Archive for the 'Media' Category

It’s a ‘Mad’ World

On Sunday night, one of my favorite TV shows of all time premiered its third season. For those of you who haven’t already caught ‘Mad Men’ fever, the show is set on Madison Avenue in the early 60s at the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency, and provides a glimpse of the “good ‘ol days” way before email, social media and political correctness. It also showcases the industry when it was largely male-dominated, clients and bosses were happy according to how many martinis were consumed at lunch, and budgets were seemingly sky-high – a stark contrast to today’s world.  Competitiveness is revered and the few women who get ahead struggle with being taken serious compared to their male counterparts.

Every time I watch, there is a part of me that wishes it was still as simple as it was back then – sexism aside, of course. I mean, how great would it be to get a client to agree on a campaign strategy over a three-martini lunch instead of battling over creative briefs and budget constraints? And to breeze into a meeting 5 minutes late, paint a picture of how the ad might look and leave in an air of confidence, a la Don Draper.

But of course, we’re very far away from that world now. TV ad sales are declining and the focus is on user generated content and getting more bang for the buck via social media platforms. Twitter is a recognized verb and noun, and the facebook phenomenon is still rampant (just think how happy would Don Draper and his cronies would be if they could have selected their secretaries using facebook!).

Although set in the 60s, the show has crossed generations to leverage these new marketing techniques to its advantage. You can take a personality quiz online to find out which Mad Men character you’re most like, or MadMenYourself and create your own Mad Men avatar. You can follow Mad Men on facebook and get constant updates on the show and its story lines.

My 'MadMenMyself' Avatar

 All of the Mad Men characters even have twitter accounts, and tweet completely in character – something I still haven’t totally wrapped my head around…I mean, they are supposed to be in the 60s! @PeggyOlson recently tweeted: “I swear @JoanHolloway gave me the worst secretary in the office. I’d rather work w/ @SecretaryPool than listen to @Lola_Secty gossip all day.” And @Roger_Sterling: “I don’t care if Stoli is made by commies. Life is too short for bad vodka, although it’d be even shorter without it at all.”

If you work in the industry, then you especially appreciate Mad Men’s portrayal of client service and agency-life, even if it’s a far stretch from what it’s like today. And even if you don’t work in the industry, the quippy one liners and fashion are enough to make anyone a fan. Till next week… in the words of Don Draper, “What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.”

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

60 seconds or less…

Breaking down hot topics in technology, media and marketing for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • File under, “Really?!”  A charity auction for an internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. What’s worse…college grads so desperate for a job that they’ll pay five figures for one, or media companies trying to make their margins by selling internships?
  • Entrepreneurs, fear not! After meeting with more than a dozen Boston-area VCs, Tech Journal South reports that venture funds have available cash to invest, are actively looking for new deals and don’t expect the rest of the year to be as bad as the first quarter.  
  • The Wall Street Journal issues “Social Media Rules of Conduct” for its staffers. Among the rules? Editor approval is required before “friending” sources in Facebook or twitter.  Check out the entire list here.
  • What did you do by the time you were 25? Did you start a company that has generated 200 million users? Were you named one of the The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine? Were you ranked one of the richest people in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $1.5 billion? Had you made $240 million off of Microsoft? Well Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned 25 yesterday, has checked all those times of his list. I know, it hurts.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

