IAOC Special Interest Groups
"Is Your Blog Providing a Front Porch for Real Communities?": by Don Dunnington
I was in a marketing committee meeting last Thursday at the United Way of Gloucester County in New Jersey, when executive director Jere Hoffner called our attention to this poster:
How different the times are today for our charitable groups? So many more worthy groups are competing for our donations. There are so many fewer ways to help them find the funds. Employers don’t want to be bothered with charitable campaigns. Mail campaigns cost too much. Telephone? Forget it.
1 Gift Helps 11 Because We’re UNITED. If you really think about the poster’s slogan, the thing that has changed most is that we have become too successful in insulating ourselves from the annoyance of neighbors asking us to help neighbors. The promise made fifty years ago was that with a relatively painless payroll deduction, all these groups will leave you alone for another year. Today, too many are alone too much. A short example:
Last Tuesday evening I was at another United Way meeting, an allocations committee. Ours was one of eight teams meeting that night to decide how to divide up this year’s funds. Our little committee had five worthy groups to consider. One was the local chapter of the Crisis Line CONTACT. Most of the calls their volunteers handle are from people in a serious crisis, but they also are getting an increasing number of calls from elderly people who need reassurance that they aren’t alone. One volunteer told us of an Easter call from a woman who asked if she could just talk for a minute. She had been sick and missed Easter services for the first time ever. Her daughter lives a thousand miles away, and her granddaughter is on the other coast. Both have successful careers and don’t have time to call....
So the problem today is not keeping charitable volunteers off our front porches (if we have a porch). Our problem is getting people to connect in the flesh with their own families and their own communities; both cyber and real communities. No matter how much satisfaction we derive from making all these electronic connections over the Internet, we still need the network of family, friends and neighbors that make a real community.
Is your online front porch open for those building, or helping maintain, the communities where you live your real life?
"A New Industrial 'You Tube' for the World's Engineers": by Don Dunnington
Joe Taylor, publisher of the industrial websites waterandwastewater.com and powderandbulk.com, has brought online video sharing to the industrial sector. With its easy upload tool and social tracking tools (such as most viewed, viewer voting and tagging), Taylor's industrial video communities (see here and here) bring a new impetus for equipment marketers to create an entirely different breed of video.
I did a few B2B corporate and marketing videos BTI (before the Internet), and I have to say I'd do them differently today. I'd make them shorter. I'd lose the music soundtrack, and maybe the voiceover narration, too. I'd spend less of my video budget on a single video's production values and more on increasing the number of videos.
Just Show the Machines at Work
I like the simplicity of this machine demo where all kinds of foreign objects, from a rubber glove to a tennis shoe, are dropped into a shredder used to keep sewer lines clear of debris. I also like the ability video gives you to capture action. This demolition of grain silos is from Poland.
Humor also works, though the humor in this conveyor video is more for insiders. For those who missed the joke: the guy with the shovel wouldn't need to be there if the conveyor belt were just a foot longer. If you're really bold, you might even figure a way to make this "happy wastewater guy" into a viral marketing campaign.
This Bulk Solids Pump (BSP) video is a good example of what happens to a traditional marketing video when it's moved to an online video sharing site. Seeing the BSP's unique technology in action works fine, but the soundtrack is a bit out of synch. You can see same video here (bigger Quick Time file, a little better sound and picture). If I were developing this video today with Joe Taylor's new sites in mind, I'd keep it shorter and simpler and just let the machine do the talking.
How Taylor Created His Video Sharing Sites
To create his industrial video sites, Joe Taylor says he started with the free open source Mplayer (also see the Wikipedia article) and the closely related MEncoder that enables visitors to upload their own videos and convert them on the fly to a small Flash file. Taylor did his own customizing and says he spent about $2,000 on outside programming help.
Getting Around the Corporate Barriers
Forget about trying to go to YouTube from inside most corporate networks. Like many organizations, my company's IT department has setup barriers to block employee access to potential bandwidth hogs, such as music downloads and streaming video sites. Taylor's sites haven't been immune to these barriers. Sometimes marketing people can persuade IT to loosen the rules for business-oriented sites (my request to allow Taylor's sites was promptly acted on by our IT manager).
But rather than leave it to chance, Taylor has experimented with different naming conventions that might keep the barriers from ever being raised. He found that a URL like http://video.powderandbulk.com was a certain invitation for blockades to rise, where www.powderandbulk.com/videos didn't set off nearly as many alarms. With the growing migration of business into the social networks with their music and video and 3-D reality, this issue is going to become an increasing headache for IT managers.
