My Remarks to Congressional Staffers Today

I’ve been invited to speak to two groups of Congressional staffers today. In about 30 mins, I’ll speak to Republican staffers at the Capitol Hill Club. Later today, at 1:30, I’ll be speaking to the Democrats in their Capitol Building office. The topic is Blogging, microblogging and social media and the event is hosted by NextGenWeb and the DCI Group.

These are my planned opening remarks:

First of all, I want to thank NextGenWeb and the DCI Group for inviting me to be with you today. I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your Friday morning to be here as well.
The U.S. Capitol at Night
We have a lot to talk about today because, frankly, the landscape of news, reporting, politics and effective organizing isn’t changing. It already has changed.

comScore, the metrics organization that measures website popularity and user engagement and leads the industry in much the same way that Nielsen has led the more traditional media rating media, reported that sites like Facebook and MySpace are owning over 100M unique visitors every month. Universal McCann, another measurement company, reports that 77% of active internet users read blogs.

Whether you agree or disagree with these numbers, and whether you like the trend or not, it is undeniable that the new media space has emerged. It is difficult to turn on your television without seeing personalities – and I do mean personalities – such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or CNN’s Rick Sanchez engaging their audiences with Twitter.

Up until recently, your own rules here in Congress have prevented you from effectively engaging the citizens on your districts, states and this country. You were hampered by antiquated rules that required separation of content from endorsements in the form of ads. I led the way in helping America see this, through my blog, public radio and conversation on and off the Hill. Though I cannot take full credit for any changes that have occurs, changes have still have occurred. Your House and Senate rules now allow you to utilize Twitter, YouTube and other social media avenues.

The news cycle is there and it’s different than it was before. In another lifetime, you played the game by talking to the press and hoping that they found interest in your cause. Now, you can go directly to the American people.

However, with much power comes much responsibility. Blogs have given us as citizens an expectation for engagement. For conversation. For exchange of information, ideas and transparency. Major media for the most part has not figured this out yet, and that is why more Americans get their news on the internet. There are, of course, exceptions. If you are to use this effectively, you will need to treat the internet, not as a faceless drop box where constituent mail comes from. Not as an anonymous voicemail box. Not as a nameless email inbox that sends an automated reply to the sender.

You must engage. You must converse. More importantly, you must listen.

Today, we’re going to talk about blogs, Twitter and new media. I hope that we can all learn from one another and build a better interaction platform for constituents. Thank you, again.

There and Back Again: Top 10 Blogs to Explore

I was asked by the Editor of blogs.com to join an ongoing project where they poll some of the top bloggers (Marc Canter, Chris Anderson of Wired, Marc Andressen of Ning, etc). Somehow, I got on that list of bloggers.

The point was to provide Top 10 blogs for their readers to read… sometimes on a special topic, other times more generalized. Blogs.com published this Top 10 List yesterday.

For those who have not adopted RSS reading and subscribing yet, consider opening a free Google Reader account and begin subscribing to blogs like these and mine  – you never have to remember to go visit a site then; Reader just automatically shows you new content when they appear.

Without further adieu (and in no particular order):

Read Write Web – a tech news analysis site. They do less reporting of the news and more hard hitting “what’s it mean to me” kind of writing. Also, maybe my chief competitor.

Chris Brogan – Well connected, and all about helping people understand the nature of online relationships and community.

Fred Wilson – an extremely savvy investor (Venture Capital) and principal partner at Union Square Ventures in New York. Success stories include FeedBurner (acquired by Google), Twitter (open portfolio company), del.icio.us (acquired by Yahoo), etc. During hard economic times, Fred has been a sober and encouraging financial voice in the chaos.

Neatorama – is sort of a directory of wonderful things, with all due respect to Boing Boing who has adopted that tagline. It is all kinds of interesting things that the wrtiers have come across on the web or elsewhere.

Lifehacker – Lifehacker does a wonderful job of helping people discover technologies and tools that will make their lives more efficient. From email productivity, to Mac and Windows hacks, Lifehacker covers it all.