60 seconds or less…

A new weekly feature breaking down technology, b2b and general marketing news for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • Twitter has rolled out a new update to its website that includes real-time search, trending topics and a slightly improved user interface. Will Twitter 2.0 be less buggy than the original? Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”  
  • According to a recent study, personality may be a more effective prediction tool for media usage than demographics. For instance, sarcastic folks who balk at rules are 60% more likely to be high consumers of media. Can’t wait to see those direct mail/email lists – “Sarcasm & Rule Breaker List, $425 CPM”.
  • Hot or not? Forecasts for mobile ad growth have been reduced, thanks to the current economic climate. But it’s still one of the faster growing ad segments, expected to grow 36% year over year.
  • A slew of recent surveys indicate that the slump’s not as bad as we might think in the tech sector. Among the data, Mass High Tech says 44% off the nearly 700 New England tech companies surveyed  have no plans for staffing changes (up from 35.4% in Q4).
  • First, TheFunded shook up the VC world with its blatantly honest reviews of firms. Now it’s changing the model for start-up incubators with TheFunded Founder Institute, free from on-site meetings and alternative stock compensation plans.
  • Looks like we’re safe, at least for one more Sunday. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the Boston Globe union was so unwilling to compromise on the lifetime job guarantee issue? Talk about an antiquated mentality.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Think Different, Market Different

As we end approach the New Year, rather than strike back at the latest writer, blogger, and even fellow marketing professional to rip PR people, agencies, individual practitioners or the profession at large, I’ve taken a proverbial “deep breath” and asked myself one question – -– how are we different?

Nearly five years ago, BluePoint was founded as a marketing services firm (decidedly not as a PR firm – Lord knows there are enough out there to defend a good sized country). We were started on the premise that young technology companies required smart, grounded, proven – and above all, measurable – strategies for establishing marketing infrastructure that would continuously support clients’ sales efforts.

As a former boss drilled into my head years ago, “the only reason to do PR/marketing is to support sales.” Since PR was and still is one of the cornerstones to the marketing and communications foundation, BluePoint focused on this discipline, but not exclusively. We’ve felt that PR should be thought of as a key part of an effective, integrated marketing strategy. However, other critical marketing functions including corporate and product positioning and messaging, awareness and lead generation, sales support, events, marketing strategy and increasingly, social media and Web marketing must be part of the mix. And it really makes no difference, whether these functions are executed in house, through an agency, or as is most often the case, through a collaborative effort between client and external resources. Since we often are serving as our client’s marketing and/or PR team, we’ve eliminated the “us vs. them” and often have to view the execution and the measurement from both sides..


It was with this thinking that BluePoint was founded. The reasons were two-fold: 1) Nobody else seemed to be taking this approach; and 2) Even the most ardent industry supporters could not deny that “traditional PR” was – at worst – dying a slow death and at best, undergoing a serious metamorphosis. I’d seen it umpteen times in previous lives. A client would say “Your team has done great work. You have generated all kinds of press coverage, but I cannot quantify benefits to my CEO or CFO. I need to tie all this ink to business goals. I need more Website traffic. I need better customer service. I need to feed the sales machine.”

So where are we now? Whether in boom time or the current recession, it doesn’t matter. It is has always been about results and ROI – from the pressroom to the boardroom. Ink = good, but it is no longer good enough. It won’t pay the bills, keep our clients (and their customers) clients happy, deepen the pipeline or shorten the sales cycle on its own.

Have we kept true to our original strategy? I’d like to think so, and we’ve morphed and tweaked it along the way. Here are few examples where we’ve made a difference for our clients.

  • Thanks to a strong focus on blogger relations and social media, we’re helping Currensee – a new decision-making platform for foreign exchange (Forex) currency trading – build and scale their community, which is due to launch in early 2009.
  • For a stealth voice technology client, we conducted focus groups and launched a Facebook app aimed at testing the concept of anonymous chat (and also help take the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry to a new level!)
  • For a consumer product manufacturer, we launched an aggressive word-of-mouth marketing program which improved customer service and helped to restore customer confidence in the brand.
  • For PermissionTV, an online video platform provider, we’ve executed both social and traditional media programs to help them compete with the proverbial 800-lb gorilla. Our online surveys and resulting data have generated a broad range of media coverage. Last month our social and traditional media relations efforts produced several quality sales leads through agency partners. And, our Webinar program has produced thousands of additional sales leads.
  • Taking blogging to the next level, we just launched a video blog for Proginet, a leading provider of file-transfer solutions. The vlog – part of a complete re-branding initiative and Website redesign – extends the company’s thought-leadership platform (and gives the company’s captivating CEO the voice he deserves!).
  • Another example of BluePoint’s strength in branding is the recent launch of Ignite Media Solutions (formerlyAIS Voice). New positioning, corporate identity, website design content, collateral and a strong PR and AR push culminated in a wildly successful launch party held in Las Vegas.

