Earlier this week, I ran across a new book called Blogging Heroes.
And no disrespect to any of the bloggers profiled or the author, I am appalled at the title of the book.
In fact, disgusted.
What appalls me? The use of the term hero.
The book profiles 30 high-profile bloggers. Whether we need yet another book profiling a few top-ranked bloggers, I'll leave to the market to decide.
But the bloggers profiled aren't heroes. Blogging PEOPLE, in the sense of the gossip magazine, or Blogging Superstars? Sure. Those are already trivial terms and seem eminently suitable for this "literary" work.
But to call them heroes trivializes the term.
And that really offends me.
The folks profiled in the book have done a great job building and promoting their blogs. That makes them interesting, and perhaps good, examples. But they aren't heroes.
Blogging heroes are people like Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet who has used her own diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, a very rare form of breast cancer that is not diagnosed from a lump in the breast, to spread the word about IBC. To the point of giving up her anonymity in the process. That's a hero.
And not just Susan. Many, many people use their blogs to chronicle their battles against life-threatening and fatal diseases. To help others. Stricken with the disease or simply trying to support someone who is. They are heroes.
Milbloggers. Young men and women thrust into a war not of their making, but determined to serve their country. I don't necessarily share their politics, but I have no doubt that bloggers like Chuck, who blogs at From my position on the way and who was seriously injured in Iraq last year protecting a fellow soldier, or Jean-Paul, now in his second tour as a Guardsman, are a lot closer to a hero than some business blogger.
Parents, lovers, partners, friends, children, siblings. There are examples all over the blogosphere of people sharing their sadness at the loss of the loved one. And chronicling the process of healing. Sure, sharing their own pain may be in small measure cathartic, but to do it so publicly? That's heroic.
And we haven't even touched on the political. Dissidents in politically oppressive regimes who use the blogsphere to spread the word. At great personal risk. Native reporters in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan who continue to dig for news, at great personal risk. Sometimes death. These are heroes.
Everyday, people put their hearts, souls and beliefs online. And not for link rank. For love. For a cause. That's heroic. Because it just might help someone else. Whether it is someone the person knows, or someone she's never met... it doesn't matter.
So, count me offended at a book called Blogging Heroes. Because somehow, no matter how highly ranked, how popular, how famous...
They aren't heroes.
At least not mine.
[Bonus Link: Scott Baradell is equally unimpressed.]
Thanks-meme for Thanksgiving
Kami Huyse tagged me in her Thanksgiving meme: "Who had a big influence on you and how did that affect the direction of your life or career?"
Like some of my fellow "taggees," a few of the major influences on my career weren't terribly positive. Rather, it was my response to a negative or messy situation that moved me forward or helped me make an important decision.
Let's get these out of the way first, shall we. No names. If you are reading this and think it might be you, it probably is.
Thanks to the editor in my first job out of college who told me I couldn't write. Gave me the kick in the pants to evaluate what I really wanted to do. I got a new job and embarked on a career in marketing. And here I am writing. Nearly every day. Hmmm.
Thanks to the various managers in various corporate jobs who suffered from varying degrees of sexism and found it hard to promote me to the next level. No matter how good the performance or results. Especially the one who hired a super-duper idiot to take over a job I had been doing for years. Each and every time, I moved on to something better.
Now for the positive influences.
First and foremost my family, and most especially my mom Sandra Getgood. From her, I learned that there was nothing I couldn't do if I set my mind to it.
I had lots of wonderful teachers in high school, college and my MBA program, but three stand out: Jean St. Pierre (Andover), Jill Morawski (Wesleyan) and Cornelia Eschborn (Rivier).
Thanks to all the printers, advertising, marketing and PR folk who shared their expertise with me as I learned on the job, especially in the early years of my career.
Thanks to everyone who has ever worked for me for the privilege of working with you, learning from you and hopefully teaching you a few things as well.
Thanks to Gene Mehr, now a client, who years ago recognized that I had some talent and treated me like an equal when I was just a twenty-something who thought she knew more than she did. I still have the four-star "marketing general" helmet.
Thanks to Scott Murray, former CFO at The Learning Company, for re-assigning me to the Cyber Patrol unit in January 1999. And thanks to Greg Bestick, who worked with me to sell the Cyber Patrol business in 2000 for nearly 10x what TLC had paid for it in 1997. Managing the business unit and my involvement in the whole sales process, from road show to due diligence, was one of the highlights of my career. Maybe I'll do it again someday.
