Author Archives: pgillin

93: The Travelin’ Mama

Shannon Hurst Lane and three other professional travel writers were chatting at a conference early last year when they hit upon an idea. They were all moms with copious travel experience. Why not start a blog to advise families on destinations that are right for parents with kids? But this wouldn’t be your usual Mickey and Minnie family travel site. The Traveling Mamas, as they chose to call themselves, would also deal with real-world adult issues like where to get an alcoholic drink in the Magic Kingdom and how to take your kids to Las Vegas.

The Traveling Mamas site features a wonderfully homespun and playful voice layered onto the sage experience of people who know how to travel. Fifteen months after launch, it’s getting 50,000 visitors a month and a bouquet of awards, citations and recommendations from media outlets and other bloggers. The four mamas post prodigiously and their audience is  coveted by destination marketers, who compete to get their attention. It’s all rather overwhelming and unexpected.

Shannon is Cajun Mama. She joins us midway through a trip in the Georgia wilderness. In 93 programs, this is the first time David and Paul have ever interviewed someone under these circumstances. Listen to find out more.

Also listen to find out about the nearly disastrous bicycling accident David suffered last week. He’s okay, but instead of sending flowers, he’d like listeners to support his ride for the National MS Society.

Listen to the podcast (17:01) (right click and choose “Save As…” to download)

92 – Visionary Educator

hanson_hoseinHanson Hosein was a successful television news producer who traveled the world and won an Emmy award working for NBC News before realizing a decade ago that the media world was about to change dramatically.  He ditched the world of “big-box” media and set out with a handheld video camera to learn about the emerging world of citizen journalism.  His travels resulted in, among other things, Independent America, a video documentary of a trip through America’s back roads and mom-and-pop businesses.  Today he heads the masters of communication program at the University of Washington, where his innovative curriculum has created conversation and controversy for its rejection of traditional media models.

Hosein believes that in the future media will be atomized and spread among millions of special interest “reporters,” few of whom will call themselves journalists.  This will ultimately be a superior model, but the process of breaking down old institutions and constructing new ones won’t be pretty.  In this interview, he addresses the question of whether journalism is dying and how aggregation may become the journalist’s most important role in the new democratized media.

Listen to the podcast (21:00) (right click and save to download)

91: Whom Shall We Trust?

Is the disintegration of mainstream media also the death of trust?  Paul recently spoke to a group of university professors of communications who were decidedly pessimistic about the changes going on in the media landscape.  These scholars fretted that the ongoing loss of jobs and potential collapse of some major media institutions will take down with it the confidence that citizens have traditionally had in media sources.

Their concerns are certainly valid, but our commentators agree that new sources of trusted information will invariably emerge.  The problem is that we are currently in an uncomfortable netherworld between the decline of the old and the birth of the new.

Listen to the podcast (16:18) (right click and save to download)

90: E-mail Overload Of a Different Kind

E-mail, instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, what’s a marketer to do?  Today there are more ways to connect to influencers than ever before, but not everyone has the same preferences and not every tool is right for every situation.  In this podcast, David and Paul look at the profusion of messaging options that are available to marketers as they try to engage with the media and they try to sort out the pros and cons of each.  Paul also has some kind words for Yuuguu, a screen sharing service that recently bailed him out of a problematic client meeting.

Download the podcast (13:15)

88: The Playmaker

alan_kellyAlan Kelly is a career public relations entrepreneur who’s taken a different approach to framing PR strategy. The system he’s created, called The Playmaker’s Standard, categorizes the common market “plays” that companies make into 25 types. They’re “the most basic tools and the building blocks of the discipline of playmaking,” says the company’s website. For example, the “Bear Hug” strategy is “the conspicuously public support or embrace of an opponent’s position or message,” perhaps with the objective of smothering the competitor. The “Preempt” strategy is a sudden reversal of competitive position, usually intended to surprise and disable the competition.

playmakers_tableKelly has both watched and orchestrated these plays throughout his 25-year career in public relations. As a strategist for Oracle  in the late 1990s, he helped that company create an anti–PC message in a bid to position itself as a leading rival to Microsoft. The strategy successfully attracted huge attention.

In 2006, Kelly founded The Playmaker’s Standard, a Washington D.C.-based management consulting and software services firm that helps businesses understand and implement playmaking strategies. The company developed The Playmaker’s Table, a grid similar to the periodic table of the elements that provides a graphical representation of a business’s strategic options and advice on how to counter competitive moves. A clip of one of some of the 25 strategies the firm has identified is at right. Kelly also authored The Elements of Influence, a book that describes the Playmaker’s Standard.

In this interview, Alan Kelly describes the thinking behind The Playmaker’s Standard and offers examples of how it is used in the worlds of business and politics every day. He notes that the strategies are just as applicable to collaborating and managing reputations as they are to competing for market share.

Be sure to check out his Plays of the Day, which analyze current events in the context of the Playmaker’s framework. It’s at www.plays2run.com and on Twitter @playmakeralan.