The above examples are just a few in our arsenal. As we move into the New Year, I know we need do continue to sharpen our focus and elevate our game. Clients are demanding this, as well they should. What’s on my Christmas list? The opportunity to show how we are responding to the new marketing realities and to demonstrate how innovation and creativity can be delivered by an outsourced marketing team cost-effectively and can help clients get the biggest bang for their buck, generate awareness and leads – and most importantly – show results.

— Posted by Tim Hurley

The Paper Chase

Call me “Old School”, but I like a good old fashioned hard copy of newspaper in the morning with the morning coffee or breakfast. Not that I am breaking any news here, but I was pretty disheartened to hear (on the radio very early this morning) my first news nugget of the day: local newspapers continue to feel the pain with shrinking circulations. The Boston Globe saw an 10.2 percent drop in circulation over last year while the Heralds’ fell by 9.9 percent. Their Sunday numbers looked only slightly better by about two percentage points. The trend also played out nationally with consistency at the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times all saw paid circulation figures drop. Only the Wall Street Journal and USA Today were about to share any positive news here: they both held circulation figures with no changes reported. I’ve been hearing people say of late “flat is good.” I guess so.

Add it all up and it is not good news for anyone –advertisers, consumers, news media junkies, PR people. But let’s face it – the Web has also killed the 30 minute broadcast news segment and the “news” paper is an oxymoron. But what are the good folks at New York Times Co. and other conglomerates to do to slow down their pace of extinction and keep their print properties afloat? Certainly it is not going to come from dramatically increased ad rates as subscriber numbers area headed in the wrong direction. And, it is still all about the eyeballs.

So, here are a few thoughts.

Turn back the clock. Many Web outlets attempted to charge for premium content back in the mid-90s and failed miserably. Yet, the WSJ has figured it out. I’d pay for something exceptional, rare and really great writing. Heck, does it with its “Insider” content and I’m sure that model works for them to be able to underwrite their high priced editorial talent.

Hit up the “Out of Towners” up for a few bucks. Do you pay more to get your Boston Globe when vacationing on Cape Cod or the Islands? Or your NY Post or Daily News when just have to read the latest Yankee bashing or celebrity gossip? I have to think that the legions of displaced Bostonians across the country who still want their “local” news and views on the Sox, Celts, Patriots, not to mention the latest on Beacon Hill, would fork over a few bucks a month for premium content delivered via RSS feed, video feed or email.

Monetize video. Most publishers have. Again, can’t someone figure out a way to price this type offering at a decent rate and still make some money? Think the GameTracker and how many folks in Orange County, San Francisco, Chicago and Texas tuned in on their laptops to follow the Sox in the playoffs online.

Create an affiliate ad or marketer network. Hello? Has this been done? How many restaurants, ski resorts, clubs, theaters and other sports, arts and entertainment venues need to stay top of mind with consumers? Work out some ad placement deals with discounted meals or tickets for subscribers and everyone wins. Who wants a half empty house of patrons? Who wants to pay full price for anything in this economy?

I hope some fixes come along soon. What else will we line or bird cages with or wrap our fish in? Old laptops, Blackberries or smart phones?

A Stronger Link

Most people in my social networks (myself included) with seem to be riding the fence when it comes to LinkedIn and Facebook. We actively participate in both and for different reasons. LinkedIn is more “professional” and for the most part, better for making introductions for recruiting candidates, making introductions or re-introductions to potential business partners and prospects . Facebook is more visually appealing, more dynamic and frankly, more fun. Most people if they are being honest, will admit to spending a lot more time on Facebook than LinkedIn. And, Facebook membership dwarfs LinkedIn – north of 100 million for Facebook versus 27 million or so for LinkedIn. Today’s news from LinkedIn might change the time spent factor, however. LinkedIn makes a great strategic move by partnering with CNBC. This “alliance” will manifest itself in a few ways:

1) CNBC will provide articles, blogs, financial data and video across the LinkedIn network.