And finally, thanks to you, the readers of Marketing Roadmaps, for reading, for commenting, for making me part of your online conversation. You inspire me to be better.
David Wescott writes about campaigning for Steven Tolman for state rep nearly 20 years ago and how that influenced the way he approaches his work.
Julie Marsh says she "learned the most from those who played the part of supporters when times were good, but were nowhere to be found when times were bad."
Katie Paine, back from Thanksgiving in Islamabad, writes about how she became a "genetically unemployable serial entrepreneur."
Kelly (Mocha Momma) tells us what led her down the path to becoming a high school dean.
Christina (A Mommy Story) tells about women who have been positive role models for her: her aunts, mother and grandmother.
Pencils Down: How fans can support the WGA
I twittered about the Pencils 2 Media Moguls campaign earlier this week, but today United Hollywood posted an amusing video promoting the campaign.
The Discipline of Social Media Marketing
Over the past few weeks, a number of people have posted about where social marketing "fits" in the organizational structure of a company, what sort of outside service agency is best positioned to help companies with their social media marketing efforts and how do we define expertise in this new field. Among them, and apologies if I leave anyone off: Todd Defren, Dave Fleet, Susan Getgood (that's me), Josh Hallet, Kami Huyse, Geoff Livingston, and Jeremy Pepper.
Is PR the rightful functional "owner" of social media? Or should it be marketing or advertising that gets the ball? Perhaps social media marketing is just a subset of word-of-mouth marketing? With everybody and his brother now hanging out their shingles as blogging experts and social media gurus, how does a company determine who has the expertise and experience to help it navigate these waters?
The functional lines between our marketing disciplines of PR, direct marketing and advertising are blurring. Social media marketing requires a blending of marketing and PR/communications skills. BTW, this line is blurring everywhere but it is more readily and immediately apparent in the social media world than offline. But it is offline too. Remember that online social networks are reflections of the interests and affiliations we have "in real life." Computer networks simply speed up the effect.
The other line that is blurring beyond recognition is the line between seller and buyer, journalist and audience. Now more than ever, we have multiple roles, sometimes almost simultaneously. A mommy blogger is a customer of a consumer products company, but at the same time, she might be a mompreneur with her own small or medium sized business. Journalists are bloggers; bloggers are journalists. Again, a reflection of similar real-world shifts, amplified by the Internet. We all gets lots of spam.
Whether social media marketing is a new marketing discipline, or simply a tectonic shift in Marketing with a capital M, I do not know. What I do know is that in order for it to thrive, for companies to be able to detect the real experts from the sham, for individuals to develop their skills to meet the new imperatives, we need to understand that it is a discipline. Not a project. Not an extension of PR or advertising or web marketing. Not something you can learn in a week from reading Naked Conversations and Boing-Boing.
You need a solid grounding in marketing and public relations. The social media component isn't separable from the marketing plan. Everything still needs to track back to the plan, the objectives, the business goals. It isn't enough to know HOW to do something. You need to know WHY. Real experience in the field helps. Extensive coursework or an undergraduate degree in psychology or sociology is very useful. Some philosophy too. A soupcon of "renaissance person" such as a second language and familiarity with great literature doesn't hurt.
Most of all, we need credibility for this new discipline. Provided in part surely by our ongoing practice. The good examples. But that alone isn't enough.
We need the supporting academic research. That is what gives any discipline its "legs." Without it, social media marketing is tactics. Campaigns. Maybe strategies. But not a legitimate discipline or profession in the long term.
As practitioners, we need the information and insights from the research that will be presented at the Symposium, and that is reason enough to attend. More importantly, we need to support research organizations like SNCR because they provide part of the academic base. Can't attend, but wish you could? Send someone in your stead -- a junior colleague, a friend. No one to send? Make a supplemental donation to SNCR in support of the Symposium.
It can't happen without you.
More on the Writers Strike
The writers are doing a great job communicating their story on the Internet. I wish them luck, and will be doing what I can as a fan to support them. If you want a good summary of the issues, watch these two videos.
And check out these sites:
- United Hollywood (sign the petition)
- Writers Guild of America West
- Writers Guild of America East
- Pencils down means pencils down
The issue is resonating particularly loudly in the fandoms I follow, chiefly the Whedonverse and Battlestar Galactica. Joss Whedon has posted on Whedonesque multiple times and Ron Moore of BSG just started his own, personal blog (versus the scifi.com one he sporadically posted to last year.) And of course writers Jane Espenson and Mark Verheiden, whose blogs I read on a regular basis anyway, have been covering the strike in their usual articulate fashion.