"Blogging at IBM": by Phil Borremans
At this moment, IBM has about 2800 internal weblogs (on a total worldwide population of about 330.000 IBM'ers.) with about 12700 entries. About 200 blogs have more than 10 posts on them...
On the other hand, editors can come from any part of the company; engineers, communications, research, software, etc.
Here's a screenshot from one of our internal blogs.
Some of these blogs are "information blogs" linking to interesting articles, URL's, RSS feeds etc., but some are used for project management. In this case, blogs are used to get the team on "the same page" with regards to progress being made or issues being tackled. IBM also uses external blogs, mainly written by our people from developerWorks. As these are written by our engineers and developers they tend to cover specific topics in their area of expertise.
When thinking about blogs in a manufacturing industry (or any industry in fact) I would think blogs (and Wikis) can certainly be used for project management. Here's an interesting article on the subject by Tim at "Infosential".
I have used my internal blog for project management with a team of colleagues a couple of months ago. We were testing a new product and needed to keep a virtual team updated on the progress we made. Through RSS feeds this was automatic and (very important at our company) didn't clutter the mailbox. The easy way to comment on milestones or issues increased the interaction in the team compared to regular phone calls or sending out "update e-mails".
I have also seen, however, that blogging is not for everyone. Some people are so used to the "older" methods of working that they really do not jump on the wagon. Being able to change people and get them to participate from the start is the biggest part of the job.
"Follow Your Heart": by Dee Rambeau
When working with non-profit organizations, it's important to follow your heart because without exception, they all need our help. Even though you're doing business, you will find yourself over-committing and over-giving your time and resources naturally.
Multiple Sclerosis is an awful disease and for some reason its occurrence is significantly higher here in Colorado. They've not identified why. Also, twice as many women get it as men. Over-all, it is a mystifying disease.
So these young guys approached us earlier in the year and said they needed a website that could take donations because they were going to hike The Colorado Trail and give the money to MS. Why? Because one of them had been diagnosed with it at the age of 22.
We did it...for nothing. Here's their website and their effort, which is underway as we speak.
Good, inexpensive technology is sometimes all you need. These young men spread their message exclusively online, using viral email communications alone. Their story was then picked up by Denver's KCNC Channel 4 (CBS) picked up on the story and now they're raking in the donations.
This kind of success story wasn't possible without a budget before the Internet and online communications.
Data is a huge deal: by Dee Rambeau
One of the biggest technology issues for most non-profit organizations is the capture and management of data. To an organization that is constantly challenged for financial and human resources; the most important asset they have is their data. I'll use a high-profile example. We met several times in early 2003 with the Denver Chapter of Susan G. Komen's "Race for the Cure." They were searching for a new web vendor and we did a great deal of due diligence with them in creating a proposal.
Each year for the last decade, as one of the largest "Race for the Cure" events held across the nation with more than 60,000 runners annually, the Denver Chapter would have a monstrous challenge on their hands. Here were some of their challenges:
1. Disparate data locations. The Executive Director had the list of past race participants on her hard drive at the office. The Volunteer Chair had the list of volunteers on her laptop. The Board Chair had the list of donors on his hard drive and the National office had the only copy of any "survivors" that had participated. Indeed a mess. Answer? A master database tied to their front-end website for proper capture at the point of registration.
2. No web access. None of the hard-working staff, whether paid or volunteer, had access to the data unless they were on their own computer. Answer? The master database is housed on one server location. Any "authorized" user has access via a web connection and proper login.
3. No online collaboration. This one drove them nuts. They were using college interns and volunteers to sort through forms and postcards and event posters and race bib numbers, etc. Each area was working in a complete vacuum. Answer? The master database is tied to an intranet solution that allows "all" authorized team members to see all race-related collateral in one location. The material can be updated, downloaded, printed, delivered via email, etc. and all actions are traceable and accountable to the other members of the team.
4. No cross-referencing of data. Probably the worst evil. A decade of history...hundreds of thousands of race entries and donors and volunteers. No way to cross-reference anything. All of the form fields were in place on the race form...did you run last year? Are you a cancer survivor? Have you ever donated besides this race? Are you/have you ever been a volunteer, etc. But that data capture was not making it into a master database because there wasn't one. Answer? All registrations moving forward must be done online, either by participant or by volunteer upon receipt by mail. All historical data (lots of man hours to get it up to speed) is input into the master database as best can be. All data can then be crossed.
5. No content management of website. They were beholden to an unresponsive web group that they had to pay for each update. When I met with them in February of '03, their website was still showing event information from the October '02 race. Answer? A content management system that is tied to the master database and the intranet.
