Uncategorized

Taking Time To Rest And Reflect

When someone asks you how you’re doing, how do you answer? If you’re like me, or many other Americans, a variation of “good” or Image“busy” is your stock answer. That’s an interesting answer when you think about it. In America today, Inbox Zero is treated as some kind of a mythical animal, work/life balance is an actual discussion, and having enough time to relax each day is a privilege reserved for the rich (or you earn the lazy tag).

Rest and reflection are integral to maintaining a healthy perspective. They allow you to take a step back and see not just the larger picture, but how all the pieces fit together and form its shape. This philosophy applies to every segment of life; professional and personal. There’s a few areas I’d like you to take advantage of the next time you take a step back.

  1. Dive Into Your Analytics – Don’t do your day-to-day number crunching. Allow yourself to take a step back and see how the dots connect. When you scour those numbers day after day looking for that piece of data that puts everything into place you will likely miss it. Ever notice how your keys appear when you take a moment to collect your thoughts? The same thing happens more than you realize if you simply take a step back.
  2. Think About Your Thoughts – No, I’m not asking you pull a White Goodman and bleed your own blood. Groupthink is a real and, in my personal opinion, dangerous thing. That’s not to say that consensus isn’t a desirable outcome. It is to say that too often we develop a herd mentality. We take the easy way out when taking a stance on a topic. Even if you take the popular stance, decide for yourself why you have taken that position. When you understand your own thought process it clarifies why you believe what you believe, which can be incredibly valuable.
  3. Relax – There’s no insight to be had here. Treat yo self. We spend so much time buried in work and other responsibilities that we don’t taketime for ourselves. Vacations are important, yes. I’m talking about that daily time to just sit back and kick your feet up. You’ll feel better, and when you feel better you’ll perform better when your responsibilities resume.

There’s a reason the people around you depend on you. If you’re not at the top of your game, you won’t be doing any good for anyone; especially yourself. Rest and reflect. Gain a new perspective. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Photo: tanakawho via Flickr CC 2.0

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Facebook, social media

Google+ Will Overtake Facebook By 2016

The running joke in social media circles is that Google+ is a wasteland. No one goes there or pays attention to anything posted there. Facebook and Twitter remain royalty with all other networks orbiting them. The more this myth is believed by communications pros, the more we do a disservice to ourselves and to our clients. Facebook is dying. Slowly but surely, it is committing suicide. I won’t be so bold to say that Google foresaw this when it launched G+, but clearly it has positioned itself as a viable alternative since Facebook went public.

G+ launched in September of 2011 with as much anticipation as skepticism based on Google’s previous entries into the social sphere (Buzz and Wave anyone?). So where are we now 15 months later? Google announced 500+ million people signed up for the service with 235 million passively involved (e.g. using Hangout feature or +1) and 135 million are using all features of the service. So, less than a year and a half in, Google+ has half the number of Facebook users; generally accepted at 1 billion.

The mobile space is an area G+ is poised to overtake Facebook very quickly. Facebook’s mobile apps leave much to be desired. 5920040910_242ec1dd3cDifficult to use, the Facebook experience on your phone is completely different from what you experience on your computer. Compare that to Google+. Its recently redesigned apps for iOS simulate the experience from your computer as closely as any app I’ve ever used. There’s not  feature that’s missing, the design is gorgeous, and the ease of use is amazing. All of this is great, but none of this is why Facebook is going the way of the old MySpace.

Facebook doesn’t have a viable business model. Its stock has been up and (mostly) down, currently sitting at $26.26; about $12 below its IPO of $38. It can’t sell its advertising effectively, it is grasping at straws at new ways to create revenue, and those new ways tend to draw massive backlash. Google on the other hand, doesn’t have to worry about monetizing G+. It simply adds the data it generates to bolster its search product. That means Google can cater to the needs of its users without worrying about its stockholders. A company whose stock continues to drop is a company hemorrhaging cash. As Facebook continues to put its revenue needs above the experience of its users, it will continue to push people to G+. My prediction is that Google+ has as many or more active users than Facebook by New Year’s Day 2016.

Uncategorized

Business & Money

Six years ago this month, Google moved into one of the largest buildings in New York City. Google had only been public for two years and its stock price was soaring. By 2006, speculation was running rampant about Google’s ultimate goals. In addition to building the world’s largest Internet search engine, Google was furiously buying up so-called “dark fiber,” the unused long-haul underground cable left dormant by the dot-com crash.

When Google moved into 111 Eighth Avenue, the former Port Authority building, New York took notice because that giant facility is one of the most important “telecom carrier hotels” on the East Coast. A “telecom carrier hotel” or colocation center, is a major physical network node that allows tech and telecom firms to share space in proximity to improve network service and speed. There are just a few dozen in the U.S. (Here’s one…

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Business, Facebook

Could the Survival of Facebook Depend on Its Privacy?

This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on August 22nd, 2012.

Facebook stock is not doing very well.

Lots of reasons for that, put forward by people much smarter than I, which you can easily read about via a Google search

Some are even beginning to question whether Mark Zuckerberg can continue as the leader of Facebook (somewhere, the Winklevoss twins are howling with laughter). Clearly, the experiment of Facebook as a publicly traded company isn’t going well, though I think it is still too early to be called a failure.