Into the Fantastic Four, plus Good is getting better and upcoming attractions
Busy week, but I didn't feel I could let the third birthday of Marketing Roadmaps go unremarked. Thanks for sticking with me.
A quick update on the ongoing get.good.com saga. Thanks to the good offices of a Twitter friend who works for Good Technology's PR agency, I finally connected with someone. A real live person. Not sure there's a real solution, but at least we are talking.
Upcoming on the blog: a report on the Intuit Just Start campaign (thumbs up), some comments of the state of customer service in the US (thumbs go the opposite direction), details on the HP Photographic Memories project and more case studies on good blogger relations practice.
Here's to Year Four!
UPDATE 11/15/07: Too busy tonight to write a whole new post, but it looks like the people at Good Technology took some action and worked out something with Google to insert the Good Technology results on the first page of a search on "Getgood." Getgood.com still comes up first,as it should because it is the closest match, followed by a British ad campaign that also uses a "Get Good" theme, but then they insert the results for Goodlink before returning all the pages from my blog and mentions of me and other Getgoods on blogs and websites. Amen. I will be so happy to not get these calls anymore. And I am sure the people trying to get customer service for their phones will be much happier too.
Intuit Just Start pulls into South Station Tuesday November 13th
Intuit, the publisher of the popular QuickBooks software, has taken its show on the road for the past month, holding two day events in NY, Chicago and Seattle to encourage entrepereneurs to just get started.
The campaign pulls into Boston's South Station next Tuesday and Wednesday.
At the events, entrepreneurs can get business, software and marketing advice from experts. There's also a contest which will award $50K in cash and resources to a lucky business owner; visit IWillJustStart.com for contest details.
I'll be there on Tuesday November 13th from 11am-6pm to provide online marketing advice. Drop by if you are in the area.
You can also get a free copy of QuickBooks Simple Start financial software, if the opportunity to see me in person isn't enough of a draw :-)
Who will win the writers' strike?
I have no idea who will prevail in the current screenwriters' strike. If I have sympathy for a side, it is probably the writers, since they have some valid points, and appear to be marginally less greedy than the networks and the studios.
But it really doesn't matter who wins that battle. Because that's not the real battle.
The real question is, do we really care about TV anymore, full stop. The answer is, of course, yes, but perhaps not as much as the studios and the writers' guild would like to believe.
Because I don't think network TV is going to be the winner here. Unlike the last strike in 1988, when folks turned to repeats of shows they hadn't caught the last time around, now we have real alternatives. And we aren't limited to what the networks, all gamillion of them, want to show or when they want to show it.
In about four to six weeks when the current inventory of new episodes is depleted and we enter the repeat zone, we will get our first glimpse at how the social media explosion could play out.
What will we see? Here's my prediction:
Netflix will do quite well. Certainly within the current subscriber base as we actually have time to watch old TV shows and movies that we meant to see but didn't. They *must* have new subscriber campaigns ready. Not like the strike was a big surprise.
We'll be watching even more online amateur video - long, short, episodic, and everything in between. For amateurs, talented and un-, their moment in the sun. Will everyone be a brilliant success? No. Some of it will be really really really bad (although with shows like Caveman setting the bar...) But we are going to discover some really talented folks online in the next few weeks, and not just comics, pundits and musicians. Much of this material is already there, online, waiting for us to find it. Well, now, we've got the time. Carpe diem.
I'll also be interested in what happens with online product swap services like Swaptree, whose president Greg Boesel I met at Web Inno last night. Not as easy as just paying the fee to Netflix every month, but folks now may be more receptive to the effort required to get started swapping the books, cds and dvds they no longer want for ones they do.
What do you think will happen?
The week in PR: Blacklists, sex, education and breaking down walls
Well, the week started with the shot heard round the world, 21st century style: Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, blogged more than 300 email addresses that had spammed him in one form or another -- mistargeted pitches, unsolicited newsletters and so on -- in the past 30 days. And this followed right on the heels of Marshall Kirkpatrick's 5 bad pitches post the previous week.
I'm sure that a large number of the folks outed in Anderson's email were just in the wrong place (his email box) at the wrong time (October 07). They made a mistake. Do they deserve to be raked over the coals forever? No, and they won't be. They may never get off his list but I doubt it will ruin their reputations or their careers.
And some of them don't have reputations to ruin. Being on the Anderson blacklist won't affect them in the slightest because they will just get another email address and spam away. They don't care, and they never will.
