Sunday, September 25, 2005

Constantin

Hats off to Constantin Basturea, producer and organizer of Global PR Blog Week. He pulled off this multi-country/multi-personality event again, while ably dealing with a lot of backstage drama. No surprise; he's a master gardener of his wikis, and no one else quite compares.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wanna Wiki?

Want to learn and share best practices in collaboration and new media? Think you've got what it takes, or just simply curious to learn how a wiki works? We're inviting leaders in the business, non-profit, and government community to take part in a small experiment on the eastwiki (powered by Socialtext) -- a project we are calling "groupbytes." For background on this project, go to the Global PR Blog Week site where we are presenting a paper today. If you want to sign up, send me an email at giovanni at eastwick dot com.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Global PR Blog Week 2.0

Worth checking out. This is an annual event (now in its 2.0 edition :)), featuring online conversations about new media with PR folks all over the world. Several dozen bloggers are contributing articles for discussion (I am one of them), on a wide range of topics. Some very smart stuff was posted today, the first day of the conference. Among my favorites: Elizabeth's Albrycht's piece, "Blogs: Foundational Tools for Network Building." Very close to the topic I'm presenting. Networked minds think alike.

Business Week on the New Web

Wonderful special issue coming next week, with articles on the leaders of the new Web, Ajax, tagging (why markerters love it), the power of participatory sites (with very cool snapshots of companies like Pandora and Postsecret), and blogging in education (a new interest of ours). Main story quotes Ross Mayfield, CEO at Socialtext, an Eastwick partner and client:

"'The Web isn't so much a place anymore', explains Ross Mayfield, CEO of Palo Alto (Calif.)-based startup Socialtext Inc., which offers services to create collaborative Web sites called wikis. It's more of a doorway into services, from the user-written reference site Wikipedia to the community organizing service Meetup to the folksy classifieds site Craigslist. As Mayfield noted in a recent blog post, 'They Google (GOOG ), Flickr, blog, contribute to Wikipedia, Socialtext it, Meetup, post, subscribe, feed, annotate, and above all share. In other words, the Web is increasingly less about places and other nouns, but verbs.'"

New Social Media Tool

This is worth watching ... especially if you like Flickr. Software sits on your desktop and enables you to easily create and edit loops of images that travel across the screens of anyone in your "loop." You can also search the network for other loops. Intriguing prospects for marketing. Not available yet, but soon in beta (you can put yourself on the waiting list). Company was co-founded by Prescott Lee, formerly of eCircles (which went to Classmates).

Sunday, September 18, 2005

But She Wanted to Write "Flak Like Me"

Check out the New York Times Book Review on Barbara Ehrenreich's ("Nickle and Dimed") latest effort, "Bait & Switch," where the author again goes undercover, but this time in the white-collar world looking for a job in, yes, public relations (which she memorably calls "journalism's evil twin"). With serious gaps in her "resume," she never gets there (listen up, Ross). But she finds enough material along the way to skewer the people she hired to help her -- career coaches, motivational counselors and other denizens of a cottage industry that has emerged to serve (or exploit, depending on your point of view) the needs of professionals in transition. And she doesn't have much sympathy for her fellow job-seekers either. As the Times reviewer points out, for people who like Ehrenreich's work, this has to make for a different kind of reading experience. The people with whom she spent her sad, exhausting, soul-deadening days became the objects of her contempt. In the meantime, the number of critics for this brand of journalism -- the memoir's evil twin -- continues to grow.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Big N Widens

It was a quiet, thoughtful entrance into the blogosphere, and from our perspective it was done perfectly. Novell, a company that has fully committed itself to being all things open, has launched a blog run and managed by the PR team. That the PR staffers are the primary authors is a strong message that they aim to be open in their comms as well. I recently met Bruce Lowry, the Novell PR chief, at a small blogger dinner organized by another company that has made a commitment to open source (IBM). For Novell, says Bruce, the commitment extends to the tools they use, including the blogging software.

