Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Apologies for corporate sucking, but my boss is great

May 2, 2007

I know this might qualify me for a Private Eye Order of the Brown Nose (I might even nominate myself) but I really did enjoy reading this article on Andrew Rashbass’ performance at MIX07. I’ll not dwell on it too long because singing the praises of your intelligent, handsome publisher looks cynical. So he was taking part in a debate on the convergence of marketing and content, however, as opposed to banging that drum he kicked off with this peach:

“It’s kind of funny to hear Robbie Bach [Microsoft’s president for entertainment and devices] giving a talk on advertising and monetization when he just lost $300m in the last quarter.” (Link)

I won’t take out anymore highlights as it really would look too craven and sucky. Read the rest of the article, it makes some good points. The thinking is familiar to me as I heard much of it from Andrew on my third day of the job. Coming in all starry eyed about the web, only to realise that The Economist magazine format is sort of working (10% growth year on year for some time). Being a n00b I also made the mistake of asking Mr Rashbass what he did at The Economist…nice.


A sad day for the Fedoral Reserve

December 12, 2006

The Fedoral Reserve flags are flying at half mast, because my hat it missing. Yes, the fedora of the title is gone. What makes it worse is that it is a fine old hat that used to belong to my grandfather, so it is not just a case of replacing it.

I have not given up hope just yet and I’ll keep you posted on the gravest crisis to hit the F.R. yet.

4 in 100 at an Int’l. Ad. Assoc. debate had heard of Walmart and Edelman controversy

October 31, 2006

Last night I went to a debate sponsored by the International Advertising Association on the motion “In the online age consumers are the new brand managers”. During the right to reply I did a quick straw poll of the 100 or so people attending and asked how many of them had heard of the Walmart/Edelman fiasco.

There was definitely not a massive show of hands. Only four of the hundred plus advertising execs, media representatives and brand managers had heard of this MONUMENTAL CRISIS that had nigh on annihilated Edelman’s reputation. Or so the blogosphere would have you believe.

Is it important that of this assembly inhabitants of the advertising ecosystem so few had heard of this flog saga? No, but what it does show is that social media is still in its infancy in the UK.

The idea of consumer endorsement via blogs was novel to some. One gentlemen stood up and suggested if this internet (which he might well have thought was a series of tubes) was effective why not hire 100 students to write positive blogs for your company. I could feel the spirit Steve Rubel, Neville Hobson, Ben O’Connel and Jackie Huba rise in me, that is definitely not in line with WOMMA guidelines.

In the end, I had to vote against the motion despite feeling a deep affinity for what Simon Waldman, Digital Publisher at the Guardian, and Gary Lockton, founder of Strategically, who proposed the motion were saying. They showed the new power of word of mouth with the examples of Kryptonite locks and Mentos fountains, the problem was that they didn’t define brand managers tightly enough.

Patrick Barwise of London Business School, however, used Peter Drucker‘s definition of marketing – the art of seeing an organisation through the eyes of the customer -, locked down branding as delivery of a promise and said brand managers executed that promise. With that done he deftly showed that whatever the changes in media, there will still be those that manage brands. Tough to argue against that.

However, had brand managers been pinned down as those who, through the purchase of above and below the line media, attempt to deliver a controlled brand message, it would have been a different story. The days of controlling all channels of delivery, and the possibility of ignoring consumer reaction, are gone.

Dreams of control should be a thing of the past. However, there is a wealth of opportunity for those who will be able to let go and engage in the conversations which are happening online. I’m really glad to be taking part in these conversations and to hear them happening in the UK.

It really was a great night and I haven’t stood up for some public speaking for a while. Man it’s fun.

Loser generated content vs User generated content

October 6, 2006

There’s a residual, though fast evaporating, image of a blogger. In the public perception they must be either angsty teenagers, techie geeks or political nutjobs.

That’s true, if you count number 1 selling artist Lily Allen as the teen, Sun Microsystems CEO Johnathan Schwartz as the geek and President Ahmadinejad of Iran as the political nutjob.

Why do they blog? I think The Economist answers this best when looking at why top economists blog. Blogging has “it’s place in the intellectual influence game”. Link

That’s why I’d want to do it. You get your ideas out there and make sure they’re fighting for you on the web. Then once you’ve sold an idea the rest will fall into place far more easily.

That’s worth making time for.

(By the way, most of this post was written on my mobile on the way back to work.)

An Economist PR Experiment

October 4, 2006

So the idea that I was the person to speak to about blogs spread. Until one day Charley Smith, PR and brand guru, walked through the door and asked me – can you believe it? – to help her get in touch with bloggers.

My breath got short, with knuckles white I struggled to contain myself. “Yes of course I can help” came the unsurprising answer.

Tom Standidge had written a very funny article on the real dangers of air travel – definitely not something to read before an Aeroflot flight to Ulan Bator. Charley wanted to get in touch with bloggers about it.

After a bit of a think three strategies came up :

a) Contact A-list bloggers with the piece, to get as much viral as quickly as possible.

b) Find out who had written recently about air travel, then give them a very funny piece on it.

c) Approach Economist reading bloggers and reward them with a pre-press scoop.