Download the podcast (19:52)

87: Search Engine Marketing, Inc.

mike_moranIf search engines are a mystery to you, then you’ll want to put your hands on a copy of Search Engine Marketing, Inc. It’s an encyclopedic reference about the internal workings of the major search engines and how marketers can optimize their Web presence for visibility on them.  Mike Moran co-authored the book along with Bill Hunt. Paul recommends it to every online marketer he meets.

As complex as search engines are, the trick to getting in their good graces is no trick at all, Moran says.  You need quality content, focused topics and links from other sites on the Internet that have similar characteristics.

But his advice goes beyond simple keywords and page titles.  Search engine optimization is about understanding the motivations and interests of the people you want to visit you, Moran says. It’s like the old line about buyers of drill bits not being in the market for drill bits, but rather for holes.  Marketers often think of keyword strategies in terms of their products, when what visitors want is a solution to problems.  The terms visitors use to define those problems may be completely different from the ones companies use to describe their products. That’s only one of the many thought-provoking ideas in Search Engine Marketing, Inc., which is now in its second edition.

More recently, Moran has published Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, a book that challenges conventional wisdom by encouraging marketers to try lots of ideas, even if many of them don’t pan out. The reason? On the Internet, you can change anything, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Mike Moran is an expert in Internet marketing, search technology, Web personalization, and Web metrics. He’s also an active blogger on the subject of search and Internet marketing. Since retiring from IBM after 30 years with the title of Distinguished Engineer in 2007, he’s maintained an active consulting and speaking business. He also serves as Chief Strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing agency.

Download the podcast here (20:30)

86: Building on the Groundswell

josh_bernoffForrester Research Analyst Josh Bernoff co-authored the number one Internet marketing book of 2008: Groundswell: Winning In A World Transformed By Social Technologies. The book he co-wrote with former Forrester analyst Charlene Li broke new ground by applying innovative principles of audience segmentation and measurement to social media marketing campaigns and by relating a litany of real-world case studies.

Since the book came out, Forrester has been at the center of controversial research that indicates that corporate blogs are missing the mark by failing to communicate with customers in meaningful new ways. Businesses are still casting about to find a means of engagement that works for them and blogs just aren’t doing the job at the moment.

Bernoff believes that corporations will find the right tools, but the bigger goal should be to humanize interactions between them and their constituents. In his frequent writings on the Groundswell blog, he argues passionately that years of cost-cutting and automation have robbed many businesses of their personality. Now they have the means to become genuine, but too many companies simply use new media to force the same old message down the pipe. No wonder Forrester Research has recently shown a corporate blogs have less credibility than advertisements. In this interview, he talks about how social media continues to shake up the status quo.

Download the podcast here (19:14)

85: The Voice of the Customer

pete_blackshawPeter Blackshaw has led the charge in consumer generated media.  A cofounder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and the consumer advocacy website planetfeedback, Blackshaw is also a prolific writer who is contributes regularly to Ad Age, ClickZ and several blogs.  He’s also the author of a new book, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000, in which he documents the multiplier effect of word-of-mouth communications.

And that’s in his spare time.  Blackshaw is better known to many people is the executive vice president of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services, a group that helps companies develop online strategies.  Branding in the age of conversation is nothing like it was in the days of one-way communications, he says.  Today, brands are developed cooperatively in discussions with customers whose feedback needs to be seriously considered and incorporated into a company’s message.  He talks with David and Paul about some of the more common mistakes marketers make and also who’s getting it right.

Download the podcast here  (20:39)

84: Mumbai Attacks Spotlight Citizen Journalism

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India over the Thanksgiving holiday dramatized the increasingly important role that citizen journalists are coming to play in the reporting of breaking news.  For hours after the attacks began, bloggers and Twitter users provided eyewitness accounts while professional journalists and television crews rushed to the scene.  Not all of the information that was reported was accurate, and this has raised questions about the credibility of eyewitness reports in an age when everyone can be a journalist.  David and Paul discuss some of the lessons the incident has taught us.

Here are a few stories that dramatize the role that citizen media played in the coverage.:

David and Paul also remark upon the blockbuster announcement out of Detroit this week that the city’s two largest dailies will scale back their print operations and move much of their journalism online. Is this a bold new innovation or a Hail Mary pass?

Download the podcast here (16:20)

82: The Joy of Search

halliganIn the arcane world of search engine optimization, HubSpot of Cambridge, Mass. has made a name for itself by simplifying and automating the process. HubSpotCEO Brian Halligan knows a lot about how search engines work and how businesses can optimize their Web presence for search results. He calls it “inbound marketing.” Forget about playing games, Halligan says; it’s all about delivering quality content. HubSpot offers some free utilities — Website Grader, Twitter Grader and Press Release Grader – that can help. These services assess your site’s search performance and suggest ways to improve it. HubSpot also offers a suite of low-cost, do-it-yourself tools that marketers can use themselves, without paying for SEO consultants. In this interview, Halligan offers some tips for optimizing search performance.

Listen to the podcast (19:12) (Right click and save to download)