Declaring swag – What exactly do I need to do, FTC?

Over the years as a *ahem* writer/journalist, I have received a lot of crap, er stuff from vendors. Some of it is unsolicited and continues to gather dust, some has gone on to relatives and others just so I can reclaim space, and in a few cases, I am still using products and/or services provided for me oh-so-long ago.

I can understand the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wanting to clarify relationships between bloggers and vendors, but what is going to be acceptable? Do I have to mention that Vendor-X gave me freebies every time I might talk about Vendor-X’s service? Or do it once and be done with it?

And I suspect that there are an equal number of cases where I have bought hardware with my own greenbacks and written about it favorably; so what do I do then? “This post not sponsored by anyone?” 🙂



Rich Tehrani’s secret passion

On Tuesday, I found out what Rich Tehrani does for fun. And I never would have suspected.

Tehrani is a closet DJ and techno fan.

Rich was laboring over MP3s on Tuesday, trying to figure out the best songs to intro his keynote speakers.  His staff had told him that his earlier techno selections were a bit too intense, so he was looking at putting in some Seal in order to mellow things out a little bit for the afternoon sessions.

And you thought all Rich was doing back there was posting another blog piece…

PR vs. Propaganda

A piece in Aviation Week — of all things — gets me on the annoyed soapbox this week.

Lockheed-Martin, a prime stakeholder (i.e. contractor with big bucks on the line) for NASA’s new Orion capsule, got a nice one-page write-up in AvWeek on the potential “problems” surrounding commercial alternatives to its not-to-fly until 2015 manned space craft — oh, like reliability and safety.

Since newcomer SpaceX is currently getting billions in development dollars for its Dragon spacecraft to first deliver cargo to the International Space Station and then evolve it into a manned version capable of delivering people to the space station at about half the cost of the Russians — never mind what Lock-Mart’s price tag is — ya gotta wonder why AvLeak didn’t ask more aggressive questions such as “Gee, so what suggestions do you have to reducing flights to ISS and beyond?”

Congrats to Paula Bernier!

Long-time industry editorial-ist (well, I don’t want to call her a “reporter,” because she’s done a lot more than that) Paula Bernier has joined TMC Net as the Executive Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Good move for TMC — Rich Tehrani and company add a seasoned and highly capable member to their team.  I look forward to harassing, er talking to Paula when I’m out at IT EXPO West in Los Angeles in a few weeks.

Return of the email newsletter?

Is the era of the email newsletter back?

With people gaming search engines in a variety of ways and the plethora of blogs, websites (old and new) and social media, there’s Too Much Stuff, so either A) The most “popular” and/or B) The best gamed pages win.

Will readers now search out summaries of information delivered directly to them?

Sounds very retro, but you’d be surprised what comes up when I start Googling my name… *sigh* for the days when I had a relative monopoly on the ‘net.

Another thing or two about those trade show pow-wows…

1) Who is doing the most talking, you company spokesperson or your PR person? Should be the former, rather than the latter.  Unless there’s something majorly going south in the briefing,  a PR person should be seen rather than heard during the course of a briefing.

2) Hospitality:  Sure, food is nice to have, but the best thing to have on hand during a one-on-one chat is a drink, preferably water.  And this goes double if you are conducting briefings in Las Vegas, home of the dry throat and parched mouth.

3) Twenty-five minutes or less, if you please, depending on the topic. Unless you have some really juicy topics (note the multiple) of interest.

Best practices for trade show briefings

One way to gauge the chops of your external PR firm or internal PR peeps is what they do — or don’t do — to prep you for a trade show briefings.

It is important to have clear objectives/goals, because at a trade show you’re running back-to-back meetings in about 20-25 minute chunks.   It is also important to delivery the guy you promised for a briefing — promising the president of the company and briefing with the product line manager smacks of bait-and-switch, even if that wasn’t the intention.

In about 15 to 20 percent of the trade show briefings I’ve been involved with, I have shown up and been asked “So, what do you want to talk about?” This is AFTER a PR person has proactively contacted me to set up a briefing.

*groan*  – BAD PR PERSON! BAD!

The best way to start off a meeting with someone who hasn’t briefed with you before is to outline an agenda consisting of a company profile (i.e. how big is the company, what does it do, why should I care, key customers), then moving onto the substance of the meeting, typically the news/announcements at the show. You don’t want to assume that Joe Reporter knows you; he might want some more detail and the more details you can impress into his head, the more he can recite them in whatever story he writes.

If you’ve briefed with a reporter/analyst before, the format should be the same, with the exception that the company profile should be shorter, but provide the latest impressive numbers (revenue, customer count, etc).

What should you know about the reporter/analyst? 1) What planet, er publication is he from? 2) Some examples of his/her work for quick reference.

PowerPoints can be helpful — and they can also be a pain in the rear.  If you have a 25 minute minute meeting and a 25 slide deck, that’s about 12-13 slides too many, IMHO.  Fat PowerPoint decks are also a pain to download on a poor network connection. Be concise with the key highlights; you can always “deep dive” into a topic later either via email or with a white paper explaining what you are thinking.

Takeaways: In an ideal world, the reporter gets all of the briefing material beforehand under embargo via email.  Or just emailed. Keep emails tight (see Fat PowerPoint above).   Keep paper to a minumium, a stapled set of a couple of releases and the PowerPoint presentation, mayyybe. Folders end up in the trashcan at the end of the day, so why burn your money?

USB memory devices vs CD-ROM? Hate to say it, but gotta go with the USB “stick.”  With netbooks the rage (well, in my head), CDs end up in the trash because I can always go to the website. A USB stick, while a wee bit more expensive branded with your logo, may get carried around and even passed along to someone else, so you get some more brand exposure mileage.