Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Blog - Whiteboard Digital

I've closed the book on Washington D.C. PR Pros.

Head over to my new blog, Whiteboard Digital

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Internet: TV Guide Edition

Window shopping isn’t easy on video sharing sites like Youtube. If you’ve ever attempted to browse around without a specific keyword then you know what I mean. The search and sort features generally aren’t that great, and what boils to the surface tends to be irrelevant no matter how you structure the search terms. It’s easy to be discouraged, especially if you’re looking for examples of a video content strategy for a client.

I’ve waded through the cesspools of the online video underbelly to bring you fantastic examples of how organizations are using episodic video in compelling and interesting ways. These examples range from channels on Youtube to full fledged video libraries like Fora.TV and SnagFilms. Some are of these examples are oriented around a specific organization, some are purely educational, perhaps a few will even make you wonder why you still own a TV.


This is an incredible collection of some of the world’s top thinkers and scientists. Similar to the uber-popular TED Talks, Fora.TV brings together brilliant minds for discussions on current events, science, business and culture. With a wealth a content, visitors could spend all day combing through the different categories. The My Fora.TV section is an excellent example of how organizations can use co-creation to engage with users. This section allows users to upload their own content, splice it together with Fora’s footage, and produce a brand new program. Genius.



Google has a reputation for snagging incredible speakers to come talk to their employees and now you have a front row seat for every presenter that’s ever graced the halls of the Googleplex. There’s over 400 episodes in all. Some notable guests include Noam Chomsky, Richard Florida, Salmon Rushdie, Condoleezza Rice and Bob Woodward.

Worldbank Channel

World Bank Youtube Channel

The official Youtube channel for the Worldbank. With nearly 20,000 views and 100 videos, this NGO is doing it right with online video. It’s not all boilerplate and CEO interviews. There’s video aggregated from all over world. The most recent video is from Here Comes Everybody author Clay Shirky. Very interesting stuff and proof that large organizations can overcome the common barriers to producing compelling video.



Youtube channel for the Museum of Modern Art. A video content strategy probably wasn’t part of the plan during the founding of the museum in 1929, but like many organizations, they’ve evolved. Each video generally represents a new exhibit or project.


In the “why do I own a TV" category, Hulu aggregates free episodes available from the major network and cable stations into one, organized home. While one no organization is likely to have a treasure chest of video content like Hulu, brands looking for a video content strategy would be well advised to emulate the layout, categories, and search that make using Hulu a breeze.

Citizen Tube

Citizen Tube

A meeting ground for interviews and discussions focused on politics and the general election. With over 1.8 million views, this represents a legitimate forum of discussion and one of Youtube’s most subscribed channels. With a steady flow of fresh content, Citizen Tube is also proof that post frequency is a contributing factor to building and maintaining a large number of subscribers.



This is the brand new home for more than 250 full length documentaries from all over the world. Top documentaries like Super Size Me live alongside obscure independent gems, making this site an instant favorite among film and documentary buffs.

The real beauty in SnagFilms lies not in the free content but in the way users are encouraged to share the films. Each movie comes with an individual widget that allows users to post the full length movie in their entirety. on their own site. “When you embed a widget on your web site,” Snagg Films explains, “you open a virtual movie theater and become a ‘Filmanthropist’”

I’m going to stop here rather attempting to boil the ocean by providing every example of great video content online. Instead, I’m going to turn it over to you. What’s your favorite place for video content? Post a link in the comments section and if enough readers submit we’ll expand the list for a round two edition...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

John McCain is Aware of the Internet

That was the line from campaign staffer Mark Soohoo at a June panel, “Personal Democracy Forum”. Aides like Soohoo have the unenviable job of touting McCain’s ability to stay relevant as technology progresses at a break neck pace.

Earlier this summer, McCain admitted to not being able to use a computer at all, citing his wife as the conduit between himself the newfangled typing machine. [1:19]

This is the latest in a series of jaw dropping remarks made by some of the most powerful men in America.

The Washington Post’s report from earlier this week on the exchange between lawmakers and executives from Yahoo! and Google would have been funny if the implications for online privacy so weren't so serious:

At the end of a two-hour Senate committee hearing yesterday on Internet advertising and privacy, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who led the discussion, said the affair had chiefly served to emphasize "how little we do understand."