In the past, I’ve made the argument that your privacy is not Facebook’s responsibility, and I still believe that.

How ironic, then, that I believe taking the company private again will benefit it in the long term.

The main problem facing Team Zuck at the moment is how to turn those millions of users into dollars that shareholders can benefit from. That’s the key. Not the profitability of Facebook, but whether the company can increase the value of the company in the eyes of Wall Street.

I don’t think Facebook going public was a bad idea; I think it’s an idea that happened before the company was ready.

While I don’t think comparing Google and Facebook’s IPOs is an apples-to-apples scenario, it is worth pointing out that Google was a much stronger company than Facebook at similar points before their respective IPO’s.

Google had figured out how to be a profitable company before opening itself up to being controlled by people that have no idea what the company is about. It has also transformed itself into a media company as opposed to just a digital company (i.e. Google is much more like Apple, Facebook is more like Yahoo!).

A few months ago, my WUL colleague Dan Cohen gave us his reasons to buy Facebook stock, and I agree. I don’t think the company itself is going anywhere.

However, by going public before it was completely ready, it opened itself up to control by people who are only interested in turning a profit rather than growing the company, and profits, that promotes longevity and sustainability.

Zuckerberg and the other Facebook principals should buy their company back. It will hurt their pocketbooks in the short-term, but to ensure the survival of the company, it needs to get advertising figured out, and how to monetize all those users.

It can’t do that as a public corporation.

At least, that’s what I think. What do you think?

Image: West McGowan via Flickr CC 2.0

Business, Marketing, PR Practices, public relations, social media

Progresive Insurance Does Not Deserve Your Business

This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on August 14th, 2012.

I’m fortunate to be connected to hundreds of outstanding public relations and marketing professionals. All of them are fantastic at their job, and I’m a smarter person for just knowing them (that includes the proprietor of this blog, and the many contributors). Given all the good I see the industry accomplishing each day, at least one a month it seems an entity or a person commits such an egregious screw up that I’m left to question the future of public relations. Or at least how these people have a job that pays them more than minimum wage. The subject of today’s post is Progressive Insurance.

I’ll get right to the point. According to this Gawker article, Progressive paid to defend the killer of one of their client’s in court. Read that sentence again. Notice I didn’t say “basically” or “in essence”.  No. This company paid its lawyers to defend a guy who ran a red light and killed Katie Fisher.Comedian (ironic, huh?) Matt Fisher, Katie’s brother, documented the entire situation in this Tumblr post. What happened boiled down to this. The perpetrator was underinsured, but his insurance company paid what was due to Katie’s family under its policy, which was still short. The Progressive policy that Katie had entitled her loved ones to more compensation. Progressive said no. Katie’s parents were forced to sue the other driver, and who showed up to defend him in court? Progressive’s lawyers.

Understandably, Matt Fisher was PISSED. So, he wrote about it on Tumblr yesterday, and what did Progressive do to respond to all the negative attention it got on Twitter? Respond in a human manner? Take responsibility for the TERRIBLE job it did at using human reason rather than a contract to determine what it needed to do? Oh no. Of course not:

They sent out the EXACT SAME message to anyone who responded to their official account about this situation. That entire statement reads as follows:

This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they’ve had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we’re sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through.

Beyond the stock response, which is a huge middle finger to anyone upset with Progressive in this situation, this is what happens when the PR department does nothing to stand up to the legal department. I get that each company has legal obligations and contracts, and it must adhere to those. When a person is dead, and the only (for lack of a better word) comfort the surviving family members get is settlement money, I am of the opinion that you have a moral obligation to expedite the process (while doing due diligence) to help ease their pain.

I’m fortunate enough to never have lost someone I’m close to, though that day is coming. I can’t imagine the extra pain the Fisher family was forced to endure in this situation. Truly, every PR failure in this situation can be fixed with one sentence.

Act like human beings.

Read the comments section. They are absolutely making very relevant points. Here are a couple:

  1. With every stock answer tweet Progressive sends out with Flo’s face next to it, they are destroying that lovable character they’ve spent YEARS and (I’m assuming here) millions of dollars to build.
  2. The fact that Progressive extends empathy to the family when the company itself is a big part of the pain of the family.
I don’t fault Progressive for doing their job, but when you go to extreme ends such as this to keep from fulfilling your end of a bargain…I’m not sure the world’s best PR would do much good.
Uncategorized

Special Edition: Don’t Punish Penn State, Punish People

Penn State Brandywine © by Jim, the Photographer

This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on July 12th, 2012.

I’ll admit upfront that the headline here is a bit of a linkbait, and that you are probably furious at me right now for having the gall to type such a sentence in light of the Freeh report that was released Thursday morning. We all know the horrific details of the Jerry Sandusky case, and I don’t really have the stomach to list out the rape of each child again. Besides, you’re still pissed at me for writing a headline suggesting Penn State shouldn’t be punished. Consider this for a moment.

Pennsylvania State  University didn’t rape those kids, nor did it cover anything up.

