Archive for November, 2006

Blogstars

As a continuation to an earlier post – Blog or Bust – here’s some more info on how the business of blogs continues to rock the future of PR…

Om Malik, senior writer at Business 2.0, and publisher of the wildly successful blog GigaOm, announced at yesterday’s Digital Magazine Forum that he is launching two new blogs. Malik is perhaps one of the first – and most revered – journalists to turn blogging into a legitimate business. He has a considerable staff of writers, collects advertising dollars, and is frequently quoted and referenced as a news source in other articles. Do a Google News search on his name, and you’ll find him quoted or his blog referenced just about everyday. He has arguably become as – if not more – influential as some of the industry analysts out there. As The Deal’s blog reports, “Malik is part of a select group of bloggers who have transcended the outsider image of a blogger to become something more significant, and raised seed money to expand a popular blog into a brand.”

And then there is Michael Arrington. A recent Wall Street Journal article profiles the serial entrepreneur and publisher of the famed TechCrunch blog. Dubbed “Silicon Valley’s newest power broker”, Arrington seems to have the power to turn start-ups to gold simply by writing about them on his blog. Companies mentioned on the blog often report huge bumps in business after they have been featured. Case in point: “ODesk Corp., which brokers jobs between computer programmers and companies, says a September write-up on TechCrunch snared five times as many new customers for the company as a BusinessWeek article earlier in the year.” According to the article, TechCrunch brings in about $120,000 in revenue a month, mostly from ads, sponsorships, an online job-posting service and the parties it holds.

This is all further proof that establishing relationships with blogstars like Malik and Arrington should be part of a tech company’s PR and marketing strategy.

Learning Curve

Last week I was asked by a former classmate of mine at Babson College – now a business management teacher at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School – to participate in a business panel at the school.

The point of the panel was to describe what area of business we work in and reflect on how we got to where we are. I still consider myself pretty young (and I like to think hip), but let me tell you – there is nothing more intimidating then getting up in front of a few hundred high schoolers (especially when I thought I’d only be addressing a classroom of 30 kids!). Talk about a good chance to practice my public speaking skills!

I was there to represent marketing, and was joined by an impressive roster of other area professionals representing various aspects of business – the VP of Operations from Finale Dessert Co., a CPA from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a human resources manager from Monster.com, a retired CIO turned math teacher, and a young entrepreneur and recent PVMHS grad.

Although most of the kids were probably looking for an excuse to get out of class, there were a few students who really did show an interest in the speakers and asked good questions at the end of the panel (albeit, after much prodding from their teachers!).

Overall, the panel was a success (I hope!) and I know I’m hoping we’ll be asked back next year – anything I can do to even start to make a difference to these kids (our future!) is well worth it. If you’re ever presented with an opportunity like this, I’d encourage you to dive right in.

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” — Herbert Spencer

Big News Week

It was a rather interesting week for the venerable newspaper industry.

First Google announced it would begin selling advertising for the top 50 newspapers and will take bids for space from advertisers. The bids will then be relayed to publishers, who can then accept or reject the offers.

Meanwhile, Gannett takes blogging to the next level, unveiling a plan to allow bloggers, members of Internet discussion groups and other non-journalists – so called “citizen journalists” to contribute to news stories. Gannett’s objective is to try to stem the tide of reduced readership and combat the growing popularly of the Internet, TV and other news sources. It is interesting to think how PR people will work with this group.

The LA Times fired Editor Dean Bauquet who refused to cut staff in his news room.

The Times’ parent, Tribune Co. is on the block again and according to the Associated Press, a team headed by business big wigs Eli Broad and Ron Burkle have submitted a bid. Tribune had received preliminary bids from private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. A second group led by Bain Capital also expressed interest, but neither deal went anywhere.

The Philadelphia Inquirer saw its editor, Amanda Bennett step down as part of the paper’s cost reduction efforts.

All was quiet on the Boston Globe front. A pair of Jacks – Welch and Connors and Boston businessman Joe O’Donnell (who lost out on trying to buy the Boston Red Sox a few years ago) are rumored to be interested in taking the Globe off the New York Times’ hands.

With regard to the Google and Gannett moves, let’s hope they pay off. With newspaper circulation and ad revenues continuing to go South, partly because of the trend of young adults who simply do not read newspapers; it’s critical that this medium survives.

Web (2.0) of Influence

Okay, who among us can admit to having heard of TechCrunch a year ago or even a few weeks ago? The Silicon Valley-based blog headed by Michael Arrington came into our consciousness fairly recently when researching media (make that new media) opportunities for a few of our Web 2.0 clients. Well, now the secret is out big time. Arrington and TechCrunch are the subject of a very positive profile in the Wall Street Journal today. Pretty amazing story when you consider that Arrington, 36, has had an unspectacular career in the tech world to date and even more amazingly, just two years ago was living the life of a “surf bum” in SoCal, according to the Journal piece. Now, he’s become as big or bigger than many of the venture-funded start-ups he blogs about. He rubs shoulders with Bill Gates, Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz and he throws some very well attended keg parties in his backyard in the Valley.

My favorite take-a-way from the Journal piece – and this should be a real eye opener to anyone who doubts that blogs have in many cases usurped the power and influence of traditional business media – is this little story about oDesk Corp. This company said a mention in a TechCrunch piece in September resulted in it acquiring five times as many new customers as it did following inclusion in a Business Week article. A couple of other tech firms reported getting serious interest from VC firms after appearing on the blog, as well.

Blog or Bust

We all hear about the impact that blogs are having on journalism. We even see blogs coming up more in more in our new business meetings as a vehicle to drive more traffic to clients’ sites and increase their visibility in the market.

Well, in an interesting twist, one of our favorite print publications has now made it mandatory that all of their staffers blog.

As Boston.com reports (ironically in their own Business Filter blog), Business 2.0 has formally launched B2 BETA, a blog network that tracks all of their journalists’ blogs and puts their posts in one, easy to access place – encouraging all of their staffers to blog on a regular basis.

While Boston.com theorizes that this move is in response to senior writer Om Malik leaving the pub in June to focus solely on his blog GigaOm, we say, “Hey, the more blogs the merrier!” Any way we can get more access to the great renderings of Business 2.0 writers, we’re happy.

Blog on, my friends. Blog on.


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