In the end we decided the third option (option c, for those weak in the alphabet) would be best. For a start getting linklove of top bloggers is a chore. They get so many approaches a day that it would be tough to get anywhere.

The second choice (b) was better as it involved finding people with a concern, then providing them with some great content. However, it was close to the liquid explosive on planes incident and could look a little opportunistic (a little too “good day to bury bad news“).

And any way option c (no. 3) looked far more exciting. Rather than going to the top, or going to those on message, why not go to our fans? Use the passion that our readers have for The Economist to generate word of mouth.

Charlotte sent the article to Michael Seaton’s blog Client Side, saying Michael could “scoop us on it, you can criticise it, do what you want with it, or even just ignore it”. Best to hear what happened from the man himself :

“My delayed reaction was a serious “wow”. Being a long time reader of The Economist I am really intrigued and impressed at the notion of using the blogosphere as a test-bed. Especially in the way they have reached out.

Sure, it feeds my ego to know that one of my favourite magazines has asked me to participate in this little social media and PR experiment. I must say that I really respect that they seem to have a grasped how to engage folks like myself in a conversation where the outcome for them could go one of several ways…

The bottom line is that this tactic worked with me. So, am I a sucker? Am I part of an elite group? Not sure yet. Let’s see how this plays out”. (Link)

Not only did this story reach one blogger but it caused a (mini) splash from Toronto via Talinn (do not adjust you browser, that is in Estonian) to Calcutta.

Lee, a PR blogger in Toronto commented on the story thus :

“i think what the economist has done is fantastic; inviting you to scoop them, not being anally retentive about their content – it seems as if they’ve really learnt from, as opposed to reported on, the social media survey.

i’m just mad that my favourite periodical didn’t get in touch with me!” (Link)


Mad Lee 

Whilst Louis liked the fact that The Economist “ought to run with the idea of engaging with (in contrast to the Independent’s asinine attacks on) the blogosphere.” (Link)

This side project shows that I have some understanding of how the blogosphere works. That I can get positive results through it, and can be innovative. What’s more, this combination of word of mouth marketing with digital PR show that I have quite wide interests and skills. And startups frequently have to rely on generalists, more than specialists.

How to use a blog to build client relationships. Part 1.

October 3, 2006

At a certain stage of working on my Blogging for Business project – as I shall now christen it – I decided that I would make a few trial posts as an example of what I would write. The aim of it was to provide content that would be of interest to my key stakeholders – agencies and business education clients.

The key was to provide information that was interesting enough to attract the attention of a Dean, but useful enough to help an account exec get some ideas before they go to see their one business school client.

Here’s an example of a post.


One of the reasons that I really appreciate Santiago Iniguez’s blog, and his outlook in general, is that he has a very broad outlook on what an MBA should be. His latest post expands on the idea that the role of business education providers as suppliers of cultural and even spiritual guidance to their participants.

As the MBA comes under attack from such luminaries as Seth Godin and by such movements as the Personal MBA then schools which provide transformative experiences might be the one’s that grab the attention.

In his latest post he writes about how literature can be used to as an inspiration in business. Recently I’ve been reading a bit of William Blake and Allen Ginsberg. These radical visonary poets, who see new models for the future amid the crumbling certainties of their time, certainly get you thinking broadly. I’d advise anyone who wants to get a different perspective on disruption and creation to read them.

On the other hand, there might be a lot of head scratching when participants read the first lines of Ginsberg’s Howl : ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked’. Things have changed since the 50s, I suppose. Don’t the best minds of a generation now work at Google? Who else would see this sign and think of 7427466391.


As funny as the rate of change of the curve y=r^3/3


There are also more posts on how to teach MBA students to build online personas, using business school blogs to find out about your courses and how new networking technologies can help business schools.

The key was to use the advantage that I had – knowledge of the internet, an ability to scour the web for business school news – to provide useful content for my clients.

Back from the dead: the phoenix blog

October 1, 2006

This is the second blog I have written for The Economist and it’s good to be back. What happened to the last one? Well, I began it the moment I heard I’d got the job. I was so excited by it that I wanted to share that with the many others who are interested in The Economist.

Moreover, for some time I had been convinced that blogging would help me create better client relationships. Whilst looking for a work in media sales, I knew I would use a blog to communicate with customers in my next position.

A blog would be perfect way to help create client relationships built on trust and openness. However, I had not appreciated the fact that, in a large company, initiatives such as that can not just be started on a whim. I shut it down and began preparing a presentation to sell the idea internally – more on that later.

I deleted the blog, but I saved the posts I’d made and thought I could share some of them here. Starting with the description of myself which, for those who don’t know me, is accurate today :

Hi I’m Tom Shelley, a newbie Economist sales stooge (starting next Monday) with a real interest in publishing and the web.

This is where you can find out more on The Economist, more about what I’m doing and it should give you an insight into the best current affairs magazine in the world.

On top of all that I’ll be writing about the whole web/publishing/self-publishing/2.0 stuff from The Economist eye’s view.

Hold onto your hats it’s going to be very exciting indeed.”

Six months on and it’s still very exciting, I’ve still got a real interest in the web and I’m still thinking about “the whole web/publishing/self-publishing/2.0 stuff”, as I so eloquently put it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to move from thought into action.