Did Penn State President Graham Spanier, Senior VP of Finance and Business Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Coach Joe Paterno (along with that monster, Sandusky himself), cover things up? Apply pressure to ensure the institution was protected? Absolutely. Joe Paterno has lost the respect of pretty much everyone in America, and his legacy isn’t tarnished. It is destroyed. These men are complicit in the destruction of the lives of each of Sandusky’s victims. They should all spend a long, long, long, time in prison.

The instant reaction I saw was fairly predictable. It ranged somewhere between burning Penn State to the ground and destroy all known records of its existence and nuking the institution and destroying all known records of its existence. That’s simply not acceptable. And I include the football program in this argument.

We’re talking about of five men that have defiled one of our country’s greatest institutions. Forget about athletics, PSU is one of the leading academic universities in America. Many people want to destroy what millions of people have helped build over the actions of FIVE people. There must be a strong response, but it MUST be targeted. Kill ‘em all is simply a response of anger. Here’s what should happen:

  1. Penn State will have many lawsuits filed against it, as it should. It will attempt to pay for these with revenues derived from the athletic department. It should not be allowed to do that. Pay out of the endowment or whatever other streams of revenue PSU has access.
  2. Anyone with a role in the Sandusky scandal should be fired immediately and turned over to authorities. Period. Again, PEOPLE did this. NOT an institution.
  3. 30-40% of all revenue brought in by Penn State football should be given to charities that deal with sexual abuse/assault of children for the next 15 years. Some will see my opinion as letting PSU off the hook, this helps solve that issue.

As my friend Shelly Kramer points out, it’s likely that more than 5 people covered this up. That’s a very good possibility. To that, I would say each and every one of them need to be prosecuted. The fact that there are still thousands of people at Penn State who had zero part in this cover up lead me to believe that severe sanctions should be placed on PSU, but none that can absolutely cripple it. At that point, we’re punishing Penn State to make ourselves feel better as a society rather than targeting the punishment to where it is deserved. A message must be sent to all institutions of higher learning that they are ultimately responsible to the people they serve. Not to themselves.

There are sexual assault scandals at every university in America. I guarantee it. If we target punishment to individuals, anyone complicit in covering up other scandals at universities receives a much more important message. Your institution will be punished, but you will suffer. You will have your life ripped away from you the same way you’ve ripped away the lives of others. I agree that we need to send a strong message. Just make sure it’s being sent to the right people.

Best Practices, Business, public relations

The Death of Sanity

This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on June 21st, 2012.

I’ll warn you now. This is a rant. There’s been a whole batch of stupidity that’s beenupsettingme lately. I won’t bore you with the entire list, but I finally found an outlet I could unleash thisupsetness (is that a word? I don’t care.) on. Enter CBS Television. Don’t worry. If they somehow came to their senses and took that down, I downloaded it and saved it here.

I know there’s a VERY good chance this is some kind of hoax, but I don’t think that’s the case. I really think CBS is being petty enough to release something that sounds like it was written by a classroom of angry Justin Beiber fans. First of all, the chutzpah they have for being pissed about ABC ripping off a show THEY THEMSELVES RIPPED OFF is amazing. Secondly, it’s reality TV. This is like claiming that someone has stolen your unique blue ink pen. Beyond that, does CBS really think this will win them ANY kind of public sympathy? Apparently. With apologies to Ken Tremendous, let’s break this whole pièce de résistance down Fire Joe Morgan style. My thoughts are in italics.

CBS ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF “DANCING ON THE STARS,” AN EXCITING AND COMPLETELY ORIGINAL REALITY PROGRAM THAT OWES ITS CONCEPT AND EXECUTION TO NOBODY AT ALL

In CBS’ world “nobody at all” refers to everyone with good taste in television entertainment.

            Los Angeles, June 20, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, groundbreaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.

For the record, “original” “new” and “reality” should never be mixed together in the same sentence when discussing reality television. It’s kind of like mixing fire and gasoline. Only bad things could happen.

The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.

So, insulting the memories of some of the must beloved names in entertainment in your petty news release is your way of striking back at ABC? Tell me more of how you spent hours doing Franklin & Bash-esque celebrations after coming up with this idea.

The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.

I assume you’ve contacted all the estates of these famous people to ensure you aren’t encroaching on any of their protected names for your new show that only donkeys with an IQ level of negative three billion would consider viewing? Because that would be RIPPING SOMEBODY OFF. Something CBS has NEVER done. Ever. In the history of ever.

“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air.

I see we graduated from the University of Run On Sentences. Well played CBS. Well played. 

“Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”

What you did there. I see it. And it is dumb. You’re sounding more and more like the Twitter rabbit hole that is a “Justin Bieber” search.

“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Much in the same manner that people associated with the Columbia Broadcasting System shouldn’t make TV shows or issue fake news releases.

To conclude, I understand this is CBS trying to be funny or clever in response to a legal defeat. The problem is that they put out crappy television and have ripped off about every cop show in the history of the world to build their offerings. It’s the sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that led to this rant. Seriously. When Entertainment Weekly makes fun of your dumb release, you should rethink your decision.