PR University -- Continued

Interesting day yesterday at the SF Hilton and Towers. Big stars of the event were Craig Newmark of craigslist, and a panel of podcasters who made a pretty persuasive case for the technology, particularly it's easy-of-use. Craig's best line was a set-up: "I apologize for not being amusing enough," after paraphrasing Oscar Wilde earlier in the bit, "if you want to tell the truth, make them laugh, because otherwise they will kill you." The audience didn't kill Craig for telling the truth (i.e., that PR will undergo a transformation). In fact, a few lined up for photos, which Craig willingly obliged, though no one seems to have flickr'd. Afterwards, we retired to the hotel lounge where we grilled speaker/podcaster/one-man-brand Eric Rice on a whole bunch of issues, and the man debated so admirably -- with a table of semi-jaded PR pros -- we were in awe.

Friday, September 16, 2005

PR U

I'm speaking today at a couple of panels at Bulldog Reporter's PR University at the Hilton & Towers in San Francisco. Topic: new media, and I'm planning to introduce -- for the second time this week -- an idea we've been brewing throughout the summer at Eastwick: that the endgame of new media is collaboration, and that in the next year we will see a number of interesting experiments in community building using lightweight new-media tools. That will place a significant premium on hard knowledge of the social rules that are taking hold on Internet communities. We've submitted a short article on this subject to Global PR Blog Week and will launch a wiki next week to begin developing and vetting those rules with the PR and greater business communities. In the meantime, here are twelve rules we are submitting for review:

Twelve: be inclusive

Eleven: be open

Ten: Be purposeful with your technology

Nine: Focus on values, not selling

Eight: Don’t be groupwise/self-foolish

Seven: Leverage the wisdom of crowds

Six: Wag the “long tail”

Five: Use community to build consensus

Four: integrate the offline community into the technology. We’re calling this the Reeses principle (80’s commercial: “your peanut butter is in my chocolate … your chocolate is in my peanut butter)”

Three: integrate the technology into the offline community (the Reeses principle, part II)

Two: replicate the entire ideal social structure online … if you can

One: Because we are playing in a social world, aim for the big social causes

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

MIA on Monday

Well, we couldn't believe the news yesterday about Skype -- it was one of the most game-changing events of the year. Red Herring says that telcos should be worried. In the meantime, it's yet another victory for convergence (and the Internet giants that are moving into so many adjacent markets).

Other news yesterday (we were too busy to blog): Oracle's acquisition of Siebel, and a new CEO at Business Objects, a long-time Eastwick client. We've worked with this great company from the time it was a solid-but-young market leader, through its transformation into a billion dollar brand. We are looking forward to the next challenges for BOBJ.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wiki Beats the News (For Many)

Check out this article on the Reuters wire, posting some impressive stats on the rise of Wikipedia as a news source (quoted material below). How do they do it? We think there are a number of things at play here, including trust. Wikipedia has become a compelling alternative for many folks who use the Internet to find the best and most recent information on a particular topic. And Wikipedia's strict adherence to the "neutral point of view" sounds like an ideal that journalism has often tried to embrace but has given up on either because it does not make for interesting copy or simply because it doesn't sell. Might not work for news orgs, but it certainly appears to be working for Wikipedia.

Wikipedia recently attracted 22.3 percent of users searching for information on "Gaza Strip," tying the CIA World Factbook (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/). It has drawn five times more U.S. traffic than Google News, Yahoo News or BBC, according to Hitwise analyst Bill Tancer.

Similarly, in April, Wikipedia tied with CNN.com as the No. 2 most visited site among U.S. Web users searching for details on the new Pope Benedict. Newadvent.org, a Catholic encyclopedia, was the most visited site among people seeking to learn more about Joseph Ratzinger, according to Hitwise data.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mr. Chief Justice

For those of you who know me personally -- or at least enough about my resume -- at one time I was a theater person. And at another time, I was a marketing person for law firms. Those two odd bullet points on my CV got me invited to make a pitch for promoting one of Stanford University's most interesting events in the late 1990's: the public acknowledgement/thank-you to the Crown family, for making a spectacular gift to the Stanford Law School. It was a big moment for the University and the law school, which boasts a great number of celebrity alumni. I won the job through a combination of ideas and connections -- how else does anyone find work -- and I got my first, and last experience, working with the two alums that made the event a great success: Justice (now retired) Sandra Day O'Connor, and, as I was instructed to say by the protocol police, "Mr. Chief Justice Rehnquist."

