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Posts from July 2018

Why is the Earned Media Biz So Bad?

Everyday, Monday through Friday, I put out a newsletter entitled, The COMUNICANO. If you want to subscribe, it's totally free, and you can easily sign up to receive it. The newsletter is an eclectic mix of stories affecting the changing technology landscape that effects us. Each edition can vary in length from about 8 to just over twenty stories that have caught my eye in the past 24 hours (72 for the Monday edition) and today, I ended it with an item from SPINSUCKS about Earned Media and company execs not taking time to talk with reporters.

The article got me thinking, a bit about the state of the industry, and a bit about my past.

For those who don't know, as much as I say "I'm not a PR guy" well I am and have been. What I'm not is a publicity flack as the craft of Public Relations is so much more than chasing the media to run the most recent news release. An therein lies a big problem today. Too much of PR is thought of as only publicity, and when an opportunity knocks, like the media calling you, as Gini Dietrich column points out, you better darn well talk to them.

This culture of being too busy to talk to the media doesn't help you, it hurts you. Too often I have seen clients beg off of media time and time again to "be in a board meeting" or "have a sales call then I have to do" or "I'm on my way to a conference." Sorry, but everyone of those excuses is lame because "being in the news" or having a comment surrounding a story a reporter is writing will only enhance your company and you in front of your board, customers and audience.

Today, media wants to hear from the CEO. So if you're a CEO, you better answer the call. If you're the PR person for the CEO, you better media train, and more importantly, relationship train the CEO to cultivate and maintain the rapport with the reporters and editors.

I learned to talk to the media at age 14. I was fielding questions, getting them answers, chasing down pro athletes (my first job was in PR with the Philadelphia Wings). I sat in the press box, ran to the locker room to line up players for reporter, called in scores to the radio and TV stations and even was "the voice" on radio reports. Reporters came to my first mentor, Sy Roseman, and I to ask questions and get answers. We were never quoted, but the story was often "our story."

A few years later the Philadelphia Flyers came calling and I took a position promoting youth hockey for them. We were called Hockey Central, and were a media dissemination service, but really we were a marketing entity that did everything from distributing information, plan and stage events and be a resource to the community. It was the foundation of future fans and is a reason why the Flyers have always been sold out. And that was the vision of the late Ed Snider, and it was my job to make that a reality.

What made us so successful was one thing. We talked to the media. Everyday. Everynight. Every weekend. When high school hockey became an everyday item in the newspapers and on the 11 o'clock TV news it was all because of what I started to do at age 14. Talk to reporters. This went up the ladder. Often I would talk to the reporters and that would lead to "can you get us the President of the Flyers" to talk to us or the President of The Spectrum. But over time, I became that spokesperson (around age 19 or 20) with the launch of The Flyers Cup and my role on camera with The Pepsi Shootout.

By the time I left the Flyers in 1988, I was talking daily to over thirty members of the media. I was on a first name basis with print reporters, talk radio hosts, sports anchors, producers and even camera crew members. We were so tightly connected that when I would pitch the story to come out to a City of Philadelphia ice rink at night, I knew what kind of sandwich to offer for each reporter and their camera crew from Koch's Deli or Lee's Hoagie House...yes, we fed the press dinner and the story. And we scheduled the events to start after the 6 o'clock news was over, so we could be on the 11 PM news or at 500 PM to make the early news cast and have the story rerun on all the nightly newscasts  

Today's PR people often don't answer their phones. Some companies have removed the phone numbers from their Media page on the web site. And those who are listed rarely call back.  But the blame is not really only on them. Reporters today are harder to reach than ever before. They are slammed with publicity chasers who are taught to "smile and dial" but not really build relationships. Inboxes get filled with pitches, but at the end of the day, it's all about relationships.

It's time to put the "relations" back into PR and stop thinking the P for Public is short for Publicity. 

 

 


Dialpad, 8x8 and Skype In The News

Today Dialpad announced they raised $50 million more from a group of prior investors and one new one. Skype, which is seeing a flattening on user growth, announced a more mobile like version for the desktop, while giving the prior version an end of life date of September 1.  At the same time 8x8, a perennial player in the VoIP world, announced the general availability of their new X Series platform. 

With all this news you would think that good old VoIP was back in vogue. But it's not. What we're seeing is the staging of the future unfold before our eyes. While Skype may be stagnating at 300 million monthly users, and not seeing much forward progress, what Microsoft is doing is establishing the long time disruptor as being the front end to their blend of cloud based TEAMS and Office 365 offerings, being the unification of real time interaction via voice, video or text. 8x8 with X Series is looking to pull together the pieces of Calling, Collaboration and Contact Center, all into one homogeneous platform, after years of siloed existence. And for Dialpad, the raise basically offsets the money spent to acquire VoiceAI player, TalkIQ., if it was all cash, and now provides the powerhouse with enough in bank cash to grow and expand their AI based platform (Note I am a Dialpad investor/shareholder.) 

The news though from Skype, 8x8 and Dialpad serves to show how different the VoIP world is getting. There's those in the real cloud like Dialpad which uses Google Cloud and Skype which rides now on Azure, those like 8x8, Vonage and Ring Central who provide cloud services and then the rest of the bunch who basically run a hosted service in the cloud.

