Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where the money goes in communications

To profit in a war, you have to be an arms provider. To profit in the communications age, you have to be a carrier.

My family spends over $400 a month on communications: cell phones, high-speed Internet, cable television and a landline. Except for the last item on that list, twenty-five years ago these technologies were not available in the available in the average American home.

So here is my question. Clearly, twenty-five years ago we were able to live without some of these technologies. If you were unemployed, what would you give up first? And what would be the last thing you held onto to secure some semblance to your former life. I watch unemployed friends make these decisions on an all too frequent basis.

It's not like food or rent, which you need. But for most of us, it's the toys that define who we are. In this case, it's the toys the define how we talk to the world. Where do you severe the lines of communication?

Just curious.

In case you are wondering, I am hanging onto the toys. But periodically, I like to take inventory of the clutter and ditch the debris.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Forbes (and me): Privacy dies by 2020

Forbes reporter Quentin Hardy recently knocked off a post on how technology will change the next decade. As I get older, I tend to disbelieve these crystal ball columns. Most of them are flat out wrong. Pundits think the future will look a lot like today because that's all we have to predict the future. But, technology moves in strange ways.

For example, ten years ago it would have been almost impossible to predict Apple cold deliver a device smartphone would put 32 gigs of computing storage in my pocket--and make international phone calls. Oh yeah, and it can manage my music collection. Search was limited to AOL. Google wasn't the new kid on the block; it was a complete unknown to most tech folks. Now, Google dominates the tech world the way Microsoft once did. But, as computing moves off the desktop and into our palms, even Google is searching for a way to control the mobile market.

The rise in Social Media has made us better connected. Facebook, now with 350 million users, a population greater than the United States, has stretched the meaning of friendship, expanding it to mean people you sort of know now and people junior high school chums you used to know real well. No one could have predicted Facebook 10 years ago or even it's current popularity five years ago.

Which brings us to the prediction Hardy has spot on: privacy is dead. Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to kill, and he has a lot of help from us. I willing log onto Facebook and Twitter, leaving breadcrumbs about my life for anyone to see. Because the Internet makes us more connected, it also makes use more exposed.

In a way, it's a return to life before mobility was introduced, say a couple of hundred years ago when people didn't leave their towns and everyone knew everything about everyone else.
From capitalist perspective, this connectedness and lack of privacy begs the question: how is business going to capitalize on all this information? From a practical stand point, would you want your mother-in-law to follow you on Facebook?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The analyst relations carousel

Most PR people do, have done or will do some analyst relations. It's part of the influencer mix. Gartner is on a buying spree. In the past five years, Meta, AMR, Burton and Giga have been swallowed up, to name a few. Clearly, Gartner remains at the top of the must influence list. But how do you tier out firms now? Will consolidation make analyst relations easier, because there is only one firm to brief? Will consolidation weaken the influence of the analyst community?

How can you trust the independence of Gartner when the biggest clients influence the research agenda?

On thing is true, Gartner has certainly made it easier to purchase analyst research. Of course, moving all of that information under one roof means that companies really do need a Gartner analyst seat.

Let's call it influencer relations

I was looking at a marketing resume the other day and there, nestled among the traditional marketing duties, I saw "influencer relations." Apparently, those duties included working with industry analyst, traditional media and independent consultants, the latter I assume to be bloggers or other social media influencers.

Influencer relations -- I think that hits the nail squarely on the head. In the minds of many, public relations is media relations, but PR has changed so much in the past year. Even looking at traditional PR offerings, most PR shops provide analyst relations, either as an additional module or in some cases built into the PR plan.

All PR shops now include blogger relations as part of their core media relations strategy, especially as many publications run their own blogs. Much of the rest of the social media bucket seems to fall to public relations pros, although that varies depending on a company's goal.

Public relations is evolving because technology has changed the job responsibilities. Most successful working PR professionals realize it's no longer about the old PR -- media relations -- it's now about reaching the influencer. If that's the case, let's just call it influencer relations.
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