For those of you who know me personally -- or at least enough about my resume -- you will know that this was a funny moment for me, for my personal politics counter to the two justices. But it was one of my favorite experiences as a communications professional, and I thoroughly enjoyed my short brush with the Supremes (confession: Sandra was by far the tougher of the two). Turns out that the Chief and I had one thing in common: a love for theater. In fact, the robe he wore at all official court appearances was designed after a costume he admired from a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe. That theater was his love also helped with the overall concept for the Stanford event, the retrial of Lizzie Borden (I was the producer and writer, not PR person), in which both justices played the part of the original bench, and the audience played the part of the jury (Ms. Borden was acquitted again). At the end of it all, backstage, Mr. Rehnquist lifted a glass to the crew ... and nodded. It was a gentle gesture, and one that captured the essence of a gentle man, whose differences with his many collaborators that evening were bridged for a short but memorable moment.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New World/Old World -- It Will All Be the Same

An idea we've been batting around at Eastwick has gotten a bit of attention in the last few days. Simply put: the success of online social experiments will force vendors to apply what they've learned to the offline world. First we got Google maps -- the satellite edition, which literally enables Google to crawl the earth (we've always wondered if this was, in part, a PR move, signalling the direction for this company in a most surprising way). And now we're hearing about tech companies that are helping parents to locate and monitor their teens. And, as Jupiter's Gary Stein writes in his blog, Google is beginning to experiment with ways to apply its ad-serving technology -- the financial engine of its incredible growth -- to the print world. And why not? The print-ad market is much larger than the world that Google serves, and Google needs to grow.

We have our own take on what's happening here, and we will discuss it at length this Fall, here, here, here, and here (yes, we are trying our best to get the word out). In the meantime, we'd like to float this idea: the success of the great social experiments in the new, online world (and they are, in fact, social experiments) is beginning to pay off in exports to the old world. This new world/old world analogy came to us this yesterday; we credit the semi-patriotic, bittersweet mood (homage to a more progressive, but difficult, era) that always seems to dominate this weekend.

Happy Labor Day. See you back in the old world, tomorow.

Killer Quote

Did Steve Ballmer threaten to "kill Google" when a prized MSFT employee announced he was defecting to the Googleplex? It's not the most interesting allegation in a recently filed court document. The story is running pretty much everywhere (yes, on Google and MSN) but in many places it's been sanitized for a PG rating. See how it broke raw a couple of days ago on John Battelle's search blog.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Federate-It

While we are on the subject of the long tail, check out The San Jose Mercury News's spread on John Battelle today. Three articles on the entrepreneur-wonk-journalist-impressario who is prepping for the release of his new book about the search market.... Battelle, as always, is keeping himself impossibly busy. In addition to the book, a widely-read search blog, and the Web 2.0 conference (co-producer), John is launching a new company this Fall, FM (Federated Media -- check out the "pre-alpha" site), that promises a new and better way to enable independent writers to publish and make money on the Web. We like the word "federated" -- it calls to mind how the word in being used to describe the Deep Web, like here (Groxis = client) -- and we are very interested to see how this particular business idea plays out. There's a very long tail indeed in the world of independent journalism/publishing, and this is perhaps one of the most groupwise ways of wagging that tail.

Leslie Moonves's Long Tale

See Lynn Herschberg's profile of Leslie Moonves in this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine. The CBS chief aims to keep ratings up (CBS is now #1) by continuing to develop shows with mass appeal, versus niche shows that can only (but nicely) survive on cable. Reading this article, you get the feeling that Moonves has no choice but to flout the "long tail" (the idea, first advanced by Chris Anderson at Wired, that new distribution channels enable vendors to sell more niche inventory to better defined and segmented audiences) and instead focus on the mass-market hit: that's the nature of the game at the networks. The right tools, for the right task .... But we betcha anything that the folks at Viacom, the CBS corporate parent, are taking more of the, ahem, long view. After all, the CBS mass audience is just another audience (albeit still a huge one).