Textually – Those who know me, know I’m bullish on mobile. Mobile is the wave of the future and the web services that get this, are the ones that will be positioned to take the web into it’s next iteration when the economy comes back. Textually covers everything text messaging and SMS and does it well.

Digital Photography School
– As an intermediate photographer, I love Darren Rowse’ community approach to crowdsourching and crowdlearning at his DPS blog. I learn all kinds of things about lenses, bodies, aperture, lighting and exposure from lots of people who are also learning the art of photography.

The Schmuck Stops Here – is a local Baltimore sports blog written by Baltimore Sun sports columnist and radio personality, Peter Schmuck. Cue the jokes on his name, Peter is no schmuck and is very insightful on Ravens football (which is why I read him).

Venture Beat – is my token social media technology news blog. I like these guys. They are really objective and not assholes, like their competition.

Tech President – Tech President is a great non-partisan blog that is examining how web technologies are playing into presidential politics, and politics in general. With a web savvy President coming into office, TP is bound to continue to be a great read.

Passion, Relationships and Thought Leadership

Back in the bad old days of blogging, the way to get attention was simple. Flame someone long enough and hard enough and they would take notice and respond in comments, or otherwise. Bloggers realized their power for change and took their platforms seriously, calling into question media accounts in politics, public relations nightmares such as Edelman’s Walmart stunt and other such things.

On this blog, I’ve taken this tack in the past flaming my friend Duncan Riley and earning my place, for a time, in the Google hierarchy as #3 for “How to be a whore”.

Yes, I was ranked #3 for how to be a whore. Classy, as always.

With my platform, I took HP to task for jerking a customer around and turned around a PR disaster into an amazing demonstration of customer service in the social web world.

I took to Twitter and established a “personal brand”, whatever that is, for being a no-bullshit czar and calling people to task when they were presenting stories or thoughts in a way that I felt was disingenuous.

For whatever hard-nosed approaches I took to relationships in the web world, I also encouraged and linked to and cited those who I felt were thought leaders. I shared blog posts in Google Reader and FriendFeed and linked people prolifically on Twitter.

The world still operates in much the same way online as it does in any other area of life. Business, politics, technology, personal relationships – they are all the same. You will never agree with everyone else, nor should you. If everyone looked at the world the same way, we’d live in a very boring world.

When it comes to passion, it is the thing that drives people to be better than what they would otherwise be. It makes them thought leaders and brings about change. Always.

The things is, the change is sometimes good and bad and that’s where passion gets you into trouble. When passion drives you to be unbending and, for lack of a better word, bigoted or dogmatic, then passion runs the risk of getting in the way and interfering.

Truth is, particularly in the blogosphere where everyone has a voice and everyone can potentially affect dramatic change, is that passion often has to be tempered in favor of relationship. Passion may drive you to make sweeping accusations, or lump different groups of people into the same bucket with the premise that “you know what I mean”.

This is harmful. Very, very harmful. This destroys relationships, and relationships are the balance.

Relationships looks at the world and say, “what you and I are together is more important and more powerful than what you and I are apart.”

In the Great Depression (and by the way, I have a bunch of Great Depression stories coming soon), the United States entered what can only be described as a period of long winter. During that winter, people could not rely on their government, their businesses, their ways of life. All they had was each other. Families hunkered down with families. Friends built deeper relationships. All they had was each other, and those relationships formed a core foundation for the generation that would come. To this day, that generation is known as the Greatest Generation.

Passion fuels the fire, drive and ambition and is the catalyst for so many great things in history. Passion is also the catalyst for the greatest failures in history.

Thought leaders are the ones who know how to tap into passion to accelerate their goals, but know when to tap the brake and fall back on relationships to enhance their goals.

Be careful not to sacrifice relationships on the altar of passion.