To accomplish what Dialpad, 8x8 and Skype are doing means having all the smarts in the cloud to handle the interaction with other services like Office365 or Google's G Suite, SalesForce, ZenDesk, Service Now and more while keeping the voice traffic on the more terrestrial level as the cloud is not yet ready for real time calling due to latency issues that will go away in a few years.

Add in AI to voice, text, collaboration, and call center activity which RingCentral, 8x8 and Dialpad have all announced, as has Skype surrounding events, and you begin to have the next generation of what "a call" or "session" will become.

Let the games begin.....


Why a Google Voice Number is Still Needed

I have a friend whose mobile phone died over the weekend. Another close friend had their phone drop into water. In both cases their mobile number was the way people stayed in touch with both, either by phoning them up or by text. And, since in both situations, their phones were dead, they were out of luck from the moment their phones stopped working,

In the later case I received a Skype message telling me what happened followed by her asking what to do. Unfortunately going into the AT&T store to get a temporary replacement phone (i.e. a burner) led to her being "sold" a new phone with a pre-paid plan. All she needed was a phone as the SIM card was still perfectly able to function. Net result was a waste of $65 for the unlimited whatever, as her existing plan and number were still usable.

The second person had their phone die also. She sent me a message via Facebook Messenger. In this situation, she did that from her home computer and now will be out of touch. With all of these modes you can still stay in touch, but the beauty of a Google Voice number is it would move from device to device and still function as the mode of staying in touch with a breaking of habit. 

Basically, the last two places I expected to hear from either of my friends was via Skype or Facebook Messenger, and in the case of the Messenger person, I was actually concerned about her when I hadn't heard back from a text sent earlier in the day. 

Now, had I had Skype running on all my devices as I used to but have abandoned sometime back, I would have seen the first message and call. In the second case if I was living inside Messenger 24/7 I would have seen that instantly to. But I'm not.

With GoogleVoice the messages come into their app and to my email so nothing is missed. I get desktop notifications inside the Chrome browser, so it's almost impossible, except when I'm sleeping, to miss a GV call or message, so in both cases, if the phone losers had GV they would still be connected to everyone, not miss messages or calls.

When Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet launched GoogleVoice as GrandCentral in 2006, the idea was "one number for life" and in more ways than just words it still is.


RIP Bruce Bigelow

It's been just over three years since I moved away from San Diego, and yet, between friends and business interests, I still keep tabs on things. But I'll admit, I missed the news about Bruce Bigelow passing away.

Bruce was not a close friend, but he was in the world I'm in, a colleague of sorts. I would occasionally have a story idea about a San Diego client and run it past him, more as a smoke test to see if it had legs. More importantly, from time to time Bruce would send me an email or call me up about a story he was working on, or an angle he was pursuing, and just as I ran my ideas or thoughts past him, he would do the same.

Over the years I was in San Diego, I rarely took on San Diego clients. Our first of note was Mitek, and that was when I got to know Bruce casually. Our interaction grew when Interdigital became a client and blossomed when Josh Baylin, Jeff Belk and I launched Velocity Growth in 2014.

Bruce was all class, professional and collegial. As someone who grew up in the era of journalism as a copy boy, reporter and a marketing communications agency owner I knew from the start that not only would I like Bruce, I could trust him.  Bruce was human, friendly and compassionate, as much as he was passionate about his profession.
 
His departure is more than a loss for our profession. It is a loss for all mankind.

Why There Are No Guest Posts on VoIPWatch

In the history of VoIPWatch, there has been only one guest post, and that was by Michael Robertson during his days with MP3.com and Gizmo. But from the start, I never would permit guest posts, and it was for one reason. This is MY BLOG and it exists to share MY THOUGHTS and VIEWS on things, starting with VoIP, Mobile and Collaboration.

Yesterday, longtime blogging buddy, Om Malik drew attention to what Buzzfeed unearthed, but what most of us in the world of blogging and PR have known for years. That most of the guest post in what were once leading media outlets were really just paid posts to benefit a client. 

How did guest posts come about? Before that term was coined, there was the concept of the "contributed article." The contributed article was often presented by the PR agency to a media outlet as a thought leadership piece, that gave the publication, or web site, content for free. It had to meet standards and often it was considered a plum to score one for a client. Of course, like all good ideas that had merit, the publications saw "contributed articles" as a way to reduce cost on paying freelance writers or having a big staff and it became their route to survival by selling ads around content that cost them nothing. Voila, the guest post model came to life and almost anyone with a keyboard and an email account could send in an article to be published.  And, since the search engines can't discern the difference between real journalism and a contributed article, a piece written by a contributor would be discovered along side an article by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. That and the decision to not clearly label the content as being contributed also led to this situation overall

So, the next time you read something, ask yourself if the "reporter" is indeed a "reporter" or a "contributor." 

Oh, and there's nothing wrong in contributing content. Just don't try to be perceived as a "reporter" when all you are is a "contributor." Give the public the ability to decide if what you write has value, because some "contributed articles" actually do provide the type of information that reporters can never cover, it all just needs to be properly positioned.

That's why, to get covered here, it means I have to want to write about it...so, please, stop asking if I accept guest posts. I don't.