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), remarked wryly that because of all the talk about "cookies" and other Web terms, he was going to have to "update my dictionary."

And Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked a question about Internet connections so muddled that apparently no one understood.

"I think I'm not entirely sure of what you are suggesting, senator," the witness answered.

"Nor am I," he said.

It’s 2008, how can we expect a candidate who doesn't use email to understand the basis of net neutrality, or online privacy?

How about the safety of children online. Passing COPPA is a great first step but these issues still aren’t going away. Case in point: watch the first five minutes of MSNBC’s To Catch a Predator (and only the first five minutes or your head will explode). Where do all of those criminal conversations first take place?

How can we asses a candidate’s ability to lead us well into the 21st century without asking these questions? If elected will McCain's team haul in a complex network of fax machines into the White House?

I have more on this political luddite riff but I've run out of steam. More to come....

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Practicals: Planning a Complete Social Media Strategy

(cross posted from 360 Digital Influence)

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with social media. Giving birth to a digital engagement strategy that’s aligned to an overall communications goal while employing the right digital tactics can be, well, tricky. What if internal decision makers are reluctant to incorporate social media into the equation? How do you know which tools are appropriate? How in the world are we going to measure all of this?

If you’ve tried clearing these hurdles before then you’re not alone; we had over 500 participants join us last week for a live social media presentation – a great sign that public relations professionals are reacting to the changing landscape and eager for ways to incorporate social media into existing communications programs.

In an effort to answer some of these common questions, 360° Digital Influence, in partnership with BurrellesLuce, recently hosted a free webinar titled The Practicals: Planning a Complete Social Media Strategy. My colleague, Brian Giesen, and I covered how organizations can create strategies that go beyond just the tactics. We walked through the process we undertake as we build a digital engagement strategy to accomplish a variety of communications objectives, from building brand ambassadors to selling products. If you missed out on the live show, head over to BurrellesLuce for a full replay.

In addition to strategy, we also offered up a few of the tools we use everyday in 360 Digital Influence to monitor conversations online. If you’re new to social media and are looking for ways to jump in, be sure to check out the last section where we go through the steps you can take to get started today.

I caught up with Gail Nelson, Senior Vice President at Burrelles for her thoughts on the presentation “For PR professionals operating in today’s changing communication environment, knowledge truly is power. The webinar conducted by Brian and John on social media planning attracted the largest attendance of any of our webinars to date.”

The Practicals: Planning a Complete Social Media Strategy was the first in a two part series that Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence will be presenting. The next presentation, The Practicals, Executing and Measuring a Social Media Program, will be air live on July 23. Visit BurrellesLuce to register and reserve a spot. Until then, head over to our feeds section for the Essential 15 Pack – a collection of our 15 must-have feeds for anyone in marketing or communications.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Social Media Lunch Break

Looking for the latest and greatest ways to monitor conversations online? Want to check out some of the social media tools we use in Ogilvy's 360 Digital Influence group? Then you should register for tomorrow's (free) BurrellesLuce Webinar: Planning a Complete Social Media Strategy.

My colleague Brian Giesen and I will be presenting an hour-long look at the ways public relations pros can integrate social media into new or existing communications programs.

We'll talk about the strategy and run through some real world case studies showcasing the ways you can bring a digital perspective into the equation.

It's tomorrow from 1-2pm EST. Log on for the full presentation and we'll be fielding questions via chat throughout.

Lunch meeting you just can't get out of? It's cool, they'll post the full presentation at the conclusion for anyone who missed it. [I'll link to it here as well]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Annoying Websites: Gigantic Stick Edition

Here’s a quick question you can ask yourself when reviewing your own web site to see if you’re driving your visitors crazy: “does my site feature content that’s attached to a gigantic stick?” If so, all of your readers hate you.

A long time ago, way back in the ‘80s, librarians attached newspapers to wooden rods, presumably so that patrons wouldn’t fold up the Wall Street Journal and walk out. The newspaper section was a rare area in the local library where items weren’t supposed to be checked out. You had to sit right where you were and read the paper. There may also have been a functional reason, like keeping the pages neatly folded, but theft was definitely in the equation.

