Archive for February, 2009

3 Questions With…Greg Titus of CourseAdvisor



Greg Titus, Course Advisor Greg Titus, founder and chairman of CourseAdvisor, is the first to join our guest blogger series. Greg was formerly CEO of Acadient, a leading developer of online education and the parent company of The Boston Institute Of Finance, The Willet Institute, and Boston Test Prep.  Greg has extensive agency background that includes stints at Arnold Interactive, Young & Rubicam and Saatchi/DFS.

BluePoint: How has SEM changed in the last year and what are 3 tips you can share with readers to optimize search?

Greg Titus: The SEM market has become increasingly competitive over the last year as marketers shifted more of their budgets from traditional marketing vehicles.  The sophistication of SEM marketers has also increased with more entrants in the market and the availability of better tools to manage campaigns more efficiently.  The search engines have also made changes to their algorithms to improve the user (searcher) experience.

3 tips:

  1. Invest in content – users care about content; the search engines care about content; so should you.
  2. Optimize the user experience – Make sure your keywords work with your creative and your creative works with your landing page and your landing page delivers what the user was searching for.
  3. Test, analyze, test again

BluePoint: “Long-tail” was a big marketing buzz word last year…is long-tail marketing still effective?

Greg Titus: I believe Long-tail can continue to be effective if it is done right.  Although in some areas it can become increasingly competitive as the market becomes more mature and marketers become more sophisticated, search will continue to evolve and the innovators will continue to find advantages.

BluePoint: Behavioral targeting has had its share of negative press. What’s your take on using behavioral targeting for marketing efforts?

Greg Titus: Although there has been some negative backlash, behavioral targeting has certain benefits.  Using behavioral targeting could enable a marketer to extend their budget to reach premium target audiences without paying premium pricing.  Behavioral targeting is attractive to marketers because it delivers ads to web users based on past online behavior. Since past user behavior can be an indicator of interest, prospects may be more likely to convert.  For example, if a prospective student visits and then visits a school’s site, we can expect that the person is probably planning to go to school.

BluePoint: Bonus Question — Which cartoon character best represents your management style?

Greg Titus: Tough question.  Maybe a combination of Brian, the dog on Family Guy, for his loyalty and logic and Batman for his use of technology to extend his capabilities.

— Posted by Kim Pegnato


A-Rod Gets A D-Minus

I spent Tuesday on the ski slopes, so I missed the A-Rod press conference. From the “day after” press coverage and talk radio commentary, it looks like I was not the only one spiraling out of control, changing course and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow that afternoon. Since Tuesday, a few friends outside the PR/crisis communication industry have asked for my thoughts on A-Rod’s performance. How did he do? Did he win some votes in the court of public opinion? Was he believable? Was he credible? How could he have done better? Should he just shut up and play?

Here’s my assessment: he is looking better than Roger Clemens , Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, but not by much. The fact that he came forward and admitted steroid use was an adequate and necessary step in repairing his tarnished image. After all, steroids are just one of his several transgressions – you cannot forget his messy and public divorce and his off-field antics with women of ahem “questionable character” during the past year. He has a long road to travel and sorry A-Rod, nobody but you seems ready to “turn the corner” as quickly as you’d like. Even the staunchest Yankees fans out there (and I know and have talked to a few in the past 48 hours) are sickened by your off-field performance and you are not out of the proverbial woods yet.
So how did he do from a media and public relations perspective? There are two aspects of his “performance” that need to be judged: one, was he believable and credible in his body language, his eyes, heart and mind and was he able to provide timely and logical answers? Two, was the storyline itself believable and consistent with his previous revelations? Did he really tell all? Was it really only 2001-003? Highly doubtful. Not when you look at how his body morphed and his power numbers jumped since ’03. On the other hand could he have satisfied all of his key stakeholders – blood thirsty media, fans, teammates, opponents – with what he revealed? Same answer.

By reading from prepared notes, A-Rod, naturally, came across as scripted, heartless and plastic. But that is A-Rod. If this apology and explanation of his actions is not in his head, it is not in his heart. He should have been much better rehearsed and his opening line about being nervous? Again, if he was being completely truthful there is no need to be a “a lot nervous.”

He also came across both arrogant and unsure of himself – if this is possible. He was as uncomfortable in front of the camera’s glare as he has been at the plate with runners on base in a key post-season game. When it matters most and the pressure is greatest, he continues to fail to deliver.

Other related thoughts and questions:

I was sure he was not coming completely clean during his interview with Peter Gammons from ten days ago and shame on Peter (whom I have always had immense respect for as a journalist, but now have lost a bit) for going easy on A-Rod.

I doubt the credibility of the neck injury. This was not a legitimate reason for taking banned substances – it came much later in his career timeline and it did not even cause him to miss much time. The Texas heat? Another lame excuse. Lots of guys played there and played it clean. Young and naïve? Sorry, at 27 you have to know better.

I am stating the obvious by noting you get one chance to apologize and reveal your sins. A-Rod better hope that more skeletons do not emerge from the closet in the coming months.

How about this for a better answer: “I was wrong. I messed up. I wanted to compete at the highest levels every day. I saw my former Texas teammates (without naming them) and opposing pitchers cheating and I thought I needed to do the same to level the playing field. But I have no one to blame but myself. For that I am very sorry. It will never happen again and I’m sorry to have disgraced this great game of baseball. I accept any penalty, scorn or ridicule that awaits me this year.

How’s this for creating a lasting positive image which could have helped his legacy? He should have offered a years’ salary to the Taylor Hooten Foundation which aims to end steroid abuse by teens.

That might have quieted some critics and allowed him to focus on the only thing he really does well: Play Ball!

— Posted by Tim Hurley

The Top 10 Ways to Annoy Your Client

1) Make her endure endless weekly status meetings where every member of your team slogs through the minute detail of his/her daily contribution to the account. Make sure to let her know how many calls you made for every pitch.
2) Forward long emails where the key message/action item is buried at the very bottom of several paragraphs of text. “Reply to all” a lot.
3) Cross your fingers and hope your client won’t see the feature article that mentions everyone in the industry but her company. Bad news is best handled with a “wait and see” strategy.
4) Make sure all the files you attach bear the client company name as the first word. I’m sure she doesn’t have many of those in her filing system.
5) Share with your client. She wants to know all about your political affiliations, children, pets etc.
6) Don’t sweat the small stuff:

  • There’s really no difference between who and whom
  • I and me are interchangeable nowadays – myself is a good catch-all.

7) If a client isn’t available to review/approve, make sure you cover your ass with an email and move on to the next thing.
8) Clients love PR speak! Terms like “secure coverage”, “moving forward”, and “out-of-pocket” make them feel like you really know what you are talking about.
9) Clients also love a clever and original turn-of-phrase. Use the following terms liberally in all client communications and press releases, too:

  • Under the radar
  • Stealth mode
  • View from 40,000 feet
  • Best-in-class
  • World-class
  • Cutting-edge

10) Always be sure show up at the clients’ offices in droves. The more the merrier. Fly in the night before, stay at an expensive hotel, heck, might as well go out for that steak dinner you’ve been hankering for. Be sure to bring the intern.

— Posted by Alison Moore

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