Flamewars in the Blogosphere

I don’t want to be the guy that shines a spotlight on the many varied and obscene warts that exist in the blogosphere. Far be it from me to hold myself up as an example of exemplary behavior. However, there is a disturbing trend in the world of blogs these days and it really needs to stop.

godwinslaw.pngFlamewars are nothing new on the internet. They date back to the early usenet days, where some smart dude figured out a key scientific law known as Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law states, in essence, that as a discussion online is prolonged over time, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler increases.

Eventually, usenet gave way to forums and forums gave way to blogs and blogs gave way to social networks.

The scientific law seems to have been preserved as a core guiding principle of internet interaction. Unlike the super smart Jason Calacanis, I don’t believe it’s all that healthy for the blogoshpere.

Well, it might be. It all depends on how the disagreements are aired. Healthy dialogue out of a mutual respect combined with lethal verbal barbs are fine, and in many cases serve to make the world a better place. However, going personal – in life, in politics, on the web – is almost always uncalled for.

Take for instance the recent hidden “cold war” between two influential technology bloggers, both supposedly friends. One does small business with a competitor and now they don’t talk to each other. Apparently. Silly pettiness.

What about the mommy blogger kerfuffle where one supposedly A-list blogger got petty with a longtail blogger over who did what when and where and why? Something to the effect of, “I did this first and you’re a lying thieving bitch”. Mmmmmm…. Female cat fights. Can I get mud with that?

Public relations and bloggers is another catch topic we like to talk about, and have. Bloggers want to own the medium and force PR to cooperate. PR wants to use longevity as a bludgeon tool to get bloggers to fit their paradigm. Stupidity.

And don’t even get me started on politics. Left vs. Right. McCain vs. Obama. He said this, no I didn’t. It all boils down to frivolity.

When is it all going to end? When are we going to realize that people are people and every person should command the respect of others, regardless of sides, positioning or dialogues.

This is a commentary piece for The District of Corruption show to be aired live on July 1, 2008 at 4pm EDT. The archive can be heard here.

The Power of Bloggers

I subscribe to a handful of blogs that are completely unrelated to my niche. The reason behind these subscriptions are varied: historical niche coverage that I’ve done (for instance, politics when I got started), friends or associates, really killer blogs related to specific sports teams, etc. There’s different reason. Largely, though, my RSS reader is a smattering of technology news, analysis, business, etc combined with a growing number of search feeds from Technorati, Google Blog Search or Icerocket.

One of the blogs I do subscribe to is Outside the Beltway which is one of the few political blogs that stuck after I stopped covering politics. Occasionally, James covers a topic that has crossover into the Technosailor market. This was one of those posts.

I still think the political space is different than the rest of the blogosphere and is a bit myopic (okay, a lot!), but there’s some great stuff. In his article, James notes that back when he began blogging in 2003(?), bloggers liked to write about blogging.

Unfortunately, it’s still that way today. Am I doing it now?

Largely, he makes a good point inadvertently, that the great blogs today are blogs that have something to say. They might be seen as “media”, depending on the niche. They might be seen as Journalists, depending on the niche. In the tech space, I’d call Gigaom a journalistic property, more than a blog. TechCrunch is largely a media organization, but I do question the journalistic legitimacy of a “publish now, correct later” site (something that Mike acknowledged in a Mesh Conference keynote last year and numerous other times as well).

I don’t want to get broiled down in the question of what is journalism and what is not? I don’t really want to discuss the “media merit” of any site, really.

More importantly, there is an evolution that takes place where a blog goes from a blog to a media property. It’s hard to tell, at least for me, what that point is. Is it when a site gets more than one author? Is it when there is a certain “rate of fire” on posts per day? Per week?

Is it pageviews and eyeballs? Is it simply a nomenclature thing where the Editor stops considering and calling the site a blog and starts referring to it as something else? Is it advertising? Is it the presence and participation in a network?

What’s the difference? Where is the line?

I think it’s obvious that some sites are “media” while others are not, but where and how does this evolution take place?