In other words, a comprehensive web-based communications system to capture, control, manage and monitor DATA. No matter the cost, it would save them immeasurable man hours and capture immeasurable lost donations. As a donor to the cause, I know they've done better since then by outsourcing their donations management here. But as budgets are always a challenge, I have a sense that they haven't tackled the internal issues completely yet.
Entrepreneurs and Start-Up Businesses
"Blog Communities Best Option for Small-Mid Sized Companies": by Don Dunnington
As I mentioned in a post on PowderandBulk.com, I was at the Powder Show exactly 10 years ago, introducing K-Tron International's first website (we now have about a dozen and the number keeps growing). Believe it or not, crowds gathered in our booth to see the Powder Show's first-ever demonstration of a website. I ran the demo from a CD because there was no broadband available then.
I'd say blogging for most businesses is at about the same point the World Wide Web was 10 years ago. It remains to be seen if business, especially small to mid-sized companies, will find the resources to enter the blogosphere to the extent they have embraced the web. I suspect that community sites like PowderandBulk.com, may become the preferred medium for most companies. Unlike the industrial "web malls" that had a brief but spectacular rise and fall, blogging communities will likely start slow and grow over time. They offer companies the opportunity to blog without the time and financial commitments, and legal risks, of hosting their own blogs. That may appeal to a broad range of companies.
"Why Independent Hotels?": by Andy Anderson
Destination Hotels & Resorts, one of the largest operators of independent hotels and condominium resorts in the United States (www.destinationhotels.com), recently hosted a media panel of writers who provided insight and information into travel trends in today’s hospitality market. One panelist mentioned that our company “is the wave of the future.” She was referring to the fact that Destination offers a unique collection of independent hotels that are unlike standard branded hotel chains; characteristics that meet the needs of today’s active Baby Boomer and Generation X travelers.
Gen X’ers have always been deemed as “independent thinkers” and Boomers have accumulated the capital to truly be independent. These groups are in search of unique travel memories and travel bragging rights.
The recent National Leisure Travel Monitor produced by YPBR/Yankelovich Partners indicated that today’s leisure travelers are about “creating and accumulating experiences” from eating sushi to bungee jumping. And, travelers value “novelty, change and better and smarter ways of doing things.”
Leisure travelers are less and less interested in the same hum, drum hotel. They are into experiential travel. For example, iExplore, founder and CEO, George Deeb said, "Baby Boomers are less interested in accumulating hard assets at this stage in their life, and they are more interested in accumulating life changing experiences." To illustrate this point, iExplore published a list of the top ten “Once in a Life Time Trips.”
Although you may not drink champagne on a polar ice cap when staying at a Destination property, our independent hotels and resorts are better positioned to be creative in what they offer versus the cookie cutter approach of some upscale brand hotels. In addition, due to the independent nature of each property, they are always challenged to do things in a more creative, more efficient manner to provide customers with value and customized, novel experiences such as hot air balloon rides at sunrise in mountain resorts such as Aspen or Vail, a heli-skiing package at Mountain Lodge at Telluride, a $10,000 diamond martini at the Algonquin in New York and intimate retreats coordinate by a Romance Director at Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"Consumer Benefits of using an Online Agency": by Patty Hagar
It's hard to imagine travel planning without the Internet these days. Can you believe Travelocity has been online since March 12, 1996? Three reasons we feel that Travelocity and other online agencies are the preferred place for millions to make their travel arrangements are:
1. Convenience…expert travel advice and access as close as your PC2. The ability to comparison shop across a wide array of suppliers and3. Access to special rates and deals!
We work to improve the booking experience and travel offerings everyday to enhance all of these reasons and create even more, but one thing we know… it’s a constantly changing space. How has online travel changed things for you?
Benefits of Online Agency to Suppliers Travel suppliers working closely with online travel agencies place their brands in front of millions of shoppers each week, inevitably leading to more visibility and sales. With the ability to target, tailor and track results…supplier’s marketing needs can be optimized even more. Travelocity is focused on offering value in innovative products, like Flight Navigator, to our suppliers and partners as well as to consumers and are always interested ways to do more.
Grass Roots Marketing Travelocity's Roaming Gnome has traveled the world since being introduced! He has already made a mark on pop culture…check out eBay or spy him as interior décor on Will & Grace! His adventures go beyond TV ads...The Roaming Gnome has been a hit on the streets of Las Vegas, Dallas and Seattle. He’s even visited the Queen and the King. You can catch his latest adventures at the Travelocity’s gnome home.
