The way we as a collective society interface with data has fundamentally stayed the same through the generations: We have to search for it. In the past, this has meant opening an encyclopedia, learning the Dewey Decimal system or even running an experiment. But today, we have exabytes of information that a few select outlets have access to: Bing, Google, and other niche websites.

As public relations professionals, part of our job is to monitor and influence our clients’ reputation. All one needs to do is set up a news or blog alert for “Insert client name here” sucks. In no time you will see a constant flow of detractors, fanboys of competitors and the occasional piece of valuable feedback. I had the good fortune to spend a day at SMX Advanced, a conference put on by Search Engine Land, which is a top influential outlet in the search space. The conference is focused at SEO/SEM/PPC, but there were some tremendous nuggets for PR as well. Continue reading

I read this post that has essentially single-handedly convinced me that the AP Style guide is just that. A guide. You see, while going through journalism school, I treated it like scripture. The grammar, spelling and capitalization guide of the journalists deities.

But since then, I’ve softened my stance. And now I am fully prepared to acknowledge that its email (not e-mail), website (mot Web site) and that I have to type out Washington.

Yes, I am finally entering the modern era. Read on for the post from April that helped push me over the edge…

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Posted in PR

Sometimes I see something that makes me cringe as a PR person. This is one of those times. Internet Explorer splash page

Don't do this.

A new service just getting into Beta called, which is a cloud-based storage service that allows you to stream your media, has this as a splash page if you try to sign up for its closed beta. In an attempt to be Web-developer cute, it took this tone in its image: “Dear friend. You are using Internet Explorer. Please don’t do that.”

You see, this is a great way to alienate an audience. A potentially paying, engaged, promotional audience. In this case it is also alienates more than 63 percent of Internet users, myself included when I’m at work.

What may be cute in Silicon Valley is not cute in corporate America or in most households that are connected to the Internet. My initial reaction was surprise.I was surprised that somebody allowed that to go public. I was surprised that somebody didn’t do the market research. I was surprised somebody was not thinking about a business model.

Please do this

I am an admitted Mac user at home. I run Firefox and at times Safari. But at work, I am on my PC. Running Internet Explorer. Like 63.27 percent of the country.

The lesson to this is to make sure the message you are curating is one that supports your core business model. Having a corporate personality is an essential part of today’s digital media landscape. But don’t do it at the expense of potential revenue.

I know that Internet Explorer has compatibility issues with some technologies and it does not have the robust external developer ecosystem that Firefox and Chrome enjoy. But insulting the user for the choice in technology they’ve made seems asinine.

This is an instance where a solid PR counsel would have raised this issue and helped this young company along its path to success. By offering guidance around messaging, market perception and helping to craft the language used, PR could have helped this company have at least one more customer.

UPDATE: It was just pointed out to me that the percentage of people who would be looking to try this app that run IE might be quite low. Maybe this is a case of “Know your audience” and I’m just being overly sensitive.

What do you think about this messaging and tactic?

Posted in PR