I expect other people to have different theories than I do, and that’s okay. My feeling is that it’s a combination of all of those things, but mostly it’s how the site is “sold” to readers? I see Technosailor.com, for instance, as a media property. Yes, it’s a blog? But is it?

We’ve recently refreshed the layout of the site to be more of a newspaper look, thanks to a large degree of influence from Huffington Post and The New York Times – both significant, and undeniable, “media outlets”.

Is that enough though? Probably not.

I’ve also hired other writers and contributors with an eye on hiring more as I’m able to recoup costs via advertising and other sponsorship. This is another ingredient, or at least that’s what Google News believes, since it does not accept any sources that don’t have multiple authors.

What’s the difference? Where is the evolutionary point?

7 Herramientas de Relaciones Públicas que su Empresa No Conoce

La web ofrece una gran cantidad de herramientas para hacer relaciones públicas. A continuación, siete herramientas que facilitarán su operación de relaciones públicas online.

Distribución de Boletines de Prensa

Para distribuir boletines de prensa al mayor número de personas posible, están SanePR y PR-Web. Fáciles de usar, gratis la primera y paga la segunda, estas herramientas enviarán sus boletines de prensa a través de internet, a los servicios de noticias, buscadores y webs sociales. PR-Web es un poco más completo en sus opciones de distribución y análisis.

Interacción con los Usuarios

Para interactuar con los usuarios, Facebook permite crear grupos y páginas de productos. Los grupos permiten a los miembros conversar entre si, publicar contenido y hasta servir de moderadores. Las páginas de productos son un tanto más estáticas, pero permiten a los usuarios indicar su preferencia por el producto. Ambas opciones son buenas como métodos de distribución de información y recepción de comentarios de los usuarios. También podemos crear aplicaciones en Facebook que permiten a los usuarios relacionarse alrededor de nuestro producto o mensaje.

Twitter es otra herramienta ideal para diseminar información a un grupo de usuarios. La conversación puede ser de ida o de ida-y-vuelta si preferimos.

Second Life es un universo virtual en el cual podemos crear una presencia tan elaborada como queramos. Empresas como Sun, Pontiac y Reuters han creado versiones de sus oficinas en Second Life, donde los usuarios pueden obtener más información, probar nuevos productos y hasta asistir a conciertos y entrevistas.

La herramienta más básica para informar y recibir información de los usuarios es un blog. Estos permiten darle un toque más humano a un producto o marca, y pueden ser tan informales o frios como haga falta.

Análisis de Competencia

Parar terminar, Google Trends permite realizar análisis de competencia sencillos que pueden indicarnos si existe algún producto de nombre similar en un mercado de interés, o cuál de varios productos genera más búsquedas en Google.

¿Tienes alguna otra herramienta que recomendar? Anótala abajo en los comentarios.

3 Recomendaciones para Integrar la Web Social a tu Estrategia de Relaciones Públicas

Muchas oficinas de relaciones públicas ignoran la existencia -y la importancia- de la web en sus campañas de relaciones públicas. Considerando lo fácil que es publicar una opinión en la web y distribuirla a miles de personas, es un grave error ignorar el poder -para bien y para mal- de esta herramienta.

Alertas

Toda campaña de relaciones públicas debería incluir -cuando mínimo- un servicio de monitoreo de términos en internet. Quizás el más conocido y sencillo de usar es el de Google, Alertas de Google.

El sistema de Alertas de Google nos permite estar informados via e-mail cada vez que un término de nuestro interés (el nombre de nuestro cliente, por ejemplo) aparece en alguna de las páginas indexadas por Google. Esto incluye páginas en la web, blogs, grupos de discusión y noticias.

Las alertas son enviadas al momento, cada día o una vez a la semana según nuestra preferencia. Esto permite crear distintos tipos de alertas, de acuerdo a la importancia del tema: por ejemplo, alerta inmediata cada vez que aparezca el nombre del presidente de la compañía, alerta semanal para el nombre de un producto. Si la alerta semanal incluye muchos resultados, entonces sabemos que algo está generando interés en uno de los productos de nuestro cliente.