2) LinkedIn’s community and networking functionality integrated on (such as sharing CNBC articles with your LinkedIn friends and colleagues or finding out who in your network connects you to the companies you read about).

3) Community-generated content from LinkedIn will also be broadcast on CNBC programs. These include survey results and on-air Q&A with CNBC anchors, reporters and guests.

See the Reuters piece running on the New York Times’ (which also recently announced a deal with LinkedIn web site.

How will this all pay off for LinkedIn? Well that remains to be seen, but one potentially good sign for them is that while crafting this post I was poking around on my profile and looking at some of the links only to be booted off the site with the dreaded “network timeout” warning. Too much traffic can sometimes be a good thing!

Every Silver Lining has a Touch of Grey’s

Time for my annual “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” post. I’m not talking about the end of the summer, the beginning of the school year or the impending elections. I am talking about the new fall TV season, with new pilots and episodes of my favorites finally returning and saving me from the stress of my NetFlix queue or one more night of Locked Up Abroad.

I’ll set aside my usual rant about how excited I was for the Gossip Girl premier (what have S and B been up to all summer?!) and the disappointing “re-launch” of 90210. I instead want to comment on an NPR story I heard last night that got me thinking more about my favorite shows. There’s a theory called the Bechdel Rule which states that women on screen should talk about all aspects of their lives, not just relationships with men – that women on screen should not be clichés. The same concept is applied to race and sexual preference in addition to gender, and some judge TV shows as to whether they meet the “Bechdel Rule” (if they do, then they’re worth watching). With the average American watching 5 hours of television programming per day, the segment called out two of my favorites (Sex and the City and Grey’s Anatomy) for breaking the Bechdel Rule, and therefore not meeting the standards as shows that one – especially younger generations – should watch. I respectfully disagree.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree as much as the next woman that we shouldn’t be portrayed as boy crazy, life-messed-up clichés, and but rather as diverse, complex, balanced role-models. But, if you want serious, deep television that addresses the most pressing issues in today’s society, does one really need to look any further than either of those shows? Take Grey’s for example. Name me one other non-reality or news show on TV which takes such an honest (yet light) look at gender, race and sexuality issues – not to mention religion, family, health and mental illness, and of course dating.

Case in point: T.R. Knight, an openly gay actor, is one of the main characters. The script flirts with homosexuality between two women (one white, one Hispanic), and the bartender of the local watering hole is in a committed relationship with another man. And let’s not forget about Christina, a Jewish Asian American woman, and her intense romance with Burke, a privileged African American man. And the two most senior people at Seattle Grace? Dr. Miranda Baily and Chief Webber – both African American. In the first season alone, main characters were touched personally by mental illness, alcoholism and death. Miranda battles balancing work with her young son and stay-at-home-dad. And although there is plenty of sex, at least it’s not the men who are “playing” the women in this show. This show is the epitome of overtly, politically-correct programming.

Sure, Grey’s Anatomy is by no means reality, and Seattle Grace is a narrow scope by which to base one’s values on. But for NPR to call this show a poor standard just because some of the scripts focus on women’s relationships with men is not fair. I realize I’m being a bit frivolous, but I tune in to these shows as an escape. If I wanted something serious, I’d tune into CNN not MTV, watch documentaries instead of dramanticomedies. I don’t think any woman intends on modeling her life after TV characters, but is Grey’s really such a bad place to start? Successful, intelligent doctors with close friends dealing with the kinds of every-day issues we all do – I know I’ll be tuning in with millions of others on the 25th for the premier.

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