Nevertheless, much online conversation ensued. Most commenters sympatized or empathized with Anderson's plight. Some approved of the tactic. Others understood the motivation but didn't approve of publishing the email addresses. The rant also spawned endless analysis of the state of PR, manifestos for change and the usual apologies for the bad behavior of the profession. [Too many to count, too many to link. To read the many screeds, here's the Google search and here is Technorati for the terms "Chris Anderson PR" ]
Some commentary was good, some less so, but, really, it all felt like more of the same to me. Public outcry over bad PR practice, much gnashing wailing and wringing, promises to do it better, to make it better, god damn it. But it doesn't seem to get better. Not really. This blog is almost three years old, and the more things change...
The responsible practitioners of PR -- the good guys -- are still faced with unrealistic client expectations, a societal attitude that PR people are guilty until proven innocent and really bad PR practice from some members of the profession. Witness the truly juvenile behavior from two flacks, and I use this term deliberately, who used Anderson's rant as an excuse to engage in some mutual, public mudslinging and attempted client poaching. Perhaps someone told them that any PR is good PR? Umm, no, and if that's the sort of advice they give their clients...
And mixed up in the commentary was a theme started the week before by Jeremy Pepper in PR will lose Social Media to Advertising Because of Sex, a manifesto of sorts for PR to change its ways or risk losing the "fight" for social media to the dreaded Marketers.
This is a far more interesting topic. No, not because of the sex. The title of the post was just a tease. Good tactic, that. I'll have to use it someday :-)
In my opinion, we have to look at this conversation, this communication with our customers, with a completely different lens. Keep seeing it as a battle for supremacy, nobody wins. Not PR. Not marketing. Not the companies. And definitely not the customers.
In a post after the Anderson rant, Jeremy calls for better education, and that's a start. But I don't think it's enough.
We have to break down the functional walls between PR and marketing. PR isn't the rightful "master of social media" because of its traditional role as counselor, any more than marketing is because it has been the traditional channel to the customer. You have to be able to do both, and you have to be willing to give up some of the most deeply held, profound assumptions about the "right" way to do things in the parent disciplines.
For example, press releases. Still useful, whether new or old form, when communicating with journalists, including journalistically inclined bloggers. Usefulness to customers. Not so much. The detached, impersonal format just doesn't tell them everything they need to know. Now, neither does a hyped up direct mail piece. Sure, direct response has its place, but it is generally to encourage action, not to share information.
I firmly believe a blogger wants a meld of both. An honest, open, relevant communication with a clear benefit statement that tells her WIIFM. What's In It For Me. To do this, you have to know, really know, what is in it for her. [Sidebar: I expect journalists would be happy if they got this much honesty too. More on that another time.]
The best social media marketing people won't be PR people. Or marketing people. They will have a skill set that blends both disciplines. Whether you are at an agency or in a company, start developing this -- in yourself, in your teams.
Stop worrying about whether PR or marketing is going to win. The answer is neither. And both.
The only thing that's certain? If you keep thinking of it as a fight, with a winner, you will be the loser.
That, and if you spam Chris Anderson, one strike and you're out.
Time to start breaking down some walls.
Announcing Photographic MemoriesCross-posted to Snapshot Chronicles
As I’ve mentioned here before, I occasionally help HP with social media projects. I’m thrilled to announce that the most recent one, Photographic Memories, went live today.
Part of the US launch of HP Photo Books, Photographic Memories is a series of interviews with mom bloggers about the photos that have captured the memories of their lives. I interviewed 23 women across the US – young moms, older moms, moms of newborns, toddlers and teens. Working moms and stay at home moms. Professional photographers and moms who simply carry a point and shoot in their pocket, just in case.
HP Photo Books are a great way to share photographic memories, and in these interviews, the moms share theirs with us. The first group of 10 interviews was posted today and the rest will follow later in the month.
A little bit more about HP Photo Books
With an HP Photo Book, you can easily create a professional quality photo book at home. Particularly cool is the innovative binding system – think of a big clip – that lets you replace or rearrange pages and add mementos like invitations, children’s artwork and so on. They are available in two sizes, 5x7 and 8.5x11, and multiple colors.
If you’d like your own Photo Book, HP is offering a 20% discount until the end of the year.
Or you can take your chances in one of the many contests and sweepstakes the women in the Photographic Memories series will be having on their blogs over the next couple months. Some contests have already happened, others are going on right now, and some will be starting next week. As I get the details, I’ll add them to the Photo Contests list in the sidebar of Snapshot Chronicles.
Later this week, I’ll be writing more about the project. For now, please enjoy the interviews.