I get blog posts and news items. It would be nice if they appeared different somehow.

I suppose I haven’t really decided whether or not I like the content. I have found a few interesting posts, but I find you have to dig a bit. I’m not the only one with comments on the site though! Larry Borsato notes:

Let’s face it though, the Huffington Post isn’t much of a blog; they don’t have comments or trackbacks, so they aren’t really trying to engage in a conversation. They have a user agreement, and they are protectionist about copyright, though they do acknowledge fair use (since they expect to use the content of others). It’s more like a celebrities-only op-ed page, and the don’t accept letters from readers.

Good point. Blogging is all about the conversation, and it’s a shame that the Huffington Post is doing such a good job of stifling that. The problem is noted on the Neo Warmonger blog too.

Actually most of the comments I have seen so far have been negative. But I suppose we’re still talking about the site, and that’s all Arianna and her friends can ask for. How does the saying go? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Is there a similar saying for parody? Check out Huffington’s Toast. Ah that made me laugh 🙂

Read: Huffington Post

Blogs are Advertising in BC?

Darren Barefoot reports that Elections BC has decided that blogs are simply campaign advertising:

“Under the Election Act, it will fall within the definition of election advertising, and we would ask them to register,” says Jennifer Miller, of Elections B.C.

Miller says the volume of sites is overwhelming, and doesn’t rule out asking for a change to the Election Act. “If we feel certain parts of the act can be amended to make it more effective and efficient, we will definitely make that recommendation,” she says.

I tend to agree with Darren – “Where does editorial become advertorial?” I think the decision to require blogs to be registered as advertising is unwise. Who’s to say that a newspaper editorial is not actually advertising in disguise? I hope this doesn’t set any sort of precedent.

Read: Darren Barefoot

A definition of blogs

So often when someone attempts to explain blogging, they end up making it more complex than it actually is. I know I have been guilty of this. So it’s refreshing to see such a succinct definition from Jeff Jarvis:

Blogs are the voices of citizens in conversation.

I love it! It really is all about the conversation, so this definition is spot on. That’s why blogs are so powerful – they are extremely conducive to having a conversation.

Read: BuzzMachine

BlogPulse Upgraded

One of my favorite tools for looking at blog conversations is BlogPulse. They announced today that they just finished an upgrade, and the new version has “faster, cooler features and more than 9.3 million blogs identified.” That’s a lot of information to track! BlogPulse is faster too – “in the last 24 hours, it analyzed data from 301,320 blog posts. In that same time frame, BlogPulse discovered 38,817 new blogs.”

Some of the new features include 6 months of data instead of 60 days (shown in the above graph), easier access to data visualization, and improved link searching. Their Conversation Tracker is a nifty little tool too. Check it out!

Why the NHL should be blogging

I was thinking recently about the NHL and the problem it faces as a result of cancelling the 2004-2005 hockey season. People have stated that the league’s failure to come to an agreement with the players is just the beginning of the end for professional hockey. Hockey as a product will struggle even more if it returns next season than it has already. And it fascinates me to read about the countless hours both sides waste in their negotiating. Most recently, the NHL made two offers to the players who promptly responded that they were not impressed. How long has this been going on now? Do you even remember what hockey is? How can we get both sides to come to an agreement? And how can the NHL save hockey?

The NHL should start a blog. And I don’t mean marketing crap in the form of a blog, but an actual blog with posts written by people involved in the running of the league and in the negotiations with the NHLPA. The league has in the past been anything but open and transparent. Closed door meetings, “no comment” answers, secret phone calls, the works. As a result, their customers (that’s you, the fan) have grown to ignore and ridicule the league almost as much as the greedy players. And if their lack of transparency keeps up, their customers will only become more indifferent. How can you re-launch a product when your customers just don’t give a damn about it?

If the NHL were blogging, I think they’d see a number of benefits:

  • Communication with their customers!
    What’s the best way to keep your customers interested as you try to improve your product and prepare it for consumption? Find out what your customers think. Involve them in the process, and let them guide you. And not just customers, but partners too!
  • An improved public image!
    Who would look more like the bad guy after a round of negotiations goes nowhere? The NHLPA who is closed, private, and bureaucratic, or the NHL who carries on an open dialogue on their blog? Clearly, the respect and admiration the NHL would gain from blogging would give them the upper hand in negotiations with the players. Not only that, but the NHL would be seen as a forward thinking organization, cutting edge even.
  • Education and understanding
    Just as going into the locker room between periods gives you greater insight into how a team is feeling and thinking, an NHL blog would give fans better insight into the stresses the league apparently faces. Another example is Microsoft’s Channel9 – readers have the ability to learn why Microsoft makes certain decisions and what’s coming down the pipe. The NHL currently lacks such educational capabilities.
  • Eye opening experience
    Perhaps by starting their own blog, the NHL would be interested in reading other blogs and would start keeping track of what is being said about hockey and the league by the fans. The big thing here is learning to listen. Hockey is a product that does not change to reflect customer wants and desires, and there is no reason for that. Want to impress your customers with a re-launch? Find out what they want first.

I am sure there are many more benefits as well, but those listed above came immediately to mind. The cost of getting involved in blogging is almost zero, and the return on investment is incredible. I think everyone would benefit if the NHL started blogging – the league itself, the players, and most importantly, the fans.

If I were the NHL, I’d be franticly looking for ways to “save hockey” and make it a viable product again. So if you’re reading this NHL, start a blog!