Destination Live Researching travel has never been easier, or harder…all because of so much online information! It’s a good thing Travelocity's Editor-at-Large, Amy Ziff, knows the “ins-and-outs”, the “where and when” and the “what to pack” to help filter all the information available. Amy will take questions and offer suggestions on everything from hot destinations, airport rules, finding great deals to America's local secrets.
"Commercial Applications of RSS in Travel Marketing": by Paolo Torchio
The travel industry has traditionally embraced new online technologies early on due to the fact that what they sell lends itself extremely well to online presentation and distribution. Online travel continues to be one of the top categories in terms of e-commerce with an estimated market of $54 billion in 2004. What we will look at today is some early application of RSS in travel and some statistics related to these implementations.
At E-site Marketing we specialize in creating Internet Marketing solutions exclusively for the hospitality industry. We have recently begun developing strategies and tools to help our clients leverage the technology to distribute promotions & special offers, news & events and press releases. This will help them build stronger customer relationships and encourage repeat visits to their Web sites.
Our research has shown that on travel distribution Web sites (hotels, airlines, destinations, rental cars etc) the most visited pages or content is always related to special offers. However, from an end user or travel consumer perspective, manually checking every Web site looking for new deals becomes extremely time consuming. Email special offer and newsletter subscriptions is an extremely good solution to reach these customers for a travel marketer, however, the growing challenges with email marketing are well documented at this point. Enter RSS.
Subscribing to an RSS feed where you are notified of new special offers or events for a destination, hotel or airline of your selection seems like a perfect solution. RSS lends itself perfectly to distributing this content in a simple well formatted manner…and on the end users terms! An example of this being applied can be seen at SmarterTravel.com .
One of E-site Marketing’s first applications of the technology was for a spa resort Web site we developed. We RSS “enabled” the online store where in addition to room reservations, they sell signature products, spa treatments and gift certificates.
Of particular note, and an attest to BL’s comment on Tuesday about the impact of RSS on Search Engine rankings, after only 1 week the store was ranking number 1 out of 256,000 results for a spa related keyword search. This type of result would typically take months to achieve, but because of the high priority being given to RSS content the search engines immediately listed and ranked the Web site. After 3 months the Web site was ranking number one for the highly competitive keyword “spa resorts” out of 11,000,000!
The online store RSS feed was subscribed to by over 1,000 visitors in the first 60 days. 20% of all visitors coming directly to the store itself came from RSS readers during that period (i.e. they subscribed and came back). In terms of feed format the breakdown of those visitors: 19% came from atom readers; 48% came from RSS2 readers and 33% came from xml readers.
In online travel there is a well established distribution network for hotel, airline and car rental suppliers to manage rate, fare and availability. Built initially by leveraging the original travel agent systems developed by the major airlines (Global Distribution Networks such as Sabre and Galielo), this network was leveraged to “power” internet travel Web sites providing consumers the ability to reserve travel themselves.
It would seem that RSS could potentially provide an extension to this network in that suppliers can now “push” promotions directly to customers and then bring them back to their Web sites and e-commerce engines to complete the purchase. An upcoming travel Industry conference Travel.Com exposition has a added a session: The Three Letters That Are About to Rock Travel Distribution: RSS – I am sure this will not be the last conference track dedicated to the topic this year.
Looking for a job? Talk to the experts!
As a graduate student at Rowan University, I have just about finished my master's degree in public relations. With all endings come new beginnings, which means I am currently engaged in the rat race for a job.
During my recent job search, I came across many employers who are interested in public relations students, but the students must possess technological skills that were not necessary in the past. Students must be familiar with building Web sites, contacting the media and knowing how to operate every computer application currently being used and proofreading everything from a one-page flyer to html text. The field is growing so rapidly that the requirements are blurry and students are becoming frustrated with the lack of opportunities with those who miss specific qualities.
Through the continuing advancements in how the media works and channels to reach audiences, how will students be able to meet the needs of employers and get the necessary education without knowing what is expected beforehand? The purpose of this blog week is to provide a platform where students and employers can discuss the opportunities emerging in new media and explore the skills to succeed in this ever-changing field. It is a chance for students and professionals to see the field from a different perspective and promote a better understanding of what it really takes to succeed.
Are employers ready to discover and develop the new talent needed to navigate through the new media channels? Are students developing the new media skills employers are seeking? Does either party know how to find the other? Interact with current and recent Public Relations students, Mary Meluso, Graduate Student at Rowan University, Shannon Holt, Intern for the Northeast Conference, Paul Gornowski, Graduate Student at Rowan University, Hillary Blum, senior PR undergraduate student at Rowan University and VP of recruitment for the Rowan PRSSA, and Stephanie Spagnola, also a senior PR student at Rowan University and a PRSSA officer!