Web sites unknowingly employ the digital equivalent of this tactic all the time. Every day I come across countless sites that demand I pull up a chair, sit down, and consume their content within eyesight of the webmaster. Don’t get me wrong, I’m painfully aware that some organizations need to keep a short leash on the content they produce and for whom a strong Youtube following is not an ultimate communications goal.

However, there seems to be too many sites that fall into the murky gray area between strict web 1.0 control and fully integrated social functionality. These sites may be asking to help get the word out about a certain cause or for users to check out their new product. Yet these same sites deny users the ability to share content in three all too familiar ways:

1) Neglecting to provide the embedded code for videos. Copyright violations and organizational control seem to be the main reasons for this version of the wooden stick. My take is that if you’ve managed to get the video produced, edited, approved, and posted to the site, it’s worth it to take the next step and allow people to lift the code and post it to their own blog or social network.

2) Lack of RSS. Even static web sites make changes and add content from time to time. Why not allow interested readers to be alerted when there’s something new to check out? Certainly, RSS becomes more relevant for constantly updated blogs, but without RSS you rely on your visitors to bookmark or otherwise remember to periodically check back in from time to time. That’s a lot to ask. Seriously.

3) Sites saturated with flash. Flash is sometimes an interesting way to illustrate your brand’s personality*, but too much flash and it becomes difficult to share a link to a specific page. I’m much less likely to a share a link if I know my friend will have to sit through 90 seconds of flash before getting to the content. I never understand sites that go through all the work for complex flash intros and then offer the ‘skip intro’ option. If you create something so annoying you feel compelled to offer sufferers a way to skip it, isn’t that a sign? Sometimes when I land on a page like this, I start to wish for a FireFox Tivo add-on so I could speed through it without losing the look and feel of the site.

These may seem like minor mistakes but organizations guilty of these and similar offenses may unwittingly penalize themselves by affixing the digital wooden stick to their otherwise interesting and shareable content.

[*For more on brand personality, check out Personality Not Included. Disclaimer: it’s written by my Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence colleague Rohit Bhargava, nonetheless, it’s a fantastic book and I read through it cover to cover well before I started at Ogilvy.]

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Site Review: Social Median & Tin Eye

Here are two new and interesting social media sites making waves this week (in my book, anyway). Both of these sites are in private alpha or beta but don’t be afraid to request an invite and have a look around…

Social Median: I think of this site as a hybrid between Digg, where user recommendations increase the visibility of news items, and Alltop, where the web's top sites are organized by topic.

To create a profile you join specific news networks based on keywords (i.e. wireless, or apple) or join up with particular grouping of people (i.e. social media directors). Upon properly connecting your account to your interests, head over to your news feed where content will start to flow in.

In theory, of all of the news that comes in will be relevant to you in one way or another. Users can also create their personal news network by mapping their own social media outlets. There's not yet a PR Bloggers network. Maybe I'll take a crack at starting one. Any suggestions for who to add into the PR feed? Certainly need to start with some of my personal favorites PR Squred, Buzz Bin, Young PR, Observations of PR ...

Tin Eye: Brand new (still in private beta) visual search engine. Unlike Flickr or Google images that rely on tagging photos with keywords, Tin Eye uses visual search to find similar images from across the web. To be accurate, Tin Eye is simply the search engine, Idee's PixID drives the visual search technology. I signed up and received an invite within a day so it's definitely worth the short wait to check it out.

How does this matter to PR and digital worth of mouth practitioners? It's not simply one more tool in our growing arsenal to track down how our content is being used online. We've got track backs in our comments, Tweetscan and Technorati, but all of those tools in one way or another rely on the written word. Tin Eye allow content creators to measure how and where people are making use of your images, no matter how they're tagged.

Tin Eye is a digital bloodhound of sorts; give it a whiff of an image and it'll head out on the trail to hunt down the scent, ears flapping in the wind as it bounds through the Internets.

This will have a big impact new product launches as PR and marketers develop the ability to identify how images of the new product are circulating through social networks. When you get into the site, try a search for iphone images for an great example of this phenomena in action.

There's also a very real copyright implication. It's now easier than ever before to upload your company's logo, hit search, and find where on the web your logo appears. The results may surprise you...

Tin Eye blog