Twitter también ofrece un sistema de alertas, mediante el comando “track término” que analiza todas las conversaciones públicas en Twitter y nos informa cada vez que el término aparece en una de ellas.

Yo uso tanto las alertas de Google como las de Twitter para estar al tanto de cada vez que mi nombre aparece… es el primer paso que debemos tomar para proteger nuestra reputación en la web.

Blogs

Los blogs ofrecen dos ángulos de ataque. El primero es creando un blog donde el cliente pueda hablar (o la compañía de relaciones públicas hablar en nombre del cliente) y el segundo es usando los blogs existentes para distribuir, comentar o responder sobre temas de interés para el cliente.

En ambos casos es muy importante ser transparentes y honestos en todo momento. La blogósfera es más inteligente de lo que creemos y las campañas engañosas se descubren facilmente. Toda compañía de relaciones públicas debe explicar su relación con el cliente al hablar de él en la web. Si respondemos a un comentario negativo en un blog, debemos hacerlo explicando que lo hacemos en representación del cliente.

Si alguien coloca un comentario negativo sobre nuestro cliente en un blog, en vez de atacarlo o tratar de defender al cliente, lo más importante es averiguar que pasó, que causó la experiencia negativa y que puede hacer el cliente para corregirlo. Hay pocos argumentos más poderosos que un comentario positivo de alguien que tuvo una mala experiencia con nuestro producto.

Los blogs también pueden servir como herramientas de mercadeo. Social Media World escribe (en inglés) sobre los problemas que pueden ocurrir al contactar a los blogs sin usar el sentido común y nos da una lista de puntos importantes a seguir:

  1. Explicarle al autor del blog por qué nuestro mensaje es importante para su audiencia.
  2. Tratarlo con respeto, no como una herramienta.
  3. Ser transparentes. No tratar de engañarlos, decir quiénes somos, qué estamos haciendo y por qué.
  4. No mandar SPAM.

En cuanto al punto 3 (ser transparentes), les recomiendo leer sobre el término Astroturfing. Estoy seguro que les va a entrener mucho la definición.

Networks Sociales

El uso de los networks sociales es un poco más complicado, ya que estos dependen de una relación de confianza entre los participantes que sólo puede construirse con el tiempo y la experiencia. Muchas compañías cometen el error de pensar que pueden inscribir a alguien en un network social e inmediatamente ser amigos de todo el mundo y publicitar sus productos. Generalmente estos intentos acaban catastróficamente. Pero sí es importante que los ejecutivos de relaciones públicas estén familiarizados con los networks sociales, estén inscritos en uno que otro y vigilen con un bajo perfil si aparecen menciones o tendencias que puedan afectar a alguno de sus clientes.

Facebook permite ahora la creación de páginas de compañías o productos a través de las cuales podemos crear comunidades de amigos y fanáticos, desarrollar promociones y publicar noticias relacionadas a una empresa o producto en particular. Es una forma interesante y transparente de conectar con los networks sociales.

¿Cómo usas tu la web social en tus campañas de relaciones públicas? ¿Tienes alguna herramienta adicional que recomendar?

Exclusive Podcast: Performancing Sold to Splashpress Media

David Krug on the Sale of Performancing to Splashpress Media.

  • Aaron can’t pronounce Dave’s last name.
  • David will be running the site and Splashpress Media will be operating it.
  • The status of Nick Wilson and Patrick Gavin – they will continue to develop the Scribefire plugin (formerly Performancing for Firefox).
  • The goals and intents of Performancing going forward revolving around community and ad sales and metrics.
  • The surprise that is the Performancing purchase/turnaround.
  • Competing with Text Link Ads?
  • CPA Network for bloggers? Is that really effective?
  • Is there a new approach to blog advertising in the future of Performancing?
  • Keeping the Performancing brand?
  • Music by STAN.

Update: Title updated. Partners was not sold. Performancing.com was, however. Via Darren.